Be wary of the political science pundits.

It is not that they are necessarily wrong.  Political science academics are just not always experts in the street politics that the country is seeing in the run-up to the 2011 federal election.  When political science professor tells a reporter that you will know in the next two weeks if the Conservative’s are in trouble in Babel, he is basing it on past results and not judging what is in play in the electoral district this time.

Babel is more central to the hopes and dreams of Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff, than people realize.  The electoral district is not safe for either.  There is no slam dunk here.

Start with the basics.  Out of just over 90,000 potential voters, there are 20,000 voters who will vote Conservative no matter who is the candidate.  Some are committed Conservative party supporters and some are racists who like the clever way the Tories show that they are keeping the riff-raff from around the world out of the country.  The Tories also attract homophobic voters and right-to-lifers.  They are also playing to the gun nuts, the pro-capital punishment and the ignorant.

Next, consider the yellow-dog Liberals.  These are people who will vote Liberal even if the party ran a big yellow dog.  That figure can be assumed to be the rock-bottom vote that the Liberals got in 2008.  This vote was just over 12,000.  The four also-ran candidates in Babel shared almost that many votes in that election..

What we know is that, in this election, about 65,000 voters will cast a ballot in Babel.  Based on past experience, we already have an idea how 45,000 of them will vote.  That leaves just 20,000 voters who will really decide the election.  These are the people the candidates are trying to reach.

Looking at the demographics, the best guess is that more than 60 per cent of these deciders are women.  The median age of these women is about 36 years.  The majority have young children.  In looking at these voters, we find that they do not really like the Conservative candidate.  He comes across to them as young, callow and uninteresting.  In contrast, in a Freudian way, the Liberal candidate comes across as sexy and interesting.

At the same time, there is a rising tide of youth resentment to what they see as Harper’s anti-democratic tactics.  This could invoke the kind of social media tidal wave that worked so well for Barrack Obama in the last American presidential election.

We also know that these deciders are not going to waste their vote.  They know they have to choose between Conservative and Liberal.  In the 2008 election there were many potential Liberal votes that were turned off by Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and a  faltering local candidate.  A much stronger campaign by Michael Ignatieff will neutralize those Liberal votes that went to the Conservatives last time.  The appeal of the local candidate to women and younger voters will swing a majority of the 20,000 deciders to vote Liberal in this election.

That brings us to an almost equal vote for the Tory and the Liberal candidates in Babel.

What will really decide this election in Babel are the votes for the NDP and the Green parties.  Not that either can win.  They are protest votes.  The candidates are the perennial candidates for those parties.  They are well spoken, decent people.  They are just running for a principle.

But the people who are inclined to vote for them have to realize that all a Green or NDP  vote will do is help the Conservative to win the electoral district.  It can be that close.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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