Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 Election - some thoughts

What will be the biggest defining issue of the 2009 election? At this point I have to see it as being the economy for a large segment of the population in BC.

If the economy does remain the big issue, it is the Liberals that will benefit. In general they are seen as being better with economic issues than the NDP.

What will really decide the elections is not people changing who they are voting for, but who comes out to vote. Werner Antweiler has done some interesting work looking at the impact of non-voters on elections. Not everyone votes in every election and it is these occasional voters that are very important to elections. What changed for the NDP from 1996 to 2001 to 2005 is how many of their supporters chose not to vote in 2001. This had a much bigger impact on the NDP vote than anything else. In fact it was also the most important aspect of the Liberal vote as well in these elections.

What this means is that the election will be decided by the people motivated to come out and vote versus those that sit it out this time around. If the economy is the issue, I do not see any strong move from the Liberals to non-voter this time, but I can see a reasonable number of New Democrats voters from 2005 moving to non-voting this time. At the same time the Liberals should regain non-voters from 2005. My estimate of this is that there will be a large gap between the NDP and Liberal votes on election day. A big enough gap to allow for a very large Liberal victory on May 12th. 47% Liberal versus 37% NDP is roughly in the range I estimate the vote to end at.

A lot of the issue campaigning will end up convinving people not to vote because the party they woud support has been tarred as too awful to support. The issues do not look like they will be core to the election, but in pushing people's buttons, it will make them stay home.

Other Issues:

Environment/Climate Change
This issue has fallen dramatically in how important it is for people in BC, there is still a segment out there that sees this as the most important issue. In general, anyone that places green issues at the top is most likely to be supporting the Greens as the NDP has dropped the ball on the issue and most traditionally green people are suspicious of the Liberals.

This is the one biggest source of 2005 NDP voters that are likely to stay home.

Healthcare
People care about this a lot when they are personally pissed off with the system but otherwise have a low grade frustration with the system. The issue will not be swaying many people, but will be voiced by a lot of strong NDP supporters as to why the Liberals are bad.

In honestly do not believe that anyone out there really believes either party would do much better with this issue.

Privatization
Many people on the left that will never vote for the Liberals will bang this drum over and over again. They will convince themselves of their righteous anger but will have very limited impact on the election. It is a bizzare issue since the BC Liberals have actually done very little privatization. Though wierd things are refered to as privatization such as BC Ferries and the building of green private power projects.

Crime
The right side irrational drum beating issue.

Schools
There is a lot of anger out there from the NDP friendlies about this issue, but once you get away from the BCTF are their ilk, there is no strong burning anger out there. The BCTF will bang this drum to very little impact.
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