Wednesday, September 30, 2015

So, Is "Strategic Voting" Still a Thing?

Back at the beginning of the federal election campaign, Tom Mulcair's New Dems enjoyed a commanding lead and seemed poised to become our next government.

Back at the beginning of the federal election campaign, New Dems were ardent champions of "strategic voting." The idea was that Libs and Greens should throw in with the NDP because of the imperative need to absolutely rid Canada of Stephen Harper.

We don't hear the clarion call to strategic voting much these days. I suppose that might have something to do with how strategic voting tends to favour the party leading in the polls. No one understood that better than Green Party supporters who were routinely castigated with claims that supporting their party meant supporting Shifty Steve Harper.

I suppose it doesn't help much that Tom Mulcair is back in "attack the Libs" mode, the now shopworn tactic introduced by Layton that treated the Liberals as the NDP's Great Satan no matter how that played to the direct and powerful benefit of the Harper Conservatives.

Mulcair is running to salvage second place. That's many things but it's not running to win. If one guy, Trudeau, is running to win and the other guy, Mulcair, is running mainly to stop Trudeau, then the rationale for strategic voting is flushed straight down that big orange toilet bowl.  Sort of reminds me of that fable of the scorpion and the frog.


Owen Gray said...

No one seems to believe in doing "a far, far better thing," Mound.

ottlib said...

Mr. Mulcair is fighting for his own political survival.

If the NDP slips to third place in this election the party will turf him and he will actually have to go and find a real job since all other avenues for continuing a political career will have been closed off.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, even I was wrestling with it until recently. Much as I wanted to vote Green I thought maybe I should hold my nose and vote NDP to get rid of the Conservative. Then I read the Mulcair interview in the Vancouver Observer and realized that he's really for pipelines after all and my mind was made up.

Now, however, Mulcair is campaigning against Trudeau and giving Harper something of a pass. It's back to the old NDP of the Martin and Ignatieff days. He's campaigning for second place and we've seen what that's done to Canada over the past decade.

Enough of this strategic voting nonsense. When the chips are down you get to see the real face of the NDP.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Ottlib - your take on this mess does seem realistic. How would he service all of those mortgages on his home if he's put out on the street?

Scotian said...

I've been consistently saying the Libs are the only real choice for removing Harper, and I've been saying that since Martin's time, because that is how the voting patterns of this country have led me to think! This is the first election in almost 20 years where I am actively supporting a national party and leader because I actually am supporting them on policy grounds, as I've noted before I am usually a more indifferent swing voter that tended to make up his mind as much on local candidate as anything else, but not this year. Nope, I've maintained all along the only trustable way to remove Harper is to vote Liberal and Trudeau, whatever you think of Trudeau he will be so much less dangerous than anymore Harper this should be a no-brainer even for progressives who normally hate the Libs, especially when they look at their own so called progressive NDP and Mulcair and see a Liberal or worse Red Tory in Orange clothes whose ONLY real priority is his lust for power.

I too have also noticed the sharp decline of those Dippers saying we must unite for the good of the country or else be traitors that said Dippers were throwing around with such carefree abandon from June to the last few weeks, which again shows it isn't about those values and principles they love to declare their white horse nobility claims about, it is all about expediency and power, but they, unlike the Libs, want to tell us it is raining while they piss on us in this regard. I mean I know why you left the Libs, and Ignatief nearly put them beyond my ability to ever stomach again too, so I get it, but for me as someone whose main priority for well over a decade has been to oppose/stop Harper i have to go with the path I see as most probable and realistic, and this election, as in 2005,08,11, that is yet again the Libs.

I do love your use of the frog and scorpion analogy here though, it really does show the ugly truth and reality of who the modern NDP truly are when you remove all that progressive make-up and see the real nature of the beast within. They truly are these days the dark reflection of the Harperites in terms of how they approach politics, and that in itself should be enough to disqualify them for any sane sensible centrist or real progressive that practices what they preach who wants Harper gone. We shall see how mny of those are out there come election night.

CuriosityCat said...

