How the NDP and Liberals can defeat the Tories: a data-driven approach

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I think the issue here would be public perception of the tactic.

The Conservatives have the upper hand in using data to win elections in Canada, but they are also masters of rhetoric. They’ve got a lot of mileage out of repeating talking points over and over. They could easily spin this tactic as evidence the Liberals and NDP only care about power and they’ll manipulate the democratic process to win, that they’re desperate. That doesn’t mean it’s true, but it could have a negative effect on Liberal or NDP campaigns in other ridings where candidates are a close first or close second to the Conservative. I could also see people whose preferred candidate drops out simply choosing not to vote.

I think a better approach would be grassroots - progressive vote organizations could target these ridings to endorse a single candidate. That way the Conservatives can’t accuse the Liberals and NDP of colluding to win.

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Likely why the Reform, cough cough, Conservative party would oppose instant run off voting: I think this would lead to a lot more potential for parties like the Green party to be more influential as well. We often vote for who we think has the best chance of beating the guy we want to lose, but that isn’t a perfect system as we see here.


Sorry if I missed it, but does the article say where these numbers actually come from? Unless they come from large sample-size polls conducted in those ridings it is a little bit foolish to say that this strategy would work. Last election I did a huge comparison between election results from one election to the next, and bit swings happen pretty often. If you’d looked for ridings to do this in four weeks ago, you would have had a different list.

Plus, I’d like to see the data to back up the idea that all those Liberal voters would go NDP rather than Conservative when the Liberal candidate dropped. It’s not even true that NDP voters will necessarily support the Liberals over the Conservatives. Individuals don’t fit into neat ideological boxes, and individuals who are primarily committed to beating the Conservatives can already determine which party to vote for in their riding with information like this. Trying to take that choice away could even cause a backlash. Grenier’s (admitted excellent) model doesn’t have anything to say about what would happen if one party dropped out.

“Vote splitting” is something political pundits like to talk about that comes from a naive analysis of aggregates without really looking at individual preferences. Here is Grenier on “vote splitting” in the recent Alberta election:

The greatest example of vote splitting in Canadian history - the 1993 federal election, is also just not based in reality. The fact is, the Liberals got 41% of the vote and that has been enough to get a majority pretty nearly every election in Canadian history. The conservatives are not going to win this election because there is one progressive party, they are going to win because Canadians are - in numbers far too large - stupid racist shit heads (and maybe due to a some election fraud that they can easily get away with thanks to their “Fair Elections Act” the essentially abolishes non-partisan investigations). Canada is basically a country full of idiot hypocrites who laugh at the “stupidity” of USians only to go and copy US politics 4-5 years later than the US does it, after it has been proven not to work.

We are stuck with Harper because that is what Canadians want. Please, if you are Muslim, or if you have Muslim friends who are considering coming to Canada based on our reputation for tolerance, think twice. There are dark years ahead.


This. The number of people I’ve read on various social media platforms who are liberal-leaning (both socially and fiscally) who are eating up the fucking stupid niqab-gate nonsense makes me weep for the future of our country. Oh, and on top of that they also want to vote Conservative because “Harper’s going to lower the GST some more, woo hoo!”



@anon50609448 - the number of times I have to explain to racist ignoramouses that NO, no one gets their ID photos taking wearing a niqab is so disheartening… I mean, I knew we were racist underneath this mask of polite civility, I just didn’t realize they were all yearning to rip the mask off altogether.

I don’t want him to get in again, I truly don’t. I’ve been quoting Jack Layton’s last message almost non-stop… but I just don’t know… I fear he’ll get in, Rob Ford will get in, and we’ll all just be doomed… :/`

Now that Rob is cancer free (for the moment), presuming he stays healthy, I imagine he will win the next mayoral election in a landslide. Everybody loves a good come back story.

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Since our municipal elections are probably going to have ranked ballots from now on, I don’t think that’s very likely. But even if this does happen, I don’t worry too much about Ford. He can just embarrass us internationally on a regular schedule, stay home, get high, and let council get on with business.

So let me get this straight.

In America, the electoral dominance of a two-party system threatens democracy and is generally a terrible idea.

