mississauga east cooksville: is it really safe to vote ndp? and other election questions

1. Project Democracy now says my riding is "a safe Liberal seat" and advises, "vote your preference". If I could trust this, I'd be very happy to vote NDP. Can I trust it?

2. Is it possible the NDP will form the Official Opposition? The most recent Ekos poll suggests that is possible. Wow, wouldn't that be exciting! And wouldn't it give Mr. Ignatieff his comeuppance.

3. Why is Election Almanac projecting the Tories at 188 seats?? WTF?


janfromthebruce said...

Vote with your heart - change only comes when one goes with what feels is right!

laura k said...

Thanks Jan, but I disagree. I am going to vote with my head, not my heart. Change happens when we plan for it, work together and create it. Change of government happens when we vote smart.

I hope someone can answer my question before May 2!

Anonymous said...


Interesting stuff. Not pleasant, but interesting.

M@ said...

I would stick with the strategic vote. It doesn't seem like any seat is safe right now.

I was out canvassing on Monday, in a fairly well-to-do part of town. There were some people who were happy to see us, but some... well, it was a cold, cold night at times.

laura k said...

M@, I am leaning in that direction. How could I live with myself if this riding went blue?? It's not worth the risk.

Rachel, thanks for the link! Emily Dee is a great blogger.

DavidHeap said...

I am a bit suspicious of Project Democracy's "neutrality": in London Fanshawe they say it is "an NDP/Conservative fight":


but they don't call for Liberals & Greens to support the NDP incumbent MP, Irene Mathyssen. In Beauport--Limoilou (one of their "key contests") they predict the NDP as closest to beating the Conservative leader, but recommend voting for the BQ candidate (who they project at more than 2000 votes behind the NDP candidate). Doesn't seem rational, given their claimed ABC purpose.

laura k said...

From that link:


"This is an NDP/Conservative fight. The Liberals are drawing about 7,000 votes away from the NDP. New Democrat Irene Mathyssen is best positioned to fend off the Conservatives. She looks safe for now, but check back with us before election day or sign up for updates."

Emphasis mine, but that seems fair to me. If a candidate seems safe, that's what they say. If not, they'll say something like, "Vote splitting in this riding could have tragic results, the NDP candidate is best positioned to beat the Conservative".

I don't see a Liberal Party bias. But of course it's always best to consult many sources if you're interested in strategic voting, as I am.

DavidHeap said...

I have no idea whether the ElectionAlmanac's "uniform swing" methodology is any good, but 188 CON seats must have been a blip: their latest prediction is 141 CON seats (a minority) as of 21.04, down from 181 on 20.04. Most of their daily predictions have the CONs at under 155 i.e. in a minority. WTF indeed, but the wild fluctuations are mostly not suggesting a CON majority.

DavidHeap said...

Irene is not "safe" if Liberal supporters move towards Conservatives. The PD methodology does not explain why some places get a big "our pick" while others don't, nor do they explain their pick in e.g. Beauport-Limoilu.

ElectionAlmanac seems to fluctuate wildly, though most days seem to predict a Conservative minority.

laura k said...

Irene is not "safe" if Liberal supporters move towards Conservatives.

Very true. I can't pretend to understand one methodology from the next. I do like, though, that they provide a pull-down menu of all the different polls, so you can check several sources at once.

I agree that a Conservative majority is highly unlikely. I've been saying that for years. Fearmongering about a majority is fine if it increases voter turnout but I have not considered it a likelihood in a long time.

Not that that makes me feel any better about this horrible government or the almost-equally-horrible Liberal opposition.

DavidHeap said...

I am not really buying this "head-vs.-heart" voting dichotomy, BTW. It falsely implies that taking a stand on principle when you are likely to lose is necessarily a purist "emotional" choice, and that compromising on the lesser evil is always the "smart" thing to do.

