Saturday, October 08, 2011

Ontario's Back to the Future Election

It was a strange night on Thursday as Ontario re-elected Dalton McGuinty's Liberals to another term at Queen's Park. Much has been made that the majority is over and that the Premier should be chastened by the result. Yes, McGuinty lost votes from his obliteration of the inept John Tory in 2007. It would have been virtually impossible for a Liberal leader to do better than he did 2007. If the Grits had won 3 more seats and were sitting with a relatively stable majority, this would be viewed as a win of historic proportion. Even without the majority it is still an historic win. Historic, yes, because the last Liberal leader to do it was the great Oliver Mowatt but mostly because it represents a real defining moment not for the Liberal Goverment but for the Progressive Conservative opposition.

Tim Hudak had an awful night on Thursday. He had the extraordinary good fortune of having the extremely low benchmark of John Tory to exceed. Otherwise, Tim Hudak would have probably had to resign last night. He isn't under tremendous pressure today because PC's are content to have a leader who was at very least able to unite his party's base behind him. The base came out in droves. The Tories were able to win huge victories in rural Ontario on the strength of Hudak's anti-Green energy act platform. Absolute majorities (over 70% for John Yakabuski) in rural ridings helped prop up the PC's share of the popular vote. What it masked was a disastrous night for Tim Hudak's Tories in the GTA. The Tories failed to win a single seat in Mississauga or Brampton. They didn't come close in Toronto. This isn't a coincidence. Tim Hudak ran a campaign targeted in Rural Ontario and won in Rural Ontario. He failed to speak to urban voters and lost decisively in the GTA. As the Premier said, Hudak seemed to want to take the province back to some point in the golden past. This wins votes on the farm, not in the city.

Why is this such a disaster? Well, the 2011 census is now complete. Since the provincial legislature south of the French River is dictated by how Elections Canada draws the new federal maps and Stephen Harper has promised Ontario a more accurate slice of the pie in the new alignment, there will likely be a whole bunch of new ridings on the electoral map come sometime in 2013, 18 more according to one Harper plan. These ridings won't be in a farmer's field either. According to the projections I ran last year, 10 of the new ridings will be in the 905 largely in Mississauga, Brampton and Markham (three places the Tories didn't win a seat). Another couple ridings will be in Toronto itself. That leaves just six ridings outside of the GTA versus twelve within. This means that if the same election results were played out on the new map, the Liberals would probably have the majority they crave.

1 comment:

Political Outsider said...

Check out this proposed federal map:

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