Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swing ridings hold key in B.C.

This is decision day in BC. I know little about the situation but thought this information about swing ridings might be useful. The polls seem to vary. Some indicate the race is quite close but others give the Liberals a considerable lead. I suspect that the Liberals will win but hope I am wrong. Many BCers remember the NDP times as being bad but then present times are hardly that great either. So it is a choice between two evils both of which you know!

Swing ridings hold key to B.C. election race

CBC News
When the polls close in British Columbia at 8 p.m. PT Tuesday, about a dozen extremely close races could hold the key to who ends up premier of Canada's West Coast province.
Heading into the final stretch of the campaign, the most recent polls suggest B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell holds a narrow lead over NDP Leader Carole James. But even with that lead, many commentators say, the election outcome is too close to call for a wide range of reasons.
Six new ridings have been created, and the boundaries for all but a handful of the existing ridings have changed, some significantly, making it very difficult to make predictions based on past results.
As well, in 17 ridings, the previous MLAs, including 14 Liberals, are not running again, meaning many ridings are wide-open races between new candidates. Those can also be difficult to predict.
Too close to call
Third, the two main parties are both facing challengers who might siphon off their votes in key ridings. The Green Party of B.C. has been polling as high as 10 per cent in polls, and in urban ridings where voters are angry about the NDP's opposition to the carbon tax, their votes could be pivotal.
Meanwhile, polls suggest the B.C. Conservatives could pick up a few percentage points from the Liberals, particular in the Fraser Valley and key ridings in the southern Interior, where voters are very unhappy with the Liberals' carbon tax and other issues.
And finally, under the province's current electoral system, even if a party wins the most votes provincially, it can still lose the election if it doesn't win those votes in the right seats.
That's exactly happened in 1996. Campbell's Liberals won 41.8 per cent of the vote and the NDP under Glen Clark won only 39.5 per cent province-wide, but the NDP won the election with 39 seats, while the Liberals took 33.
The CBC has identified the following seats as key races as voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
Delta South
One of the stars of the B.C. Liberal team, Wally Oppal moved to this suburban riding south of Vancouver from his old riding of Vancouver-Fraserview. Oppal lives in the riding but is up against a strong local challenger, Independent Vicki Huntington, whose five terms on the local council have allowed her to build a very strong base of support. Oppal also has to overcome the legacy of a very unpopular high-voltage power line that was pushed through the community, potentially turning many voters away from the Liberals.
Last election Huntington won 33 per cent of the vote, but the seat was taken by Liberal Val Roddick with 37 per cent. One interesting possible outcome from this riding is if Huntington does win as an Independent, and if the Liberals and NDP split the province's remaining 84 seats, she could end up holding the balance of power in the legislature.
Cariboo North and Cariboo-Chilcotin
Both the NDP and Liberals have been campaigning hard in these two Interior ridings, with both leaders visiting more than once during the election.
In the last election, New Democrat Bob Simpson won Cariboo North by fewer than 300 votes, but the seat has a habit of swinging widely each election.
In the new riding of Cariboo-Chilcotin, NDP incumbent Charlie Wyse is hoping to carry his support over from his old seat of Cariboo South. But he won the 2005 election race by only 114 votes, and the Liberals are hoping to take at least one these seats.
In elections since 1991, voters in the four ridings of the Metro Vancouver suburb of Burnaby have chosen candidates from the winning party in all but one case, making the quartet of seats remarkable bellwethers for B.C. elections. The one exception was in Burnaby-Edmonds in 2005, where New Democrat Raj Chouhan defeated Liberal Patty Sahota by 738 votes.
For this election, several of the ridings have been reorganized, but all four Burnaby seats are still likely to be very close races. Besides Burnaby-Edmonds, the other three races break down this way:
In Burnaby North, the Liberals won the riding in 2005 by fewer than 100 votes.
Burnaby-Lougheed was created in 2008, but includes a large part of the old Burquitlam riding, where Liberal Harry Bloy won by 372 votes in 2005.
Burnaby-Deer Lake was also created in 2008, largely from the riding of Burnaby Willingdon, which Liberal John Nuraney won by fewer than 400 votes last election. This time he will face the wife of the city's mayor, Kathy Corrigan.
Kootenay East
Liberal incumbent Bill Bennett is facing a tough challenge from the NDP in this riding, which has been hit hard by job losses in the forestry industry. Bennett won the riding in 2005 by fewer than 700 votes.
Bennett was kicked out of cabinet last term because of some strongly worded emails to his constituents, and during this campaign he's taken a lot of heat for a newspaper advertisement that offended his First Nations opponent and an offer of free beer at a local pub, but it is unclear how that might affect his support in the region.
The NDP has been campaigning hard in this riding, and on his other flank, Bennett is also facing off against B.C. Conservative party Leader Wilf Hanni, which could cost him enough votes to lose the seat.
Vancouver Fraserview
Crime is a big issue in this south Vancouver riding that was last held by Liberal Wally Oppal, who won the seat by more than 1,100 votes in 2005. But Oppal vacated the seat to allow former West Vancouver police chief Kash Heed to run for the Liberals, and it's not yet clear whether the untested politician will be able to carry over Oppal's support.
NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu has run a tough campaign, but he's also fighting off Green candidate Jodie Emery, formerly of the Marijuana party, who is likely to nab several percentage points from his share of the vote, so this could be anyone's race.
North Island
This is the largest riding on Vancouver Island and was won by the NDP's Claire Trevena in 2005 by 660 votes. But the riding also has a large First Nations population, whose leaders have been supportive of Liberal Leader Campbell's independent power projects, a hot-button issue in the area.
Traditionally the riding has voted NDP, but in 2001 it did go Liberal when the Green party candidate won 11.9 per cent of the vote, cutting into NDP support.
This new riding was created in 2008 with a large chunk of one riding that went to the B.C. Liberals in 2005 and smaller parts of two other ridings that fell to the NDP. But in 2009, no incumbents are running from either of the main parties, leaving the race wide open with a full slate of new candidates.
Along with the two main parties, there is a strong B.C. Conservative candidate, Joe Cardoso, who was dropped by the B.C. Liberals after winning their nomination, and a Green party candidate to consider — meaning this riding will be difficult to predict

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