Sunday, June 24, 2012

On timeless recipes

Alice offers a thorough discussion of the ingredients behind the NDP's Quebec gains in 2011. But the most important part of the story may be that one of the key factors had in fact been in place all along - and may only help the NDP all the more in election cycles to come:
Worth as much as the values and leadership questions combined, however, were Quebeckers' positions on three key policy issues that matched up well with the NDP. According to CES researchers, issue positions rarely turn out to be the explanations of vote choice – usually it's values, partisanship and leadership. But this time was different, and three key issues drove support to the NDP in Québec in 2011 (in order of influence)
  • support for increased healthcare spending
  • support for increased spending on the environment
  • support for higher corporate taxes
Because these were all popular positions with Quebeckers, it was a big pond for the NDP to be able to fish in, and most of the gains again came at the expense of the Bloc Québécois, especially in the first two cases.
What's only hinted at in the above explanation is that the difference between 2011 and previous elections when it came to the NDP's policies was their place as a deciding factor in voting decisions - not any apparent change in underlying support for the policies themselves. In effect, 2011 served as compelling proof of the fit between the NDP's policy agenda  and Quebec's electorate that party supporters have mused about for decades - just as long as voters actually decide based on policy in the face of far too much coverage based on other factors.

And there looks to be plenty of potential for a virtuous cycle as the party looks to consolidate its gains. The more we discuss policies which are already popular and suggest that voting decisions should be based on those rather than personality or leadership, the better the chance of both building a party policy brand that can't be dislodged by opponents, and firmly entrenching Quebec support for the NDP for a long time to come.

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