Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little change in Harris-Decima poll, and a comparison of recent results

Yesterday, Harris-Decima added their voice to the polling cacophony, showing very little change in their national numbers but giving further evidence of the Conservatives' double-digit lead over the Liberals.

After this report on the Harris-Decima poll, I take a look at their numbers in conjunction with those of EKOS and Ipsos-Reid. Three polls with the same inaccuracies? It seems unlikely.

In this poll, as in others, statistically significant shifts in voting intentions in Ontario are the story.First off, compared to Harris-Decima's last poll the Conservatives have a gained only a point, and now lead with 37%. The Liberals are down one to 27%, while the New Democrats are also down one point to 14%.

The Bloc Québécois and Greens have each gained a point and stand at 10%. All of these shifts are within this telephone poll's +/- 1.8% margin of error (19 times out of 20).

As Harris-Decima has reported their regional margins of error, I will not round them as I did for Ipsos-Reid's poll yesterday. I will use them, however, to reverse-engineer and estimate the poll's sample sizes for my model.

In Ontario (MOE +/- 3.1), the Conservatives have gained four points and now lead with 43%. The Liberals are unchanged at 34%, while the New Democrats are down three to 12%. The Greens are unchanged at 10%. As in other recent polls, the Conservatives have made gains in the province over-and-above any likely statistical wobbling.

The Bloc Québécois is steady at 40% in Quebec (MOE +/- 3.6), while the Conservatives (+1) and Liberals (-1) are tied at 19%. The NDP is down two to 12% in the province. More good results for the Tories.

In British Columbia (MOE +/- 5.0), the Conservatives are up one point to 35%. The Liberals, down three, trail with 29% while the NDP is down five to 19%. The Greens have gained seven points, and are in it at 16%.

The Conservatives have gained four points in Atlantic Canada (MOE +/- 5.6) and now lead with 39%, echoing Ipsos-Reid's results. The Liberals are down 13 points to 29%, while the NDP is up nine to 24%.

In Alberta (MOE +/- 5.6), the Conservatives have dropped five points to 56%, while the Liberals are up three to 21%. The only noteworthy shift here is a six point gain for the NDP, who stand at 12%.

And in the Prairies (MOE +/- 5.6), the Conservatives have dropped only one point and lead with 48%. The Liberals are up three to 22%, while the NDP is steady at 20%.

With this poll, the Conservatives would win 20 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 21 in the Prairies, 61 in Ontario, eight in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 150. That's 12 more than in my last projection for a Harris-Decima poll.

The Liberals would win 12 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, four in the Prairies, 37 in Ontario, 13 in Quebec, and 16 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 85, down nine.

The Bloc Québécois would win 53 seats in Quebec, unchanged.

And the New Democrats would win four seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, three in the Prairies, eight in Ontario, one in Quebec, and four in Atlantic Canada for a total of 20, down three.

Harris-Decima also looked into leadership, finding that 46% of Canadians have a favourable impression of Stephen Harper. Another 43% have an unfavourable impression, and according to the press release this is the first time Harper has had a net positive rating since November 2009.

Michael Ignatieff, on the other hand, is at his lowest level ever at 25% favourable and 51% unfavourable.

Jack Layton splits 44% to 38%, Elizabeth May splits 25% to 30%, and Gilles Duceppe splits 53% to 30% (in Quebec only).

A comparison of recent polls

When EKOS showed a 12.5-point lead for the Tories on Friday, the Conservatives objected and the poll was called an outlier. Then Ipsos-Reid came along and confirmed EKOS's numbers on Monday, and Harris-Decima did the same on Tuesday.

But what of their methodological limitations? The inability to get a truly random sample? The regional sub-samples being too small to tell us anything? Why, these polls are unreliable and we should just stop talking about them!

Well, no. Polls aren't perfect, and some are less perfect than others, and there are some methodological hurdles to overcome in the future. But polls still work, and are a reasonable measure of public opinion. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and all three of the polling firms that have reported over the last week (and who were in the field on overlapping days) have told the same story of a shift in public opinion.

