To do this on an individual riding basis the following pattern would have to be demonstrated:
- The defeat of an ostensibly popular Liberal incumbent,
- A decrease in the overall vote totals from historical levels,
- A drop in Liberal vote in line with this decrease (indicating a poor Liberal voter turnout),
- A change in Conservative vote that is not commensurate with the drop in vote totals (indicating a reliance on their base support) and
- A relatively minor variation in the non-Liberal voters indicating that the suppression of the Liberal vote was effective)
First the numbers as supplied by YDD:
So let us look at the criteria on a point by point basis:
1. It appears that Mr. Telegdi was a popular incumbent based on the previous voting patterns and is therefore a good candidate for this type of analysis.
2. As seen from the plot below, there was a steady increase in K-W voter turn-out until this last election. Further to YDD's point that the vote total had increased by 15% from 1997 through 2008, it is noteworthy that the vote increase from 1997 through 2006 was 26.2%. This is very much in keeping with the 22% increase in population mentioned in the original post. This makes the drop in turnout for 2008 very striking.
3. As can be seen below, the Liberal turnout was increasing in proportion to the voter turnout until this last election. Then it followed the trend of the overall turnout. The percent change is, as would be expected, exacerbated by the drop in turnout being concentrated in Liberal core support.
4. As the following graph indicates, the overall Conservative vote totals and percent of the overall vote shows minor growth in line with the growth in population of the riding overall. It would appear that 20,000 votes is a good approximation of their base in the riding. The 2008 Conservative vote is only 8.9% above the average of the previous totals. It does not signal an electorate keen to oppose the Green Shift. This is an indicator that their core vote has likely peaked. This is also indicated by the drop in Conservative popular vote as the riding population increased.
5. The graph below shows the relative effects on voter turn-out for the Liberal and non-Liberal vote. It would be expected that a campaign strategy aimed at suppressing Liberal voters would impact the other parties somewhat but it is apparent that the brunt of the suppression was borne by the Liberals.
The result in Kitchener-Waterloo provides evidence that the Conservatives were able to defeat a popular Liberal incumbent in a "safe" seat through the use of voter suppression tactics. Unlike the application of this strategy in the U.S., there are no indications that illegal means were used*. The point is that if they were successful this last time, we can expect them to follow up with more of the same. If the Opposition parties try to engage the Conservatives in a conventional debate during the next election there is no reason to expect different results. A strategy to counter-act voter suppresion tactics must be developed to defeat the Conservatives. Particularly in "battleground" ridings.
Update: Misspelling of Mr. Telegdi's name corrected. *Unless evidence connecting the Conservative campaign to the vandalism and brake line cutting comes to light. There is none at this time. If there is a connection, I will not be surprised. Targetting a few members of a group to cow the entire group is a well known intimidation tactic.Recommend this Post