Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekly Projection Update - Conservatives by Five

The projection has been updated and has incorporated the two most recent polls from EKOS and Angus-Reid. There has not been huge movement, but there has been movement.

In the short-term, five-poll projection, the Liberals have gained five seats to pull within five of the Conservatives, who have lost five. This classifies the government as an "unstable co-operative" one, since the two major parties are so close to one another. The NDP has gained two seats while the Bloc has lost two. In the national vote, the Liberals are up 0.6 points, which have come from the Greens, NDP (0.1 points each) and the Bloc (0.4 points).

In the long-term projection, the Conservatives have lost a seat to the Liberals in Quebec. This puts the two parties at 120-115 seats, again an unstable co-operative government. There has been virtually no movement in national support, except for a small 0.1-point gain by the Liberals. Regionally, things remained stable except in the Prairies, where the Conservatives (0.3 points) and the Liberals (0.4 points) gained at the expense of the NDP (0.7 points).

So, things are tightening up once again. We've been hearing Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff talk about a fall election recently - Ignatieff hinting at it and Harper asking for politicians to focus on the economy (which, to be fair, did not prevent the Prime Minister from dissolving parliament in September).

The two leaders are, of course, just positioning themselves for the fall session. The committee discussing EI reform was, in all likelihood, not called to actually reach any conclusions. If some sort of agreement could be reached, all the better, but much more likely is that the Tories wanted to be able to say that the Liberal proposals were irresponsible while the Liberals want to say that the government is being stubborn. The nomination of Pierre Poilievre, one of the most partisan MPs in the House of Commons, to this committee is a good indication of what is the government's intent.

This kind of talk only makes an election more likely. Both Ignatieff and Harper are trying to goad the other into blinking, as Harper knows that Ignatieff might fail to form government after an election (thus buying the Tories much more time) and Ignatieff knows that Harper will likely lose many seats, if not power. Undoubtedly, Harper would prefer to avoid an election. He has nothing to gain, as the 143-seat win in 2008 is almost certainly the best he'll ever do, and much to lose. But, should an election be called and the Conservatives squeak out a win, the party will be able to continue governing for another two or three years. Ignatieff can't wait forever for the polling numbers to assure victory and, as the 2006 election showed, an election campaign can change everything. The longer he prevaricates, the greater the risk he will be considered a Dion II.

Taking all this into account, we seem to be inexorably headed towards an election within the next nine months.


  1. Re: regional breakdown for the seat projection (2 liberal seats in alberta?)

    Realistically, it is hard to see Alberta providing 2 seats for the Liberals, even with a 19% Alberta vote share. Depending on the local nominations, there could be a chance, albeit very slim, that they retake Edmonton-Centre from Laurie Hawn. But the province's only other non-Con possibility seems to be Edmonton Strathcona, and if anything it will be the NDP's Linda Duncan hanging on to that seat. I wish the 2 Liberal seats in Alberta could come true, but that particular part of the seat projection is for now ringing a bit false.

  2. The seat projections are based on historical results. The Liberals won two seats in 2004 with 22%. And the Conservatives have always had more than 60% in Alberta since 2004, and have been as high as 65%. With less than 60% in Alberta and the Liberals at almost 20%, this result is not impossible.

    The projection doesn't take into account local particularities and nominations, just historical results.

  3. I've noticed that the election results always seem to be wildly different from the pollster's results. For example, some pollsters were predicting a weak minority for the conservatives, but yet, they strengthened their position last election. Things will likely be quite different from this point right now come september.

  4. An election this fall?

    You see the NDP and Bloc falling in line with the Libs then? Why would they?

    Next springs budget at the earliest IMHO, and I think longer.

  5. The NDP and Bloc don't want to vote with the Conservatives. It isn't about falling in line with the Liberals. If the NDP and Bloc vote with the Conservatives, they contradict virtually everything they've been saying for the past few years.

  6. I think we have a conundrum here with more Canadians wanting a majority government but the polls showing continuation of a minority government.
    The one thing that could break this political deadlock would be for one party to create a lot of anger in the public that would cause a major swing. If this happens and voters from the smaller parties vote strategically, then we could see a bigger swing.
    My sense is that if strategic voting takes place, then this will work to the advantage of the Liberals.
    There may be good analysis showing how large strategic voting was in other elections but other than commentary at the time of an election, I don't know of any source like yours that has tracked this.
    Do you?

  7. I'm afraid I don't. But I don't think Canadians actually want a majority government. They want a majority government with their party in power.


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