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'Uncharted territory': Housing a top election issue in B.C. by significant margin, poll suggests

Cranes are seen above a condo tower under construction in downtown Vancouver, on Thursday, January 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Cranes are seen above a condo tower under construction in downtown Vancouver, on Thursday, January 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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With less than five months until B.C.'s next provincial election, a new poll suggests housing is the key issue many voters are focusing on.

According to a new poll released by Research Co. Tuesday, 40 per cent of voters say housing, homelessness and poverty is the most important issue facing the province.

"This is completely uncharted territory. Going back to other elections we've had in the past, it's usually health care, economy and jobs, to a lesser (extent) the environment, crime and public safety, now all of those issues pale in comparison," Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., told CTV Morning Live.

Results from the poll showed health care came second as a top election issue at 21 per cent, with economy and jobs falling three points to 15 per cent. The environment and public safety were both at five per cent.

Canseco explained the 18-to-34 demographic is especially concerned with housing, adding that age group is considering the BC Conservatives more than any other. Results from the poll show 48 per cent of voters in that age group "definitely would consider" or "probably would consider" voting for the Conservatives. That figure falls to 41 per cent for those aged 35 to 54 and is even lower – at 38 per cent – for those aged 55 and older.

"We know that younger voters tend to not show up on election day," Canseco said. "So whoever motivates this group the most is going to do well."

Research Co.'s poll reiterated the October election currently appears to be a "two-horse race" between the BC Conservatives and the BC NDP, Canseco said. BC United is seeing the lowest support level they've had since forming as the BC Liberals, with 12 per cent of voters polled saying they would cast a vote for a candidate from that party.

"(It's) certainly not the situation people expected a year ago," Canseco said. "The name change didn't work as well as they expected. I think there was an expectation that if they rebranded, they were going to be able to compete for the government. Now they're competing for third place with the Greens, so clearly something went wrong."

It's no surprise, then, that BC United and the BC Conservatives appear to be facing pressure to consider a merger.

"It's going to be complicated from a logistical standpoint," Canseco said about the two parties joining forces. "You have candidates nominated in ridings already, so what are you going to do?"

Results of Research Co.'s poll are based on an online survey conducted between May 13 and May 15 among 800 adults in B.C. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

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