Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alberta Votes Day 25: "Fuck it, I'm voting PC"

When you know the PCs are going to take 70% of the vote in your riding and 80% of the seats in the province, there's not a lot of strategy involved in your vote. You vote your conscience, knowing there is no way your check mark could possibly make a difference. It's no surprise the majority of Albertans didn't bother voting in 2008.

This time, the Alberta election is all about strategic voting, which is why longtime Liberals like Warren Kinsella have done the previously unthinkable and saddled up with the PCs.

The strongest pitch to date for a strategic PC vote comes from this ad, produced by Calgary filmmaker Aviva Zimmerman:

It's a slick ad and should be effective with its target demo (young, urban progressives), though that target demo tends to live in ridings the Wildrose has little chance of winning. It also says a lot about the state of the PC dynasty that their most compelling pitch to voters at this point is (and I quote): "I would rather have my face eaten off by rodents - but I'm voting for them".

The Alberta Liberals stand to lose the most from strategic voting, and they've aggressively countered with a pitch of their own:

'When Sherman contemplated a Wildrose government being questioned by a PC opposition in the legislature, he was worthy of a standup routine, whether you agree with his position or not.

“Why would you have a very right-wing government and a corrupt right-wing party that caused all the problems as your opposition?” he asked rhetorically.

“What are they going to question? What are they going to complain about? ‘Excuse me, you didn’t privatize enough, or you privatized too much, or too fast. Or excuse me ... you didn’t neglect those seniors enough.’ It would be an absolute joke.”'

They've also launched a hugely entertaining "Wildrose or Tory" online quiz, to make the point that the "more progressive" option isn't really any more progressive.

The impact of this strategic voting campaign remains to be seen. I remember an analysis of the 2004 federal election showed that Harper benefited from the "Stop Harper" movement because NDP supporters voted "strategically" in many NDP-CPC swing seats. The same thing could very well happen in Calgary or Edmonton this time out. But regardless of the result, this marks the first time in a long time its been worth Albertans' time to give serious thought to their vote.

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