Well if you haven't read the DK Elections open thread for 5/14/13 you might of not known that British Columbians went to the polls to either elect an NDP government or reelect their Liberal government.
And oh boy the Liberals pulled an Alberta on everyone and won a comfortable majority government! The NDP against all expectations lost seats and the Liberals gained seats! If you compare Alison Redford leading the Alberta Tories to an upset win over Wildrose last year and Christy Clark leading her Liberals to an upset win tonight I'd have to say Clark had the better performance.
Because unlike in Alberta where Wildrose actually picked up seats (then again they only had 4 seats to begin with), the NDP lost seats tonight.
Now here are my thoughts on this election on this quicky diary I feel like I have to write before I go to bed tonight. I'm not going to hyperlink anything or have any pictures, you guys can look for those on your own.
1) The NDP campaign was an epic fail
Much is going to be said about the NDP losing the "unloseable election." And the NDP especially Adrian Dix rightfully deserve every criticism the pundits, newspaper and political hacks will throw at them in the coming days.
When you go into the election with a 20+ point lead in the polls and lose on election night by 5 points you know you did something wrong.
Yes voters were ready to throw out the Liberals, but voters in Ontario, Alberta were ready to throw out Dalton McGuinty and Alison Redford as well and yet those two were the ones giving the victory speeches on election night and not Tim Hudak or Danielle Smith. Why couldn't the same happen to Christy Clark?
Further more the NDP was not expecting to be hit with a holds no bar and take no prisoners Liberal campaign. While the Liberals were airing attack ads warning the NDP would turn wreck BC's economy and portraying Adrian Dix as a weather vain, the NDP replied with ads that quickly ran through the Liberals' list of political sins before switching to Adrian Dix talking positively.
If you're going to go negative at least go full way don't try to half ass it like the NDP tried to do in the past couple of weeks.
Now the NDP campaign actually did run pretty well for the first couple of weeks. They controlled the news cycle by releasing one bit of their platform at a time each day during the first weeks of the campaign. Then came Adrian Dix expressing his opinion on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the TV debate which I will go into more detail below.
To close out this section and shamelessly plug in my love for everything Roman, you could compare the NDP campaign to Emperor Valens and the Roman Army that marched into Adrianople arrogantly thinking they had the battle in the bag and they would easily drive the Goths quickly back across the Danube river to where they came from.
Well to make a long story short, historians today refer to Adrianople as the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire in the West.
2) The NDP's attempt to win over environmentally minded voters blows up in their face
One of the mistakes of the NDP's campaign during the 2009 election was to come out against Gordon Campbell (Christy Clark's predecessor) plan to institute a carbon tax. While you may argue the only reason why the Liberals proposed a carbon tax was to fund tax cuts, coming out against it hurt the NDP's campaign and drove environmentally minded voters to the Liberals. And remember that year the NDP only fell 8,000 votes short of forming government.
Probably learning that lesson and realizing the Greens in British Columbia were not a party to be laughed off to the fringes anymore, the NDP strategists probably decided it was necessary to pull a chunk of the environmentally minded voters of the province to their side. So on Earth Day, Dix trotted himself in front of the cameras in front of a coastal backdrop and announced that a NDP government would oppose the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Now to put this context, it's not like the NDP's skepticism towards pipelines carrying Alberta oil sands wasn't well known. The party both provincially and federally opposed the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline and the pipeline was so unpopular in British Columbia even Christy Clark came out against it unless her list of conditions were met, a demand that hasn't had Clark and Alison Redford (Alberta's premier) talking much since.
The difference with the Kinder Morgan pipeline was this was an expansion of an existing pipeline. And the NDP supported it until that fateful day.
Unfortunately as the results tonight showed, the NDP's gambit to win over the kind of voters who would applaud that decision failed as witnessed by the Greens winning a Liberal held riding in an area overlapping Elizabeth May's own federal riding and the fact the Greens took votes away from the NDP in key ridings the party needed to win.
What did happen was the NDP's decision to oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline gave an opening for a Liberal campaign more focused on salvaging enough seats to be an effective opposition than winning government to paint the NDP as anti-business. In other words, the same old NDP. You know, that NDP that voters had nearly wiped off the political map in 2001. Yeah, that NDP.
3) The TV debate
Much like then Liberal leader Gordon Wilson's performance in the 1991 TV debate which catapulted the Liberals into the vehicle for center-right politics in the province, Christy Clark's performance will probably be equally as remembered for helping to save a Liberal party heading for electoral oblivion.
In the debate, Adrian Dix was clearly the man everyone needed to tear down. So you'd think he'd be prepared for all the sticks and stones Jane Sterk, John Cummins and Christy Clark would throw at him. Especially since Christy Clark spent her time time outside politics on talk radio.
While Dix didn't gaff and got some memorable one liners in, he came off rattled and nervous. At the same time Christy Clark by all accounts looked like the only one on that debate stage like someone who could lead the province. It didn't help the NDP also that John Cummins who's Conservative party had been riding high in the pre-election polls and could pull votes away from the Liberals had a terrible night as well. And as Macleans noted, you could basically say everyone of his answers was "Taxes = Bad."
4) The Orange Crush is fizzling out
Now for those who haven't been watching Canadian politics closely probably might not of been watching as Canadian political reality resets itself. That means the Liberals and the Conservatives fighting for government while the NDP is relegated to perpetual third place.
For the Federal NDP especially 2013 has been a rough year. Faced with a resurgent Liberal party under the leadership of Justin Trudeau and a PQ government in Quebec City, the NDP has been forced to try to juggle keeping Quebec happy while not alienating English Canada.
The NDP had a lot riding on this election and not just because it would be nice to have another provincial government under NDP control. It's because any pathway the NDP had to take to take power in Ottawa needed to run through British Columbia. Not only that, but an NDP government in British Columbia would of had the opportunity to make Stephen Harper's life miserable, especially on the subject of oil sands.
The NDP both provincially and federally invested a lot on this election. Federal NDP MPs representing ridings in British Columbia, Thomas Mulcair, Olivia Chow and even charismatic Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh all flew down to British Columbia to campaign for the provincial NDP. The NDP had imported Jack Layton's brain trust including Brian Topp to run the provincial NDP's campaign.
Now the NDP is reeling from a loss it could not afford and the federal Liberals including Justin Trudeau all the much happier especially since they picked up disgraced ex-Tory cabinet minister Peter Penashue's old riding in Labrador. While Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals stayed away from the provincial campaign, Christy Clark is at her heart a federal Liberal.
4) The pollsters blow another one!
It is interesting to note though that Forum Research was the only pollster to show the poll numbers got tighter while other pollsters showed the NDP pulling away. They were also the only poster in the run up to the Alberta election last year to show the Tories rapidly closing the gap. Maybe we've found the PPP of Canada, perhaps.
But I'll let this tweet speak for itself:
8:50 AM PT: As noted by some of the commentators I forgot to talk about where the NDP and the Liberals stand politically. So here is a quick rundown to where the two parties lie politically:
The Liberals is the primary vehicle for center right politics in the province. The party is made up of voters who vote Liberal and Conservative federally and are united on economic issues. The party has often been called the, "Free Market coalition." It's that reason that federal Tories like Stockwell Day supported Christy Clark who at her heart is a federal Liberal.
On the other hand the NDP is the vehicle for center left politics in the province and are very much like their federal counterparts. Historically the provincial NDP has been more of a socialist leaning party especially during their brief stint in power in the 1970's. Though they have move steadily more towards the center since the 90's.