Friday, April 29, 2011

Federal election prediction - New Brunswick

If you looked at my prediction from last night, you may have noticed my New Brunswick prediciton - 6 CPC, 2 Lib and 2 NDP. I was expecting some reaction to that but maybe my blog isn't as widely read as I'd like to think!

In any event, I will break that out into three categories: easy holds, close holds and seats changing hands.

Easy Holds

The ridings of Tobique-Mactaquac, Fundy-Royal and New Brunswick Southwest are among the safest Conservative seats east of Alberta. They would only change hands if there was a big anti-Conservative sweep. And there doesn't really seem to be one.

The riding of Beauséjour should be just as strong for the Liberals. Acadie-Bathurst for the NDP is a no brainer.

And Miramichi, though some view it as a close race, will be solidly in the blue column Monday night.

Close Holds

I think that Fredericton will stay with Keith Ashfield for a second term but with a surprisingly strong showing by the NDP. I see the NDP placing a close third or even second. Ashfield will be held to the low 40s in terms of percentage of the popular vote.

Brian Murphy will expand on his narrow win in Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe from 2008, but just a bit.

Changing Hands

Jean-Claude D'Amour's three elections have been somewhat flukey. He won Madawaska-Restigouche in 2004 because francophone New Brunswickers weren't ready to accept Harper's new "Reform-Conservative Party". He barely survived in 2006, despite the fact that his Conservative opponent hadn't been on a ballot in 19 years nor really heard from in that time. D'Amours built some strength back up in 2008 but he'll certainly note be able to fend off the force that is Bernard Valcourt.

And I save my boldest prediction for last. There is only reason that Jack Layton went to Saint John this week that I can fathom; their internal polls showed something that is counterintuitive. Rob Moir's record of building the NDP up from nothing in the uber-conservative stronghold of Fundy-Royal coupled with the NDP's strong showing in Saint John in last fall's provincial election (despite not really paying any attention to the Port City) bode well in theory. Layton's visit suggests that there is emperical evidence (in internal NDP polls) to suggest this seat could flip orange.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Federal election prediction

I can never resist; here is my federal election prediction.

Not a lot of science here... I ran my gut instincts on the provincial popular votes through UBC's election forecaster and made a few adjustments (mainly in Quebec) to be more in sync with what I believe can be possible considering get-out-the-vote operations, etc.

Here's what I came up with:

CPC   121

I'm not sure what these results would mean in terms of government. The Conservatives would be very small were they to continue in office and would need the support of either the NDP or the Liberals to pass things through the house; the Bloc would not have enough votes to prop up a government.

The Liberals would be left in quite a pickle. Were they to prop up the Tories they would give the NDP the opportunity to reassert that they're the only alternative to the Conservatives and boost their chances at eliminating the Liberals as the principal centre-left party. Were they to join an NDP-led coalition, or just sign a confidence agreement to put the NDP into office solo, they would be giving the NDP the opportunity to have a record in office and remove for eternity the argument that only the Conservatives and Liberals can form a government.

May we indeed live in interesting times.

For those interested, here is my somewhat wacky province-by-province breakdown.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A cautionary tale for the NDP

Not too far from here, not too long ago, there was an election. The campaign had raged for months between two party leaders who weren't well loved by either their party or the people. An underdog yelled from the treetops that there was a third option, and no one heard. Or at least, they acted as though they didn't.

And then, when the distance to the election was being measured in days instead of weeks, something incredible happened. That third option surged in the polls. At first he was rivaling the liberal option for second. Then he pulled ahead just a little bit. And in the final days he actually started to tie the conservative frontrunner and even lead him.

The final results were 38.3% for the conservative frontrunner to 36.5% for that implausible third option. The liberal trailed distantly at 19.1%.

We're of course talking about the race for governor of Maine. The conservative Republican is now-governor Paul LePage. The third option was independent Eliot Cutler. And the liberal Democrat was Libby Mitchell.

And one might argue that this isn't such a cautionary tale for the NDP; were they to do as well as this it would be an incredible trimuph. But here's the rub: Cutler won the votes on election day. But he placed third in advanced polling before people realized he was a viable option, handing the election to LePage.

