Archive for July, 2007

Tories tank in the East, NDP hits 1 year high nationally

cons-atlantic.pngWhat’s that loud “thwack” sound you’re hearing?  Why, it’s the Tories collapsing badly in Atlantic Canada from their once impressive showing.

Using the highly accurate technique used in the polling industry known as the ‘rolling average’ (the concept of which is familiar to anybody who’s visited the Paulitics Polling Resource), it is obvious that the Conservatives are in trouble in Atlantic Canada.

Now, before I show you the actual graph of rolling averages for every poll conducted in Atlantic Canada in the past six months, do keep in mind that the technique of rolling averages, by definition, makes huge swings in popular support less marked.  Thus, both spikes and drops in support tend to be flattened and appear less dramatic.

So, with that, let’s look at the rolling averages for Atlantic Canada courtesy of the Paulitics Provincial/Regional Polling Resource.

2007-07-25-atlantic.png

So, on the 28th of March of this year, the Conservatives were at roughly 37% in support in Atlantic Canada, which was an improvement over their 34.7% showing in the last federal election.  However, since then, the Conservatives have dropped 12.4% — not in an individual poll, but in the rolling average of polls.

Put another way: Take 3 Atlantic Canadians who voted Tory in the last election.  Now take one of them away and dress him in either NDP orange or Green and what’s left is how many Atlantic Canadians polls suggest would vote Tory in the next election.

Moreover, at the national level, we see declining support for both the Liberals and the Conservatives as demonstrated here (in fact the combined Liberal & Conservative parties’ rolling average has never, in the past 12 months of rolling averages, been lower than it currently is: 62.4%).

So take these two phenomena together and we have very bad news for the two mainstream, uber-capitalist parties; very good news for the three smaller, less capitalistic parties; and even worse news for Peter MacKay.

————————-

See also:

Data suggests the NDP may win the Outremont by-election

A Proposal for Greens & the NDP: A “300″ Strategy

The American Empire Encyclopedia (work-in-progress)

For some time now, I’ve been extremely interested creating something of an encyclopedia documenting all instances of the United States’ imperial adventures.  Specifically, I’ve been interested in countries in which the U.S. either overthrew a democratically-elected government, or countries in which the U.S. helped to keep an existing brutal dictatorship in power despite democratic opposition.

That the U.S. regularly overthrows democratically-elected governments should come as no real surprise to most people who are literate and somewhat familiar at all with global history.  However, in all my searching, I have never found a single exhaustive source which compiled all instances of U.S. imperialism along with proper academic citations for future reference, so I have taken it upon myself to try to get together such an admittedly ambitious collection of information.

So far, my highly incomplete tally has resulted in the creation of this map:

The U.S. and International Democracy: Incompatible?

The problem is two-fold:

#1) I would like to create a ‘clickable map’ so that readers can click on each highlighted country and be brought to a page detailing important dates, information, credible academic sources and possibly even direct quotes and page numbers.

The problem here is that I have little to no experience with html code and am unable to find good programs to generate such a ‘clickable map’ of the data on the American Empire.

#2) This project would obviously be much richer if it were structured as a “wiki” for all like-minded people with an interest in this subject to be able to contribute.

Now the problem here is that I’m not sure of the best way of going about accomplishing this task.  I’m considering switching this blog out of wordpress.com so that I can host it myself, but does anybody here know anything about ‘wiki’ software and hosting said software on a wordpress.org blog?

Can any kind soul help me with these problems?

Steve Paikin repeats popular myth on TV

A few days ago I was watching Steve Paikin’s television program “The Agenda”.

On this program, he was discussing the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly and the new electoral system they’ve proposed for Ontario when the discussion came to the pros and cons on each system.

Now, in his defence, the myth he repeated is a popular myth found even in the Parliament of Canada’s own briefing papers.  The myth is that the way we run our elections — what is known as Single Member Plurality (SMP) or First Past the Post (FPTP) — is somehow more stable than Proportional Representation (PR) systems which are, by extension, somehow less stable.

This myth has two parts to it.

#1) our system (SMP or FPTP) is stable

A simple review of our history in Canada shows that our FPTP system is far from stable.

minority-parliament-data-canada.pngThis chart shows the breakdown of elections resulting in minority governments versus ones which result in majority governments.  Between the time following the introduction of responsible government in Canada and prior to Confederation exactly 50% of elections resulted in minority parliaments.

