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Political landscape shifting in lead up to B.C. election

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Opinion polls continue to show a two-way race in the lead up to the next provincial election, as the BC Conservatives continue to cut into the NDP's lead and BC United's popularity is shorn away.

The latest survey by Research Co. shows 42 per cent of decided voters support the BC NDP and 32 per cent the BC Conservatives. BC United is tied with the BC Greens at 12 per cent.

“Dropping severely, and the Conservatives rising to the point where now they are a very competitive party -- and this could be a closer election than most people imagined,” said Mario Canseco, Research Co. president, on Tuesday.

The same polling shows support for Kevin Falcon's BC United has fallen from 33 per cent when compared to a year ago. Falcon himself is scoring the lowest of all the party leaders when it comes to decided voters.

The dramatic shift in the political landscape has fueled pressure for some sort of BC Conservatives and BC United alliance, to avoid vote splitting on the right.

But Canseco says that may be less of an issue now that John Rustad’s BC Conservatives are so far ahead.

On Tuesday, Rustad acknowledged talks are still ongoing with BC United, but hinted the most likely scenario is far from an actual merger and would likely involve some candidates running under a different banner, or agreements to avoid candidates competing against each other.

“We have some room to be able to look at some of (BC United's) MLAs, some of their candidates, so we're willing to have some discussions around that side,” said Rustad.

That reality doesn’t seem to be lost on NDP Premier David Eby, who has sharpened his focus on Rustad and his party.

“When (voters) look closer at the Conservative party, they're going to see that they're going to be cancelling so many of these projects that people are counting on,” said Eby on Tuesday.

The sustained surge by the BC Conservatives has some pundits predicting a tight election in October instead of the runaway NDP win projected mere months ago.

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