The case against strategic voting in the next federal election

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Pondering
The case against strategic voting in the next federal election

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Pondering

I see this argument raised in so many discussions I thought it worthy of its own thread:

With two national parties trying to court progressives, the scheme of so-called “strategic voting” to defeat the Conservatives has become the battle cry of some. However, putting aside one’s principles and trying to vote strategically often has an outcome far different than what one intends.

The 2011 federal election surely is proof that strategic voting is misguided and counterproductive…..

Elections matter. Polls are increasingly unpredictable. And candidates or parties who argue that you should “hold your nose” and vote based on some calculation of what is “strategic,” are both factually misguided and are asking you to use elections as cynical tools devoid of principles. Both of these aspects are bad for democracy and establishing good government…..

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/09/23/the_case_against_st...

White Cat White Cat's picture

Yes the strategic voting argument is a fallacy.

For one, FPTP vote-splitting means a MINORITY party only needs 39% of the vote to win a fake majority. Vote-splitting can help ANY party to win on 39%.

Second, the neo-con party needs 39% of the RIGHT-WING vote to win. So centrists and left-leaning voters are not going to help them win unless they actually vote for the neo-con party.

Third, Liberals who: a) make the strategic voting argument; b) play the neo-con horror card; and c) go so far as to claim a vote for the NDP is a vote for the neo-con party; are trying to weasel THEIR OWN majority government.

We have a primitive cave-man voting system that allows a party to win all the power on 39%. No use running around like headless chickens. Won't do any good.

The only thing that can be done is to fight for electoral reform. Any kind of electoral reform will end this nonsense. Of course, a lot of foolishness is being spread about that to -- which is to say, 20 years from now we'll still have FPTP and people will still be making the strategic voting argument... 

terrytowel

As I had mentioned before it has worked in the last four elections across the country. The Ontario election and the mayor's race in Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Why not go 5 for 5!

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Wasn't there once a time, in the days of old, when the electorate voted FOR someone, rather than against them?

Seems like for the last decade or two, we've become pretty obsessed, at nearly every major election, with "STOP ________!!!", with that blank to be filled by Harris or Eves or Hudak or Ford, or the other Ford, or Harper or the next bogeyman or whoever.

Maybe we don't need (and maybe don't even want) PR.  Maybe we should just all cast our one vote for the person we LEAST want to see win, and whoever has the least votes against them wins.  Call it LPTP.

NorthReport

Do you see Liberals supporting the NDP in 224 seats? 

terrytowel wrote:

As I had mentioned before it has worked in the last four elections across the country. The Ontario election and the mayor's race in Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Why not go 5 for 5!

terrytowel

NorthReport wrote:

Do you see Liberals supporting the NDP in 224 seats? 

terrytowel wrote:

As I had mentioned before it has worked in the last four elections across the country. The Ontario election and the mayor's race in Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Why not go 5 for 5!

I don't see why the NDP can't turn the tables on the Liberals by saying

If you want to STOP Harper, you cannot vote Liberal.

If Andrea Horwath used that narrative days before Kathleen Wynne did, she would still be holidng the balance of power.

Slumberjack

Mr. Magoo wrote:
Wasn't there once a time, in the days of old, when the electorate voted FOR someone

At least they thought they were.  Nowadays those old fashioned aspirations are generally seen for exactly that, old fashioned aspirations that have gone by the wayside.  The reality that people are coming to terms with is that nothing gets stopped no matter who gets voted in.

josh

I don't see how an argument can be made that a Liberal-NDP government would not move in a different direction than the current government. Which is the author's concluding yardstick.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

terrytowel wrote:

As I had mentioned before it has worked in the last four elections across the country. The Ontario election and the mayor's race in Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Why not go 5 for 5!

As you've been repeatedly reminded, there are no meaningful differences between either Ford and John Tory, so no, it did NOT work in Toronto.  All right-wing mayors are the same.  And what good did it do in Winnipeg? The new right-wing mayor is as bad as anyone else who might have ended up with the job.

Winston

Ken Burch wrote:

As you've been repeatedly reminded, there are no meaningful differences between either Ford and John Tory, so no, it did NOT work in Toronto.  All right-wing mayors are the same.  And what good did it do in Winnipeg? The new right-wing mayor is as bad as anyone else who might have ended up with the job.

