Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hot Rod

Riding projection update

After talking it over with some folks and watching the coverage, I am now convinced that Rodney Weston will be a strong candidate for the Conservatives in Saint John. He has been campaigning quite effectively against the Liberal Green Shift plan, which would impose a carbon tax. Weston's argument is that the choice is between a new refinery and new jobs or a carbon tax and no new jobs.

The CBC the other day did a streeter and the folks they talked to were unanimously against the Liberals. Green Shift may be enough to shift the 4% away from Paul Zed that would give the Tories a win.

I am moving this from a leans Liberal hold to leans Conservative gain.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A new election blog...

NB taxpayer and I are teaming up for the 40th general election. You can find our musings at New Brunswickers Paint the Political Picture - a bit of a play on our historical name, "The Picture Province".

My first entry is my previously promised Atlantic Ridings to Watch.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

And we're off!

The election has been called and the leaders have been making their first appeals on TV.

Stephen Harper was good both in speech and questions. He has also lost a lot of weight! His campaign would seem to be focussed on the government's record and leadership. No surprise there. The press in both his and Dion's question sessions seemed very focussed on the use of "family man" in Harper's commercials. He had a decent answer, saying he isn't arguing that others aren't family men but his advisors have pointed out that Canadians don't know him as a father, etc and it is worthwhile to inform people of that side of his persona.

St├ęphane Dion used a teleprompter for his speech and the result was to show a stark difference between his ability in English when reading a speech and when answering unrehersed questions. I am not sure it would be wise for the Liberals to have him use a teleprompter in the future except when giving speeches where questions will not follow. Dion has boiled his "three pillars: economic prosperity, social justice and sustainability" down to the catchier "richer, fairer and greener Canada". Dion said "I am as nationalistic as Gilles Duceppe" which could come back to haunt him in an attack ad.

Gilles Duceppe had the same appeal as usual (only we will stand up for Quebec!) but the meat was a bit light because of the nationalistic things Harper's government has done ("nation within a nation", UNESCO, etc). Duceppe reminded people of Harper's 2003 support of the Iraq War which may be a wise approach for him to take.

Neither CTV nor CBC cut to Jack Layton has he began his remarks, CBC didn't even acknowledge that he existed while CTV showed him in a side box but did not cut to him. I am not sure why this was, I expect we will soon learn as the NDP complains. I left to write this post and am not sure if they cut to him or if they will cut to Elizabeth May.

Riding Watch

Two high profile Conservative candidates have been announced in New Brunswick. Former cabinet minister and Lord chief of staff Rodney Weston will run in Saint John while Downtown Moncton CEO and former Lord riding assistant Daniel Allain will run in Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe. Preliminarily, I am not totally sure what to make of these.

In Saint John, Paul Zed only won by four points (43% to 39%) in 2006, but Weston, while well regarded by the political class in Fredericton and by the media, was defeated in his attempt for re-election in 2003 despite representing a conservative riding. Weston is from rural Saint John County and his old riding (Saint John-Fundy) only includes a small part of the city. I am not sure how well he would play in the city proper and the higher-end suburbs. I'll keep an eye on this but this may actually be to Zed's benefit.

In Moncton, having a fluently bilingual individual with a record of public service inside and outside of politics may be formidable. The difference between Bradshaw in 2004 and Murphy in 2006 was 11% (59% vs. 48%). Allain certainly faces an uphill battle but this is interesting enough for me to move the riding from safe Liberal to leans Liberal.

In the next few days I will do a less detailed round-up of Atlantic ridings.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A brief look at the federal ridings

Back in August 2006, this site got started with coverage of the provincial election. Things really got rolling with my post, the ironically named, a brief look at the ridings which I continually updated throughout the campaign before making a final prediction.

It is beyond my level of free time, ability and interest to do something similar for all of Canada's 308 ridings. But, though I have gotten somewhat away from commenting on local politics, I just can't resist doing something similar for New Brunswick's 10 federal ridings.

So, here is my non-partisan evaluation of the lay of the land, in alphabetical order:

Acadie—Bathurst - currently NDP

When Yvon Godin upset Doug Young in this riding in 1997 many people, including yours truly, believed it was a one-time fluke. Godin's three successful re-elections (two against heavyweights) has proved me quite wrong. This is an easy call: safe NDP.
Beausejour - currently Liberal

In 1984, Brian Mulroney swept every seat in New Brunswick except for this one. Though I often hear chattering about whether or not Dominic LeBlanc pays enough attention to the little things and the Conservatives have not yet announced their candidate, this should be a safe Liberal seat.
Fredericton - currently Liberal *incumbent retiring

This should be one of the more interesting races in the province. A Liberal seat since 1993, and a solid Conservative seat for 4 decades before that, this is the only open seat in the province, with the retirement of former minister Andy Scott. The Liberals have nominated airport CEO David Innes and the Conservatives have nominated PC MLA and former provincial minister Keith Ashfield. Both candidates are "boring old white guys."

