Friday, September 7, 2012

NDP wins KitWat, Liberals hold Vaughan

Dalton McGuinty was not given a majority government last night and Andrea Horwath's NDP made a big breakthrough in Kitchener-Waterloo, as some 80,000 Ontarians voted in two provincial by-elections.

The result in Kitchener-Waterloo was the most anticipated, as a win by the Liberals would have awarded McGuinty enough seats to ensure his government's survival. Instead, Catherine Fife of the New Democrats earned 10,000 more votes than her party received in the 2011 general election in the riding and won.
Fife captured 39.8% of the vote (18,559 in all), increasing her party's share by 23.1 points and 10,309 votes - an incredible performance for a party that has not done better than 9,000 votes in recent elections.

Both the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals suffered. Turnout was high in Kitchener-Waterloo, almost equaling the turnout from the (admittedly very low) turnout from 2011. The Tories under Tracey Weiler finished second with 31.8%, a drop of 12 points and 6,842 votes from October.

Eric Davis of the Liberals saw his vote share drop by 12 points as well and 6,633 votes. This means that Fife was able to draw support from both parties in order to emerge as the winner.

The Greens, at 3.3%, actually increased their vote haul by 208. Not a bad showing for a party that usually does horribly in by-elections.

The final poll by Forum Research suggested that the New Democrats could win this, while ThreeHundredEight's forecast also gave the NDP a shot. It is worth noting, though, that both the New Democrats and Liberals were at the extreme limit of what was expected, suggesting that the NDP did a fantastic job in this by-election campaign - and that the Liberals did very badly.
Not so in Vaughan, where voters cast their ballots in about the same way as they did in October.

Steven Del Duca won with 51.2% of the vote, a bare 1.8 points behind Greg Sorbara's performance in last year's election. Tony Genco of the Progressive Conservatives increased his vote share by 2.2 points but, at 33.4%, he was still far behind Del Duca.

The New Democrats replicated their 2011 result with 11.3%. That might appear unremarkable, but it is difficult for a party that will clearly finish third in a by-election to get their voters to the ballot booths. The NDP had an abysmal result in the 2010 federal by-election in this riding, one that was a clear face-off between the Liberal (Genco, actually) and Conservative candidates. That their vote did not tank is a good sign - and the Greens increased their vote share in this riding as well.

This result was forecast both by the polls and ThreeHundredEight, so it went just about as expected. This highlights how the result in Kitchener-Waterloo was very specific to Kitchener-Waterloo. If the Liberal drop and NDP gain in that riding was supposed to be indicative of a provincial trend, then Vaughan should have experienced something similar. It did not.

Nevertheless, the night was a good one for the New Democrats. Their vote held firm in Vaughan and soared in Kitchener-Waterloo. They picked up a seat and were last night's clear winners. The Liberals held on to Vaughan with no significant drop in support, but fell sharply in Kitchener-Waterloo where they had high hopes. It was a mixed night for them. That makes the Progressive Conservatives the party that ended up on the bottom, as they lost one of their 'safe' ridings and made no gains in Vaughan, the kind of riding they will need to win in the next election if they are to form government.

The results of these two by-elections mean that Dalton McGuinty's government could still be defeated at any time. But the results may also extend its tenure, as they give Tim Hudak no reason to pull the plug.

26 comments:

  1. You know I'll take a slightly different view on Kit-Wat Eric.

    I think Fife won because the electorate was fed up and pissed off with BOTH the old line parties !!

    Is it possible that in fact that same mood is elsewhere and might explain Quebec ??

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    1. I think the message is Hudak is not connecting with voters and Dalton is downright unpopular. Accordingly, the people of Kitchener-Waterloo wanted an opposition MPP.

      Very difficult to tranpose Ontario results to Quebec. Federally and provincially we saw an appetite for change in Quebec to varying degrees. Last year's general election in Ontario along with the two by-elections produced a result far closer to the status quo.

      The big loser last night was Tim Hudak. The result in Vaughn demonstrates the Liberal base is still alive and well in the GTA. Hudak needs to make significant inroads in the 905 to form government. With the Liberals winning 50% of the vote the Tories are a long way from achieving that goal.

      The NDP win increases the chance of an election in the near future. The NDP will be eager to capitalise on their success.

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  2. I've got to think that after this kind of disaster for the PCs, that the knives are going to come out for Hudak. The PCs have never been a party to suffer failure on the part of their leaders, and Hudak now has two high-profile failures to his record (the 2011 election and last night).

