Thursday, May 31, 2012

Obama vs. Romney, Canadian style

Angus-Reid released a new poll today, showing how Canadians and Britons feel about Barack Obama and the US Presidential Election. In short, Canadians like the American President. A lot.

Fully 60% of Canadians think Barack Obama's presidency has been good or very good for our country. He scores a majority on this question in every part of the country, rising to 74% in Quebec. Even 51% of Conservative supporters think Obama has been good or very good for Canada.

But who would Canadians vote for if they had a say in the American election? If Canada was the 51st state, we would be bluer than Vermont. We'd even give Washington, D.C. a run for being the safest electoral college votes for the Democrats.
In a straight-up vote between Obama and Romney, 65% of Canadians would opt for the incumbent president. Only 9% would vote for the Republican candidate.

27% of respondents said they weren't sure or would vote for neither.

If we take those out of the equation, we get decided support for Barack Obama sitting at 88%, with Mitt Romney garnering 12% support.

To put that in context, Washington, D.C. voted 92% in favour of Obama in 2008. The Democrats took 72% of the vote in Hawaii and 67% in Vermont. The President is scoring a little less than 60% in those two states right now.

Angus-Reid was kind enough to give me the regional breakdown of these voting intentions, and they are quite remarkable. Only in Alberta does Obama not get a majority, with 46% to 19% for Romney. Obama gets his best result in Quebec, where 76% would vote for him. Only 1% would vote for Romney - and he speaks French!

But that is with the large number of people who did not opt for either candidate. If we take those out, Obama scores 71% in Alberta, 73% in the Prairies, 85% in Ontario, 90% in Atlantic Canada, 91% in British Columbia, and 99% in Quebec. These are numbers that would make Danny Williams blush.

Before I got the details I had intended to run the numbers through the projection model, but suffice to say that Obama would likely win every single seat in the country with these levels of support.

But what would this mean in a hypothetical American election where Canada's 10 provinces were US states?

A quick calculation indicates that Canada's 10 states would total 58 electoral college votes, based on how they are portioned out in the United States. That bumps up the total number of votes in the US to 596, meaning 299 would be needed to win the election (I'm sure that Canada's 10 states would result in some changes to the calculations, but let's leave that aside for now).

We can safely assume that Canada's 58 votes are in the bag for Obama, meaning that he would only need to win 241 of the remaining votes, or 44.7% of those votes in the actual 50 US states.

Using the New York Times' Electoral Map, which currently allocates 217-votes' worth of states to Obama, we only need to give him Pennsylvania and New Hampshire to get him to the 241-vote mark. That means, with Canada plumping for the Democrats, Mitt Romney could win Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada of the "toss-up" states and still lose.

Of course, Barack Obama will not have the luxury of Canadian statehood when Americans go to the polls in November. But the Liberal Party of Canada will only be holding its leadership race sometime in 2013...

39 comments:

  1. Obama for Liberal leader? Lol.

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    1. He's probably too far right-wing. His policies are more in line with the Conservatives.

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  2. For those of you interested in the US Presidential race this is an excellent site

    http://www.electoral-vote.com/

    Right now they are showing Obama with 304 to Romney's 225.

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    1. Not really - those were the holdover results from 2008. It looks like the site has finally been updated, though, and it's listing Obama with 289 to 243, with 6 "votes" (Iowa) tied. But really we should take out all of the "barely __" states (<5% difference between the candidates), which would show Obama as having 244 to Romney's 181, with 113 in the tossup category.

      Much better last time around were 538's predictions/analyses (electoral-vote.com was bigger in the 2004 election, when not many were doing the state-by-state analysis). But, 538 hasn't started doing it's 2012 predictions yet for whatever reason.

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  3. I wonder how many of the "neither"s are New Democrats who don't think Obama is far enough to the left?

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    1. Or Conservatives who find Romney incredibly wishy-washy. Or Conservatives who find Republicans generally to be too socially conservative or insufficiently fiscally conservative.

      Modern Republicans bear very little resemblance to modern Conservatives, I would argue. The political space occupied by the Republicans basically doesn't exist in Canada.

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    2. I'd be one of those... well anyway, the NDP isn't far enough to the left for me...

      But as for Obama, it's fascinating the extent to which Canadians love him - but only for what he symbolises. In terms of policy, Obama isn't really very different from Bush II. His military policy in AfPak is actually worse than Bush's, his administration has been the most hostile toward whistleblowers, and his domestic policy is only marginally better than that of Bush. If Canadians paid closer attention and knew more about what's going on south of the border - if they felt they had a stake in US politics, their opinion of Obama might not be so rosy.

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  4. Superb article. I wonder how a northern north american superstate would look like anyhow. :P

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    1. I've actually wondered this as well... what if Canada absorbed the states north of the Ohio River, east to include Maryland and Delaware, and west to include the northern half of Missouri, Kansas, northern Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (plus everything between Canada and those lines)? That would certainly be an interesting Canada :)

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    2. It wouldn't really be Canada any more. There are many more than 100 million people in that area

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  5. I think Obama's been a terrible President, but he's been terrible in almost exactly the same way as Bush was terrible (though without the pointless warmongering).

