Dominance and Decline

Dominance and Decline: Making Sense of Recent Canadian Elections

ELISABETH GIDENGIL
NEIL NEVITTE
ANDRÉ BLAIS
JOANNA EVERITT
PATRICK FOURNIER
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tttb7
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  • Book Info
    Dominance and Decline
    Book Description:

    Dominance and Declineprovides a comprehensive, comparative account of Canadian election outcomes from 2000 through to 2008.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0390-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xv-xxx)

    Coming out of the 2000 federal election, Liberal dominance seemed assured. No party since the 1950s had won three successive majority governments. Yet, less than a dozen years later, the party suffered its most devastating defeat ever. For the first time in its history, the party long considered Canada’s “natural governing party” was reduced to being the third party in Parliament. The seeds of that historic defeat are to be found in the series of elections held between 2004 and 2008. The 2004 election marked the end of Liberal dominance: the party lost its majority and barely managed to hold...

  6. CHAPTER ONE EXPLAINING VOTE CHOICE
    (pp. 1-18)

    A multitude of factors might potentially influence an individual’s choice of party: social identities, normative beliefs, party attachments, economic conditions, the issues of the day, and perceptions of the party leaders, to name the most obvious. How much weight these factors carry in the decision calculus varies from one individual to another and from one election to the next. To add to the explanatory challenge, the factors that explain individual vote choice do not necessarily have the same importance when it comes to explaining the parties’ vote shares. The challenge is to find a model of voting behaviour that is...

  7. CHAPTER TWO THE CHANGING SOCIAL BASES OF PARTY SUPPORT
    (pp. 19-36)

    Social background characteristics may seem like an odd place to begin the search for an explanation of changing party fortunes. According to conventional wisdom, social cleavages in vote choice are weak in Canada (Clarke et al. 1979). Indeed, Mark Franklin (1992) characterizes Canada as an “historical decline” country where social cleavages have effectively ceased to structure vote choice. Then there is the criticism that was aimed at the Columbia model (see Chapter 1), namely, that the distribution of social background characteristics changes too slowly to explain electoral dynamics, at least in the short term (Kanji and Archer 2002; Campbell et...

  8. CHAPTER THREE VALUES AND BELIEFS
    (pp. 37-52)

    The changing demographics of the parties’ support raise a variety of questions about the role of ideological orientations in explaining the parties’ shifting electoral fortunes. Did the growth in Conservative support mean that the party was expanding beyond its traditional right-wing constituency? Or had the size of that constituency grown? Were the NDP’s prospects for growth constrained by the size of the potential constituency for a left-wing party, or was the problem instead that the NDP was competing with the Liberals for the same left-of-centre constituency? Did the fact that the Liberals lost core supporters to both the Conservatives on...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR PARTY LOYALTIES
    (pp. 53-68)

    Social background characteristics and fundamental values and beliefs matter because they help to anchor people to political parties. But there is a good deal of variation when it comes to how strongly Canadians are attached to their political parties. Some voters are staunch partisans: they have a more or less standing decision to vote for “their” party. Others lack any sort of partisan tie: they approach each election afresh. Still others fall somewhere in between: they are predisposed to support one party or another, but they can be induced to defect from “their” party and vote for another one depending...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE DOES THE ECONOMY MATTER?
    (pp. 69-84)

    So far, the focus has been on those factors that are typically considered to be long-term influences on the vote. But what about short-term influences? These are the factors that change from election to election, what commentators typically rely on to account for changing electoral outcomes. The short-term factor whose impact on elections has been the most extensively examined is undoubtedly the economy. There is a rich literature on the relationship between the economy and the vote in Canada (see Anderson 2008, 2010; Clarke and Kornberg 1992; Gélineau and Bélanger 2005; Nadeau and Blais 1993, 1995; Nadeau et al. 2000)...