Ashfield represents a provincial riding which lies almost entirely in New Brunswick Southwest, though its largest community (New Maryland) is in this federal riding and Ashfield himself hails from Lincoln. He is a long time party guy (ran unsuccessfully in 1991 before winning in 1999, 2003 and 2006) and knows how things are done. He has been campaigning almost full time since being nominated.

Innes is more of a political neophyte, and has not been able to devote as much time to campaigning as Ashfield has, due to a busy day job.

The outcome of the election could depend on whether left-wing voters vote NDP or stay home (a likely Conservative win) or vote Liberal. Andy Scott survived some tough races in 1997 and 2000 thanks in large part to low NDP votes and a split right-wing vote. The latter will not be a factor in 2006, the former remains a question. The NDP vote in the past four elections has been 21%, 17%, 7% and 13%. If the NDP stays in the 20s, it will be hard, though not impossible, for the Liberals to win.

The NDP does not currently have a candidate, the one they had previously nominated stepped down and endorsed Innes the day he was nominated. Notwithstanding that, I will very tentatively class this as leans Conservative.
Fundy—Royal - currently Conservative

The only thing to dispute about this riding is whether it is the safest Conservative seat in Atlantic Canada or if New Brunswick Southwest is. Safe Conservative.
Madawaska—Restigouche - currently Liberal

This is something of a bellweather - both of its predecessors (Madawaska-Victoria and Restigouche-Chaleur) tended to go with the government. In 2006, the current incarnation missed that, but just by a hair. We'll be seeing a re-match between incumbent Liberal J.C. D'Amours and 1980s-era provinicial minister Jean-Pierre Ouellet.

The popular NDP candidate, Rodolphe Martin, is not running this time. Normally that would be good news for the Liberals but Martin's votes came from blue collar forestry workers who are just as likely (or maybe more likely) to go to Ouellet as they are to D'Amours. I would say this seat leans Conservative.
Miramichi - currently Liberal

This is a fairly safe Liberal seat. Charlie Hubbard had reason to worry earlier in the cycle when the Conservatives had nominated well known and well liked businessman Bill Tozer. Tozer has since stepped down and, barring another remarkable candidate, the seat should stay safely Liberal.
Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe - currently Liberal

Although former mayor Brian Murphy doesn't have quite the stranglehold his predecessor Claudette Bradshaw had here, it is hard to see this riding being painted any colour other than red on election day. To hedge, the Conservatives have not yet named a candidate, but it likely doesn't matter except in terms of margin. Safe Liberal. Moved to leans Liberal on September 7.
New Brunswick Southwest - currently Conservative

The only thing to dispute about this riding is whether it is the safest Conservative seat in Atlantic Canada or if Fundy—Royal is. Safe Conservative.
Saint John - currently Liberal

Who was the quote, "the reports of my death are greatly exagerated," attributed to? If you said Paul Zed, I wouldn't be surprised. Many pundits wrote Zed off for dead in 2004 and 2006 but he won both times. Margaret-Ann Blaney or Trevor Holder could be game changers but, for now, this seat seems to lean Liberal. Changed to leans Conservative on September 10.
Tobique—Mactaquac - currently Conservative

Though this seat went Conservative by only 336 votes in 2006, it shouldn't be too much trouble for Mike Allen to hold on. This is a solidly "small c" conservative riding, giving the combined forces of the PCs and the Reformers over 60% in both 1997 and 2000. Once wrestled away from the Liberals, it is hard to imagine this seat returning to them any time in the near future. To make matters worse, the Liberals had a candidate nominated for nearly a year but he has since stepped down (this past winter) and no new candidate has been nominated. Safe Conservative.
So the preliminary count is:

Conservative 5 (+2)
3 safe + 2 lean

Liberal 4 (-2)
3 safe + 1 lean

NDP 1 (n/c)
1 safe + 0 lean

UPDATE:
Sept. 7: CPC 5 (3+2), Lib 4 (2+2), NDP 1 (1+0)
Sept. 10: CPC 6 (3+3), Lib 3 (2+1), NDP 1 (1+0)


Am I missing something? Am I out to lunch?

Please set me straight either in the comments or at nbpolitico@gmail.com.