The Goldilocks election

By Dermod Travis

It was a pretty safe bet going into election night that regardless of how the vote broke there were four words from Premier Christy Clark's 2013 victory speech which would be left unsaid this year: “Well, that was easy.”

Something else telling between Clark's two speeches?

In 2013, it fell on then-NDP leader Adrian Dix to deliver that oft-cited line by political runner-ups: “Elections belong to the voters, and the voters decided.”

This time it fell to Clark, as she acknowledged the verdict: “Voters always know best.”

Pending a massive shift among the absentee ballots, Clark's B.C. Liberal party may have scored its lowest share of the popular vote since 1991.

The NDP's vote has gone up by 1,414 so far, but they'll add to that with the final count. It remains to be seen whether they'll crack a 40 per cent share of the popular vote, though, a feat the party hasn't achieved since 2009.

The Green party doubled its vote count and its share of the vote.

The tallies give you a sense there was a slice of the electorate less than thrilled with the choices before them. Call them the Goldilocks voters.

Some found one party too hot, another party too cold and a few found one party just right.

For the non-hyper-partisans out there, the results may be ideal: rebuke Clark, give the NDP a chance to prove their mettle before possibly handing over the keys, and ensure a strong third-party voice in the legislature.

This was a campaign that didn't come with a single game changer, but rather a litany of issues and events that reached a tipping point for some voters. The ones that decide elections.

Memo for the Liberal party war room: the public cares.

Clark – who once said "we all say things to get elected" – decided to prove it for the Goldilocks' voters. 

When Clark ran into an actual voter who hadn't been previously pre-screened by campaign organizers, the resulting #IamLinda hashtag may have created more buzz on the campaign trail, but it wasn't the more telling moment.

That moment came during the leaders debate when Clark tried to deflect the moderator's question on various controversies and scandals surrounding her leadership.

The Liberals won just over 40 per cent of the popular vote and may want to consider that 'trust thing' as they conduct their election post-mortem.

Parties that won a slice of the Goldilocks vote would be well advised to heed the ending of the fairy tale: “Just then, Goldilocks woke up and saw the three bears. She screamed, "Help!"

– Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.

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