I didn't support the new Winnipeg mayor in the election, but I am willing to reserve judgment on him. Certainly so far, he seems a vast improvement on the flagrant corruption of Sam Katz and the abortive, timid ineffectiveness of Glen Murray.

Winnipeg has been thoroughly mismanaged for nearly 2 decades or more. Glen Murray's stupid tax freeze and the absence of any meaningul infrastructure investments, continued under most of Katz' reign, have left the city in a dirty, crumbling mess. This is to say nothing of the myriad social problems that direly need attention.

Brian Bowman may not be great, but he can't possibly be worse than what we've had.

lagatta

Strategic voting is moot in my riding; before it went NDP, it was Bloc, and the Bloc is all but dead. The Bloc still came second in RPP in 2011. I don't see how the Liberals could win here, and the Cons have "marginal-party" status. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandre_Boulerice find all-party results at bottom of page.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
As you've been repeatedly reminded, there are no meaningful differences between either Ford and John Tory, so no, it did NOT work in Toronto.

Prior to the election it was all about "Stop Ford!!!".

If there really are no meaningful differences between Ford and Tory than why do you suppose it wasn't all about "Stop Ford AND Tory!!!"? 

terrytowel

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
As you've been repeatedly reminded, there are no meaningful differences between either Ford and John Tory, so no, it did NOT work in Toronto.

Prior to the election it was all about "Stop Ford!!!".

If there really are no meaningful differences between Ford and Tory than why do you suppose it wasn't all about "Stop Ford AND Tory!!!"? 

If only Olivia Chow said from day one

"If you want to STOP FORD you cannot vote for John Tory"

If she just said that all day, everyday for an entire year she would be mayor now.

Instead her narrative was "Don't vote out of fear"

Which didn't work.

Northern PoV

I agree that "organized" strategic voting sucks. I joined and worked for Catch 22 in 2011 - what a disaster. (I have voted and worked for both NDP & Libs over the years.)

However, every individual voter should be strategic (or perhaps tactical might be more apt) when making choices in the privacy of the voting booth. imho, the "orange wave" spooked just enough "swing" voters outside Quebec to give Harper his majority from 39% of the vote... (and what: 25% of the eligible electorate?)

Quebec voters are more volatile than voters in the rest of Canada. (P. Trudeau to Mulroney to BQ to Chretien to NDP). If they see native-son Justin as the best bet to beat Harper based on the trends outside Quebec, they will vote Liberal en masse.

As Laxer & Caplan both said on this site, this week, there is little difference in policy between the two main opposition parties.

 My strategy is to support the Libs this time around as my best bet to end the national nightmare. 

 

terrytowel

Northern PoV wrote:

 My strategy is to support the Libs this time around as my best bet to end the national nightmare. 

As Kathleen Wynne told Ontario voters last year

"You can vote to STOP the Conservatives. But you can't do that by voting NDP. That actually will not STOP the Conservatives"

Which is how she got a majority.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:

If only Olivia Chow said from day one

"If you want to STOP FORD you cannot vote for John Tory"

If she just said that all day, everyday for an entire year she would be mayor now.

I'm not totally convinced that the Chain of Office was just waiting for whoever managed to say that first.

Saw a great political cartoon during the election: the three frontrunners as familiar comic book characters.

Tory was, of course, Richie Rich, and I laughed.

Doug Ford was shown as Big Moose from the Archie comics, and I laughed.

Chow was shown as Marcie from Peanuts and I said "ouch!" and then laughed.

For the record, I did vote for her, but I don't think that being first to claim the title of "Ford Slayer" would have helped her much, unfortunately. 

josh

Northern PoV wrote:

As Laxer & Caplan both said on this site, this week, there is little difference in policy between the two main opposition parties.

 My strategy is to support the Libs this time around as my best bet to end the national nightmare. 

 

With the Liberals supporting C-51 looks like there may be little difference in policy between the Conservatives and Liberals.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

For most Canadains, spending time NOW , thinking about  switching your vote,in October,  from your  first choice to your  second choice, based primarily on trying  THEN  in October,  to calcutate with somet degree of certainty the odds  switching your  vote would stop Harper,  is a waste of time.