    Obama, like Bush, oversaw a dramatic increase in the US money supply. Obama, like Bush, presideing over a massive increase in US government debt. Obama, like Bush, has accomplished almost nothing legislatively with congress. Obama, like Bush, has significantly increased the level of executive power held by the office of President.

    It's like they both followed the same checklist of the things they should not do, and did them.

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    1. He's as much a warmonger as Bush, actually. Just look at the myriad drone attacks in Pakistan. And despite the PR withdrawl of troops from Iraq, there remain as many military combat personal in that country (and Afghanistan) as there were under Bush - only now, most of them are privately contracted (i.e. mercenaries) working for XE (Blackwater), et al.

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    2. Ira the President doesn't control US the money supply! The Government doesn't control ours. Money supply is the business of the central bankers who are independent.

      Obama's effectiveness as President is severely constrained by having to deal with a GOP house and a filibustered Senate. Had Obama had a "majority" government the way Harper has we could more effectively judge his Presidency.

      IMO Obama has not done a bad job. I think he ought to focussed more on jobs early in his term. I think "Obamacare" is a step in the right direction. A government option would have been better or single payer like we have the best.

      When I see proposals like Paul Ryan's budget and Mitt Romney's proposal to cut everyone's taxes by 20% I'm appalled. Us taxes are in the 15% range as a percent of GDP, the Lowest since the 1950's. Lower taxes have not been shown to be effective in promoting economic growth. Ryan's budget would return the US to the "Root Hog or Die" era of the 1880's. Should the GOP win in November sell everything you own and hang on to your cash. Should they implement the policies they claim they will the great depression will look like child's play. It would akin to Mao's great leap forward which damaged China for a couple of generations. It would likely spark open revolt among the starving.

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    3. "Lower taxes have not been shown to be effective in promoting economic growth."

      Swedens 4-6% GDP growth in 2010 and 2011 would beg to differ (US was 1.7-3%).

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  6. Excellent points by Ira. Additionally I expect that the favorable polling on President Obama has a lot do with the idea of Obama versus the accomplishments of President Obama

    Much like the US, there has been little critical assessment of President Obama in mainstream Canadian media. Political blogs are echo chambers as people will flock to those opinions that support their own. As such, the average Canadian would not have any idea as to accomplishments or lack of same to have an informed opinion on how well President Obama has fulfilled his role.

    In speaking with co-workers or friends about President Obama, the general consensus is he's good because he's not President Bush. Basically equivalent to I like him because he's cool.

    Not unexpected as Canadians are not invested in who the President is as they don't get a vote nor do they experience the direct impact of the results. However Canadians are very capable of carping from the cheap seats and expressing their superiority.

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  7. What this poll does show though is that this country is well off to the Left of the USA.

    Not hard to imagine really as the USA centre is off to the right of virtually every Western country.

    That said this indicates that Obama is far closer to us than Romney and given the Tea Party insanity that really isn't hard to imagine !!

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    1. People in Canada are the LEAST informed about Obama or Romney and seem to have no idea that democrats are bad for Canada because they are protectionist (buy American, no pipeline, etc).

      This doesn't say anything about Canada or the US or about the presidential race.

      We're too uninformed for it to matter one way or another.

      If people were properly educated about American politics that would be another thing altogether.

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    2. People in Canada are very informed about the ideology and rhetoric of the Republican Party. Most Canadians, Republican Party politics is too extreme, especially in terms of social issues and foreign policy issues.

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    3. Pop culture Republicans are not quite the same as real Republicans. Try again.

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  8. Ira says:

    "Modern Republicans bear very little resemblance to modern Conservatives, I would argue."

    I say that in fact they bear little resemblance to humans. I'm convinced they are really from outer space !!!

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    1. What is more alarming is that Mitt Romney is considered not "conservative" enough for a large chunk of the Republican base.

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  9. I am an American Obama supporter who lives an hour away from Niagara Falls. I've traveled throughout many parts of Canada in my life, and I follow Canadian politics as a hobby.

    I think this poll demonstrates how far to the right the Republican Party has shifted, especially since Obama has been in office. The GOP used to closely resemble the Progressive Conservatives in Canada: a business-friendly, economically conservative (albeit socially moderate) party of the center/center-right. I don't need to tell you what the Republican Party is like now.

    The poll result in Alberta and the Prairies is most surprising to me. Two huge regions of Canada where Conservatives have been the dominant political force for many years, and both of them favor Obama by more than 2-1, even after he cut the cord on the Keystone pipeline. Wow!

    Does anyone know what previous polls have shown about Canadian preferences in American presidential elections? I am curious as to whether Canadians have always been this supportive of the Democratic candidate, especially prior to the Bush years.

