Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Best Case Scenarios - April 2010

As you'll recall, last month I took a look at what was the potential best result for each of the parties in terms of seat wins. As I only had a couple hours of sleep last night, I'll copy-and-paste my explanation from that post:

What I've done is taken the best polling results for each party in each of the six regions, and used those polling results to come up with a projection. In other words, these projections are the best possible result each party could've gotten had an election taken place in the month of April.With 21.5% support nationally, the New Democrats would elect 50 MPs and set party records.

Nevertheless, they still would be the fourth party in the House of Commons, two seats behind the Bloc Québécois. Their strong performance is especially marked in British Columbia (31%), the Prairies (31%), Ontario (19% and 20 seats), Quebec (19% and 2 seats), and Atlantic Canada (33% and 7 seats).

The Conservatives would be hit the hardest by this NDP surge, with only 109 MPs. However, they still would have more than the 97 Liberal MPs. But joining with the Liberals would give an NDP-Liberal coalition 147 seats, enough to govern with a good level of stability.

Compared to March, this is an increase of seven seats for the New Democrats and 0.2 points for the national popular vote.With only 29.7% support, the Liberals manage to squeak out a weak plurality of 113 MPs to the Conservatives' 105, and will need to reach out to the other parties to form government.

The Liberals' strongest performances come in the Prairies (35%), Ontario (38% and 57 seats), and Atlantic Canada (41% and 21 seats). They are still not doing well enough in the West and Quebec to give them a solid cushion over the Conservatives.

The NDP still manage a strong showing of 35 seats, but with a combined 148 MPs the Liberals and NDP would still be short of a minority, while the Bloc makes historic gains.

This is a drop for the Liberals compared to March. Their best case scenario is down 8 seats and fully 3.4 percentage points. It was a rough month.With 38.4% of the vote, Stephen Harper is finally elected with a majority of 159 MPs, barely crossing the 155 threshold.

While the Liberals, with 78 MPs, and the Bloc, with 48 MPs, manage to re-elect most of their incumbents, the NDP is reduced to only 23 seats. The Conservatives dominate in the West (81 seats in all) and are strong in Ontario (40% and 57 seats), Quebec (20% and 9 seats), and Atlantic Canada (35% and 12 seats).

For the Tories, this is a big gain of 11 seats over March. They only needed a 0.9-point bump to do it.

So, what we have here is a demonstration that the New Democrats and the Conservatives are in an improved position over last month. A majority is within the grasp (only) of the Tories, though things have to go very well for them to get there. Historic results are also within reach of the NDP, but this seems to lessen the likelihood of a Conservative majority. While April has shown that the NDP is strong, it also shows that the Tories require a weak NDP to get to a majority. There is conflict there.


  1. I suppose that's the danger of being a Dipper - you're going to get squeezed for votes if momentum starts swinging towards one of the larger parties.

  2. In the 2006 and 2008 elections, there was momentum to the Conservatives and yet the NDP gained seats and votes each time.

  3. Interestingly enough, a bare Tory majority might decrease Stephen Harper's power in some ways.

    He has governed with a majority supported by opposition parties who (for various reasons) have never simultaneously wanted to face the electorate. One member of caucus more or less wouldn't make much of a difference. Caucus rules are "my way or the highway".

    If there's a squeaker Conservative majority, all opposition parties will be more inclined to oppose. The government will be solely responsible for ensuring that its votes pass.

    Under those circumstances, expelling a Tory from caucus might leave the PM facing a Pyrrhic victory. Backbenchers could no longer be told to put up or shut up, especially those who are popular in their ridings because of who they are, not what they are. Harper might have to tread a more cautious path.

    Having said all that--it ain't happening. Fall election, Tory plurality, non-confidence vote, Grit government supported by Bloquistes and Dippers with no formal coalition. Notably, a Green or two in the mix.

  4. The key for the NDP is their ability to focus votes - getting the vote out in the ridings that matter while ignoring all others. This is also what is killing the Green Party - stable support around 10% pretty much coast to coast now but unlikely in even the best case to elect more than 3 MP's. Geez does FPTP mess up the wishes of the average voter (see the Bloc in 3rd in all situations).

    Speaking of the Bloc, what is their best case/worst case?

