B.C. Votes 2017: Leaders target key ridings in final push
Liberal campaign consistently negative, while NDP ramped up attacks in final week
On the penultimate day of British Columbia's 2017 election campaign, the leaders of the NDP and Green parties blitzed the ridings they most need to win on Tuesday, while Liberal leader Christy Clark spent much of her time in safe Liberal ridings in Richmond and Abbotsford.
They are strategies that are consistent with how the party leaders have generally spent the campaign.
For Christy Clark, that means dividing her time between ridings her party won easily four years ago and others, such as Nanaimo, that are likely to be closer on election night.
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NDP Leader John Horgan spent Monday aggressively targeting areas the NDP narrowly lost in 2013, such as Surrey's Guildford neighbourhood. Horgan is looking to the Lower Mainland to pick up the additional nine seats his party needs to form a majority government.
The B.C. Liberals have attempted to make Horgan's schedule a campaign issue, highlighting the fact that he hasn't visited northwest B.C. or the Kootenays.
And while that's true — and will haunt Horgan if the party loses seats in those traditional NDP strongholds — the Liberals could also regret the fact they spent much less time in seats they won narrowly four years ago.
For Andrew Weaver, it means finishing the day in Saanich North and the Islands, one of several seats on Vancouver Island his party hopes to win for the first time on Tuesday.
CBC has crunched the numbers and found that, while the NDP and Liberals have held an equal number of events open to the media at 70 each — with the Greens at 52 — the places they have chosen to campaign in have dramatically differed.
Tone of campaign changed
The Liberals issued the most news releases over the course of the campaign, at some points putting out twice as many as the NDP and Greens.
The Liberals went negative relatively early in their campaign, dividing their public statements between touting their own policies and attacking the NDP.
They famously paid a party employee to follow NDP leader John Horgan in a bus sporting anti-NDP slogans a little over a week into the campaign.
The Liberal attacks peaked April 21, when the party put out five news releases in a single day attacking Horgan's positions on various topics including how the NDP would pay for its campaign promises and claiming a lack of attention on his part to the province's north. The releases coincided with a visit by Clark to the Cariboo region.
The NDP started out relatively neutral, with news releases focusing on the party's platform but grew increasingly negative as the campaign progressed.
The NDP sent the most negative news releases — in which the focus was the other party's shortcomings — on May 5, attacking Clark for being too close to deep-pocketed corporate donors, while ordinary British Columbians struggle to afford the cost of living.
All told, the Liberals and the NDP both divided their PR efforts roughly equally between announcing events or touting their respective platforms and attacking one another.
The Green Party's news releases were almost entirely neutral: event advisories, party platforms and statements from Leader Andrew Weaver reacting to events.
The party put out four releases targeting the other leaders: two aimed at the NDP, one at the Liberals and one calling out both parties for negative campaigning.