The Greens are running a tight ship on Vancouver Island these days. In the wake of Andrew Weavers win in Oak Bay Gordon Head on behalf of the BC Green Party, I decided to have a closer look at the BC Provincial election results in the Victoria area.
Knowing so little about BC Politics, I trotted off to find the Provincial riding maps, and past Provincial election results in the area. From that point it was a quick and simple matter to visually contrast the Provincial riding maps and compare them to the Federal ridings. You see, the typical Green supporter does not really differentiate between the Provincial and Federal Green Party’s in their area. A Federal Green voter is extremely likely to vote Green Provincially, so it would be reasonable to expect that the $million plus that the Green Party of Canada has sunk into Saanich Gulf Islands would be reflected in the Provincial results. The bulk of that money has been spent over the past 4 years in staffing offices in SGI, and systematically building supporter lists in the district.
In November 2012, Donald Galloway representing the Green Party of Canada ran a hotly contested campaign to win the Federal riding of Victoria, which is immediately adjacent to SGI. As I have posted before, the Greens have become extremely good at mobilizing volunteers from across the country to work virtual phone banks for a targeted canvas. In essence, they bombard their supporter lists with emailed invitations to volunteer to telephone canvas from their homes. It is very easy for volunteers, basically they get an emailed link to log in to the canvassing database. They log in, a name and phone number pops onto their screen, alongside a simple script, and they start dialling and recording voting intentions. Whether they work for 10 minutes, or 10 hours, all the data they collect is automatically preserved, and has gotten the campaign that much closer to identifying all their prospective supporters in the area. It takes literally tens of thousands of volunteer hours to fully canvas a riding. The biggest stumbling block for building up identified voters lists is the sheer volume of work involved in actually knocking on all those doors, or dialling all those phone numbers. By calling on hundreds of volunteers from all across the country, the local GP campaign can focus on key objectives, while the donkey work of identifying, and subsequently getting out the vote can be handled by volunteers from far and wide. Well the Green ID and GOTV virtual phone bank was firing on all cylinders on behalf of both Galloway in Victoria, and Turner in Calgary Centre by-elections. Galloway ran a strong campaign, in the riding adjacent to Elizabeth May’s stronghold of SGI. He was able to call on hundreds of local volunteers, and the Federal Party infrastructure of paid staffers and offices just across the riding boundary. The upshot of all those resources being mobilized to support a strong candidate, and a strong EDA was a pretty close second place finish with over 34% of the popular vote in Victoria.
So fast forward to the BC Provincial election 6 months later, and you can see the strategy of building an Island stronghold being implemented. At this point I wish I knew how to create poll level maps, and a geo coded database of vote results. But I don’t, so I will have to support my argument with fuzzier information and generalized conclusions. Have no fear, a poll by poll analysis will bear me out, but I am both too lazy, and insufficiently skilled to actually do all that work.
First of all, in BC, the Provincial riding boundaries are not really related to the Federal boundaries. The Federal Electoral Districts have 2-3 times the population as a Provincial riding. As a result, the Federal Saanich Gulf Islands for example incorporates the entirety of one Provincial riding, and pokes into significant corners of two more. The same holds true for the federal Victoria riding. So between SGI, and Victoria, there are larger, or smaller overlaps with 5 Provincial ridings. The Green Party of BC put their strongest candidates into ridings where the Greens had thoroughly canvassed, and identified large numbers of supporters federally through GPC campaigns.
Adam Olsen, who is a well recognised 2 term city councillor in Central Saanich ran for the BC Greens in Saanich North and the Islands. This riding is completely within the boundaries of SGI federally. Jane Sterk, Leader of the BC Greens ran in Victoria Beacon Hill, which is completely within the boundaries of Victoria federally. Andrew Weaver, a very well known Professor at U Vic ran in Oak Bay Gordon Head, which is split between Victoria and SGI Federally, while the relatively weak candidate in Victoria Swan Lake was Spencer Malthouse (my apologies Spencer), in a riding that overlaps with Victoria Federally.
