Vote-splitting in 16 ridings may have cost the NDP, but not as much as you may think

It was the message many NDP supporters hoped would sway other left-leaning voters: “a vote for Green is a vote for Christy Clark.”

Proponents of strategic voting are clenching their fists this morning. Casting a ballot for the B.C. Greens, they say, is as good as voting for the Liberals. Drawing support from the NDP to the Greens may return the Liberals to power for another four years.

At first glance, it looks like they might be right. Had Green voters thrown support to NDP, they could have defeated Liberals in 16 ridings.

But that would mean Green voters were pulled away from the NDP, which may not be accurate.

At first glance, had Greens thrown their votes to support NDP, they could have defeated the Liberals handily. In Richmond-Queensborough, NDP lost by 263 votes, and in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, by only 170 votes.

Strictly speaking yes, these votes could have gone to the NDP and they would have won. However the question remains: did Greens steal support from dedicated NDP voters, or was something else going on?

Greens made substantive gains with over 1,000 more votes in 11 of the 16 split ridings. Kamloops-North Thompson did not have a Green candidate in 2013, but they won over 4,500 votes yesterday. West Vancouver-Sea to Sky too took nearly 6,500 votes.

In Parksville-Qualicum, Greens took a stunning 7,600 votes while NDP lost nearly 2,250 votes. However, NDP’s setback does not account for remaining 4,000-plus ballots cast for Greens.

Liberals too, although they won in these ridings, in some instances lost several thousand votes. In Langley, they lost over 4,000, and in Surrey-Cloverdale, a shocking 6,800 votes.

Richmond was a tough-go for the NDP from the start. Election boundaries were re-drawn in 2015 and the new riding Richmond South Centre drew from Liberal strongholds in the centre of the three Richmond ridings. Liberal support was stretched across Richmond in the new Richmond-Queensborough riding, leaving the NDP to claim their already safe New Westminster seat.

Richmond: new boundaries in yellow. Former in solid colours.

So yes, technically had all Green voters supported the NDP then absolutely they would have won. But the boom in Green voters makes me wonder who — if anyone — they supported before.