  5. In 2006 and 2008, momentum was small for the Conservatives, and horrible for the Liberals - that's how Harper got in, essentially off the back of a lackluster Liberal Party.

    If large momentum swings towards the Conservatives, and the Liberals hold their own, there is only one other party from which to draw a good amount of votes from. The same thing would happen if the Liberals gain large momentum, but the Conservatives held enough of their own votes. The NDP will get squeezed.

    Even now its happening in the UK. The Lib Dems are getting bogged down as last-minute momentum moves towards the Conservatives and Labour clings with dear life to the votes it has. Third parties lose out when questions of majority come about.

  6. Volkov i'm guessing its only because of the all over the place BC polls that the NDP took from the CPC.

    So that's one scenario, western gains.

    The other would be the NDP feeding on the Liberal caracass during an election.

  7. The Bloc best-case scenario is simply the one poll that they did best in.

    The best they did this month was 56. The worst was 48.

  8. The LibDems are down from their highs of two weeks ago - but it seems quite certain that they will still get a solid increase in both seats and vote % compared to last time. This is quite extraordinary because historically the Liberals or Lib Dems have tended to only make gains when a Tory government is being thrown out and they have tended to do badly when a Labour government is being dumped.

  9. EKOS tomorrow

    Another happy day of Graves digging I presume ?

  10. DL,

    That goes against recent history, when the Lib Dems increased their vote to the highest share in decades on the back of a Labour decline.


    Speaking of BC, how long until Vander Zalm takes the helm of some lost party?

  11. Actually the big advance for the Lib Dems was in 1997 when the Tories under John major were demolished. That was when they soared from their usual 20 or so seats to 50 seats. Then they gained a bit more ground from the Tories in 2001 when they lost big again to Labour. Then in 2005, the Lib Dems gained a couple of seats from Labour where the anti-Iraq war stance of the Lib Dems drew some protest votes from Labour.

  12. Volkov any thoughts on fundraising ? Year over year Q1 CPC over Liberal advantage has increased by $26,228.57 and now stands at around 2 and a half million.

    After some positive improvement over Dion you guys are starting to backslide.

    As for Vander Zalm I don't know.

    Everybody says he's too old. They say the same thing about Bouchard. But who knows, John McCain tried to be president at 72 and that's got to be a far more demanding job than premier.

    BC Liberal party is WAY past its best before data. Latest debacle was Kash Heed stepping down as AG over election fraud. 3 of his team face criminal charges but he was cleared.

    Day after he's re-instated the special prosector who cleared him resigns over a conflict of interest!

    BC NDP victory is ensured unless some big changes in the political landscape change.

  13. DL,

    They went from 20 seats to 46, yet lost a percent of the vote. Those +16 seats were part of tactical voting on the part of Labour voters who simply wanted the Tories out. This was a strategy endorsed by Labour themselves. It wasn't what you would ever call a "true rise" in support for the Lib Dems - it was an artificial rise with the aim of kicking out the Conservatives in places where Labour could never even try.

    Rises in popular support and seat count without tactical voting being a main factor occurred in 2001 and 2005, though not quite as impressive as the Lib Dem rise of 1983 on the back of, guess who, the Labour Party, who nearly overtook them for second place in the popular vote.

  14. I think that the NDP can only gain in the current political environment. I suppose that there COULD be a danger if the Liberals had a wildly popular leader and had massive momentum (ie: like Trudeau in 1968 - though even then the NDP vote only declines by 0.8% from 1965 to 1968). But let's face facts, there will be no "Iggy-mania" in the next election. At most, we may see a bit of a dead cat bounce for the Liberals from people who don't find Iggy quite as objectionable as they found Dion, plus there may be a small boomlet of people away from the Tories - but in that context - the NDP just picks up Tory seats out west - while hold9ing onto all the gains from the Liberals in the last couple of elections.

  15. Shadow,

    I don't think the fundraising is going that badly. Both main parties saw declines in their returns, except the Conservative have so much money to begin with that its hard to take note. The Liberals are still outperforming Dion-era fundraising by about 2-to-1, and we look set to have enough to reach the spending limit during elections (somewhere around 18 million, isn't it?). We've also seen a trending rise in small donors, which is key if we're going to wean ourselves off large donors and the subsidy.

