It’s election day tomorrow, and after over four weeks of zoom-town halls and socially-distanced campaigning, the final polls coming out today are showing — pretty much same thing they were showing at the beginning of the campaign.
It’s unusual to see a campaign where the party horserace remains essentially unchanged, but then again these are unusual times. Public opinion polls showed John Horgan’s NDP starting out with the support of almost 50 per cent of the voters, and that’s where he apparently finishes. Andrew Wilkinson’s BC Liberals started out in with support levels in the low 30s, and seemingly failed to move the needle. And despite strong performances in the debates, Sonia Furstenau’s Green Party looks to be mired in the low teens.
Are the polls right? We’ll find out tomorrow. Sort of.
In previous BC elections, only a few thousand people voted by mail. Under pandemic circumstances, over 700,000 British Columbians availed themselves of the mail-in-ballot option, which amounts to over a third of all votes expected to be cast. And with the rules currently stipulating a 13-day delay before mail-in ballots can be counted, they’ll remained locked away until November 6. Even at that point, counting is expected to be time-consuming; many ballots were mailed before the full slate of candidates was determined, forcing voters to write in their selection, and leaving Elections BC to decipher a lot of handwriting.
Does that mean we won’t know who won the election until mid-November? Not necessarily. It’s more likely that we’ll be able to see a clear direction in the voting, at least in terms of who is going to form the next government. Counting the nearly 400,000 cast in advance polls, over a million people have already voted in BC, and exit polls among them show a strong lead for the NDP. This suggests that there is likely to be an “orange shift” as the mail-in ballots are counted, boosting the NDP numbers we’ll see tomorrow night rather than chipping away at them.
But at the risk of saying this too often — who knows. These are very unusual times.
Insights by David Bieber, Director, Western Canada, Jim Rutkowski, Senior Associate, and Ben Parsons, Account Director, Federal Advocacy.