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  3. I guess Tony Genco will have to try his hand at running for the Greens or the NDP next.

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  4. Given that there was a poll showing the NDP at 46%, why would the forecast for their vote top out at 39%? It would seem to me that an actual poll of the riding should have been the single best datapoint.

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    1. The result of the poll was 42%.

      There were multiple polls of the riding. One taken a few days before had the NDP at 30%. When you have contradictory information like that, the odds are that the higher poll is somewhat over-estimating NDP support, which was the case (by a small amount).

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  5. Red Tories = centrist NDP votes.

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  6. You had a 25% swing in your NDP forecast and still got it wrong. Remind us why this methodology is worthwhile if it rarely ever actually predicts results correctly? It seems to require non-existent perfectly accurate polling data and even then you're better off just believing the polls themselves.

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    1. It will certainly never be worthwhile if we just give up and stop trying every time we fail.

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    2. I am dreadfully sorry it was off by 0.8 percentage points in a highly unusual by-election.

      But you can ignore the results in Vaughan, or that the projected margin in Fort Whyte was off by less than a percentage point, that Rothesay was correctly estimated to go PC, that the forecast for the tricky Argenteuil by-election was good, that the forecast for LaFontaine was almost bang-on, and that, had I had the Barometer up and running, I would have called the two victories by the NDP in BC.

      But yes, I'm very sorry that the by-election where polls were all over the place was a tricky one to call. Because I totally said that I was 100% certain about what would happen.

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    3. The very definition of opinion polling makes it perfectly clear that they and these projections are to provide accurate predictions. Predictions do not equal raw results. What would the fun in democracy be if there was no excitement and anticipation on election night? Eric you are doing a magnificent job, keep up the good work, I speak for many when I say that I come here almost daily for my fix in your political analysis.
      -Taylor

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  7. Oh Lord how wimpy can you get ?????

    Hudak blames 'union muscle' for byelection loss

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    1. Apart from, you know, blaming the people who actually voted? Or himself for not connecting with them?

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    2. I think the Unions had pretty much the same talking points

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  8. I don't know if this gives Hudak reason to pull the plug. With Liberal weakness in the face of NDP strength, are there parts of Ontario where Hudak might exploit that to come up the middle and win by splitting the vote?

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    1. The trouble is there is more Tory weakness than Liberal weakness if we go by yesterday's results.

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    2. I think you've hit the nail Ryan. It's interesting that my local MPP, Yakabuski, has a poll on his site re McGuinty's budget efforts, and it's 3 - 1 against his Tory ideas.

      So it seems the Tories may in fact be offside ?

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  9. The turnout in KW was remarkably high for a byelection. The turnout there in the general election was 50.5% and last night it was almost as high at 47% - I have almost never heard of the byelection turn out being that close to a general election turnout.

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    1. This can only be a good thing. Yay for civic engagement!

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  10. The typically dull politics in my province is getting interesting again.

    The Liberals are unpopular and will need to be replaced soon. They may have support in the GTA and Ottawa, but not much elsewhere.

    Horwath is clearly the most popular leader, but one thing will hold her back from becoming premier.

    The New Democrats face huge issues regarding ground organization in certain parts of the province. Catherine Fife is a popular local leader and the party ran a very good campaign. But the question is can do repeat that in 30-35 more ridings to form a government? Can the party continue to attract quality candidates, so the mistakes of what happened in 1990 are not repeated?

    The PCs need a new leader and new ideas. The last election should have been a cakewalk for them.

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    1. the biggest mistake in 1990 for the NDP wasn't their candidates but rather their leader...

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    2. That's why they've done so well since then.

      Wait...

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  11. Damn NDP. I wish they'd take a long walk off a short pier wearing cement shoes.

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  12. Hey Eric,

    I just want to comment on some of the people's comments that "what's the point of predicting if were always wrong. I could be incorrect, but I never thought polling as a tool to "predict the actual outcome of a vote" As any prediction, it can be totally wrong, not to say it was in this case. But the moment you start predicting outcomes based on polls and get it 100% right, I want you to start predicting Lotto Max numbers, lol. Anyways, just wanted to say keep up the great work and I appreciate the numbers you roll out, right or wrong. :-)

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  13. Eric, I was wondering did you award Fife a star candidate bonus when calculating the projections? or does that not apply in by-elections?

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