  11. CHAPTER SIX THE ISSUES AND THE VOTE
    (pp. 85-100)

    The weakness of economic voting is unique neither to the elections held between 2000 and 2008 nor to Canadian elections more generally. An examination of economic voting in 11 Canadian, British, and American elections between 1987 and 2001 found that the economy mattered in all three countries, but issues typically mattered more than the economy for vote choice and party fortunes alike (Blais et al. 2004).¹ Some issues matter more than others, though. So the first task is to ascertain which issues had the most impact on voters’ choice of party. And the next is to determine how these affected...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN PARTY LEADERS—“THE SUPERSTARS” OF CANADIAN POLITICS?
    (pp. 101-116)

    Leader evaluations have been central to explanations of vote choice in Canada.¹ Here, as elsewhere (see, for example, Aarts, Blais, and Schmitt 2011; Bean and Mughan 1989; McAllister 1996), voters’ choice of party often hinges on feelings about the party leaders (Bélanger and Nadeau 2009; Johnston et al. 1992). The powerful influence of leader evaluations on individual vote choice is clear, but it does not automatically translate into a similarly powerful impact on party vote shares (Gidengil and Blais 2007; Johnston 2002). Whether party leaders qualify as “the superstars of Canadian politics” is open to debate (Clarke et al. 1991,...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS
    (pp. 117-132)

    The working assumption, to this point, has been that voters vote “sincerely,” for the party that they prefer. However, in a winner-take-all system like Canada’s, it may be rational for some voters to vote strategically, for a party that is not their first choice. If their preferred party has no chance of winning in their riding, people might decide to vote for their second-choice party in hopes of defeating the party that they like the least (Cox 1997; Duverger 1954). Certainly, some people have voted strategically in Canadian elections in the past, but the scale of strategic voting, according to...

  14. CHAPTER NINE THE GREENS AND THE PERILS OF BEING A “SINGLE-ISSUE” PARTY
    (pp. 133-146)

    The fact that so many voters vote sincerely for their preferred party even when they realize that it has no chance of winning in their riding is good news for a small party like the Green Party. By the time the 2008 election came around, the Green Party of Canada had been in existence for 25 years. It officially registered as a political party in August 1983 and held its founding conference in November of that year (Sharp and Krajnc 2008). In 1984, the party ran candidates in just over a fifth of the country’s ridings (see Figure 9.1); in...

  15. CHAPTER TEN ELECTORAL DYNAMICS IN QUÉBEC
    (pp. 147-172)

    The unique way in which the environmental issue played out in Québec underscores once again the distinctiveness of voting patterns in that province. Since the Bloc Québécois’s stunning electoral breakthrough in the 1993 federal election, the single most important factor motivating vote choice in federal elections in Québec—at least until the Bloc’s equally stunning defeat in 2011 — has been the sovereignty question (Blais et al. 1995; Nevitte et al. 2000). It is because electoral dynamics have been so different in the province that we devote a separate chapter to vote choice in Québec.

    Voting in Québec in the...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN THE SHIFTING CONTOURS OF CANADIAN ELECTIONS
    (pp. 173-186)

    The four federal elections held between 2000 and 2008 witnessed dramatic changes in the parties’ electoral fortunes and set the scene for the even more dramatic shifts in 2011. At the start of the period, the Canadian public had delivered, for the first time in Canadian history, three consecutive Liberal majorities in a row. By the end of the period, Canadian voters had delivered three consecutive minority governments in a row. In 2011, the Conservatives finally succeeded in winning a majority, the Liberals were reduced to third-party status with only 34 seats in the House of Commons, the NDP assumed...

  17. APPENDIX A: ESTIMATING THE MULTISTAGE MODELS
    (pp. 187-188)
  18. APPENDIX B: VALUES AND BELIEFS
    (pp. 189-192)
  19. APPENDIX C: THE DETERMINANTS OF VOTE CHOICE
    (pp. 193-202)
  20. REFERENCES
    (pp. 203-220)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 221-226)