Strategic voting – the Disruptor?
I have a view of an intersection, which is used by pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, motorcyclists, cars and trucks and the odd tour bus. Normally it runs like clock work, rules are followed; everyone gets through the intersection without much delay. It flows quite smoothly. That is until there is one person – a disruptor, it doesn’t matter whom – who decides that they will go against flow because they can. It puts the rhythm of the traffic in question and it may put people into harms way because adjustments have to be made on the fly.
I think the flow of traffic can be much like an election campaign, there is flow, and there are the basic movements within the campaign. Movements like knocking on doors, identifying voters and getting your message out into the public domain and letting the voters see your name on signs. One hopes that if this strategy stays that way that campaigns can be predictable in how they unfold. It makes it easy for voters to identify themselves who they relate to the best – the left, the centre or the left.
But like that one person going though the intersection, one event upsets the flow and causes a rethink in the minds of the voters. In the just completed Ontario voters there were was one major and one minor act of obstruction. One played right into the other and it cause casualties in Ottawa Centre.
The one major announcement that upset the electoral apple cart in the election that was just completed was Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne announcing, make that conceding, the election to one of the other parties six days before election day and encouraging Ontarians to vote for their local Liberal candidate to ensure that 1) The Liberals might maintain official party stats with 8 MPP’s and 2) act as the opposition to the Government and the Official Opposition in Queen’s Park.
The second act of electoral defiance to the normal flow was discovered in Ottawa Centre itself. The NDP Candidate and eventual MPP Joel Harden had views that differed from the platform that was being put forward by the Ontario NDP. He was critical that the carbon tax should rise to $150/tonne. He also supported the Leap Manifesto that came out the National NDP convention that caused Thomas Mulcair’s fall from that party’s leadership. As well there were other critical issues that arose from the past of some other NDP candidates. These were enough that the vote for your Liberal candidate became the strategic vote in the last week of the campaign.
One Liberal MP that took advantage of this was in Ottawa South where John Fraser used signs that didn’t feature Liberal red or the party logo and simply stated “Only John Fraser can stop Doug Ford in Ottawa South” in black and yellow. In Ottawa Centre, Yasir Naqvi stuck to his “re-elect a good MPP” hoping to keep his seat. In both cases the Liberal MPP was trailing heading to Election Day and out of Kathleen Wynne’s announcement came two different plans – but mainly strategic voting finally became an issue in the Ontario General election.
Strategic voting became the ‘thing’ that upset the rhythm of this campaign.
The strategy from Kathleen Wynne to vote for a Liberal MPP helped both these Liberals get a bump in the polls giving them each hope of keeping their seats. In the end though there were casualties. In Ottawa South, PC Karin Howard, one who expected to turn Ottawa South blue, lost to Fraser. In Ottawa Centre, the bump Naqvi received was not enough to prevent him from losing to the NDP. The strategic voting also cost the PC Candidate Colleen McCleery votes as PC Votes went to Naqvi in hopes of keeping ‘a good MPP” and avoiding the eventual NDP win in the riding. The loss of votes that might have gone to the PC Party will mean less in vote subsidy as part of the Liberal revamping of election financing laws.
Strategic voting came late in this campaign leaving a few to think that this might just be an election about the voters preferences, that was until someone decided to enter the intersection out of turn and disrupt the flow.
Post Script: I wonder if the combined PC and Conservative voters ever wondered about their strength in strategically voting for the conservative candidate. In the 2011 Federal election, Damian Konstantinakos garnered over 14,000 votes. In an election like we just experienced this week it's not unfathomable to consider that if conservatives tossed the old adage that "we can never win in Ottawa Centre" out the window and voted with their political hearts that Ottawa Centre would be wonby a conservative? Strategically thinking, if so called "blue liberals" saw that the conservative was a true option, wouldn't that constituency of votes help elect a conservative in the OC?