Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Last Hypotheticals

In my post positing four hypothetical scenarios, someone asked what it would have looked like if the Conservatives were still split. So, without a poll in sight, I've tackled that question.

Using the UBC Election Forecaster to distribute the votes, I split the Conservative Party votes over the last three elections between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance. Using the 2000 election as a guide, I split the vote regionally according to the proportion of votes going to the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives. The UBC forecaster doesn't give enough options, so I added the Canadian Alliance's votes to the "Other Parties". This, actually, helps simulate how many centrist voters went to the Liberals after the merger by giving the Canadian Alliance a few more votes than the split of the Conservative vote would give them.

Obviously, this isn't a perfect simulation. But it gives us a good idea of what it would've looked like if Peter MacKay had not merged his party with the Canadian Alliance, all other things being equal.In the 2004 election, the Liberals are elected to another majority government under Paul Martin, which comes as no surprise. But the majority is very slim.

The Canadian Alliance under Stephen Harper increases its caucus to 75 MPs, the most it has ever had. Thanks to the sponsorship scandal, the Bloc returns to prominence in Quebec with 54 MPs, while new leader Jack Layton wins seven more seats for the NDP. Peter MacKay, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, is given a thumping and is reduced from 12 to 3 MPs, all in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberal strength is in the east and in central Canada. In Ontario, the party wins 90 seats, while Atlantic Canada and Quebec provide another 47. Only 19 seats come west and north of Ontario.

The Canadian Alliance wins only eight seats in Ontario, with 67 MPs coming from Western Canada.

However, after less than two years in government, the Liberals lose some MPs to retirement and floor-crossings, and in late 2005 the Paul Martin government - now a minority - falls and Canadians head to an election.Stephen Harper of the Canadian Alliance manages to change the game during the Christmas break with promises of 'Open Federalism' to Quebec. On election night, Paul Martin is elected to a minority government with 126 seats. Canadians begin to wonder how such a small minority government will actually work.

The Liberals see losses in their core regions, dropping to 73 seats in Ontario, 13 in Quebec, and 22 in Atlantic Canada. Martin does, however, win two more seats in the Prairies.

Harper makes big gains for the Canadian Alliance and bumps his caucus up to 88 seats. He manages to take five seats in Quebec, mostly around Quebec City. He also makes a breakthrough in Ontario with 20 seats, but the bulk of his caucus (63 seats) is still west of Ontario.

With a three-way split of the federalist vote in Quebec - four if you count the NDP - Gilles Duceppe wins 57 seats in Quebec, the most his party has ever won.

Jack Layton has another successful election with 32 seats, 13 of them in Ontario and another 10 in British Columbia.

After stepping down as leader of the Progressive Conservatives, Peter MacKay is nevertheless re-elected in Central Nova and new leader Bill Casey wins two more seats for the party in Atlantic Canada. Under Casey's leadership, the Progressive Conservatives are increasingly becoming focused on Maritime issues, added by the presence of PC provincial governments in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

In 2008, hugely unpopular and faced with an unworkable minority, Paul Martin decides to step down as leader of the Liberals and Stéphane Dion is elected leader of the party and becomes Prime Minister. Shortly thereafter, the opposition joins together to bring down the government.The country is more divided than ever, as Stéphane Dion wins the slimmest of minority governments with only 105 seats. Outnumbered by even the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives, Dion approaches Jack Layton and the two enter into a minority coalition government.

Dion managed to maintain his office with seat wins in the east. He takes 21 seats in Atlantic Canada, 15 in Quebec, and 56 in Ontario. Only 13 MPs in the Liberal caucus represent the West and North.

Jack Layton's 17 MPs in the North and West increase the government's representation in the region to 30. Overall, Layton wins 41 seats for his party, 18 of them in Ontario and 10 in British Columbia. He even elects one MP in Quebec and one in Alberta.

Stephen Harper remains as Leader of the Official Opposition, increasing his party's caucus for a third consecutive time with 101 seats. He wins 12 more in Ontario for a total of 32, while his Quebec caucus is reduced by two to three seats and the party finally wins a seat in Atlantic Canada. Again, the majority, or 65 seats, are Westerners.

Gilles Duceppe benefits once again from the federalist split and takes 56 seats, losing only one from 2006's result.

Bill Casey manages to keep his five seats in Atlantic Canada and the party's provincial wing maintains its hold on New Brunswick, and looks likely to stay in power in Halifax.

Will the Dion-Layton coalition last long? Pundits think it won't. More and more conservative thinkers are pushing for a merger of the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance, but the PCs are poo-pooing the idea as the Canadian Alliance is not considered open to their regional issues. However, there are doubts that even a merged Conservative Party would be able to defeat the Liberals and NDP, who have agreed to work together and would undoubtedly merge themselves if a Conservative Party appeared.


  1. Nice analysis Eric. Thanks.

  2. That 2008 chart looks disturbingly like a European parliament. I agree that any merger of the right under those circumstances would immediately cause a merger of the left, which just shows how much the CPC has benefitted from merging before it was absolutely necessary.

    I'm really looking forward to more of these hypothetical scenario charts following the next election.

  3. Eric - These hypotheticals are REALLY cool. I could look at stuff like this all day! (Does that make me boring? My wife thinks so...!)

  4. Sure has been a long time between polls.

  5. Does this analysis take into account the MPs who switched parties after the merger? Like, does Scott Brison's seat count as PC or Liberal?

  6. No, it is simply splitting up the Conservative votes in each riding between the Canadian Alliance and PC according to the regional split in 2000.

  7. Interesting scenario, especially the end.

    At the, Stephen Harper is in a bind.

    Despite historic gains, he still hasn't delivered on the promise of forming a government after three straight elections. The knives are out and he doesn't have much longer.

    But momentum suggests he could form a government - he would have come tantalizingly close to forming a coalition (informally, of course) just after the 2008 election - but Dion was able to delay the vote.

    Harper doesn't survive the delay. He openly talks about toppling the government, but the thought of another election so soon turns the Canadian public against him (and meanwhile, new leader has scored political points by getting Canada out of Afghanistan before it headed up and with a massive infrastructure program (reminding everyone of Chretien) to combat the recession). Public opinion begins to go south...

    And as we head into the final months of 2009, the Canadian Alliance is in disarray, a leadership fight tearing the party apart, while Dion - astonishingly - soars to the 40 percent range in the polls, enough - perhaps - for a majority if it should come to that.

  8. Downes,
    That could be the most frightening thing I've ever read - Dion @ 40%. Phew... good thing these are just past possibilties.

  9. This alternate reality, which sort of appeals to my wishful thinking, has some flaws...

    ... firstly, given the 3 seats won by the PC in 2006 in this alternate reality, wouldn't most PCer jump ship, joining either the Liberals (Brison) or Alliance (McKay) and essentially come the next election, we would have the same results as the present reality. Unless, Martin stayed on and the public forgot about adscam come next election or Ignatieff had a little more time to get support to win the leadership, thus no Green Shift thus a Liberal government. Also, an Afghan withdraw in 2007 might have helped the Liberals as well.

  10. Chris,

    To quote the post, "Obviously, this isn't a perfect simulation. But it gives us a good idea of what it would've looked like if Peter MacKay had not merged his party with the Canadian Alliance, all other things being equal."

    I was just going by the numbers, not my own interpretation of what might potentially happen.


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