Here is a simple  testi for anyone now thinking NOW  about  "strategic voting" in October - what riding do you live in, what do you MOW predict and with what degree of certainty, do you predict  the outcome in your riding on election day.in October . Then tell us how NOW you can  predict and with what degree of certainty can you preict , that switching your vote on election day in October from your first choice to your second choice, will stop Harper.

.Example:A

No conservative has won the riding you  live in at any time over the last 3 electiions or come close to winning. You  have an  ncumbent of a non-conservative party running for re-electiion. Whether you voted for that incumbent now or in the past, what mates you predict ,NOW ,and with what degree of certainty do you predict NOW  switching your vote  In October , would stop Harper?

Example B

The conservatices have won the riding you live in  the llast 3 elections  with no opposition canciidate coming close. regardless of what party you voted for in the last election, What makes you predict NOW , switching your vote In October, would  stop Harper?

Example C

As of this date it looks very likely to be close  in YOUR RIDING  between the consevative candidate and the candidateor another party  What makes you predict nOW that switching your vote In October , would stop Harper?

 

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

Missing in this dicussion of "strategic voting" is that we are talking of a electoral tool used by all parties

For example, I  have experienced a fari bit of success over the years persuading voters  to switch to their second choice, the NDP, so we can beat the Liberals. My  frend Debater will agree that was a factor in  New Democrat Wayne Marston defeating Liberal Tony Valeri in Hamilton East Stoney Creek

Throw in Justin Trudea and I guarantee you there are  millions of voters across Canada will be willing to at least consider switching thier vote to stop Justin Trudea and the Liberals.

 

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

The best strategic vote against Justin Trudeau is NDP in my opinion.
The Conservatives have done deals with the Liberals. They propped up Paul Martin for example.
Also, if you vote NDP against Trudeau you STOP HARPER.
So NDP is the double strategic vote.
A vote for the NDP is both against the Liberals and Conservatives.

 

terrytowel

montrealer58 wrote:

A vote for the NDP is both against the Liberals and Conservatives.

Like I said all the NDP has to start saying is

"If you want to stop the Conservatives, you cannot vote Liberal"

That simple.

Pondering

terrytowel wrote:

montrealer58 wrote:

A vote for the NDP is both against the Liberals and Conservatives.

Like I said all the NDP has to start saying is

"If you want to stop the Conservatives, you cannot vote Liberal"

That simple.

Not even close to that simple. People would actually have to believe the NDP for that line to work.

Jacob Two-Two

The same strategies that work for the Liberals don't work for the NDP. One of the party's biggest mistakes over the years is thinking they can copy Librral success by aping Liberal talking points and maneuvers. It never works. The dynamics are completely different.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

What works for the NDP is sticking to the issues, and not wavering from its social democratic base. You will definitely stop the Conservatives by voting NDP. You will definitely stop the Liberals by voting NDP. If there is no difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives, why would I vote for the Liberals or the Conservatives? What are you going to do? Balance the budget and throw the economy into a tailspin like Greece? We saw how much suffering the Liberals caused when Paul Martin did that. 

My friend Mark is quite right wing. We share other interests. He has voted for Harper since 2004. He is going NDP. I asked him why. He said,

"Harper is always talking about balancing the budget, but when he needed to spend, he did."

"So that's pretty good for Harper isn't it?"

"Well it's kind of hypocritical because they are always talking about balancing the budget but they blew 40 billion like that."

"So why would you go NDP?"

"Well, Left is spending, and Right is cutting. We need to spend as much as we can all the time. I'll tell you my mother is roling in her grave, but I am going NDP". 

"What about Justin Trudeau?"

"Oh no. He is the AntiChrist. When I see him on TV I get visions of demons from hell."

