Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More musings about the federal election

The Conservative vote fell by 170 000 votes in the election. Yes, the party's percentage of the popular vote went up, but the total number of votes did fall.

The NDP's total vote as fell, in their case by about 70 000 votes.

There were 850 000 fewer Liberal voters in this election - 19% of people that voted in Liberal in 2006 did not do so in 2008.

This should give people an idea of how low the voter turn out was in this election. It is also one of the reasons the polls were rather far off at the end of the campaign. No one is building into their reporting models any realistic measure of party support based on the likelihood of people voting. There were hints at this in some of the polling data, but it did not come near the headlines.

About 1 500 000 less people voted in this election than would have been expected based on the previous elections.

The more I look at the analysis I read by Werner Antwieler at UBC about voter actions in elections, the more I can see people staying loyal to a party and the less it is all about swing from one party to a different one. I suspect what really happened in this election is that a lot of Liberal voters stayed home.

The question for the Liberals is if they can get their supporters to come back and vote next time. The suggestion that the NDP and Liberals merge in someway does not make sense. The resulting merged party will get fewer votes than the two seperate ones did. If merging made sense, the right would have done much better after the merger of the parties.

What must be addressed by politicians in Canada is why the public is not voting. Most people are not voting because they are disechanted by their proferred party and are not going to vote for anyone else. Negative campaigning works in the short term but leads to nation of people that hate the parties and political parties.

Given that most people are moderately tied to a given party on the spectrum, it would make more sense to get out a positive message to your supporters instead of rubishing the other parties. But this is not how the boys in the backrooms think who seem to have more in common with King Pyrrhus than anyone else. Politics are being harmed by the insular navel gazing advisors all of the parties have. None of them are willing to the take the risk and try anything new. All of them put too much faith in the data from the pollsters. All them would prefer to win than be right.

One reason I like STV so much is because it naturally favours positive campaigning over negative campaigning. To be effective in STV you need to give voters a reason to vote for you high on the ballot, odds are your victory will depend on being supported by people from other parts of the political spectrum. In First Past the Post you just need to beat your opponents down far enough to win, if 65% of the people are against you, it does not matter. In STV it does matter.

At the end of the day, I would prefer to lose but have been positive with a vision than win by slagging other people. The last national leader that really managed to do this was Preston Manning.

The more I look back on the Reform party and Preston Manning, the more I see that he really wanted to do it differently, that he really wanted to offer competing visions and letting the public decide. I was very anti Reform party for much of the 1990s and allowed partisan issues to blind me to the truly unique change he was trying bring to politics.

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