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General News · 20th October 2008
Barry Saxifrage
I've heard folks say that Green votes kept Catherine Bell from winning our local MP race. But the numbers suggest Bell would still have lost by thousands of votes even if there was no Green or Liberal party in the race.

Why? Recent surveys of "second choice votes", such as Nanos 2008 poll, show that ~10% more Green voters give NDP their "second choice vote" than give them to Conservatives. With federal Liberal voters the margin is ~3% more for NDP.

Based on these numbers, Bell would have gained ~500 votes on Duncan in a system that eliminated Green and Liberal parties and assigned those voters "second choice votes" to NDP or Conservatives. Bell lost by five times that margin: 2,500 votes.

There is no guarantee that votes would have split this way but it seems unlikely even with a "second choice voting" system that Catherine Bell could have won. In fact it could be argued that much of the NDP second choice voters had already been moved to NDP column in the actual vote by the big "strategic voting" push. That was the whole point of it after all. It matches my personal experience with many friends voting NDP instead of their "first choice" of Green because of this "strategic vote". It also explains why the Green party percentage in our riding was lower than BC average. Usually it is higher.

The reality is the percentage of votes in our riding for NDP, Greens and Liberals combined fell 5% compared to two years ago. The Conservative party gained 5%.

In our riding, and in BC as a whole, both the NDP and federal Liberals got a smaller percentage of the vote than two years ago. The Greens doubled their vote percentage in BC and gained more total voters nationally than NDP and Conservatives combined.

I can understand why people choose to follow the "strategic voting" plan. In hindsight it couldn't help Bell win and it did cost the Green and Liberal parties votes and money ($1.75 per vote). People who voted NDP instead of their first choice might want to make a small donation to their first choice party to help offset the lost revenue and to help them be better positioned next time.
On The Other Hand
Comment by Scott Lawrance on 27th October 2008
Sure, that's one way of looking at it - nevertheless, if we look strictly at the numbers, Catherine Bell lost to John Duncan by 2,497 votes. Philip Stone, of the Greens, received 4,544 votes. Sad to say, in terms of the result of increasing Harper's strength, a vote for the Green Party, however idealistic and well-intentioned, was a vote for the Tories.