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The absurd math of merger Add to ...

The leaders of the NDP and Liberal Party call talks of a merger discussion "fiction" and "ridiculous."

That makes sense, because the idea of a merger is nonsensical. In the arithmetic of such a unification, one plus one becomes less than two.

A key question in public-opinion research is "which party would be your second choice?" It allows you to understand the composition of a party coalition, based on who their current voters also find appealing.

The most recent public example is from EKOS, which asked this question in March. (Results are on the top of page three of the report. First choice is along the top of the table and second choice along the side.)

<a title="View EKOS poll, March 18 on Scribd" href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/32798242/EKOS-poll-March-18" style="margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block; text-decoration: underline;">EKOS poll, March 18</a> <object id="doc_62518450364695" name="doc_62518450364695" height="600" width="100%" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf" style="outline:none;" > <param name="movie" value="http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf"> <param name="wmode" value="opaque"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff"> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"> <param name="FlashVars" value="document_id=32798242&access_key=key-1p1uh1ty17dmssgu7zbl&page=1&viewMode=list"> <embed id="doc_62518450364695" name="doc_62518450364695" src="http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=32798242&access_key=key-1p1uh1ty17dmssgu7zbl&page=1&viewMode=list" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" height="600" width="100%" wmode="opaque" bgcolor="#ffffff"></embed> </object>

Of the Liberal coalition, just 32.7 per cent give the NDP as their second choice. So in a merger with the NDP, only one-third of the current Liberal vote should be taken for granted.

Almost one-fifth of Liberals would be predisposed to move to the Conservatives in a merger scenario, as they list the CPC as their second choice.

Around the same number of Liberals list the Greens as their second choice.

In fact, more Liberals list a party other than the NDP as their second choice than list the NDP.

Defections from a "Liberal Democrat" party would be severe, a massive challenge for any formal linkage.

The numbers are similar for the NDP.

Again, around 30 per cent of New Democrats list the Liberals as their second choice. But more current NDP voters would be apt defect to either the Conservatives (12 per cent) or the Greens (21 per cent).

In all, "Liberal Democrats" could only count on one third of the Liberal vote (about 10 per cent of the total electorate) and one-third of the NDP vote (about 5 per cent of the total electorate) to create a new party that enjoys about the same popular support as the 15 per cent of the electorate backing the NDP today.

There would be more former Liberal and NDP votes up for grabs, but the Greens, Conservatives and Bloc have a better-than-average chance at getting them over the new party. These are supporters of the former parties who clearly did not list the coalition partner as their second choice.

Politics is the art of finding a parade and getting in front of it.

This merger talk is more reminiscent of what comes behind a parade, especially one with a lot of bulls.

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