In the weeks following an election, political parties spend time pouring over the results and analyzing what went wrong – or what went right.
Not knowing why you won an election can be just as bad as failing to identify why you lost.
Gregor Robertson was re-elected – but it wasn’t because he ran a spectacular campaign or because voters were enthralled with his platform. He hung on to his coveted third term because of the failures of his challengers.
Vision Vancouver was partially saved by hard-left candidate Meena Wong’s weak showing at the polls. Her party, COPE, took only 10% of the vote. The much-talked-about left-wing vote split between Vision and COPE was never realized. Had Wong and COPE done a little better, the mayor’s third term could have been toast.
Vision owes the most to the Non-Partisan Association, whose campaign was a failure. Despite the late-game excitement that the election had developed into a real horse race, mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe only got 0.5% more support than NPA mayoral hopeful Suzanne Anton did back in 2011.
Ultimately, the NPA ran as a pale imitation of Vision and failed to distinguish themselves. The NPA’s policies and promises weren’t much different than what Vision had on the table. It’s difficult to ask voters to change government when you aren’t offering real change, so it’s no wonder the NPA didn’t gain any greater vote share.
While Vision carried the day, the NPA did enjoy one significant victory – the Park Board.
It has always been assumed that people generally vote for parks and school boards the same way they do for mayor and council, but that assumption is wrong and Saturday’s election proves it.
The NPA gained control of the Park Board from Vision, taking four seats while the Greens took two and Vision ended up with only one.
This is interesting because much of Vision’s weaknesses that have garnered them criticism in the last year have been the result of their actions with the Park Board. The controversy was heated over more central control over community centre boards, and Vision’s ban on dolphin and whale breeding at the aquarium.
Voters made the distinction that they were happy with Vision on council and in the mayor’s chair, but not running the Park Board. Vision paid a price for their antics and ideological agenda by losing control – something which cannot be ignored.
Hopefully Vision takes notice of this message sent to them by voters instead of breaking out the champagne.