by MARTYN BROWN on MAY 3, 2013, Georgia Straight.
It’s May 15—the morning after.
Premier elect Adrian Dix has already had his post-election news conference to announce his transition team and to show that his “all-business” government-in-waiting has its priorities straight, with an action plan to match.
For Christy Clark, the party’s over. For her followers, the hangover is just beginning. It didn’t take long for those drunk on delusion to sober up the night before, as the election was called within minutes of the polls closing and as the Premier lost her own seat.
Effervescent as ever, and gracious in defeat, a newly humbled leader faced the media as her party must now face the music.
The pollsters were right. The people’s verdict was decisive. Anew New Era is about to begin that will rapidly leave the Campbell dynasty behind and the B.C. Liberals mired in an existential crisis.
Back to election night, as Christy Clark takes to the podium.
“Well, look at the bright side,” she cheerfully says to the deflated party faithful. “At least Hamish will get his mom all to himself for the next little while!”
“I sincerely want to congratulate my opponents for their victory tonight, and I want them to know, my government will do everything in it’s power to help them with their transition. ”
(Document shredding? Done. Severance packages arranged? Done. Long-term contractual arrangements signed? Done.)
“No, no. Let’s be nice, now. The people have made their choice and now we’re all going to have to live with it. Even if we do that from Alberta!”
So clever. What spunk!
“British Columbia’s too important to give up on. But rest assured, we are going to be there to hold the NDP accountable, every step of the way over the next four-and-a-half years. And then, we’ll be back, baby!”
The crowd’s not so sure.
Snap. It’s not over yet. The future’s still in voters’ hands.
Yes, the polls are tightening somewhat, as was expected. But with the B.C. Liberals still in the low 30s, with 11 days to go, it would still take a minor miracle for Dix to lose this one.
The Liberals’ supposed “surge” amounts to a few points at the NDP’s expense, that still leaves them miles away from where they need to be to have a serious shot at forming the government.
While the “new horserace” narrative helps pollsters stay relevant, gives the media something interesting to report, and allows the two main parties’ supporters to become more motivated, it’s way overblown, in my view.
The NDP are still way ahead by any measure, especially in the Lower Mainland, where most of the seats are. If the Green and Conservative votes both collapse to some extent, as I expect they will on election day, the NDP will gain more than the B.C. Liberals will.
If the NDP regain even a couple of points from the Green Party, and if the B.C. Liberals gain even half of all current B.C. Conservative voters, it would still be a wipeout. The NDP would be in the mid-40s and the B.C. Liberals would be in the high 30s.
The NDP voters are more motivated to punish and change the government, and the NDP vote is more “efficient”—meaning that it is more evenly distributed across regions than that of the B.C. Liberals vote, which tends to be more regionally concentrated.
Both of those factors give the NDP a premium of perhaps 3-5 percent. We saw that in 1996, when the NDP lost the popular vote, but still won the most seats. In an election that is tied, for example, with both parties at about 42 percent, the NDP would form a massive majority government.
The only real hope for the B.C. Liberals, at this point, is for voters to abandon the NDP in droves, for the Conservative vote to completely collapse, and for the Green Party to retain virtually all of its current support. Fat chance. It would take a colossal screw-up by Dix and a sea change in Clark’s approval numbers to make that happen.
So chill out, New Democrats. The sky is not falling yet again, as it has in so many past elections.
At 34 percent in the polls with a little over a week until voting day, the B.C. Liberals may be giddy with delight, given where they’ve been. But they are still staring into the abyss, with no real route to salvation in sight, especially if Dix becomes more passionate and aggressive.
To date, he has been out-campaigned by a more telegenic, media savvy, tightly messaged, and spirited political foe. As a campaigner, Clark is clearly in her element, while Dix is a fish out of water. But he is still way ahead, running a smart and positive campaign that I expect will easily prevail on May 14.