Americans living in Canada could be the difference in U.S. election

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Maybe Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should have made campaign stops in Canada.

According to an article by Randy Boswell of Postmedia News, there are about a million Americans living north of the border. We don't know how many of them are actually eligible to vote, but you'd have to think a lot of them are. And, with the opinion polls indicating a statistical dead-heat, those votes could come in handy.

Even without an Obama visit, Democrats in Canada have been active with phone canvassing campaigns and debate parties.

"We had an effort coordinated from the West Coast to reach out to our members in swing states," Allenna Leonard, leader of the Democrats Abroad group in Canada, told Postmedia.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have been a little more low-key.

"We don't really campaign for the candidates," the head of Republicans Abroad, Mark Feigenbaum, told Yahoo! Canada News.

"We've been dealing with all the emails and calls from people that have been having difficulty voting."

An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released Monday claimed that Canada's love affair with Barack Obama continues. According to their online survey conducted between October 23 and October 26, Canadians prefer Barack Obama to Mitt Romney by a 7-to-1 margin.

Feigenbaum concedes that advantage to Obama and said that it's likely that the majority of Americans living in Canada feel the same way.

"I think Canadians' ideology tends to be more left than right," he said. "I think that there are far more Democrats who are U.S. citizens living in Canada. I think that's a fact. That's not even a question."

Fiegnebaum does add a caveat, however, saying that there's no way of knowing in which states the U.S. voters in Canada will cast ballots. (Americans living outside in other countries must cast their ballots in the state where they last lived.)

Americans elect presidents by the Electoral College system, whereby the popular vote is less important than the state vote. As described by PBS, "in nearly every state, it's 'winner take all': the candidate who gets the most votes wins all of that state's electors."

In other words, a large number of U.S. citizens from Canada voting in California — which almost always goes Democrat — will have less of an impact than a small number of U.S. Canadians voting for Obama in a swing-state like Ohio or Florida.

Regardless, if even a few hundred Americans in Canada vote in a swing-state, that could tip the scales and decide the presidency.

'Every vote counts' is a cliche that we hear often.  Just one week before the U.S. presidential election, it actually has some relevance.