Thursday, August 25, 2011

The HST Result and a Fall Election

I am certain the HRT will be defeated and that the result will be about 70% to extinguish the HST.   I have a hard time seeing the evidence that the result will be close at all.   The Yes side went into the campaign with a lot more motivated volunteers and a base of around 700,000 people willing to sign the petition.   The nature of the campaign, a populist revolt against government and business, makes the odds of people vote Yes more likely.  

So what does this mean for BC politics? I think it makes a fall election more likely.

I really have no desire to see a fall election for a host of reasons, but a repudiation of government policy in a referendum is a strong case for holding an election.  I suspect that Christy Clark would like an election sooner rather than later so that she has a caucus that is her caucus.

I honestly can not see a change to the political scene in the next several months that would allow the BC Liberals to win the next election.   I also see nothing on the horizon that indicates any danger of a massive defeat.  There has to be something happen to shift the public mood enough to change what I see as the most likely result, an NDP majority government.

I also really do not like what a fall provincial election will do to local municipal elections.   There will be little or no time for the media and volunteers to help with the civic elections when there is a provincial election on as well.   Anything earlier than calling an election after the civic elections are over is going to be a problem for local elections.

At this point I see an election result as follows:

  • BC NDP 39.7% - 715,000 (+25,000)
  • BC Liberals 37.8% - 680,000 (-70,000)
  • BC Conservatives 12.2% - 220,000 (+185,000)
  • Green Party 8.1% - 145,000 (+10,000)
  • Others 2.2% - 40,000 (+11,000)

I see the NDP total vote rising, but their percentage of the vote is down because I see turn out up by 160,000.   There are a lot of non-voters the BC Conservatives will bring back to the polls if there is an election this fall and will be their primary source of new support.

How does this break down in seats?

  • BC NDP - 45-48
  • BC Liberals - 31-38
  • BC Conservatives - 2-6
  • Independents - 0-2 
The BC Liberals suffer the most in rural BC with the potential to lose 8 to 12 seats.  They are also in danger of losing all four seats on the Island.   Finally there are about five seats in Metro Vancouver that are under threat.

If the BC Conservatives manage to get more than 10% of the vote, they will start win seats.  I see them winning one or both of the Peace seats and possibly some of the Okanagan seats.

Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntingdon could both be re-elected or could both be defeated.   Independents are hard to gauge their real chances of winning.   

With falling Liberal fortunes, it would seem Vicki Huntingdon would have an easier time to be elected, but she has hardly been a very prominent MLA.   She has done nothing wrong, but she has not been dynamic enough to win on her name alone.

Bob Simpson is in a riding that both the BC Liberals and BC NDP want to win.  Bob Simpson should be able to take 1/3 of the vote, what the other parties can do is not clear.  I suspect that the BC Conservatives can take 25% of the vote, the BC Liberals 20% of the vote and the BC NDP 20%.  That would seem to say he would win in a four way race, but nothing is certain and no one really knows as voter turn out in Cariboo North was down a fair bit in 2009.  One in ten voters in 2005 did not vote in 2009.

Greens are not on target to win any seats.   In more urban BC they will come a distant third, in more rural and suburban BC they will come fourth.

For Christy Clark this is not an ideal situation, ideal is a win.   But having a strong opposition caucus places her in a good position to win the election in 2015 or thereabouts.   She is still young enough that if she does a term in opposition she will still only just be 50 in 2015, younger than Campbell was in 2001.

I am going to try and estimate the probabilities of each party winning each seat in an election if it happens this fall - I hope to have this done in a week or two.
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