Christy Clark's election as BC Liberal leader appears to have given the party a five-point lead over the opposition New Democrats, according to the first major poll conducted since she became premier.
"It's a bit of a bounce - the first time they're leading outside the margin of error since the May, 2009 election," Mario Canseco of Angus Reid Public Opinion, which conducted the survey, said Tuesday.
Ms. Clark, a former deputy premier and education minister, was elected BC Liberal leader on Feb. 26.
According to the poll, the BC Liberals have 43 per cent support of decided voters, compared to 38 per cent for the NDP.
The Green Party has 10 per cent and the BC Conservatives five per cent, according to the online survey of 897 randomly selected adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.5 per cent.
The poll suggests the BC Liberals are leading in Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the North while the NDP is ahead in the Interior.
While BC Liberals have a 14 point advantage over male voters, the NDP is five points ahead among women.
The poll also suggests the harmonized sales tax could be headed for defeat in this year's referendum on its fate.
Fifty-four per cent of respondents told Angus Reid they would vote against the tax while 33 per cent said they would support it.
The referendum is currently scheduled for September, but Premier Clark has said she will move the date up to June 24. However, the legislature has yet to act to engineer the shift in scheduling.
The HST, said Mr. Canseco, represents a major challenge for the new premier because the tax would be defeated in a vote.
"You never want to be the [government]to oversee a referendum you lose," said Mr. Canseco.
Kevin Falcon, the new finance minister, has promised a newly energized effort at selling the tax to British Columbians.
On the BC NDP leadership race, the poll finds that Mike Farnworth is the most popular choice among B.C. voters in general as well as New Democrats with 43 per cent support among the public and 54 per cent support among New Democrats.
Adrian Dix comes second with 27 per cent and 41 per cent respectively. John Horgan is third with 23 per cent support of New Democrats. Pot activist Dana Larsen, with 17 per cent, leads over two-term MLA Nicholas Simons with nine per cent.