In my earlier preview of September elections, I noted that the surge in polls for the Conservatives in the Canadian election might lead to the NDP losing votes. It is possible this is happening now.
In recent days, the Liberals have returned to a narrow lead in votes and strengthened their existing seat lead, according to the CBC poll tracker. At the same time, there is a notable dip in NDP votes and seats.
We need to be careful about inferring individual change from aggregate trends. But the most likely cause of what the poll tracker and its seat estimator are picking up is softer NDP voters worried about a Conservative plurality.
Note that this would be strategic voting, but not based on district-level expected outcomes (“coordination”), rather on national-level expectations. “All politics is national”, as Taagepera and I put it in the title of our chapter (10) on predicting district patterns from the Seat Product Model in Votes from Seats.
Here are screen shots from the poll tracker on the morning of 12 Sept.
The challenge for voters who prefer the NDP over Liberals but are motivated more by stopping the Conservatives is that some of them may be in districts where the Conservatives wouldn’t have won anyway. But some of these voters may help the Liberals win a majority of seats—the poll tracker shows this outcome back within its 95% confidence interval. Yet the sort of voter I am describing wound surely prefer a Liberal minority with a strong NDP third-party caucus.
Getting just the right amount of strategic voting is hard when seats are determined one-by-one, but voters key mostly in national expectations. Yet this is exactly the best available information, which voters tend to employ in choosing voting strategy, according not only to the Seat Product Model, but also Richard Johnston’s The Canadian Party System.
It appears the Liberals have regained their stalled momentum and thus Justin Trudeau just might get what he was seeking after all. On the other hand, a short-term trend need not continue, and at the moment the most likely result still seems to be a Liberal plurality of seats.