Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Liberals and Tories on track to hold seats in by-elections

Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan are scheduled to hold their provincial by-elections on September 6, and polls by Forum Research suggest that voters in each riding are likely to re-elect the party they chose in the October 2011 general election.
In Kitchener-Waterloo, the Progressive Conservative candidate Tracey Weiler has the support of 34% of voters, a gain of two points since Forum was last polling this riding in the spring. The Liberals are down nine points to 30%, while the New Democrats are up 10 points to 30% as well.

The Greens are down three points to 4%.

This is quite a change since Forum's last poll. The Tories have held firm but Liberal candidate Eric Davis has seen his fortunes drop dramatically, putting him in a tie with NDP candidate Catherine Fife. But this is a close enough race that anyone could win - Andrea Horwath has a better approval rating than either Dalton McGuinty or Tim Hudak in the riding, while McGuinty scores above Hudak. That has the potential to even things out on election day, and the By-Election Barometer forecast now pegs the riding as a Likely PC riding, rather than a Strong PC.

In Vaughan, what was a close race is looking more like a Liberal landslide. Liberal Steve Del Duca has 47% support, up seven points from Forum's Aug. 2-3 poll. PC candidate Tony Genco is down five points to 36%, while the New Democrats are down six points to 9%.

But Forum also asked voters whether they were enthusiastic about voting. Turnout is absolutely key in a by-election, and with 39% of Vaughan and 45% of Kitchener-Waterloo residents saying they were "very enthusiastic" we appear to have a good measure of who may actually head out to vote.
When looking at only those who said they were very enthusiastic, the races in both ridings transform a little.

In Kitchener-Waterloo, the close three-way race looks more like a two-way race as Liberal and PC voters turnout in greater numbers. Not surprisingly, Green support plummets and the NDP also takes a hit. The Tories still hold the advantage, however, extending their lead by one point.

Liberal voters in Vaughan are not as enthusiastic as their Tory and NDP counterparts and as a result the 11-point edge shrinks to only four points as the Tories get their supporters to the polls. The Liberals still come out ahead, however, with 44% to 40%. But this does suggest that Vaughan could be a closer race than expected.

It appears that the incumbent parties have the edge in Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan with less than a month to go before the vote. That means a status quo in the Legislative Assembly with the Liberals just short of a pseudo-majority government. However, neither race appears to be a slam dunk for either party. Kitchener-Waterloo is a very close contest that even puts the NDP in the running, and voter enthusiasm in Vaughan points to a potentially narrow margin as well. The next few weeks of campaigning could be extremely important.

19 comments:

  1. One other thing is worth in the K-W poll - there is a crosstab on how people say they voted in the October 2011 election compared to how they would vote in the byelection. I did a quick addition of reported past vote and compared it to the actual results from October - and its all very close.

    PC - reported 42.8% vs actual 43.4%
    Libs - reported 34.6% vs actual 36.2%
    NDP - reported 14.6% vs actual 16.8%
    Green - reported 5.3% vs actual 2.7%
    Other - reported 2.7% vs actual 0.9

    To the extent there is any difference its that there is a bit of undersampling of Liberal and NDP voters and oversampling of Green/Other...but its very slight and unlikely to make a difference. I looked at this in the earlier Forum poll in K-W and it told a very different story - that earlier poll not only had the Liberals 7% ahead (39% to 32%), but it also looked fishy since a plurality of people in that poll also claimed to have voted Liberal last October when in fact the PC Witmer won by a solid margin.

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  2. I did a similar calculation of reported past vote in Vaughan and it looks to me like the sample there has a lot more reported Tory votes than they actually got last October and the Liberals and NDP are both significantly undersampled by past vote...could be interesting to actually weight by actual past vote!

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  3. That NDP result for K-W is interesting....

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  4. Vaughan:

    Reported 2011 vote: Lib 46.2%, PC 37.4%, NDP 7.6%, Green 2.7% and Other 6.1%

    Actual 2011 vote: Lib 52.6%, PC 31.0%, NDP 11.2%, Green 1.4% and Other 3.0%

    something is rotten in Denmark...I mean Vaughan

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    1. We don't know if there was any weighting, and of course people move and mis-remember. Recall that in 2010 and 2011 the riding voted federally as well.

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    2. If people are pissed off at a given party they tend to like to think they didn't vote for them previously. Or at least not admit it to others...

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  5. Some people move and some people mis-remember - but in K-W the recalled vote is uncannily close to the actual vote - but not in Vaughan...one thing that is interesting though in Vaughan is the actual crosstab - 81% of people who voted Liberal last Oct would vote Liberal in the byelection while 11% would now vote PC. In contrast only 74% of people who voted PC last October would do so in the byelection while 18% would vote Liberal!! If I were the PCs I would be very concerned that in an environment where the Liberals are supposedly very unpopular and where a popular incumbent in stepping down and people have a risk-free chance to register a protest by voting PC - the Liberals are retaining a higher percentage of their voters from last year than the PCs are!

