The Harperites won both by-elections yesterday. But it's instructive to focus on the number of eligible voters who tramped to the polls. In Oshawa-Whity, only 30% of those who could vote bothered to vote. But in Yellowhead -- that Tory stronghold -- only 15% of eligible voters bothered to show up.
The big shift came in Oshawa, where the Liberals tripled their numbers. Tasha Kheiriddin writes:
They didn’t win, but they increased their share of the vote in spectacular fashion. Caesar-Chavannes received over 13,000 votes, though only one third of eligible voters cast a ballot. In 2011, voter turnout was nearly twice as high — and only 9,000 souls voted Liberal. Impressive.
The NDP vote collapsed:
Their vote in Whitby-Oshawa declined by two-thirds from 2011, to a dismal eight per cent. Since they ran the same candidate, name recognition was not a factor — which means something else was. That could have been the anybody-but-CPC vote: Whitby-Oshawa has a sizeable chunk of union voters who should have been backing the NDP, but they may have switched their allegiance to the candidate they thought could upset the Tories — ie, the Liberal.
Last time around, Stephen Harper won his majority by dividing the opposition. And, if there is any lesson to be taken from Oshawa, it's that the opposition now refuses to be divided.
Change is in the air.