Given that almost no independent candidates for Vancouver council have ever won (nod to Carole Taylor in ’86), why does the current crop – those who didn’t want to or couldn’t get into the regular parties – think there’s a realistic path to victory now?
I’ve talked to a few, and here’s their Realistic Path Scenario.
First, things are really different this time: a huge turnover, severe campaign-finance constraints, the power of social media, and an appetite for change.
Given the parties are limited financially, independents with enough appeal can spend their resources more efficiently through social media than the parties, especially if they don’t have to promote down-ballot candidates. “Independents,” argued one, “can credibly claim to draw support from the bases of multiple parties, making running their own expensive Get-Out-The-Vote campaign much less important than it is to a party. In fact, the parties do it for them.”
It does take more than a theory or simply hope; it takes a mathematical analysis: the number of people who could be targeted, the conversion rate needed from each party, how many potential voters could be reached through social media, how many times that would take, and at what cost. Assuming you have a platform that appeals to enough identifiable voters, then it becomes an exercise in logistics.
Would it be enough to overcome the brand advantage of NPA, Vision, COPE et al? Fragmentation and dilution from slates with too many candidates work to the independent’s advantage, one argues. To win, just enough people have to vote for just one candidate.
Even a few of those independents on an 11-member council could easily hold the balance of power. And that would take the city down a very different path.