Monday, May 30, 2011

How bad was the recent election for the Liberals?

I thought I would dig up some highlights:

  • In Jonquiere-Alma, Claude Ringuette managed to get 1.98% of the vote.
  • In Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar Lee Reaney managed to get 697 votes
  • 91 Liberal candidates failed to qualify for a rebate - 2008 was considered bad when 38 missed that mark
  • The Liberals increased their percentage of the vote in 22 ridings, 14 of those were in ridings where the party was not a contender at all.
  • Total raw votes only went up in 33 ridings even though there was a national increase of 6.4% in the total vote.   In 16 of these ridings the party was not a factor in the race.
  • Four Liberals were elected by a majority of the vote, in 2008 that was 20 and 38 managed that in 2006
  • The Liberals were a factor in 114 races in the country, 34 they won, 76 ridings in which they came second and 4 competitive thirds.  In 2008 this number was 211, in 2006 215, in 2004 286 and 2000 it was 287
  • 34 seats is six fewer than the Mulroney landslide of 1984 and 14 fewer than the Diefenbaker landslide of 1958.   There were 26 fewer seats in the house in 1984 and 43 fewer in 1958.

However you wish to slice it, the election result for the Liberal party was awful.  

So how does the party recover?   Can the party recover?

One of the long term problems the NDP has had is that the Liberals crowded them out when it came to getting members, voters or dollars.   Now that the NDP is so clearly ahead of the Liberals, that dynamic changes to the benefit of the NDP.   I do not know if the Liberals will know how to manage this.  The NDP did better in this election that the Liberals did in 2006 or 2008.

If the issue that matters to people is to stop Stephen Harper in the next election, it would seem that in the vast majority of the nation that is the NDP that is the banner under which people need to gather.   The NDP won, came second or a strong third in 232 ridings.  

Numerous Liberal MPs are deciding what their future is.   There is no scenario outside of a complete implosion of the government that sees the Liberals winning the next election.   I have trouble seeing people like Wayne EasterLawrence MacCauley, Jim Karygiannis, John McKay, Mauril Belanger, Denis Coderre, Judy Sgro, Hedy Fry, Ralph Goodale, and Carolyn Bennett sticking around for another election.   I would not be surprised to see many of these ten step down within a year.  

Effectively this means about a 1/3 of the sitting Liberal caucus is half way out the door to retirement.   Using the term Freedom 55, 18 of the 34 Liberal MPs are over the age of 55, that is more than half of the caucus.   The Liberals not only are down to 34 seats, they are going to have to work hard to defend these seats.

What does someone like Stephane Dion do now?

The Liberals have Sean Casey and Ted Hsu are the only new Liberal MPs elected in this election.

The elephant in the Liberal caucus room is floor crossing.   I am sure as many as 10 sitting Liberal MPs are currently giving very serious thought about crossing the floor to the NDP.   I do not expect anyone to make a move soon, but I am sure the early feelers are out there.  

Over the term of the parliament, I suspect will see five to six Liberal MPs resign and another two to six cross the floor.   I suspect the Liberals will win half the by-elections.   So going into the 2015 election, the Liberals will be holding 25 to 29 seats.

I suspect the big hope most of the Liberals have is that Justin Trudeau will run to be leader and will then energize the public to be support the party like they did under his father.   I suspect many of them will avoid the real work needed to build a party and avoid explaining to Canada why the Liberals are relevant in hopes that the Hail Mary pass that is Justin Trudeau will save them.

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