Not even the small regional sub-samples varied widely. Ipsos-Reid, EKOS, and Harris-Decima all conduct their surveys by telephone, but not in the same way. Ipsos-Reid and Harris-Decima appear to use traditional telephone methods, while EKOS uses an IVR system which reaches both landlines and cell phones. And sample sizes were very different: EKOS's poll surveyed 1,652 people, Ipsos-Reid's surveyed 1,001 people, and Harris-Decima surveyed 3,025 people. For a small region like Atlantic Canada, the MOE varied between 14% in the Ipsos-Reid poll to only 5.6% in Harris-Decima's poll. And yet...We see very little difference in their results for the Conservatives and the Liberals. What's more, there is even little difference in how the vote has shifted in each of their polls.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives in each poll have gained compared to the last polls conducted by these firms, previous polls which were all conducted at about the same time in January. The Liberals lost support in all three polls as well.

In Ontario, the Conservatives gained between 4 and 6 points in all three polls, while the Liberals either held steady, lost four points, or lost eight points. That tells a significant story of Tory gain and Liberal loss, and in Quebec the Conservatives have gained in every poll.

At the national level, the results were 37%, 39%, and 37% for the Conservatives and 25%, 25%, and 27% for the Liberals.

Clearly, these guys must know what they're doing. Or they are all wrong in the exact same way.

But does it matter? An election could be two or three months away, or more than a year away. What do these polls say about how Canadians will vote at the point? Well, not much - but that isn't what these polls are arguing. And that doesn't make them completely useless.

Oddly enough, a similar discussion is taking place in the United States. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight recently wrote on his blog about some presidential primary polls. He was criticized for it, as these curmudgeons argued that the polls were meaningless. I'll quote what Nate had to say on the issue today. The parallels between the American pre-primary season and this Canadian pre-writ period are obvious. The full post can be found here.

However, it is clearly incorrect to suggest that a candidates’ post-primary favorability numbers cannot be predicted at all by what they are early on. For the 18 candidates in the study who actually endured a primary (not counting George W. Bush in 2004, who did not), the correlation of the candidate’s net favorability ratings between the two periods was .63.

That is not a terribly strong correlation by any means, and the number might change some if the study covered more years and included candidates like Mr. Dole and Mr. Reagan. Nevertheless, the relationship is highly statistically significant. Even at this early stage, polls tell us something — not everything, not a lot, but something — about how the candidates are liable to be perceived next year following the primaries.

...

Mr. Nyhan
[one of Nate's critics] has written that early primary polls “don’t matter” and that they are “useless” — and several other bloggers have echoed these statements. That just isn’t true. Yes, as a first approximation, the rule of thumb “don’t pay much attention to early primary polls” is probably better than “pay a lot of attention to early primary polls,” given the way that the media tends to overrate their importance. But Mr. Nyhan’s statement is hyperbolic.

There are many aspects of politics that can be investigated, reported on, and studied. Polling is one of them. Clearly, not everyone believes polls are helpful or even necessary. They are entitled to their opinion and entitled to argue it, but the rest of us who find them interesting and worthwhile, and there are a lot of us, should and will continue with business as usual.

32 comments:

  1. So the attack ads were a prime factor, once again, in the Ignatieff decline in popularity, were they not?

    And are we seeing a full-on "Ford effect" in southern Ontario, with the popularity of the new mayor rubbing off federally?

    ReplyDelete
  2. A few others (David Akin, Frank Graves) have mentioned that the advertisements appear to be the only candidate for a game-changer over the past few weeks. They could be, but it is impossible to know for sure. It could just be the talk of an impending election.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When it comes to the sudden rise in Conservative support, I think we're missing the obvious: the recent turmoil in the Middle East.

    The images have been flooding the media, stark and unavoidable, and even people who aren't engaged with the constant back-and-forth of Canadian political parties, are aware of what is going on.

