Monday, October 23, 2006


I don't know too much about American electoral politics, so I found the ballot for the 8th district of Massachussetts interesting for a variety of reasons. However, the detail that most surprised me was the contest for the 8th district House of Representatives seat. The candidates are:

Michael E. Capuano - Democrat, and Laura Garza - Socialist Workers Party. That's it; no Republican.

It strikes me that this is roughly the equivalent of the Conservative Party not running a candidate in Trinity-Spadina. The point of interests is that in Canada any (federalist) political party that wishes to be taken seriously nominates candidates in every federal riding, regardless of how unlikely they are to win that riding. To not run a candidate in every riding would be seen as undermining the legitimacy of the party's claims to national representation.

Why is this not the case in the U.S? Is it a matter of the greater number of electoral contests each year and the need to focus resources on winnable races?

(Link via The Tiger in Exile)

Posted by Matthew @ 9:38 p.m.

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Well Massachusetts is about as blue a state as they come.

Interestingly the Democrats are running a full slate of candidates which is something they don't normally do. With the GOP running behind, the result is that the Dems have a chance for pickups and are pulling financial resources away in alot of races that the Republicans would normally have available for targeted races.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ October 24, 2006 12:25 p.m. #

Can we think of an example of a Canadian riding that neither one of the two leading national parties has any fathomable chance of winning? I don't just mean very unlikely, but beyond the realm of reason. For intance, I think the Tories could conceivably win Ottawa-Centre, even though they would only do so in the event of a 175-odd-seat majority. Are there ridings where one of the major parties runs fifth or sixth - behind not just the NDP and the Greens but the Marxists, etc?

I think such a riding would be the appropriate comparison to the Massachusetts 8th, though I don't actually know anything about that district. I guess my point is that I get the impression that Canadian ridings - and there are fewer of them in any case - are more winnable than American districts, particularly given the level of gerrymandering in the states.

Posted by Blogger Mader @ October 24, 2006 1:07 p.m. #


Good point about the relative winnability of Canadian ridings.

I investigated your question, based on the returns of the last election, looking for ridings that were won by large margins and in which either the Liberals or Conservatives finished fourth or lower outside Quebec and fifth or lower in Quebec (to account for the Bloc, obviously).

There were two results for each party, plus a dis-honourable mentions for the Liberals.

First the Conservatives:

Laurier-Sainte-Marie (Quebec)

This is Duceppe's riding, and incidently, my riding when we were at McGill.

Gilles Duceppe, BQ - 54.6%
FranÁois GrÈgoire, NDP - 16.6%
Soeung Tang, Liberal - 12.4%
Dylan Perceval-Maxwell, Green Party - 8.3%
Carlos De Sousa Conservative, - 6.3%
Nicky Tanguay Marijuana Party, - 0.6%
Jocelyne Leduc, Independent - 0.3%
Ginette Boutet, Marxist-Leninist - 0.2
Evelyn Elizabeth Ruiz, Communist - 0.2

This is clearly a very left-leaning riding, perhpas the best equivalent to the Mass. 8th.

Churchill (Manitoba)

Tina Keeper, Liberal - 40.6%
Niki Christina Ashton, NDP - 28.45%
Bev Desjarlais, Independent - 17.1%
Nazir Ahmad, Conservative - 11.5%
Jeff Fountain, Green Party - 1.6%
Brad Bodnar, Independent - .5%

In this case, Bev Desjarlais was the incumbent, and I think a former Conservative, so this case is somewhat annomalous.

The Liberals

Peace River (Alberta)

Chris Warkentin, Conservative - 56.9%
Bill Given, Independent - 20.2%
Susan Thompson, NDP - 11.1%
Tanya Mary Kappo, Liberal - 9.3%
Zane Lewis Green, Party - 2.2%

Battleford-Lloydminster (Saskatchewan)

Gerry Ritz, Conservative - 53.9%
Elgin Wayne Wyatt, NDP - 15.8%
Jim Pankiw, No affiliation - 14.3%
Dominic LaPlante, Liberal - 12.7%
Norbert Kratchmer, Green Party - 2.0%
Harold Stephan, Christian Heritage - 1.0%

In both of these cases there were independent candidates who throw-off strict party considerations.

The Liberal dis-honourable mention is Wild Rose where, though the Liberal finished third, it was behind the Green Party and more than 63% of the vote behind the Conservative. This is probably the Liberal's equivalent of the Mass.8th.

So, your point that Canadian ridings, in general, are more feasibly winnable for either the two major parties seems correct.

I hadn't considered the gerrymandering aspect of U.S electoral districts.

Posted by Blogger Matthew @ October 24, 2006 2:52 p.m. #

Cool, somebody reads my stuff.

Well, if we're going for lopsidedness, there's always this one:

Stephen Harper, Conservative -- 41,549 (71.96%)
Michael Swanson, Liberal -- 6,573 (11.38%)
Holly Heffernan, NDP -- 4,628 (8.02%)
Kim Warnke, Green -- 4,407 (7.63%)
Larry Heather, Christian Heritage -- 579 (1%)


But yeah, I was more annoyed that that was the extent of my choices.

If I'm still at Harvard in 2008, I'll toss my hat in for the Republicans, if no-one else wants to...

Posted by Blogger The Tiger @ October 25, 2006 11:39 a.m. #

Oh, but you wanted the Grits or the Tories to be fourth.

H'm. That's tougher -- as you pointed out.

Posted by Blogger The Tiger @ October 25, 2006 11:41 a.m. #
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