Riding-by-riding analysis of the May 2017 BC Election, as regards vote splitting

I decided to do a riding-by-riding analysis of the recent BC election, and here’s what I came up with:

– 48 ridings (55% of them) were won by 50% or more (24 BC Liberal; 23 NDP; 1 BC Green Party)

– 32 ridings (37% of them) were won by between 42% and 50%, but with a second-place candidate who was well back, meaning flipping the riding would require a massive and unlikely consolidation of support amongst supporters of the other candidates

Wow, that’s 80 of 87 ridings (92% of them) which appear to have a definitive result, one where subtracting candidates from the ballot would likely have made no difference to the outcome

The remaining 7 ridings where subtracting candidates from the ballot may have made a difference are:

– Coquitlam-Burke Mountain = With the spread between the Liberals and NDP being 44.3% vs 43.9%, it’s possible that having no Green on the ballot would give the NDP the win, however the NDP won this easily in a 2016 by-election yet couldn’t hold on to it in the 2017 general election, and the Liberals got 49.9% in the previous (2013) general election, so this one seems to swing wildly making any prediction a rough one.

– Courtenay-Comox = The Green and Conservative votes grew, and the Liberal vote dropped, so the NDP may have won this riding *due* to vote splits, rather than despite it.

– Fraser-Nicola = A Liberal win that is a possible flip.  Compared to 2013, the Liberal, NDP, and Conservative candidates went down about 2% whereas the Greens went up 6% making analysis tough.  If the Greens dropped off the ballot they would need to split more favourably to the NDP, despite the Greens appearing to steal equally from all three other parties in the 2017 election.  Interestingly, the NDP candidate blamed the NDP for the loss (the NDP made him wait 9 months before giving him the nomination, as they fought with him over getting him to sign a document pledging him to NDP resource extraction policy, and he lost by only about 700 votes).

– Maple Ridge-Mission = In 2013 the Liberal won, but in this election the Liberal went down 5.0%, while the Green candidate went up 5.2%, with the NDP candidate squeaking through to a 1.25% victory; possibly another riding the Green candidate helped the NDP win.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows = In both 2017 and 2013 the Liberal won, but in this election the Liberal went down 6.3%, while the Green candidate went up 3.1% and the NDP up 1.7%; another riding where vote splits appear to have not hurt (and possibly helped) the NDP candidate.

– Richmond-Queensborough = With the Liberal candidate at 41.4, the NDP candidate at 40.8, and the Green candidate at 12.7%, this one is interesting.  The riding also had a Conservative candidate that got 5%.  This was a new riding, but formed primarily out of a strongly Liberal riding, meaning redistribution almost gave this one to the NDP (so much for accusations of gerrymandering!).  In a two-way race it would be too close to call, but if the Conservative stayed in and the Green dropped out it may have flipped? It’s hard to say as Conservative voters don’t always go to the Liberals when there’s no Conservative on the ballot, and in fact it seems like many Conservative voters in 2017 couldn’t imagine voting either NDP or Liberal so either stayed home or voted Green.

– Vancouver-False Creek = While the Liberals won this riding in a squeaker, the Liberal vote went down 10% and the Green vote went up 6%, so at first glance it doesn’t appear that the Green being on the ballot necessarily hurt the NDP’s chances, as the NDP almost went up the middle.

It seems to me that there may be as many ridings where vote-splits benefited the NDP as hurt them.  Of additional note is the riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke where the Liberals won convincingly in what was a traditional NDP riding, with the NDP choosing to hold onto a candidate despite him being taken to court for defamation (and ultimately ordered to pay the claimant $75K during the election campaign!).  Perhaps this riding would have gone Liberal no matter what due to their rural surge and the NDP’s Greater Vancouver focus for the 2017 election, but it’s at least worth speculating whether the NDP could have taken this if they’d changed candidates at the first whiff of his legal troubles.

My analysis suggests that there are potential scenarios where a few ridings could have gone NDP, and credible scenarios where a few ridings could have gone Liberal, but there’s no clear province-wide evidence of the Greens hurting the NDP.  And the Green surge may have even helped the NDP overall.  In most BC elections the NDP gets about 40%, +/- 5%.  They got a result in that range again (41%), and yet the Greens additionally got 17%.  Where did all those votes come from?  Would the NDP have got 58% if the Greens had dropped off the ballot?  My analysis suggests that’s not what would have happened.  It’s more than possible that we might have had a Liberal majority government in 2017 if not for the Greens being on the ballot.


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