Friday, September 4, 2015

2015 Federal Election Link Round-up, Week 5

Let's take a look at the on-going campaign with a wider focus. Below are the un-adjusted averages of the polls conducted so far in the campaign, by week. I'll update Week 4 numbers as more come in.

Week 1: NDP 34.7% CPC 29.6% LPC 26.8% BQ 4.6% GPC 4.0%
Week 2: NDP 31.8% CPC 29.8% LPC 27.5% GPC 5.4% BQ 4.6%
Week 3: NDP 32.7% CPC 29.4% LPC 28.0% GPC 5.1% BQ 3.9%
Week 4: NDP 33.9% CPC 28.4% LPC 27.9% GPC 5.0% BQ 3.8%

Any trends yet? The NDP seems to be going back and forth, while the Liberals are better off now than they were at the start of the campaign. The Conservatives could be slipping, while the Bloc seems to be.

Friday, September 4, 2015

- EKOS is out, and shows the NDP down. The Poll Tracker has been updated with it. An analysis will follow shortly on the CBC.

- Another quiet day! But we wait with baited breath for the poll from EKOS that is supposed to come out today. In the meantime, I've updated the By-Election Barometer with the results of last night's vote in Calgary-Foothills and Simcoe North, as well as the new forecasts for the ridings of René-Lévesque and Whitby-Oshawa.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

- I've profiled Edmonton Centre as today's riding to watch. Will it be a three-way race? An NDP victory to mirror the provincial win in May? Or will the Conservatives benefit from a split of the vote?

- Quiet day on the polling front, though there are some interesting numbers from Abacus Data here at Maclean's. Trudeau leads on fun, Harper on running a country and a business. But Harper's lead on those issues was not as large over Mulcair as he would like it to be, and Mulcair was up on things like giving career advice or negotiating a contract.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

- The latest episode of the Pollcast is out. This week, I'm joined by Bill Curry of The Globe and Mail and Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg - two journalists who know their stuff on the economy. So we talked about the economy and its impact on this campaign.

- I spoke with Prince George CBC radio about the importance of B.C. in the election.

- For the first time in a long time, British Columbia could be the decisive province in this election. I broke down the numbers in my column for the CBC today.

- Mainstreet has a poll concentrating on the island of Montreal today. Nothing too surprising. Close race between the NDP and Liberals overall, but NDP way ahead among francophones and the Liberals way ahead among anglophones.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

- The Poll Tracker was updated earlier today, and the riding projections are now updated to match.

- Provincial politics alert: the Angus Reid Institute is out with its quarterly assessment of the approval ratings of Canada's premiers. Nothing really striking. Brad Wall and Rachel Notley are the only ones with a net positive rating. Kathleen Wynne, who has been the premier the most present in the federal campaign so far, is a net -29.

- The Polls Panel debuted on Power and Politics last night. Rosemary Barton moderated a panel that included me, Dimitri Pantazapoulos of Maple Leaf Strategies, and David Coletto of Abacus Data. It will be a regular weekly segment. Check it out here.

- Nanos is out with its latest four-week sample (his last one before going to a nightly tracking poll?). Must have been a lot of movement in either the latest week or the week that was dropped off the poll to move the Conservatives from first to third.

- In case you missed it yesterday, check out the riding profile I did for Kenora yesterday.

Monday, August 31, 2015

- Throughout the campaign, I'll be taking a close look at some of the ridings projected to go down to the wire. Today's profile is of the northwestern Ontario riding of Kenora.

- Here's my analysis of the latest numbers. I took a deeper look at some of the interesting findings in Innovative's new poll.

- The By-Election Barometer has been updated, with the additions of Fabre and Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne in Quebec. Both are forecast to be Strong PLQ holds.

- The Poll Tracker has been updated, along with the riding projections.

- Two polls out over the last few days, a massive report from the Innovative Research Group published over the weekend and a brand new poll from Abacus Data this morning. Both are showing the same close race.

- This weekend on The House, we talked about the economy and the polls.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Riding to watch: Edmonton Centre

Throughout the campaign, I will be profiling some of the ridings to watch. Today's selection: the Alberta riding of Edmonton Centre.

Major Candidates

Conservative Party: James Cumming
New Democratic Party: Gil McGowan
Liberal Party: Randy Boissonnault
Green Party: David Parker

Edmonton Centre used to be a perennial tight race, but it joined most other ridings in Alberta as an easy seat for the Conservatives in the 2008 and 2011 elections. This time, it looks like Edmonton Centre could be a close race once again.

The Liberals were the last non-Conservative party to hold the riding, with Anne McLellan having won it in 2004 by a narrow margin: 42.5% against 41.1% for the Conservatives' Laurie Hawn. The riding then swung over to the Conservatives as the party took power, with Hawn capturing 44.9% of the vote to 38.6% for McLellan.

The riding moved more heavily over to the Conservative camp in 2008, when Jim Wachowich carried the Liberal banner. Hawn took 49% of the vote then, with Wachowich taking just 27.4%. Hawn's margin of victory increased in 2011, but his vote share actually dropped to 48%. It was the NDP's Lewis Cardinal who finished second, with 25.4% against 22.4% for the Liberal candidate.

In that election, Hawn won the westernmost part of the riding, with the New Democrats and Liberals winning many of the polls in the easternmost part of the riding, a section of Edmonton Centre that the Liberals used to win.

