I Told You So.
Contrary to the self-serving opinion coming out of absolutely all of the main news organizations on the subject, I will meekly allow that I don't actually know that the pollsters whose "narrative" formed the big story about the British Columbia election just now come and gone were indeed wrong at all. The pollsters may have badly misinterpreted their own findings, one can suppose. But were they really all wrong from the beginning, as we've been repeatedly bludgeoned into believing?
In my Ottawa Citizen column today I venture a greater likelihood: For one thing, voter turnout was only 52 per cent, only a percentage point higher than the 2009 election. For another thing, all it would take to produce the kind of discrepancy that shocked everybody Tuesday night is a scenario with poll respondents who claimed an intention to vote NDP not actually voting, for whatever reason, in higher proportions than poll respondents who said they intended to vote Liberal.
And what do you know, along comes pollster Ipsos with some illuminating election-day poll revelations, the point being: "The long and the short of it was that NDP voters did not get out and fulfill their promise to vote for the party of their choice – they stayed home while Liberal voters showed up. As such, a small number of voters were able to influence the greater outcome."
It would appear, then, that the key to this entire representative-democracy business, by which I mean to say the trick to winning the game, is to get it into one's silly head that the main thing you have to do is show up. In this particular case, the big lesson for all those NDP enthusiasts who are being so pouty and boring at the moment is this: If you want the NDP to win elections you actually have to vote for the NDP at election time.
What we're hearing loudest from the NDP camp right now is not self-criticism, although there is some of that, thankfully. There is little sign that the leadership is suitably chastened. It's instead all the rage to blame "vote splitting," which is the passive-aggressive way to spit on the ground and use foul language about the Greens (splittists and wreckers!). I half expect them to bring Opus Dei into it, or Haliburton.
I am so bored with that particular line of pseudo-argument that I could do some spitting myself, because playing counter-factual with parameters of one's own choosing will always produce the conclusion one prefers. Here's the way that time-killing distraction occurs in the pages of the Vancouver Sun: "Adrian Dix would be premier if Green supporters had voted NDP (with graphics!)" Well, two can play that game: "Christy Clark would still be premier if Green supporters had voted Liberal." Even three can play that game: "Adrian Dix would be premier if Liberal supporters voted NDP."
Oh look, the footnote inside the Vancouver Sun story that gives the game way: "Such an analysis assumes, of course, that Green party supporters would all have the NDP as their second choice. That’s almost certainly not the case."
Thanks for letting us in on that. To kick around the true story about why the B.C. NDP brains trust has never given any indication that it is prepared to contemplate collaborative-voting strategies would be the only way to make these "vote-splitting" preoccupations relevant or interesting. The thing is, they just can't suck it up and get over themselves. Hell, in the last election in the UK even Billy Bragg voted LibDem. On Canada's wild west coast, if it is true that Green voters are in fact not merely the disenchanted but hopelessly naive would-be NDPers we keep hearing about, then maybe the NDP brains trust should admit as much and stop whimpering.
Again: the NDP lost because the NDP didn't get enough votes. Why did the NDP fail to get enough votes? To answer that question with the feint that it was because too many people voted Green is to employ a dodge transparently crafted to avoid addressing the serious questions New Democrats need to be asking themselves, if they actually want to be taken seriously.