Split vote myth

It has been interesting. Ever since Rick Strankman announced that he was resigning from the UCP caucus and was going to run as an Independent, people have been voicing concern that he will cause a split vote in an election.

I think some people assumed at the time Strankman lost the nomination that he was going to run as an Independent and were trying to scare people from voting for Strankman.

Well, on Feb. 18, Strankman did announce that he would be an Independent candidate in the spring election.

However, the idea that his candidacy would cause a vote split in the Drumheller-Stettler constituency is a myth and I will explain why.

In the last election there were three main candidates; the PC’s, Wildrose and NDP. In this election there will be four; the UCP, an Independent, The Alberta Party and the NDP.

When you look at the numbers from the last election there was no possibility of a vote split.

In the last election, Rick Strankman received 7,570 votes, Jack Hayden received 5,388 votes and Emily Shannon from the NDP received 2,927 votes.

If you add Strankman’s and Hayden’s votes together you get a total of 13,164 votes, the average between the two is a little over 6,500, more than twice the votes of the NDP candidate.

The only thing that will change this time is that Nate Horner is running instead of Jack Hayden.

In the last election, there were hundreds of voters that did not vote because they were fed up with the top down tactics of the old PC party.

There were also many voters that voted for the NDP for the same reason.

This time I predict the NDP are going to get fewer votes than they did last time and the total votes for the other candidates will increase. The last election in this constituency was a contest between two candidates.

I’m predicting this year will also be a contest between two candidates and it will be between the UCP and the Independent candidates, so the idea that the Independent would cause a split vote is just not realistic.

Further, you need to understand that the actual voting numbers debunk the vote splitting argument. It allows you to examine the motive of the whole argument. Its sole design is to instil enough fear in a voter that they will actually vote contrary to their own best interests.

For example, in 2015 the PC and Wildrose parties captured 81.6 per cent of the vote, in 2012 they received 93 per cent of the vote.

I would expect that in the next election the numbers would be closer to the 2012 result.

Regardless of how you split 93 per cent of the conservative vote, it will not equal an NDP victory.

In some urban ridings the vote splitting argument has some validity but in conservative rural Alberta, that argument does not hold water.

In fact, those spinning that message are doing so by being disingenuous and plain dishonest.

Vote splitting is a tool used by losing candidates and parties.

by Herman Schwenk

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