Not such a great record of stability especially considering that this is supposed to be the main strength of our system.

After confederation the record improved, but still, to this day, approximately every third election we hold results in a minority Parliament.

Minority Parliaments were elected in:

1854, 1858, 1861, 1921, 1925, 1926, 1957, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1972, 1979, 2004 and 2006.

#2) Proportional Representation systems are less stable

Much of this myth that PR systems are less stable comes from the specious reasoning that since minority governments in this country last an average of a little over 1 year and 5 months, therefore, since PR systems result in minority parliaments more often than not, they too must be unstable.

Again a brief look at the empirical data is more than enough to blow this part of the myth out of the water.

minority-parliament-data-international.png

As you can see, Germany — which employs the same brand of proportional representation which the Citizens’ Assembly has endorsed for Ontario — is actually more stable on average than our First Past the Post system and only slightly less stable than the UK system.

But even then, the difference between the time gap between German elections and British elections is not that much. 

Since the establishment of the West German Parliament in 1949, there have been 16 elections resulting in an average gap between these elections of 3 years, 8 months.

In Canada, on the other hand, we’ve had 39 elections since the introduction of Responsible government for an average of 3 years, 7 months between elections.

Lastly, since 1801, the U.K. has had 54 elections resulting in an average of 3 years, 9 months between elections.

So, should we be afraid of Proportional Representation, as the myth repeated by Steve Paikin suggests, because it’s somehow less stable while our system is somehow magically more stable?

Obviously this is the most shallow argument for keeping the our current system and we in the PR crowd should stop conceding PR skeptics’ main point because, as I’ve shown here, it simply doesn’t hold water.

Blogs to expand your mind

The always delightful Polly Jones nominated me a while back as one of the five blogs that make her think.  I haven’t had a chance to participate in naming the five blogs that make me think yet, so I figured that now was as good a time as any.

There are way more than 5 blogs listed on my blogroll which make me think and which challenge me to better myself everytime I read them.

I’m going to try to not re-nominate some of the blogs who have already been nominated for a thinking blogger award.  So, despite my love of Red Jenny’s blog and Polly Jones’ blog and April Reign’s blog (and they’re all fantastic blogs), I’m going to try to draw my readers’ attention to what are maybe some less popular blogs who are just as worthy of receiving a thinking blogger award as these three popular blogs.

So, my five nominations for a thinking blogger award are:

thinkingbloggerpf8.jpg

#1)  http://theproles.blogspot.com/

In my opinion, Doug’s blog is one of the most underrated blogs on the internet and deserves to be read by every progressive and thinking comrade.

#2)  http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/

Even if you know nothing of Louis Proyect, reading his blog makes you abundantly aware that this is a man who knows what he is talking about better than 99.9% of all bloggers out there.  Truly, a joy to read.

#3)  http://scottneigh.blogspot.com/

Now Scott’s blog, I believe, is a very popular blog, so it’s entirely likely that it has already been nominated for a thinking blogger award.  But, nevertheless, I first stumbled across his blog through a post he had discussing the Gramscian roots of the popular television series Sesame Street.  As a Gramscian, I couldn’t help but find instant respect for Scott and that respect has stayed ever since then.

#4)  http://rppe.wordpress.com/

While I definitely identify as a Marxist, the truth is that my formal education was painfully wanting in economics and political economics.  So, whenever I find myself drifting towards utopian, purely moral socialism, Relentlessly Progressive Political Economy is one of the sources I rely upon to help put me back in touch with scientific socialism.

#5)  http://democraticspace.com/blog/

Lastly, there’s Greg’s blog Democratic Space.  Never let it be said that I’m a purely partisan who can’t recognize intelligence in non-socialist and non-anarchist comrades.  Greg and I have definitely had our differences and I don’t agree with him on everything he writes, but I can’t deny that he puts an inordinate amount of work into his blog and it is always very well researched and well thought out.  I would recommend it even to other socialists

thinkingbloggerpf8.jpg

So, that’s it.  I hope everybody goes and gives each of these fantastic blogs a try.  You’ll be better off having done so.

