Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whither the Green Party?

In relation to my post yesterday, where I mentioned how bad these results are for the Green Party of Canada, and their consistent inability to translate high poll numbers into actual votes, I thought I'd do some research on that very fact, and point out how the Green Party seems to be an increasingly ineffective force in Canadian politics, despite such promising beginnings.

But let's have some fun with Green numbers, shall we? Since the 2008 federal election, there have been 7 by-elections held. The Green Party, overall, has dropped two percentage points in these ridings since the general election. Here's the raw numbers:

2008 GE - 290,198 votes cast in those 7 ridings, 13,361 were for Green candidates, or 4.6%
2009/10 - 164,298 votes cast in those 7 ridings, 4,293 were cast for Green candidates, or 2.6%

Compare this to the 39th Parliament (2006-2008) by-elections, and a stark difference becomes clear:

2006 GE - 446,166 votes cast in 9 ridings, 17,727 were for Green candidates, or 4.0%
2006/07/08 - 241,532 votes cast in 9 ridings, 20,667 were for Green candidates, or 8.6%

Now, you can say that Ms. May's stellar performance in London North-Centre was the cause of such a large bump, but even taking out LNC, the Greens went from 3.7% of votes in 2006, to 5.3% in the by-elections, a significant increase.

So, whats going on with the Green Party? I thought they were supposed to be riding high, giving their position in the polls. But they can't seem to make it very far at all, losing 44% of their vote share since 2008 in those 7 ridings alone. In 2006, they increased their vote share by 43%! Very similar to the amount they managed to rise in the 2008 election from 2006...

You can put it down to leadership troubles, organizational troubles, or simply the fact that the Green Party is essentially a "none of the above" protest vote more than anything else. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's apply the current trend above to a certain Green dream, shall we?

This poll was done quite awhile ago, and as with all riding-specific polls, it's not to be taken without a grain of salt. But, never the less, what if we apply that 44% loss to May's result in this poll?

With a 44% drop in May's vote, she goes from 32%, to 18%, losing 14-points in the process. Using the latest Ekos second-choice polling on that 14% to parse the Green results, we get:

Con: 35.6
Grn: 22.6
Lib: 20.7
NDP: 20.2

Not exactly the most resounding endorsement of Ms. May, is it? Whats more, this even seems like a plausible outcome, since the Conservatives usually end up winning because the other parties split the vote. The only time another party has come close to the Conservatives in this riding was 2008 when there was no actual NDP candidate. How the Greens expect to rally support behind them to win, when they've yet to do so yet in any riding, I don't know.

But, polls aside, there's been a clear drop of Green votes since 2008, and its trending. Even the Liberals have managed a reversal of momentum from 2008, sad though it may be. If Green votes continue to fail to materialize, could we see some of those votes drift back towards the traditional parties? They do have to go somewhere, and I doubt most of them will go Conservative...


  1. I think before you say the green party's dead you might want to wait for the federal election that will give a more accurate result, Because you can't take 7 completely different riding's and compare them to other riding's. It's like comparing a riding in Alberta to a Riding in the Atlantic's. This post was very well thought out, but maybe to get better data you should wait till the election.that way you could compare the same riding and see the change.

  2. Of course not, but you have to admit that by-elections tend to drive narratives and when a trend like this develops post-2008, or the positive trend that developed post-2006, you have to pay attention to it. By-elections are not great indicators of the national scene, no, but the trends that develop can.

  3. Frank Graves has a nice quote on by elections as morale booster for the party loyalists and fundraising efforts.(can't find but did post on blog)
    Personally I avoid by elections . they are highly unpredictable and frankly not that important for the understanding the big picture-Twitter FG

  4. Fair enough, CS, or FG, or whoever you are.