While the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding started out conservative, the 2015 election saw a boost in Liberal support with the party’s candidate that year, Karley Scott, coming 1,397 votes behind Conservative incumbent Dan Albas.
Whether the Liberals will be able to garner anything like that 37 per cent boost in popular support or more in the riding this year is the question, said Robert Hanlon, an associate professor of political science at Thompson Rivers University.
“There are a lot of NDP strongholds, especially in the Okanagan, and then we have the Liberals that, historically, have not done well in this part of the province. They do quite well in the Lower Mainland and you’ve got the Conservative who do well in the other parts of the province,” explained Hanlon. “You get this split on the left-leaning vote and this is where the Liberals, especially in the last election, try to make gains to get extra seats to secure a majority.”
Kathryn Harrison, a professor of political science at the UBC said during the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals came out with clever policy announcements and Trudeau turned out to be an effective campaigner.
“He did well in the debates and that created this bandwagon effect and so the Liberals popularity really went up in the course of the election,” Harrison explained, adding the Liberal party did better than the polls projected. But this time, the situation is different.
In a close election — right now the Liberal and Conservative parties are neck and neck — every seat matters, she said, so the Liberals likely see the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding as important.
“In 2015, it was a two per cent split in the popular vote between the Conservatives and the Liberals. That’s quite a close race. Also, the New Democrats have a new candidate, who is quite high profile, but in general the NDP polling numbers have gone way down,” she said, explaining those voters might move their support to the Greens, but the Liberals would likely be the beneficiary to a drop in the NDP vote. “I would expect the Liberals would be fighting hard for that seat.”
The main issues in this election revolve around the delivery of services, the middle class and values.
“You are getting discussions around values, taxation and you get a bit more of third discussion going on about who is best to lead Canada in the current economic environment and that is one where we are seeing governments increasingly protectionist.”
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