As the BC Liberals slip lower in the latest polling numbers, the importance of the Chilliwack-Hope byelection takes on greater importance.
Although a loss here won’t affect the Liberal majority in Victoria, it will provide a telling barometer as Premier Christy Clark prepares for a provincial election in 2013.
On Wednesday, Angus Reid delivered the latest bad news for the Liberals. The polling firm said support for the party had fallen to 28 per cent, while the NDP were enjoying 42 per cent support.
Christy Clark, meanwhile, now trails NDP leader Adrian Dix when pollsters asked who would make the best leader.
Granted, there is much latitude in a poll taken more than a year before the next provincial election.
But it seems clear as party organizers prepare for the nomination this Saturday in Chilliwack, the BC Liberals are taking nothing for granted.
The party has issued a call for volunteers and a rousing show of support that demonstrates to the NDP and the BC Conservatives that Chilliwack-Hope won’t be an easy win. (BC Liberals plan ‘byelection blitz’ in Chilliwack.)
“BC Liberals will crowd into Chilliwack-Hope to make sure the riding stays with us in the upcoming byelection,” says the BC Young Liberals’ website.
The party has organized a bus to bring supporters to Chilliwack for a “Chilliwack-Hope byelection blitz.”
For the Liberals, the stakes are high.
True, byelections are notoriously difficult for governing parties to win. They often garner only the protest vote; voters satisfied with the government usually stay at home.
But the Liberals rightly know this byelection will be different.
First, they can’t afford to see a Liberal stronghold slip from their fingers. A victory for the BC Conservatives would give the party credibility and possibly its first sitting MLA.
A win for the NDP would give the New Democrats further motivation as they prepare to ride their current wave of popularity into next year’s general election.
By this weekend all three major parties will have their candidates in place. And while the byelection date has yet to be named, it’s clear the battle has already started.