Spin in Elmwood

The Elmwood numbers are in.

Manitoba provincial by-election, March 24, 2009 : Elmwood
Party Candidate Votes % +/- Expenditures
     New Democratic Party Bill Blaikie 2,325 53.76% -7.75  
     Progressive Conservative Adrian Schulz 913 21.10% +0.09  
     Liberal Regan Wolfrom 877 20.29% +2.81  
     Green James Beddome 210 4.85% +4.85  
Total valid votes 4,325 100%    
Rejected and declined ballots 14      
Turnout 4,339 37.04%    
Electors on the lists 11,715    

As Curtis points out, predictions aren’t always that good. Our own preditors here on Don Street were way off – mostly in terms of the numbers for Liberal candidate Regan Wolfrom. I’m going to go out on a limb here and base that on web pressence. Wolfrom had tons more to say online than Blaikie, who’s site was basic and never updated during the campaign. The internet crowd gets a skewed view thanks to this.

The results, when compared to the histroric average, show that the NDP slipped very slightly, but not a lot. And, most of that change went to the Greens who didn’t run here in 2007.

Hugh MacFayden calls this a “dramatic shift“, which is total bunk. That spin is just plain rediculous. The PC party gained a whopping 0.09% from last time. The NDP dropped a 4.85% to the Greens. The Libs gained very slightly, up 2.81%. This is hardly dramatic. But, look at MacFayden’s statements closer: he is pointing to slightly lower NDP support as his big hope. That’s pathetic. He should focus on improving PC support, not small variations in NDP support. And, next time, he might want to run an intense, serious, long-term campaign – even in constituencies like Elmwood where the NDP have held on since the division was created in 1958. He is acting like he wants to perpetually be leader of the opposition.

The turnout story is interesting. Turnout numbers are actually slightly inflated because of the poor renumeration. In 2007, there were 12721 registered voters. In 2009, it was 11,715. Since Elmwood was not visited by an epidemic of Spanish Influenza, that means that stated turnout was higher because Elections Manitoba did not do as good a job of registering voters. Using the 2007 registration numbers, we get a turnout of only 34%. The opposition parties and supporters can point to this and claim that this means Blaikie is less well supported. What it says to me, though, is that the other parties did a terrible job of engaging voters and getting out the vote. That means that they didn’t do enough to create a base of support to send a strong message. They didn’t do enough to signal that this division is up for grabs.

So, Elmwood 2009 means more of the same. Little movement, except a blip for the Greens.


13 responses to “Spin in Elmwood

  1. We have leadership and that is why we won.

  2. @NDP Convert:

    Very true. The leadership of the Tories and Liberals leaves a lot to be desired. But, campaigns are more complex than this and I have always believed that a determined group of supporters can change almost any individual electoral division. Elmwood is no exception. With an intense, long-term, grassroots campaign that focussed on real issues, and with a strong candidate – then, we could have seen some movement in the numbers.

    That said, all the advertising in the world is not going to help Hugh MacFayden’s image. And Doer does clearly dominate the center.

  3. Pff, anyone who thought that Blakie would lose is delusional. Bill Blakie is one of the most respected politicians in Canada, and even manged to get elected in the NDP downfall of 1993. Admittedly, I have not really followed Manitoba provincial politics since I left nearly four years ago, but the NDP are likely to remain in power until they mess up somehow, just like in Saskatchewan.

  4. @Evan: 1993 was close, though. It was the second closest riding in Canada that year. I remember it well. I was thirteen and my dad was Liberal Art Miki’s campaign manager.

  5. I just wanted to say that I met an elections Manitoba worker who told me she alone had 66 people in one day refuse to be registered because they didn’t want to vote NDP. She tried to explain that they didn’t have to vote NDP, but some explained they were NDP members and “weren’t allowed” to vote any other way…

  6. @cmac: That seems like a highly suspicious story. 66 people in one day is an enormous rate of refusal for renumeration. And, to suggest somehow that dozens of people in Elmwood all think that they are not allowed to vote against the party is rediculous.

    I’m going to have to see some strong, real evidence to even think for a moment that a thousand people didn’t sign up to vote because they felt like they were not allowed to choose. That appears to be a wild rumour.

  7. I am obviously not saying all of those 66 didn’t understand they could vote for other parties, but to have 66 people from one apartment building (where I met her) refusing to be renumerated is not a good sign for anyone. She led me to believe that they were saying they were tired of the same old thing, but yet were choosing not to vote. It just really shocked me. She didn’t seem to have any reason to make it up… My last point is that even if a tiny minority were confused about what party membership really means, thats a concern for what ever party they belong too. I do also have to say that this was told to me face to face. I actually didn’t know what to say to her other then the not very insightful “Well, thats not very good….”

  8. One more thing. I do think that a lot of people chose not to be counted as a sort of passive aggressive vote of protest and as a symptom of latent defeatism. Along the lines of “Why bother vote either way, the outcome is out of my hands, nothing ever changes for this community anyways.”
    I know much is made of different parties “machines” on these blogs. But with that perspective comes an attitude where I think it just means that the people in these communities just get turned into ‘units’. There are just all these machines competing for who can most effectively take them in, counts, spit them out. Not much room for humanism or inspiration when we are all talking about who’s machine is the best oiled. I earnestly, earnestly wish it was about ideas and not who has the best mechanization.
    – rant over.

  9. I agree with Internet viewing skewing the results…I had the Greens at 8% and Regan at 25%…lesson to self: the internet has not taken over basic news- and idea- gathering for the vast majority of people….

    I admire those campaigns who pound the doors and show up at meetings and such…they deserve more credit, machine-like or not.

  10. @cmac and Chris:

    The machine can definitely be alienating, but lack of campaign machine is like going from the pan into the fire. People have often complained that they didn’t vote because no one gave them any information. Voters are busy people and don’t have time to seek out information from candidates. So, they often sit back and wait for them to come knocking. If there is a “machine” working hard to get the word out, then these voters become informed and engaged if they agree with the campaigners. If there is no machine, they either don’t vote or write letters to the editor (as there was in Freep last week)complaining that no one came to talk to them.

    The system is alienating. That’s undeniable. But, I don’t put the blame on strong campaigners and good communication strategies. I wish it were about the best ideas, too, but need to be realistic. Its about the best ideas AND the best campaigning.

    And, there are so many options for people to get involved. In the Fed Election, I would have killed for more volunteers for our Green campaign. I couldn’t believe how many people would not volunteer unless we were guarunteed to win. Yet, if we were already positioned to win, we wouldn’t need them anyway! People can volunteer for any party, take an executive position in a local riding association, start up an independent campaign, knock on doors, write letters….there are many ways to engage. The challenge for successful machines in the future is to invite people to engage and give them the space in which to express themselves and make a difference.

  11. @ Chirs I can tell you for sure that the Libs pounded more doors, went to more meetings. Things is, they went to the wrong doors, wrong meetings. They started too long ago and didn’t do enough repetitions. But live and learn. For a first time candidate I have to hand it to him. So many people out there talk the talk but never think of putting in a third of the work. That guy talked and walked. Just next time he has to be able to chew bubble gum at the same time to get their brand out there.

  12. It was certainly an interesting campaign; we’ve learned what we did well, and what we could have done better, and believe me, we’ll be ready for the next general election.

    In the meantime, there’s plenty to be done in the community, so it’s back to work for me. 🙂

  13. You’re right about people wanting to back a winner, PolicyFrog, the pragmatic voter is a force to deal with…”If I vote for you what can you do me anyway if you’re not in power”…. and when I talk about machines, I mean the entrenched ones, the ones whose operators don;t know why they’re operating it anymore…

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