Could the NPA have elected a sixth council candidate with a different lineup of party representatives?
This is a question that's going to be dogging the party's supporters for years after it narrowly lost the election—its fourth consecutive defeat in the council race.
An open nomination race might have attracted more party members, more donations, and more media interest.
But let's assume that the party board simply looked at who was available to run for council and chose differently. Could it have gotten a sixth person into the chamber?
The party hasn't released the names of all those who sought an NPA council nomination.
But it's fair to say that the party brand was probably worth about 30,000 votes in this year's council election. That's because its lowest-ranking candidate, the relatively unknown JoJo Quimpo, collected 34,634 votes.
Let's assume that 4,634 of those votes came through his own hustle and name recognition, with the rest gifted by the letters NPA after his name on the ballot.
The highest-ranking NPA council candidate, Melissa De Genova, won 53,324 votes.
Using this metric of the party brand being worth 30,000 votes in the council election, De Genova was able to add another 23,324 through her name recognition and her campaign.
That's pretty respectable.
The next-highest NPA candidate, Colleen Hardwick added 17,811 votes to the ticket, using that NPA-equals-30,000-votes metric.
Lisa Dominato added 14,769; Rebecca Bligh added 14,117; and Sarah Kirby-Yung added 13,646.
The three men on the NPA slate, including David Grewal and Justin Goodrich, didn't have that kind of star power.
Now, let's look at some of the independent candidates.
Downtown Eastside harm-reduction worker Sarah Blyth won 29,515 votes solely on the power of her name. That's more than the top NPA candidate.
The next highest independent, former NPA park commissioner Erin Shum, attracted 23,359 votes on her own.
Had she been on the NPA slate of seven, she clearly would have been elected.
Adrian Crook was going to seek an NPA council nomination until the party board vetoed the mayoral application of Hector Bremner. Crook received 17,417 votes as an independent.
A Vancouver 1st council candidate, Ken Low, collected 21,934 votes. The lowest vote total for someone with the name Vancouver 1st on the ballot, had 7,512 votes.
This suggests that Low, a former NPA and former federal Liberal candidate, might have won around 14,000 votes through the power of his name. That's possibly more than Kirby-Yung snared.
Independent Wade Grant, a former member of the police board, attracted 15,450 votes without a party label. UBC graduate student Taqdir Bhandal received 15,347 votes as an independent.
It's possible that these independents received some votes because they were independent. And maybe they wouldn't have received so many through the power of their name if they had party labels.
But if the NPA had chosen stronger candidates among the independents than the three men who ran for council and lost, would it have formed a majority?
Probably not. And here's why: the bottom three spots in the council election all went to NPA candidates.
So if Shum were to be elected as an NPA candidate, she would have bumped Kirby-Yung off council.
If Shum and Crook were elected, it would have pushed Bligh into 11th and Kirby-Yung into 12th. And if Shum, Crook, and Low were to have been elected as NPA candidates, Dominato would have also lost.
It would have required four candidates with totals above OneCity's Christine Boyle's 45,529 votes to have given the NPA a council majority.
That's a tall order, all other things being equal.
The best way for the NPA to have won control over council would have been if the mayoral candidate, Ken Sim, had received an additional 985 votes so he could have defeated Kennedy Stewart.
But Sim didn't have the name recognition to carry himself across the finish line.
There were other NPA candidates at the school and park board slates who received more votes than Stewart.
One of them was two-term park commissioner John Coupar—the mayoral aspirant that NPA members spurned in favour of Sim.
Coupar collected 49,836 votes running for park board compared to Stewart's 49,812 votes in the mayoral contest.
More people put a black mark beside Coupar's name than beside Stewart's name.
Some might say it's comparing apples to oranges when stacking up a park candidate's total against that of a mayoral candidate.
But there's no denying that Coupar put in a strong showing.
And no one will ever know for sure if he would have defeated Stewart had the NPA members chosen Coupar as their mayoral candidate.