Tens of thousands in Facebook ads; no movement in the polls

We had a lot of content to cover in this episode 210 this week and ended up cutting even more for time. So I’m posting some of it here as a blog post.

First up, as mentioned I’ve been tracking the Facebook ad spending of each of the three major parties week-by-week. Here’s the chart of the parties and their leaders for October 2-8, 2020.

Combining the spend on the party and leader’s pages, the Liberals spent over $114k, the NDP $69k and the Greens $2,800.

While the NDP was massively outspending the Liberals in the week before the campaign and first week, last week the Liberals moved ahead. They maintained that lead this week, even as both major parties spend over $30,000 more than last week. The Greens increased their spend by $1600 over the previous week but are still well behind the other two parties.

I didn’t have as much of a chance to dig into the types of ads being run but I did notice the NDP running a number of attack ads against Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals. In particular, trying to connect the Liberals with supporting the wealthy and powerful. The Liberals also had a variety of ads, including one that argues the NDP can’t be trusted on the environment.

Finally, last week when I checked, the BC Greens were largely running ads promoting press coverage of their party. Now the Greens have a number of ads promoting the policies that Sonia Furstenau has been releasing this week (listen to episode 210 for more on those).

Despite the new policy announcements and increased ad spending, we haven’t seen a lot of movement in the polls. Just two new ones this past week. Angus Reid shows the NDP up by 18 points and ResearchCo has them up by 12. The Greens are at 14% and 13% in the polls respectively.

Based on these, Eric Grenier’s CBC aggregator would give the NDP a solid majority of 51 seats to 35 for the Liberals and 1 for the Greens. PJ Fournier’s 338 aggregator gives the NDP 52 seats to 33 for the Liberals and 2 for the Greens.

The rainbow dilemma

We also didn’t get a chance to dig into the continued challenges Andrew Wilkinson is facing over his defence of candidates Laurie Throness and Margaret Kunst, who’ve both been criticized for homophobic and transphobic comments in the past. Justin McElroy has a great piece in CBC looking at how Wilkinson has brought up the existence of LGBTQ members of his family.

Wilkinson’s clearly in a bind on this issue at this point. As the nomination deadline is passed, were he to expel Throness and Kunst from the Liberal tent, he couldn’t nominate alternate candidates. If they won (and given they’re running in conservative areas in the Fraser Valley, it’s not unlikely) they’d take their seats as independents or even join the BC Conservatives or another smaller right-wing party. This would seriously weaken an already tenuous hold on the free enterprise coalition and could spell the demise of the party.

Undoubtedly, Wilkinson would have preferred to see Throness take a quiet exit from provincial politics at some point before the scheduled date for the election next year. Nevertheless, it’s been his choice to repeatedly bring up the sexual orientation of his family members as a shield. While none have gone public with their concerns, I’m pretty confident at least one would likely resent this tactic and I suspect it’s going to be a rather tense Thanksgiving dinner at the Wilkinson household (or Zoom call) this weekend.

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