Sunday, September 10, 2006

Undecideds (Part IV) and leaners revisited


Ok, I am going to begin this post with what I am going to say here so you can digest it. I am putting this seat into the leans NDP column.

I still haven't gotten as much data on this as I would like but from what I can see the Liberal candidate is spinning his tires and stands to lose votes from 2003. The Conservative candidate is doing well but I notice with some surprise that Peter Mesheau seems to be totally absent from the picture. One of the most partisan members of the last legislature, I would have expected Mesheau to be doing some work - at least before he started his now infamous job on September 5 - to keep Tantramar Tory blue.

Now, on to Virgil Hammock and the NDP. It has been noted to me that while Hammock seems to have unified the NDP base (in 2003 there was a bitter feud between the academic and union wings of the NDP here and the unions sat on their hands), he has also been very good and portraying himself almost as an independent who will possibly hold the balance of power in a tightly matched legislature. I think this message can ressonate. It is unlikely either the Liberal or PC candidate will be in the cabinet, and if you vote for one or the other you risk having a member of a large opposition party with little influence. With Hammock you are virtually guaranteed a degree of power.

The NDP is strong here. As recently as the 1997 by-election they nearly won the riding (it was PC 1597, Lib 1558, NDP 1417) and the NDP finished a distant second here in 1999 ahead of the Liberals.

Also, Mesheau's seemingly insurmountable majorities in 1999 and 2003 should not make one think there has been a Tory resurgence here. A look at the riding's history shows this district has an almost Amercian-type tendancy to favour incumbents heavily and then fly into play when there is a vacancy.

So I reiterate, I am calling this one leans NDP. A bit of a warning to go along with this, I am not wholly sure and it is just in the "leans" column and I have a nasty habit of giving small parties more credit than they deserve so I may be overestimating the NDPs chances. We shall see...


Though I thought that Paul Barry had a good shot here, I am now hearing that Margaret-Ann Blaney is doing alright and may widen her margin from 2003 (which was only 600 votes).

I am moving this to leans PC.

Kent South

Redistribution in this riding helps the Liberal, though only marginly. Under redistrubution, Williams' 2003 lead is trimmed from 9% to 8.5%. The NDP, which lost the most under the redistribution (the PC and Liberal share both went up actually, just the Liberal by much more) would have stood at 6%. There is no NDP here this time, so that is a gain for Hébert.

Let's say best, on balance, that amounts to a 3.5% net gain for Hébert. So that brings the margin down to 5%. Can she make it up?

Well let's consider a number of factors:

  • Williams is now in the cabinet. A lot of people give this a lot of credit, I think on balance, in a rural riding, it is a neutral thing. Though it gives you a bit more power to bring goodies home to the riding and more profile provincially, it also means you don't just spend the 60-odd days that the legislature sits in Fredericton, you have to be there nearly year round. This means you miss a lot of events and that can rub people the wrong way. Effect: +0

  • Shawn Graham is next door. This didn't help the candidates in Rogersville-Kouchibouguac or Kent South in 2003 despite the fact that a lot of people thought the traditional Liberal seats were both certain to be picked up. However, this stands to help Hébert a bit this time I think. As a lot of commentors have been keen to point out, Shawn Graham has been spending a lot of time in Bouctouche, a new part of his riding that formerly belonged to Kent South and now borders it and is the power base of his formidable opponent. This has a dual effect the benefits Hébert, she is seen with her leader regularly when he is right next door and a lot of the times Graham campaigns in Kent he slips across the border and campaigns in Kent South. Effect: +2 Liberal

  • Hébert gets profile from the central campaign. It is clear that this is a seat the Liberals want to pick up and that Hébert is viewed by them as a star candidate. She has been the focus of a number of provincial press releases, including recent one on arts & culture as well as one of 5 featured candidates on why it is time for a change. Effect: +1 Liberal

  • The seat is a Liberal target. This means that the central campaign will try to give it extra resources. Next door is Shediac-Cap-Pelé the safest Liberal seat in the whole province. They could be loaning Hébert a lot of workers to help drag this into the Liberal column. Effect: +1 Liberal
So, all of these factors make it +4 to Hébert's advantange which shrinks Williams' lead to 1%. I will have to call this a leans PC seat as result but if we see poll numbers next Saturday that show a Liberal win, this will be the first seat to cross the line.

Revisiting the leaners

Now that I have finally (at least for now) gotten rid of the last of the "too close to calls" I am going to go through each of the 20 seats already marked as "leaning" and try to see if we can move them.

