Strategic voting? Did it work?

It’s unclear if those strategic voting attempts had great effect, other than to demolish Green Party hopes to add seats.

Jeff NagelBlack Press

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 progressive voters.

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.

It’s difficult, Canseco said, for progressive 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.

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.