Just over a week ago, I received a marketing e-mail from a particular Ontario Liberal Party candidate. This particular e-mail was entitled “I lost by 210 votes”.
The author was lamenting, quite rightly, the fact that, in the 2011 election, in a riding where 37,000 people voted, he lost to a Progressive Conservative candidate by only 210 votes.
He went on to say that, if only 211 more Liberal supporters had shown up, he would have won.
In fact, if only 211 people who voted NDP had voted Liberal instead, he would have won.
Even more importantly, if only 106 people who voted PC had changed their vote to Liberal, he would have won.
Why does this matter?
The candidate went on to say that, because the entire Ontario election was so close in terms of number of seats, if he had won his seat, the Ontario Liberal Party would have won a majority victory across the entire province.
That meant that, among 4.3 MILLION voters, the difference between the Ontario Liberal Party being a minority government or a majority government hinged on the votes of ONE HUNDRED AND SIX people who chose to vote Progressive Conservative rather than Liberal.
At first glance, the moral of this story appears to be to get out and vote — a simple plea to the populace to do the right thing and get out there and pick your candidate.
And for that Liberal Party candidate, that was the essence of his e-mail. Please vote. Don’t think someone else will carry us to victory. Be part of the solution. And so on.
But there’s a much deeper message here, one not mentioned by the author of the e-mail.
If you go back and look at the numbers above, you’ll notice that in order for the candidate to have won, he would have needed 211 additional Liberal votes or 211 voters to switch their choice from NDP to Liberal.
BUT, he would have only needed half that many voters (106) to switch their choice from PC to Liberal. Why is that?
This is the essence of what’s called “strategic voting”. Strategic voting is used to try to DEFEAT a particular party rather than to ELECT a specific one.
Let’s pretend that I live in the riding in question.
As a dog owner who recognizes that this Ontario Liberal government has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent dogs and the persecution of thousands more responsible owners, I am committed to removing the current government from office on June 12.
It’s also true that I’m not overly committed to the ideology of any particular party. I tend to judge each individual party and government using the “what have you done for me lately” criteria.
Let’s say that I like the NDP candidate. He’s a nice guy, he seems honest, and, since I’m certainly not going to vote Liberal, I might as well vote NDP. It’s not that I dislike the PC guy, but on a gut feeling, I’ll pick NDP.
Well, in this particular riding, my vote would have HALF the impact of a vote for the PC candidate!
In fact, as you’ll see in a minute, my vote for the NDP would actually help the Liberal candidate win.
Because the Liberal candidate is this riding is not competing against the NDP! I repeat, the NDP is not a threat in this riding!
In 2011, the NDP candidate received 16% of the votes in this riding compared to 40% favouring the Liberal candidate and 40% favouring the PC candidate.
Unless things have changed dramatically in this riding, which rarely happens, the NDP guy is NOT going to win this seat in 2014.
So, if I vote for the NDP, that is one vote less for the PC candidate, who is the only one who has a hope of beating the Liberal. And since we know that the NDP candidate has no hope of winning, a vote for that person is literally a vote thrown away.
I want to stress that I’m not asking people to vote against their conscience. Everything comes down to what’s most important to you.
For some people, the idea of family pets being destroyed because of their looks or sent to research facilities to be experimented on, as well as the long list of lies and corruption consistently produced by the Liberal Party is still less abhorrent than the other potential horrors that the PC party might visit upon Ontario residents if elected and so, they’ll vote Liberal. I get it. I disagree and I think you’re blind to the evils of this government but I respect the choice.
For others who are ideologically opposed to one party, the idea of voting for the “other side” is not even remotely feasible and so they’ll vote for their usual party. I also understand this, especially because the ideologies are so far apart that a person committed to the left cannot possibly vote right and vice versa. I still think you’re better off admitting that your party can’t win that riding and, instead, vote for the party that can beat the Liberal. But I get it.
But there are still a lot of other people who are very upset at the current government and would like to see it disappear. These are the people who need to pay attention to their individual ridings and find out who is competing with whom.
If your riding typically elects an NDP candidate or that candidate typically comes in a close second to a Liberal candidate, then vote NDP. If your riding is typically conservative and the PC candidate has the best chance of winning, then vote PC. If the Liberal candidate is usually a distant third, then feel free to vote for either of the other two.
But please, don’t waste your vote because you didn’t think hard enough or didn’t care. That’s just wrong.
Clicking on the links below will take a total of less than two minutes and you’ll be well on your way to a thoughtful and carefully considered vote.
Here is a link to a summary of every riding’s vote statistics for 2011. It will tell you who won and who was close in your riding.
If you live in any of the following ridings, then you should go to http://www.elections.on.ca/en-CA/Tools/PastResults.htm instead and look for your riding in the 2012, 2013, or 2014 by-election results.
If you don’t know what your riding is, go to http://fyed.elections.on.ca/fyed/en/form_page_en.jsp and type in your postal code.
This next link may be the most important, although I would personally combine it with your riding’s history as well.
Here are the latest voting projections by riding from threehundredeight.com as of June 9, 2014:
Last, but not least, please, get out and vote!