Friday, September 19, 2008

They let her into the boys club, now she has to show the party matters.

Elizabeth May has taken the hard work Jim Harris, the previous Green Party of Canada leader, did in 2004 and 2006 and brought the Greens square into the mainstream of Canadian politics. The media are taking her seriously and reporting on where she is and what she is going. She even managed to be the main news story in the nation for the last few days with her exclusion from the leaders debate. But where will all of this lead to and will the Greens have any real success on the ground?

For the Greens to remain relevant the party needs to elect at least one MP in this election. This still remains an almost impossible task. If the Greens can not win a seat, the party will drop out of the national political media spotlight for the next four years. The party will not be able to get into the leaders debate again. The media will simply relegate the party back to fringe status.

Where could a Green MP be elected?
In descending order:

  • Central Nova
  • West Vancouver Sunshine Coast Sea to Sky Country
  • London North Centre
  • Guelph
  • London West
  • BC Southern Interior
  • Esquimalt Juan de Fuca

Central Nova – Elizabeth May is running in her home riding against Peter MacKay, scion of Atlantic conservatism. The Liberals are not running here. I am not willing to call this riding, but I do give her better odds of winning than any other Green in the country. Peter MacKay has his personal popularity that he draws from, but Elizabeth May is popular in Nova Scotia. The NDP will not be an issue in this race.

Blair Wilson offers an interesting situation. He was elected as a Liberal in 2006 for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country but crossed to the Greens just before the election. Most observers are writing him off, but this is an error. Provincially the Greens have managed to get about a ¼ of the vote in this region. In 2006 this was in the top 40 of Green results nationwide and in 2004 the fifth best result in the whole country. If Blair Wilson can call on people such as Rafe Mair to endorse him and bring a lot of Liberals to the Greens with him and finally convince New Democrats that he should get their strategic vote, he has a shot at winning. The latest polling numbers in BC put the Greens very close to the Liberals and NDP.

London North Centre – Elizabeth May did very well there in the by-election in 2006 coming second. By-elections are not general elections and have to always be taken with a grain of salt. She has left the Greens in the region with a higher degree of organization than almost anywhere else in the country. All three ridings in the area should see strong Green votes, but it is unclear if they can elect anyone.

Guelph – the Greens were shown to be a distant second in some polling in the run up to a now canceled by-election. Mike Nagy, the Green will benefit from the campaign lengthening and the Greens have more time for more people to meet him. Still he remains a very long shot at even coming second.

London West - The London area offers a lot for the Greens to be able to succeed, most importantly it is any area for the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP are all in the race. Having all of them in the race means someone can with as little as 30% of the vote and that is a number within reach of the Greens. The fact this riding is held be a Liberal makes it much more vulnerable to a Green win than London Fanshawe which is held by the NDP. The 2008 election is about what seats the Liberals are losing in Ontario, Quebec and BC and who will claim them.

For the Green Party, the party has done well in BC Southern Interior for a number of elections, but they remain very far out of the running. This is a riding that is classic BC two party slugfest, NDP v. Conservatives. The Greens and Liberals are after thoughts.

Yes, Esquimalt Juan de Fuca is a VERY long shot, but I am at only 7 ridings and having to look at fluky long shots. In general, the Greens have the best odds of electing an MP in a riding where there is an existing three way race and the riding is held by a Liberal in BC or Ontario. This describes Esquimalt Juan de Fuca.

That is all there is out there for the party and they have to win at least one of those seven, and ideally several of them. Elizabeth May and Blair Wilson are the only ones that have better odds than drawing to an inside straight on fifth street. Other than these seven, the Greens are drawing dead.

The Greens came second in one riding in 2006, Wild Rose in Alberta. This second place finish was not much of a prize as Myron Thompson of the Conservatives got over 70% of the vote.

The best result the greens had in 2006 was in the Ontario riding of Bruce -Grey-Owen Sound with just about 13% of the vote and a distant third place finish. The Greens could come second here, but they can not win. They tried with all their might to be the main alternative to the PCs in the last provincial election in this riding but still came a distant second.

A number of the other best results for the Greens in 2004 and 2006 came in the Calgary area where the real race is the Conservative nomination and not the election. Coming second in a Alberta riding is really like coming fourth anywhere else in the country.

BC has the best organized Greens in Canada and the ones in the Victoria area are the most organized in BC, but they will not have any luck in electing an MP in this area.

Saanich Gulf Islands – Andrew Lewis is back for the Greens in a riding he had a very strong vote in 2004 and a somewhat dampened one in 2006. Odds are he will gain votes, but he will not get enough to win. Frankly the fact that Briony Penn and Julian West are former Greens and running for the Liberals and the NDP respectively will further reduce anyone's chances of beating Gary Lunn.

Victoria, like Ottawa Centre, are ridings where the Greens could do well if they were not running against an NDP incumbent.

Elizabeth May is being given her chance to make the Greens, she has until October 14th to prove the party can win anywhere in the country.


Anonymous said...

Andrew Lewis has a much better shot in Saanich now that the NDP candidate has resigned.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.