Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Uniting parties could mean another Conservative majority

To merge or not to merge, that is the question.

At first glance, a merger of the New Democratic and Liberal parties might seem like the only way to defeat a Conservative majority government, but things are rarely so simple.

If the past is any guide, an NDP/Liberal merger would likely lead to one more Tory term.

Over the weekend, delegates at the NDP’s convention in Vancouver voted against a proposal to ban any merger talks between their party and the Liberals. Though no such talks appear to be underway and both parties have publicly resolved to continue operating separately, the NDP has left the door open to a merger of the opposition.

A combination of Liberal and NDP votes in the past election would have delivered 186 seats to the merged parties, an easy majority. But it is extremely unlikely that the new party could retain every single NDP and Liberal voter.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

The UBC forecaster for 2015 is already up and running, and is a very useful tool for running these kinds of scenarios. It's a little more difficult to use for seat projections based on polls, but if you want to see what would happen if 50% of Liberal voters went to the Tories and 50% went to the NDP, this is the tool to use (the answer: 190 seats for the Conservatives, 116 for the NDP).

Speaking of mergers, I think it is interesting to look at how the combined vote share of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives in 2000 compares to the vote share of the Conservatives in 2011. Have all of those voters come back to the fold after more than ten years?

In some cases they have, and in other cases they haven't.

Out West, the current iteration of the Conservative Party has out-performed its successors in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Saskatchewan, the PC/CA combined for 53% of the vote in 2000, and 45% in Manitoba. In the 2011 election, the Conservatives took 56% in Saskatchewan and 54% in Manitoba.

But in British Columbia and Alberta, the Tories still have some way to go. In 2000, the two right-of-centre parties took 57% of the vote in British Columbia and 72% in Alberta. In 2011, the one right-of-centre party took 46% of the vote in British Columbia and 67% of the vote in Alberta.

In Ontario and Quebec the Conservatives have improved, with 44% and 17% respectively, against 38% and 12% in the two provinces in 2000.

But in Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives are still hitting below their weight. In 2000, the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives took 46% of the vote in New Brunswick, 39% in Nova Scotia, 43% in Prince Edward Island, and 38% in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2011, the Conservatives took 44% of the vote in New Brunswick, 37% in Nova Scotia, 41% in Prince Edward Island, and 28% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It seems that, based on these numbers, the Conservatives will be looking to make gains in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada in 2015. Of course, they can also sit on the seats they already have and win another majority as well.