Historically, I can remember plenty of appeals for strategic voting that were essentially emotional (i.e. fear of the worse evil), as well as some rational cases for "voting for what I want and not getting it" à la Eugene Debs (these may be fewer, but probably because rational appeals are generally rarer overall...).

In fairness, I think there are (potentially, at least) some head and some heart in both approaches.

And while pushedleft is right to a degree about polls, the truth is that all parties manipulate polls (or at least, try to), including -- quite prominently-- Liberal spin doctors who often attempt to scare voters (more "heart" stuff) into voting for them as less-worse than the CONs. I am not saying this characterizes all strategic voters (Laura being an obvious exception!) but I do think that casting all strategic voting as "head over heart" seriously misrepresents such appeals.

WTCV: welcome to Canadian voting -- doesn't it feel great to be able to have such dilemmas?

laura k said...

David, in all honesty, I just said the heart-vs-head as a reply to JanfromtheBruce. I'm not using it as a guide to how to vote.

I am not making a case for or against strategic voting. I simply feel it is my duty in this election, given where I live, to vote for the candidate most likely to deny the Conservatives a seat. Where I live, that means voting Liberal. I have no illusions about what a Liberal govt would be like. Nevertheless.

I don't try to tell anyone else what to do when it comes to this.

I have to say - and there's no way you could know this - I am so completely sick of people saying "welcome to voting in Canada" and phrases to that effect. It's not like I just dropped down from Mars! I actually come from a system much more fucked up than this one.

Anonymous said...

If you want to take a look at election predictions that are a bit more sound than election almanac, I would suggest :
As far as strategic voting goes, I am quite torn unto what I would do if I could vote. I initially agreed with strategic voting, but now I am conflicted rather this preventive measure actually works, or that it just prevents smart politically minded people from voting for their principles.. Either way, when we final get some electoral reform and have proportional representation we can all vote how we please, with our hears and not our minds. Unless the the two are synonymous.

laura k said...

I should also say, FWIW, that I believe standing on principle when one is likely to lose is often the smarter thing to do. There is no question in my mind about that.

For me personally, voting is not a time to do that. Voting is a pragmatic act. How I vote in this election - either way - won't promote or detract from revolutionary change. But I know I don't want a Conservative MP!

laura k said...

CLH, I look at all of them, every single day. Election Almanac, ThreeHundredandEight, Election Prediction, TooCloseToCall.ca, etc. etc. etc. I'm completely obsessed.

Nitangae said...

My thought on strategic voting in Canada is:

Never vote for an evil candidate (so never vote for the "lesser of two evils").

However, most Liberals are not actually evil, and individual MPs can be quite good. What is your MP like? If he or she is a decent person, vote Liberal with a good conscience. Individual MPs can have influence within the caucus and on the committee, even if their actual vote in the HoC is whipped.

Polls do not work well at the level of the individual riding. That could be part of the reason why Project Democracy still suggests voting BQ in a riding that seems, according to polls, to have a decent NDP movement developing. By the way, I noticed a number of ridings where the numbers seemed to suggest a Liberal vote, but the website suggested NDP - so I don't think it is pro-liberal bias, I think the problem is that they simply don't know for certain and give points for incumbency.

My suggestion - take a bike around your riding and count signs (by houses, not over freeway overpasses), sit in the library or coffee shops and listen to conversations - get an idea of which way which way the winds are blowing. Do they match up with Project Democracy?

Nitangae said...

As for crazy numbers, I am not a political scientist, but with some of the polls suggesting more or less equal numbers for all four parties in Quebec, I don't think anybody knows what the next HoC will look like. A few points up for the NDP in Quebec, a few points down for the Cons in Ontario, and we could have a safe Liberal plurality in coalition with a healthy NDP. Hell, a few points up for the NDP in Quebec and BC, and a few points down for them in Ontario, and we could have the same pleasant result even with a decent Conservative numbers. Yes, wishful thinking on my part. I guess we will have a similar HoC to the one we had before - but I hope for much better and I fear much worse, and will be very nervous until election day.

laura k said...

