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

City of Duncan considers transgender washrooms

Issue to be discussed at council meeting on March 19

South Island travel book a best seller

Areas of the Cowichan Valley covered

Elders Gathering in Cowichan Valley needs volunteers

Upwards of 5,000 participants expended to attend

Cowichan school district takes prize for trades training

The award includes $5,000 in additional funding

VIDEO: Colin James Blues Trio will play to a sold out house in Duncan

He’s always popular when he comes to the Cowichan Valley.

UPDATED: Brake failure sees plane crash into gate; nobody injured

Rescue crews headed to the scene at Stamps and Henderson Roads.

Coming up in Cowichan: Public speaking, water, food preservation

The Justice for the Peace Island tour is stopping in Duncan on Wednesday, March 21.

Spring snow melt uncovers dirty needles in B.C. city

Vernon residents are upset with number of needles being found around town with spring melt

US would host majority of games at 2026 World Cup

A decision on the winning bid will be made June 13 at the FIFA Congress in Mexico

Most people in B.C. too ‘lazy,’ ‘apathetic’ to prepare for disasters: poll

Less than half of those surveyed aren’t insured for earthquakes and wildfires

Chris Hemsworth goes surfing in Tofino

The Australian actor donned a full body wetsuit to catch some waves on Vancouver Island this weekend

B.C. hospitals receive boost for dental surgery

Disabled people needing general anesthetic wait too long, Adrian Dix says

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild on the ropes and Smoke Eaters reeling

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

A frustrated Trump lashes out at special counsel Mueller

In a series of weekend tweets naming Mueller for the first time, Trump criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election

Most Read