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    1. It's anecdotal, but I remember conversations about the 2000 election, in which the consensus was that every province except maybe Alberta would have voted for Gore. So it's not just post-Bush—Canada has been substantially to the left of the US since at least the early/mid-1990s.

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  10. Of course, this is all pointlessly speculative. If Canadians actually could vote in USA elections, then the factors would be completely different. For one thing, the Republicans wouldn't be campaigning on the same platform, out of hopes that they could win some more support in Canada. For another thing, we would be directly subjected to the political advertising of both the Democrats and Republicans. And most critically, all of President Obama's decisions would actually affect us directly, and as such we would have to evaluate him in a practical, rather than purely theoretical sense.

    Of course, I'm convinced that any country which included but Canada and the US south would be so unwieldy in terms of its partisan divide that it would fall apart within a decade or so anyway.

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    1. "Of course, this is all pointlessly speculative."

      You say that as if it's a bad thing.

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    2. This, although I don't think adding another California-sized Democratic state would suddenly make the US too polarised to function.

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  11. I have seen polls about Canadian views on US election back to the early 90s. Canadians have overwhelmingly favoured Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama over Dole, Bush and McCain in every election. Even Tory voters in Canada tend to favour Democrats for president in the US.

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  12. I think the others are important as it shows huge dislike for American politicians. No poll in Canada has 26% support "others". What if you divy the other's with support for other politicians like Ralph Nader, Gary Johnson, or a write-in vote for Ron Paul

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    1. They didn't break it down, so the 26% "others" is split between people who said "I don't know" and "Neither". I would imagine the "I don't know" made up the most of that 26%.

      "I don't knows" and "Neithers" beat Romney by a wide margin in every region.

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  13. DL the "centre" in US politics is so far to the right that our CPC would be considered the radical left down there. I have an internet friend in Texas who I explained equalization to. His immediate and absolute response was that equalization was socialism. I'm sure IRA would agree with that, I think equalization needs to be reformed the principal behind it is good one.

    I'm an Obama conservative. I couldn't be a GOP conservative!

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  14. OT:

    With the breakdown of talks between the Charest Government and the "striking students" I think Charest has no choice but to call an election and find out if anarchy is to be supported.

    Separately I don't understand how students can strike without the tacit support of their Universities and Colleges. The simple solution would be to maintain access to classes, requires professors to reach those who attended and fail those that don't.

    For those students who are opposed to fee increases the only solution available ought to be relocation either to another province in Canada or to Europe where many nations including France offer a free university education.

    The will of the legislature must be supreme. Those who defy the will of the legislature should be treated as all others are. The way to change laws one doesn't like is through elections. Either we live under the rule of law or we live under mob rule!

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  15. Obama's policies are closer to a Conservative platform than a Liberal one.

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  16. Another important question that comes to mind when reading this poll: Why is Alaska (which is arguably the most "Canadian" of America's 50 states, at least in terms of demographics and resources) so favorable towards the GOP?

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  17. Obama has to operate within an American political context. If he had grown up in Canada he would almost certainly be NDP. I suspect that the chemistry between Obama and Harper is very bad - though they probably put on an act of getting along.

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    1. "Not really - those were the holdover results from 2008. It looks like the site has finally been updated, though, and it's listing Obama with 289 to 243, with 6 "votes" (Iowa) tied."

      Actually those results showing Obama at 304 electoral votes were results based on polls from 2012. Otherwise the electoral college vote for Obama would have been about 358 the other day if it were all based on 2008 results. It's just that the site has been updated with newer polls that changed it to 289 vs 243. If you take out all the "barely" states then there is no clear winner and it looks like anybody's election. But you should pay attention to the states in the "barely" column because it gives quite a bit of an indication of how the race is going.

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  18. I believe the "undecided" are two groups, split about 50-50:

    1) Closet Republicans, who fear they will be marginalized and are too scared to admit it

    2) Those that think that Obama is too right-wing, and would want a left-wing third party candidate

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  19. In Canada Obama's government would have fallen three years ago, and he would be unable to run a parliament since he hasn't been able to pass a budget in 3 and 1/2 years. He is an abject failure as President, and any PM of any parliamentary system is a better leader.

    Also the poll did not say would you like a for the most part American, Harvard professor to be appointed leader of the Liberal Party in hopes of becoming Prime Minister. We already know what the result of that would be.

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    1. In Canada Obama couldn´t be head of government without support from parliament. Whereas in the US you can be President without any support from Congress as the office of President is independent from Congress. It´s a different system so Obama not being able to pass any budgets during his time in office (even when his party had a majority in both houses of Congress) is like comparing apples and oranges.

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  20. Obama vs Ron Paul would probably be quite a bit closer, since unlike Romney, Paul can actually appeal to voters outside their base. Of course Obama would still likely be massively favored in Canada.

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