Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How the Conservatives won this election

Former London North Centre MP Glen Pearson sums up the dirty tricks nicely:
Yet I’d had something of a premonition of the outcome during the last few days of the contest. At doors I canvassed I kept hearing certain stories about how I spent too much time in Africa, or that my voting presence in the House wasn’t too impressive. When I informed them that I only spent one week a year on that continent (Sudan), and that I take it on my holiday time over New Years and on my own dime, I could sense the hesitation in their voice. “Oh … that’s not what we heard when the Conservatives phoned us last night.” Something that hadn’t been an issue heretofore was suddenly looming large in the final days.

... It was frustrating, but I didn’t know who to talk to. It was only when the election was over that a good Conservative friend informed me that they had actually been utilizing a central office for phone calls and that none of them emanated from London itself. They had poured big money from afar into influencing my riding. What I had thought to be a local campaign had suddenly taken on national dimensions.
These, by the way, are the same sort of tactics not only employed by the US political parties, but the worst of the worst of the worst of these political parties. Indeed, it seems highly reminiscent of the tactics employed by George W. Bush campaign during the 2000 Republican primary against then-respectable Senator John McCain, which blanketed the state of South Carolina with robocalls that claimed McCain, among other things, fathered an illegitimate black child, was unfit for the White House due to his years as a POW, and many other disgusting smears that utterly destroyed the character and record of what was once a great moderate voice in the Republican Party (he isn't any longer).

While not nearly as slanderous, to their credit, these Conservative robocalls are of the exact same intention - to smear, discredit, and outright lie about a candidate's record in order to both drive down turnout and switch allegiances. It is a disgusting tactic that, sadly, seems effective. We need to fight back against this sort of thing, and the same goes for the New Democrats, who if they haven't faced it yet, they will soon enough.

Speaking of the New Democrats, Pearson also notes that a lovely vote split in his riding allowed the Conservative candidate with little presence and little name recognition, Susan Truppe, win the riding with a less-than-2,000 vote bump, while Pearson dropped nearly 3,300 votes and the NDP candidate rose by over that amount. Here's a quick chart below to demonstrate how:

Anyone who says "vote splitting doesn't exist" is an idiot if they look at these kinds of numbers. It's a real shame that the Conservatives won their majorities thanks to slandering robocalls and voters who, while I'm sure they had the best intentions, essentially handed a riding to the Conservatives that we could have otherwise kept.

 Maybe next time we'll learn, on both accounts, how to avoid this sort of disaster again.


  1. It is too bad because Glen is a good man.That is what we have in government for 4 years lie, lie, lie.

  2. How one avoids a great deal of this , is to change our voting system.

  3. These tactics will remain, no matter what system we have. That's the nature of the beast; we could probably squeak out the vote splitting with an AV system, but the dirty tricks will be the same.

  4. The NDP might have picked up former Green votes too. And 4000 more people voted than before.

    Moreover, who switched to the Conservatives? Former Liberals, former Greens, or former non-voters.

    I don't think I'm an idiot, but there are multiple explanations for those numbers, and you won't know the answer for that riding, until you conduct a poll-by-poll analysis.

  5. PG,

    On the face of it, there's a clear vote split that allowed Truppe to slip through - had enough of those that voted NDP voted Liberal, they could have prevented it. That's generally how a split vote works, especially in hindsight (the best kind of sight!).

    Also, I don't think its too much to say that it is very likely a good portion of the NDP rise came from former Liberal supporters who rushed to Jack Layton's party. On the ground, that's what I've been hearing.

  6. Oh boo hoo. This pisses me off. This is exactly the kind of finger pointing and 'poor me' politics that the Cons are counting on for the next couple of decades to stay in power.

    I know Glen Pearson is a good man, and I voted for him, despite my belief that that national Liberal Party is a failure. Is this what the Liberals want to count on in the future? They shouldn't.

    As we now know, my vote was wasted because we are NOT responding effectively to the changed and dirty political landscape that the Cons have created. As long as good people continue to think this isn't a competition and 'the best man should win', 'we' (the progressives in this country) will never see a progressive government in this country again.

    Also, I don't want to be insulting, but this 'anaylsis' of the results is superficial at best.

    The NDP volume was almost as much as the Green volume as well and that they didn't split the Liberal vote at all. I'm just sayin ...

    Also, the numbers don't show how many blue-Liberals went to the Cons because they were not confident in the national leader, nor were they impressed with the way he was 'crowned' Liberal leader of Canada.

    All we really know is that the progressive vote is fractured and will never be adequately consolidated, mostly because of petty bickering. We'll get what we deserve as long as we don't figure things out among ourselves.

    Finally, Glen Pearson never knocked on my door, but then again, none of these candidates did.

    If you really want change, then stop supporting 'traditional' politics and get mad. Start supporting real change in this country, beginning with PR and democratic reform.

  7. Liam,

    Erm... you've accused me of several things at once so I don't know which avenue to go here.

    First off, I never said we have to rely on "traditional politics" and "the best man should win" kind of deal. I never alluded to that kind of thing, except as in, well, that's what we lost.

    In fact, if it came right down to it, we should be fighting the Conservatives on the very same territory, maybe not with the same tricks, but at least with a bag of our own to draw out of, ones that can counter those attacks and move forward our own. Politics is a dirty, vicious game, and I'm willing to play it. Don't know why you've said I'm not.

    Secondly, as I noted to Alice (Pundit's Guide), yes, we don't know how poll-by-poll this broke down, which voters went where, who, and why - but it's not too much of a stretch to say that a good portion of Liberal voters did switch over to the NDP, based on regional and national trends that we saw cooking up over the campaign period. I will lay money down on the very possibility of it happening - and even if it wasn't, it doesn't matter, because this is said in hindsight, pointing out that a tougher NDP vote, whether it came from Greens or Liberals, allowed the Conservatives to slip past a drop in Liberal support, because those voters parked their support with the two smaller parties in LNC that couldn't take out Truppe herself. So, my analysis is likely correct in any way you put it.

    Thirdly, I do support democratic reform and electoral reform, but I do not support proportional representation that includes things like MMR or straight-up party-list PR.