The latest poll is out, and it shows the B.C. Liberals would face annihilation at the hands of the voters if an election were held today. The poll, by Angus Reid, shows the NDP has the support of 50 per cent of decided voters, while the B.C. Liberals have less than 25 per cent support.
Those are similar numbers to the results of the 2001 provincial election, which saw the NDP reduced to a paltry two seats, while the B.C. Liberals racked up an historic 77 seats.
The poll shows the B.C. Liberals have lost support of half the number of people who voted for them in 2009. By my reckoning, that translates into the party winning just a dozen or so seats if an election were held today.
The party may be able to count only a couple of seats in Richmond, two in South Surrey, two on the North Shore, two in the Fraser Valley, one in the Okanagan, one in Vancouver and one in the north as relatively safe ridings.
But the election is not being held today, of course. It's set to occur precisely one year from now, and polling numbers can change quite a bit by then.
However, there seems to be precious little evidence that the numbers will change in any significant way.
These are bleak findings for the B.C. Liberals, which raises an interesting question.
Will Premier Christy Clark actually call an election earlier than May 2013?
While it still seems doubtful an earlier election call would enable the B.C. Liberals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, it might give the party the best chance to actually survive to fight another day.
Waiting until May 2013 before heading to the polls will likely mean the B.C. Liberals will be completely enveloped by a strong stench of political death. We've seen that movie before.
In 1991, Social Credit premier Rita Johnston went into the campaign and quickly became a figure of near-ridicule as it was readily apparent her party had absolutely no chance of winning and was, in fact, going to be thrashed in the election.
The same thing happened to NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh in 2001. That election campaign was really over before it even started, and the NDP emerged with just two seats.
In both cases, Johnston and Dosanjh looked like desperate creatures, playing out the string and marching with certainty over a big cliff.
The Social Credit party - once a long-time political dynasty - proceeded to fall apart and eventually disappear completely. The NDP, with a more committed base of support, was able to rebuild to the point of being competitive in the 2005 election and now appears poised to regain power the next time B.C. voters head to the polls.
Clark knows her political history, and once said she knew full well the dangers an unpopular government faces if it waits until the last moment before issuing the election writ.
She has also said she thinks her political strength is actually campaigning (critics will no doubt agree she may be better at that part of the political game than actual governing) and thinks she can out-fight NDP leader Adrian Dix in an election campaign.
But waiting until the last possible moment to campaign would rob her of any chance of at least trying to look competitive. Dix could sleep-walk through such a campaign and still come home with a big majority.
However, an earlier election call could at least dispel the image of desperation, and allow her to look more like a gambler. The NDP is on record as favouring elections in the fall - not the spring - so it's hard to see that party violently oppose an early trip the ballot box.
None of this is to suggest an earlier vote would translate into an election victory for the B.C.
Liberals. If they can become a bit more competitive, they could win about two dozen seats - enough to ensure a strong presence as the Official Opposition, and a big enough base on which to rebuild.
And that's the challenge that now seems to be facing Clark and her party. It's not about beating the NDP, and is instead all about surviving as a viable political party to fight another day.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global B.C.
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