Groups opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion sought to persuade voters to coalesce around a single anti-Conservative candidate in swing ridings.

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

Column David Suzuki: Oil spills pose unacceptable threats to marine life

Threat to marine mammals in B.C. waters from a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic is considerable

Column T.W. Paterson: This unpublished memoir is a gem

“I looked round and suddenly realised I had not the slightest idea where I was”

Column: An expensive trip to the Flag Shop

Travelling for flags reminds me of seven years ago when my young nephew was over from the mainland

Column: Happiness is different when we’re older

As we age, happiness tends to increase versus middle aged adulthood.

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

Most Read