Monday, March 14, 2011

Is Simcoe-Grey a Tory riding or a Guergis riding?

In the next election, as federal parties spend millions of dollars jockeying for position on the national stage, two MPs will be waging their own local campaigns all by themselves. So what are the odds independent MPs André Arthur and Helena Guergis will be returning to the House of Commons after the ballots are counted? 

The rest of the article can be read on The Globe and Mail website. Thanks goes to The Globe's Rhéal Seguin and Josh Wingrove and the Alliston Herald's Craig Widdifield for providing some local background knowledge of Portneuf - Jacques-Cartier, Edmonton - Sherwood Park, and Simcoe - Grey.

In the process of researching this article, I was able to delve a little deeper into the question of independents for the projection model. Unfortunately, recent history does not provide a lot of examples of how independents perform from one election to the next.

However, by looking at the fate of independents over the last 30 years I was able to come to some conclusions on how to treat the vote of returning prominent independents (i.e. André Arthur and James Ford) and independents who were last elected as candidates for a national party (i.e. Helena Guergis).

The chart below provides a few examples of how some independents have seen their vote shift after leaving their party. 

It is important to note why these four MPs left their parties. Bill Casey did so on principle, as he had felt the Conservative budget did not abide by the Atlantic Accord. Standing up for his region, his constituents sent him back to Ottawa with a larger majority of the vote.

Chuck Cadman lost the nomination for the Conservatives in his riding, and was a sick man. But he was well-liked locally, and kept most of his vote.

Bev Desjarlais and Louise Thibault, on the other hand, disagreed with their parties on personal principle (same-sex marriage). Thibault left the Bloc Québécois while Desjarlais lost the nomination to current MP Niki Ashton. Both saw their vote plummet, and the NDP lost Desjarlais's seat because of the vote split.


  1. The real question, and one you actually never addressed in your Globe piece is "Will she run?".

    Being a new mother et al there may be a reason why she wouldn't run.

    That said if she does run I think she will win handily .

  2. She has already committed to running.

  3. Eric, any thoughts on the latest CARP poll (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) showing Liberal support at 42% versus 41% for the Conservatives? Losing the "senior" demographic would no doubt be devastating for Harper.

  4. It's interesting, but it isn't exactly a scientific poll. It will be something to keep an eye on in future polls, though.

  5. New Leger Marketing Poll out

    CPC: 36
    LPC: 23 (!)
    NDP: 18
    BQ: 10
    GPC: 10

    Cons way behind in Quebec City, but also far ahead in Ontario. Arena funding could be a real problem for the Quebec City conservatives. Unless the campaign makes the controversy fade in the background

  6. If find the CARP poll interesting.

    As the youth , women, ethnic and urban vote is leaking from the Liberals to the CPC the Cranky old man vote ( my demographics) swings from CPC to Liberal.

    Nature in balance?

    The only constant is that the CPC is the most supported party in all in all categories.... even Grumpy old people.

    For political power it is important to grab the centre and Harper while moving the centre to the right is dominating it.

  7. Re the CARP poll - it is interesting to look at the trend data from month to month - but overall, I have no idea how the membership of CARP skews in comparison with all seniors. My hunch is that it is probably 100% anglo and probably wealthier and better educated than average for seniors.

  8. On the Guergis riding you left out the most closely parallel example of Green party MP Blair Wilson.

    He got kicked out of the Liberal party in disgrace.

    He had won Vancouver West in 2006 by a small margin.

    Running as a Green in 2008 he got 14% of the vote the Liberal got 26 and the CPC got 44.

    Based on this the Liberals might have chance on vote splitting but even if Guergis takes 40% of the vote Directly away from the CPC the CPC still wins.

    Wilson only held 1/3 of his votes.... less if consider that there would have been 5% Green vote if they ran a pine tree.

  9. DL said: "My hunch is that it is probably 100% anglo and probably wealthier and better educated than average for seniors."

    That is a group that should be strongly Conservative. I know Greens have always done poorly with older voters, and the NDP has slowly moved from 'wasteland' to 'some votes' but in the end the senior vote has been a Conservative strength almost to the degree Alberta is. One wonders if the uncivil behavior in Ottawa is finally having an effect? Still, unless there are future polls with the same result, and we start seeing it in the regular polls (ie: senior percentages going Liberal instead of Conservative) I'd just leave it as 'interesting' not game changing.

  10. People are aware that Susan Eng (in charge of CARP) and Julian Fantino (Seniors minister) have a troubled past right ?

    Bad blood, an unscientific survey, and a poll coming from an advocacy group all suggest people should take anything like this with a giant grain of salt.


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