Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Electoral test for B.C. in two by-elections

Update: You can check out my post-election analysis of the by-elections here.

Polling has been very light in British Columbia, with only three surveys having been published for the province in 2015 and none since November. So the two by-elections taking place today in the ridings of Coquitlam–Burke Mountain (CBM) and Vancouver–Mount Pleasant (VMP) will provide a revealing peek at what the political landscape in B.C. currently looks like.

With an election a year away, that may prove useful.

In the 2013 provincial election, Douglas Horne won the riding of CBM for the B.C. Liberals with 49.9% of the vote, followed by the New Democrats at 37.4%. The Greens and Conservatives trailed at a distance with 5.8% and 5.5%.

This will likely be the riding to watch, as the margin was relatively close. A loss for the B.C. Liberals here would signal some malaise with the government that should be of concern for Christy Clark. If the margin narrows significantly, that may also be a sign that the New Democrats are a real threat.

But if the margin does not narrow, or if the margin increases, the New Democrats will have to wonder if they are on track for another defeat.

The B.C. Liberal candidate is Joan Isaacs while the NDP is putting Jodie Wickens. The Greens and Libertarians are also running candidates. Full by-election information for the riding can be found here.

The by-election in VMP is unlikely to be as interesting. Jenny Kwan, now a federal NDP MP, won the riding with 65.8% of the vote in 2013, followed at a distance by the Liberals at 18.7% and the Greens at 11.9%.

Few doubt that the New Democrats will win here, but it will be interesting to see if the margin narrows. It likely will, as often happens in by-elections that were won by a landslide in the previous general vote. The result will not be as revealing as in CBM, as VMP is not a riding that the B.C. Liberals would be targeting anyway.

The New Democrats are running Melanie Mark against the Liberals' Gavin Dew. The Greens, Libertarians, and Your Political Party are running candidates. Full info here.

26 comments:

  1. "This will likely be the riding to watch, as the margin was relatively close. A loss for the B.C. Liberals here would signal some malaise with the government that should be of concern for Christy Clark. "

    I'm not sure how much you paid attention to our byelections in the previous legislature Eric, but we BC Liberals were absolutely crushed in them, and still won the general election handily.

    It's unfortunate that you didn't give more weight to the Mount Pleasant. The Green candidate is Peter Fry, the son of long time MP Hedy Fry. Andrew Weaver and the BC Greens have been picking up some organizational support from disgruntled federal / BC Liberals, so a strong showing by Fry could be a signal of things to come.

    And it's Mount Pleasant not Mount Pearl. That's in Newfoundland. :3

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    1. True, but those by-election defeats DID signal serious malaise with the Clark government. The NDP just ran a bad campaign.

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    2. Not to flog a dead horse but, I thought the problem with the BC NDP campaign in 2013 wasn't so much the campaign as what they had to work with, Adrian Dix.

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    3. See what I meant re: Mount Pleasant? You didn't even mention the second place candidate by name. :(

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  2. It's Vancouver Mount Pleasant, not Mount Pearl.

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  3. Ahem, Vancouver-Mount *Pleasant*. :)

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  4. Eric, you made a mistake in the riding name. It's Vancouver-Mount Pleasant in your results table. You put Mount Pearl, which is in Newfoundland and Labrador. :)

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  5. I predict the NDP will win both ridings. Governments in B.C. have a very poor track record of winning by-elections. The relative vote share of both the Greens and Conservative Party particularly in Burke Mountain will be interesting to gauge the health of both those parties.

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    1. There's no Conservative candidate in either, which should tell you everything you need to know about the health of that party.

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  6. Vancouver Mount Pleasant not Vancouver Mount Pearl Eric.

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  7. Ugh.

    I had it right in my text.

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  8. If you look at how the results of by-elections predicting how governments will do in the next election, BC really takes the cake for most meaningless. Both seats were lost. Vancouver-Mount Pleasant was obvious (Strongest NDP seat in the province I believe) and in reality, the margin of Victoria in Coquitlam-Bukre Mountain wasn't enough for me to be seriously concerned that the BC Liberals will lose the next election handily. In fact, in all likelihood, Joan Isaacs (BC Liberal candidate in CBM) will be an MLA in 2017.

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    1. The BC electorate seems to dislike the Liberals, but fear the NDP. So they'll happily vote NDP to punish the Liberals, but not if it's going to elect an NDP government.

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    2. LeftCoast,

      Possibly the second most secure NDP seat, the safest BCNDP seat has long been the next seat East, Vancouver-Hastings.

      A very good night for the Greens 14% in the suburban Coquitlam riding is excellent and 26% in Vancouver Mount Pleasant may be seen as a small breakthrough. I have heard from wiser men than I that 25% is often seen as the threshold between major and minor parties with 26% in Vancouver-Hastings the Greens have passed that mark and may start to take away NDP and Liberal seats.

      These by-election form part of a larger narrative of NDP decline in BC, their failure to win the last three general elections means people in BC know the NDP can not win government and have started to look for an alternative that can. The Green Party and Andrew Weaver are starting to look like the alternative.

      Finally, the Green result is as much an indictment of Mulcair's poor leadership as the BCNDP and John Horgan's inability to stir excitement and interest in the Party. I believe the BC NDP in terminal decline. It will be a slow process but, my contention is that over the next decade or so we will see them replaced with either a new party or the Green Party.

