The meaning of Adrian Dix's defeat -

The meaning of Adrian Dix’s defeat

Progressives: Be tough and get young people to vote for you


Beyond the latest existential crisis for polling firms, Alice Funke notes a few lessons in British Columbia’s surprising election result.

“No more Mr. Nice Guy’ – The “positive campaign” as a strategy in the face of relentless attacks does not work, especially when the ballot question winds up being leadership. Everyone remembers the 2012 Obama campaign as positive, but seems to forget that a brutal series of negative ads against Mitt Romney six months earlier paved the way for their positive end-game. Voters (especially women) might tell focus groups ahead of time that they don’t like negative attacks and prefer positive campaign ads, but that feedback is given in isolation from exposure to the other campaign. Once you get into an election period, with the two main campaigns running in parallel, if one campaign is constantly attacking you, turning the other cheek looks wimpy…

“Anger is better than love, and fear works better than hope” – In the chaotic and frenzied info-saturated world electoral campaigns now have to function within, strong negative emotions repeated endlessly cut through the clutter if they’re not answered better with strong communications and marketing. The BC Liberal campaign was able to change the ballot question for enough people from ‘time for a change’ to ‘fear of weak leadership’, while the hopeful kids who wanted ‘change for the better’ did not seem to feel it necessary to vote.

And then there are the kids these days…

“The lessons are different for right and left” – Conservative parties received confirmation last night that they are right to stay in their own bubble and mistrust the ‘analysis’ coming from the policy wonks in the media (or, evidently, me). They learned that they can speak to their core supporters, who have very different demographics and values, and ignore everyone else. Ranking the BC ridings by turnout shows the older, wealthier ridings near 60% turnout, and the less-well-off, younger ridings down in the low 40s. The turnout bonus for conservative parties is apparently accelerating, as well, going from a 3- or 4-point gap in the 2011 federal race to a 10-point gap last night in BC. Ten ridings were decided by less than 3.7% of the vote, and while under BC elections law there are six kinds of absentee ballots that won’t be counted until May 27 which could conceivably change the outcome in several of those seats, it was not closeness of the race but turnout that was decisive in explaining last night’s historic upset. If the traditional demographic bases of support for progressive parties do not vote in sufficient numbers, they will become increasingly powerless to effect other changes in their society.

The federal New Democrats and Liberals might have plans that don’t include attracting a large number of young voters, but their respective causes likely become easier to realize if either wins the strong support of those under the age of 30 and, importantly, if that age group votes in significant numbers. Barack Obama narrowly lost the vote to Mitt Romney among voters over the age of 30, but he won 60% of the vote among those under the age of 30. And voters between the ages of 18 and 29 made up 19% of the American electorate in 2012.

I can’t find directly comparable numbers, but Elections Canada has estimated that voters between the ages of 18 and 34 accounted for 20% of the Canadian electorate in the 2011 election. Votes among those 18 to 24 were estimated to be up slightly from 2008, but both the 18-to-24 group and the 25-to-34 group voted at a rate below the national average.


The meaning of Adrian Dix’s defeat

  1. It is amazing how fast the pundits who where certain last week then revealed to be clueless yesterday can regain their footing and become expert once more.

  2. Like economists reporting in the day after the market crash …

  3. Obama ran some attack ads in Ohio that basically essentially accused Romney of being a murderer (because of employees who lost their jobs and health care from factories Romney shut down when he ran Bain).

    Obama’s Big Data team used shaming e-mails to people to get them to vote, by mailing e-mails to a neighborhood showing who voted and who didn’t vote in the previous election.

    Via A/B testing, Obama’s Big Data Team discovered that shaming was one of the most effective methods for getting unlikely voters amongst their identifed supporters to vote.

    And then there, of course, was their hysterical over-the-top spam e-mailing fundraising techniques (all A/B tested) that everyone (including the Daily Show) continually made fun of.

    • All of which accounted for the huge turn-out in BC.
      No doubt.

  4. I think that there is a fundamental problem with how we as Canadians approach our politics of late. Parliamentary Representative democcracy is ultimately about competing and opposing philosophys and ideas towards legislation. It is not about consensus, compromise and or everyone being nice to each other and simply extollling their own high ideals and grand visions! This is nonsense – our system is a forge where competing ideas are presented and the majority of representatives determine the course of action. If we have a majority in the Parliament then they have their term to carry out their agenda and then if the voter doens’t like it or wants change they choose another. That;s it folks – that is our system – now you can play all these games and and make a total hypocrite of yourself and your party when you try to blur this concept and say well we are not going to do attack ads and we are taking the high road and we won’t get down in the gutter and all sorts of other bla bla bla and such but that is all just hyperbole another of pablum for the politically uniformed and naive in hopes of getting their support – but – time and time again it results in a failed strategy – In Canada it is a bloodsport always has been, is right now and always will be!

  5. I actually liked Clarke’s message about the economy. I didn’t really see too many negative ads at all.