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.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.