The results are laid out in the table below. Please note the growth in Green Party of BC votes were exceptionally strong where the riding boundaries overlapped with SGI, and a lesser extent where the overlaps were with Victoria.
|BC Green Party||LIBERAL||NDP|
|Federal Overlaps with:||Provincial Riding||Votes||%||Votes||%||GROWTH||Votes||Votes||Votes||Votes|
|SGI & Victoria||Oak Bay Gordon Head||2152||8.91%||9602||40.09%||346.19%||11266||7124||10736||6772|
|SGI||Saanich North & Islands||3016||10.91%||9294||31.86%||208.16%||12513||9629||12118||9681|
|Esquimault-Juan de Fuca & SGI||Saanich South||1551||6.56%||3612||15.16%||132.88%||10728||8473||11141||10824|
|Victoria||Victoria Beacon Hill||3768||16.64%||7852||33.72%||108.39%||5998||3981||12591||11335|
|Esquimault-Juan de Fuca||Juan de Fuca||1645||8.53%||3253||15.46%||97.75%||6624||6513||11008||11272|
|Victoria||Victoria Swan Lake||2459||12.01%||4502||22.62%||83.08%||5456||4509||12389||10891|
|Nanaimo-Alberni & Nanaimo Cowichan||Nanaimo North Cowichan||2004||8.96%||3043||13.41%||51.85%||7956||6984||12159||10538|
|Vancouver Island North||Comox Valley||2338||8.56%||3292||11.48%||40.80%||13016||12817||11593||11024|
|Esquimault-Juan de Fuca||Esquimalt Royal Roads||3370||16.71%||4486||21.61%||33.12%||6098||5959||10705||9997|
|Nanaimo-Alberni & Nanaimo Cowichan||Nanaimo||1852||8.96%||2198||10.53%||18.68%||7497||7812||11057||9548|
|Vancouver island North||North Island||1561||7.25%||0||0.00%||-100.00%||8411||8862||11232||10595|
|Nanaimo-Alberni & Nanaimo Cowichan||Alberni Pacific Rim||1250||7.41%||0||0.00%||-100.00%||5373||5981||10007||9829|
As you can see, over a 4 year period, the Green vote grew appreciably in every riding on the Island. If you look at the raw vote counts though, you will see that the truly impressive growth was happening in ridings where the Greens were strongest to begin with. In short, the possession of a strong ground game, access to extensive supporter and voter lists, and the mobilization of a nationwide virtual phone bank in support of a campaign is sufficient to propel the Greens within striking distance of winning in select ridings.
The implications for the next General election in 2015 are twofold. Locally, on the island itself, we can expect to see a concerted effort to continue to build on past successes. Provincial, Federal, and Municipal Greens will be co-ordinating and sharing resources in an un-precedented way. SGI will be an easy win for Elizabeth May, and Victoria and Esquimault-Juan de Fuca will be squarely in the GPC`s sights. I fully expect that there will be stronger campaigns in ALL the Vancouver Island ridings, and the process of building a regional stronghold will continue.
The wider implications are that the Greens will be paying a LOT more attention to Federal By-Elections. I would expect that Calgary Centre will have a well funded and organized campaign in 2015, based upon their excellent showing in the November By-Election. I doubt very much that the GPC will spend a nickel on the upcoming Bourassa by-election in Quebec, but they will be weighing their future chances in any riding where a by-election is going to be called. With a few months heads up, they are now fully capable of pledging the monetary support to entice a strong local Candidate. With the proven ability to mobilize a seriously massive volunteer phone canvas, they can strategically use a by-election build the local electoral database in preparation for the general election in 2015. In this respect, the Green Party is incrementally creating the conditions to win in a handful of ridings come 2015. I for one will be following their efforts with interest.
Filed under: By-Elections, Election Tactics, Electoral Data, Greens In the News, Organizing, Ridings to Watch | Tagged: election readiness, election results, green party canada, green party organizing, political organizing | 5 Comments »