(My friend is of a Catholic background)

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have any plan for sustained economic recovery. The Liberals and the Conservatives stand for continued austerity. It is not in my interest to vote for either of those parties, and when you do the calculations you will see it is not in your interest, unless you are rich. The Tories only spend, but reluctantly. Liberals like Trudeau and Couillard are just savage neoliberals who will throw you out on the street and put you in jail.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

Remember the right wing pitch: "There is one question and only one quesion you should ask yourself, is the world better off witout Sadam Hussein?.Ywes or No>"This was not a  "question" put out for rational disucioon. This was a blunt object  tool to get segments of the American population   supporting an illegal war or passively  acquiescing in in a decade of occupation. Same with  the call for a strategic vote for whateve party for whatever reason.   General rule: When you hear  "There is one question, and only one question you should ask yourself", - you are being played. Tongue out

 

 

ajaykumar

I doubt anyone ever votes for the Liberals to stop the tproes. In fact, it's to stop the NDP. 

Jacob Two-Two

No that's just people like you. Obviously most Liberal voters don't think like that or the Liberals wouldn't try so hard to sound like the NDP all the time. They have to hide what they really are precisely because they know most of their voters are more in line with the NDP point of view than they are with the true face of the Liberal party.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

If Liberals vote to stop the NDP, they are the same as Tories. The reasons Liberals use to smear the NDP are often the same. Union busting, red-baiting, Jack Layton-baiting, Bob Brays, etc.  We have heard it all.

Pondering

montrealer58 wrote:

If Liberals vote to stop the NDP, they are the same as Tories. The reasons Liberals use to smear the NDP are often the same. Union busting, red-baiting, Jack Layton-baiting, Bob Brays, etc.  We have heard it all.

Do you think of voters as monlithic blocks that parties have control over? Ever heard of swing voters?

adma

Let's remember that the modern "strategic voting" outcry traces its roots to the 1988 "Free Trade" election--an election where, I've long felt, the whole "strategic voting; or, the failure thereof" issue has been wildly overrated, mostly because the free trade issue's been overrated as a factor in voter decisions that year.  It was a referendum on the Mulroney government, and on whether either Turner or Broadbent were ready for prime time.  "Free trade"--other than in some select ridings (and in Ontario, maybe bolstered by the David Peterson honeymoon) was only of much relevance to political wonks.  It's only post facto judgment (in which said wonks are prone to saying "see? we warned you") that has entrenched the central-issue mythology there.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

The NDP had a good case on against Free Trade and it looked like they could beat Mulroney. Then John Turner came and wrapped himself in the Canadian flag, and split off the vote nicely, giving Canada Free Trade, which has been a Liberal policy since the Liberal Party was invented.

Jacob Two-Two

This is why the Liberals are actually WORSE than the Conservatives in the larger analysis. Because not only have they been primarily responsible for the dismantling of the public sector over the last few decades, but because their faux-progressive sheen tends to co-opt a lot of positive activist energy and run it into dead ends, leaving it lost and demoralised. I saw this happen with both Free Trade and the GST, and many smaller issues as well. There is no greater enemy to progressive politics in this country.

Aristotleded24

montrealer58 wrote:
The NDP had a good case on against Free Trade and it looked like they could beat Mulroney. Then John Turner came and wrapped himself in the Canadian flag, and split off the vote nicely, giving Canada Free Trade, which has been a Liberal policy since the Liberal Party was invented.

What's also forgotten is that Quebec was by and large in favour of free trade at the time. In Dead Centre, Jamey Heath argued that many on the right actually wanted the election to be about free trade, because they could discuss policy and keep voters distracted from the fact that Mulroney was running for re-election.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

Mulroney won it on a decent mandate in 1984, even though I did not vote for him. He actually got more than 50% of the vote. He was the first since Dief to do that. In 1988, he was not going to get 50% support for Free Trade. Because of John Turner, he was able to win a large majority on a 40% mandate, jamming Free Trade down our throats as well. You would think that something like Free Trade should at least get the majority of the vote.

Mulroney promises a large restructuring fund for the provinces affected. Ontario loses 1,000,000 jobs just about, and Mulroney does nothing. Not one cent.

In 1993, Chretien promises both to abrograte the Free Trade agreement and to scrap the G.S.T, and gets a massive majority through vote-splitting on the Right and by decimating the NDP. The NDP sinks to 10% or below, with the other "centre-left" voters holding up the left of the Liberal Party, wanting to get rid of the Conservatives.

Perhaps now I hope they realize they were conned by the Liberal Party, and that Justin Trudeau would rather have Eve Adams than them.