With re-distribution, the riding has lost a slice in the west that Hawn had won comfortably in 2011. That makes holding the riding more difficult for the Conservatives than it otherwise would be, particularly as Hawn is not running for re-election.

Taking his place is James Cumming, a former head of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and a local businessman. The Liberals have nominated Randy Boissonnault, a consultant and former journalist/commentator, while the New Democrats have landed the biggest name with the candidacy of Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Going by the numbers, at least, the race would seem to be between McGowan and Boissonnault. At the moment, the projection very narrowly favours the Liberals, who are projected to take between 31.4% and 37.3% of the vote in the riding. McGowan is right in there with Boissonnault, though, with between 32.6% and 36.7% of the vote. Cumming is projected to take between 25.5% and 29.5% of the vote, while David Parker of the Greens (a retired engineer making his fifth run for the party) could take between 1.8% and 2.2% of the vote.

McGowan may have a much better chance than this, however. He has some name recognition and the party is doing well in Edmonton as a whole, whereas the Liberals have shown no particular strength in the city in the few regional polls done in the province. The provincial New Democrats won this part of the city handily, so that makes for a lot of voters with recent experience of voting NDP.

It would also be premature to write-off Cumming and the Conservatives. Theirs is still a potent brand in Alberta. But the party could suffer from not fielding an incumbent here.

So there a few interesting story lines in Edmonton Centre. Is this a seat the NDP can pick up to consolidate the stellar breakthrough of the provincial party in Alberta? Are the Liberals going to win some of the seats they used to win in the West in the past? Will Edmonton Centre be one of those ridings in Alberta in which the split to the left of them works in the Conservatives' favour?

There are a few ridings in Alberta that will be interesting to keep an eye on. Edmonton Centre is definitely one of them.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Riding to watch: Kenora

Throughout the campaign, I will be profiling some of the ridings to watch. Today's selection: the northwestern Ontario riding of Kenora.

Major Candidates

Conservative Party: Greg Rickford (incumbent)
New Democratic Party: Howard Hampton
Liberal Party: Bob Nault
Green Party: Ember McKillop

Though it was a comfortable win for the Conservatives in 2011, the riding of Kenora has been a close race in the past. It was a veritable three-way contest in 2004 and 2006, when the margin between the first and third place candidates were 8.3 and 6.6 points, respectively. The Liberals eked out wins in both cases, first against the NDP in 2004 and then against the Conservatives in 2006.

Greg Rickford won the riding from the Liberals' Roger Valley in 2008, and widened his advantage in the 2011 election. It that contest, Rickford captured 47% of the vote, with the NDP's Tania Cameron finishing second with 27.9% of the vote. The Liberals fell to third with just 21.9% of the vote, while the Greens came off a high of 4.7% in 2008 to drop to just 2.6%.

There was a big swing between the Liberals and the Conservatives between 2006 and 2011. The Liberals dropped just under 15 points, while the Conservatives picked up 16 points. Voters, then, seemingly moved directly from the Liberals to the Tories, by-passing the New Democrats.

Rickford won the southern portion of the huge riding in 2011, where most of the population lives. He won the polls in Kenora handily, as well as winning Dryden by a fair margin. Aside from a few individual polls here and there in the south, the Liberals and New Democrats only won the sparsely populated north. If either party is to have a chance to win the riding, they will need to make gains in Kenora itself.

All three parties are gunning for the riding. Rickford is the incumbent, and a cabinet minister to boot. When parliament dissolved, Rickford was the Minister of Natural Resources.

The New Democrats and Liberals have put forward strong candidates of their own. Most interesting is Howard Hampton's candidacy for the NDP.

Hampton has a long political history in the riding. He represented the provincial riding from 1987 through to 2011, serving as a cabinet minister in Bob Rae's government (as Attorney General and, later, as Minister of Natural Resources). He was also the leader who replaced Rae in 1996, leading the party through the 1999, 2003, and 2007 provincial elections. He had his best performance in that last vote, when his Ontario NDP captured 16.8% of the vote and 10 seats.

The Liberals are looking to their past as well, with former MP Bob Nault carrying the Liberal banner this time. Nault was the MP for the riding from 1988 to 2004, when he stepped down. Nault was a minister himself in Jean Chrétien's federal cabinet, occupying the post of Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development from 1999 to 2003.

The Greens are running Ember McKillop, a Dryden school teacher.

The current projection suggests this could be a very close riding, and potentially a three-way race as well. The NDP's Hampton is narrowly favoured with between 33.7% and 37.9% of the vote, which would represent his party's best result since the riding was created in 2004. Rickford is a close second with between 32.5% and 37.6% of the vote, which would be his party's worst performance since 2006, when the Tories took 31%.

The Liberals' Nault is projected to take between 23.9% and 28.4% based on current polling trends. This is an improvement over 2011's result, but well below Nault's and Valley's winning numbers in the past.

The Greens' McKillop is projected to take between 3.2% and 3.8% of the vote.

It is still early going, however. If the Liberals make some gains in Ontario, Nault could be quickly favoured in the projection. But a three-way race between three heavyweights can make for a very unpredictable outcome. The role of strategic voting could be significant: will voters currently splitting between Hampton and Nault go en masse to the party more likely to defeat the Conservatives? Or, if the NDP is leading nationwide, could the Liberals who voted for Rickford in the last few elections go back to the Conservatives to block the NDP? Keep an eye on Kenora.