Canadian Politics

A04(c) - Party Systems, Voting, and Electoral Strategies

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 01:45pm to 03:15pm | Location:

Split Decision: Federal and Provincial Elections in Ontario, 1997-2022: Matthew Taylor (Université de Montréal), Ruth Dassonneville (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: On the night of his re-election victory in June of 2022, Ontario Premier Doug Ford made a particular point of thanking voters who had “cast [their] last ballot for the federal Liberals” (Ford 2022). Ford’s gratitude towards federal Liberals reflects a curious element of the past three decades of federal and provincial elections in Ontario, alternation between the Liberals and Conservatives. The Ontario electorate has exhibited a pattern of electing one party federally only to elect the other in the subsequent provincial campaign. This pattern is puzzling as Ontario’s party system is rather similar to its federal counterpart. If the parties are so similar at both levels, why do Ontario elections exhibit such alternation between parties in subsequent elections? This paper explores this phenomenon with a view towards examining the factors that drive this alternation. Specifically, I examine if this alternation can be attributed to either voters choosing different parties at different levels or by differential turnout between federal and provincial elections. Leveraging the fact that Ontario ridings have been identical both federally and provincially since 1996, this research employs ecological inference to examine vote flows in each riding between subsequent federal and provincial elections from 1997 and 2022. In so doing, this paper will explore the dynamics of Ontario voting behaviour and the patterns of alternation between federal and provincial politics.

Local Partisans, National Politics: How Provincial Party Systems Impact Federal Vote Choice in Canada: Mackenzie Lockhart (Yale University), Alex Rivard (Simon Fraser University)
Abstract: How do local party affiliations impact politics at the national level? With the Liberal Party all but vanished from provincial politics outside of Atlantic Canada, how can we expect new provincial identities and alignments to impact federal politics? Unlike in many other democracies, the party systems at the federal and provincial levels in Canada often diverge leading Canadians to develop partisan attachments that differ across levels of government. If voters see these provincial partisan attachments as an in-group, their provincial loyalties might impact their federal vote intentions. This allows us to better understand the basis for party attachments and if they are group based, issue based, or identity based. Combining survey evidence from the Canadian Election Study with historical data on the party systems at the provincial level in Canada, we examine what happens when a voters’ local partisan attachment is at odds with their federal attachment. Based on this, we hope to explore how local party dynamics might influence national politics in Canada and beyond.

Party Systems in the Provinces: Characterizing Competition and Change: Shanaya Vanhooren (University of Western Ontario), Zack Taylor (University of Western Ontario)
Abstract: Since the 1980s, very limited attention has been paid to provincial party systems (Wesley, 2007). While there are broad descriptions of provincial party system dynamics (e.g., Stewart et al., 2016), there have been few attempts in recent years to systematically map these dynamics over time and compare across provinces (for an exception, see Wesley & Buckley, 2021). Yet, many provincial party systems have undergone significant changes in the postwar period, such as the emergence of the Saskatchewan Party, the revitalization of the British Columbia Liberal Party and the first NDP governments in Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Provincial party systems are also distinct from the federal party system, often featuring electorally successful third parties and the decline of the Liberals and Conservatives as major contenders. In this paper, I use scaling techniques to analyze a recently assembled dataset of provincial party election platforms from 1945 to 2020 that are coded for different policy issues using natural language processing techniques. I will characterize the style of party competition that exists in each province, as well as how it has changed over time. This paper contributes to the literature on provincial party systems and Canadian political development.

Optimizing Electoral Strategies in Quebec's Multiparty System: A Machine Learning Approach to Assessing Party Growth Potential: Hubert Cadieux (Université Laval), Yannick Dufresne (Université Laval), Catherine Ouellet (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: How can the potential for electoral growth of political parties in multiparty systems be operationnalized? This article investigates the room to maneuver that political parties in Quebec have across ideological spectrums to optimize their electoral strategies within a multiparty system and therefore estimate their potential for growth. It narrows its focus to the issue-specific segment of the funnel of causality, as it is postulated that the potential for growth is at play within this block. This postulate is grounded in the theory that information sources are fragmented in today's media landscape and that issue saliency is heterogeneous across various socio-demographic publics. Building on this postulate, the article employs exclusive survey data and an innovative continuous measure of voting intention, the RCI, to undertake combinatorial optimization using machine learning techniques. This method will output the ideal sets of party positions that could maximize their electoral support, providing a data-driven foundation for strategic party positioning within Quebec's multiparty system. This article contributes to the study of public opinion and political marketing by producing a nuanced measure of parties' potential performances by using innovative methods.