One of the interesting storylines out of the Conservative leadership race that elected Erin O’Toole is the remarkable rise of Leslyn Lewis
According to the spreadsheet of results, Lewis won the popular vote, nationally, on the second ballot.
But the votes weren’t in the right places. Due to the weighted system of counting votes (every riding is equal to 100 points no matter how many members voted), Lewis slipped to third and was eliminated. This is exactly what happened to BC Liberal leadership aspirant Michael Lee in the 2018 race that elected Andrew Wilkinson – he had the most raw votes but was eliminated prior to the final ballot.
While there is a lot to chew over in the riding-by-riding results, I took a quick look at the seventeen Conservative-held ridings in British Columbia. And who won in these seats on the first count? Leslyn Lewis.
|1st Count||Votes||Vote %||Weighted|
This provides more than a glimpse of Lewis’s support among Conservative members in their heartland (and lack of support for Peter MacKay and his message).
Lewis’s strongest showing was in Chilliwack-Hope where she garnered 53.17% of the vote on the first count. By the second count, Lewis had 66% support in the riding, when she was eliminated. Who won on the final count in Chilliwack-Hope? O’Toole with 78% of the vote, rising from 21% on the previous count – a massive increase of 57 points.
She also won the first count in blue BC seats despite not having any MP endorsements. Many of the MPs endorsed MacKay and O’Toole.
As noted, the problem Lewis had was that her votes were concentrated in ridings with a strong membership base. The type of member that likes her tends to live in conservative areas. Her raw vote per weighted vote was high compared to O’Toole and MacKay. In the non-held seats in BC, where the membership base is lower, Lewis did not do as well. Overall, in BC, she had 24.93% of the weighted votes (points) on the first count compared to winning 29.33% of the weighted votes in the Conservative-held ridings.
Looking at first count in the 17 Conservative seats in BC, Lewis won 8 ridings on the first count, O’Toole won 6, and MacKay 3.
The raw votes ranged from 1,246 in Langley-Aldergrove to only 253 in Steveston-Richmond East. The two Richmond Conservative ridings had the lowest votes cast among incumbent seats in BC, suggesting that the membership drive did not take hold in the Chinese-Canadian community.
Congratulations to Erin O’Toole on the win. He clearly benefited from down ballot support from Lewis and Sloan. His team likely knew where those votes were heading on the final count, as long as he stayed ahead of Lewis. Just as Lewis was an underdog, so was O’Toole, and the underdogs combined to win.
As for Leslyn Lewis, it’s clear she has a very strong base within the party, especially in BC’s held seats. One wonders if she had more time to organize in the weaker ridings, and started from a stronger position, that she would in fact be the leader today.