Tuesday, March 8, 2011

February 2011 Best and Worst Case Scenarios

I have a few provincial polls to get to this week, and I expect there will be a new EKOS poll on Thursday, so the timing is right for a look at February 2011's best and worst case scenarios for each party. Who knows, this may be the last such look before the next campaign.

If you missed it, I also posted earlier today with February's polling averages.

First, the standard boiler plate.

These best and worst case scenarios calculate each party's best and worst projection results in each region.

For example, if the Conservatives had their best result in the western provinces in an Angus-Reid poll, their best result in Ontario in a Nanos poll, their best result in Quebec in a Léger poll, and their best result in Atlantic Canada in an EKOS poll, I would take each of these bests and combine them. And the same goes for a worst case scenario, using all of their worst results.

In other words, these projections are the best and worst possible results each party could have gotten had an election taken place last month, based on the available polling data.

These best and worst case scenarios are in terms of total seats only, and not necessarily about how a party would fit in with the others in Parliament.

As always, we shall start with the New Democrats.

Their best case scenario was quite good. With 22.7% of the vote, the NDP wins 44 seats but remains the fourth party in the House. They win 14 seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, four in the Prairies, 18 in Ontario, two in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada (I'm awarding each party one seat each in the North for all of these scenarios).

The Conservatives form another minority government, while the Liberals pick up a couple seats.

Their worst case scenario, on the other hand, is quite bad. With only 11% of the vote, the NDP wins 15 seats: two in British Columbia, none in Alberta, two in the Prairies, eight in Ontario, none in Quebec, and two in Atlantic Canada.

The Conservatives form a majority government with 162 seats, while the Bloc and Liberals both tread water. In other words, the Conservatives win their majority on the backs of the NDP.

This is a wider range than the NDP had in January, which shouldn't be too much of a surprise considering there were twice as many polls in February. Whereas January's range was between 18-36 seats and 13.1%-19.6% of the vote, February's is 15-44 seats and 11%-22.7% of the vote. So, the election could either be a disaster or one for the ages.

For the Liberals, there's a greater risk of it being a disaster.

Their best case scenario still puts them in the opposition benches, as with 33.0% of the vote they win 113 seats: 12 in British Columbia, two in Alberta, six in the Prairies, 54 in Ontario, 18 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada.

But the Conservatives win 127 seats, and in order to form a government the Liberals would require some sort of agreement with the NDP and Bloc.

Their worst case scenario is catastrophic. With only 21.8% of the vote, the Liberals win 55 seats: three in British Columbia, none in Alberta, one in the Prairies, 29 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada.

The Conservatives form a majority government with 168 seats, while the Bloc wins enough seats that they would likely form the Official Opposition after a slew of Liberal MPs resign.

As with the NDP, the Liberals had a wider range in February: 55-113 seats and 21.8%-33% of the vote. In January, that range was 76-110 seats and 24.1%-31.4% of the vote. The range has really dropped down for the Liberals. In the past, they could at least count on a repeat of their 2008 performance. But now it looks like they risk losing even more.

The Conservatives are back up into majority territory, though they are still at risk of losing their hold on government. With 43.1% of the vote, the Conservatives win 170 seats: 25 in British Columbia, 28 in Alberta, 23 in the Prairies, 62 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals are reduced to 58 seats, though the Bloc picks up a few and wins 50.

On the other hand, with 32.2% of the vote the Conservatives win only 115 seats in their worst case scenario: 12 in British Columbia, 26 in Alberta, 20 in the Prairies, 42 in Ontario, five in Quebec, and nine in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win 103 seats, and could easily team-up with the NDP, who win another 32 seats. It isn't a majority, but it is far more workable than what the Conservatives would have.

This puts the Conservative range in February at between 115 and 170 seats and between 32.2% and 43.1% of the vote. In January, that range was 122-146 and 32%-37.3%.

It's a bit of a gamble. The Conservatives have the ability to win a majority if they can run a flawless campaign, at least according to the polling data from February. But they could also tank, stumble, and likely face defeat at the hands of a buoyed opposition.

February was a bit of an exceptional month. It will be very interesting to see how March's numbers go, as things haven't been going smoothly for the Tories of late. I would not be surprised if all of the hubbub around Bev Oda and Jason Kenney and election spending result in no change in the numbers whatsoever. I expect, however, that the Conservatives are likely to drop back to around 35% support.

But how long until we're in another election campaign? The budget could be defeated in less than three weeks. Other scenarios put the government falling before that. It will be a rocky month.


  1. Given recent polling numbers, I think an election would be really interesting, I really don't expect we'll have one soon.

    I think we're looking at a Spring 2012 election.

  2. Thank you for maintaining this site. I often find it very informative and interesting.

  3. Out of curiosity, how high or low could the Green Party end up for percentage of overall vote? IE: if their best/worst case for percentage in each province/region occurred could they move ahead of the NDP in popular vote and still end up with just 1 seat? I know they could move ahead of the Bloc, but the NDP would be a lot harder to pass. It also, again, says something about our system that the NDP could end up with a horrid result and still get double digit seats while the Greens would have, at most, 4 seats (much like how the PC/Reformers for years had no chance at winning no matter how well they did).

  4. Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberal advisors obviously not not believe in the Polls and/or your current seat predictions derived from them.