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    1. Keep in mind a lot of people may have voted Tory because they had a popular incumbent. Those PC voters switching to Liberals could just be the loss of the incumbent's advantage.

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    2. Yeah, but voter mobility is likely to be a lot higher in Vaughn than in K-W, given the explosion of new developments in Vaughn.

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  6. I assume that the results of the poll are accurate, for the moment in time that they were taken. What is interesting to me on top of that, however, are momentum and organization.

    In KW, it seems like the momentum is mostly with the NDP. Catherine Fife, according to my information, is a vastly stronger candidate for them than they had ever run before, anywhere in the KW region. It is quite possible that, as the electorate takes stock of that fact, that more people could consider her as their preference in the coming weeks.

    At the same time, the NDP in KW would normally have a very weak organization. This time, they will have all the workers from other ridings that they need, so they could end up pulling a much higher percentage of their voters out to the polls than normally.

    In a very close race, these factors could prevail.

    Or not!

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  7. >> Catherine Fife, according to my information, is a vastly stronger candidate for them than they had ever run before

    That would be difficult given that she was the NDP's candidate in 2007. The NDP seems stuck at 17% over the last two elections. The polls suggest that this number has nearly doubled to 30%. Colour me doubtfull.

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    1. "Stuck at 17%" is hardly accurate. They were at 17% from in two elections. Compare that to 2003, the NDP got 10.94%, and in 1999 got 6.1%. What this actually indicates is that the campaign was likely not very strong in K-W in 2011, and/or that the candidate wasn't very strong. Given the trend of growth from 1999-2003 and 2003-2007, you really can't say "stuck" at 17% based on only one election. If this by-election yields 17%, you'll have a better argument.

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    2. Fife was the one who got the K-W NDP up to 17% in the first place (in 2007). It was Cisterna who bucked the trend of rising ONDP support by standing still in 2011 while the party rose elsewhere.

      Besides, Fife didn't have nearly as high a profile in the riding in 2007. Hasn't she been the regional school board chair since?

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  8. What do you think of the fact that the recent poll from Forum found support for the Liberals and PC's shrink 6.25% and 9.41% respectively, while the NDP's support increased 13.21% (in Kitchener-Waterloo). Also from the recent Forum poll it looks like NDP leader Andrew Horwath is way out in front as far as leadership preference: Hudak 25%, McGuinty 33%, Horwath 49%? In your opinion could this translate into more votes for the NDP come election time September 6th? There are still several weeks away and the NDP could build in this momentum.

    Thoughts?

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  9. Vaughan will not elect turncoat Tony Genco. Genco ran for the Liberals provincially in 1999 and federally in the 2010 and lost both times. Genco then ran for the PCs and lost in the 2011 provincial election.

    Vaughan is a riding that puts a great emphasis on the personal candidate, whether its Liberal or Conservative. Hence the riding had popular candidates such as Al Palladini, Greg Sorbara, Maurizio Bevilacqua and Julian Fantino represent them provincially and federally.

    The candidate matters much more during a by-election and this is why the NDP is doing very well (and will likely win) in Kitchener-Waterloo. The PCs could had a shot at winning Vaughan with a stronger candidate.

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    1. Everything comes in 3's. After 3 losses Genco is due for a win

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  10. To pick up on TS's point, the NDP in 1999 got 6.1% in KW and 12.6% provincially, underperforming by 6.5%. In 2003, the NDP scored 10.9% in KW and 14.7% provincially, underperforming by 3.8%. In 2007, Catherine Fife scored 17.5% while the NDP got 16.75% provincially, overperforming by .75%. And finally in 2011, the NDP got 16.8% while getting 22.7% provincially, underperforming by 6.1%.

    So basically, you would expect that the NDP would perform a bit under their standing provincially by 4-6%. As of May/June, the ONDP was polling around 30%. Catherine Fife is polling 30%. So at the very least, her candidacy, like last time, will outperform how the party does traditionally in KW by 4-6%. It'll be up to Fife's campaign (as well as the PC's, who look like the front-runners) to make up the additional 4-6% needed to win.

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  11. Does anyone know how Eric Davis did provincially last time?

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    1. Davis pulled 36% of the vote in 2011, an increase of 5% for the OLP in K-W over Ervin's candidacy in 2007.

      Meanwhile, the Liberals as a whole got 37.6% of the popular vote in 2011 and 42.2% in 2007. Davis underperformed the party as a whole, but that could easily be due to Witmer's popularity.

      Another thing about that, though: even with her personal popularity, Witmer never pulled in better than the 54% she got in the midst of the PCs' dominance in 1999 -- the rest of the time she was in the 37% to 43% range excusively. Landslides weren't common either: she won by an 8% margin in 1990, 20% in 1995, 19% in 1999, 3% in 2003, 9% in 2007, and 7% in 2011. Witmer got by, but she was no "Jack Harris in St. John's"-type MPP.

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