Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pollsters See "Co-operation" Merits

There seems to be two parallel conversations occurring, one involving steadfast partisans, the other detached observers with expertise in gauging political realities. Whenever the idea of co-operation, merger, arrangements are raised between the Liberals and NDP, there is hearty blow back and much of it is frankly understandable. However, I note in the last week two prominent pollsters have weighed in with alarming consensus, two firms who's job it is to pour over the data and ascertain political outcomes. As an aside, I've spent some time with electoral maps myself- without including the new pro-Conservative seat allocation- and come to similar conclusions, forever an uphill battle, the numbers are hard to run.

Both EKOS and Ipsos Reid have concluded that "only way" to beat the Conservatives is for the opposition to join together in some manifestation. Of note, the current NDP candidate for leadership with wind in his sails is entertaining just that as the required path forward. As well the leadership favourite is anything but your "far left", if he was running for the Liberal leadership, nobody would question his spectral lean, fit within the supposed "tent" with little effort. That the Liberals currently have a former NDP Premier as their interim leader, and we all think he's doing a terrific job, another indicator that tribal lines blur practical realities.

The pollster view offers a reality check to long odd "scenarios", they have no horse in this race, merely an objective read of the political landscape, one that is also supported by your own analysis. Part of the reason I've moved into the arrangement camp is because of the sober realities Graves articulates. I fully expect merger, co-operation talk, to increase moving forward as we get closer to the next election, for every difference we can highlight, there is also a compelling overlap. As well, any arrangement doesn't constitute the status quo, positions will be tempered, compromise, pragmatism will demand a reworking. This realization is important for those that point to incompatibility, because manifestations would resemble a coalition in spirit, an arrangement which articulates compromise anyways, just another to path to a similar result.

When the dust settles from this NDP race, we may be confronted with certain coherent avenues moving forward. I foresee the Liberal leadership race becoming a potential vehicle for the arrangement proponents. Much is to be determined, but the open primary concept will allow for participation beyond the hardcore partisans, meaning the general public- who are MUCH more open to arrangements- could have input if a candidate makes these ideas a rallying cry. There is a path for a proponent to bypass the narrow tribe contingents and reach out to a more receptive audience.

One thing is clear to my mind, the issues surrounding co-operation aren't going away, if anything I see a growing clamour moving forward. The pollsters are crunching the numbers, they see the daunting gradient, what is required now is some sober reflection, or it's very likely we revisit this conversation post 2015, facing another mandate, almost by divided opposition default, rather than true democratic expression.


Jeff said...

Are these the same pollsters that thought Paul Martin would win 250 seats? That Stockwell Day was an unstoppable force? Stephen Harper unelectable? Are these the same experts that had no clue the NDP orange wave was coming?

Given that they all failed to see the recent political alignment coming, I find it difficult to put much stock into their confident prediction that it shall ever be thus.

I read the Graves article and, in a brief exchange on Twitter, asked him if he'd done any polling to see how a combined LPC/NDP vote would hold up. He indicated that would be interesting, and tricky to do, but he hadn't. But in the absence of that analysis I'm not convinced his thesis is accurate, or even possible.

It's not 1+1=2. You're going to bleed Blue Liberals on the right to the Conservatives, and far-left NDPers will leave with any pull toward the centre. To what degree depends on factors such as the leader, policies, and so on. But look at what happened in the last election. As the NDP began to pull support from the Liberal left and the Orange Wave began, voters also left the Liberal right for the Conservatives making the calculation if the local Liberal is going to lose, they'd rather have a Conservative than an NDPer.

I ramble, but my points are two-fold. One, don't put too much stock in so-called experts. Pollsters can tell us what the situation is now, but they have no more ability to predict the future than a tarot card reader. And two, those that advocate a merger should be realistic in their expectations and realize you can't just add the two numbers together.

Steve V said...

I put some stock in their analysis because it isn't partisan. I've gone through the ridings as well and it's a daunting task for sure. Anything can happen, and sometime does, but if we confine ourselves to probabilities then a divided opposition works to the Conservatives advantage.

I do hear you on adding the numbers together, you could potentially bleed some support, depending on the eventual outcome. It is true as well though, a few Greens could move, as well as potentially tapping into the massive pool of disaffected, stay at home types. The key is pragmatism, any new entity would have to compromise certain positions, which means the current offense would be mitigated. We also can't look at the current political leanings and predict future reactions, given it would amount to a realignment.

If we wake on Sunday with a guy the Cons courted as NDP leader and the former NDP Premier in leading the Libs, one has to wonder what all the fuss is about when you get right down to it.

Omar said...

I am a fan of cooperation if not outright merger, but here in my riding of West Nova such a move would likely see Greg Kerr elected by an even larger margin. Here, the NDP are, unfortunately, that un-electable. Nope, dislodging the incumbent in this part of NS will require a fresh Liberal face for the riding (Robert Thibault was certainly not that) and a leader that people want to get behind. I know it's a contentious thing to say, but I'll say it again anyway, Bob Rae would be such a leader for many Atlantic Canadians.

Jerry Prager said...

Since Gladstone and Disraeli, there has been a Liberal Conservative parliamentary tradition in Westminister government, especially here in Canada, where we do everything more British than the Brits: we need a Democratic Liberals, because the only place Liberal Conservatism goes is towards corporatism.