Reading the Polls: BC
Much like in other regions of the country there are ridings which are over before the first ballot is cast. The Conservatives, in particular, have a number of ridings which are extremely safe, especially in the interior of BC close to the Alberta border. The NDP also have a safe riding: Vancouver East.
These ‘Safe Conservative’ ridings are: Abbotsford, Caribou-Prince George, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, Delta-Richmond East, Fleetwood-Port Kellis, Kamloops-Thompson, Kelowna, Kootenay-Columbia, Langley, North-Okanagan, Okanagan-Coquihalla, Prince George-Peace River and South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast .
So right off the bat we’re calling 15 of 36 ridings safe. However, several others are no brainers (narrow Liberal wins) and as such there will be minimal discussion of these ridings. Still, BC contains a number of races which promise to be tantalizingly close and may decide the outcome of this election.
No more pre-amble…here we go.
Burnaby-Douglas: This was almost included in the ‘Safe NDP’ category, they’ve won the riding every election save two in the last forty plus years and for the last twenty years straight. The race was reasonably close last time around, but Liberal support is going to bleed to the NDP this time around. Look for an easy NDP win, but the Conservatives culd make a push if the Liberals lose support in their direction. Leans NDP in a huge way, but still a ‘swing’ riding. C-NDP Swing Riding
Burnaby-Westminster: Like it’s neighbour, this riding leans NDP, but there is a bigger chance for an upset here. It’s a new riding that the NDP won in a tight three way split. The NDP defeated the Liberals by just over 300 votes and the Conservatives by 2,000. Question is where exactly does the Liberals support go? The Conservatives have a history in the riding, so it may go there way. NDP looks strong, the riding is theirs to lose but the right wing will make noise. C-NDP Swing Riding
Dewdney-Alouette: The Conservatives won this seat by 6% over the NDP last year, 38%-32%, while the Grits polled a respectible 22%. Is there a big enough swing from the Liberals to give the seat to the NDP? Seems unlikely, but a definet possiblity. This will be one of the NDP targets and a race the Conservatives will be nervous about. C-NDP Swing Riding
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca: This riding in the lower income section of Victoria voted Liberal last time as Reform defector Keith Martin claimed 35% of the vote and beat his NDP opponent by 5%. The seat was an NDP stronghold for two decades before the Reform took over. The Conservatives poll well behind but could make a charge in a three way split. NDP appears to have a leg up in this riding, but it is likely to be close. Much may depend on who the Conservatives have running and just how the campaign is going nationally. Leans NDP but it’s going to be tight. L-C-NDP Swing Riding
Nanaimo-Alberni: The NDP is definetly poised to challenge in this traditional stronghold here, as the Conservatives won by only 7% last time around. Meanwhile, the Liberals claimed 20% of the vote and will likely bleed a great deal to the NDP which held the seat for the vast majority of the 60s, 70s and 80s. May lean Conservative, but this will be a tight race. C-NDP Swing Riding
Nanaimo-Cowichan: The NDP held this riding for the majority of the 80s before losing it to the Reform in ’93. Jean Crowder took it back for the NDP by 7,000 votes last year and this looks like a very likely NDP hold. Just playing it safe with my predictions as the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives held the seat for more than a decade. Leans NDP. C-NDP Swing Riding
Newton-North Delta: This riding saw an incredibly tight three way race last year, as the Conservatives eeked out a 500 vote victory over the Liberals and just under 1,500 over the NDP. The riding is brand new, born of parts of two old Conservative strongholds. However, from what I can see they cut out more moderate parts of those ridings. Newton-North Delta is 38% immigrant and 30% East Indian. Last time the NDP did not run an East Indian candidate while the Conservatives and Liberals did. Liberal support will drop, but where will it go? Tight race, if the national race gets ugly and Harper’s comments about immigrants come up it will likely hand the race to the NDP. C-NDP Swing Riding
New Westminster-Coquitlam: This riding has been held by the Reform/Conservatives since ’93, and by the NDP for 30 years before that. Last year saw another tight three way race as the Paul Forseth eeked out a 113 vote victory over his NDP opponent. 29% of residents are immigrants and average income is $68k. Situational factors suggest that Liberal support will swing towards the NDP, and that party is certainly in the driver’s seat here. C-NDP Swing Riding
North Vancouver: The Liberals won this traditionally right-wing upper class neighbourhood last year, while the NDP came in a distant third. A repeat seems all but impossible. Leans heavily Conservative. L-C Swing Riding
Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam: The NDP owned this riding until ’93, and the Conservatives have held it since then. Last year they won with 41% of the vote, while the NDP and Liberals each received 27% support. A shift of this magnitude seems really unlikely, but if the NDP gets going out west this riding is within striking distance. Leans strongly Conservative but still in play. C-NDP Swing Riding
Richmond: Raymond Chan won this riding in ’93 and ’97 before losing it in 2000 and reclaiming it last year. The NDP is not a big factor here, as both the Liberals and Conservatives polled over 35%. The 2000 Conservative victory was by only 1,100 votes so the party is by no means a lock here despite controlling the riding for almost all of the 70s and 80s. The Liberals are certain to lose much of their nine point lead, the question is if Chan will be able to hold. L-C Swing Riding
Saanich-Gulf Islands: This riding looks to be safe for the Conservatives, they’ve dominated it for ages and won a comfortable eight point victory over the Liberals. Still, this riding contains a large number a really left wing people, in the community around Uvic and on the Gulf Islands – the Greens get 17% support here. If the Green campaign falters and the NDP makes a serious charge in the province they could steal this seat. Still, all signs point to a Conservative hold. C-NDP Swing Riding
Surrey North: Good lord. If Cadman runs as an independent again we could see a split between him and the Conservatives handing the seat to the NDP. If he runs as a Conservative then they win in a landside. If he doesn’t run then the Conservatives win easily. Either way, this seat leans heavily to an independent right winger or the Conservatives. Ind-C-NDP Swing Riding
Vancouver Center: This riding has never been won by the NDP (although the CCF did win the riding once), but the party may be in solid position to take the seat next year. Hedy Fry defeated her NDP opponent by 4,000 votes, collecting 40% to Kennedy Stewart’s 32.3% support. The riding has voted Liberal since 1993 but this could be the year to break that streak. The Conservatives poll well behind at 19% while the Green grabbed 7%. A large portion of this riding are immigrants and the average income is pretty high at $75k. This is a really tough riding to predict, a toss-up between all three major parties. If the Liberals are going to hold on to a seat this might be it. L-C-NDP Swing Riding
Vancouver Island North: The infamous riding which cost the left wing an NDP-Liberal majority, the Conservatives took this riding by less than 500 votes in a race that wasn’t conclusive until the wee hours of the morning. The NDP dominated the precursor to this riding, but the Conservatives / Reform Party have won each race since the ’96 redistricting. The late scare tactics by the Liberals probably cost Catherine Bell this seat, and the NDP is in a good position to take the seat next time around. The Liberals are guaranteed to lose support and more of it will go to the NDP than to the Conservatives. So the question is can the NDP keep the gains they made last year? Seat leans NDP, but it won’t be easy. C-NDP Swing Riding
Vancouver Kingsway: This seat has been solid Liberal territory for over two decades, but they may be in serious danger of losing the seat next time around. David Emerson defeated his NDP opponent by a mere 1,300 votes with the Conservatives running a distant third. 2004 redistricting gave the NDP a lot more power in the riding and the Liberals will be very hard pressed to hold on to this seat. Conservatives won’t be a factor at all (they poll 21% behind the NDP) so this is a two way fight. Things look awful good for the NDP in this riding. L-NDP Swing Riding
Vancouver Quadra: The Liberals have won the last six elections in this riding, culminating in a dominant twenty-seven point victory last year. Stephen Owen collected 52.4% of the vote, almost doubling his Conservative opponent. Sure he will lose some support, but it would take a collapse on an epic scale for him to lose the riding. Will be closer than before, but the Liberals should hold the seat. L-C Swing Riding
Vancouver South: Ujjal Dosanjh won a huge election last time around thanks to a friendly split. He collected 44.5% of the vote while both the Conservative and NDP came in around 25% mark. This riding has an incredibly strong Liberal tradition (bordering on Montreal levels) and it seems completely impossible for a collapse of this scale to occur. This could get competitive if Donsanjh falters of the Liberal slide gets worse in the province, but this looks like a likely Liberal hold. C-L-NDP Swing Riding
Victoria: David Anderson won this riding in a narrow race over his NDP opponent. The Liberal candidate received 35% of the vote while the NDP got 32.5%. The CPC’s Longan Wenham was well back at 22%. The riding has historically been competitive with all three parties holding the seat at times in the last twenty years but the Liberals have controlled it for more than a decade. Almost 20% of the riding is over 65, which may lead to a larger portion of lost Liberal support swinging to the CPC. If the NDP can hold on to their vote from last year they should win, but it could go to any of the three big parties. L-C-NDP Swing Riding
BC Totals: Liberals: High 7, Low 0, Likely 3, Conservatives High 35, Low 15, Likely 23, NDP High 19, Low 1, Likely 10