    When the world seems unstable and in upheaval, people tend to be defensive and conservative (in both the small 'c' and big 'C' sense.) One wants a steady hand, etc. etc.

    Now, I am not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing -- so please spare me the partisan spin on both sides -- BUT voters do tend to preceive the right as being more law-and-order, more "stabe in a dangerous time."

    Nothing on the Canadian political front (yawn) would explain the surge in Conservative support.

    I really do think the spike in support for the Tories is directly related to the images of riots and turmoil in Eygpt, Iran and elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pollsters have speculated whether or not this is majority territory for the Conservatives. I tend to agree with Eric that it isn't.

    The 2008 election ended with the following popular vote %s:
    Cons - 37.65, Libs - 26.26, NDP - 18.18, Green - 6.78, Bloc - 9.98.

    The results of the last 3 polls weighted by sample size gives the following result: Cons - 37.45, Libs - 26.0, NDP - 14.78, Green - 10.2, Bloc - 9.79. We all know that election led to a strong minority, but still a far cry from majority.

    The differentials between the latest polls and 2008 results are as follows: Cons -0.2, Libs -0.26, NDP -3.4, Green +3.42, Bloc -0.19.
    Other than the mirror imaged drop and gain by NDP and Green, these results are remarkably similar. Statistically identical, actually.

    This leads me to believe that current support levels cannot equal a majority government. The only way it is even remotely possible is due to geographic shifts (Alberta/prairie support bleeding to Ontario/atlantic) or 'vote efficiency' through regional targeting by the tories. If true, the weaker NDP numbers could spell seat gains in specific regions like Nova Scotia, BC or Edmonton, where Con/NDP battles exist. However, I think we need to see numbers like IR's poll (39-25-18) before we enter majority territory.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bryan, an interesting observation that the support for all but NDP/Green is identical to 2008 based on the last 3 polls. Weird eh?

    The big question is what happens in a campaign of course, but if we ended up with exactly the same result as last time, give or take an NDP or two and maybe one or two Greens sneaking in, what happens next?

    If the NDP/Liberals/Bloc agree to work together again (but with the Bloc outside the photo ops) is there any reason they wouldn't be able to take over (especially if they try from day one rather than waiting a few weeks)? Would the reaction by the general public be different? Would it calm down after a few months, especially if the US economy (thus ours) gets stronger?

    If they did take over I'd advise pushing to change it so political donations are no more tax deductible than charities are, and to remove the 50%/60% rebates for expenses (national/local). Bet that'd get the CPC screaming :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I definitely agree with the lowering of the tax credit %. For the expense rebate, at least for central party donations. Donations to specific candidates or riding associations are much more democratic and could be rewarded as such.

    I believe the rebate % should be tiered based on support level for the candidate / party so that it reflects the will of the people, and has a direct cause/effect relationship between the voters and the funding of a candidate of choice.

    The per-vote subsidy should also be scrapped. period.

    There is value to public funding for political parties and candidates... namely that it doesn't leave us with a system like the US, where to run you need famiyl money or a few very wealthy backers. The fact that almost anyone can run in Canada because of funding sources and strict spending caps is a plus for democracy. That said, funding should be primarily private, not public, IMHO.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "remove the 50%/60% rebates for expenses (national/local). Bet that'd get the CPC screaming :)"


    Given how little the Bloc spends outside an election period.... That would eat into their funding alot too, hurt them more than the big 3.. they won't go for it.

    And given that all 3 major parties spend the maximum.... I doubt any of the 3 would want to give up that 50% rebate. And it really wouldn't hurt the conservatives more than the other guys. ... in fact I am sure you would hear cries of how that would only benefit the tories since it is a bigger part of what the NDP and liberals take in than it is for the Tories.

    In other words... I doubt very much that will happen.

    The donations move back to the % that Charitys have? That might be more possible. Though I am sure that would annoy the tories sufficiently to launch another add buy. I am not sure that a Coalition government (or a liberal one for that matter) could tinker around only a little bit without stirring up a big furor and wind up having to cancel more than just the tory funding.


