Saturday, April 2, 2011

Liberal and Conservative ceilings after Week 1

After the first week of campaigning, it seems that the Conservatives are capable of topping out at more than the 155 seats needed to get a majority government.  But the wiggle room the party has is miniscule.

Every weekend, I am going to calculate what the Liberal and Conservative ceilings were during the preceding week. The ceilings are established similarly to how I calculate the best and worst case scenarios: I take the best regional results for each party from all of the polls released during the week, and run seat projections with those results. The only difference is that I am taking the highest poll result, rather than the result that delivers the most seats. This puts the onus on the parties themselves, rather than on the strength or weakness of other parties. It is also more manageable from my end.

Of course, these calculations are greatly influenced by the smaller samples of regional polls. But we can still draw some useful information from these ceilings, as it is unlikely that the parties are capable of outpacing the best polls when you consider that the best polls are likely a few points higher than reality thanks to the MOE.

We'll start with the Conservatives. Their best poll results were 43% in British Columbia, 61% in Alberta, 52% in the Prairies, 47.5% in Ontario, 26.7% in Quebec, and 36.2% in Atlantic Canada. Together, that would give the party roughly 43% support in Canada.

It would also hand them 160 seats, five more than are needed for a majority. Their ceilings for the first week are 24 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 22 in the Prairies, 63 in Ontario, 12 in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada, based only on the best poll results. As the Conservatives are currently riding higher in the campaign projection in Atlantic Canada, this is an indication of how the polls have not been great for the Tories out east in this last week. Their numbers have been good, but the Liberals have been doing better. With their support for the Lower Churchill projection, however, I expect the Tories to gain.
For the Liberals, the week has given them some reason to dare to hope that things may turn in their favour, but they still have been struggling and trailing the Conservatives by a significant margin. Their best poll results were 32.3% in British Columbia, 21% in Alberta, 33% in the Prairies, 34.5% in Ontario, 26.5% in Quebec, and 47.9% in Atlantic Canada. Nationally, that would give them 32% support.

Their best seat results are seven in British Columbia, one in Alberta, six in the Prairies, 30 in Ontario, 18 in Quebec, and 23 in Atlantic Canada. This would give them 86 seats in all, a gain of nine over their standings when the government fell and the election was called.

It's a modest gain, but the Conservatives would also make a modest gain of their own. That the best the Liberals can do in Ontario is 30 seats shows the real problem of the first week for Michael Ignatieff: the Conservatives are doing extraordinarily well in Ontario. The Liberals need to whittle that lead down if they want to have any hope of winning more than 90 seats. If they want to form the next government, it is absolutely essential that the tide turns in Ontario.

I have not calculated the ceilings for the New Democrats or the Bloc Québécois for two reasons. Firstly, it takes time to run these calculations through the model. Secondly, the first party is unlikely to form government and the second party definitely will not. And the fate of the NDP depends heavily on the Liberals, as their best chance of influencing government policy is if the Liberals can win enough seats to take the reins of power from the Tories.

The ceilings of the Conservatives and Liberals are thus very important. On the one hand, it gives us an idea of the likelihood of a Conservative majority. On the other hand, it lets us know whether the Liberals really do have a shot of forming the next government or not. At this point, the answer to the last question is no.


  1. Unfortunately I don't think anyone believes the Liberals can do better then roughly 80 seats or that we will have anything but a Conservative minority. If the media keeps framing this election in that way nothing will change.

  2. Lib - NDP Coalition    54%

    Tory majority 46%

    More than half of Canadians would prefer a Liberal-NDP coalition to a
    Harper majority government, results of an exclusive poll for Postmedia
    News and Global National suggest.

  3. hosertohoosier02 April, 2011 20:34

    One potential problem I foresee regards the efficiency of increases in support. There is an interesting contrast in the Liberal and Conservative campaigns in this respect.

