If the Conservative Party of Canada wins the federal election later this month, I think we should be careful about interpreting that as meaning that Canadian voters are conservative.
I took some time to review the popular vote for every election since 1984. I picked 1984 as the starting year because it was the last time that the conservatives received a majority of the popular vote.
The “left of centre’ includes Liberals, NDP, and Greens. The “right of centre” includes the current CPC, the PCs, and the Reform/Alliance parties. I did not include regional parties (such as the Bloc) or parties that consistently get under 1% of the popular vote. The results account for between 83% and 98% of all votes cast in each election.
What we see is that the “left of centre” voters outnumber the “right of centre” voters every election since 1984. Even in the 2011 election, when Harper won the majority of seats, not only did Harper get under 40% of the popular vote, but the “left of centre” voters outnumbered the “right of centre” voters by 35%.
In addition to the “left of centre” voters outnumbering the “right of centre” voters in each of the last 9 elections, the spread between the two groups of voters keeps getting wider. In fact, in the 2015 election, “left of centre” voters were double that of the “right of centre” voters. And voter turnout was 70%, the highest since 1997.
Canadian voters are overwhelmingly left of centre. Conservative voters in Canada are in the minority. Conservative parties win federally not because Canadian voters vote for them, but because the “left of centre” voters split their votes. And that’s not the fault of voters; that’s a side effect of the inadequate first-past-the-post electoral system we have now.
We need electoral reform.