Sooke voters were a big reason why New Democrat Randall Garrison was able to capture a third term as a member of Parliament in last month’s federal election, a detail analysis of poll-by-poll results show.
The poll results reveals the most staggering aspect in recent years: more people than usual came out and voted.
Garrison won the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding by more than 5,200 votes.
Still, Conservatives’ loss resonates just as loudly as the NDP’s win over Vancouver Island and B.C., especially in a riding that historically, has parts in it which have supported the Conservative party in the past.
University of Victoria political scientist Jamie Lawson noted the dip in Conservative support largely stemmed from concerns regarding environmental issues, as well as policies for oil tanker and pipeline development.
“Connected with allegations of democratic deficit, that it had an impact over time on witness key people who support the Conservatives,” Lawson said, adding this is why more central “constitutional traditionalists” were inclined to be more amiable toward views and arguments made from people such as Green candidate Elizabeth May.
By default that left only two choices for voters in the Sooke-Esquimalt-Saanich riding: vote for the most experienced, (Garrison) who’d replace the Conservatives, or don’t vote at all.
“In the previous election, the people who were opposed to the Conservatives were being actively organized and more willing to change their vote in order to back local candidates who had the best chance of excluding a Conservative from office,” he said.
This could also explain for the almost-mythical group of “undecided” voters who either voted impulsively with a key motive in mind, or didn’t vote at all, perhaps feeling that their initially-preferred party disappointed them.
Of all the conflicted voters, Armed Forces voters were probably the most conflicted about their feelings towards the Conservatives this election, according to Lawson, noting cuts to veteran services and benefits to ordinary service men and women, as well as equipment delays, have doubtlessly hurt the Conservative cause.
Part of that voter psychology rests on the hope that one day, the Conservatives may make a comeback in B.C, even though they lost about a fifth of its support in the country during this election.
“Maybe there were people who sat this one out on the Conservative bench, who just didn’t go out to the polls because they couldn’t stand the thought of voting for anyone else,” Lawson said.
There’s an even bigger contrast at play, given the circumstances that while the NDP’s loss of seats across the country were substantial, they managed to hold on tight in this region.
Lawson pointed out that the popular vote may not provide a clear picture of what the seat count is going to look like, because everything turns on very fine three or four-way splits, leaving the playing field to be unpredictable.
“It’s not just that the polarity of votes can wind up with the majority of seats, it’s that you can have regional surges that wouldn’t be expected in terms of seat count and much turns on the efficiency of the vote.”
The highlight during this election however goes back again to youth, who were not only more involved in the whole process, but who also took part in the ridings and in the movement to change the tide, particularly on the Liberal front.
“Younger voters are going to see generational change, particularly from the agenda and results committee at the centre of the cabinet now. Most of those folks are new to politics, so the’ll be the potential for political mistakes as a consequence of that, and that could disenchant people,” Lawson said.