Monday, January 9, 2012

The two by-elections in BC - Chilliwack-Hope first

We will have by-elections in Port Moody-Coquitlam and in Chilliwack-Hope in the near future, the track record of governments in BC by-elections has been abysmal.   Since 1966 there have been 27 by-elections in BC, 24 23 won by the official opposition and 3 by the government, not a single and one was one by a third party.

If the government were to lose both, it does not put the majority in any danger.   We end up at 47 Liberals versus 38 others, which is still more than enough to govern with.   It will not look good in the media for Christy Clark, but the premier has another year to govern before the election.

So what will happen  in these by-elections?   First Barry Penner's seat of Chillwack-Hope.

Chilliwack Hope is a new riding that is primarily made up of rural areas of Chilliwack-Kent and the Fraser Canyon portion of Yale-Lillooet.

2005 notional result within the 2009 boundaries
  • Liberals 52.1%
  • NDP 37.4%
  • Greens 8.5%
  • Others 2.0%
2009 actual result
  • Barry Penner - Liberal    8895 - 53.28%
  • Gwen O'Mahoney - NDP  5638 - 33.42%
  • Hans Mulder - Conservative 1198 - 7.10% (a Hans Mulder ran for the Greens in Chilliwack-Kent in 2005, no idea if this is the same person turns out this is the same person)
  • Guy Durin - Green  951 - 5.64%
  • Dorothy-Jean O'Donnell - PF 93 - 0.55%
Turn out 51.85%

So why were so many people not voting in 2009?  I suspect a large number of them are social conservatives who could not bring themselves to vote for the Liberals.   I also suspect the lack of a competitive race and that would depress turnout.

By-elections normally have low turnouts.

What is likely to happen?    It is hard to be certain yet because we do not know who will be running for the government in the riding.   Let assume the Liberals have a decent candidate and strong campaign.

I think it is safe to assume that John Martin will be the BC Conservative nominee.   We also know the Greens will not be running anyone.

If we assume the Liberals will be saying "Stop the NDP, vote Liberal", and given that they have held the seat, they should be able to get to between 30-40% of the vote.   In absence of a candidate I am predicting 35%.

The NDP should be able to take a 1/3 of the vote again, as they have done in the area in 2005 and 2009.   I see their range being 28-35%

Now for the wildcard, how will the BC Conservatives do?   The choice of John Martin could work well but it could also backfire if he gets in trouble with the media by saying something "out there".   By having been a columnist for the Chilliwack Times, he has a lot of material from the past that people can go through and find something damming.

My prediction is 25-40% of the vote for the BC Conservatives.   I currently predict 32% for them.

I do think the riding has a chance of going any one of three ways.  Until I know who the BC Liberal candidate is, I can not be certain of what will happen.

If the NDP can get the Sto:Lo to vote, they are a large enough group that they could boost the NDP vote enough to make an NDP win more likely.   More than 11% of the people in the riding considers themselves aboriginal versus 4.8% in BC overall.

I can not call this one.
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