Tuesday, October 26, 2004

STV Nightmare Scenario 

On the UBC Young Conservatives forum, I ponder how the NDP might gain big-time at the expense of the Greens under STV:
Erm... ...no, the second choice of many Liberal voters are the Greens, as reflected in Liberal-heavy ridings where the Greens beat the NDP for second place. Liberal vote surpluses should give some Greens a jump over the NDP in some cases, but I can see the possibility of this NDP-friendly scenario happening.

Let's assume, for the moment, that preferences will move between parties only after exhaustion (i.e. if my first pref is Liberal, I'll prefer Liberals before all other parties). And let's assume a relatively even distribution for the candidates within each party. In the STV count, the most likely scenario is that all the party candidates will be below quota, so the minor parties get killed off first. The key is to make sure that the Liberal-friendly minor parties move toward a concentrated single candidate, so that at least one Liberal goes over quota and you can start moving surpluses amongst the Liberals.

The most disadvantageous situation for the Greens (and Liberals) is a completely even distribution within candidates for the parties. The likely scenario then is that the minor parties get killed off and they spread evenly to the Liberals, but everyone's still below quota and you start killing Greens, which concentrate to probably their proportion of the vote (10% or so?) and they maybe get one person in if they're lucky. At that point, Green preferences start flowing, mostly toward the NDP.

The key is to make sure that Liberal surpluses get distributed before minor candidate eliminations. This suggests that a "star candidate" strategy. The NDP benefits most if Liberal support is spread thin and they wait for the Green preferences to come over.

The term "kill" is figurative. ;-)
I think the NDPer in question isn't hoping to so much win the election outright, but merely hoping that the Greens don't steal too many votes this time.
The scenario is totally plausible, and it does give more strategic substance to Carr's objections of STV rather than just her personal wants (note: because it came out during the Carr initiative campaign that she had abolished PR in Green Party internal elections, my views on her love for MMP are still somewhat cynical). It might hurt the BC Liberals enough if they support is sufficiently weak, but this is really more of a question of fighting between the parties on the Left, and I'm not one to predict the political landscape five years from now anyways.
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