The other day I quoted the Globe and Mail’s Adam Radwanski who wrote, a few days earlier: “Far more voters move between the Liberals and New Democrats than between either of those parties and the Tories, who have the most loyal backers and the most people unwilling to vote for them.”
Just look at these data:
Two things stand out:
- First: it was the best voter turn out in years, since 1993, in fact; and
- Second: the Liberals went up by over 4 million votes ~ that is, essentially, all the new voters plus 1 million people who shifted from the NDP to the Liberals. (My guess is that 200,000 Conservatives stayed home, mostly in the Toronto suburbs.
Kudos, of course, to Justin Trudeau and his campaign team for exciting so many new voters. It was, in fact, a brilliant campaign that looked, to me, to be part political campaign and (and even larger part) part children’s crusade. They did a very, very good job of hiding the fact that their “steak” was way below grade and they sold the “sizzle:” Justin Trudeau’s undoubted celebrity status, sex appeal, basic “niceness” and youth. It was a great campaign tactic and it worked, too. I’ve said before that Canadians were, for the most part, tired of Stephen Harper. The country had never “warmed” to him and his undoubted competence and decency was not enough to counter the Trudeau Liberal’s “sizzle.” Canadians were tired of difficult, unpleasant truths; they wanted comforting lies, instead, and the Liberals were, as they usually are, the party that was best at telling them.
The other point I have raised several times is my contention that politics in Canada can best be described using a bell curve. Most of us ~ the overwhelming majority ~ are moderates in most things: the biggest single component of the Canadian electorate is the “mushy middle.” The Liberals have, traditionally, been better than the Conservatives, even the old Progressive Conservatives, at capturing the middle ground. That’s why Mr Radwanski wrote that while “the Tories … [may] have the most loyal backers … [they also have] … the most people unwilling to vote for them.” Millions of Canadians are, simply, despite records and campaigns unwilling to vote conservative. For the Conservative Party to succeed, on a regular basis, it must capture a full and fair share of the middle …
… and I explained how Conservatives could do that IF the party has attractive, competent, moderate leaders, and I believe Erin O’Toole is just such a person ~ and even if it means, sadly, losing the religious right vote. My guess is that a the Liberals will not be able to hold on to more than 110 of the the 180+ seats they hold now, because they have broken too many promises and the enthusiasm of young voters has waned; a renewed NDP can, easily, retake 10+ of the 95 seats they had, before; leaving the Conservatives with a route to 170+ seats (170 = 338-109-53-6).
The point is that a Conservative route to power is paved with voters switching from the Liberals (back) to the NDP: preferential voting for the party one wants, rather than strategic voting against the party one dislikes.
I don’t think the Conservatives have to shed the religious right ~ I think a moderate, thoughtful leader can keep the party united. I think the NDP is a 60 seat, national party … if they are well led. I think the bloom is off the Trudeau rose and his youth and celebrity status have both worn away.
A rejuvenated NDP and a still strong Liberal Party mean that any of the three might form minority governments until both the left wing of the Liberals and the right wing of the NDP unite and the right wing of the Liberals unites with most of the CPC, leaving us with a four party system and alternating, every couple of elections, majority governments.