How to appear tough on terrorism without doing anything

bin-laden.jpgIn a move to appear ‘tough on terrorism’, the Democrats in the U.S. Senate have successfully moved a bill to double the bounty on bin Laden’s head from $25 million to $50 million.

Sounds tough doesn’t it?

I mean, wow, $50 million!

The Democrats must be tough on terrorism since they proposed such a bold strategy to bring bin Laden to his knees.  The Republicans couldn’t even come up with the testicular fortitude to double his bounty.  Right?a-rod.png

Actually, if you put it into perspective, this move by the Democrats is more evidence that they are just as completely ignorant as Republicans and equally as unable to see past their pax americana ideology long enough to offer up any intelligent solutions.

So, to put this into perspective (and, incidentally, speaking of ‘testicular’ fortidue), the New York Yankees paid over $112 million dollars just to acquire Alex “A Rod” Rodriguez (pictured right) from George W. Bush’s own franchise, the Texas Rangers, in 2004.

Anybody with half a mind (which obviously exlcudes most liberals and conservatives alike) would realize that if capitalistic rewards sufficed, bin Laden would have been turned in to the U.S. years ago for a bounty of $87.98. 

(In fact, he was almost turned over to the U.S. government by the Taliban in 2001 but the U.S. refused to accept the offer.)

The fact of the matter is that both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. are so blinded by the ideology of their national mythologies as the “city on the hill” and beakon to the rest of the world that they are incapable of seeing what every socialist and every anarchist and every free-thinker sees as self-evident:  this will have no effect on either the capture of bin Laden or on Islamic terrorism.

To address global terrorism, the U.S. must first stop contributing in terrorist activities themselves and must renounce the title of the world’s leading terrorist supporting state.  Only once the brutal, anti-democratic conditions which create radicalism are removed, will the world have rest from this phenomenon.

$50 million won’t cut it.

Data suggests the NDP may win the Outremont by-election

A combination of polling data and monetary data suggests that the chances of the NDP winning the upcoming Outremont by-election and gaining a Quebec MP are good.  However, regardless of who wins, I would bet money on this being a close race and the data seems to validate this bet.

I’ll briefly explain the data and how I came to these conclusions.

I started off with the local results in the Outremont riding from the 2006 General Election.

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

2006 Outremont results:

35.18%

29.01%

17.20%

12.73%

4.82%

From that, we can take current provincial polling data, courtesy of the Paulitics Provincial Polling Resource and compare that with the provincial results in 2006 to get a ratio describing the relative increase or decrease of each party.  This ratio will later be multiplied through the 2006 Outremont results to get the first set of data.

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

Current polls @ prov. level

21.40%

35.40%

13.40%

22.00%

6.80%

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

2006 Quebec results:

20.70%

42.10%

7.50%

24.60%

4.00%

increase/decrease (ratio)

1.03

0.84

1.79

0.89

1.70

We’ll come back to that ratio later.

But for now, let’s move on to the monetary data portion of the analysis.

We know what the cash spending limit for this particular riding is from elections Canada and we know the financial statements of the candidates from the last election (note: the previous link was working earlier today, but seems to be down now.  There is an alternate, and less pretty source of the same data here).

From this, we get:

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

Cash spent: 2006 election

$69,816.11

$63,590.41

$26,625.29

$73,991.17

$572.33

cost per 1% of vote

$1,987.36

$2,207.23

$1,554.31

$5,762.55

$119.48

Spending limit:

$74,512.38

$74,512.38

$74,512.38

$74,512.38

$74,512.38

Raw vote potential

37.5%

33.8%

47.9%

12.9%

insuf. samp.

vote potential

28.8%

26.0%

36.9%

9.9%

insuf. samp.

I don’t think too many people would be willing to take just the polling data or just the financial data to come up with any sort of prediction.  So, I figured that the best way to come up with some sort of reliable prediction-worthy data, it would be suitable to take the pro-rated vote potential calculated from the financial data and then average that with the pro-rated vote potential calculated form the polling data (using the ratio calculated above).

I’ve run this calculation using 4 different scenarios so nobody can accuse me of bias (not that I’d vote for any of these parties if I had my first choice). 

In scenario #1, I haven’t weighted anything and I’ve assumed that the Green Party will not want to invest significant financial resources into this by-election and thus, I’ve listed their cash pro-rate as equal to their vote pro-rate.

