New Westminster 2020 Provincial Election Forecast

Hey it’s election time again! And that means I’m going to gaze into my crystal ball and forecast what the numbers are going to look like for the New Westminster electoral district (not the Richmond-Queensborough one!) after all the votes are counted.

Last time around the BC NDP had Judy Darcy running for re-election, the BC Green Party had a strong candidate in Jonina Campbell, and Lorraine Brett ran for the BC Liberals. Ultimately Judy Darcy improved upon her popular vote percentage, beating Jonina Campbell 51.55% to 25.36%. Lorraine Brett picked up 21.27% of the vote.

This time around the overwhelming majority of the drama came before the election, as Judy Darcy announced she would not be running for re-election. Two candidates stepped forward to take her place, Jennifer Whiteside and Ruby Campbell, and Jennifer Whiteside won the nod from the NDP constituency. For the BC Greens, Cyrus Sy put his name forward, as Jonina Campbell is now the Executive Director of the BC Greens. For the BC Liberals, Lorraine Brett decided to run again. Conservatives and Libertarians are also running candidates.

That’s the local flavour. How will it all play out, with the snap election complaints from non-NDP parties, the pandemic raging around us, and the partisan nature of politics we’ve been moving more and more towards in recent years?

My bold prediction is that Jennifer Whiteside and the BC NDP will win New Westminster. That’s no surprise. The BC NDP could run a potted plant and win here. That’s why I said the drama came before the election campaign started, because it was actually the NDP constituency members who were voting on who New Westminster’s next MLA will be, not the voting public in New Westminster.

I predict that the numbers will come down like this, plus-or-minus a couple of percent: Jennifer Whiteside: 62%. Cyrus Sy: 23%. Lorraine Brett: 13%. Everybody else: 2%.

Why did I pick these numbers? Let’s start at the bottom: While people have heard of the BC Conservatives (and maybe some people remember Benny Ogden from the last municipal election), and the leader of the Libertarian party is running in New Westminster, they’re complete non-entities in New Westminster. Between them I don’t see them getting more than 3% of the vote, if that.

I don’t see Lorraine Brett improving her numbers at all. The BC Liberals are circling the drain, and their low polling numbers in BC will only lead to a worsening of their support in New Westminster. That said, there isn’t any other proper right-wing party for right-wing people to vote for, so maybe 20% is about where the floor is for their support. Whatever it is, Lorraine Brett is going to hit it.

Last-minute update: I started writing this post on October 14. Early on October 16 news broke that Lorraine Brett thinks JK Rowling’s transphobic writings are her “best work”. I don’t know what effect this will have on her results, but I’m going to guess that it won’t be that great for her. Correspondingly, I’ve dropped my prediction for her by 4% and given it equally to the NDP and Green. My original numbers were 60%, 21%, and 17%.

Cyrus Sy isn’t as well-known as Jonina Campbell, and the BC Green party hasn’t been polling particularly well on a regional basis. There may be some disaffected NDP voters who would have preferred a candidate with more community ties than Jennifer Whiteside who will swing over to vote Green, but there won’t be more than a handful of them. I think that the 25% that the BC Greens got in 2017 is their ceiling right now. A lesser-known candidate combined with weaker polling for the BC Greens provincially, which means I backed him off to 21% 23%.

And that means whatever left over is for Jennifer Whiteside, which is 60% 62%.

The only thing worth watching in New Westminster is the race for second. My prediction is that the BC Greens come second again, and the BC Liberals finish third.

Is a 39% margin of victory plausible? This year, yes. The NDP is polling well, the Liberals lurch from homophobic candidate to transphobic candidate to misogynistic candidate, and the Greens haven’t had enough time to find their footing under a new leader. New Westminster is a strong NDP riding, and it will definitely be reflected in the results of the 2020 provincial election.