Here in Canada, the NDP surge first started being talked about last Thursday, the day before advanced polling began - and the day before the Easter long weekend. Many people cast their ballots on Good Friday. Would the average voter have even heard about the NDP surge at that point? And had they heard it, would they have thought it a rogue poll that only pertained to Quebec anyway? Today, we're seeing more polls putting the NDP firmly in second place nationally and gaining. But how many anti-Harper voters cast ballots for the Liberals this past weekend thinking they were the only viable alternative? With a record 2 million Canadians voting in those polls, how much damage will that have done to the NDP's high hopes?

Here is Eliot Cutler's take:
Marie had read about my plans for reforming health care in Maine and wanted to know more. She quickly told me that she already had voted; because she didn't say that she had voted for me, I was certain that she hadn't.

After we had talked for three or four minutes, she suddenly looked up at me, stricken.

"Oh dear," she blurted out, "I think I made a mistake!"

"Don't fret," I reassured her. "You can make up for it by persuading two of your friends inside to vote for me!"

Marie ran up to me three times during lunch to report her conquests, which ended up numbering six. But despite her efforts I lost the Maine gubernatorial election.

An Independent starting with zero name recognition in a five-person race, I finished a close second, losing 38% to 37% but winning nearly twice the votes cast for the Democrat.

According to our internal polls, I had the support of only 15% of Maine voters when early voting was about to start in mid-September. By mid-October, after Marie already had voted, I was still in the low 20s. In the end, more than 207,000 voters marked their ballots for me, and perhaps several thousand more would have had they not voted early.
The cautionary tale is this: the NDP may have peaked too late, for 15% of people have already cast their vote.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Un gouvernment NPD?

Much like the shocking majority victory for the PQ back in the 1976 provincial election, crazy things are happening electorally in Quebec.

Should the current NDP numbers hold, some are predicting that the NDP could win 30 seats... in Quebec alone.

A few years ago, in a post I wrote about the underacheivements of NDP, I noted that since 1979, the NDP had won 74 different ridings in general elections. Since then, they've won a few more. Throw in 30 from Quebec and you could theoretically see over 100 seats for the Dippers.

That sounds crazy, and it probably won't happen, but crazier things have happened. No one saw the NDP winning 19 seats in Nova Scotia in 1998, and no one saw them forming a government in Ontario in 1990. No one saw the BQ winning 54 seats in Quebec in 1993, or the Tories falling to 2 nationally in that same election.

So what does this all mean for New Brunswick? I was surprised to note that Jack Layton made an appearance in Saint John today.

The NDP got only 16% of the vote there in each of the past two elections. And their high water mark was 19% in 2004. However, Rob Moir grew the vote in neighbouring Fundy-Royal from 16 to 21 and finally to 24% and second place in 2008. He is now running in Saint John. Moreover, 2 of the 3 provincial ridings to ever elect NDP members are in the Port City. Does Layton think that his surge in Quebec will spill across the country and could then translate into winning these sorts of ridings that have never before been on their radar?

If so, Fredericton is probably another possibility. The Liberals didn't nominate a candidate until 10 days into the writ and his signs (and other activities) were very slow in going up as a result. The NDP broke 20% here in 2006, and has often done the same in provincial elections in Fredericton-area ridings.

All this seems to suggest the NDP is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. But one must remember that the NDP could just as easily be the victim of what is called "inefficient vote." This is what happened to the PCs in the 1993, 1997 and 2000 elections. The NDP could suffer from this phenomenon especially in Quebec.

If the NDP were to win 25% of the vote in every single riding in the country, they would walk away with somewhere between 0 and a handful of seats. Apply this to Quebec and the same logic holds. They need to raise their national vote to higher levels, or ensure that their vote is concentrated in specific seats that they win.

In 1997 for instance, we saw some great examples of efficient vs. inefficient vote. Working down the scale we see the BQ getting 4.1 seats for every percentage point of the national popular vote, Reform got 3.1, the NDP got 1.9, and the PCs got only 1.1. In fact, though the PCs had nearly twice the popular votes of the NDP, they actually won 1 seat less.

So, an NDP government still seems impossible. But winning 80-100 seats seemed impossible a week ago.

Neither may happen, but it is certainly something that bears watching.

UPDATE: 308dotcom has more on the possibilities of inefficient NDP votes in Quebec.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ummm... okay

I guess it shows when Paul Zed isn't your chief of staff anymore...

Someone call Elsie quick!


Alright, it looks like the Liberals have "fixed" this mistake by changing it to "St. John." As much as I found it funny when they erred in calling it "St. John's," that's a common and excusable mistake. But it is something worse to still get it wrong when intentionally "fixing" it. Good work folks.