    As to the coalition. Theoretically possible. But given the poll numbers this week... is the Liberals taking a handful of seats from the NDP enough to make the coalition partners the "winners" of the election in the eyes of voters?? And how often in polls have we seen how badly including the Bloc into that coalition moves support away from it??

    I think to make people happy about having a coalition the partners need a significant seat gain against the Tories, if not getting to the point where the NDP and liberals = 154+. But I don't know... if they do it with minimum numbers and we hit a recovery(well boom, since we are basically recovered already) spell, people might cool down and even give them a second go at it in a year when we have the next election.

    I might also suggest that when Layton and Dion, oops I mean Iggy, are asked during a campaign about whether they might form a coalition... that they choose not to deny it and then implement it. That was another sticking point.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "If the NDP/Liberals/Bloc agree to work together again (but with the Bloc outside the photo ops) is there any reason they wouldn't be able to take over (especially if they try from day one rather than waiting a few weeks)? Would the reaction by the general public be different?"

    The reaction would likely depend on how the parties campaigned during the election. If the Liberals and NDP campaign by saying, yes, we will consider forming a coalition with Bloc support to oust the Tories, then they might have sufficient legitimacy to actually do so after the election. Of course, if they campaign on that basis, there's every chance that they'll be pounded come election day and that the Tories will walk away with a crushing majority (as polls showed they would have in December 2008).

    Of course, if they don't campaign on that basis, and promptly formed such a coalition after the election, well... ask Gordon Campbell how that strategy works out. In that case, the coalition government would lack the legitimacy neccesary to successfully govern, it would accomplish nothing (since, if the government lacks legitimacy, the conservative controlled senate likely won't feel too contrained about blocking everything that comes out of the commons), and would be lucky to last 6 months before imploding.

    "If they did take over I'd advise pushing to change it so political donations are no more tax deductible than charities are, and to remove the 50%/60% rebates for expenses (national/local). Bet that'd get the CPC screaming"

    Why on earth would the NDP support changes to the political donation tax credit? They raise almost as much money as the Liberals do through donations, despite their significantly smaller (for now at least) voter base. Moreover, it's not at all clear why either the NDP or the Liberals would want to change the treatment of expense reimbursements, since that's worth almost as much to them as it is to the Tories (in 2008, the amounts of the reimbursments for the Tories, Liberals and NDP, respectively, were $9.7 million,$7.3 million and $8.4 million, respectively - you got that right, the NDP outspend the Liberals.) Why would the NDP (or even the Liberals), be keen on changing that?

    ReplyDelete
  9. More importantly that the predictive value of individual polls, is the predictive value of sets of polls over time.

    Nate started out projecting the performance of baseball players based on the performance of comparable players from history. So, if a second baseman exhibited a certain statistical trend over a three year period at ages 26-28, he'd mine baseball's past (since 1956, I think) to find other players who had done the same thing at the same position at the same age, and see how they'd done in the next season. A weighted average of those produced his projection for the modern player.

    I've always been hoping for something similar with polls. Nate can take a polling trend and compare it to past polling trends to see what electoral result it produced. That can be his projection.

    That a poll right noys there's a 10 point lead doesn't tell us that an election would produce a 10 point victory, but, combined with other polls, it might allow us to make a projection with considerable confidence (though what the lead in the projection would be would be based on far more that just this one 10 point gap).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hmm, that's interesting. I may be wrong, but I don't think we have as much public polling data available to say much beyond the last three elections.

    What's worse, Canada has had a relatively tumultuous 20 political years. The advent of the Bloc, the split on the right, then the merger... It doesn't give us a lot of data points that are applicable to today.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I like that point too, Ira, but I think the trend is much more applicable to the topic of sport than politics. There is a constancy in sport or other areas that doesn't exist in politics. Politics is about public opinion, and given the variables of policy change, media reaction, and apathy, it's hard to predict the future by looking at the distant- or mid-term past.

