Thursday, April 19, 2012

BC By-Election Liveblogging

Teddy here. While Volkov is off "working", your friendly in-between-jobs Teddy will be running tonight's live blog of the BC By Elections! We will be following the election in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope.

Note that times will be posted in eastern. 11pm (in a few minutes) is when the polls close, which is 8pm in BC. At the time of the poll closing, I will be putting out a little "what to expect" guide for each riding.

The polls are now closed. What can we expect to see?

The hope here is that the Conservatives can finally win, at least, to those who support that party. This is where the BC Tories are focusing. The Liberals will be trying to fend off the challenge from the right and hold their own, while the NDP will hope the split will be enough to lead to victory.

Teddy's odds
70% chance of a Conservative MLA
25% chance of a Liberal MLA
5% chance of a NDP MLA

Port Moody-Coquitlam
While the Media may focus on the result in Chilliwack, it will be here that the real story will be told. This is a riding that the NDP should be able to win, and failure to do so might indicate trouble on the horizon. The Liberals will be trying to hold on, while the Conservatives will attempt to galvanize the anti-Liberal anger.

Teddy's odds
60% chance of a NDP MLA
30% chance of a Liberal MLA
10% chance of a Conservative MLA

"Word on the street" is that the Conservatives have failed to hit their mark, BCCon leader John Cummins is pepping the media for a "strong second" in Chilliwack-Hope. The NDP is also readying for a victory in Port Moody.

First results up in Port Moody showing the NDP at 32 votes, the Conservatives in second at 9, and the Liberals at 5. One poll, obviously, but the NDP's candidate here, Joe Trasolini is a strong candidate, and could run away with it.

So, what if? What if the BC Conservatives do win both ridings? This would be a disaster for the government. The BC Liberals would likely drop in the polls and the next election would become a NDP-Conservative race that the Conservatives could not hope to win. What if the NDP wins both ridings? That's actually somewhat likely, and the Liberals might just end up in 3rd place in both. That would be bad for the government but not as bad as the above situation.

With 7 boxes counted in Port Moody, the NDP has 212 votes, compared to 66 for the Liberals and 41 for the Conservatives. In Chilliwack, the NDP has 62 compared to 37 for the Conservatives, 35 for the Liberals, and 1 for the Libertarian candidate.

I thought it might be wise to give people a little background on the BC Conservatives. The Party started like any other Tory party in Canada, but was all but destroyed by the great depression. The Conservative government dealt with the depression so poorly that the party voted to not even bother contesting the 1933 election, with each local riding association effectively running it's own campaign.

Following this disaster the party managed to get into a coalition government with the Liberals during the 40's. It was this kind of moderate anti-socialist government that would become en vogue in BC, and be later emulated by Social Credit, and the modern day BC Liberals. Following the win by Social Credit, the renamed PC Party remained a small but present party in the province. The party had members of the legislature off and on to 1986, when the party was all but dead.

In 1991, the BC PC Party, now a very small rump, changed it's name to the Conservatives, beating the federal party by over a decade. The party would remain a small party not on the minds of voters until late in 2009 when former MPs became involved in the party, culminating with former Delta MP, John Cummins becoming party leader. Cummins is a former Reformer who leads the party as a right-wing alternate to an already right-leaning BC Liberal Party

More numbers for you.
Port Moody.
With 10% of the boxes in we have the following.
NDP - 478 - 61.60%
BCL - 178 - 22.94%
BCC - 120 - 15.46%

With slightly over 10% of votes in we have the following.
NDP - 438 - 47.00%
BCL - 272 - 29.18%
BCC - 216 - 23.18%
LTR - 6 - 0.64%

Chilliwack-Hope 20 of 126 boxes in
NDP - 712 - 45.12%
BCL - 458 - 29.02%
BCC - 396 - 25.10%
LTR - 12 - 0.76%
The Conservatives are going to have to do better than this if they hope to be taken seriously.

Port Moody Coquitlam 35 of 132 boxes
NDP - 1,177 - 50.49%
BCL - 765 - 32.82%
BCC - 389 - 16.69%

Chilliwack-Hope 33 of 126 boxes
NDP - 1,190 - 45.58%
BCL - 722 - 27.65%
BCC - 668 - 25.58%
LTR - 31 - 1.19%

A short history of the BC Liberal Party. Much like the Conservatives, their beginnings were much as in any other province. After the coalition, the party, like the Tories, faded away. It was in 1991 under Gordon Wilson that the party was able to return in force. With a debate homerun in his pocket, Wilson managed to go from 0 to 17 seats and become the new Official Opposition. Wilson, a more traditional Liberal, was forced out after a personal scandal and the party was taken over by Gordon Campbell, a more right-wing Liberal who might have more easily fit in with the federal PC Party. Campbell won government in 2001 and governed generally from the right.

The BC Liberals, like the BC Conservatives, are generally more right-wing than similarly named parties in other provinces.

