On Wednesday (May 11), polls open at 8 a.m. for the much-anticipated by-election in Vancouver-Point Grey. (To find out where to vote, go here.)
Most commentators say it's a shoo-in for Premier Christy Clark, who is running in the constituency vacated by former premier Gordon Campbell.
Between 1996 and 2009, Campbell benefited from the way anti-Liberal votes split between his NDP and Green opponents.
In addition, there's a strong B.C. Liberal organization in the constituency, so the party will have already identified likely supporters. They can expect to receive calls tomorrow reminding them to vote.
Many commentators have suggested that Point Grey residents will like having a premier as their representative, which will offer an added incentive to vote Liberal.
Finally, UBC students are on a summer break, which could diminish support for the NDP and Green parties.
So is this one a done deal?
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the answer is "no".
Here are some wildcards to consider:
”¢ The governing party has not won a by-election in B.C. since the Socreds took Kamloops in 1981. Even Point Grey fell to the NDP after Socred Kim Campbell resigned, clearing the way for a by-election on March 15, 1989.
”¢ The winner of that 1989 by-election was a professional, New Democrat Dr. Tom Perry, who was running against financial analyst Michael Levy.
”¢ Traditionally, West Side voters have preferred voting for professionals. This was demonstrated by the numerous times that left-wing lawyer Harry Rankin was elected to council with the support of West Side voters. In 1999, only two COPE council candidates, Dr. Fred Bass and lawyer Tim Louis, were elected, thanks in part to their support on the West Side.
”¢ The NDP candidate in this election, Eby, is a lawyer with a high public profile. His opponent, Premier Clark, is not a professional in a riding dominated by a university.
”¢ Education is important to residents of this constituency, and Clark's record as education minister in the first Campbell government was less than stellar.
”¢ NDP supporters are highly motivated to defeat Clark. Many B.C. Liberal supporters, on the other hand, would have preferred another member of caucus to become leader ahead of Clark.
”¢ The NDP is riding a wave of momentum, which was on display in the federal election.
”¢ The Liberal brand took a beating in the federal election. Even though the provincial party has no connection to the federal Liberals, this could still have a bearing on some voters.
”¢ B.C. Green support fell significantly in the 2009 election. The party is running a relatively unknown rookie candidate, Franí§oise Raunet, in this by-election.
”¢ A former Conservative candidate, Eddie Petrossian, and a B.C. First candidate, Danielle Alie, could siphon off a few votes on the right side of the spectrum.
Generally, constituencies with higher incomes vote Liberal, whereas low-income areas are more likely to vote NDP. This favours the B.C. Liberals, because there are lots of wealthy people in Point Grey.
However, constituencies with a high percentage of tenants tend to skew NDP. This area has a significant number of renters, though not as many as other areas of town.
If these tenants defy expectations and show up at the polls in huge numbers, it could be a long night for Clark.
All things considered, pundits are pretty confident that Clark will win in a walk in tomorrow's vote. If they're wrong or if Eby even makes it close, you now know some of the reasons why.