    I've heard a lot of folks complain about the Liberal large donor fact, and I've got to tell them, shut the f--- up. The simple fact is that we don't have the luxury of time in order to build our small donors as the Conservative have. If this were a majority situation, within the four years we could manage it. Unfortunately, the writ could be dropped at any time and we need the money we can get right now. A healthy mixture, somewhat like what the Conservative have, is key.

    I agree about the BC Liberals and the expiry date. If the NDP would just change leadership, they'd easily trounce the Liberals in 2013. However, if James is still leader, I wouldn't place any bets. She's just so God awful.

  16. DL,

    If there is a "dead cat bounce" and any shift from the Conservatives to the Liberals, there is no way the NDP will hold on to all its seat gains from the Liberals. Northern Ontario ridings and even ones like Trinity-Spadina and Welland could fall back into the Liberal fold, just on the virtue of better turnout.

    And let's face it, the only place the NDP will gain out west is in BC. Saskatchewan is pretty dead for the NDP, at least until Lingenfelter does something... well, anything at all. Martin isn't beating out Goldring in Edmonton East, and Manitoba is pretty much maxed out.

    I can agree that a boost in BC would be good and might offset losses, but not to the point where the NDP make enough gains to matter.

    Next election, one thing is guaranteed: the NDP stay below 40 seats.

  17. DL it will probably depend on your leader's health.

    His personal popularity is twice that of Ignatieff's. How much he can be out there, be seen, perform in the debates, with the media will be a huge factor.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if there was a contest for second place between the NDP and the Liberals, with a historic high and a historic low of around 23% of the vote.

    Layton running for the job of leader of the opposition.

  18. Volkov the thing about Carole James is that she just seems so cold and confrontational.

    50% of that might be the fact that she refuses to do something with her eyebrows. They give her face the impression of perpetual anger.

    I think she should try a blue sweaters strategy. If she tried to be more positive, more uplifting, focus on good ideas about the future instead of doing the attack dog thing it would go a long way.

    Like Harper she doesn't actually need to become 100% warm and fuzzy. Its enough for the public to see someone at least TRYING.

    Its possible that her advisors worry about the fact that she's a woman, that if she's going to be taken seriously she's going to have to be tougher than the guys. Its the Hilary Clinton mistake, its just over compentating way too much.

  19. Once the NDP wins a seat - incumbency sets in and NDP MPs often have a big personal following. Quite frankly in Trinity-Spadina - the Conservative vote is so low that it would have to almost disappear completely and go 100% Liberal for the Liberals to even tie the NDP.

    In northern Ontario the NDP won almost all of its seats by pretty solid margins - so it would never be enough for the Liberals just to take 1 or 2% from the Tories - they would need direct NDP to Liberal shifts - something which so far shows no sign of happening.

  20. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Bill Vander Zalm as BC's next premier. And that would be hilarious.

    The change in the best case scenario for the Conservatives from March to April suggest that in March they were running a close second in a lot of ridings, because a tiny vote gain handed them several seats.

    However, that's probably all they get. I put the CPC ceiling under 170; there are about 140 seats that they simply cannot win under any circumstances. Even if they play a winning game, their margin for error is effectively zero.

  21. The funding issue is one I see as a potential major one long term. The Conservatives have talked of getting rid of the per-vote funding and going to a mix of the 75% rebate method and 50-60% rebate on expenses. This allows the highest fundraisers (the CPC) to have a drastic between-election advantage and election day advantage.

    Just because the Liberals might be able to fund a full campaign nationally doesn't mean they can compete on the ground. Each riding can spend (roughly) $90k during the election. The CPC could transfer that money to their local ridings easily if it is competitive, while the Liberals/NDP/Greens/BQ cannot.

    Money makes a major, major difference. In our riding we added Green signs to an area we never hit before and shifted from near 0% to double digits. Imagine if we had another, say, $10k spent on signs/ads/etc. (same candidate both times).

    I'd love to see donations to parties get the same rebate any charitable donation gets. Remove the bonus to those who blow a ton during elections (remove incentive to overspend). Keep the per-vote funding as that is what we want politicians to fight for - getting our votes on election day, and getting a higher turnout.

  22. Shadow,

    I think James' problem are deeper than just her image. She tries, but the NDP try so little; few people find them to be an effective party, even if they'll vote for them. All the Liberals need is a new leader and James' easy ride is going to get a lot more difficult. She's simply not an effective leader. They need someone new.