Port Moody-Coquitlam
With half the boxes in, the results remain steady.
16.31% for the Conservatives
31.55% for the BC Liberals, and
51.14% for the BC New Democrats and Joe Trasolini.
When the numbers remain this table in a riding like Pot Moody-Coquitlam (without large and heavy support areas for one party or another) this means only one thing.
This by-election is over. The NDP has taken this seat.

So we've heard about the Liberals and Tories, how about the NDP. You might expect that the BC NDP would be, like the other two, further to the right, however this is not the case. The BC NDP has a tradition for being one of the most left-wing provincial NDP parties. Being part of the "West Coast Left" tradition that is found in the United States. It is this wide gap between the two main parties, and the constant opposition from parties further to the right, that has driven BC Politics for decades. When united, a single Capitalist party can defeat the Social Democratic NDP, but when divided, the NDP has won, and sometimes quite easily.

Chilliwack-Hope, about half boxes in
NDP - 41.71%
BCL - 31.04%
BCC - 26.09%
The NDP has been trending down all night. This race is not over.

Chilliwack-Hope, 75 of 126 in
NDP - 42.73
BCL - 30.79%
BCC - 25.23%
The NDP is up. This could be over soon.

Chilliwack, 80 of 126 boxes in
NDP - 40.96% (3191)
BCL - 32.48% (2530)
BCC - 25.39% (1978)
LTR - 1.17% (91)
With these numbers, with these many boxes in, it's becoming nearly impossible for the BC Conservatives to win, and less likely that the BC Liberals will win.

The NDP's win in Port Moody-Coquitlam is all but official now. With only 2 of 132 polls outstanding, the near-final results are as follows.
NDP - 5994 - 54.44%
BCL - 3327 - 30.22%
BCC - 1690 - 15.35%

The race in Chilliwack-Hope is all but over. 101 of 126 boxes in.
With 40.35% the NDP has beat the odds and won this riding.
With 32.92% the BC Liberals have been able to show they can still fight.
With 25.69% the BC Conservatives have been damaged.
This was their big chance to shine. The party failed to do so. The big loser tonight is John van Dongen. His riding is less Conservative-friendly than Chilliwack-Hope, and, by-elections are when "protest" parties like the BC Conservatives do best. van Dongen's career is all but over. While the NDP will revel in it's victories, it will be the Conservatives who will suffer more than the Liberals, Their inability to manage a second place will haunt them. The party will likely post a challenge in 2013, and may even win a few ridings, but it will likely not be more than just a "few" that they will win.

This will be my last post of the night.
So what happened?

The Conservatives failed to perform, plain and simple. What should have been an easy victory turned into a nasty defeat. The Party was unable to convince anti-Liberal voters to trust them, and those ballots clearly went to the NDP. By-Elections are often said to be referenda on the government, but in this case, it's also a referenda on the two opposition parties, and the BC Conservatives clearly were told "NO", we do not trust you.

The NDP win is actually the smallest part of the story. The Liberals outperformed expectations, and managed strong second place finishes. There is just as much space between the BC Conservatives and the Liberals as there is between the Liberals and the NDP (in Chilliwack) which means that the Liberals can easily make the case that it was traditional anti-NDP vote splitting that caused the NDP victory, and that in order to prevent an NDP government in 2013, voters need to vote Liberal.

The NDP win does change the numbers in the Legislature. 36 New Democrats will face off against 46 Liberals, with 3 other members by their side. It would only take a few more defections from the Liberals to the Conservatives to topple the government. The problem for the NDP is that after tonight, that is very unlikely. By beating the Conservatives into second place, the Liberals have solidified their position. It is still a mystery what the 2013 election will hold, but after tonight one thing is clear, the Conservatives have no chance of replacing the Liberals.


  1. Great to see the Conservatives getting their @$$e$ handed to them. The only way the right wing wins in this Province is through vote splitting on the left/center. Great to see the Center/Left turn the tables on them.

    I for one REALLY welcome rail transit for the Fraser Valley.

    1. Couldn't agree more WG, I'm glad to see the Liberals held their own in this, and I'm even kinda glad the NDP won, it sends a message that voters are looking for change, but they're not looking for the change the Conservatives are offering.

  2. I would've given all three parties 33% odds for Chilliwack-Hope. I think your 5% odds looks pretty funny now. And before you say it's easy for me to say that now, I did predict the NDP would lose in a very close race.

  3. Good job on this Teddy, thanks for covering it.


    I'm surprised as you are, to be honest. I thought for sure the Conservatives would win against the NDP, maybe even handily though more likely in a close race. Instead they can't break 30% or second place. It's really a testament to the fact that I should have listened to my model for BC versus my gut - the model showed roughly these numbers for Chilliwack-Hope, bit off for Port Moody-Coquitlam. I was just so sure the Liberals were toast in this by-election. I'm glad they aren't.

  4. The riding isn't as anti BC Liberal as one might think. Just look at the HST referendum map. That's why I thought the Liberals would do better than the Conservatives.