MoS, this time around we all need to think in terms of priorities. Given the chance that Harper might still gain a majority (remember: polls always underestimate true Tory support by 2% to 4%; given that Harper core supporters are in the oldest age brackets and turn out in high percentages to vote; given that the support for the LPC and NDP is spread more evenly in all age brackets, including strong support in the younger ones (the majority of whom do not turn out to vote), it is still possible to have Harper safely esconsed for four more years as prime minister, with all the power our PMs have. Do we want this to happen? If we don't then we should all vote - and encourage everyone else to vote - in such a way in our ridings that any sitting Conservative MP is defeated. Having an NDP MP or a Liberal MP replace a sitting Conservative MP is a definite plus for our country. And then we can exert pressure on Mulcar and Trudeau to make a minority government work, including substantive electoral reform as the first order of business. So, even if it means we have to hold our noses, let's retire Harper first.

Anonymous said...

LOL. This silliness demonstrates The Angry Mound is a rabid anti-NDPite!

For one, non-partisan anti-Harper types are ardent champions of strategic voting. Partisans of all stripes are typically opposed, including NDPers.

Two, both Mulcair and Trudeau are critical of each other's policies. That's what election campaigns are all about. Trudeau, for example, said he can't form a coalition with Mulcair because he's "too interventionist" in the economy.

Three, the frog and scorpion reference is a non sequitur. Which just goes to show The Angry Mound is running out of crap to throw at Mulcair!

Remember kiddies: this is your brain on a life-time of politics. Just say No to politics!

The Mound of Sound said...

Nice try, Anon. The Liberals are going after Harper. The New Dems are going after the Libs. Same old, same old. The Liberals are in it to win. The Dippers are in it to see the Libs lose.

Purple library guy said...

It doesn't amaze me that you dislike Mulcair--I'm deeply unhappy with him on a number of fronts myself--although it kind of makes me wonder when you seem to hate the NDP overall much more than you hate the Cons. But it does amaze me that you can spin for Justin Trudeau. The man has become better at campaigning, but the better he gets at it the more clear it becomes to anyone looking at what he actually says and does that he's an empty suit whose pleasant, and sometimes dramatic, demeanour does little to conceal a complete lack of principle. But sure, back Mr. C-51 even though you know perfectly well that the day after the election he'll go back on anything he ever said that might prove remotely inconvenient to anyone with money and power. Just don't come whining to me when he and the Cons get together to pass more hard-neoliberal crap. Really, for a "disaffected" Lib, you always seem to make plenty of excuses for the bastards.

I didn't back strategic voting from the beginning, partly for ethical/political reasons, partly because I didn't think it was necessary, partly because I didn't think it would work. But this post doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. Obviously, if Mulcair had made a call for strategic voting early in the campaign and the electorate had somehow all heeded him, Harper would currently be poised to win a few seats in Alberta and virtually none anywhere else. That's how our system works. There is only one thing that will ever stop all the strategic voting talk and the sense that a vote for the Greens is wasted: Proportional representation. And there is only one thing that's going to produce that result: An NDP win. So your tendency to go out of your way to sabotage the NDP above all other parties strikes me as shooting yourself in the foot somewhat, but whatever.

The Mound of Sound said...

PLG - Make no mistake, I don't compare any party to the Conservatives. I'd far sooner be governed by Mulcair than Harper. That said I know I'd never support the policies Mulcair endorses - his one-sided position on Palestine, his fondness for free market fundamentalism and the trade agreements that leave us hogtied, his support for dilbit pipelines and the Tar Sands. Basically he supports the same things I despised in Ignatieff. As for Junior at least he wants to get the government investing in badly overdue repair and rehabilitation of our national infrastructure even if what seems like extravagant budgeting is actually inadequate to the task. Both TM and JT support electoral reform despite what so many New Dems may claim.

The cardinal distinction between the two, to me anyway, is that Trudeau is challenging Harper, not Mulcair. The NDP leader, by contrast, has fallen back into the Layton mold of attacking Trudeau when his efforts should be focused on defeating Harper. Dippers, like friend Anon, justify this lapse on the gossamer thin excuse that Mulcair is rightly arguing the policy differences between the NDP and the LPC. At one time that would have been a perfectly valid argument but not in today's Blairified NDP.

Purple library guy said...

