Sunday, August 21, 2016

Kootenay East - is this a Bill Bennett seat or is it now right of Centre?

I am looking at Kootenay East because I was asked why I had not included it and Cariboo North among the 21 most competitive in the province given the circumstances in 2017 will be very different in these two ridings than the 2013 election.

Kootenay East is an interesting riding to look at because in the last 13 elections since 1966 it has been won by the NDP six times, Liberals four times and Social Credit three times.

Kootenay East Election Results from 1966 to 2013

Socred/Ref/Unity Liberal Conservative NDP Green others
2013 10252
2009 8404 1612 5844 549
2005 8060
7339 1389
2001 651 10206
3038 1287 718
1996 3718 5887
6398 363 215
1991 5014 3450
1986 7649 539 499 8000
1983 8829 347
1979 6167 975 5350
1975 7915
1972 1615 4267 4169 6065
1969 4267 2604
1966 3070 2123

The election that really stands out is 2013 because the Liberals won it with more votes than the 2001 NDP blow out election.  This I believe is due to the personal popularity of local MLA Bill Bennett.   So what happens now that Bill is retiring?

The riding was historically competitive between the right and left, it was certainly within range of the NDP to win.   Erda Walsh's strong come back in 2005 gave people hope the NDP could win the seat in 2009 but even with the BC Conservative party leader running there the Liberal vote rose and the NDP vote fell.   Bill Bennett's 2009 win is in fact the third largest margin anyone has won by.   The only better margins are Bill's 2001 and 2013 wins.   This very much speaks to this being a strong vote for Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett is known to have a very strong personal following in the riding and has a strong local BC Liberal organization that is loyal to him.   I think the election results bear this out.

So, what happens in 2017?   
Factors at play:
  1. The NDP has never managed to win a majority of the votes when they won while the Socreds and Liberals managed to win more than 50% of the vote five times.    This says to me that without some form of third party cutting into the Liberal vote the NDP will have trouble winning - that 3rd party could be a Conservative, Green or strong local independent
  2. Bill Bennett will be active in helping the BC Liberal candidate win.   I think a good part of the support for Bill will follow onto the BC Liberal candidate in 2016.
  3. The NDP seems to be getting weaker in rural BC.   They have lost ground over the last three elections.   It is very hard to judge how the NDP could do in Kootenay East when I do not have the fainest idea what the party's election strategy is for 2017.
  4. In the 11 elections since 1972 only once, 1986, was it not won by the government.
I suspect the BC Liberals will hold this seat but with a reduced majority and there is no danger of the NDP threatening to win the seat.

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