Since 1994 election outcomes in the Western Cape have been examined through analyses of the 'coloured vote'. These explanations, which are premised on the racially based motivations of voters, feed into the choices, rhetoric and behaviour of political parties. Besides inadvertently providing justification for racially inflammatory campaign strategies they allow parties to neglect their duty to give voters adequate information. In this article I provide an overview of voting trends and the political developments which have underpinned these patterns. I argue that it is not the nature of the electorate but national political developments and political parties, through their behaviour and campaigns, that are responsible for gains and losses and for the dramatic political changes in the province. I further argue that it is precisely because racial identity is so salient in the Western Cape that parties need to move towards more inclusive campaign strategies.