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NPA dreams vanish in the cold, hard light of day

Numbers are so solid. They’re either big or they are little. Unless you’re an NPA activist. Then little is big and–you guessed it–big is little.

That’s how the NPA braintrust over at CityCaucus seems to be reading the latest civic poll, released by Barb Justason of Justason Marketing.

Here’s what Justason reported:

  • 52% of eligible voters would vote Vision today
  • 28% would vote NPA, and
  • 13% would vote COPE

And the Mayor has a net +26% approval rating. 

  • 48% approve of the job Mayor Gregor Robertson is doing
  • 22% disapprove

What Gordon Campbell wouldn't give for an approval rating that's even a fraction of Gregor Robertson's.

Here’s the NPA/CityCaucus spin: Robertson’s approval rating is in a tailspin and the huge Vision lead is a mirage:

"In this poll, Justason went out of her way to point out that the older the voter was, the more likely they were to vote for the NPA. In the important 65+ demographic, the NPA was actually leading (37% vs 33%)…. As a result, while the overall poll results show Vision with a massive lead over its nearest rival, that support may be a lot softer than it appears.

There are a lot of problems with this ‘analysis’. For example, the margin of error for the good news they are trumpeting is huge because the sample of over 65s is small. But there’s a much bigger problem. Traditionally, the NPA leads the centre left party by about 25% in this demographic. A four point lead amongst their best voters actually shows the NPA has lost a huge chunk of its hardcore supporters. 

Think of it this way. It’s like the BC Liberals pointing to a dead heat with the NDP amongst millionaires and claiming that shows they are on the comeback trail. Not so much. This result should tell the NPA it has a lot of rebuilding to do before it’s back in the game.

It gets worse when you remember what the ballot will likely look like. If the last couple of elections are the model, COPE won’t be running against Vision but will share a slate. In that case this, all of a sudden, looks like a 60-30 race. 

No wonder the NPA can’t seem to attract good candidates with broad recognition and appeal to the centre. Why pay big bucks to take three to twelve months out of your life for what appears to be a hopeless cause? More and more it’s looking like their decision to hold an early nomination in this environment could be disastrous.

Here’s the irony: if the NPA is reduced to promoting a big bunch of lesser knowns and also-rans, the at large system NPA/CityCaucus fought for, with its emphasis on name and brand recognition, is going to be a killer for the NPA. I’d be sad if I weren’t laughing so hard.

The results are mirrored in the rest of the poll. On the big issues, the Vision council enjoys huge to very large margins of approval.

  • Taking care of basics – 71% net approval (approve minus disapprove)
  • The green agenda – 66% net approval
  • Improving the DTES – 29% net approval
  • Reducing homelessness – 14% net approval

I don’t believe the NPA/CityCaucus crew really believes its own spin, because a year out this poll shows that the Vision agenda seems to resonate with the voters. Don’t take it from me. Justason agrees. “The mayor,” she concludes, “is focused on issues that resonate with residents.”

There’s the rub. While the NPA/CityCaucus wallows around in he said/she said politics that don’t matter to the average voter, Vision is pursuing an agenda that seems to matter to folks out there. It makes all the difference in the world.

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