    Particularly in Canada, where the governing party is only 3 years older than the time it's been in power, you can't find perfect correlations in the past. This may work in a 2-party state like the US, but not in Canada where parties form, dissolve, or merge relatively frequently. You could go back to the pre-mulroney years, but the political climate domestically and abroad was very different then and the data points may not be applicable. The best we can do is look at polls pre-2004/6/8 and the electoral results to see if there is correlation there that could merit predictive value.

    Absent that, we can only look at recent trends and extrapolate from there.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Bryan, it seems a bit of a contraction to say "I believe the rebate % should be tiered based on support level"
    And
    "The per-vote subsidy should also be scrapped. period."

    Either funding for parties should be based on votes, or it should be based on ability to suck cash out of us. From my wording you can guess which I prefer. I hate the idea that parties get paid to spend as much as possible, and that we are all paying tax dollars whenever someone donates to a political party. The idea that for every $1 a person donates the rest of Canada has to pony up to $3 more just seems obscene. Whereas the per vote is $2 per person who votes, thus in theory if you vote you give $2 a year to that party but if you don't vote you help cover that cost for those who do.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I hate the idea that parties get paid to spend as much as possible,

    And yet you are promoting a system of funding based on how many votes you get. Doesn't more spending, more advertising, more dollars = more votes??


    The only difference is who pays.



    "The idea that for every $1 a person donates the rest of Canada has to pony up to $3"

    hmmm .. so the 14 million people who vote are the same 10-15 million who pay most of the taxes???

    I don't think so.

    All you are really asking for is that the people who have money, and pay taxes give up their right to choose who to honor with dollars for support, so that 14 million random people who feel like going out and casting a ballot don't have to worry about putting their money where their mouth is.

    If everybody paid taxes? sure your way would be more fair. But not everybody does. And those that are... don't need to pay more (for either system)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Barcs - so you feel that the political system should be run by and for those with money only? After all, if the only way for parties to get money is to get donations then only those parties that appeal to those with money will survive. While that is great for those of us with money, it kind of ignores the whole concept of democracy.

    Also remember, even the Conservatives only have 100k people donating to them per year (roughly) with the other parties having far fewer. That means that less than 10% of Canadians are financially supporting a political party. Should that 10% have a lot more say than the other 90%?

    I firmly believe that democracy is the only way to go. Given that I feel every vote should count equally, then I want all my politicians to be focused on gaining votes, not being good telemarketers.

    Lets look at what incentives parties have...

    A) Donations: incentive to be strong at sucking cash out of your pocket via whatever methods they can use and to listen only to those who donate to them

    B) Expense return: incentive to spend as much as possible (ugh - we all hate that one)

    C) Dollars per vote: incentive to gain our votes, even in ridings that are blowouts for one party or another as every last vote counts

    If you believe in democracy you have to pick C as far as I'm concerned.

    ReplyDelete
  15. John, I respectfully disagree (RE: Bryan, it seems a bit of a contraction to say "I believe the rebate % should be tiered based on support level" And "The per-vote subsidy should also be scrapped. period.").

    There are a number of differences:
    The former has to do with cost recovery and the latter is a simple hand-out. The first is about making the political process affordable for candidates, the second is simply writing a cheque to the central party. The former is a 1-time rebate, the second is a per-year annuity.

    What I suggest is making cost recovery correlated to the level of support achieved in the election. This promotes efficient spending of resources and discourages the infamous in-and-out schemes employed by various parties in the past.

    Making this tiered to support while dropping the per-vote cheques ensures funding is tied directly to party activity and becomes a 1-time, minimal-cost endeavour.

    I feel that parties shoudl be funded by private individuals who believe in a cause, not taken from taxpayers' wallets. Or if there has to be a mix of the 2, let's make the system lean towards the former.

    ReplyDelete
  16. John what on earth are you talking about ?

    Its 1 person 1 vote rich or poor.

    Are you forgetting that's how democracy ACTUALLY functions ?


    Fundraising today just goes to nasty attack ads.

    Cut the per vote subsidy, cut the rebate, and cut the donation deduction.

