Wednesday, May 04, 2011

On majorities

I'll post later about the main questions facing each Canadian political party after Monday's election. But with pundits like Andrew Steele declaring that we should assume the NDP can't put together a majority coalition, let's set the record straight as to exactly how much hope there is to unite Canada's left behind the NDP as it stands (rather than mucking around with mergers or other structural changes).

Throughout the election campaign, EKOS regularly ran second-choice polling. And every time it did from the moment the NDP emerged as the second-place party nationally, the NDP's support as a first or second choice was between about 50% and 54% of voters - compared to numbers in the low 40s for the Harper Conservatives.

Which means that if we're indeed seeing polarization into a two-party system in which the Libs and Bloc are relatively inconsequential, the default assumption should be that the NDP has the upper hand as matters stand now.

Granted, that doesn't mean we can assume the same will be true by 2015. After all, the Harper Cons have obviously tailored their message to what they perceived to be the share of the vote they'd need to win, and we have to figure that their strategy will change if they face a more polarized choice rather than being able to rely on vote-splitting.

But we already have plenty of evidence available that the NDP's message appeals at least somewhat both to a majority of Canadians, and to substantially more voters than the Cons have managed to reach to date. And that would seem to offer ample reason to continue with the party structure that's working.

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