Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Perils of Strategic Voting

Without a doubt, the reason for the major shocker on the election night were the NDP voters going Liberal in the last minute out of fear of the big, bad politician from Alberta. The NDP fell from 20% to 15% and the Liberals increased by a similar amount. But was this a smart move? Did they save the government from Harper?

To test this, I took 5% of each riding's vote and shifted it from the Liberals to the NDP. I ignored Quebec and simply gave 1 Liberal seat to the Bloc. Now, since voter shift didn't happen in Quebec and the "key" ridings voted strategically more than, say, Red Deer Alberta, this is likely minimizing the impact of the strategic voting. But it gives you an idea of what the effect was.

So, as a result of this shift, the following changes occured on election night:

8 NDP ridings went Liberal
5 NDP ridings went Conservative (mostly in BC)
7 Conservative ridings went Liberal

With our 1 Quebec seat, this gives us election night results of:

Lib 119
Con 101
NDP 32
Bloc 55
Cadman 1

Wow! Good thing those NDP voters jumped ship, eh? All the strategic voting did was cost the Tories 2 seats, at a price of 13 NDP seats. Once again, the two coalitions have similar numbers but the NDP lost well over a third of their seats due to strategic voting. Prominent victims include Lorne Nystrom and Olivia Chow.

I think the NDP should comision someone who knows what they're doing (unlike myself) to do a study and find out just what the strategic voting likely cost them. Since we're in for an election in another year, they need to stress the point that it doesn't work before the next election.


  • Nice numbers - thanks for doing that.

    I really don't believe in strategic voting at all - selling out your gut instinct on who to vote for based on not wanting another party to win seems like a bad idea to me in all circumstances.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 7:44 a.m.  

  • I think you mean "7 Liberal ridings went Conservative" not "7 Liberal ridings went NDP".

    The NDP needs to take this problem head-on in the next election. Maybe ads with the tagline, "Vote Strategically, Vote NDP".

    -Andrew Spicer

    By Blogger Andrew Spicer, at 12:16 p.m.  

  • Trying to analyze strategic voting is tough, such broad based assumptions of 5% moving accross the board seems a bit much. I'd wager that in some ridings it moved up to 10% to try and defeat the Tories in other ridings probably very little.

    As I'm sure you know In Alberta if the NDP voters wanted to defeat the cons they'd have to abandon the ndp entirely, and even still the liberals would have had a very tough time winning seats.

    By Blogger Bemused, at 1:54 p.m.  

  • Obviously there was more strategic voting in some ridings rather than others. For example, in Calgary, it didn't really matter how you voted since you knew the outcome. I think that's why the Greens did so well in Alberta. And if you're in Anne McLellan's riding, then it obviously makes sense to switch NDP to Liberal (if you like Anne) since that's the way the 2 way race was going.

    But the NDP definitely needs to get the point across of just how dangerous strategic voting is.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:20 p.m.  

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