Elections – and by extension – governments, are won and lost by numbers, and there is a school of thought that says it is actually decided by a mere 8% of electors; i.e. those undecided swing voters who are not affiliated or obligated to any of the major contesting parties. We haven’t had the time or inclination to research this hypothesis; what we do know is that often times, and certainly here in our Federation, there are usually four or less percentage points of separation between election winner and the loser.
Unfortunately, there is also a portion of the electorate that does not vote. This gives rise to theadagethat, “bad governments are elected when good citizens do not vote”. Sadly, there is a growing number of such persons who absolutely refuse to vote. Recently, in a post Brexit mayoral vote in one borough of London, 82% off the registered voters did not vote. Even penal measures such as is applied in Australia do force electors to vote do not always work; the votes are often spoiled.
In the US elections, 49% of eligible voters did not vote. Is it they who are now protesting?
Some pundits posit that had the Independents not split the vote, the results of the US elections would have been different. This introduces yet another mathematical election concept: vote splitting.It worked in reverse in St Kitts during the 2015 elections. Here’s how.
Had the Peoples Action Movement and the Peoples Labour Party contested the elections separately, the anti-labour vote would have been split, thereby increasing the chances of victory for the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. Readers may recall that this meant that PAM stood down in constituencies three and seven to allow Condor and Harris to contest a two way battle.
Another interesting mathematical concept is that of the popular vote. Not for the first time we witnessed a winner in the US elections who did not achieve an absolute majority of votes, yet achieved a majority of collegiate votes. Here, at home, the Labour Party has often won the popular vote even with St Kitts and Nevis combined, yet lost several elections. This concept has no value in the Westminster and Collegiate form of elections, and is of no comfort to a popular loser.
Then there is the most “colourful” mathematical concept: coalitions. Some coalitions come after the voting and some before. We will delve into this concept at another time.