How deep a hole did the Liberals dig?

The numbers paint an ugly picture for the federal Liberals


Eric Grenier tries to put the Liberal party’s current standing in perspective.

When Canada last had a change of government, the Conservatives under Mr. Harper had turned a vote-share deficit of 7.1 percentage points in 2004 into a 6.1-point lead. But overcoming that 7.1-point margin in 2006 paled in comparison to the two previous changes in government. The Liberals had placed 11.1 points behind the Progressive Conservatives in 1988 before winning in 1993, while under Brian Mulroney the Tories had overcome an 11.9-point margin between the 1980 and 1984 elections.

But with 18.9 per cent support in the last election, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals finished 20.7 points behind the victorious Conservatives. If the Liberals overcame such a margin in 2015, it would be the greatest comeback in a federal election in Canada’s history.

The numbers underneath are maybe even less encouraging. The Liberals finished first, second or a strong third in just 114 ridings in the last election. By comparison, the NDP managed to finish first, second or a strong third in 232 ridings, the Conservatives did so in 240.

Or consider the splits on ridings in which the party’s vote increased in 2011 versus ridings in which the party’s vote decreased. The Liberals went up in 20 and down in 287 last May. (The NDP, by comparison, went up in 289, down in 19. The Conservatives improved in 208, fell in 99.) And the Liberals finished on the negative side of this split in each of the three previous elections, mirroring a steady decline in the popular vote that has seen the party go from 40.9% to 36.7% to 30.2% to 26.3% to 18.9%.


How deep a hole did the Liberals dig?

  1. Well they say everyone loves an underdog.  That’s who should lead the Libs: Underdog (or sweet Polly Purebred).

  2. Ah, isn’t navel gazing fun? LOL

    • Depends on the navel.

      • Depends on the colour of the lint I suppose.

  3. Mike Crawley ~ Long Term Decline Of A Great Party:

    The elections of the last 30 years, however, tell a different story. Only once since 1980 has the Liberal Party of Canada defeated a united Conservative party. In the last 37 years, Canadians have just once elected a majority Liberal government when a unified Conservative party was an option. Observing more recent trends, the actual Liberal vote has declined in every election but one since 1993.

    Wiki ~ Liberal Party (UK):

    “The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was the third largest political party throughout the latter half of the 20th century, and merged with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1988 to form the present day Liberal Democrats. Originally supporters of Classical Liberalism, the party moved towards Social Liberalism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and came to be seen as being on the centre-left of British politics.

    In the 1920s, the Labour Party permanently replaced the Liberals as Britain’s main centre-left party …. ”

    Santayana ~ Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

  4. When you really chew on those numbers only a couple of thing make sense –

    An NDP collapse…libs come back.

    A scenario similar to the tories life after Brian…which screams …MERGER!

    Or the libs really build with an eye on 2019.

    I really haven’t a clue…too many variables.

    Three, i’m a liar.

    • I would think the most likely scenario is the LPC takes a few seats from the CPC and several more for the NDP, and overall little changes (wouldn’t that be Well’s first rule?)

      • Too many variables, for me anyway.

        Depends on who the ndp pick and whether they pick their game up afterwards. Presumably they will…but you never know?

        Depends on who the libs evetually pick and whether their new openness catches fire to some degree.

        Depends on what happens in Quebec. Is CAQ for real? If so who does that benefit? SH? Is there something there for the libs or do Quebecers stick with the ndp anyway?

        Depends on how SH handles his majority? Is he going to continue force feeding Parliament his agenda or will he ease up? My guess first.

        Depends on the world wide economy and where we fit in?

        Depends on events my dear sir, events.

        Personally i think things are going too well for Harper and he may well yet decide to take a dive into the canyon of despair, rather like his heroe Dief did…but i could be projecting?

        Depends if i can remember what the hell Wells’ first rule is. :)

        • One truly anomalous thing here, I think, is the possibly ephemeral nature of what the NDP achieved, mostly in Quebec.  It was so dependent on Layton, and the signs are already there of the NDP support there being a mile wide and an inch deep.  That could result in the Liberals being able to move their nummbers significantly.

          • As a liberal i would hope so. But rationally i think the libs got to put more on the table than just hope…although…it worked for Jack.

          • Yes, some actual policies would help.  You know, that “what I plan to to if elected” stuff.

  5. Yup, we’ve definitely got work to do. 

  6. The good news (for them) about that decline is that more than a third of the electorate that has voted Liberal in recent memory, so they’ve got something to work with. The bad news is they need to win over the ones who have voted for Stephen Harper at least twice, and I don’t think they have any clue how to do that.

    • Oh sure they do:   they repeatedly call everyone who has voted for Harper an idiot or a fascist or whatever.  It works wonders.

      • Somewhat like “Not a Leader” Harper calling everyone who disagrees with him a radical, extremist enemy of the state. Are you comfortable with that?

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