There is actually a way to guarantee Harper’s defeat. Here’s how:

Ali Kashani, Ph.D.
Oct 6, 2015 · 7 min read

Update (Oct 17): Based on this week’s polls, new information has been added for the following three ridings at the end of the article: Coquitlam — Port Coquitlam (BC), and Essex (ON).

Short version:

We found 16 special ridings that will change the outcome of the election. In these ridings: the conservative candidate is ahead, one of the progressive candidates is a close second, while the other is a distant third but still has enough support to impact the result. Brampton Centre and Prince George are two examples:

Two of ridings that will change the election

In both ridings, the 3rd-placed candidate has little chance of winning but could guarantee the victory of his or her progressive counterpart.

Colour indicates party that would win, if progressive parties cooperate

There are 14 other ridings where the same thing could easily happen. If the Liberal and NDP parties cooperate in all 16 ridings, they will each take 8 seats from the conservatives, stopping the Conservative party from forming the government!

What can you do? Call and email your MPs and spread the word to get Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair to work together for Canada!

A list of MPs you should contact is at the bottom of the article.

Long version:

Recent projections published by the CBC show the Conservative Party winning the election with 122 seats, even though the Liberal party has pulled ahead on popular vote (32.4%). Two thirds of Canadians are seeking change, yet we are two weeks away from another conservative minority government— an undemocratic outcome caused by a dysfunctional electoral system.

Current seat projections if progressive parties do not cooperate. (Oct 5th, Éric Grenier)

There is a way to end this, and it is easier than you think! There is a win-win proposition for both progressive parties, and for the Canadian majority who wants to defeat Harper while still democratically supporting their favourite progressive party.

We can fix our vote-splitting problem and guarantee Conservative defeat, without asking the Liberals or the NDP to concede.

A win-win solution

By latest projections, the Conservatives will win over half of their seats (65 of them) thanks to “vote splitting”. These are ridings that will be won by the Conservatives even though the total progressive vote is more than 50%. The easiest way to change the election result is by getting the progressive parties to cooperate and claim back a small portion of these seats.

The good news is that there are 16 ridings that will swing this election!

Currently, all 16 of those ridings are strongly favouring Conservative candidates. In 8 of them, the NDP is a close 2nd while the Liberals are a distant third. The situation is reversed in the other 8. These are 16 ridings where Liberals and NDP should be working together!

If the Liberal party and NDP cooperate, they can claim these ridings back from the Conservatives, and each can win an additional 8 seats. That means the Conservative party would lose all 16 ridings! One progressive party will form government, while the other will have a real chance of being the official opposition.

With current CBC projections, this is what the result would look like:

Seat projections if progressive parties cooperate in 16 ridings

The 16 ridings that can defeat Harper

These ridings are uniquely important because:

  • Conservatives have a defeatable lead (less than 6% on average).
  • The progressive parties are in 2nd and 3rd places.
  • The party in 2nd-place is significantly ahead of the one in 3rd (19% lead on average)! Therefore, even when factoring in the most extreme polling errors, it is all but guaranteed that the party in 3rd-place is not going to win.
  • Finally, the party in 3rd-place has a sizeable number of votes (18% on average) that can meaningfully impact the election result.

Because it is the right thing to do

The 16 candidates that are called upon to endorse their progressive peers have a unique opportunity to show an exemplary sense of leadership in helping Canada defeat its electoral problem, and possibly its worst prime minister.

Liberals and NDP have spent the last 9 weeks campaigning for change. Now it is time to prove their commitment to it. By supporting the other party in 8 ridings, they lose nothing. And in the process, both gain critical additional seats.

Above all, Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair get to prove that they can put Canada’s best interests above petty politics.

Why this is the most practical solution

Strategic voting is a politically-aware populace’s solution to systematic electoral defects. It requires ground-up campaigns to inform and engage the electorate, and there are now various organizations in Canada doing just that. But it also requires reliable polls to guide the voters.

When it comes to tight races, strategic voters face a number of challenges:

  1. Polling results cannot be trusted when races are within the poll’s historical error margin.
  2. The voters find it particularly hard to vote strategically for a less desirable candidate, especially when their favourite candidate is still within striking distance.
  3. Voters are concerned about throwing their vote away in a failed attempt at strategic voting.

We must acknowledge these barriers when proposing a voting strategy, in order to rally the necessary voter support.

The proposed 16-riding strategy addresses these problems: voters are only encouraged to vote for a less desirable candidate, if their favourite candidate is not within striking distance (even when factoring in polling errors).

This approach only requires the cooperation of 1/5 of one percent of voters (0.18%), and every strategic vote for one party is offset by a vote for the other, thus not changing the overall popular vote outcome. With limited resources for grassroots organization, focusing on a small set of ridings where voters face the least amount of emotional resistance is the most effective way to make strategic voting work in Canada.

Are there moral or legal issues?

Political candidates have frequently stepped aside in favour of other candidates with a better chance of winning. While it is too late to get names off ballots, it is still possible for the 16 candidates who have no chance of winning to ask voters to support their progressive counterpart.

Let’s take action!

First and foremost, we must encourage the Liberals and the NDP to cooperate in the 16 ridings. Calls, emails, and social media campaigns directed at the leaders of the progressive parties are the best ways to advocate their cooperation:

A petition asking party leaders to cooperate has already garnered over 8,500 signatures.

We should also encourage the 3rd-place candidates in the 16 ridings to endorse their progressive peers. You can find their contact info below.

Finally, if you are a voter in these ridings, vote strategically! Share this with your friends and neighbours, and encourage them to do the same.

Ridings to Vote for the Liberal Party

These are the ridings where the NDP supporters must vote for the Liberal Party candidate:

Ridings to Vote for the NDP

These are the ridings where the Liberal Party supporters must vote for the NDP candidate:

Update (13 Oct): New polls show a closer race between the NDP and Liberal candidates. The NDP continues to hold a lead according to polls, but this riding may be a three-way race.

  • North Okanagan — Shuswap (BC)
    Ask Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz to endorse NDP’s Jacqui Gingras:
    Twitter: @CDerkaz
  • Essex (ON)
    Ask Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga to endorse NDP’s Tracey Ramsey:
    Twitter: @AudreyFesteryga

Update (13 Oct): New polls show a closer race between the NDP and Liberal candidates. The NDP continues to hold a lead according to polls, but this riding may be a three-way race.

Special thanks to Nicholas Himmelman, Mohsen Ghafghazi, Oren Shklarsky and Nathan Ozog for their insight and help with the article.

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