Friday, March 25, 2011

North Vancouver: Liberal Chances

The Liberal share of the popular vote in North Vancouver fell 5% in 2008 and Don Bell suffered his first ever defeat. However, Bell should hold his head high. He faired far better than most Lowermainland Liberal candidates. To wit

Burnaby New West - 14.52
Vancouver Kingsway - 14.43
Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission - 13.63
Burnaby Douglas - 13.61
New West Coquitlam - 12.3
Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam - 12.26
Langley - 11.99
Richmond - 11.98
West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country - 10.89
Delta Richmond East -9.9
South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale - 9.77
Vancouver South - 9.57
Vancouver Center - 9.37
Vancouver East -6.19
Fleetwood-Port Kells -5.5
North Vancouver -5.04
Surrey North -4.58
Vancouver Quarda -3.57
Newton-North Delta 2.17
Abbotsford 3.6

Moreover, one look at a 2008 election map shows North Vancouver to be a real outlier. The Liberals decline was not nearly as marked in Surrey as it was in the ridings close to North Vancouver. It was down 5.5% Fleetwood-Port Kells, 4.58% in Surrey North and up 2.17% in Newton North Delta. By contrast, the Liberal vote was down 13.61% in Burnaby Douglas, 10.89 in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country and 9.37% in Vancouver Center.

It should be noted that the 2008 Abbotsford vote totals are skewed. Unfounded allegations were made against Liberal candidate David Oliver in the 2006 election and rather than fight them Martin and company decided to Dwingwall him. (Liberals should not complain that the Prime Minister is loath to dismiss a minister no matter how solid the evidence against him. After all, Stephen Harper learned first hand that whole heatedly embracing scandal, publicizing it and using it as means of undermining various factions within his own party as Paul Martin liked to do, is daft.) A better comparison than 2006 is 2004. The Liberal candidate that year took 19.94% of the vote. That was 3.7 higher than what the Liberals took in 2008.

In sum, Bell lost because Liberal vote was down 944,350 outside of Quebec.

What happens in North Vancouver in 2011 will also be decided nationally. The question for Liberal supporters is will things return to what they were in 2004 and 2006 or is 2008 the norm. With the later looking more likely and Ignatieff looking set to join Dion, John Turner and Paul Martin as the fourth rider of the Liberal apocalypse, North Vancouver Liberal candidate Taleeb Normohamed could fair rather badly indeed. That, though, will not reflect baldly on Taleeb. He is a good candidate. He is well spoken, and very well educated. Furthermore, he has surrounded himself with competent and confident people. However, he is not a "star candidate", he has virtually no name recognition, and he has few ties outside of the Ismail community. He is not going to change many minds in a mere 38 days and that is what he needs to do. No one in a similar situation could. Identifying the Liberal vote and pestering them to go to the polls is not going to be enough. (Anyone who has ever worked on a campaign knows that most of the focus is not spent convincing people to vote this way or that but rather identifying party supporters and then to pestering them to show up on voting day. It is yet one more reason why there needs to be mandatory voting.) With Don Bell gone, North Vancouverites are likely to fall in line with voters in near by ridings. There are just not enough self identified Liberal supporters left to pester.

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