If there is any election where Northerner’s should vote, it is without question this one. On the day of this election, political analysts across Northern Ontario and the nation still have no concrete opinion on the outcome. This is due to the fact there are 66 seats which have yet to have a clear winner, five of which are in Northern Ontario. So, what does this mean for Northerners? Simply, every vote has significant weight and should thus be made on an informed opinion, not one misguided, mislead or misinformed. There are 11.8% of people in these ridings still undecided who they will vote for. So, how will they vote; and what would the results actually yield, you may ask?
People generally assume signs, strategic voting and socio-economics play a role in determining how people vote. However, neither hold any validity. People vote for the same reason children watch cartoons. Kids are rarely watching cartoons for the sake of it; most of them do it to stay current with playground conversation with their peers. In elections, many will ask their more-informed peers who they are voting for, and those that don’t, ask themselves a closed question. Generally, opinions of the leader are premised around media presence and appearances in the riding.
Second, is the idea of “vote shopping” where people would vote like they do shopping, and change their minds at last minute voting for a different party based on some new information they gathered. This is significant to this election with the Liberals rolling out a new campaign days before the election focused on individual issues; one could correctly assume such action was made in response to this idea.
What does this mean for Northern Ontario?
There are five ridings in the North that could dictate the outcome of the election. Kenora would be between the Conservatives and the Liberals. Some indigenous people may vote in this election who haven’t in the past; and as such may give weight to the NDP candidate allowing a Conservative victory. If they mobilize more support to the Liberals, however, they could change that. In the riding of Nipissing – Timiskaming, a victory for incumbent Conservative or the Liberal candidate would also come down to mobilization of indigenous individuals. Justin’s recent appearance in Thunder Bay and Hyer’s local campaign may allow Liberal Patty Hajdu to narrow her gap with NDP Andrew Foulds. Hyer would not take many undecided voters, however, because of his emphasis away from the leader. Thus, it will come don’t to how many people vote for the Hajdu that wouldn’t otherwise vote, like Lakehead students.
Lastly, in Sault Ste. Marie, it will be a tight race between Liberal Sheehan and Conservative Hayes. The incumbent Conservative lost heaps of support from the redistribution of the more-Conservative North Shore to the Algoma riding, yet may have gained some with a recent Conservative rally. Online polls showing Sheehan in the lead are biased as he promoted it on social media, thus, it remains too close to call. Mobilization of residents in the North end of Sault Ste. Marie (who are generally more Conservative) against the east-end (who are generally more Liberal) would determine the outcome, as the NDP-centric West end has no chance.
If you are still undecided, ask yourselves:
1) Am I voting this way just because my peers are voting this way?
2) Am I voting for this candidate because of “strategic voting”?
3) Am I changing my opinion from yesterday?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, your opinion really isn’t your opinion – but rather just a repetition of things you heard. Take two minutes to check out the two main local candidates in your riding and decide accordingly. That is how you could have impact. Northerners could decide their fate.
Some conclusions can be accurately drawn, however. If the election were held yesterday, Sault Ste Marie would be red; both riding in Thunder Bay would be orange and both Kenora and Nipissing-Temiskaming would continue blue. But, the election isn’t yesterday, it is today. Let’s see what would happen!
Andrew Ault is a Saultite completing an honours thesis in voter behavior while studying at Queen’s University.