Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2013 BC election - some analysis trying to figure out what might happen

I know I am doing this without knowing what sort of campaign any of the parties will run, but based on what I have seen, no one is going to anything out of the ordinary.

My estimate is that 1,700,000 to 1,800,000 people will vote in the election.

My estimates of the vote totals of the parties:

  • NDP  750,000 to 775,000 - abt 44% of the vote
  • Liberals 525,000 to 550,000 - abt 31% of the vote
  • Conservatives 250,000 to 300,000 abt 16% of the vote
  • Greens 125,000 to 175,000 abt 8.5% of the vote
  • the rest 25,000 abt 1.5% of the vote

The NDP gains some green and 2009 Liberal voters
The Liberals lose a few to the NDP, 50,000 to 75,000 to the Conservatives and 75,000 to 125,000 to non voting
The BC Conservatives gain about 150,000 2009 non-voters and 50,000 to 75,000 BC Liberal voters.


  • I am assuming that Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntingdon will be re-elected.
  • The 34 sitting NDP MLAs should all be re-elected.
  • For the Liberals much will depend on how many incumbents run, in many places the lack of an incumbent will harm the Liberal re-election chances.
  • The Conservatives suffer from not having any concentration of their vote.

Here is my current estimate of the the 2013 election result

  • NDP 58 (54-63)
  • Liberal 23 (20-27)
  • Conservatives 2 (0-5)
  • Independents 2
  • Greens 0 

What would it take for the Liberals to win?  They need to find 300,000 centre to centre right voters and get them to vote.   They need to give them a reason to vote for the Liberals.   There will be something like 3,000,000 people considering voting in the next election but 1,200,000 to 1,300,000 will end up not voting.   Of these people, a large portion are politically from the centre or centre right.   There will likely be 400,000 to 500,000 that have voted in one of the past five elections for the BC Liberals that will not voting in 2013 because there is no party they want to vote.  

There are another 400,000 to 500,000 that are more right wing than anything but respond to a strong populist message.  Without that populist message they are unlikely to come out and vote.  Should John Cummins become a serious populist threat, I would say all bets are off on what will happen in the next election.  To date I do not see him being able to engage that populist streak.

Adding significantly the vote turn out is not unrealistic.   The 2011 Federal election saw 1,872,636 people voted in BC versus only 1,640,542 in the 2009 BC election.   A voter turn out of 1,900,000 to 2,000,000 can be achieved with the right positive campaign that gives people a reason to vote.

In the back rooms of politics in Canada the big goal in the elections for the last generation has normally been finding ways to get people not come out and vote.   The primary role of all negative campaigning is to get people not to vote.   The parties work hard to suppress the vote of the competition and this is the fundamental reason voter turn out has been falling.  Just so everyone is clear, negative campaigning causes almost no one to change their mind who they vote for, it just makes them lose hope and not vote at all.

There is no indication that there is any significant space for the NDP to grow their total vote to over 800,000.  It is in the interests of the NDP to suppress potential Liberal voters but at the same there is little hope that the Liberals can significantly suppress the NDP vote in 2013.   There is also little hope the Liberals can suppress the Conservative vote.  Going after Adrian Dix or John Cummins is not adding any votes for the Liberals, they need a positive vision for the province to get more people to vote Liberal in 2013.

When Elections BC surveyed the people that did not vote in 2009, a significant portion of the non-voters decided not to vote on election and decided not to vote because there was no one they wanted to vote for.   The non-voters are the people looking for the positive vision from the parties and they are the low hanging fruit that the parties are leaving on the branch to rot.

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