You can’t count your chickens until you count your votes.
In the immediate wake of the provincial election, the front-running candidates for the BC Liberals and NDP – in both the Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock ridings – are hesitating to either acknowledge victory, or concede defeat.
It’s hard to blame them, following a mid-pandemic campaign in which nothing has hewed to the usual pattern. From the ‘doorstep-or-not-to-doorstep’ conundrum, to online ‘virtual’ candidates meetings, to an oddly-muted election day Saturday – in which the elephant in the room was thousands of mail-in ballots yet-to-be-counted– this is one for the history books.
While it’s unlikely the NDP’s overall provincial sweep will be overturned, the fact is the races in both Peninsula ridings were close – maybe too close to call, even now, with Elections B.C. confirming that it won’t even begin counting the mail-in votes until Nov. 6.
In Surrey, 12,703 mail-in ballots were issued, in Surrey-White Rock, 11,206. If both ridings hold true to a province-wide percentage return of some 69 per cent, that’s still many thousands of votes unaccounted for.
With BC Liberal Surrey South incumbent Stephanie Cadieux leading NDP challenger Pauline Greaves 7,945 to 6,728 (a margin of 1,217 votes) and BC Liberal Surrey-White Rock candidate Trevor Halford leading his nearest rival, the NDP’s Bryn Smith, 6,840 to 6,111 (an even narrower margin of 729 votes), bushel-loads of uncounted ballots can scarcely be deemed insignificant.
While both ridings have previously been considered immovable BC Liberal strongholds, there is evidence, even locally, of the demographic shift toward the NDP that has been so noticeable in surrounding areas.
Bearing this out are Elections BC figures, based on votes counted to date, that show the NDP made the greatest gains in its vote share – a whopping 96 per cent – in the Surrey-Delta-Langley region; Liberal support in the same area fell off by 45 per cent.
In Surrey South, Cadieux, so far, has held fairly consistent to her vote share (48.7 per cent to 50 per cent in 2017). But Greaves posted a percentage of 41.2 per cent of the vote – up considerably from Jonathan Silveira’s 2017 total of 32.8 per cent (in an admittedly less-crowded field this year).
In Surrey-White Rock, Halford’s numbers, to this point, are sitting at 40 per cent of the vote – down almost 10 points from the 49.8 per cent share achieved by BC Liberal winner Tracy Redies in 2017. Smith, at 36.1 per cent of the vote, has already polled higher for the NDP than the 30.5 per cent Niovi Patsicakis managed in the earlier election.
It’s a trend that both parties can’t afford to ignore locally – wherever the chips finally fall on this year’s vote.