Anyone chanting the strategic voting mantra got a dose of reality Monday night.
For days, if not weeks, leading up to the federal election, the NDP and its affiliates insisted that the only way to ensure the Conservatives didn’t hold on to North Okanagan-Shuswap was to be strategic. They wanted voters to abandon their traditional political leanings and cast a ballot for Jacqui Gingras as the NDP was the only party able to end Tory rule.
This argument played out over and over again in a chain of e-mails.
“The LeadNow community is now officially recommending Jacqui Gingras (NDP) as the best candidate to defeat the Conservatives. Leadnow.ca/VoteTogether.ca are running the most effective national strategic voting effort by far and have targeted 22 key swing ridings across Canada, and this now includes our riding,” states an e-mail from the PollOkanaganShuswap.org team, which commissioned a poll showing Gingras neck and neck with Conservative Mel Arnold.
In another e-mail, Leadnow stated, “Tens of thousands of us have pledged to unite behind the best candidates that can defeat Harper. In some ridings, the best local candidate that can defeat the Harper Conservative is NDP, in others they’re Liberal. Now, we know who that is in your riding, North Okanagan-Shuswap: Jacqui Gingras of the NDP.
“We ran a candidate recommendation process where we asked you to vote on whether we should back Jacqui Gingras, the candidate best positioned to defeat the local Conservative and move Canada forward. The result was an overwhelming yes. Now that the Leadnow community has spoken, we need to start mobilizing in your riding to get out the vote for NDP candidate, Jacqui Gingras.”
In other e-mails, the focus is the poll commissioned by Liberal Cindy Derkaz, which had the Conservatives in the lead and the Grits nipping at the heels of the NDP for second place.
“There are some significant problems with it. The quick story is that the poll overrepresents females by nearly a factor of two, persons 65 years old or more by more than a factor of two, and under-represents those under 35 by a factor of 10,” says the PollOkanaganShuswap.org team.
As we saw Monday night, rallying the wagons around the orange banner failed miserably.
Arnold, not surprisingly, retained the riding for the Tories at 39.3 per cent, but it was the frequently dismissed Derkaz and the Liberals who rode into second place at 30 per cent. Gingras and the NDP, at 25.6 per cent, brought up the rear and what had been planned as a large victory party at Vernon’s Prestige Hotel turned into a wake.
Gingras wouldn’t speculate on why the NDP didn’t top the polls as projected.
“That’s something we will have to dwell on.”
Among the potential reasons are North Okanagan-Shuswap is ideologically conservative country and the growing national interest in Trudeau trounced a lukewarm response among voters to the NDP’s Tom Mulcair.
What ever the reasons, it’s abundantly clear that opinion surveys are as leaky as the Titanic and the concept of strategic voting needs to be re-examined.
Arnold hit the nail on the end during a recent interview, “The only poll that matters is Oct. 19.”
Good luck in Ottawa Mel.