Painful Truth: Polls broken, or voters squeezed?

Is there change on the horizon in B.C., and if so, why?

Remember four years ago, when all the polls suggested the election was the NDP’s to lose?

And then they lost it?

Maybe that’s why pundits are tiptoeing gently around the polls this time, making noises about how strong the Liberals are even as they wallow deep in second place.

According to a new Mainstreet Research poll, the NDP is sitting at 44 per cent, the Liberals at 34 per cent, and the Greens at 22 per cent.

Historically, those numbers don’t make sense.

Over the last half century, the NDP has only ever won when it headed up a united center-left and squared off against a split or scandal-plagued center-right.

If the Greens were polling at 22 per cent in any other election, you’d expect them to be stealing votes from the NDP. You certainly wouldn’t expect the NDP/Greens to have a collective 66 per cent of decided voters!

Part of me suspects a massive polling foul up, like the one that plagued the last election’s results.

The other possibility is that there’s a groundswell of discontent in B.C.

But why? All the traditional metrics – unemployment rate, economic growth – look good for the Liberals. They’ve certainly had their scandals, which can’t help, but Christy Clark bounced back after the party ditched Gordon Campbell and suffered through the HST debacle.

If these poll numbers hold up through to May 9, then the deeper issues may be masked by the shiny economic news.

For many people, the last five years haven’t been bad, but they’ve been precarious.

Sure, there are jobs, but the cost of housing and everything else is going up faster than wages.

The squeeze means working more but getting less. Parents fear their kids will never be able to buy a home.

The NDP’s “Treadmill” ad, the best from either party so far, plays to these concerns.

If the Liberals lose this election, it might be because of the fear and anxiety that can grip even people who seem to be doing okay. For now.