In the 2013 BC Provincial Election Andrew Weaver had a historic first BC Green victory in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding. This time around, the Greens are looking to expand upon their single seat with an additional one or two on Vancouver Island.
The dark horse riding for the Greens is our very own New Westminster, with Jonina Campbell running. Everything I’ve seen points to New West going NDP, and for good reason: in every election but one since 1952 the New Westminster riding has voted in either a CCF or an NDP MLA. But one candidate calls the election a crapshoot, and another says election night will be a nail-biter. Why?
Jonina Campbell. She’s a well-respected school board trustee, and sat as chair when the Provincial government finally decided to build a new high school. She wore some of that success (and Judy Darcy, the NDP candidate and MLA, shares some of that success as well) along with other school board successes: less infighting on the board, balancing the budget, and a series of progressive changes to district policies.
But is a BC Green victory in New Westminster realistic?
I took a look at some of the numbers and came up with some scenarios.
When Andrew Weaver won in 2013 he gained votes from both the Liberals and the NDP in equal proportions. In 2009 Oak Bay-Gordon Head was won by the Liberals by a mere 561 votes, 11877 to 11316. The Greens took 2230 votes.
In 2013 the Greens took 10722 votes, the NDP came in second with 7767, and the Liberals came in third with 7536. All things being equal, this means that 3780 votes went from the NDP to the Greens and 4110 went from the Liberals to the Greens. Both parties lost approximately 33% of their votes to the Greens (33.4% for the NDP, 34.6% for the Liberals).
Turnout was up 2.7% in the riding.
In 2013 in New Westminster the NDP got 13170 votes, Liberals got 8997, the Greens got 2252, and other candidates received a total of 2546. We’re not going to look at the other candidates in this analysis.
Scenario 1: Oak Bay-Gordon Head in New Westminster
This scenario is pretty far-fetched. We’re going to take the same proportions of votes that went Liberal to Green and NDP to Green that we saw in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and assume that those proportions will happen in New Westminster. This means the NDP loses 33.4% of their 2013 votes to the Greens, and the Liberal loses 34.6% to the Greens.
Under this scenario, with no increase in turnout, the Greens win New Westminster with 9764 votes. NDP is in second with 8771, and the Liberals in third with 5884.
Scenario 1B: More voters, and they break Green
Of course, a close race means more interest in an election, and that can drive voter turnout. Let’s suppose the number of voters who actually cast a ballot in New Westminster goes up by 5% (note that this is actually different than “turnout increases by 5%” because of math). Let’s also suppose that they break Green – 50% of these new voters vote Green, 35% vote NDP, and 15% vote Liberal. Obviously under this scenario the Greens still win, but by a slightly larger margin: 10008 to 8925 to 5928.
Scenario 2: Split the Left
This scenario is also very far-fetched for New Westminster. We’ll assume that there’s a fixed pool of “left” voters made up of everybody who voted either NDP or Green in the last election and this year they actually legitimately exactly split the left. For this to happen 41.45% of the previous NDP voters would go Green, all of the Liberal voters vote Liberal again, and the Liberals would win New West by 1286 votes with the NDP and Green tied at 7711 votes. For either of the “left” parties to win, the number of new voters would have to go up 17% and they would all have to go to one of either the NDP or Green.
There’s no way this is going to happen.
Scenario 3: Liberals flee, NDP not so much
Let’s get into some more realistic scenarios. In New Westminster politically there’s really three groups: NDPers, regular people, and people who really don’t like the New Westminster and District Labour Council (aka THE MACHINE). The people in the latter category are largely Liberal supporters, but given their love for the Liberals is outweighed by their hatred for THE MACHINE, they could easily move to a candidate who stands a legitimate chance of coming close to defeating the NDP in New West. This year they have that candidate.
One could make a parallel here to the recent school trustee by-election that went to Mary Lalji if one were so inclined.
We could probably lump in a fourth group of people: NDP voters who aren’t really tied to the NDP but voted for them as an anti-Liberal vote.
So with that in mind, let’s throw some numbers down. Let’s say the Liberals lose 35% of their voters to the Greens. Let’s say the NDP’s a little firmer, with 15% of their voters going Green. Under this scenario, the NDP win New Westminster with 11195 votes, Greens in second with 7376, and Liberals in third with 5848.
Or maybe even more Liberals break Green? 50% means the Greens are still in second, but with 8726 votes. 75% gives them 10975 votes. You need to get over 78% of the Liberal voters moving to the Greens before they win in New Westminster with 11245 votes.
Scenario 3B: More new voters, and they break Green
Let’s take scenario 3 with the 35% Liberals and 15% NDP going Green, but let’s also bump up the voters by 10%, with 60% of them going to the Greens, 30% to the NDP, and 10% to the Liberals. Under this scenario the NDP still win New Westminster: 11530 to 7819 to 5906.
Scenario 4: More NDP go Green, even more Liberals go Green
Personally I think Scenario 3 is the most likely, but here’s another interesting possible outcome: 25% of NDP voters and 50% of Liberal voters go Green. I don’t think either proportion is correct, but it’s still within the realm of possibilities. Under this scenario, the Greens win New Westminster with 10043 votes, the NDP in second with 9878 votes, and the Liberals in third with 4499 votes.
Now that would be a nail-biter!
Scenario 5: You tell me!
Maybe you don’t agree with my scenarios. Great! Leave me a comment below or shoot me a comment on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll run the numbers.
Scenario 6: You don’t vote
In this scenario you are bad and you should feel bad.