Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Collins wins, Scott leaves

Well folks, I don't think too many observers were suprised with the by-election win by Liberal Chris Collins in Moncton East. However, looking more indepth into the results, I think that there are some noteworthy trends.

I doubt Spinks will agree, but I thought these results were particularly good news for the NDP, to a lesser extent for the Liberals and bad-to-neutral news for the Tories.

The Liberals won, so how can it be better news for the NDP than the Grits? Because politics is a game of perception and beating expectations is the best perception of all. The Liberals are obviously going to be able to be quite gleeful that they won their first by-election test and that they took the former PC leader's seat but, everyone believed they were going to win and, traditionally, Moncton East is one of the strongest Liberal seats in the province.

For the NDP, things look quite rosy, relatively speaking. The NDP has never been strong in Moncton, so no one expected them to do well, however they nearly doubled their share of the popular vote vs. September (8.3% vs. 4.5%) and were the only party to get more real votes. Turn out in this by-election was 4509, down from 6964 last September, so you didn't need nearly as many votes to win. The Liberals actually received 201 fewer votes than in 2006, the Tories received a crazy 2308 fewer votes, while the NDP gained 54 votes. To me, this indicated that 2006 may have been the low water mark for the NDP and with a new leader, they could revert back to their traditional 10% of the popular vote province wide.

For the Tories, they had a party hack as a candidate and faced a Liberal "star" who is almost certain to join cabinet. It was a seat that in its entire existence from 1974 through the 1995 elections returned Liberal Ray Frenette by large margins and went to Lord only by modest margins when one factors in the typical "leader bump". Everyone expected them to lose so they met expectations so, in perception, it isn't really a loss. However the size of the loss is substantial though it may not be reported on. I expected Collins to win comfortably, but I would have never expected him to get 58% of the vote and a victory margin of 15%!

Let's look at past numbers: Frenette 74 - 59%; Frenette 78 - 56%; Frenette 82 - 51%; Frenette 87 - 70%; Frenette 91 - 53%; Frenette 95 - 61%; Lord 98 - 51%; Lord 99 - 66%; Lord 03 - 52%; Lord 06 - 55%; Collins 07 - 58%.

Collins numbers are equal to Ray Frenette's average (58.3%)... this seat didn't just edge to the Liberal column it has returned to its traditional Liberal status and will probably stay there for the forseeable future.

As for Collins future, I wouldn't be surprised to see him become Minister of Local Government (which is currently held by Finance Minister Victor Boudreau) in a not too distant shuffle. Maybe it will be a bit of a competition for him with Ontario Revenue Minister Michael Chan to see who can make the cabinet quicker. Chan was recently added to the Ontario cabinet just 13 days after his by-election win.

Now on to Andy Scott...

I was quite surprised to hear this news today. Wasn't Andy on the record a short time ago saying he was running again? Perhaps his departure may cause Bernard Lord to re-evaluate his plans for running in the next federal election?

I will be curious to see who emerges as the Liberal candidate to replace Scott. Dion is pushing for women candidates in winnable ridings so I expect there would be some encouragement for one to come forward here. Three come to mind, Anne Bertrand who was co-chair of Gerard Kennedy's campaign in the province and unsuccessfully sought the provincial nomination for Fredericton-Silverwood, Joan Kingston who is the premier's principal secretary and was a cabinet minister from 1997-1999, and Scott's wife Denise Cameron Scott who is as involved in politics as her husband and currently serves as deputy chief of staff in the office of the provincial government caucus.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about Kelly Lamrock? Too soon?

nbpolitico said...

It could be, I could list about 10 possibilities but I was talking about potential women candidates.

Spinks said...

The NDP doing better is all pretty relative. They're still a DISTANT third. Now in fairness I don't think anyone was expecting anything substantial out of them but to spin this as being good for the NDP...well I wouldn't go that far.

On Andy Scott, I have two good things to say. One he seemed to make a fair effort to do work for autism and that's worthy of applause and two, anyone who puts forth their name for public office deserves thanks and for that I respect him for. Past that, his multiple gaffes and out and out lying during the plane incident and never apologizing for lying, well I'm glad to see him go. I only wish the voters had sent him packing instead.

nbpolitico said...

I would never, ever, ever be caught dead spinning for the NDP Spinks and you should know that. I have voted a lot of different ways in my day, but never for the NDP.

The NDP always has run a distant third, even with their best showing ever in 1991 they ran fourth at 10 points behind CoR and the PCs.

Numbers do not lie however, there was a substantial rebound in NDP support in this by-election under what were not good circumstances for the NDP.

Thus, the conclusion that the 2006 result was a negative blip and not a trend for our socialist friends.

nuna d. above said...

Like many Liberals, Scott is seeing the writng on the wall and is going to "spend more time with his family."
Lord was on TV last night and said he wouldn't be running federally.

Dan McKenzie said...

What happened to Brian Gallant?

nbpolitico said...

Scott's announcement at his riding AGM last night was unexpected and after Lord's TV appearence. He may still run. I understand that Scott's decision was not so much a result of writing on the wall as it was Dion telling Scott and other members of the class of 88, 93 and 97 to step aside and make room for women candidates.

Dan - Gallant didn't seek the nomination this time around not sure where he is but Collins who ran in 03 and would have been the candidate in 06 (the timing was bad he was travelling with his son, who had been sick with cancer, with the Make-A-Wish foundation) had the nod of those high and above.

Anonymous said...

Thus, the conclusion that the 2006 result was a negative blip and not a trend for our socialist friends.

