Vote Splitting: Fact or Fiction?

by Maurice Michaud
Outremont

The unexpected rise of the New Democratic Party of Canada during the Canadian general election held on May 2, 2011, coupled with the undeniable 2% increase nationally of the Conservative Party of Canada, caused the splitting of 46,496 votes across 14 ridings -- a mere 0.32% of the 14,723,980 valid ballots cast -- and, in the process, gave the Liberal Party of Canada only 34 seats instead of 48 and practically banished the Bloc Québécois from the House of Commons with only 4 seats.

Guilty as Charged!
The 14 ridings "guilty" of vote splitting leading to a majority for the Conservative Party of Canada are:

Had voters in the 14 ridings above not split their votes between the second- and third-place party, there would have been 152 seats for the Conservative Party of Canada (i.e., a minority government). What's more, as the table below illustrates, the spoiler in all but one case was what has been dubbed the « Orange Crush », that is, the unexpected rise of the New Democratic Party of Canada under Jack Layton's leadership. The one exception was where the Green Party of Canada was more competitive than the NDP.

Toronto the Good?
Had those votes not moved, the percentage of votes nationally for the Liberal Party of Canada would have been 19.22% instead of 18.9%. In fact, it is interesting to note that eight of the 14 ridings in question are in the Greater Toronto area, where the rise of the Conservative Party of Canada was aided by the simultaneous rise of the New Democratic Party of Canada in that area. It can therefore be argued that both party leaders who were defeated on May 2 -- Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party of Canada in Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Ontario) and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois in Laurier--Sainte-Marie (Quebec) -- were brought down by the New Democratic Party of Canada which is now the Official Opposition in Parliament -- by vote splitting in Ignatieff's case and directly in Duceppe's case. Less generously, those living outside Toronto who relish making Canada's largest city the scapegoat of all ills in this country could be tempted to blame the 30,706 Torontonians who wanted change but did not vote strategically in their riding, thereby contributing to a majority government by a party that 60.37% of Canadians (including themselves) voted against!

Making Sense of the Numbers ...Realistically
This analysis of the vote splitting that occurred during the 2011 federal election that saw the first elected majority government since 2000 after three consecutive minorities (2004, 2006, 2008) attempts to move away from facile generalizations and calculations. While recognizing that only 39.63% voted for this Conservative Party of Canada majority government, I believe it is disingenous (even though I sympathize with the sentiment) either to merely look at tight races where the Conservative Party of Canada has won, or to lump together votes to the New Democratic Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada to see if their sum is greater than what the Conservative Party of Canada has achieved.

The first approach (looking at tight races) fails to consider voting patterns in the previous election, while this second approach (adding the votes of two parties deemed "similar") is particularly misguided because it assumes that the New Democratic Party of Canada or the Green Party of Canada did not get a single vote in the previous election. Indeed, the current division on the left of the Conservative Party of Canada is nothing like the division that existed on the right of the political spectrum during the period from 1993 to 2003, when the latter was effectively split between the Reform Party of Canada/Conservative Reform Alliance and the Progressive Conservative of Canada (68-80) in a way that the results of the former could conveniently be added with those of the latter. Therefore, this calculator looks at the ridings where:

