Alberta election follow-up

The ThreeHundredEight blog has a follow-up on the recent Alberta election. Key point of interest:

The idea that the PCs and Wildrose share the same voter pool is simply wrong. The right wasn’t divided. Rather, the anti-PC vote was divided between the New Democrats and Wildrose.

I suspect this is a more general phenomenon: when it appears that some party won due to divisions in its main opponent’s base, things are quite likely not as they appear.

4 thoughts on “Alberta election follow-up

  1. If a A + B > C, how can C > B + A also be true? A majority of people did not vote for the NDP, the NDP has a majority of the seats. While I would have voted for the NDP had I had a say, and do think there is some advantage to letting the largest party govern until someone forms a coalition with more support, Albertans did not democratically give the NDP 100% of the power. The system failed the province’s voters.

    • The point is that it is a fallacy to assume that when A wins less than half the votes, it must therefore be true that B and C were a potential majority that failed to coordinate.

      • MSS, well put. One needs to look at both the “quantity” and the “quality” of the split majority. “Quantity”: as with the Double Complement rule for Presidential run-offs, one should compare how far the first party falls short of the 50.01% threshold, against how far the second party falls short of the first.” “Quantity”: how amenable are the second, third and maybe fourth parties to combining in the least draconian way the electoral rules allow? If you’re expecting either Strom Thurman or Henry Wallace to abandon his only chance of election and disband his campaign to help the other defeat Harry Truman, that’s a very long shot.

      • Poll data showing that “a lot of UK Alliance voters would have preferenced the Tories over Labour in 1983 and 1987” or that “a substantial number of Wildrose supporters hate the Alberta PCs even more than the NDP” are sometimes cited to show the superiority of FPTP over preferential and runoff systems.
        I’d argue that they show no such thing.
        On the contrary, they show that am electoral system should not work on the unexamined assumption that every voter who supports the Dark Blue Party would prefer the Light Blue Party over the Orange Party as their second choice.
        Yet, if the second and third largest parties try to combine their strength under FPTP, their only avenue is to run one single candidate per district. If you’re a Dark Blue voter whose second choice is Orange, your own party leadership may be urging you to vote for a Light Blue candidate as your only proper choice. Your only alternatives are to vote Orange directly (in which case the electoral pact will have reduced the allied parties’ combined total of votes), to vote for an Independent Dark Blue breakaway (who will almost certainly lose and provably split the vote in the process), or to stay home.
        Living in Queensland, I can vote several anecdotes of (say) National supporters who will happily vote [1] National [2] Liberal if there is a National candidate on the ballot, but who will vote Labour if there isn’t. They will give a Liberal a second preference, but not a first. Legally incongruous, but it makes a certain psychological sense; there is also the potential obstacle of accepting a “How to Vote” leaflet outside the polling place from a Liberal campaign worker. (Most voters accept a leaflet from every party, to avoid social awkwardness: voters like me refuse them all: only a few take one and reject the others, possibly because that would give away their voting intentions… “Australian ballot”, indeed!).
        The reverse applies mutandis mutates if the Liberals ask their supporters to give their first or second preference to a National. I should explain that three-way politics can get complicated in Queensland because a lot of National supporters (of the Bob Katter stripe) prefer Labor over Liberal on economic issues, whole a lot of Liberal supporters (of the Sue Boyce stripe) prefer Labor over Nationals on social issues. The formation of the merged LNP was supposed to paper over this chasm, and it did succeed stunningly in 2012: but the experiment collapsed after only three years in government).

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