12 days ago I predicted that the Chillwack-Hope by-election would go as follows:
John Martin Conservative 40%
Laurie Throness Liberal 35%
Gwen O'Mahonney NDP 23%
Lewis Dahlby Libertarian 2%
I did the math on the riding in more detail and I remain comfortable with that prediction. The full prediction with vote totals is at the end, but first how I got to the numbers.
Some history so that everyone can understand some of the background of where I am coming from. In the 1990s there were three by-elections that effectively were a battle of who would be the primary right wing party in BC, something which the Chilliwack-Hope by-election could very well also be. If this is a battle for the hearts and minds of the right then this really is a very different by-election and the general election results are not likely to be a good guide.
First if we look at Delta South in 1996, 1999 and 2001
Liberal 13415 58.78% 10577 59.63 14596 67.00%
Right 1371 6.01% 5837 32.91% 760 3.49%
NDP 5984 26.22% 433 2.44% 2053 9.42%
Green 333 1.46% 488 2.75% 3650 16.75%
Total 22,822 17,737 21785
Right is Reform in 1991 and 1996 and Unity in 2001
This race was the final hurrah of any party to the right of the BC Liberals until the rise of the Conservatives under John Cummins. I had also hoped at the time it would be the final nail in the coffin of Bill Vander Zalm's political career.
So where did all the NDP voters go in 1999? This was not even the nadir of NDP polling support in BC. By the reasoning people have used for Gwen O'Mahoney in Chilliwack-Hope, the NDP should have been a competitive third in this 1999 by-election and not been at 2.44%.
Now we look at at Abbotsford in 1991, 1995 and 1996
Right 6647 36.12% 5297 40.58% 4086 18.67%
Liberals 6509 35.37% 5588 42.81% 10998 50.25%
NDP 5246 28.51% 1170 8.96% 5405 24.69%
Total 18402 13054 21889
Right is Social Credit in 1991 and Reform in 1995 and 1996
This was the race that effectively moved BC Reform under Jack Weisgerber from being a serious threat to a minor rural third party.
Once again, look at the NDP support levels, in the by-election their support craters.
Next, Matsqui in 1991, 1994 and 1996
Socred 8236 43.74% 5422 41.45%
Liberals 6431 34.15% 5464 41.77% 10903 50.81%
NDP 4163 22.11% 616 4.71% 5349 24.93%
Reform 1250 9.55% 4405 20.53%
Total 18830 13081 21457
This 1994 by-election was the final hurrah of Social Credit in the world and they lost. Once again, the NDP support levels fall dramatically in the by-election
I know that circumstances are very different now than then and one could claim that the results speak of hatred of the government of the day. I am not convinced of that, I see those three by-elections as three that solidified the Gordon Campbell coalition that was the BC Liberals from 1993 to 2011. I am taking the differences into account by not cratering the NDP vote in my electoral math as happened the above three elections.
The other day I did some analysis to show why the voting patterns of the public in the Chilliwack area make it impossible for the NDP to win. The jist is that there is no untapped potential for the NDP but the BC Conservatives have several thousand non-voters they can get engaged to vote again. The importance to election outcomes of part time voters is vastly underestimated.
The turnout of the three above by-elections have to be adjusted from the reported percentages because from 1986 to 2001 the number of voters in BC that were not registered was significantly higher than before or afterwards. When I adjust the numbers, I get to about 40-45% turnout for these three ridings, which is on the high side of by-elections turn outs in BC.
My estimate is that there will be 34,000 registered voters in Chilliwack-Hope. I am estimating a 42% turnout which means 14,300 voters.
John Martin Conservative 5800 40.56%
Laurie Throness Liberal 5200 36.36%
Gwen O'Mahoney NDP 3500 24.48%
Lewis Dahlby Libertarian 300 2.10%
So why is the NDP percentage of the vote lower than in the 2009 general election? Because I am assuming the NDP support will be closer to what one would see with a turnout of 30% in a by-election but the support for the Liberals and Conservatives will be at the higher level of turnout.