In the last federal election there was much sound and furry over the issue of strategic voting unfortunately signaling nothing. The problem was and is that strategic voting, within first past the post voting system as we have in Canada, makes little sense as a strategy during general elections federal or provincial. However, during By-Elections strategic voting may make sense. Thus it may be the case that a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Liberals in Parkdale-High Park. In what follows we will establish why strategic voting works in By-Elections and may deployed only in a limited sense in General Elections.
Let us take the case of the current By-Election being held in Parkdale-High Park. If we take the results of the 2003 general provincial election the Libs took over 55% of the vote. This could be considered a safe seat if it were determined that similar such results were obtained in the past (which they were). For our purposes what is clear is that the Libs have a strong base of support in this electoral district. In such a case it would be fair to say that voters should vote their party of preferences because even if all parties pooled their votes to single candidate Kennedy would still have won the race.
However if we turn to the latest opinion poll numbers a different logic emerges. The last opinion poll Liberal support was @ 38%, the NDP @ 33%, the Cons @ 19% and the Greens @ just over 10%. In this case either Con or Green supporters could play the role of king maker. Turning directly to the question of whether or not a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Liberals? The answer of course depends on whether or not Greens are more predisposed to the NDP or Liberals. If they are more predisposed to the former then a vote for the Greens, in this case, is a vote for the Liberals. Nothing of course stops the Liberals from deploying the same strategy with Con voters, ie., a vote for the Cons is a vote for the NDP.
In the next part of this article we will demonstrate why strategic voting is less applicable as a general strategy during General Elections.