03 May 2009

On Boosting BC-STV Numbers

A recent Angus Reid online poll suggests that the BC-STV campaign has a way to go, but the results also provide key information on how we can boost our numbers.

Of 800 people polled online, 53% said they would vote for BC-STV and 47% said they would vote for FPTP. Based solely on these results, the referendum would be FPTP's to lose given the threshold of 60% required to pass the reform.

Angus Reid states a margin of error for this poll of +/- 3.5 percent, 19 times out of 20. However, caution is advised. Other pollsters and polling experts hold that, for methodological reasons, it is improper to quote a margin of error for online polls such as this one. Regardless of that, the more interesting statistics from the poll give reason for hope:
Support for BC-STV is highest with Green Party voters (76%) and NDP supporters (67%), with voters living in Vancouver Island (63%), those living in households making less than $50,000 a year (62%), respondents with a university education (61%), and women (56%).

Conversely, support for the existing system is strongest with BC Liberal voters (65%), those living in households with a yearly income of over $100,000 (57%) and those living in Surrey & the Fraser Valley (55%).

This provides us important information, regardless of the exact numbers.

I hope, for example, that BC-STV campaigners are pushing to reach people of low income, especially those living below the poverty line, a demographic which is among the least represented at the polls. Volunteers should be visiting food banks, homeless shelters, and talking with street people and asking them to talk up BC-STV to their friends.

The poor especially are used to not being heard. I know this from personal experience and as a poverty activist. This is our chance. Even if we've never gone to the polls before, we must do it this time, if only to cast our vote for BC-STV.

BC-STV campaigners might also talk to women's resource centres, Canadian Mental Health Association branches, and other non-profits which serve new Canadians and people, for example, with disabilities, mental health challenges and the un- or under-employed. These groups are disproportionately represented in the lowest income decile.

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