Methodology

  1. Eliminate the ridings that the Conservative Party of Canada already had.
  2. Eliminate ridings won by the Conservative Party of Canada with 50%+ of the votes.
  3. Based on the previous election results, find the net percentage that "leaked" between second- and third-place parties.
  4. Calculate the number of votes that percentage represents based on the number of ballots cast in this election.
  5. If the sum of the above number and the actual number of votes received by the second-place party is greater than the number of votes received by the Conservative Party of Canada, vote-splitting is deemed to have occurred.
Riding 2011 2008
1. MB - Winnipeg South Centre
Votes: 39939
CPC Bateman, Joyce > 15506 (38.82%)
LIB Neville, Anita > 14784 (37.02%)
NDP Lewycky, Dennis > 7945 (19.89%)
Shift: 5.77% : 39939*0.0577 = 2304 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Neville, Anita > 16438 (42.27%)
CPC Kennerd, Trevor > 14103 (36.26%)
NDP Heinrichs, Rachel > 5490 (14.12%)
2. NB - Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe
Votes: 48724
CPC Goguen, Robert > 17408 (35.73%)
LIB Murphy, Brian > 15247 (31.29%)
NDP Gagné, Shawna > 14053 (28.84%)
Shift: 12.58% : 48724*0.1258 = 6129 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Murphy, Brian > 17797 (39.13%)
CPC Allain, Daniel > 16297 (35.83%)
NDP Bainbridge, Carl > 7394 (16.26%)
3. NL - Labrador
Votes: 10692
CPC Penashue, Peter > 4256 (39.81%)
LIB Russell, Todd [NL] > 4177 (39.07%)
NDP Larkin, Jacob > 2120 (19.83%)
Shift: 1.98% : 10692*0.0198 = 212 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Russell, Todd [NL] > 5426 (70.28%)
NDP Artiss, Phyllis > 1378 (17.85%)
CPC Lewis, Lacey > 615 (7.97%)
4. ON - Don Valley East
Votes: 39212
CPC Daniel, Joe > 14422 (36.78%)
LIB Ratansi, Yasmin > 13552 (34.56%)
NDP Hynes, Mary Trapani > 9878 (25.19%)
Shift: 11.86% : 39212*0.1186 = 4651 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Ratansi, Yasmin > 18264 (48.08%)
CPC McDermott, Eugene > 11777 (31%)
NDP Hynes, Mary Trapani > 5062 (13.33%)
5. ON - Don Valley West
Votes: 53482
CPC Carmichael, John > 22962 (42.93%)
LIB Oliphant, Rob > 22351 (41.79%)
NDP Yovanoff, Nicole > 6280 (11.74%)
Shift: 1.55% : 53482*0.0155 = 829 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Oliphant, Rob > 22212 (44.36%)
CPC Carmichael, John > 19441 (38.83%)
NDP Sparrow, David > 5102 (10.19%)
6. ON - Etobicoke Centre
Votes: 52523
CPC Opitz, Ted > 21644 (41.21%)
LIB Wrzesnewskyj, Borys > 21618 (41.16%)
NDP Rivero, Ana Maria > 7735 (14.73%)
Shift: 6.44% : 52523*0.0644 = 3382 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Wrzesnewskyj, Borys > 24537 (48.85%)
CPC Kuhn, Axel > 18839 (37.51%)
NDP Schwartz, Joseph > 4164 (8.29%)
7. ON - Etobicoke-Lakeshore
Votes: 54520
CPC Trottier, Bernard > 21997 (40.35%)
LIB Ignatieff, Michael > 19128 (35.08%)
NDP Erickson, Michael > 11046 (20.26%)
Shift: 8.6% : 54520*0.086 = 4689 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Ignatieff, Michael > 23536 (46.13%)
CPC Boyer, Patrick > 17793 (34.87%)
NDP McHugh-Russell, Liam > 5950 (11.66%)
8. ON - London North Centre
Votes: 52673
CPC Truppe, Susan > 19468 (36.96%)
LIB Pearson, Glen > 17803 (33.8%)
NDP Gutierrez, German > 12996 (24.67%)
Shift: 7.2% : 52673*0.072 = 3792 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Pearson, Glen > 21018 (39.13%)
CPC Van Meerbergen, Paul > 17712 (32.97%)
NDP Holmes, Steve > 9387 (17.47%)
9. ON - Mississauga East-Cooksville
Votes: 47025
CPC Lizon, Wladyslaw > 18796 (39.97%)
LIB Fonseca, Peter > 18120 (38.53%)
NDP Ahmed, Waseem > 8836 (18.79%)
Shift: 7.43% : 47025*0.0743 = 3494 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Guarnieri, Albina > 20457 (50.16%)
CPC Bhagat, Melissa > 13277 (32.56%)
NDP Balasunderam, Satish > 4632 (11.36%)
10. ON - Nipissing-Timiskaming
Votes: 42271
CPC Aspin, Jay > 15495 (36.66%)
LIB Rota, Anthony > 15477 (36.61%)
NDP Eckert, Rona > 8781 (20.77%)
Shift: 4.92% : 42271*0.0492 = 2080 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Rota, Anthony > 18510 (44.56%)
CPC Sinicrope, Joe > 13432 (32.34%)
NDP Allen, Dianna > 6582 (15.85%)
11. ON - Pickering-Scarborough East
Votes: 47916
CPC Chisu, Corneliu > 19220 (40.11%)
LIB McTeague, Dan > 18013 (37.59%)
NDP Moffat, Andrea > 8932 (18.64%)
Shift: 8.05% : 47916*0.0805 = 3857 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB McTeague, Dan > 22874 (49.69%)
CPC Khouri, George > 14940 (32.45%)
NDP Moffat, Andrea > 4875 (10.59%)
12. ON - Scarborough Centre
Votes: 37967
CPC James, Roxanne > 13498 (35.55%)
LIB Cannis, John > 12028 (31.68%)
NDP Hundt, Natalie > 11443 (30.14%)
Shift: 14.39% : 37967*0.1439 = 5463 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Cannis, John > 17927 (48.68%)
CPC James, Roxanne > 11088 (30.11%)
NDP Hundt, Natalie > 5801 (15.75%)
13. ON - Willowdale
Votes: 53259
CPC Leung, Chungsen > 22207 (41.7%)
LIB Hall Findlay, Martha > 21275 (39.95%)
NDP Mollahasani, Mehdi > 9777 (18.36%)
Shift: 8.15% : 53259*0.0815 = 4341 votes LIB >> NDP
LIB Hall Findlay, Martha > 23889 (48.67%)
CPC Karns, Jake > 15931 (32.46%)
NDP Wallace, Susan > 5011 (10.21%)
14. YK - Yukon
Votes: 13749
CPC Leef, Ryan > 5422 (39.44%)
LIB Bagnell, Larry > 5290 (38.48%)
GRN Streicker, John > 3037 (22.09%)
Shift: 9.26% : 13749*0.0926 = 1273 votes LIB >> GRN
LIB Bagnell, Larry > 6715 (45.8%)
CPC Pasloski, Darrell > 4788 (32.66%)
GRN Streicker, John > 1881 (12.83%)