Campbellton-Restigouche Centre - I started this out in the safe Liberal column and I cannot imagine it going PC but it was a PC seat when it was first created in 1967 through to the 1987 McKenna sweep and went PC in a 2001 by-election so there is certainly a history. I keep hearing nagging claims that the Liberal campaign he is a bit shaky and while I think Graham's French debate performance will help him in much of the north, a lot of this riding is Anglophone. I am screwing myself again and moving this to too close to call.

Bathurst - Spinks says "a monkey could run for the Liberals there and win it" and normally I would agree. However, Nancy McKay is a strong candidate for the Tories and they would love to pick up this seat. In 2003, then rookie Brian Kenny beat McKay by only 96 votes! I think the incumbency gives Kenny a boost, but does auto insurance being less of an issue eliminate that boost? Probably. Does it eliminate his 96 vote lead coming into the race? Not quite I don't think but it is close enough that I am not conifident enough to move this to the safe column.

Centre-Péninsule-Saint-Saveur - I think that this seat is probably going to go PC in the end but I want to try to get some idea as to whether or not the Liberals still enjoy the momentum in Francophone NB. Moreover, there is no NDP candidate here which helps the Liberals. I'll leave it leans PC for now, but could see moving it either way down the line.

Tracadie-Sheila - I think the Liberals had some potential here but their candidate (the same as in 1999 and federally in 2004) is originally from here but teachs law at the UdeM and has always seemed to be unpalatable to the folks up here. I am moving this to safe PC.

Miramichi-Bay-du-Vin - In January I would have told you that Tanker Malley was invincible. Now I am not so sure. The Liberals have chosen probably the best candidate to run against him in the form of fellow "man of the people" and organizer of the massive 2004 hospital protests Bill Fraser. Early on, I was told by folks on the 'Chi that Tanker was in trouble. He had been damaged but not fatally by his towing the Tory line over the hospital issue and Route 8 but was mostly vindicated when he took credit for the cuts hospital cuts being minor in the end. But, that credit was completely eliminated in March of this year. First he quit the caucus because he wasn't named to the cabinet. He managed to get some on board with his claim that the Miramichi needed a strong voice and if he couldn't be in the cabinet, his vote would be more valuable as an independent. Then, as on Miramichier told me "he gave up his (censored) vote, how the hell is he supposed to represent us?" the fact that he "gave up his vote" for a big salary and a car incenced people. I think it is now a lost cause for The Tank. I am moving it to safe Liberal.

Miramichi Centre - I am pretty unsure here and this may end up moving from leans PC to Liberal by the end of this but I would value any insight you might have.

Miramichi Southwest - I think Brent Taylor is someone the Tories really want to elect and he would be likely to be in the cabinet while Rick Brewer would not. That said, Rick Brewer has been a popular MLA and has some recent profile on the gas price issue as chair of the Opposition Task Force on Gas Regulation. I can't call this safe for Taylor yet.

Moncton West - I hear from about the same number of people that MacAlpine-Stiles is safe and that she is not safe. On paper, this riding should be a pretty easy one for the Liberals to pick up so I dare not call it safe PC yet. Again, any insight on this one would be appreciated.

Kings East - I just, very hesitantly, made this leans PC. I can't move it yet.

Hampton-Kings - I would be very surprised to see Bev Harrison lose here and though he picked up some bad polls from Kennebecasis and didn't do too well in 2003, I think being released from the shackles of speaker will have given him the ability to swing it his way. Safe PC.

Saint John Portland - I just moved this one from too close the other day and am not comfortable enough to move it quite yet.

Fundy-River Valley - This seat was close in 2003, lacks its Tory incumbent and has a strong Liberal. I am prepared to move it to safe Liberal.

Charlotte-Campobello - While I expect this to go Liberal, I am not all that sure yet. For now, I'll leave it as a leaner.

Grand Lake-Gagetown - The polls coming over from Jody's riding will not be enough to erase Gene McGinley's 40% win from 2003. Safe Liberal.

Fredericton-Nashwaaksis - I was expecting that this was going to be a close race as seemed to be the consensus. It is a traditional conservative riding and they had a better candidate this time around. Moreover, some good Liberal polls had been lost (including the St. Mary's First Nation). However, my earlier analysis of this riding surprised me in terms of how safe things are here for the Liberals. I am prepared to move it to safe Liberal.

Fredericton-Lincoln - Convention wisdom here is that Greg Byrne will win. Spinks is convinced that Allison Brewer will split the vote here sufficiently to allow Tory unknown William Forrestal to sneak up the middle. I also believe that there is an outside chance of a Brewer victory but not a very big chance. I am going to leave this leans Liberal for now.

