Monday, March 22, 2010

Ontario federal/provincial vote switching: A recent history

Much has been out out of the tendency of Ontario voters to do a switch when it comes time to vote either federally or provincially. That is, they tend as a whole to elect the same party into government provincially as federally. I decided to take a closer look at election results from the late 60's to now, only looking at federal results from Ontario. Some interesting thoughts looking at the graph:
-Twice the Tories have lost the popular vote but ended up with the most seats in the province, the 1985 provincial election and the 1988 federal election.
-For all the talk about the disunited right and vote splitting being a factor in Chretien's victories in the 90's, an overlooked factor is that the Chretien Liberals won a hell of a lot of votes, twice breaking the 50% mark (in 1993 and 2000)
-At the time, many pundits speculated if the provincial Liberals bringing out a budget during the 2004 campaign was a drag on the federal campaign, a closer look at this graph would seem to indicate that in the end, it wasn't a huge factor, Paul Martin got almost the same percentage of the vote as McGuinty had won a year earlier in what was deemed a "landslide", and indeed, while the overall Liberal numbers did dip from 52%, Martin hung on to a bigger number of seats than McGuinty won the previous year.
-Looking at the margins of victory for other governments, seeing the the NDP won a sizable majority with only 37% of the vote speaks to the kinks in the FPTP system, the PC's provincially were unable to climb back into majority status despite winning 40% in 1977.
-It would seem that a very decent chunk of voters do seem to regularly swing between voting for one party provincially and another federally, as the large majorities both Mike Harris and Jean Chretien won in the province would indicate, as well as the massive swings against the incumbents (and the party opposite which held power) that might have played a role in propelling Peterson, Chretien, and Harris into power.
-Last federal election was the first time in nearly two decades that the Liberals didn't win a majority of the seats in the province.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you miss a key part of the theory - being that the Liberal "brand" benefited federally from, among other things, the presence of polarizing Ontario governments throughout the 1990s (both of the NDP and particularly of the Harris variety).