I have not so far seen such a contrast. To the contrary, it seems to me that Trudeau has attacked Mulcair a good deal, and probably more than the reverse. You are still wearing your Liberal glasses, frankly. And you know perfectly well that Mulcair's slide in the polls that you're gloating about hasn't been due to anything either of us don't like about him, it's been almost entirely due to the niqab thing. If it comes down to that, Mulcair's political epitaph would be written in better terms than I would ever have expected: "RIP Thomas Mulcair, refused to be racist enough". Are you really enthusiastic about wielding that particular shovel?

The Mound of Sound said...

You may not have seen it, PLG. The CBC certainly has:

I don't know that I'm wearing anyone's glasses. Are you sure you're not?

Anonymous said...

Here's an excerpt from Maclean's suggesting Trudeau is getting revenge by attacking Mulcair (it would appear people are more sensitive to what an attack is when they are directed at their party):

He began with a truncated version of his standard campaign stump speech: After 10 years in power, Stephen Harper is “out of touch with Canadians” and “won’t help Canada’s middle class in any meaningful way.” And if Harper “won’t help,” then the NDP’s Tom Mulcair “can’t help, because he’s signed on to Stephen Harper’s budget.” This was a reference to Mulcair’s insistence that he will run balanced budgets if elected. The vow has severely constrained the NDP leader’s ambition, because Harper has taken care to leave very little taxpayer money in the kitty in case of defeat.

Trudeau, on the other hand, is promising a series of “modest” $10-billion deficits. It gives him room to make more extravagant promises, as he is careful to remind crowds at every stop. “Canadians need help now,” he said, “not two or three elections from now. We’ll start by making the most significant investment in infrastructure in Canadian history.”

Trudeau takes great pleasure in depicting his opponents as interchangeable. “Harper and Mulcair want to keep sending cheques to millionaires,” he said. “We have different priorities. We will use that money to lift 315,000 kids out of poverty.”

There is a measure of revenge in Trudeau’s habit of painting the Conservatives and NDP as birds of a feather. For a decade, under Harper and Jack Layton, the two parties executed a squeeze play on the Liberals, gaining support at every election from 2004 to 2011, while the Liberals lost, in instalments, about 80 per cent of the ridings they held when Chr├ętien was the party’s leader.

The Mound of Sound said...

I believe you're right. Canadians have endured a decade of Conservative-NDP collusion for their mutual benefit. Layton didn't mind empowering Harper when it promised a path for the New Democrats to advance. He didn't mind when it facilitated Harper's majority. Now Mulcair doesn't mind giving Harper a leg up in the late stages of this election.

Scotian said...


Mulcair's slide in the polls since the start of the election started well before the Niqab issue flared up again, and I would chalk it up to not having a positive vision message and spending too much time being petty Tom against Trudeau instead of visionary Tom who will take us down a different road than Harper. It should be noted that one of Trudeau's favourite and best attacks in this election is based directly on the Mulcair NDP decision to sound the same as Harper of deficits and worse to use the Harper budget numbers as their baseline for costing despite those numbers clearly being way out of touch with reality. Now, the Niqab issue has made it worse for Mulcair, but it was not the beginning of the problem, not at all.

Mulcair in many ways seems to be taking the wrong lessons from Horwath so far and let Trudeau appear as the real agent of change. It's as if the NDP thought that C51 immunized them from having to worry about that happening so they decided to aim for the centrists they must have to form government and take for granted the support of the left/progressives because of C51. I said repeatedly prior to this election that the NDP would need more than C51 to really have a serious chance at winning, and aside from childcare that is 8 years away Mulcair has left very few policies that appear to be sticking in the minds of most voters who aren't political junkies, and has been leaving the impression he is much like Harper on things like the budget and the F35. THAT is what is truly behind the Mulcair slide from being in first place at the beginning of this campaign, and it is letting Trudeau take over/back the mantle as the change agent that brought the Libs back into the game, and it is also the inability of Mulcair to "wipe the floor" with Trudeau in the debates that is another factor. Especially that last debate where Trudeau was supposedly at his weakest since you had to show you could think on your feet and not be able to rely on any notes, unlike the other debates, and yet Trudeau showed that at the minimum he could fully hold his own there.

These are the reasons for the Mulcair/NDP slide and Lib rise more so than the Niqab. That issue clearly is helping the CPC and BQ rise unfortunately, but the main problems for the NDP and Mulcair are clerly self inflicted.