Monday, January 21, 2013

What would it take for the BC Conservatives to win any seats?

First off, I think it is highly unlikely any BC Conservative will win a seat in this coming election, but if a break through were to happen, where would it be?  In looking around the province the only region I can see the BC Conservatives having any chance of winning a seat is in the Okanagan.   There are three reasons I think this:

  • This is where the party did the best in the 2009 election
  • The party seems to be better organized in the Okanagan than elsewhere
  • The electoral history of the Okanagan is right wing enough for the BC Conservatives.

2009 election
In 2009 the BC Conservatives ran candidates in all seven Okanagan ridings and they managed to do moderately well for a party that only ran 24 candidates in the whole province.

Of the 34,451 votes the BC Conservatives achieved in 2009, 16,593 of them were in the Okanagan, that is almost half their vote in the 2009 election.

BC Conservative Results in the Okanagan in the 2009 Election
Riding              % of vote  spending
Boundary Similkameen 20.16% $17,423.13
Kelowna Mission      11.86%  $9,354.00
Kelowna Lake Country 11.42% $19,894.39
Shuswap              10.28%  $8,424.00
Westside Kelowna      9.14%  $9,269.00
Penticton             8.90% $11,845.94
Vernon Monashee       8.15%  $5,111.62

Yes, the Conservative candidate in Boundary Similkameen was Joe Cardoso, who was the BC Liberal candidate before being unselected by that party, and he had a lot of profile, but there was strength for the party in the other ridings as well.

The Conservative candidates in the Okanagan did spend some money on the election, not huge amounts, but certainly enough to show there was some sort of a campaign going on.

Prep for 2013
As of today we know of 10 BC Conservative candidates in BC, five of them are in the Okanagan.  Of the candidates nominated, several of them are actively campaigning to some extent already, one example being Scott Anderson in Vernon Monashee going after BC Liberal MLA Eric Foster about his MLA office renovation expense.

They are still miles away from being as ready as they should be, but they are better organized than anywhere else in other than the Nanaimo and Parksville areas but then they do not have the luxury of having former premier Brian Peckford living in the Okanagan.

At 10%-13% support levels province wide I would expect the party to be roughly twice as popular in the Okanagan overall and higher still in Kelowna.  15% to 25% results in the seven Okanagan seats are not unrealistic but they are still not really high enough to win seats.  If the BC Conservatives can get to 35% in one of the ridings they have a chance of a good split and a chance of a win.

Electoral History
The Okanagan has elected MLAs and MPs from the right side of the spectrum in almost every election since the beginnings of time.   The south Okanagan has had some NDP MLAs and the Vernon area has had an NDP MLA and MP.  In 1991 the NDP did win two of the five seats at the time, but one of them was with less than 35% of the vote.

The Okanagan was also one of the only areas of BC to re-elect any Socreds in 1991 and the final sitting Socred MLA was Cliff Serwa in Okanagan West who was the only one of the seven elected in 1991 that was still a Socred at the time of the 1996 election.   In 1996 the NDP government was re-elected but lost both Okanagan seats even though this was a strong area of the province for BC Reform.

What would it take for a BC Conservative to win a seat?
I think the one word for it would be a miracle.

Even starting with much better results than they achieved elsewhere in the province, the assumptions I have to make to get them close to winning are outside of what I think is realistic.  I did a vote migration where the Liberals lost 30% of their vote - 15% to the Conservatives and 15% to not voting.  I then assumed 10% of the 2009 voters would vote for the BC Conservatives.   With these assumptions I ended up with the NDP winning Vernon Monashee and Boundary Similkameen and the BC Liberals winning the other five.   The BC Conservatives were not close in any of the races.

When I assumed that 20% of 2009 Liberal voters would vote BC Conservative and 20% of 2009 non-voters would vote Conservative, that is when the seats changed hands but BC Conservatives win with razor thing margins.  This scenario requires 4,700 more people to vote in each riding than in 2009, I could only see that happening if the BC Conservatives really convinced people there was a race.  As of now I see little evidence of that happening.
Mike McLoughlin

Having run various scenarios of vote migration, the best chances for a break through for the BC Conservatives are:
  • Kelowna Lake Country - Graeme James a former Kelowna City Councilor
  • Kelowna Mission - Mike McLoughlin
If I were to bet $100 on them winning what odds would you have to give me?   I think it would have to be 10 to 1 for Graeme James and 20 to 1 for Mike McLoughlin.


Graeme James

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