Shows another thing -- Allison Brewer REALLY dragged the party down! Without her at the helm, they did quite alot better.

nbpolitico said...

I was trying to make that implication without being too too hard on poor Allison.

Spinks said...

Sorry nbpolitico, my bad. I didn't mean you but that wans't very clear. I've run into a few jovial NDPers today ecstatic over the results. Sheesh who knows what they'll be like if they hit 10%. There will be no living with them.

Anonymous said...

As far as Lord running Federally, he would be better off to stay out of the limelight for awhile, give people time to forget his party lost the NB election.

Suppose he were to win a seat, Harper would almost have to make him a cabinet minister. Harper wouldn't like the conpetitive threat, so he'd make sure he didn't succeed. It's a lose, lose situation.

Why am I saying this??? I can't stand Lord.

Reality Check said...

Lord is too busy licking his wounds to run right now. I have a feeling every time he reads his "obituary" in the newspaper, he shakes his head and wonders how the people of New Brunswick could have been so stupid, rather than realizing New Brunswickers have a long history of electing leaders with big dreams -- regardless of how much substance is behind them. After all, that's how he got elected the first time, not to mention McKenna, Hatfield, Robichaud... Graham has a much better bead on the average New Brunswicker and has surrounded himself with some very shrewd and very experienced people -- something else Lord failed to do.

Anyway, he's not interested in being a cabinet minister. Federal cabinet minister is not a step up from Premier. He wanted to be Prime Minister and that dream is over. Harper is firmly in charge of that party for the foreseeable future and they're doing well in the polls.

Senator, however, with its sizeable pay cheque and low responsibility, could be an entirely different thing...

Anonymous said...

Again, more New Brunswickers 'elected' Lord than did Graham. Good critical analysis of the by-election by the way.

Comparing a by-election to Frenette might be a stretch though, seeing as how more people didn't vote than voted (figuring average turnout rates). Those more than 2000 people are a pretty big slice, and if you factor in the 'perceptions' that you are talking about, then it would be primarily tories who wouldn't bother casting their vote. In a first past the post electoral system when too many odds are against your candidate you tend to sit things out, particularly during by-elections.

For the NDP you can't discount the individual vote, so if you have a candidate that works harder, it may not be 'the party' at all. 58 more votes isn't huge, but as you say, out of all three they have the best news. There was a lot of pressure on the NDP though to show that they hadn't 'bottomed out'. Perception isn't everything, but keep in mind that even at 5% the NDP would still have the 'tie breaking' vote if Canada were to get out of the dark ages and have a modern system of representation. I suspect that's a lot more power than many commentators would like to see them with, and sadly another reason why a better system of representation isn't in the future.

nbpolitico said...

anon at 11:15...

By-elections ALWAYS have low turnout and trends will show that all party's supporters are depressed.

If you look at the Saint John Harbour by-election result in 2005 vs. 2006 general you see that the turnout went up but the shares of the vote were comparable. I think we'll see the same thing in Moncton East in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Reality Check...
"Graham has a much better bead on the average New Brunswicker and has surrounded himself with some very shrewd and very experienced people"

Too bad none of them sit with him in the Legislature.

Whats an average New Brunswicker? Does he/she own an ATV?

Chris said...

"By-elections ALWAYS have low turnout and trends will show that all party's supporters are depressed."
So scheduling it for the first Monday of the March break wasn't a factor? Sort of like making key announcements right before Christmas holidays....

Anonymous said...

I think you've just defeated your own argument:) If more voted in the Saint John by-election then obviously the vote isn't always depressed in by elections:) I don't see how the 'shares' could have been equal since it was an NDP riding before, and a liberal riding after.

But elections are not just statistics, they involve people, and people can act all kinds of ways anytime. Without asking WHY every person acted the way they did there is no way of knowing. But so thats a matter of opinion. Mine is that if shares WERE equivalent in a by election, then the tories would have won again. However, for all the reasons you mention, tories would be less likely to show up. Since the liberals got fewer votes than in 2006 then that seems to back up that claim. However, logically that's true, if fewer of every party's support showed up, then many just switched their vote to the liberals. Also, I've discounted the fact that most people are not 'tory' or 'grit' but are undecided.

However, when dealing with people, one never knows, I still think the same as I do about most elections, that those who don't bother voting typically are those who know there is no POINT in voting.


I give credit to Charles for Saint John, an individual can have a lot of impact, and I think he did there.

nbpolitico said...

I think you've just defeated your own argument:) If more voted in the Saint John by-election then obviously the vote isn't always depressed in by elections:) I don't see how the 'shares' could have been equal since it was an NDP riding before, and a liberal riding after.

Huh? I think you should re-read my comment. I said turn out went up between 05 (the by-election won by the Liberals) and 06 (the general election won by the Liberals). So the by-election had low turnout, but the result was 55%-27%-17%. The general election had higher turnout, but the result was 62%-25%-12%.

Anonymous said...

Gotcha, I thought you meant the election BEFORE the byelection. My bad reading.

richard said...

"Harper is firmly in charge of that party for the foreseeable future and they're doing well in the polls. "

Actually, they are not doing that well, considering the past decade of Liberal rule. If the CPC does not win a majority next time around, Harper will be gone soon afterwards; he will have the 'loser' tag and could not deal with that.

Muddy River Tory said...

Mr. Harper is a realist. He does not cow toe to the media frenzy. A real leader cannot govern the country through the media like the Liberals did for so long.