    Ignatieff is running a good national campaign, whereas Harper is running an effective local one (eg. trumpeting the F-35's in Montreal, the Churchill falls issue in Newfoundland). What that suggests to me is that a Conservative surge in support might be more efficient (both across provinces and within provinces). Obviously that would be difficult to account for, but worth throwing out there.

  4. The Liberals arent to get anywhere near enough seats even with NDP support to worry the Tories. Im beginning to think a Tory majority is a distinct possibility.

  5. Eric, do you ever sleep? Thanks for all your input.

  6. 73 + 33 + 51 = Lib-NDP cooperative govt. With Bloc support on confidence votes.

    That's all that's needed. Get used to reality !!

  7. Peter as Paul Wells has pointed out, 46% of Canadians want a CPC majority.

    If they voted that way we would indeed have a CPC majority.

    Plus you know that question is kinda bunk eh ?

    Because it would be an Ignatieff-NDP-BQ alliance.

  8. the exercise is moot because the liberal don't get to 155 anyway you slice it, save for a coalition.

    What would be more interesting is to see riding by riding polling numbers. We know from historical elections canada campaign expenses that local candidate spend money on riding polling.

    Love to see that information if you can get it.

  9. Shadow said...
    Peter as Paul Wells has pointed out, 46% of Canadians want a CPC majority.


    You're correct but you've selectively chosen to ignore the obvious fact that this means 54% want a left-leaning coalition.

    You can't have one without the other Shadow.

    The fact is that the majority of Canadians do not want a Harper majority.

  10. Oppositions never win elections, governments lose them. It doesn't matter how many dyed red Liberals think Michael is on fire. It doesn't win an election unless Harper really screws up, which he hasn't and he won't. I'm not sure it's really even possible during this writ. The Conservative government didn't lose from the Canadian people. They still had support when the election was called. The contempt ruling is seen for what it is, just gamesmanship by the Liberals not a serious scandal, like adscam.

    If Ignattieff is "on fire" for the whole election it means he will take some seats from the NDP and end up with 80, if he's lucky and Harper doesn't do well. It's just not a good enough reason to vote Liberal when the Conservatives have done well in government and haven't "lost".

  11. Looks like are Heading for a Conservative Majority Government based on Eric 's analysis , Harper has to continue Focus his campaigning in the 4 Areas BC , Ontario , Quebec and Atlantic Canada to Get his Majority
    Last week he got the Atlantic Votes out of Newfoundland , now the rest of the Campaign he will Focus efforts in Ontario, Quebec and BC and get his Majority .With 4 Weeks to go Harper just needs to stay on Course

  12. That's not my stuff Shadow and you know damned well it isn't. Stop trying to bash me for putting up media links.

    Do your own stuff, leave me alone.

  13. "The fact is that the majority of Canadians do not want a Harper majority. "

    Absolutely correct Anon.

  14. Anon the fact is that a "left wing coalition" isn't on the ballot.

    3 or 4 parties to split that vote are.

    There's only one Conservative party. And 46% for a single party in a multi-party democracy is pretty darn good.

    It would be the closest anyone has come to the 1984 Mulroney sweep.

  15. I get a big kick out of the comments that keep going on about "55% of Canadaians don't want a Conservative government".

    How come they never post that "75% of Canadians don't want a Liberal government" or that "80% of Canadians don't want an NDP government".


    There is no reasonable argument or basis that everybody who doesn't want the Conservatives to have a majoriy want their party of choice to be elected as government.

    The fact is that more people want the Conservatives elected than any other party. Any other comment is simply "spin-doctoring"

  16. CBC comment, have to agree !

    "Simply put, Ignatieff must be incredibly talented and important if the Conservatives are putting such enormous amounts of money and effort into maligning and smearing him."

  17. I see a problem with your predictions - in Quebec, you have no column for "Others". For example, in Portneuf--Jacques-Cartier, you predict a Bloc gain... without counting incumbent André Arthur's chances...

  18. Dominique,

    No, the Other column is there, I just mistakenly cut it off in the graphic. It will be fixed tomorrow.


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