Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

B.C. election breakdown: see how NDP and Liberal support has shifted since 1996

Only days ago, B.C. Liberals were thought to be heading for a dismal outcome in the provincial election. They were stagnant in polls since late 2011, dogged by scandal and unable to gain traction with voters. Meanwhile, the NDP were leading in the polls — at times by almost 20 percentage points.

Why were pundits so willing to write an obituary for the B.C. Liberals? Perhaps it was historical precedent. B.C. voters have been ruthless when it comes to scandals in their government. It's a lesson the B.C. NDP knew all too well heading into the election: two consecutive NDP leaders resigned in the late 1990s, embroiled in scandals of their own. The party went from 51 seats in 1991 to just two by 2001.

This interactive tracks that change: from a narrow win in 1996 to near oblivion in 2001 and back again. Each circle represents one riding, with its position determined by the amount of support between either party. For example, if constituents voted exclusively for the Liberals, they would appear on the far right. Some ridings fade away and appear because ridings were redistributed as the population changed. Note: Riding-by-riding turnout results are not yet available for 2013.

The NDP narrowly won the election in 1996, losing 12 seats to the Liberals and other parties. Premier Glen Clark was chosen to replace Mike Harcourt, who resigned after a fundraising scandal erupted under his watch.
NDP leader Ujjal Dosanjh wanted to rebuild the party after both of his predecessors resigned over scandals. But he faced a 50-percentage-point deficit in polls and conceded defeat before the campaign was over. Liberals were swept power, winning all but two seats — the most lopsided result in the province's history.
The NDP were re-energized in 2001 under rookie leader Carole James. The Liberals won a majority, but it still felt like a loss: they gave up 31 seats to the NDP, who trailed by only 5 percentage points in the popular vote.
For the first time in 26 years, a B.C. premier won three consecutive terms. The Liberals held their majority by a small margin in a close race. But voter turnout was at an all-time low and the NDP floundered in their handling of a new carbon tax and the global recession.
While polls predicted an NDP majority government, the Liberals and Premier Christy Clark surprised everyone by winning 50 seats on her way to form another majority government. In his concession speech, NDP leader Adrian Dix said there is "never a dull moment in B.C. politics."
Source: Elections B.C.
Interactive by STUART A. THOMPSON

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to