    You should give them a call and explain that you have updated your model.

    Following the pattern of an attack ad your repeated predictions of Liberal seat gains have ingrained this as a fact on the Liberal psyche.

  5. @John_Northey - The Reform Party actually had a really efficient vote distribution. In 1993 they got 18.7% of the vote and won 52 seats.

    Aside from the Bloc, no other party ever produced results like that.

  6. Hey BC Voice: While it's certainly true Eric's recent projection tinkering has deflated the Liberals numbers somewhat, I expect the recent low polling results will change soon enough, as they often do after a spate of CPC majority flirting.
    Also, the 81 seats Eric predicts for the Libs come after the worst month for the opposition in quite a while. I expect things will start edging upward soon.
    Meanwhile, I don't think Iggy has much choice but to push ahead trying to dump the Tories, either soon or at budget time. If he doesn't he'll be ridiculed as gutless. Better to be called a fool than a coward -- in politics as in life.

  7. Oops again. BC VoR and Eric. Please read 72 and not 81 for the projected Lib seat count based on Eric's Feb. projections below. I was thinking of another recent post. I obviously don't drink enough coffee. However, I'll stick by the rest of my comments. This particular month (Feb.) was scewed by some fairly hefty pro-CPC polls, in my opinion. And of course I'm not suggesting anything untoward was done by pollsters to help the Tories in any way.

  8. True, Reform was efficient in 1993 on a seats per vote basis, thanks in large part to dominating Alberta I suspect, but until the PC's and Reform merged there was no hope of either taking over from the Liberals thanks to vote splitting in Ontario.

    That is the killer of the current system imo. I'd prefer a ranked ballot to what we have so at least 50%+1 of a riding picks who represents them thus avoiding 'vote splitting' and 'strategic voting' both of which, imo, defeat the concept of democracy.

  9. Thanks Eric...

    You must have called them and cleared up what they can expect from the next election.

    today they backed down on the charge into the valley of death on the speakers rulings.


    maybe Frank gave them a peek at the EKOS poll due tomorrow.???

    Only 16 more days before they back down on voting down the budget.

  10. @John_Northey

    Yup the first past the post system is really screwed up. We need proportional representation to fix that. Ontario was trying to move that way in 2007 but the referendum was shot down mainly because people didn't understand it.

  11. I figure Mar 21 is the Death Knell for the CPC.

    No Govt this corrupt should survive !!

  12. While I am a partisan (being president of a local EDA for the Green Party) I do recognize how good a job some of the other parties do in certain things.

    Like him or not, Harper has done an amazing job in staying in power despite not having a logical partner in the HOC. Mix in the ability to avoid having anything stick to him (from record deficits-shifting blame to the Liberals somehow, to becoming more centralized after promising to be less) and he is a heck of a politician. Not a great leader for the country, imo, but certainly great at attaining and holding power.

    Ignatieff has been a bit better than Dion, able to keep himself afloat but overall has had major issues getting himself defined in the public eye. However, it might be for the best as the LPC cannot keep up with the CPC in ad spending between elections thus it is best to sit back and hope that by the time the election comes about people will go 'just visiting? who cares, what are your policies' much like how people have stopped caring about 'hidden agendas' for Harper.

    Layton has been extremely impressive. I expected very little from him as a leader, having lived near Toronto and seeing him as a loudmouth. The big trick for the NDP has been focus, much like the CPC. They pick and choose their ridings and focus on winning those while leaving others on their own (in my riding the NDP is basically one guy). Works great in a FPTP system and they seem to be working on moving away from depending on per-vote funding which will help should Harper win a majority/near majority.

    May has done everything she can to stay visible but it is very hard when the media has decided Greens don't count without seats. Thus the focus on winning at least one seat this time rather than focusing on winning votes overall. With the uneven playing field it is hard to compete (60% rebate for expenses was claimed by over 240 members of the NDP/CPC/LPC but only 41 Greens with my riding being less than 100 votes from getting it) but it will be interesting to see where it all goes.

    Duceppe has done the most amazing job imo. He found a way to take a one issue party and get tons of concessions from minority governments (and even majority ones). Again, I would rather they disappeared but they certainly do get lots of goodies for Quebec. Lets just hope other provinces don't go the same way (imagine the chaos if there was a 'Bloc Ontario' as well).

    The people in the political arena are all trying their best and have different visions of what is best for Canada. I can respect that even as I do whatever it takes to defeat those with visions I don't agree with. If all people in politics would just show a bit more respect to each other I think we'd have a far better system and see far more quality individuals jump into the system in an effort to continually improve it.

    Yeah, I'm a bit of a dreamer. Remember, I do support the Green Party :)

  13. Bottom line is, according to Eric's poll#s, the public is very volatile and ANYTHING could happen. As the numbers show, we could get a Harper majority or a Liberal minority with a substantial # of NDP seats. I think an election looks inevitable. The outcome will depend on how successful the Liberals are @ pulling together a narative of government arrogance and disconect from what the public's priorities are. The scandals, government lies and obstruction,and spending skewed towards jails, jets and tax breaks for the rich/big business could damage Harper. They also need the NDP and Bloc to attack the tories and not the Libs. Could be a perfect storm or a yawner.


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