Just How Many “Yellow Dogs” are There? Why First Past the Post Limits the Competitiveness of Canadian Elections

Following on from my last post, my colleague Daniel Westlake quickly put some data together, showing how big a problem yellow dog ridings really are (short answer: pretty big).

Somewhere Left of Ottawa

In a recent blog post (and submission to the House of Commons Committee on Electoral Reform) my colleague Stewart Prest highlights the presence of “yellow dog” ridings as one of the problems with first past the post electoral systems. Yellow dog ridings are ridings which are said to be so uncompetitive that a party could run a yellow dog and still win. One of the problems with first past the post is that there are significant numbers of ridings in which parties have little incentive to respond to voters. A seat won by 10 percentage points is worth as much as a seat won by 15 percentage points, so parties do not gain much from trying to appeal to voters in ridings they are very likely to win. Similarly, it makes no difference whether a party loses a riding by 10 percentage points or 15 points, so parties have no…

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