Pundits’ Guide responds – corrected

In our ongoing tussle over the nature of vote-splitting and whether it can be said to account for the Harper majority (earlier installment here and on Twitter), Alice Funke of Pundits’ Guide has kindly supplied the requested table of ridings where incumbent Liberals lost to the Conservative Party of Canada, and where the margin of victory was smaller than the increase in the NDP vote.


[Contrarian reader Joey Schwartz noticed an error in the first version of this chart, which Funke has NOW corrected. My thanks to both.]

In all, 15 seats meet my criteria, enough (if one accepts some assumptions Funke rejects) to reduce the Harper seat tally to a 151-seat minority.

Alice and I differ as to whether this is a valid rough-and-ready measure of seats where vote-splitting by progressives cost Liberal seats. She points out that in one of these seats, Yukon, the Greens placed third, and their vote rose more than the NDP. In nine six others, the CPC vote rose more than the NDP. The Liberals had already lost one seat, Vaughan, in a byelection, and voter turnout increased across the board.

I acknowledge the likelihood that a lot of Liberals and 2008 non-voters swung to the CPC in 2011; my argument is that enough Liberals swung to the NDP in these ridings to facilitate a Harper majority. As with all counterfactual arguments, it’s a matter for debate. Funke  responds (after the jump):

Where did the Conservative gains come from, then? You seem certain that Liberals defected to the NDP, but who defected to the Conservatives? The Conservatives gained votes in every single seat studied. And turnout went up (this is what it means when NV has a negative value on the spreadsheet). The Liberals lost seats in Ontario, because they lost votes. And I contend that they probably lost most of them to the Conservatives, not to the NDP.

And I contend they lost enough to the NDP to give the CPC the seat — a vote split, in other words.

I wrote:

Such shifts are, to a large extent, hypothetical. The electorate in each riding has changed in the two and a half years since the last vote. Some voters have died, others have come of age, moved in, moved out, attained citizenship, etc. In both elections, many voters stayed home for a multitude of reasons.

Funke replies:

No, in 2008 many voters stayed home. In 2011, turnout increased, and did so in all the seats that the Liberals lost to the Conservatives.

The turnout did rise in 2011 over 2008, but in both elections, lots of voters stayed home, for many reasons.

I wrote:

Those who voted Liberal in 2008 but deserted the party this year may have moved to the NDP, the Harperists, or the Greens—or they may have stayed home altogether. Attempts to parse these shifts without detailed exit surveys are a mug’s game, and given voters’ notoriously faulty reporting, they are problematic even with exit surveys in hand.

Funke replies:

In fact, we will probably have reports on the Canadian Election Study data at The Learneds this summer, and then have access to the raw data a year from the election. In the meantime, the poll-by-poll results will be published, and some correlations will give more evidence. It’s not like I haven’t run those correlations in the past myself, and have some idea of what I’m talking about.

Funke knows a ton. I should get points for courage, debating her on this stuff.

I wrote:

But in a highly polarized electorate, where the defunct centre right party has been taken over by the hard right, and where the centrist party in steep decline, it?s legitimate for progressive voters to worry that a shift of anti-Harper votes from Liberal incumbents to NDP also-rans could have the unintended effect of letting Harper candidates slip up the middle to victory.

Funke replies:

You may worry about it, but you need to acknowledge that many Liberal voters in Ontario likely switched over to support that very government, as well.