How close is the 2015 election? Historically close

How close is the 2015 election? Historically close

August 19, 2015 – With nearly every national poll showing a tight, three-way race between the Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats heading into this October’s election, it’s worth noting just how historic such a result would be.

Historically, Canadian elections have not been particularly close – at least in terms of the gap in the popular vote between the three major national parties*.

In the 14 elections since 1968, the smallest spread in percentage of vote between the three parties was a still hefty 18 points (in 2006, between Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with 36% of the vote and Jack Layton’s NDP, with 18%):

So far, 2015 is shaping up to be a very different story. If each party were to hold its currently projected percentage of the electorate – a big “if” given that we’re still fully eight weeks from Canadians heading to the polls – the spread between the first and third parties could be seven points or less.

Canadian elections don’t normally end up this way. Normally, one party – almost always the NDP – fades to a vote total in the high teens or low 20s.

In 2011, with the Orange Crush and the NDP breakthrough in Quebec, it was Liberals who faded, finishing with 19 per cent of the vote – 21 points below the victorious Conservatives.

While it’s possible that one party may yet pull ahead at the expense of another, most recent polls have indicated that the race – and the gap between first and third – has been tightening, not widening.

Unless that trend reverses itself, the 2015 election will be the closest in modern Canadian history. And the implications of such a close election could prove to be equally historic.

*For the 1993, 1997, and 2000 elections, Progressive Conservative and Reform Party numbers are added together, to reflect the lineage and voting base of the current Conservative Party.

August 19, 2015 – By Angus Reid


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