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

Ladysmith’s Coats for Folks closes early due to building sale

The sale of a commercial building on First Avenue last month has… Continue reading

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

VIDEO: World-renowned urban planner encourages Cowichan Valley to ‘benchmark with the best’

CVRD welcomes Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, as part of Place-Making Speaker Series

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

UPDATE: City of Nanaimo senior manager dismissed

Chief operations officer Brad McRae no longer employed by the city

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

UPDATE: Ferries sailing again after stormy weather caused cancellations

B.C. Ferries cancelled numerous sailings around Vancouver Island today, Jan. 21

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Most Read