The Kent by-election to replace Shawn Graham as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) took place this past Monday (April 15).
The final results:
I took time to be part of the NDP campaign. I was able to go to the nomination meeting where Susan Levi-Peters was acclaimed as the candidate. This took place in Bouctouche on March 23. Dominic Cardy spoke, giving his support to Susan. Susan accepted the nomination. The media spoke to Susan and Dominic. The campaign was on.
And I also went down to Kent to assist in the final days of the election. I had an off-road experience on the back roads of Kent County, trying to find the poll we were sent to canvas. We got back the next day and delivered pamphlets, asking for their vote for Susan on election day.
On election day, I was helping to pull the vote on Elsipogtog First Nation. Assigned a small section of the community, I went door-to-door reminding people that it was election day and offering a drive to those who needed it.
I was very happy to get an experience of democracy on the very front-line. Encouraging a community that does not normally vote to get out and vote is very rewarding. From talking with other campaign staff, the number of new voters on Elsipogtog First Nation was up.
I see this as due to the efforts of the team, which included anglophone, francophone and First Nations. The NDP are working towards a better NB and the by-election in Kent was part of that effort.
Susan has run in provincial elections twice, 2010 general and the by-election. She increased her share of the vote AND the total number of votes. In this by-election, she increased her vote total by close to 600 votes. The poll by poll information has not been realeased yet, but it is certainly my impression that most of these were from Elsipogtog, but not exclusively.
From my infographic, you can see the growing orange segment in 2013, compared to previous elections. This by-election represents 26.8% of the vote going to Susan. The Liberals have stayed steady over the years (around 55-58%). The riding has been represented by the Graham family for over 40 years. So it has been considered pretty safe for the Liberals.
The ups and down of the NDP vote seems to me to reflect the effort and work put into campaigns. 2003 predates my official involvement with the party. 2006 was a down year across the province for the NDP. 2010 was Susan’s first run. So with 2013, a concerted effort from provincial office, and volunteers and dedicated staff for the duration of the campaign, the work paid off in an increase in vote.
The most striking thing to me is the collapse of the Conservatives. They are the sitting government and for them to only receive 13.9% of the vote in a by-election, even in a “safe” seat for their opposition, does not bode well. The NDP proved that hard work combined with a smart strategy of pulling the vote that “safe” seats for the Liberals are assailable.
The lesson I see is that people will vote for Susan as much as they have the chance to know her. I understand the effort and work put into this campaign was more than 2010. Actively pulling the vote on Elsipogtog was a great strategy. To continue building on this will be key. I hope the results are encouraging to the people of Elsipogtog and that they will continue to be engaged in the process.
A 2014, on y va! To 2014, here we go!