Federal Election III: Could the Dippers overtake the Grits?

The Toronto Star is reporting on a fascinating dimension of the race; the narrowing gap between the NDP and Liberals.

Polls are fun to speculate over, especially this early in the race when there isn’t much else worth discussing.

Polls also influence elections; if even one poll shows the NDP ahead of the Liberals, the scripting of the election changes.

No longer will the Liberals be able to claim a vote for the NDP is a “wasted” vote. (With federal subsidies attached to the number of votes a party gets, there is no longer such a thing as a “wasted” vote anymore.)

The real bad news in this poll for the Grits is not the five point difference (Liberals 23% / NDP 18%), but the fact their support is widely dispersed. The NDP support is more concentrated in strongholds, whereas the Liberals do not have as many concentrated strongholds.

Concentrated support is more important than widespread support in Canadian Elections. The most vivid example is the 1993 federal election.

The Progressive Conservative party received 16.04% of the popular vote; only the Reform and Liberal parties received more votes.

Both the Bloc and NDP received less votes that the Progressive Conservatives. In the case of the NDP, the Progressive Conservatives had more than twice the votes; 2,186,422 compared to 939,575. The Bloc received 1,846,024 votes in Quebec.

The end result was 54 seats for the Bloc, 9 for the NDP, and only 2 seats for the PCs.