Clearly the NDP won the night because they won both seats - they won two gold medals. Adrian Dix now has a caucus of 36 members and an obvious cabinet member in Joe Trasolini. At 36 MLAs he now leading the largest opposition caucus in BC history, one larger than Carole James had after the last election.
Baring something dramatic happening, Adrian Dix is on the path to being the sixth NDP premier of the province.
Christy Clark losses because she lost two seats and one that should have not have been under threat at all. No matter how you dress it up, two silver medals are still twice being the 1st loser. The hope of winning in 2013 is remote, really remote. Short of something unpredictable happening there is no hope in winning government again
She does get some positives out of the race. The Liberals are the clear majority choice as the free enterprise party. The vote splitting argument works in her favour and against the BC Conservatives. She won the prize of the business community who will now be working hard to ensure that there is no one supporting the BC Conservatives.
What is also important to note is that the Liberal vote is not tanking like the NDP vote did at the end of their last time in government.
In April of 2000, one year before the election, the NDP were at 21% in the polls. From February 1999 till the May 2001 election the NDP support levels were in the range of 17%-22%. At the same time the Liberals were in the range of 50% to 72%. The polls currently have the Liberals in the range of 21% to 36% and the NDP is at 42-47%. Clearly the NDP have a strong lead, but the Liberals are as clearly the number 2 choice in BC.
The Liberals did well enough that I can not see any danger of a revolt against the premier.
What the Liberals do need to worry about is the weak motivation of voters to come out and vote for the Liberals. The by-election shows that the party needs to build a much stronger on the ground structure and figure out how to get people to come out and vote.
The BC Conservatives come out of the night as the biggest losers. If they can not win one of the most socially conservative ridings in BC in a by-election, there is no hope of winning seats in the next election. John Martin was well known locally and has a strong right wing populist voice. He came third.
I do not think that these results are something like the results the BC Liberals achieved in the six by-elections from June 1988 to December 1989. The BC Conservatives put in a lot more effort and got more media than the BC Liberals were getting at that time. I do not see a 1991 Wilson break through coming in 2013 for John Cummins.
The BC Conservatives also clearly failed to motivate the social conservatives to come out and vote. Their primary hope lay in getting people that voted Conservative federally but did not vote provincially to vote. I had thought they could do this but is obvious that they could not.
The BC Conservatives did badly enough that I do not see any MLA seriously considering joining them. If they had won in Chilliwack-Hope a couple may have given it some consideration. Joining a rising party that is winning is one thing, joining the also ran party makes no sense.
What it would take for the BC Conservatives to succeed in May 2013? A Gordon Wilson moment.