Today is the Ontario election day, which means most of the campaigning is over, but the battle is in full force. This is the most important day for the political parties in Ontario, because the long dance of convincing people to vote for them is not over. No matter how many people they have somehow brainwashed into believing they should vote for a particular party, those parties still have to make sure those people actually leave their house to vote. While the polls tell us who would win if all the likely voters showed up to the polls (and we have our own ideas about what will happen tonight), let’s talk about who’s actually likely to show up.
The first important variable: it’s raining. I know that sounds like the type of thing your four year old son complains about, but it significantly affects voter turnout. The core of people who will always vote are going to show up rain or shine, but there are people who are less committed to the partisan cause. Those people who would be happy to vote if it’s not a busy day at work, or if they can walk in the sun over to their local polling station. So which party is hurt by losing the less sure voters? Everybody loses votes, but there’s some logic that says the Progressive Conservatives will be hit the worst. Their base will vote, but the people who would be voting for them because they kind of think Wynne’s a bad person are less likely to show up. That’s in contrast to the anti-Hudak people, who are mostly frothing at the mouth and are more likely to show up to polling stations no matter what. The other issue is that the PCs have their base among rural voters. Their polling stations are further away, and so the rain makes them even less likely to head out to vote.
The next major issue stopping voter turnout is that the World Cup has its opening ceremonies and first match today. Especially in the younger demographics, on a day like today they are more likely to want to sit with a beer and some friends to watch the game rather than go vote for some old people they don’t really like. Young people don’t seem to have gotten excited about any candidate, so the World Cup should keep them home pretty successfully. That disproportionately hurts the Liberals and the NDP, since they have more actively courted the younger voters.
The final thing impeding voter turnout is how disenchanted the province is with all three major candidates. It’s easy to get people to vote when there’s an engaging and exciting candidate to love. There are no such options in Ontario this time around. They’re all kind of dull, cookie cutter representations of their parties. Except the NDP’s Andrea Horwath who defies all expectations of her party, which makes her even harder to believe. It’s like going to a battle of the bands where all the bands are almost different but none of them are very good: nobody wants to go, and those who do show up don’t really want to be there.
So voter turnout is likely to hit a record low today, but who will that help? It may end up helping the PCs, since many Ontarians will vote against Wynne and Liberal corruption, but it may also help the NDP since their base will end up being more represented than otherwise. Either way, tonight’s election results are going to be exciting to watch, but in the same way as watching a car crash. It’s horrifying, but you can’t seem to look away.
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