The following chart from Will McMartin’s most recent Tyee article offers some interesting insights into BC politics:
The first thing one notices is that the NDP’s support has remained relatively constant over the last 40 years, aside from the 2001 debacle. In 9 of 10 elections, the NDP share of the popular vote has remained within a 7% range, from 39% to 46%. And in 7 of 10 elections, that range has been less than 3.5%. In other words, NDP supporters are a fairly consistent and committed group of voters.
What’s also interesting is that the NDP’s three electoral victories (1975, 1991 and 1996) were based on some of its smallest popular votes shares. Conversely, the best three elections in terms of vote share still resulted in electoral defeats to Bill Bennett‘s Social Credit Party.
What does this mean for the NDP? First, the best strategy for the NDP is to pray for the corruption of the right wing vote. In all three NDP victories, credible conservative alternatives helped cleave away crucial votes from the dominant right wing party (1975 and 1996), or there was simply no credible right wing party at all (1991). Another strategy, and something I’ve discussed before, is to address topics that are usually not associated with the NDP. Like the Liberals in 2009 – who successfully claimed new ground with the environment – the NDP needs to take economic policy seriously. This doesn’t mean surrendering to the business sector and its destructive tax-cut monomania, but it does mean offering progressive ideas that will improve prosperity and productivity.
The chart also implies one other point, and one that McMartin’s article effectively argues: the NDP is not likely to fall apart because of the departure of Carole James. The numbers above suggest a consistency that stands apart from any leader.
Edited on: Monday, December 27, 2010 11:12 AM