NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Not-so liberal Liberals projected to win in British Columbia; score huge upset over NDP

So much for all those pre­dic­tions of a big NDP victory.

It’s been an hour and fif­teen min­utes since polls closed in British Columbi­a’s 2013 provin­cial elec­tions, and the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (NDP) has yet to over­take the Lib­er­als in the count of leading/elected MLAs (Mem­bers of the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly). And it looks like they’re not going to.

As the min­utes tick on, the NDP’s chances of vic­to­ry seem increas­ing­ly slim. There is no talk of an NDP land­slide now on Cana­di­an net­works; in fact, one (CTV) has already called the elec­tion for the Lib­er­als, pro­ject­ing they will retain their major­i­ty. And on Glob­al (which I’m watch­ing from here in the States), anchors and pun­dits are already sug­gest­ing that Christy Clark will be bask­ing in the glow of vic­to­ry tomor­row while the NDP does some soul-searching.

UPDATE, 9:47 PM: Glob­al has now called the elec­tion for the Lib­er­als as well.

Why are the Lib­er­als ahead? Well, they’re doing much bet­ter than expect­ed in many areas of the  province, includ­ing Prince George and the Low­er Mainland.

Some of the ris­ing stars the NDP was count­ing on to help car­ry the par­ty to vic­to­ry aren’t far­ing too well. For exam­ple, Chris Wil­son, whose cam­paign I cov­ered on Sat­ur­day, is trail­ing in Coquit­lam-Burke Mountain.

It appears the Lib­er­als could end up with more seats than they had at the dis­so­lu­tion of the B.C. Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly, although bal­lots are still being count­ed and the num­bers will change. That would be a stun­ning outcome.

In a bit of good news for the NDP, in Van­cou­ver — Point Grey, the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s David Eby is now ahead of Christy Clark. As of 9:40 PM:

Christy ClarkBC Lib­er­al Party3,40144.56%
David EbyBC NDP3,51446.04%
William GibbensInde­pen­dent260.34%
Hol­lis Jacob LinschotenWork Less Party180.24%
Duane Nick­ullBC Con­ser­v­a­tive Party1181.55%
Marisa PalmerLib­er­tar­i­an140.18%
Françoise RaunetGreen Par­ty of BC5377.04%
Bernard Bedu YanksonThe Plat­inum Party40.05%

There will like­ly be pres­sure on the NDP’s Adri­an Dix to step down as NDP leader, at least from some quar­ters. Dix’s strat­e­gy of try­ing to run a pos­i­tive cam­paign and deflect Lib­er­al attacks — instead of aggres­sive­ly coun­ter­at­tack­ing — appears to have back­fired, and cost the NDP the election.

The NDP was­n’t appar­ent­ly able to cap­i­tal­ize on dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the Lib­er­al gov­ern­ment, despite all of the pub­lic opin­ion research that sug­gest­ed vot­ers were unhap­py with the B.C. Lib­er­als and ready to turn them out.

The results are so at odds with the polling — like in last year’s provin­cial elec­tion in Alber­ta — that Cana­di­an media are sug­gest­ing it will be a water­shed moment (and not in a good way) for poll­sters and pub­lic opin­ion research firms.

Instead of it being a his­to­ry-mak­ing night for the NDP, it’s turn­ing out to be a great night for the Lib­er­als and a good night for the Green Par­ty, who have appar­ent­ly man­aged to elect their very first MLA (Andrew Weaver) to the Assem­bly in the Oak Bay — Gor­don Head rid­ing on Van­cou­ver Island.

The Con­ser­v­a­tives, mean­while, are hav­ing a pret­ty bad night as well. They haven’t won any seats or led in any rid­ings the whole evening.

It appears many of the British Columbians they were woo­ing decid­ed to sup­port the incum­bent Lib­er­als instead of vot­ing Conservative.

The pro­gres­sive vote, mean­while, appears to be more split between the NDP and the Green Par­ty. The NDP had repeat­ed­ly appealed for pro­gres­sive vot­ers to vote NDP dur­ing the cam­paign, but many still chose to vote Green.

Some of the rid­ings that the NDP was thought to stand a very good chance of win­ning that are cur­rent­ly going Lib­er­al instead include:

The Lib­er­als’ plat­i­tude-filled rhetoric about cre­at­ing eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty and exploit­ing the province’s nat­ur­al resources, cou­pled with a sus­tained effort to sow fear, uncer­tain­ty, and doubt (FUD) about the NDP into the minds of British Colum­bia vot­ers, appears to have suc­ceed­ed beyond their wildest expectations.

The results once again offer proof that while vot­ers say they don’t like neg­a­tive cam­paign­ing, it is effec­tive. Dix and the NDP allowed them­selves to be defined by the B.C. Lib­er­als, espe­cial­ly towards the end of the cam­paign, and it result­ed in an elec­tion night cat­a­stro­phe of huge pro­por­tions. Instead of tak­ing pow­er or at least cut­ting into the Lib­er­al major­i­ty, they have lost ground — and the Lib­er­als will return to Vic­to­ria with an even big­ger cau­cus than the one they left with.

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