The Conservative Party of British Columbia appears to have split votes in a few ridings, says Mario Canseco of polling company Research Co.
In several ridings where the NDP won seats that had been held by the Liberals, the Conservatives won 10 per cent or more of the riding’s vote count.
Canseco says that the weak showing for the BC Liberals means the party needs to regroup and consider a rebrand. He also suggests that a merger between the two parties might be worth considering.
“I think it's definitely a situation that should be explored – maybe not as a formal merger, but that's definitely possible – but doing some sort of rebrand,” he said.
“Is there a value for the BC Liberal party, in whichever name or form it takes, to extend a hand to those who look at the situation and go ‘I’d rather vote for the B.C. Conservatives even if we don’t have a chance to elect anybody, because what the BC Liberals are not offering did not land?’”
The BC Liberals have often won over the votes from residents who voted for the federal Liberal party and the federal Conservative party. But last night was an “interesting dilemma” because that didn’t happen, and many federal Liberal voters likely voted for the BC NDP instead of the BC Liberals, Canseco said.
“(The BC Liberals) are losing a lot of the Federal Liberal votes to the (BC) NDP because they are happy with the way the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled,” he said.
“But (the BC Liberals are also) not holding on to the entirety of the conservative vote -- you have B.C. Conservatives showing in those ridings. (The BC Liberals) used to be a very clearly defined coalition of federal Liberals and federal Conservatives and it just didn't show up last night,” Canseco said.
Here are three ridings where the NDP took seats from the Liberals, and in which the Conservative party took 10 per cent or more of the vote:
The NDP’s Dan Coulter beat out Liberal incumbent John Martin, gaining a seat for Horgan’s New Democrats with just over 38 per cent of the vote. The Liberals lost in this riding having only managed to get 29.5 per cent of the vote, while the Conservative candidate, Diane Jansen took 18 per cent of the vote. In the 2017 election, the Liberals took 48 per cent of the vote, which means that in this election, their share of the votes dropped by nearly 20 percentage points.
“This is ground zero for the analysis of whether you merge or whether you do something that is going to make yourself more attractive to the conservative side of the equation,” Canseco says.
“It’s a very big drop, it’s coming mostly from the Conservative candidate … it’s about the (Liberal party’s) ability to connect with voters on an emotional level,” he says.
In Langley, the NDP’s Andrew Mercier won with 44 per cent of the vote, beating out the Liberals’ Mary Polak who had held the riding since 2005. The NDP increased its share of the votes by 10 percentage points in this election over last. Meanwhile, the Liberals did the exact opposite, and lost 10 points of the share of votes in this election over last, and the Conservatives, who didn’t run anyone in the 2017 election, handily earned nearly 10 per cent of Langley’s votes.
“You never want to lose, but we always knew it was an uphill battle,” Polak told CTV News Vancouver on Saturday night, upon learning she’d been defeated.
“Certainly with the interplay of the Conservatives in ridings like mine that also causes an impact to the vote,” she said
In Boundary-Similkameen, the BC NDP beat out the Liberals, and earned 48 per cent of votes in the riding. The party is up by 16 percentage points over last election, while the Liberals, who earned about 37 per cent of the vote in this election, won 42 per cent in 2017. Meanwhile, the Conservative party, which didn’t run a candidate in the 2017 election, earned nearly 13 per cent of the vote in this election.