There is now a clear urban-rural divide across the province electoral slate, according to B.C. pollsters.
“The only thing you can guarantee out of this close election is that an urban rural divide now exists in B.C.,” said Joseph Angolano, vice-president of Mainstreet Research.
“It’s now clearly marked out in the legislature and the challenge will be for whoever forms the next government to bridge that gap. They will be taking over the reigns of a divided province.”
As of 11:30 p.m. election night, it is still uncertain whether B.C. will have a majority government with either the Liberals or NDP, or a minority government with the Green Party holding the balance of power.
Without a 44-seat majority in the legislature, either the Liberals or NDP would have to negotiate with the Greens to form a government.
Angolano said that electoral precedent has been set previously in Ontario in the 1980s with the NDP propping up a Liberal provincial government, and federally when the NDP stood behind the Pierre Trudeau government in 1974.
He said in both cases, the minority governments fell apart forcing a subsequent election, with the NDP losing seats in both instances while the Liberals gained majority victories.
“If the Greens with their three seats hold the balance of power, it will be very interesting to see what they do. I predict a minority government won’t last more than a year, two at the most.”
Looking forward, Angolano said all three parties need to face how to cross that urban-rural divide in the next election to form a majority government.
“Which party is able to break that divide is going to determine who will form the government looking forward for the next 10 years,” he predicted.
Greg Lyle, president of Innovative Research, said he thinks the economy was a primary issue for rural B.C. voters, while in the Lower Mainland housing affordability was front and centre.
Lyle said in retrospect, he feels NDP leader John Horgan’s campaign slogan “This isn’t as good as it gets” resonated with Lower Mainland voters in particular while the Liberal leader Christy Clark ran on a message of being a fiscal success running government so vote for them again failed to excite those same voters.
“I don’t think the Liberals had a message about how to make things better. We saw that in our polling where Green and NDP supporters were excited about their party’s outlook and the Liberal supporters didn’t share the same level of enthusiasm for their party.
“That is reflected in turnout numbers on election day. The Green and NDP got out their vote while many Liberal voters were not as motivated and opted to sit this one out. Getting out your vote is always critical in an election.”
Lyle noted both the NDP and Greens were against the LNG and Site C dam megaprojects, while the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline project may also be cast in doubt.
“A result like this will lead the Interior hanging economically perhaps but with a minority, another election is probably two years away at the outside, and winning a majority going forward will have to mean looking behind the Lower Mainland ridings.”
Close riding results will likely be impacted by the advance vote count, a process that will take up to two weeks to complete.