Vancouver 2022 Election – Post Mortem

The election is over, and Ken Sim’s ABC Vancouver party dominated. It wasn’t even close.

Prediction Contest

The winner of my prediction contest was Stewart Prest (a local Political Science prof and frequent news commentator). He got 90/100 points by correctly predicting Mayor Ken Sim, 10/10 council, 6/7 park board, 7/9 school board, and 4/8 bonus questions. In second place was Trevor Loke (former Park Board commissioner) with 89 points. Everyone else failed to predict the ABC sweep.

Stewart had this to say about his predictions:

The key was to imagine you’re a voter who doesn’t like things as they are, but is only willing to spend 5 minutes figuring out who to vote for in the final week of the campaign.

It’s why electoral reform is a big deal for me, ultimately. Folks only have so much bandwidth for politics; important to design systems that make the process of voting manageable, and where people can see the value of taking part.

Results Analysis

The most striking result was how far ahead of everyone ABC was. They convinced over 60,000 voters to show up and pick every one of their candidates and only their candidates.

For all the talk of right-wing vote splitting, it didn’t happen. Instead, the NPA vote completely collapsed. The NPA didn’t elect a single person for the first time since its founding in 1937. ABC voters didn’t even lend an extra vote to incumbent Melissa DeGenova who finished way back in 19th place.

On the left wing, there were definitely too many candidates running for too many parties. But vote-splitting alone didn’t lead to defeat (ABC’s lead was too big for that). The problem was brand-splitting.

OneCity, Greens, COPE, Forward, and even Vision Vancouver were all trying to attract the same voters without a coherent message. Most of the media attention was on the mayor race, which hurt OneCity and the Greens. OneCity in particular had a huge volunteer base and a lot of support from people who follow politics closely, but that didn’t translate to votes from the average low-information voter.

ABC was the only winner. Everyone else lost support. With the Greens losing the most votes since 2018. They were lucky to hang on to the seats that they did. I’m sure the Green Party and COPE will do their own internal analysis, but I think their record on housing hurt them. The 4 incumbent councillors who lost all voted against the Broadway Plan (including Swanson from COPE and Wiebe from the Greens).

What Happens Next

A bunch of parties need to die.

  • Forward with Kennedy Stewart is obviously done.
  • Vision Vancouver proved that even with strong candidates, their brand is dead.
  • The NPA has a lot of history but is completely wiped out now. I’m not sure if they will stick around.
  • TEAM didn’t elect anyone and proved that NIMBY housing positions aren’t popular. That said, someone needs to represent their views, so I hope they contest the next election.
  • Progress Vancouver, the YIMBY party did even worse than TEAM and really needs to disappear.
  • COPE has fractured into 3 parties now (Vision, OneCity, and Socialists). Without Jean Swanson, I’m not sure who leads the party now.
  • The Green Party brand isn’t nearly as strong as it once was, but they still elected two councillors, two school trustees, and a park board rep.
  • OneCity needs to figure out how to absorb Vision, Forward, and parts of progress and become the credible left-wing alternative next election, which means running a mayoral candidate.

The option for progressive voters needs to be clear. If I have to write another “Who to vote for” blog post in 4 years, then I know we’re in trouble.

As for ABC, they now have absolute power in Vancouver, and I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it. Their platform was pretty vague. Their biggest promises were to hire 100 nurses and 100 cops and stop a road tax that didn’t exist. I know people are concerned about crime, but I’m skeptical that more cops will actually fix anything. In the past year, our family has dealt with property crime (stolen bike) and assault (punched at a bus stop). The police didn’t help, and I fail to see how more police make those problems disappear.

Beyond policing, I’m curious to see if ABC follows through with these promises.

  • plant 100,000 trees in Vancouver within the first four years of an ABC administration, primarily focused on neighbourhoods where historic race-based zoning has led to poor tree cover
  • commit to daylighting at least one stream by the end of 2026 and restoring it to its natural state
  • phase out all fossil fuel vehicles in the City fleet in six years
  • work with senior levels of government to reduce the number of motorized pleasure watercraft in Vancouver waters in favour of wind and non-motorized pleasure craft
  • support the City of Vancouver’s 2040 Zero Waste Plan and accelerate it to 2035
  • explore a tax credit system for Vancouver residents who don’t own a car

I’m looking forward to that sweet car-free tax credit. It’s going to happen, right?

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