Scenario #1

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

vote pro-rate (raw)

36.3

24.2

30.6

11.5

8.1

vote pro-rate

32.8%

21.9%

27.6%

10.4%

7.4%

cash pro-rate (raw)

28.8

26.0

36.9

9.9

8.1

cash pro-rate

26.3%

23.7%

33.6%

9.1%

7.4%

predicted results:

29.5%

22.8%

30.6%

9.7%

7.4%

Elected:

x

The result is an NDP victory, although by the slightest of margins.

In scenario #2, I haven’t weighted anything but I’ve assumed that the Greens will throw a significant portion of financial resources at this by-election.  So I’ve listed their cash pro-rate as equal to the highest cash pro-rate of all of the other parties.

Scenario #2

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

vote pro-rate (raw)

36.3

24.2

30.6

11.5

8.1

vote pro-rate

32.8%

21.9%

27.6%

10.4%

7.4%

cash pro-rate (raw)

28.8

26.0

36.9

9.9

36.9

cash pro-rate

20.8%

18.7%

26.6%

7.2%

26.6%

predicted results:

26.8%

20.3%

27.1%

8.8%

17.0%

Elected:

x

 The result is still an NDP victory, but by even smaller margins than before.

In scenario #3, I’ve assumed that the Greens will be middle of the road with their finances and won’t go as spartan as they did in the last election, but won’t go all out either.  I’ve also assumed for this scenario that polls matter more than cash on hand and have weighted to 2x its normal unweighted value.

Scenario #3

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

vote pro-rate (raw)

36.3

24.2

30.6

11.5

8.1

vote pro-rate

32.8%

21.9%

27.6%

10.4%

7.4%

cash pro-rate (raw)

28.8

26.0

36.9

9.9

22.5

cash pro-rate

23.2%

20.9%

29.7%

8.0%

18.1%

predicted results:

29.0%

21.5%

28.5%

9.4%

11.7%

Elected:

x

The result is a bare Libearl victory.

Finally, in scenario #4, I’ve assumed the same thing about the Greens as in #3, but this time I’ve assumed that cash on hand for the candidates matters more than polls and have weighted it by 2x.

Scenario #4

Lib

Bloc

NDP

Con

Green

vote pro-rate (raw)

36.3

24.2

30.6

11.5

8.1

vote pro-rate

32.8%

21.9%

27.6%

10.4%

7.4%

cash pro-rate (raw)

28.8

26.0

36.9

9.9

29.7

cash pro-rate

22.0%

19.8%

28.1%

7.6%

22.6%

predicted results:

26.3%

20.6%

27.9%

8.7%

16.5%

Elected:

x

The result is an NDP win and by wider margins than before.

Now, keep in mind, there are any number of factors which can’t be calculated mathematically which will undoubtedly play a part in this by-election.

For starters, there’s no way of accounting for the fact that the NDP has a star candidate in this race.  This data assumes that the candidate is of little-to-no importance whatsoever.

Second, polls suggest that Dion may not be as much of an asset to the Liberal candidate in this election as Layton or Harper might be.

But, on the other hand, the Globe and Mail suggests that Mulcair’s leftist credentials are being questioned by NDP activists (I know, I was shocked too — who thought the NDP still had leftist credentials??) which could in turn cause a ‘get out the vote’ (GOTV) problem.

Either way, the only thing I’m willing to place money on right now is that it’s not going to be a blow out.  But I will say one thing:  The NDP’s chances are certainly good seeing as how they won 3 out of the 4 scenarios I ran.

Polling resource & political images updated

I know I’ve been AWOL for a while, but rest assured, it’s purely because I’ve been in the process of working over 43 hours per week and trying to set up a new apartment.  Rest assured, that I haven’t gone anywhere and that Paulitics will be back to its former glory in the near future.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve greatly expanded the data on the provincial breakdown section of the Paulitics Polling Resource.  The Polling Resource now features a 6 month history of poll results at the provincial level as well as providing the ever famous Paulitics rolling five poll graphs.  Take a look at it and let me know what everybody thinks.

I’ve also done a large update to the Political Images resource, for those interested.


Resources:

home page polling resource

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