Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The new year

With a new political year on the horizon, each of the parties in the House of Commons could stand to make a few New Year’s resolutions. In addition to encouraging their members to visit the Parliamentary gym more often, here are some of the resolutions each of the parties might want to consider for 2012.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

To some extent, I think we're all still getting used to the new reality that is a majority government here in Ottawa. This year will be Canada's first full year of a sitting majority government since 2003. That isn't to say it will be a quiet year. This spring the federal budget will be tabled and the NDP leadership race will come to an end. In the last few months of 2012 the Liberal Party's leadership race will start rolling, and all of this while provincial elections in Alberta and perhaps Quebec take place, not to mention the election south of the border.

Speaking of which, the Republican primary vote in Iowa looks like it will be an incredibly close one between Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. At various times in the last few months, that list was supposed to include Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich, in place of either Paul or Santorum, or both. Meanwhile, in our NDP leadership campaign, it's all a big mystery.

But 2012 will be an important year for almost every party in this country. This is Daniel Paillé's first full year as leader of the Bloc Québécois. The Liberals will be preparing for next year's leadership race. The New Democrats will be choosing the leader who will take them into the 2015 election. The Conservative budget will set the agenda for most of their next few years in government. Could it be the most determinant year on the Hill until 2015?

It will be a big year for ThreeHundredEight, as the projection model goes through more changes and improvements, taking into account more regional data and making what I hope will be better estimations of how the votes will break on election night. Alberta and Quebec (if the latter does indeed go to the polls) should provide their fair share of challenges, what with the Wildrose Party likely to be a major factor throughout the province for the first time in Alberta and the Coalition Avenir Québec being a completely new entity there.

While on the topic of Alberta, which will become the focus of this site as we approach the election period, let's briefly take a look at the story the polls have been telling since January 2010.
It has been a bit of a ride for the Progressive Conservatives, who began 2010 more than 10 points behind Wildrose.

That changed in April 2010 when the Tories moved back in the lead, and that is where they have stayed since. Their numbers were relatively flat until the summer of 2011, when the leadership race galvanized the party. Their levels of support have improved under Alison Redford.

Wildrose, meanwhile, has been on the decline since November 2010. They are still comfortably ensconced in second place, however, holding a double-digit lead over their opposition rivals. But they are far removed from the salad days of late 2009-early 2010.

The Alberta Liberals are also on the decline, and their recent leadership race has not helped them at all. They haven't gotten too close to Wildrose in some time, but until May 2011 they were safely in third place. Since the federal election, however, the Liberals have moved into a tie for third place with the New Democrats, who have seen their levels of support increase slightly. But the likelihood that the NDP could finish third in the 2012 election ahead of the Liberals has more to do with Liberal weakness than it does with NDP strength.

The monthly provincial polling averages chart has been updated to include an Ontario poll by Innovative Research, taken at the end of October and beginning of November. I missed it at the time. The voting intentions results are unchanged from the election, but the poll does have some interesting things to say about why Ontarians voted the way they did. It is also a somewhat confusing slideshow - it looks like a few stray slides from other presentations somehow made their way into it. But it might be worth a look. It seems unlikely that Dalton McGuinty's minority government will fall this year, but at least Ontario gives us the kind of uncertainty that our federal politics used to provide.