As the push for strategic voting went, it was pretty much an epic fail.
For days, those feeling the pressure of the ABC (Anyone but Conservative) camp, the message was flying around fast and furious. If you want to defeat the Conservatives in this riding, the best choice of vote was Jacqui Gingras of the NDP.
LeadNow and OraclePoll came out in support of her, after polling showed her with a slight edge over blue-team member Mel Arnold. As I previously stated, I take my serving of polling data with a grain of salt. It seems North Okanagan-Shuswap voters added a hefty helping of skepticism to their interpretation of polling data.
Indeed it was the poll commissioned by the Liberals themselves that produced the truest results, despite a number of groups criticizing its methodology. It showed a split between the NDP and Liberals in second and third place, with Arnold waltzing up the middle to take the prize. (That poll projected Arnold would have 38 per cent support of the electorate. The final number is pegged at 39 per cent.)
I personally believe that disillusioned Conservative voters simply couldn’t stomach the extreme move to the left that voting NDP would have required, being much more comfortable voting for the more moderate Liberal red.
It was not quite enough to push Cindy Derkaz over the top, but she posted a better Liberal return in this riding than ever before. And the consolation prize of a stunning Liberal majority was clearly balm for Derkaz’s personal loss at the polls. (You could not help but appreciate Derkaz’s enthusiastic, ear-to-ear grin when news broke of a Liberal victory on the national stage.)
The left-leaning voters did split the numbers, with more people casting ballots against Arnold than for him. Add up the Liberal and NDP votes and Arnold would have been out in the cold. But that voting scenario likely would have required either Gingras or Derkaz to drop out of the race and endorse the other. That was simply not going to happen.
It’s been a while, but this riding now becomes opposition turf. As an inexperienced opposition MP, it will be a challenge for Arnold to advance any of his election promises made to local voters.
If Colin Mayes, as a backbench MP for a governing party, ended up being a small fish in a big pond, imagine where Arnold’s going to be in the House of Commons. A minnow swimming in the Red Sea, perhaps?
That being said, it may give Arnold a chance to become closer to the needs and issues of his local constituents, to help them with their personal concerns with government bureaucracy, and to keep to the open-door policy he referred to in his post-election comments. Say what you want about the Conservatives, Arnold seems like a nice man with good intentions. We wish him well in serving the people of our riding.