Thursday, March 28, 2013

Preferential Balloting and Merger

Teddy here. I was browsing around when I found out that Eric from 308 has requested and received this: data. I've been able to determine that the data is almost certainly from this poll: by Abacus.

Eric's analysis itself is interesting as to what might happen if we had a voting system similar to Australia, where voters rank their candidates first to last. As Liberals, we, being in the middle, would be the default go-to option.

What's more important however, is that this gives us insight of how voters might act if a certain party or parties were to vanish. This allows us to use real hard data to discuss the idea of a merger with the NDP.

Using these numbers we can figure out what might happen in a merger scenario. Sadly, there is not enough data on Green voters, so, we can not see what would happen if the Greens did or did not join in. What is clear is that even if the Green Party's members were against it to some degree (like the PC Party was in 2003/2004) that the new merged party would not lose any seats. This is not, however, the case for the NDP and/or the Liberals, as demonstrated below.

Without full Liberal support:

C-41% - 19 seats
N-42% - 16
G-16% - 1

C-57% - 43
N-33% - 13

C-42% - 61
N-46% - 45 (inefficient vote)

C-24% - 9
N-51% - 63
B-21% - 1

C-32% - 14
N-49% - 18

This would give the merged party a barebones majority. This, of course, presumes that every NDP voter will stick with the new party. Remember too that this is based on Harper sitting at 30% in the polls. With disgruntled Liberals voting CPC, Harper's 30% suddenly rises to over 40% and enough for a majority. Good luck explaining how Harper won a majority with such little support because your merger idea has turned so many voters against you.

Without full NDP support

C-40% - 23
L-27% - 7
G-33% - 6

C-60% - 47
L-28% - 9

C-42% - 58
L-40% - 46
G-17% - 2

C-18% - 9
L-33% - 24
B-34% - 42

C-20% - 1
L-56% - 25
G-24% - 6

This scenario gives the Tories even fewer seats, but, leaves them with a minority government. Congrats though, you've finally eliminated the NDP, and have shown that without them, the Liberals will not just magically become the "left" party. The Greens now have official status and the Bloc is back in business. At least your Liberal belly is full after gobbling up the New Democrats.

Without full support from both parties (Worst case scenario)

C-49% - 47
N-13% - 13
G-38% - 6

C-64% - 52
N-20% - 4

C-49% - 79
N-30% - 26
G-21% - 1

C-26% - 18
N-23% - 4
G-14% - 1
B-36% - 52

C-35% - 12
N-35% - 6
G-31% - 14

Congrats, the new party will remain the official opposition, winning a whole 1 seat more than the Bloc. Also congrats for giving 22 seats to the Greens, and the Tories a majority.

This shows us why a merger with the NDP would be deadly, and, how a "bad merger" could irk supporters from both sides, giving all the other parties a huge leg up on the newly merged party.


  1. All this strategizing ignores the fundamental reality of politics. People don't care about policy. People vote for people they like. Period. It confuses the hell out of the political class, who are all involved in politics because of their fundamental beliefs, but have no connection or understanding of what motivates the average voter, who is not a rational animal.

    1. You couldn't be more wrong! How do you think the Conservatives bult up a majority party? With carefully chosen, and highly motivating policy positions, that's how. But you are correct that the other party's do not understand what motivates most people, they think it is feelings, and affinites, rather than a couple of key messages on subjects that actually motivate them. No policy is akin to a rudderless ship

    2. You are both wrong, the answer is a mix.

  2. This post is something that, quite frankly, I see a lot of among supporters of PB - support being based on perceived partisan advantage. If the polling numbers changed, - say, for example Teenage Jesus turned out to be a big flop, - would you still support PB?

    Furthermore, the polling data makes it clear that the results are due to the rule that all voters must rank all candidates, but in the absence of such a rule, the data suggests that the Liberals would instead get squeezed out. If PB did get implemented without the "rank all" rule, would you still support PB?

    I can honestly say that have been a supporter of proportional representation consistently for 20 years, regardless of who was in power, or what the polling numbers were. You'll find that's also true of a lot of PR supporters, but it's almost never true of PB supporters.

    The current support for PB depends heavily on just two individuals. If Teenage Jesus walks on water, PB supporters in the Liberal party will realize they can win a majority without PB. Conversely, if he dies on the cross, we'll see an increase in support for PB in NDP supporters (as PB would then benefit them,) with a corresponding drop in support for PB amongst Liberals.

    Support for PB in the city of Toronto depends entirely on how long Clown Ford can keep his fat ass out of jail.

    1. I've supported PB for about 20 years too, because it is used in many organizations I participate in with good results. I supported it when I was an NDP supporter, and more recently now that I support the Liberals. I have a list of reasons I support PB.

      In my experience, often people who support PR question the motives of people who support PB. The modelling done after the 2011 election predicted that the CPC would have lost seats roughly equally to the Liberals and NDP. The parties it favors tends to be the parties that are most people's second choice and can move around over the years. These parties are favored because more people are satisfied with them than with the other parties. That's one point of PB, to give rise to local representatives and a government that more people are satisfied with.

    2. Like ch I've supported PB fairly consistently, since I can say I've had an opinion on the matter. I've supported it just on principle. I prefer a system of constituency representation elected by the majority of voters in a riding - so a winning candidate must have 50&+1 support. In a just world I'd tie that to 50%+1 of all *eligible voters,* meaning no one scoots by with 50% of the votes but only 30% of all eligible voters in the riding. However, that's a hard thing to accomplish without mandatory voting.

      Anyways, even if I wasn't a consistent supporter I don't get what your gripe is, unEvilOne. Just because you supported PR before it was cool, doesn't make any groundswell of support for it now among those that previously didn't care any less legitimate. In fact, you should be cheering it on.

      In the case of PB, even if its motivated by partisan games, so what? At least there is an agreement in principle about what the problem is, and how to rectify it. I'd take that any day, even if I know that it may not last. I don't care if they're doing it out of selfish reasons, at least it'll get done.

    3. Also, to answer your question, unevil, about PB without the requirement of ranking all candidates, yes I would support that. In fact, that is what I would prefer. I think voters should be encouraged to give a ranking to all the candidates they have an opinion on, but I would like to see any ballot with at least one candidate ranked considered valid. In my experience, when not required, most people take advantage of the opportunity to provide more input, but don't necessarily rank all candidates when the number exceeds 4 or so.

    4. Just wanted to toss out FairVote's arguments for PB (which they call instant run off, IRV, and compare to FPTP or plurality voting):

      These advantages apply to Canada, but we also have some extra benefits, because each MP represents a local constituency and PB preserves and strengthens that.

    5. UnEvil One, WTH do you call Justin Trudeau as "teenage Jesus"? It's incredibly rude and insulting.

      Anyways, I believe PB is better than PR in the aspect that there will be no additional members who don't represent any constituents being put into parliament. It could also create new marginal seats, like in places in Ontario, where the NDP and Liberal vote was very close to each other and outnumber the CPC, yet Tories still win because the vote is split between the progressive parties. And the same applies in areas of BC and the prairies. More marginal seats means political parties will focus on more areas of the country, and attempt to represent the specific needs of a bigger share of the population instead of focusing on a smaller amount of battleground regions. You can't get that with PR, where political parties will often try a one size fit all approach to such a diverse nation.