Mainstreet Research poll shows B.C. Liberal candidate Tony Harris with substantial lead in Nanaimo by-election

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      A new poll suggests that the B.C. Liberals are in a good position to win another seat in the B.C. legislature.

      Mainstreet Research says its survey of 753 voters in Nanaimo shows that the B.C. Liberals were supported by 44.7 percent of respondents.

      The NDP lags far behind at 32.2 percent, followed by the Greens at 13.7 percent and the B.C. Conservatives at 7 percent.

      When the names of the candidates were presented, 43.5 percent preferred B.C. Liberal Tony Harris compared to 35 percent for New Democrat Sheila Malcolmson, who's the former MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. B.C. Green Michele Ney is in third place with 12.2 percent.

      The Nanaimo by-election will be held on January 30.

      "No matter what angle we look at it, the B.C. Liberals are ahead of the B.C. NDP in Nanaimo with the vote to be held on Wednesday," Mainstreet Research president and CEO Quito Maggi said in a news release. "No matter if we ask for party names or candidate names, the B.C. Liberals are leading."

      The provincial seat was vacated when veteran NDP MLA Leonard Krog quit to run for mayor of Nanaimo. Krog won that election on October 20 and is supporting Malcolmson's candidacy.

      Sheila Malcolmson quit her seat in Parliament to run for the B.C. NDP in Nanaimo.

      If the B.C. Liberals win the by-election, they will have 43 MLAs in the 87-seat B.C. legislature.

      The NDP has 40 seats and the B.C. Greens have three MLAs.

      The B.C. Greens have pledged to support the NDP on confidence and supply bills.

      If there's ever a 43-43 vote, the speaker, Darryl Plecas, casts the deciding vote.

      Maggi conceded in his company's news release that turnout will be an important factor.

      "The B.C. NDP are literally fighting for the government's life in Nanaimo so it would not be a surprise if the final numbers will be tighter than our findings," he said.

      B.C. Green candidate Michele Ney is in third place, according to the Mainstreet Research poll.

      In the first two days of the advance vote, 233 more voters turned out in the by-election than in the first two days of the advance vote in the 2017 general election, according to Elections B.C.

      Voters were surveyed for the Mainstreet Research poll on January 23 and 24. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.54 percent, 19 times out of 20.