Update: No surprises. The NDP won easily (36 seats on 47.7% to the Conservatives’ 19 on 38.2%), the Liberals held their two seats and again won just over 12% of the vote;, the Greens managed only 1.3% of the vote (and came in second, but farther behind than in 2003, in Wolesley).
If you are keeping score, that’s a â€“1.5% vote swing away from the NDP, yet a one-seat gain.
Voters have been going to the polls today in Manitoba’s provincial legislative election, although apparently not in great numbers early in the day. As is often the case under first-past-the-post systems, only a few districts (or ridings) are in play. The CBC has a list of them, noting that:
A few thousand votes in a dozen key ridings decide which party forms government in Manitoba â€” and all eyes are pinned to them on election night.
The two main parties are the incumbent New Democratic Party (the third party Canada-wide, but obviously a major party in Manitoba), which is seeking a third consecutive term, and the Progressive Conservatives. Each has roughly twenty safe districts.
If a recent Angus Reid poll is accurate, it is not much of a race provincewide:
(616 respondents, 17-19 May, MoE 3.9%)
That would represent little change from the last provincial election, in 2003, when the NDP beat the Conservatives in votes, 49.2-36.9 and in seats, 35-20. In 2003, the Liberals won 12.8% of the votes and two seats (leaving 1.1% for various others); evidently some of Manitoba’s potential Liberal electorate is considering sending a message by voting Green.
The Greens have candidates in 15 ridings, including four that are on the CBC list of most competitive ridings. CBC even gives the Green candidate a chance of winning one of those (Wolseley, in central Winnipeg, where the party won 20% in 2003).
The Manitoba electoral system is a fairly unremarkable FPTP system. This is not one of the provinces where an electoral-reform movement is likely to spread like a prairie fire, at least unless something very unusual happens when results are in later tonight.
The graph below is a Manitoba variant of a format that appears in a paper of mine on reform in FPTP systems (but Manitoba is not shown in the paper, due to its being so unremarkable).
The upper broken reddish line shows the vote difference over time between the two leading parties–not since the 1980s has Manitoba had a run of close elections, during a period when the Liberals were challenging for major-party status. The lower green-colored line shows the deviation from the expected seat share of the second party (based on the seat-vote equation), with zero deviation represented by the grey horizontal line.
When the Conservatives were in power, the NDP was quite over-represented relative to the FPTP “norm” for a second party of its size. Presumably this resulted from the NDP’s relative concentration around Winnipeg, so that it continued to win those 20 or so strongholds mentioned above, even as its provincewide votes lagged.
Now that the Conservatives are the second party, they have received close to the expected share in 1999 and 2003, albeit with some uptick in the more recent election. Barring a surprise in the result, the main thing I will be watching is whether the Conservatives improve their seat payoff or fall back to where they were in 1999–and, of course, whether the Green wins Wolseley.