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Vote splitting or just a splitting headache?

UPDATE – CKPG is reporting that Hilary Crowley is running for the Green Party in Prince George-Mackenzie. Elections BC, however, does not have her listed yet. The following column was written prior to news a third candidate may be running in the riding.

This election will be a little different than previous ones in that there aren’t a lot of candidates in the campaign.

In Prince George-Mackenzie it’s a two-person race with incumbent Liberal Mike Morris going up against New Democrat Bobby Deepak. It’s a replay of the 2013 election, except there are no other distractions.

In 2013 there were four candidates in the running. Along with Morris and Deepak, Karen McDowell ran for the Greens and Terry Rysz for the Conservatives.

So how does a two-person candidate change the campaign, or election? Well, for one thing the winner will have more than 50 per cent of the vote. That being said, it should be noted that in 2013 Morris captured 55.58 per cent of the vote, running against three candidates. In other words, even if all the Green and Conservative votes went to Deepak, Morris still would have won.

Vote-splitting won’t be an issue in 2017, but, then again, it wasn’t in 2013.

It comes down to whether Prince George-Mackenzie candidates want a change. If they do, then there’s only one option.

It’s slightly different in Prince George-Valemount where incumbent Liberal Shirley Bond is being challenged by New Democrat Natalie Fletcher and Green Party candidate Nan Kendy.

As in Prince George-Mackenzie, vote splitting wasn’t an issue in Prince George-Valemount in 2013. Bond was elected with 56.95 per cent of the vote running against the NDP’s Sherry Ogasawara, Conservative Nathan Giede, and Christian Heritage Party candidate Donald Roberts.

If vote splitting plays a factor in Prince George-Valemount, it will likely benefit Bond for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if Kendy is more likely to draw support away from the NDP and Fletcher. Secondly, for voters who want a change but aren’t comfortable with the NDP might park their vote with the Greens, effectively splitting the vote.

One thing to remember in all this, vote splitting is only an issue if the winning candidate gets less than 50 per cent of the vote, which didn’t happen in either Prince George riding last time around.

The riding that will very interesting is Cariboo North.

Liberal Coralee Oakes won the riding with only 41.41 per cent of the vote. Independent Bob Simpson, who was originally elected as a New Democrat but fell out of favour with the party and ran as an independent, captured 37.16 per cent of the vote. New Democrat Duncan Barnett finished third with 21.43 per cent of the vote.

The question is whether where those who voted for Simpson in 2013 will place their vote this time around. He was elected as a New Democrat, so it’s probably safe to say that a good portion of those who voted for him in 2013 will move over to New Democrat Scott Elliott. The third person in the race is Conservative Tony Goulet. Conventional wisdom says Goulet will draw votes away from Oakes.

Once again, the big question is where those who voted for Simpson last time go this time and whether voters are in the mood for a change.

Election 2017

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