    I like the idea of 100,000 people donating $5 each.

    Do you really think the legion of small donors who give to the CPC are somehow the rich and influential ??

    Let's talk about dropping the donation cap even further !

    ANYONE can afford a $5 donation. If they can't they're probably homeless and don't vote anyways.


    Bottom line: Only people who LOVE attack ads support party subsidies.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think the main difference is that Nate has access to an enormour dataset whereby he can model the voting results district by district across the country.

    So, even if he has state-wide polls with no finer resolution than that, his model can tell him that that polling trend tends to produec one voting result in the 3rd district, but some other completely different voting result in the 5th district, and he can be confident about both of them.

    I don't know what Éric's new model will look like, but I'm sure it be easier for him to build it ifhe had access to poll-by-poll voting results for each election (which I'm confident he does not have).

    ReplyDelete
  18. good point, shadow.

    if you look at the party funding figures, the Cons raise the most not by appealing to the rich and influential, but through small donations from a wider base on donors. the NDP is just starting to catch on to this , but the Liberals haven't been able to adjust from their former fundraising model of large corporate donations and rich individuals.

    cut the per-vote subsidy, cut the amount of expense-rebates, and drop the donation limit and tax credits. force the parties to get in contact with their entire voter base instead of relying on a few rich individuals.

    you argue that the Cons are letting their rich donors influence public policy, but it's actually a more grassroots system as they're getting input from way more people, whether they gave the full 1100 limit, or just a $25 donation. sounds pretty democratic to me.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ira: I don't know what Éric's new model will look like, but I'm sure it be easier for him to build it ifhe had access to poll-by-poll voting results for each election (which I'm confident he does not have).

    Sometimes confidence is misplaced.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Eric,
    Are you interested in doing a projection for the first Newfoundland and Labrador poll released since Kathy Dunderdale became premier?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes, aiming for tomorrow. Will cover the provincial and federal polls, as well as the by-election. It will be a Newfoundland & Labrador spectacular!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ira, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that I should be projecting each riding based on each polling booth within that riding?

    ReplyDelete
  23. "Yes, aiming for tomorrow. Will cover the provincial and federal polls, as well as the by-election. It will be a Newfoundland & Labrador spectacular!"

    WOOOHOOOOO!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. so far Harper is the Teflon Don of Canadian politics.. what he is getting away with right now is worse than the sponsorship scandal and none of it seems to be sticking.. that photo of bev oda today(yesterday) took it to a tabloid low so one would surmise there may be some fallout..

    ReplyDelete
  25. "what he is getting away with right now is worse than the sponsorship scandal and none of it seems to be sticking"

    A little perspective, please. If anyone was suggesting that Harper, or his supporters, were using public money to line their pockets of private companies and individuals with close ties to the Conservative party (who in turn used such money to put party operatives on the payroll and/or funnel it back to the party), then, yes the "worse than the sponsorship scandal" claim might have some teeth.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "And are we seeing a full-on "Ford effect" in southern Ontario, with the popularity of the new mayor rubbing off federally?"

    I doubt it. David Miller was extremely popular in his first few years - and that didn't lead to the NDP sweeping Toronto federally and i haven't seen any Liberal breakthrough in Calgary despite having a series of Liberal mayors either.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I guess others feel that it is best if our elected officials (and their opponents) spend their time fundraising and chasing down donors (the more the merrier) rather than doing the nations business.

    I see the per-vote funding as making the process up front and obvious. Make it so politicians are focused on getting the most votes, not the most donations. Ideally I'd have it split 50-50 between the local candidate and the party (if the candidate leaves the party the candidate keeps their 50%, the party keeps their 50%, if a by-election occurs then that riding's figures are reset to reflect those results).

    ReplyDelete
  28. "I guess others feel that it is best if our elected officials (and their opponents) spend their time fundraising and chasing down donors (the more the merrier) rather than doing the nations business."


    Because none of them have any staff paid for by the party out of funds fund-raised to do it??

