Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ooh, more data on the merger idea

..but before I get to that, I'd like to take a purposeful digression to Dan Arnold's Mark piece about rebuilding the Liberals out west:
But there’s no reason the Liberal party can’t compete in large- and mid-sized cities in the four western provinces. The same types of people who vote Liberal elsewhere – older women, immigrants, well-educated Canadians – all live there.

And if you think westerners are just more conservative in nature, try telling that to the recent NDP governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and B.C. Hell, Edmonton is nicknamed “Redmonton” by Albertans.
I respect anyone who's willing to grapple with the fact that, yes, the Liberals are substantively unpopular in many parts of the country and this is not solely due to NDP intransigence.

That said, Arnold makes a little crack at the merger hubbub at his blog:
I foolishly overlooked the idea of blowing up the party as a solution, suggesting instead that the Liberals need to expand their support base outside of the GTA.
I noticed this only because there's yet another poll out about an NDP/Liberal merger, coalition, or cooperation of some kind. Harris-Decima has a poll (PDF) showing that:
  • 14% of Canadians support a post-election coalition between the parties
  • 13% support a merger before the next election, and
  • 28% support an electoral non-compete agreement.
I kind of feel like an electoral pact is sort of like a gateway drug to an eventual party merger: get your voters used to the idea of one slate of candidates, even if they technically have different party names.

More intriguingly, throughout the west there seems to be a correlation between support for merger and support for an electoral pact: in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, the numbers are pretty close with the caveat that Alberta's higher Conservative numbers bring the "no cooperation at all" numbers higher than elsewhere. British Columbia looks a lot closer to Ontario, perhaps because the two provinces aren't quite the electoral wasteland for the Liberals as the stretch between Thunder Bay and the Rockies.

Arnold may have only been making a joke, but I'd bet he's actually very correct: the stark choice is either rebuild Liberal numbers in AB/SK/MB or see some kind of merging of the parties.

1 comment:

Michael Watkins said...

I read that article and agree with one part of the premise - the Liberals are at a disadvantage because they've lost connection with the west. That has been going on for a very long time. The NDP in BC have been the beneficiaries.

Vancouver, the last bastion of Liberal seats here in BC, could easily shed one Ujjal Dosanjh, but potentially even Joyce Murray depending on how the national campaign goes. In both cases they won't be replaced by NDP candidates.

Murray won with 5000 votes in 2008, a vast improvement over 2006 where she squeaked by with only 151 votes. I attribute that to better organization and no baggage hangover.

Dosanjh on the other hand, has baggage, and he would not be confirmed until not one but two judicial recounts were done, winning by the slimmest of margins (two dozen votes or so) against... a formidable opponent with strong ties to the community and a huge profile in BC.

Ok, that last phrase was made up. Ujjal's 2008 opponent was complete unknown, who was kept hidden from the media for the entire campaign.

You could feel the shift in attitudes all over the city during that election. Even in my riding, which hasn't legitimately elected a conservative since the 1950's, a total unknown who doesn't even live in my ethnically diverse riding managed a hugely surprising showing, almost coming in second place.

Nothing Mr. Ignatieff has done or said makes me believe they are better prepared this time. It isn't so much whether Iggy is better or worse than Dion but that vote preferences on a regional basis are split between two, or three, parties in the centre to centre left. We have no one to turn to form a government on our behalf, so we vote candidate, protest, or strategically (which doesn't work in practice).