The poll released May 21 but conducted May 13 to May 15 appears after days of speculations about possible forms of cooperation between the provincial Conservatives under John Rustad and B.C. United under Kevin Falcon.

Cooperation, even a merger, might have made sense when both parties sat around 20 per cent each, Kenny said. “But now, if you are John Rustad, you are surfing on this growing (wave of) popularity, you feel like you have the wind in your sails, why would you burden yourself with the sinking B.C. United (party)?”

The poll also brings good news for Rustad himself. While Premier David Eby remains the most popular of the major party leaders with an approval rating of 54 per cent — up three per cent and 12 per cent better than the B.C. NDP as a party — Rustad has claimed second place. His personal approval rating has hit 37 per cent (plus two per cent), ahead of B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau with 35 per cent (minus two per cent) and Falcon with 31 per cent (minus five per cent).

“I think at this point, Rustad is benefiting from the conservative, anti-establishment wave, more than from his individual personality,” Kenny said. He added Rustad remains an unknown entity and people are attracted to him because he represents something new. “That’s why I think the three other parties are really going to try to seize this opportunity to define him in a negative light,” he said.