NDP vote stalls in reverse

The great thing about political punditry is the ability to be right and wrong at the same time.

The great thing about political punditry is the ability to be right and wrong at the same time and get away with it, which is why the pundits who were no better at predicting the outcome of the B.C. election shouldn’t be expected to be any better at interpreting the results.

It’s quite simple: the B.C. Liberal party set out to win at all costs and did. They ran the better campaign, got their vote out and won. They were even willing to throw a candidate or two under the bus to do it, as witnessed by two full page ads in Victoria’s Times Colonist extolling the virtues of Green party leader Jane Sterk paid for by none other than the B.C. Liberal party.

Fault them for their tactics, but not even the huffing and puffing of political observers over those tactics seems to resonate long with the voters who ultimately decide elections.

What should be of concern though is the emergence of an almost constant pool of voters in B.C. and an equivalent block of non-voters.

In 2009, 1.65 million voters cast a ballot. In the 2011 HST referendum, 1.61 million mailed-in their vote. And last week, 1.63 million made the trek to the polls, although that number will rise slightly when absentee ballots are tallied.

Looked at another way: close to half of the province’s eligible voters continue to turn their back on the ballot box. That’s not a good thing.

And what lurks beneath these numbers should worry NDP operatives.

In 1979 at the crest of its support, Dave Barrett and the NDP won 46 per cent of the popular vote or 646,188 votes out of 1.4 million cast. They still lost the election. Last week, Adrian Dix and the NDP won 39.5 per cent of the vote or 643,399 votes out of 1.63 million cast.

Over 35 years, the NDP has seen its share of the popular vote steadily decline and its actual vote stall, despite an electorate that has nearly doubled in size over the same period.

Parties that don’t grow their base lose and risk withering away.

While the Liberals grew their vote marginally over their 1979 Socred brethren, they don’t have too much to boast about either. In 1979, the Social Credit party won 677,607 votes. The B.C. Liberals pulled in 723,618 votes.

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. This is part one of a two-part column.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health has issued an overdose alert for 100 Mile House.
Interior Health issues overdose alert for 100 Mile House

Health officials encourage users to be careful and spread the word.

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Williams Lake’s YBC Bowlers Remy LeBlanc (back from left), coach Kevin McAlpine, Kara-lynn McAlpine, coach Lindsey Kelley, coach Lisa Mcalpine, Avrel Kidney (middle from left), Weston Kelly, Renee O’Hara, Lily Stewart, Brandon LeBlanc, Serena Kidney (front from left), Elsa Kunka and Colton Lendvoy have managed to carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic while following health guidelines. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Youth bowlers still throwing strikes, despite pandemic

Young bowlers have been able to carry on relatively unaffected due to the nature of the sport

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read