Strategic voting had limited effect: pollster

Anyone-but-Conservative push hurt Greens, Liberal wave rendered it moot in much of southwestern B.C.

For months, anti-Conservative campaigners from environmentalists to veterans tried to persuade like-minded voters to coalesce behind the strongest opponent in each riding.

But as the dust settles on the Liberals’ powerful majority victory, it’s unclear if those strategic voting attempts had great effect, other than to demolish Green Party hopes to add seats.

Organizations like LeadNow and the Dogwood Initiative funded riding-level polls to try to help guide their followers.

LeadNow recommended NDP candidates in 11 B.C. ridings, and the Liberals for two seats on the North Shore.

All but three of those chosen candidates won their races.

One notable exception was the choice of the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Granville who ended up third behind the Liberal victor and the Conservative runner-up as voters apparently disregarded the advice.

Mario Canseco, vice-president of Insights West, which did polling for Dogwood, said strategic voting attempts appear to have had more effect on Vancouver Island than in the Lower Mainland, where those efforts were swamped by the strength of the Liberal wave.

“There are certain pockets where strategic voting worked very well and probably enabled some NDP victories,” he said, adding a few New Democrats were elected on the Island who otherwise would not likely have prevailed over Conservatives.

LeadNow made no recommendations in some ridings presumed to be safe Conservative seats that ended up hotly contested. Those included South Surrey-White Rock, where Conservative Dianne Watts narrowly prevailed, as well as Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon and Cloverdale-Langley City, where Liberals unexpectedly captured turf that traditionally went Tory.

It’s difficult, Canseco said, for unite-the-left strategists to get enough granular riding-level data on individual races to gauge how they are evolving in time to be useful to voters.

Strategic voting was based on the premise that Liberals, NDP and Green supporters would risk leaving room for Conservatives to win many races unless they first settled on a single consensus candidate.

A shorter campaign might have resulted in a Conservative victory, he said.

Instead, the Liberals had more time to build momentum and present leader Justin Trudeau as a viable prime minister.

Canseco doesn’t accept one theory that the red wave resulted mainly from the  Conservatives’ choice to emphasize the niqab issue in Quebec, harming NDP chances there and making the Liberals seem the more obvious alternative for the anyone-but-Harper movement.

He said NDP leader Tom Mulcair simply did not perform as well in debates or on the campaign trail as he did before in the House of Commons, and the choice to balance the budget made him seem like “a small ‘C’ Conservative” compared to the bolder Liberals.

“They weren’t able to solidify this idea that they were the vehicle for change,” Canseco said.

Friendly fire for Greens

In the campaign’s final week, several prominent B.C. environmentalists publicly turned away from the Greens in favour of either the NDP or Liberals, in the name of preventing another Conservative government.

Green leader Elizabeth May likened it to being gunned down by “friendly fire.”

When the votes were tallied, the Green vote in B.C. had increased only marginally – from 7.7 per cent to 8.2 per cent – and they hung onto only May’s seat.

Speaking to supporters on election night, May said strategic voting was a major factor.

“Particularly on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland was the notion that people who wanted to vote Green shouldn’t. Couldn’t. Would be bad people if they did,” she said.

That was hard to overcome, May said, because many Greens, Liberals and New Democrats shared the same priority.

“It was simply not possible to imagine this country enduring a single second more of Stephen Harper’s policies.”

Just Posted

Surrey Mounties investigate drive-by shooting in Fleetwood

It happened Monday afternoon in the 8000-block of 153A Street. Police say no victim has been located.

18-year-old to hospital after shots fired in White Rock

Police investigating early-morning incident

White Rock RCMP unaffected by Surrey’s choice of police force, city says

Mayor Darryl Walker to meet with RCMP Staff Sgt. Daryl Creighton

Surrey firefighters tackle blaze at Guildford home

Firefighters have yet to determine what caused the vacant house fire

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

Touching note left on Lower Mainland veteran’s windshield

A veteran is hoping the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words.

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

‘Weird Al’ brings Strings Attached tour to Lower Mainland next summer

Legendary musical satirist performs with full symphony orchestra

Most Read