In Canada, the only way to enact something like the will of the people is to selectively use the electoral dominance of a two-party system and ally two of the three parties against the third.

Have I got that right?


Ranked ballots is not a sure thing, cuz they changed their minds, cuz of course they did.

Now we wait for the province… hopefully they go with the original proposal, but its not a given.

@jackbird - yes, but we have five parties big enough to pay attention to. Coalition governments never seem a bad idea to me. Sir John A MacDonald was known for appointing his rivals and political opponents to important cabinet seats and posts, forcing the parties to work together.

It seems odd summed up like that, but there are key differences in the two systems. First, our Senate is appointed, largely by the Prime Minister, rather than separately elected. Secondly, the Prime Minister as head of state is the leader of the party that forms the Government, rather than elected separately like the President of the U.S.

The combination of those two items means that an elected government in Canada has far more actual power than an elected Congress in the U.S. The last couple of years, the Conservative government has taken to putting all their changes for the year into a single omnibus bill at the start of the session, and just passing that, with very little debate in the House. With even a slight sway in their direction in the Senate, it goes through. There is no level above that holding a veto. The Governor-General gives Royal Assent, because that role is not considered to be part of the actual law-making process.

As a result, it makes sense for a parliamentary democracy to be a two-party system, so that a governing party has an actual popular majority. A three-party system with first-past-the-post voting tends to cause some of the problems we are seeing.

Well, I don’t think two parties agreeing to work together on things that were in both of their platforms is a nefarious proposition. If a minority government ran on ‘A’ and both opposition parties ran on "Not A’ then it seems like Not A has more support. If the two parties agree on everything or even on the vast majority of things then maybe they should give up the ghost and become one party. That’s not really what would be going on if the NDP and Liberals agreed to work together in this case.

This article, on the other hand, is basically grounded in the notion that Canada ought to have a two party system so that the 60% of us who are progressive could outdo the 40% who are crazy asshole racists. But reality isn’t like that. Probably the most socially progressive province is also the most islamophobic. The NDP have lost support to the conservatives because of their stand on not allowing islamophobia to trump basic universal rights. That means that there are some people who support the NDP otherwise but that issue was enough to tip the balance. That also means, unless human beings exist in discreet left/right states, that there are plenty of people who support the NDP over the Conservatives for whom that issue was not enough to tip the balance, despite their agreement with the niqab ban.

Unfortunately, democracy seems to be about alternating majorities imposing their will rather than being about people working together for the common good. I think that having multiple parties that have to make compromises to rule probably ends up being more reflective of what the people want. It’s how things work in most developed nations.


Yes! Precisely! It frequently assumes that voters for a particular party and/or candidate are movable as an unbreakable bloc from one party/candidate to another. That voters for party/candidate A all made their choice based on the same reasoning, and that reasoning therefore dictates that, should their first choice be removed, their second choice would automatically be party/candidate B.

(Personally I think there’s frequently a sense of entitlement present when discussions about vote splitting come up. But that’s a whole different rant.)

While I feel the NDP stance on niqabs has been overstated as the cause of their slipping in the polls—their decline, including in Québec, had already started well before the French debate when it became an issue—I do feel the need to highlight this part. Though the NDP-Conservative swing voter is less common than the NDP-Liberal (or NDP-Bloc in Québec), they do exist and it’s always nice to see them mentioned. Frequently they’re assumed to be non-existent when it comes to discussions of vote splitting/“unite the left”.

I think short of NDP and Libs pulling candidates from ridings( which might be to late anyway) things like can let people find out who is most likely to beat the conservative candidate in their area and vote for them. It sucks the Libs are part of the spying problem and TPP (I thought Trudeau was awaiting the details before saying pro or con on it,did he do that?) but they would still be better than Harper. points to the Liberal candidate winning in my riding (at the moment, any way). It’s who I was going to vote for any way, so that’s handy for me. His name also happens to be John Oliver, how could I not vote for him?


It is. The Elections Canada deadline for declared candidates to withdraw is at 5PM on the 21st day before polling day, which for this election was Sept. 28th.

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Awesome, the more the merrier!

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