    T-S and the most of the Northern Ontario ridings aren't as safe as they seem. Chow holds the seat only marginally, and the Liberals there with Christine Innes have a lot of organizational support. Chow's vote share fell just as the Liberal's did, and it went to the Conservatives (14% isn't "insignificant) and Greens (9% isn't either in such a close race). Innes need about 3,500 votes - more than enough to take from non-voters (about 30-35%) and other parties. Not hard to do.

    If you're referring to ridings like Nickel Belt and Algoma-Manitoulin, then you're right, the margin is pretty big. But the rest of the ridings - both Thunder Bays, Sudbury, even Sault Ste. Marie for the Conservatives - are well within easily-changed margins. I mean, Thunder Bay-Superior North alone shows that if the Liberals increase turnout, they could win the seat back. How? Because NDP, Conservative, Green and even Marijuana Party vote totals barely changed! The Liberals lost about 4000 votes to non-voters.

  23. John_Northey I think you're on to something with looking at the local spending limits, not just the national limits.

    The in and out scandal is still working its way through legal channels but intial rulings seem to suggest its more or less legal.

    Therefore the central party will be able to expense pro-Harper or anti-Ignatieff ads out of the limits of individual seats, especially safe ones.

    The impact will be pretty substantial. And even though it'll mean more legal action in the future the party will no doubt go full steam ahead with the strategy next election.

  24. Conservative MP, Devinder Shory, has been implicated in the Hugh mortgage fraud scandal.

    The MP, for Calgary North East is now being sued by BMO.

  25. The MP, for Calgary North East is now being sued by BMO.

    Ahh ! Another of those honest as the day is long Tories, Eh??

  26. With reference to the Australian compulsory voting system

    Too many links to put on here

  27. Peter please don't generalize the alleged actions of one individual to everyone in a party.

    Its profoundly disrespectful to people here.

    I don't think anyone has ever suggested that all Tories are automatically decent or honest people simply by virtue of being a Tory.

    If this guy really did do what was claimed i'll be the first to call for his eviction from caucus and for him to be banned from the party for life.

    But lets show some respect for the rule of law and Canada's traditions ok ?

    We have innocent until proven guilty in this country.

  28. New Nanos Poll:

    Conservatives: 37.2 per cent (+2.5)
    Liberals: 33.2 per cent (-1.4)
    NDP: 16.2 per cent (-1.6)
    Bloc Quebecois: 9.6 per cent (+1.9)
    Green Party: 3.8 per cent (-1.4)

    Probably a true reflection of Green Party support.

  29. I wouldn't put too much stock in the Shory thing. It's real easy to get caught up in this sort of business and have zero idea of what is going on. Find James Morton's piece on it.

  30. The Conservatives' biggest financial advantage is their ability to produce campaign advertising outside the writ period at below-market prices.

    If the CPC controls the timing of the next election, they can take major advantage of that. If the opposition controls the timing, that advantage partly goes away.

  31. We have innocent until proven guilty in this country.

    Which you have consistentoly ignored or trashed. You are very two-faced on this.

    Liberal or NDP they are immediately guilty

    Tory they never are.

    You can't have it both ways

  32. Peter i'm surprised your insulting comment was let through.

    I'm not "two-faced" (hey lets stop the personal attacks please ?)

    As a personal rule I don't convict anybody, NDP or Liberal or CPC, until a court of law does first.

  33. The in-and-out bit is quite the trick and I guarantee the Liberals regret not doing it more when they had the resources. However, as long as the Canadian public goes 'so what' it will continue. Kind of sad really as it could funnel far more money from taxpayers to party pockets than anything else.

    FYI: from my figures I get the following number of ridings that an in-and-out scheme would've resulted in thousands of dollars for a party (ie: they cracked 10%)
    Independents: 3
    Green: 40
    BQ: 71
    NDP: 242 (much higher than I expected)
    Liberal: 269
    CPC: 300

    Pretty clear who that 60% rebate helps the most eh? FYI: with a spending limit of $90k per riding (roughly) that could equal $54k per riding in taxpayers money if they maxed out their spending. Or if you prefer it has the potential for the CPC of equaling $16 million (it wouldn't most likely, but it could).


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