Adventures in Strategic Voting in Vancouver-Granville

I was minding my own business on Thursday afternoon when a Vancouver Sun tweet came across my radar screen.  It said Leadnow – the ‘strategic voting’ organization was endorsing the NDP candidate in my riding, even though the Liberal candidate has been leading in the polls featured on their own website:

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The idea of unaccountable organizations driving strategic voting based on self-interested polling has been grating on me, but the Granville endorsement demonstrated the cynicism of their approach.

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The Candidates

Here’s the thing – the candidates for all parties are good candidates.  I know Mira Oreck a little – she hosted me when I spoke at the Broadbent Institute in June regarding the Alberta election.  I also think it’s great she’s running; if she’s elected, she will be a good MP.  She has a solid campaign team of very dedicated friends and followers and I have a lot of respect for them.  However, I think the Leadnow tactics will ultimately hurt her, and if her campaign was in cahoots, it was a mistake.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Liberal, is also an excellent candidate.  She has been a trailblazer as a First Nations leader while having an accomplished career as a lawyer.  Like Mira, she’s run a good campaign and running hard.  Moreover, she is running for the party that has momentum in a riding where her party has a natural advantage.  In the 2011 election when the Liberals were shattered, they almost won the polling areas within the new Vancouver-Granville riding (Conservatives were first) and finished ahead of the NDP.  Looking at 2015, it would be highly unusual for the Liberals to finish behind the NDP given the significant increase in Liberal support in BC, and if they win 7 seats in BC, Granville will be one of them.

For Leadnow to intervene against her is frankly all too predictable from a group that is trying to ‘manage’ election results; it’s just surprising they would be so transparently cynical.

This is all welcome noise to Erinn Broshko, the Conservative.  Who wouldn’t want a ‘strategic voting group’ to endorse the weaker of two rivals?

My annoyance with Leadnow has nothing to do with these candidates.  I will be content with my level of constituency representation from any of them if they are elected as MPs, I’m sure.  And, news flash, I’m no NDPer.  I’m happy to vote FOR Jody.

Into the Twitterverse

After the tweet from The Great Baldrey™ (“nice hair!”), the debate was joined by David Ball from the Tyee.  Admittedly, I’m not a soulmate of the Tyee but I certainly prefer them over the shills at the Observer!  I expressed my main beef that Leadnow lured people in through their poll-based approach – that they would poll in the ridings then advise voters on who had the best chance to win.

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I expressed my preference that political parties settle these kind of debates without these self-appointed outside groups mucking about with their polls.

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Later, the debate was joined by BC Green Party MLA Dr. Andrew Weaver, who retweeted my criticism that the Leadnow endorsement was a disgrace.  He went on to add his view:

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I took the opportunity to ask Dr Weaver about his view regarding Green prospects on Vancouver Island:

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Leadnow poked their head out of their gopher hole:

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This issue has now become a FULL BLOWN CONTROVERSY.  How so?  When the Georgia Straight is quoting my tweets, you know the story is BIG.  The Sun and Province both ran pieces this morning highlighting the controversy.

The Uncivil war

What’s the upshot of this?  Groups like Leadnow and the Dogwood Initiative have succeeded in dividing like-minded people (I’m excluding myself here – I’m not like-minded).  You have all these Green Party supporters who are the tried and true believers of the issues espoused by leading environmental organizations and they are brushed aside by strategic voting groups.  It must be very disillusioning, hence Dr. Weaver’s anger.

In my post regarding the Nanaimo-Ladysmith federal race, some of my local correspondents made note of the tensions between the Greens and the NDP.  Strategic voting groups exacerbate these tensions.  Wouldn’t it be something if Leadnow and Dogwood endorse an NDP candidate and the Green finishes 2nd to the Conservative?  Holy cow, that would be an ugly scenario.

Victoria media commentator Adam Stirling has picked up on the vibes:

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The Upshot

Voters aren’t stupid.  They can see through these stunts and organizations like Leadnow spend a lot of time in their echo chamber and not necessarily engaged with swing voters.  My beef is that they presented an approach based on ‘evidence’ and they switched gears with four days to go in the election.

Poll postcript

And about those polls.  The level of reporting regarding Leadnow and Dogwood poll results has been very thin.  They have not provided detailed cross-tabs and without those, the media should not be reporting results.  In Metro Vancouver, I will wager that they are not tracking Chinese-Canadian respondents and in seats like Vancouver-Granville, not accounting for a major sub-population is methodologically dodgy.  Overall, these unaccountable organizations have avoided scrutiny.  The voters will have the last word.

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