Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quagmire Quebec

What the heck is going on in la belle province these days? The Bloc is down to record lows, the NDP up to record highs, and the two traditional federalist parties struggling to gain more than 20% of the vote in most polls - sometimes lower for the Liberals. Is this because the population of Quebec is tired of the three main parties? Is it because the New Democrats have become a true option in the province? Are Quebeckers just losing their minds?

The fact is, no longer is it just online pollsters showing a high NDP result (though they still show a higher result, let that remain clear). Nanos, Ekos, and others are starting to show that the New Democrats are becoming an option in Quebec, the only thing buoying them as their numbers drop in Western Canada and Ontario, but nevertheless, new ground for Canada's fourth party. It's understandable, given the option of either Conservatives that don't represent Quebec values, or Liberals who simply aren't getting the job done. Even the Ekos poll, which gave us are highest result in Quebec in a long time, shows warning signs.

But, in the end, the NDP will not get very far. Like in the rest of Canada, their vote isn't very efficient. The best example was Ontario up until the last election. They routinely won nearly or over 20% of the popular vote in the province, but never more than a dozen or so seats, usually only between 5 and 10. That changed in 2008, but it took them years. Had they not collapsed in 1993, their 14.4% in 1988 could have been built upon and it'd be different today - but 2011 may instead end up being that launch platform, but it'll take awhile, just like Ontario. So rest easy, traditional parties, there will not be an orange tide sweeping Quebec this election. After all, remember that they are getting less than 20% support.

But what of the Conservatives and Liberals? Stuck with two unpopular leaders in the province of Quebec, both are struggling well below levels that both parties used to easily attain. The Bloc is one thing, sucking up 40% of the vote routinely, but with both parties only at 20% things are getting to become a little ridiculous. And no, 20% is not really very good for the Conservatives, because they have traditionally been higher, in other forms anyways. That being said, 20% is disastrous for the Liberal Party - but we lost Quebec's votes in 2006, and I don't see us getting it back any time soon.

Then the Bloc. The Bloc aren't really in danger of losing their spot at the top of the Quebec podium, but their time will come soon. The fact is, they aren't very useful; they do their jobs, I agree, and they even do them well, fighting for Quebec and even sometimes for Canada in general. They aren't bitter husks of separatists - they're politicians. But the only thing going for them right now is the complete melee among the other parties. If one of the parties can break out of it, be it Liberals, Conservatives, or even the NDP, they're in trouble. This is especially true as the time for their transition of leadership comes ever closer. After all, Duceppe has been there for a long time. And with a new leader will come new vulnerabilities.

At the start of this campaign, people said that Quebec would be boring. It won't be an interesting campaign. Maybe it won't, it looks almost status quo seat wise, even with the NDP rise. But there's something shifting in Quebec, there's a mysterious force moving voters into a new direction. Maybe this election won't be interesting in la belle province, but the next one sure seems to be setting itself up to be.


  1. Jean Lapierre just told CJAD's Andrew Carter this morning to take those polls, re: Quebec with a grain of salt. He says if you want more accurate polling in La Belle province, stick our home grown firms like CROP and Leger Marketing. He's right.

    Over here on the ground, with the exception of perhaps Mulcair, there is no evidence the NDP will get new seats here.

    Lapierre predicts a Liberal vote collapse here.

    It'll be as it has been, Harpercons a distant second here. Nuts, I know.

    The Bloc will dominate here, I think, unless something different happens after April 15.

  2. I don't think it has anything to do with the "efficiency" of the NDP vote, whatever that means. In any Western Electorate the parties that are just right or just left of the primary 'centrist' parties have a tendency to be the softest ones because their followers have the greatest incentives to move their votes.

    Maybe this is what you meant by "efficient" in which case I stand corrected. \

    I find that Quebec voters are the ones with the most notable extremes in the country, and they strike me more like a European electorate than any other group in Canada. WIth that in mind I think if the NDP ever got a real foothold in the province they would overtake the Liberals and the Conservatives. But like European electorates it seems that they vote more along the lines of family traditions and it wold take a long time to shift.

  3. CK,

    To be honest, I don't really put much stock into what Jean Lapierre says... but the NDP won't win any more seats, not even Gatineau.


    "Efficiency" means how much bang you'll get for your buck, or in this case, how well your operation is getting out the vote in ridings enough to win, but not enough for them to pile up; and getting enough votes in a region, but not so much that they're spread out and useless.

  4. Interesting use of the word. My PhD thesis had a long chapter on the different uses of the word efficiency. Speaking of quagmires.

  5. I thought it was the proper usage, nevermind! I gleaned it off discussions on the failure of both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives (in 2005) to capitalize on higher vote totals over in the UK. It's easy to port over to Canada.