Monday, April 18, 2011

Who wins with Dix?

Yesterday Adrian Dix won the NDP leadership and while it is a win for the NDP, and Adrian DIx personally, the other person that benefits is Christy Clark.

With the selection of Adrian Dix as leader, the approach to government between the NDP and the Liberals is dramatic.   Christy Clark has a serious problem with the rise of the Conservatives under John Cummins.  With Adrian Dix leading the NDP, the argument that the NDP and Liberals are basically the same has no merit at all.   There is a clear difference and either you vote for Adrian Dix to elect the NDP or you vote for Christy Clark to stop the NDP.  

Certainly the choice of Adrian Dix makes the political choice very easy for me, I will be backing the BC Liberals under Christy Clark.

I still think the Conservatives will be a factor because John Cummins will resonate in rural BC and be that populist note that works so well in BC.   I suspect that Cummins will primarily be a threat to about dozen Liberal MLAs in more rural areas.   If the Conservatives are polling over 10%, they are likely to win some of the more Conservative parts of rural BC.   They could also split the vote in such a way to allow the NDP to win two to three seats in rural BC.

All three of the serious contenders for the leadership would have been a dramatic improvement for the party.   Adrian Dix brings the ability to make the NDP a very focused and strong opposition to the government, it also means that the NDP has a very skilled and shrewd political strategist as leader of the party.

Here are the Vote Results

  • Dix        7636  7748(+112)  9772(+2024)
  • Farnworth  6979  6951(-27)   9095(+2144)
  • Horgan     4844  5034(+190)
  • Larsen      531
  • Total     19990 19733(-257) 18867(-866)

Some notes on the vote:
There were not enough Dana Larsen to allow for John Horgan to move ahead of Mike Farnworth.   Dana Larsen did endorse John Horgan for the second choice, but his words did not push that many votes to John.  

There were 1832 votes in play yesterday.  People voting on Sunday voted in each round separately, either via the internet or in person in Vancouver.   Once again, these were no enough numbers to move John Horgan from third to second.

Interestingly, Mike Farnworth's vote dropped on the second ballot.   This is all people that forgot to vote on Sunday for the second round.

John Horgan's decision not to endorse either front runner was a tacit statement for Adrian Dix, though a weak one.   I am not sure there were enough votes in play on the day for John Horgan to have shifted enough votes to have Mike Farnworth win.   It would have made the final result almost 50/50 which would not have been good for the NDP.

Thoughts on what it means for the NDP.
Dix got the 'old guard' and Farnworth was the candidate of 'New NDP'.   I personally think this is the last hurrah of old style left politics in BC and that the leader that replaces Adrian Dix is going to be part of 'The NDP'.

The MLAs I see as the face of the new generation of future leaders of the NDP all lined up behind Mike Farnworth.   How will their lives be under Adrian Dix?   If Dix has the same loyalty sentiment of Glen Clark better an ounce of loyalty than a pound of brains then the people that backed Mike Farnworth will be sidelined.   The problem is that when you look at the NDP caucus, it is clear that the people skilled enough to be in cabinet backed Farnworth.   Dix has to make allies of people like Rob Flemming.

John Horgan highlighted a portion of the NDP that has been declining over the years, the populist roots of the party.   Neither Dix nor Farnworth can claim any populist creds and this means the NDP gives up a bunch of support in rural BC to the Conservatives under Cummins.

In general, the election of Adrian Dix means that the NDP is for the first time since the resignation Glen Clark a serious government in waiting.   The NDP under Carole James had a bunch of seats but was in no way ever a series government in waiting.   The NDP has moved back to competent and skilled leadership after an 11 year break.

The last years of the last NDP government was more like a death row watch than a government.  Joy MacPhail did an amazing job in the legislature from 2001 to 2005 but since she was not interested in leading the party, the NDP was little more than an irritant to the government.

The NDP can win the next election by focusing on a few ridings, here is the list of the 11 they could realistically win:

  • Burnaby Loughheed
  • Burnaby North
  • Cariboo-Chilcotin
  • Comox Valley
  • Kamloops North Thompson
  • Maple Ridge Mission
  • Oak Nay Gordon Head
  • Saanich North and the Islands
  • Surrey Tynehead
  • Vancouver Fairview
  • Vancouver Fraserview

Less than 8,000 votes would have changed those seats in the last election, less than 0.5% of the votes cast in the election.

For Adrian Dix to win the election, he only need to focus on 25 of the seats and can ignore the other 60 seats.  The NDP is safe in about 30 seats, so there needs to little focus on those seats.

In the 30-35 seats that the NDP can let the Liberals win, the NDP can let their vote crater in those ridings.   It is possible for a well run strategically run campaign to bring the NDP victory but for their total vote to fall.

Will Adrian Dix be premier someday soon?  I think it is likely but not guaranteed.
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