Monday, October 25, 2010

B.C. Liberals most likely doomed, but probably not for long

Éric of 308.com has ventured his opinion on the current, sad state of the B.C. Liberals and Premier Gordon Campbell, who have fallen flat on their faces in recent polls, especially so since the inaugeration of the much-maligned HST, which is going up for a referendum vote next year.

The latest Angus Reid poll is the reason for Éric's article in the Globe, where he explains that if those were truly the results in the next election, the BC Liberals would end up with 10 seats (down from the current 48), the BC NDP up to 72 seats (from 34 currently), the Greens 1 seat (up from, well, zero), and two independents.

The results are catastrophic for the governing party, which is currently enjoying a 9% approval rating. Even if Campbell were to step down as Premier, not enough votes will flood back to the BC Liberals to overcome the current deficit, as other polls have shown. The polls also show a good portion of BC Liberal support flooding to the BC Conservatives, a minor party that would go from 2% in 2009 to 8% in the AR poll.

While I certainly believe the BC Liberals are most likely not going to remain in government after the next election, I want to add some cavaet's to Éric's conclusions.

First off, I'm willing to bet that BC NDP leader Carole James will not be the province's next Premier. Though James has stuck on for awhile in what is notoriously a revolving-door leadership, she just faced down what was somewhat of an open revolt, causing her to expel one of her MLA's, and for the party's caucus chair to resign. Murmurs of James' inability to take true advantage of the drop in Liberal support - they are only up 7-points since 2009 in the AR poll, while the Liberals are down 22 - and her consistently poor leadership ratings that, while not quite rivalling Campbell's, are quite a bit lower than what the ascendant party's leader should have. Of all the NDP leaders, James is the one that grates me the most, with half-hearted pandering to the business leaders she says she supports but never does, and a fairly irritating voice. She's gone two elections without winning back power, and now her party is only up in the polls because they're the Opposition and people despise the BC Liberals. Who James is replaced with, I don't know, but I'm fairly she will not be there long enough to become Premier.

Secondly, the Green seat projection is fairly rich. While the Greens could benefit from the exodus of Liberal voters and a fairly lax NDP, the fact is that the BC Greens are a very sad bunch to look at. Their leader, Jane Sterk, will probably be replaced, but unless she's replaced with Adrianne Carr or Lizzy May, I see no future there. The Greens are more left-wing than their federal or other provincial cousins, and would probably benefit more from a Dipper exodus than a Liberal one. 2001's election was proof of this, and note how the drop in Liberal support in subsequent elections hasn't buoyed the Greens who have dropped consistently every election. The Greens winning a seat would be nothing but a small miracle.

Third point, the BC Conservatives I would give a chance of winning a seat, or two, or even a few, especially out in BC's Interior. It really all depends whether this minor party can get its act together, grab support from the federal cousins that dominate the area, and capture disenfranchised Liberal supporters that can't quite bring themselves to vote NDP. More than the Greens, the BC Conservatives are a wild card in the next election. If they can get an effective leader, join the rousing chorus of anti-HST voters, and fundraise like hell, it's possible they could become a force. This really is the kind of climate that could work well for them.

Fourth point is where the title of the post comes in: the BC Liberals are probably going to get hammered next election, barring some unforeseen event that boosts their numbers up. But, the likelihood of the party falling by the wayside for long is unlikely in my opinion.

Much like the huge Liberal tide that swept BC back in 2001, ending 10 years of BC NDP government, the Liberals could very easily bounce back. If James or whichever NDP Premier doesn't deliver on the HST, which will most likely be the case, the Liberals could easily rise again. After 2001, the NDP bounced back easily, going from 2 seats and 21.6% of the vote, to 33 seats and 41.5% of the vote, mostly on the back of controversies over BC Rail and BC Hydro, plus some other, less than charming things.

The B.C. Liberals will most likely be the Opposition in the next Legislature, and will probably do quite a bit of soul searching. If they pull off a comeback, I wouldn't be surprised, simply on the grounds that the next Premier is more than likely to disappoint, its just how things go in BC. Elected by the tide, defeated by the tide. Just ask the SoCreds.

Speaking of, the question of whether or not the Liberals can mount a comeback relies on them being the Opposition. Hark back to the 1991 election, when Social Credit Premier Rita Johnston lead her party's dynasty to heavy defeat, ending up third behind Gordon Wilson's Liberals, which were more like liberals at the time. What happened next was curious; the defeated SoCreds flooded to the BC Liberals, installing the centre-right Campbell as Leader, and threw the majority of their support behind his party (there was an attempt to create another party, but it fizzled out pretty quickly). The B.C. Liberals ended up what the old Bill Bennett (not W.A.C.) SoCreds so successfully were - a mix between the Interior's conservatism, and the Lower Mainland's urbane, liberal, business-friendly centrism. That's carried them through, until now, where they seem regulated to the Lower Mainland.

If the BC Conservatives end up capturing the Interior vote, and the Liberals retain the Lower Mainland's, then it's essentially a split vote that allows the NDP to coast through. If the Conservatives really gain strength and try and replace the BC Liberal's, capture all the old SoCred votes, then, frankly, the Liberals are screwed. The likelihood of the BC Conservatives grabbing the Lower Mainland votes is unlikely, however, with their current platform.

So, there's my thoughts, and I suppose my "predictions": BC NDP becomees governing party without James, Greens fail to win seat, and BC Liberals make eventual, probably sooner-than-you-think comeback. It could all go wrong, of course, especially if I'm right about the BC Conservatives being the wild card. But, we'll see.

No comments:

Post a Comment