11/06/2012 05:32 EST | Updated 11/06/2012 08:33 EST

Adrian Dix Analyzes US Election, Lessons For BC


B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix is a bit of a U.S. political junkie. With the province so close to Washington state, it’s hard to ignore the political coverage that seeps its way over the border, giving Dix a Trivial Pursuit ability to name that state’s governors and senators. He’s also a former volunteer for Barack Obama’s last campaign.

Dix will be watching the results at his parents’ place tonight. So who does Dix think will win? And how will it affect B.C.? He shared his thoughts with The Huffington Post B.C. hours before polls closed.

Nate Silver of The New York Times says the odds of an Obama victory are more than 85 per cent based on fact he’s ahead in Ohio. Do you think Romney can turn it around?

Of course he can. Nate Silver has a skeptical and interesting approach to polling, and I think that’s the healthy approach in this day and age. The actual ability to poll people has become more difficult over time. For example, my younger brother, who is 10 years younger than me, has never owned a landline so he’s very difficult to poll.

So in this election if you look at the polling, the candidates have never been far apart... within two to four points of each other.

Even though I think President Obama’s going to win tonight, I would expect that to be by a very, very slight margin. When you have a system like the Electoral College, rather than a two-point Obama win, if it’s a tie in terms of votes, who knows what will happen in the Electoral College.

No one understands the Electoral College. How would you explain it?

Five hundred and thirty-eight electoral votes in the country, so you get the number of electoral votes as determined roughly by the population of your state. Each state has at least three electoral college votes reflecting two senators and one person in the House of Representatives so you can’t drop below three even if your population is smaller than that.... It’s based on the population, so if you win Texas, you win all the electoral votes in Texas.

As we saw in the year 2000 for example ... Al Gore won more votes, but George Bush won the Electoral College and that made him President of the United States.

It’s a winner take all process by state.... What it means is that obviously the candidates focus enormous amount of their efforts on a few small number of states ... and almost not visit at all the most populous states like California, New York and Texas because all three are expected to be won by a wide margin by Obama or Romney.

There is something problematic about their Electoral College system. I think a lot of people in the United States think the system favours some states and some interests over others and the country would be better off if one person, one vote meant whoever got the most votes won in a presidential election. But I wouldn’t think that given how hard it is to change the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws in this regard that any change will happen any time soon. They’re stuck with this way of electing presidents for a long time to come.

Every election, throngs of Americans threaten to move to Canada if their candidate of choice loses. Are you expecting an influx of expats to B.C.?

There’s already wide movement of Americans and Canadians back and forth across the border. I wouldn’t expect that simply the election of one or the other of these men will have that much impact in itself on immigration. I think it’s the kind of thing we hear in B.C. politics sometimes as well – where people complain that if the NDP win, they don’t like things and they’ll go away or vice versa – usually that’s just people talking.

There are several marijuana-related ballot measures being voted on in the U.S. tonight. Do you think any of them could have an effect on B.C.?

It’s interesting how the debate is being transformed in the United States. The difference is in the United States these tend to be state measures, where in Canada because of our federal system those decisions will ultimately be made at a federal level. There’s no question that movement in Washington and Oregon states will have some impact on us. It can’t help but do that.

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is clear he’s an Obama supporter. Are you and if so, why?

You bet. I went down and did a little help on his campaign first time he ran just for fun. I think President Obama and his success in politics has been an inspiration for many people around the world and he’s a remarkable guy. Of course, it doesn’t mean we agree with everything particularly with respect to foreign policy that he may or may not done during his presidency but I’ll be strongly cheering for Obama tonight.

What of the things I’ve tried to emphasize here in B.C. though is that that the quality and characteristics of American politics I don’t think are things that we want to emulate. I think these candidates have raised a staggering sum of money each to run for president... and they’re running quite negative campaigns toward each other even though they’re both individuals with some talent clearly. For them to spend billions trashing on another is not something we want to emulate.

And for my purposes in B.C. I’ve been trying to emphasize that we shouldn’t be personal attacks in politics, we should be focusing on the issues.... It will be a test of my theory of politics if that works in our election or not.

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