Nitangae, I agree with you generally, but there's a catch. Your individual MP may be a good person, but if the party's platform has major issues (or worse), the MP will be supporting the platform, and his or her basic goodness won't matter.

There are individual Conservative MPs who are decent people, and many Liberal MPs who are actually progressive, would fit in well with the NDP. But their own personal beliefs will not come into play if their party forms the government.

That's why I consider my Liberal vote in this election a LOTE, even though our Liberal candidate is a very decent person.

laura k said...

but I hope for much better and I fear much worse, and will be very nervous until election day

Same here!!!

Nitangae said...

"Your individual MP may be a good person, but if the party's platform has major issues (or worse), the MP will be supporting the platform, and his or her basic goodness won't matter."

I agree with you, of course. I wouldn't vote for a nice person on the Tory ticket (I don't think that any exist now, actually - but there was a time in Alberta when I would meet a Tory MLA who was not spawn of Satan). But the Liberal platform isn't terrible, the caucus as a whole includes a decent number of very good MPs, and if Peter Fornesca has been helpful on the war resisters, etc., rewarding him with your vote might not be a bad thing. You may even be well enough known that you could drop by his office and tell him or his campaign manager that you are given him your vote just this once :-).

laura k said...

That's a good way to look at it.

I'll be glad if he wins for another reason, too. Our old Liberal MP, Albina Guarnieri, is retiring for health reasons. (Fonseca was the MPP for the riding, Ignatieff tapped him for the federal post.) Guarnieri is virulently anti-choice. She voted for every Tory anti-choice private member's bill, and voted against her own party's maternal health motion. I'm glad she'll be out of the HoC.

Purple library guy said...

It used to be called tactical voting, and that's really what it is. That is, it's an exercise in prioritizing the immediate needs of the current fight as opposed to broader, more long term considerations. This can be justified, but calling it "strategic" gives the impression that it is the only kind of voting that involves thought rather than emotion.

But that's not true. The fact is that even if a party doesn't win a particular seat, the overall number of votes both within a riding and across the country gives an impression of general strength that sticks. If a party gets 20% support, they are in a better position to build, will get more respect, than if they got 15%, even if the seat count is the same. Voting your conscience helps your party build a movement in the medium term. Your individual vote may not matter much to that, but then your individual tactical vote isn't going to win your riding, either. It's when lots of people make the decision to vote tactically or vote for what they want that there is impact.
Personally, I would reserve the option of voting tactically only for ridings where it's clearly important--where the race is definitely close and your preferred party is clearly not in contention. YMMV.

laura k said...

I don't really understand the nuanced difference between calling something tactical or strategic.

Absolutely, it only makes sense in ridings that are in contention, as mine is, along with so many others.

Purple library guy said...

Well, except apparently your riding is a "safe Liberal seat". So you're thinking of voting tactically *just in case*. I feel that the positive reasons for voting your beliefs are significant enough that it's only a good idea to vote against them in very stark situations where it's very likely the worst guys will win if people don't vote tactically. Just "on the off chance" doesn't seem to me a good enough reason--if everyone voted tactically based on distant worries, it would utterly distort the whole system and make it impossible ever to build political alternatives.

laura k said...

I think (although I don't know) that you may be walking into a conversation mid-stream, and so making incorrect assumptions.

Project Democracy now calls my riding a safe Liberal seat. But that's news to me, and to many others - hence this post. All ridings in Mississauga and the rest of the 905s are hotly contested, and this one is no different.

It's good to see PD calling this riding safe, but they're the only source I've seen do so. Not enough to go on.

I am a natural NDP voter, but I will hold my nose and vote Liberal to help deny the Conservatives this riding.

It's not an "off chance" or a "distant worry," it's a very frightenting reality.

You're absolutely right that if everyone voting what they thought was strategically based on misinformation or vague fears, it would destroy political alternatives. I don't think that applies here.