It's almost like they're two different countries -

It’s almost like they’re two different countries


You see a lot of this sort of story, wherein assorted “experts” speculate that a win for Obama in the US election could give the Liberals a lift, Dion and Obama being soulmates and all. Larry Martin even has a pollster pegging the Obama effect at 3 percentage points.

There’s just one problem with this thesis: there’s no evidence that American presidential elections have any particular effect on Canadian elections.

The Liberals were somehow able to win in 1968 and 1972, notwithstanding Nixon’s victories in both presidential elections. Nor did Reagan’s big win in 1980 prevent Pierre Trudeau’s triumphant return.

True, the Conservative won back to back elections in 1984 and 1988, while their Republican cousins were doing the same. And Liberal wins in 1993 and 1997 followed Bill Clinton’s victories.

But the Liberals won again in 2000, when George W. Bush took the White House back for Republicans. And again, narrowly, in 2004, notwithstanding Bush’s re-election.

There’s just no pattern here — other than the one that has the Liberals winning most of the time. But you knew that one.


It’s almost like they’re two different countries

  1. The 2004 Canadian federal election happened before the 2004 US presidential one.

  2. If you envision conservativism reliant on a wave, you do see some linkage, although not immediate… Eisenhower to Diefenbaker, with a five-year delay. Reagan to Mulroney, with a four-year window. Some would argue that Martin had more conservative cred at the time than his raw opponent. But i don’t buy it either.
    But i do think if McCain wins, it means three more weeks of winter.

  3. Good example of the lenghts the Canadian media will go to capitialize on a perceived advantage for the Liberals, tieing themselves in the Obama effect.

    Why, I thought, Canadians object to any American influences.

  4. Please forgive my spelling and grammar errors in the last response.

  5. Good post, Andrew.

    I think the most ridiculous part of positing that a Obama win helps the Liberals is the stark differences between Obama and Dion.

    I’ve got to think the election of a charismatic candidate promising change in the U.S. does not bode well for the same-old, unreformed natural governing party.

    I would think an Obama win only helps Jack! (or even god forbid E. May).

  6. David said: “The 2004 Canadian federal election happened before the 2004 US presidential one.”

    Actually the Canadian election took place before the US vote every year but 2000 (where the campaigns paralled each other). As it was, even though Canada’s voting day took place after the US vote (in 2000), the US results were still in court when Chretien was reelected.

  7. “But the Liberals won again in 2000, when George W. Bush took the White House back for Republicans”

    The operative word being “took”, of course.

  8. You are absolutely right Andrew. There is no connection.

    Moreover, all of this silly speculation depends on Obama actually winning.

    That’s not as certain as many Canadians think. As a former resident of Washington, DC, I happen to believe the election in the USA will be much closer than most so-called experts in Canada think. McCain is looking much stronger now that Russia has decided to up the ante on the foreign policy front.

  9. Hey Marthe it’s okay if the Liberals do it … it’s only when Conservatives express any degree of support or familiarity with anyone other than a Democrat then it’s the usual Harper Bush bla bla bla (insert liberal talking point here)