I just read a great post on DemocraticSPACE.com. Greg Morrow has constructed a matrix to do comparative analysis and ranking of electoral potential for the Green Party of Canada. What a novel thought for the National Campaign, data driven decision making! Greg has constructed a matrix whereby he ranks every electoral district in the country by relative standings for the following variables: Membership, votes won, gap between GPC and the winner, numbers of ID’d voters, and then compiles them into a ranking from strongest to weakest riding.
Normally I have criticisms to make about anything that anybody has to say. Call it a personality flaw, or call it attention to detail if you’re more diplomatic. In a previous post I discussed the importance of how the vote split falls in determining the electoral opportunities facing an electoral district. Greg’s matrix should probably include a measure of close 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way splits as well. The closer the split, the more different strategies, and opportunities will exist to win votes from other Party’s. For example, if there is a close 3-way split in the vote, and there’s a 20 point spread between the GPC and the first place, the GPC has the opportunity to win votes from each of the three front runners, and build up the 20 point deficit. If there is a way out there front runner, with a 16% spread between the GPC and the winner, then the chances are the deficit needs to be made up entirely at the expense of an incumbent. The incumbency factor is very difficult to overcome, and as far as the GPC annihilating a single Party, if you believe that possible, then I’ve got a bridge for sale you should really think about.
The only other significant criticism I could make would be regarding the ID’d voter data. I can only assume that Greg has access to civiCRM, and/or GRIMES voter ID data. Many EDA’s don’t use them. I know at least two EDA’s that have significant numbers of ID’d voters resident on custom local d-base apps. Plus there’s the stacks of paper records in most campaign managers basements, waiting for somebody to do the data entry. (Unfortunately, the data entry seldom ever happens, and the data is lost). In London North Centre by-election, I compiled data on over 9,000 identified Green Party supporters in order to quantify the outcomes from the GOTV effort. The scrutineers sheets were sent to the shredder instead of putting in the two hours of work needed to scan in the actual voters names, so the analysis could never be done, but surely the GPC retained the lists of ID’d voters?
The above paragraph illustrates a point that most professional users of data are aware of. When you formally start quantifying things, run sophisticated analysis, and present it neatly, the conclusions take on a life of their own. They become ‘THE NUMBERS’, and are inherently believable. You need to retain your critical faculties, and dig deeper into the underlying assumptions, and data quality. In conclusion, Greg Morrow’s matrix is a most excellent tool for targeting resources, and ranking Electoral districts. There are a few flaws and/or problems, but they are readily overcome. Be sure to check it out if you plan on holding an opinion on targeted ridings.