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    3. 25% for the Greens in 2016 is about as meaningful as the BC Conservative Party's 25% result in the by-elections in 2013.

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    4. Capilano, you're constantly proclaiming the imminent demise of every federal or provincial wing of the NDP. It's become so predictable that it's downright boring. In what world is a double by-election win, including a riding pickup from the sitting government, equivalent to a portent of doom?

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    5. From the distance of Ontario, you may think that but, those of us who actually live in British Columbia know better. Unfortunately, the Conservative party did no better than receiving 15.35% of the vote in 2013 by-election, although they did considerably better at by-elections the year before where they picked up 25% in Chilliwack-Hope, a small "c" conservative riding in the Fraser Valley. Your interpretation of those by-elections is flawed (no doubt hindered by your distance from the people and facts on the ground here in British Columbia). In fact those by-elections had a very important impact on the results of the general election. The fear of the NDP and a split the very real threat of a centre-right split was crucial for the BC Liberals to win a surprise majority government, it made the NDP over-confident and made Liberals think they were running from behind, this in turn had a dramatic result on turn-out and on who turned out. All of which is difficult to see from Upper Canada.

      In any case the NDP is well on its way to losing 4 elections in a row in B.C., they have a national leader they can't get rid of and squandered their best chance to form government. It sure doesn't look like the BC NDP have the ingredients for success in 2017.

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    6. A.S.

      Thank you for your opinion. In the real world those much cleverer than you can pick-up on emerging trends. I'm sorry you can not see or do not understand where the world is heading.

      It is not really a double by-election win. If the NDP had lost Mount Pleasant-that would be something, to win, but, have the Green Party come in a strong second in a riding that should be a NDP bulwark should be worrisome for a party that wants to form government in 15 months time. It demonstrates a significant split in the anti-government vote. Yes, they picked up a suburban riding on an eight point swing during a by-election with low turn-out against a very unpopular premier. Such a win is not a very good measure of success. Frankly, one would expect the Opposition party to do better against a premier with an approval rating in the low thirties. They can't however, because nobody trusts the NDP and especially don't trust them to win the next general election. That is why people are moving to the Green Party because as the BCNDP looks more and more impotent in its ability to remove the BC Liberals those who wish for a new Government are turning to a party that many feel better represents the interests, attitudes, ideas and personality of British Columbians and British Columbia.

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  9. Replies
    1. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=bc+byelection+results+2016

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  10. And the result ?? Double NDP win

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  11. Unless the Liberals really really mess up in BC and the NDP can somehow see a surge in support for them in metro vancouver, the Liberals are pretty much assured power almost indefinitely.

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  12. I would think that the significance of the increased Green support could be interpreted
    in terms of the picture it serves to complete surrounding the Liberal drop of support. A non-Liberal vote that tends to polarize to the NDP so as to overturn a Liberal incumbency in one riding, and split between the NDP and Greens so as to remove the Liberal candidate from the top two in the other, suggests to me a syndrome that might be electorally problematic for the Liberals in the future. The Liberals in BC may be in longer run decline, similarly to the recent pattern in the other three Western provinces, and such as to return to the general post-war pattern in BC prior to the 1990s.

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    1. DOX,

      I am not quite sure I follow you. Removing the Liberal candidate from the "top two" doesn't help the NDP form government if the Greens win the seat. I don't think such a political realignment likely where the Greens and NDP become the two dominant provincial parties. Presumably, such a scenario would see the NDP as the Government/ conservative party and the Greens as the Opposition/ liberal party although the reverse may also be possible. Both are I believe less likely than what we have witnessed throughout BC's history the decline and emergence of parties without a paradigm shift. Hence, Labour turned into Tom Uphill into the CCF into the BCNDP. conservatives became Conservatives then Non-Partisan Association, then Conservatives again then, Social Credit and now the Liberal party.

      The NDP hasn't "metamophizied" in about 50 years (whereas, the BC Liberals usurped the mantle of Social Credit in 1991) and so it is about time the next generation put their stamp on the party. if for whatever reason this is not possible people will look for an outlet that bettter reflects their ideas and opinions or is better able to achieve their objective(s).

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    2. In terms of a substantial displacement of the BC Liberals, my thinking was of a "Conservative" party similar to the BC Conservatives, Social Credit, Reform BC, Wildrose, Saskatchewan Party, PC Party (in provinces) or Conservative version of the Greens replacing the BC Liberals on the right. Generally speaking, a situation in which the BC Liberals are being removed from a top tier context of competition, particularly by the NDP and the Greens running to the left of the NDP, can be viewed as instructive of opportunities by which a Conservative party can fill a vacuum on the right. All else being equal, this is reinforced by it being harder, rather than easier for the BC Liberals, in a separate sense, to convert votes into seats. Such a reinforcement is what the opposition vote comparatively consolidating around one alternative ticket in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain was suggestive of.

      The emergence of the BC Liberals as a major party in 1991 was clearly an expression of the same general phenomenon that occurred around this time, in various manifestations, in each of the other three Western provinces. This regeneration has run its course in these other provinces, and I don't see the BC Liberals' particular quality of being a "keep the NDP out of power" party as adding anything fundamental in this case, other than to sustain its staying power somewhat longer. So I would think it pertinent to relate this paradigm to the ideas of the first paragraph.

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