Fredericton-Silverwood - In my analysis of this riding I was predicting a ridiculously close three-way race. The profile on CBC TV showed that the Liberal was a bit weak on the stump and his main pitch seemed to be a desperate "don't vote NDP, you might elect a Tory!" I think that this may mean some more Liberal vote slips to the NDP. I am going to call it too close to call once again.

York - I am only really calling this "leans PC" because I have no clue what is going on here, the riding has a history of swtiching every election and the Liberal incumbent is not re-offering. I have no confidence in it so I am going to move it over to too close to call and put out a call for some help from my readers in this one.

Woodstock - The hospital issue and a strong, well known Liberal candidate close this one. It is going to go safely Liberal.

Restigouche-la-Vallée - A lot of people are telling me that I should move this over to the PC column but I am relatively confident that it will go Liberal. Why? All things being equal, the new riding would have gone Liberal in 2003. St-Quentin, the most Conservative part of Burt Paulin's old riding, is likely to swing Liberal thanks to the hospital closure. Mockler has always faced weak Liberal candidates and Paulin only needs to hold his own votes and those votes of a weak Liberal in Mockler's end of the riding to win, however I suspect he will be able to improve, at least a little, in Mockler's end of the district. I am not confident to call it "safe" just yet but I still give the edge to the Liberals.



Anonymous said... is my reply...AJD

1) Tantramar - leans NDP.
Three Horse race I agree.

2) Rothesay - leans PC.

3) Kent South - leans PC
Right...big WillIams win

4) Campbellton-Restigouche Centre - too close to call.
Wrong...leans PC

5) Bathurst- Leans PC

6) Centre-Péninsule-Saint-Saveur - leans PC .

7) Tracadie-Sheila - safe PC.
Right...Rouselle does deserve to win

8) Miramichi-Bay-du-Vin - safe Liberal.

9) Miramichi Centre - leans PC

10)Miramichi Southwest - Safe PC

11)Moncton West safe PC

12)Kings East leans PC.

13)Hampton-Kings - Safe PC.

14)Saint John Portland - too close
Wrong...leans pc

15)Fundy-River Valley - safe Liberal.

16)Charlotte-Campobello - lean Lib

17)Grand Lake-Gagetown -Safe Liberal.
Wrong...leans PC

18)Fredericton-Nashwaaksis - safe Liberal.
Wrong...leans Lib..Voted COR IN 95

19)Fredericton-Lincoln - leans Liberal
20)Fredericton-Silverwood - too close to call PC

21)York -leans PC

22)Woodstock - safely Liberal.
Wrong...Safe PC

23)Restigouche-la-Vallée - still give the edge to the Liberals. PC

Frank Power said...

I really enjoy your riding by riding analysis. There are several I disagree with but the effort put into the analysis is commendable and to the best of my knowledge not being done anywhere else(outside of party war rooms). All that aside - The Tories are going to win this election. Reason – No clear issue to defeat them on. It is just that simple.
Overall people are not upset (compared to Insurance in 03) on a large scale with the current Gov’t. Team Red has tried very hard to make NB Power and to a lesser extent insurance (They can thank you Robert Jones and CBC for that one) ballot box questions with limited success on both fronts. With no defining issue people will look for key differences in party platforms and leadership. Although there are some platform differences, for the most part they are a lot of similarities around Healthcare, the economy, job creation etc…

The way things have unfolded during this election is boding well for Team Blue. Very low key election, no defining issues, fall timing (history is on the Governing party’s side in fall election in NB – Hatfield was a master at the fall election). They are also having some success in putting doubt into Mr. Graham’s ability to lead the province. Fear Factor NB style.
The premise of your analysis is based on 03 voting patterns that will not be repeated and local candidates past performance. Although the local candidate (performance or lack thereof) plays a role traditional polling suggests that voters are swayed more by the party as a whole and in particular the leader. Like him or hate him Lord consistently polls ten + points higher than Graham. Even when the polls had Team Blue ten points down in the spring the point spread on leadership was still in Lord’s favour. That is the saddest part of this whole election – It is the best of the worst. I would bet a lot of dollars that there are a countless Liberals out there that wish they had Greg Byrne or Bernard Richard leading them during this campaign. It is deja vous all over again for Team Red. Old timers will remember that weak liberal leadership kept Hatfield in the premier’s office through at least one (prob. two elections).

Cartersville said...

Interesting blog...a good read.

A Cassville Heritage Association member, Cassville, Georgia

Johnny Reb said...

Interesting blog. Keep up the good work.


Johnny Reb

SCV Member said...

A good read. I'm looking for info on the civil war and anything related to it.


SCV member
Cass County