Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Campaign Update: The Feel on the Street

As of September 29th there are only 20 days left until the election comes to a conclusion. Despite the length and complexity of the campaign it is soon coming to a close. As we approach election day much of my efforts have shifted into organizing and canvassing neighbourhoods. I won't go into depth about the strategy of the campaign because that's our business, but as I canvas neighbourhoods I am noting patterns that I figured I could share.

The vast majority of voters I encounter fall within two camps. First are the committed Conservatives. They are a minority overall but of the voters who are determined to vote a particular way they are definitely the largest group I talk to. People who are voting Conservative know they are voting Conservative. After all the bad news for Conservatives they are down to their very base of support. The second group is far larger and far more difficult to deal with. They are left-leaning undecideds. Now they are not necessarily 'left-leaning'. These people could have no expressed political ideology. On our canvassing I often remark to my companions "another ABC" code for Anybody But Conservatives. Anti-Conservative or Anti-Harper voters are thick on the ground on Brampton, but have not yet decided where to leap.

Obviously this does not describe all voters. Many are utterly undecided and willing to consider all parties. Others are committed Liberals or New Democrats.

What's heartbreaking to me as I knock on these doors is that many want to vote for the NDP, but are too scared to. They cannot, in their minds, risk voting for the NDP for fear a Conservative might win. Strategic voting will play a big role in this campaign, which in many ways is unfortunate. Strategic voting is always questionable to me. It presumes that everyone else isn't acting the same and that you have absolute knowledge. It relies heavily on polling information and worse still, projections.

Let's use a riding in Brampton as a case study. Brampton East was narrowly lost by the NDP in 2011 and was won provincially in 2011 and 2014. Yet a website advocating strategic vote suggests that ABC voters should vote Liberal. This hardly makes sense to me.

Not to mention, if strategic voters want to avoid having to make these decisions in the future shouldn't they support the NDP and bring an end to the First-Past-the-Post system that creates the need? The Liberals have no interest in reforming our electoral system.

Most voters I am meeting are undecided. Their votes are very much up for grabs. The election and polls could swing wildly as we approach the final vote. In the meantime I'll keep chipping away and turn Brampton South orange.

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