Friday, May 6, 2011

MPs that won with more than 50%

In this election 144 of the 308 MPs were elected with a majority of the votes in their riding.   This is up form 2008 when only 110 achieved at least 50%.   What is more interesting is the shift in how many MPs from each party were elected with a majority

Election Cons Lib NDP Bloc Ind
2011     107   2  35   0    0
2008      79  14   7   9    1
2006      54  36   6  21    0
2004      39  52   3  37    0

What I see out of this is first off that there was a significant shift in Quebec in the last election already.   The Bloc only had 9 MPs elected with a majority.   Their block like hold over Quebec was weaker than I had thought before the election started.

Next I see the very dominant position of the Conservatives in the latest election.   Their core block of seats is bigger than anyone has seen in many elections.   I went back to 1997 and found no election in which any party is so dominant as the Conservatives were in this election.

Many people have commented that the Conservatives did not have a large increase in the percentage of the vote but managed to achieve a majority.   What they are missing is that the Conservatives have a majority of their caucus that were elected with a majority, almost 2/3s of the government caucus.

You can also see the steady climb of the Conservatives in each election.   The co-relation between the number of their MPs elected fits nicely with the results in each of the elections.

The Liberal decline shows up very well in this metric, they are not only down, but they have fewer majority MPs than the NDP had in the previous three elections.

In general an MP that is elected with more than 50% of the vote should be a considered in a safe seat for the party.    This was not the case in Quebec in the election this time around, and was also not the case in the West and Quebec in the 1993 election.   In general it is a good rule of thumb that a 50%+ seat is safe in the next election and the best the other parties can do is drive the leading party vote below 50% to put the riding in play for the next election.

Coming into this election the Conservatives had more safe seats than the Liberals had in seats.  

Looking at the numbers the other way around, the number seats the parties won with less than 50% of the vote:

Election Cons NDP Libs Bloc Green
2011      59   68  32   4    1
2008      64   29  63  33    0

Going into this election the Liberals and Conservatives were more or less tied with MPs elected with less than a majority.   After the 2011 election the NDP is ahead of the Conservatives in this metric.

So what do these numbers say to me?    Unless the Conservative government truly alienates the public of Canada the odds are very much in their favour of winning the 2015 election and not only winning it but in winning a majority for a second time.  The simple reality that the Conservatives have that secure base of 107 seats makes a loss very unlikely.

It took the Conservatives four elections of consistently building their core strong area and chipping away in each election at the Liberals to get to a majority.   For the NDP to become government, they will need at least two elections to have a chance of a minority.   For the Liberals, assuming there is no dramatic political events, they are at least three elections away from a minority government.

The 2015 election will be about who will be official opposition.  Will it confirm the 2011 election result and be the NDP?   Or will it be a resurgent Liberal party under a new leader?   In 2015 anything close to a tie between the Liberals and NDP should allow the Conservatives to win the 2019 election as well.

For Layton to make a national success of the NDP, he has to be thinking about winning government in 2019 or the election after that.   The NDP needs to take a long vision and build towards it and not be distracted by short term fixes.   Preparing for the long game does not mean being ready for a surprise win because of a change to politics in Canada.   The NDP is going to need four years to be ready to run 200 or more strong local riding campaigns.
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