    I suppose on the other hand they could spend all their time raising taxes so that they can bribe us every year before election time.... Spend all their time out on the campaign trail talking to people and glad-handing for votes instead of letting fundraisers do it while they concentrate on doing the nations business.

    But hey.. I guess you would rather have that incumbency advantage of all the $$ from the previous election instead I guess others feel that it is best if our elected officials (and their opponents) spend their time fundraising and chasing down donors (the more the merrier) rather than doing the nations business, sinking or swimming on what you are doing today.... You know.... REAL democracy.

    ReplyDelete
  29. John,

    That's great, except the per-vote methodology has problems of its own. The parties which got a 1/3 of the votes and the seats in the 1993 election (the Bloc and Reform) would have received nothing under over the course of 1988-93, while the two parties who collectively received 22% of the vote and 11 seats (the NDP and the PCs) would have received over 60% of the per-vote moneys (based on the 1988 election). Query wheter a theretofore unknown party like the Bloc or the Reform party could have emerged in 1993 in the absence of donations and the rebate mechanism (or, for that matter, the Greens pre-2008). Does that sound like a workable solution for you?

    That's not an unimportant consideration for Canada, given that we havea tendency to create new political parties every few decades or so.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, as far as supporting incumbents we all saw earlier how the current system locks them in quite nicely thank you very much.

    Generally new parties grow one of three ways...
    A) take a batch of current MP's and form a party (adjusted per-vote funding that stuck 1/2 with the person would allow this to happen again) - this was the Bloc method.
    B) Build small then have an amazing jump - Reform did that going from 2.1% (which should get a fair amount of cash under a per-vote based system) to almost official opposition
    C) Build from small, then slowly grow until you get noticed - Green Party method, very slow but growing

    In Ontario there is only donation based funding. The Greens in 2007 on $250k (no debt) received 8% support but ended up getting almost nothing back due to the way funding works in this province (No MPP's? Didn't crack 15% in a lot of ridings? Enjoy getting $0).

    I guess if you feel getting people to donate cash is the best way to have a political system then the Conservatives are your ticket. If you like corporate donations then the Liberals tend to be good. I prefer per-vote as it is as fair as you get. Yes, you won't get sudden jumps from 0% to winning, but I suspect democracy is better served by parties growing slowly.

    ReplyDelete
  31. yeah wonderful system...

    in '93 do you think it was donations that propelled the reform to 52 seats?? or would they have done better having the government hand them a cheque for 500,000 and their adversarys the mulroney government 10 million?? And the Chretien liberals would have got 8 million.

    There would be no reform party to carry on if they had that kind of disadvantage.


    The bloc won 54 seats in their first election.... Would they have if you handed the liberals and the conservatives each 1/2 of their campaign funds based on the election before?


    Would the greens really have done better in 2004 (from 100k votes to 580k???) if you gave them 200k/year from the 97 election ... and then handed their opponents the liberals 10 million, the tories 6.5mill, the PC's 2 mill and the bloc and NDP 2 mill apeiece??


    That's wonderful for new ideas trying to break out.


    By virtue of having run in the last election the tories will get 10million a year this time around... the greens almost 2 million. But lets say the Wildrose alliance decides to run candidates federally?? Zip nada zilch.

    The same goes for independents. Their opponets get tens or hundreds of thousands for running losing candidates against them. But they get nothing for winning.


    The liberals were damaged greatly by the sponsorship scandal in 04. If they were impaled though and folded the party rather than run in 06??? they would still have gotten 10 million right up until they folded.



    You've got some democracy there. No new ideas, complete party control, complete incumbent advantage, completely ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  32. "I suspect democracy is better served by parties growing slowly"

    No that's actually a check on democracy.

    Much in the way that the American senate only elects 1/3 of its membership at a time so that popular passions don't rule the day.


    But I think I can boil down your thinking on this to the following rule:

    If it helps the Green party its good for democracy.

    ReplyDelete

COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. PLEASE KEEP DISCUSSION ON TOPIC.