Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Manitoba Tories move in front

Brian Pallister became the new leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives in 2012 and he ended the year on a high, with a Probe Research poll for the Winnipeg Free Press giving his party the edge over the governing New Democrats. Even so, he'd still lose an election with these results.
Probe was last in the field Sept. 19-Oct. 14, and since then the Progressive Conservatives picked up five points to hit 43%. That gave them a four-point advantage over the New Democrats, who were down six points to 39%.

Both of these shifts were outside of the telephone survey's margin of error. For the NDP, this is the first time they have registered below 40% support since March 2011.

The Liberals were unchanged at 11% and support for other parties (primarily the Greens) was up one point to 7%.

The Tories had the advantage among men (47% to 36%) but the NDP was up among women (43% to 39%). The PCs also had the edge among Manitobans between the ages of 18 and 34 and over 55, those with some post-secondary education or less, and those who make between $30,000 and $60,000. The New Democrats were up among people aged 35-54, those with a post-secondary degree, and those who make $30,000 or less. The two parties were generally even among Manitobans with an income of $60,000 or more.

Electorally, however, this means very little. Because of the geography of Manitoba's ridings and the stark difference in voting intentions between Winnipeg and the rest of the province, the Progressive Conservatives would still lose an election by a wide margin on these numbers.

This is primarily due to the New Democrats' resilient lead in Winnipeg, where they were up by 19 points. They had 50% support to 31% for the Tories. The Liberals were third with 13%. That gives the NDP the command of most of the city's 31 ridings.

The Tories have the advantage in the province's remaining 26 ridings, but 31>26. The Progressive Conservatives were up 15 points since Sept.-Oct. in the rest of Manitoba and led with 61%, with the NDP dropping 12 points to 23%. The Liberals were at only 9% support.
With these province-wide numbers, the New Democrats would still win 34 seats to the Tories' 21. The Liberals would manage two seats, both in Winnipeg.

The NDP would win 23 of their seats in Winnipeg, while the PCs would win 15 of theirs outside of it. But this projection is based on province-wide numbers only (though that didn't hurt the Oct. 2011 final projection, which had an accuracy of 98.2%). With the yawning gap between the NDP and the PCs in Winnipeg and between the PCs and NDP outside of the capital, it is likely that the results would be even more lop-sided between the two regions. In the end, though, the New Democrats would still easily walk away with another majority government.

What might it take for the Progressive Conservatives to defeat the New Democrats without any disproportionate increase in support in Winnipeg? Assuming the Liberals and Greens remain unchanged and the swing between the Tories and NDP is uniform throughout the province, the PCs would need to have about 47% support to 35% for the NDP (a 12-point margin) to win an outright majority.

Clearly, if Brian Pallister wants to become the next premier of Manitoba he will have to woo Winnipeggers in particular. If his party is not able to make a breakthrough in the capital, and instead piles up larger majorities in rural Manitoba, the New Democrats could continue to govern the province even with a big deficit in the popular vote.

16 comments:

  1. I wonder how much of this is the customary "new leader bounce" -- notwithstanding the fact that Pallister was elected as a leader and MLA several months ago.

    Manitoba always seems to want to go to the PCs, but the MB NDP keep maintaining a geographical advantage.

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  2. Is it possible for the NDP to do a redistribution based on the 2011census to create more urban ridings?

    George O.

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    1. It wouldn't change much of anything. Winnipeg is 55% of the population of Manitoba. It has 31 out of 57 seats, which is 54.3%. The representation balance is grossly right. I'm sure there is tweaking to be done in terms of evening out the various areas of Winnipeg, but if even a single seat was added, Winnipeg would wind up over-represented, with 55.35% of the seats. While this would be ever so slightly more representative than the current situation, it would be bitterly resented in the rest of the province, and probably cost the NDP a lot more in rural and small-city blow-back than would be gained by the potential to pick up one seat.

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    2. I guess that's a microcosm of what's happening to our country on a national scale -- bitter rural vs. urban "us against them" resentment.

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  3. Excuse my American ignorance, but is there a difference in the dynamics in Manitoba that stops the PC's and Liberals from merging like they did in Saskatchewan? Without seeing individual riding numbers from the model, it seems to me the regional breakdown would suggest that further gains could be possible for such a party.

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    1. The PCs and Liberals did not really merge in Saskatchewan - both parties still exist and prior to the disastrous 2011 campaign (in which they ran only nine candidates) the Liberals had about as much support in Saskatchewan as they do in Manitoba.

      What drove PC and Liberal MLAs to create the Saskatchewan Party was the decimation of the PCs by scandal. There is nothing like that to encourage either the PCs or Liberals in Manitoba to want to tear their own parties down. And, I'm not sure that the Manitoba Liberals have more in common with the PCs than they do with the NDP anyway.

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    2. The liberals also underwent their own civil war in the late 90's including forcing out their own leader helped with the decision of the right side of the liberals to join the Saskparty.

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  4. Winnipeg is doing pretty well under the provincial NDP government and other than a major scandal, they should be able to hold on to government in 2015.

    Just the City of Winnipeg consists of about 55% of Manitoba's population. This is not including the metropolitan areas. No other city in this country dominates their provinces population as much as Winnipeg.

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  5. I'm a New Democratic partisan, but it isn't a healthy state for a democracy when one party is in a position to routinely win the election with a majority of seats despite not winning the popular vote, and potentially falling rather far behind. This is one of the great absurdities of first-past-the-post.

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    1. That is one way to look at the situation. On the flip side the need to achieve more than a minimal plurality can be viewed as a moderating force moving partisan politics toward the centre. Some may view this as a benefit.

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    2. I agree. As other posters have related above, the seats are actually apportioned fairly close to the actual rural/urban population split of the province.

      The difference is that the PCs must be racking up huge majorities in rural ridings while the NDP are winning Winnipeg-area ridings with about (or even less than) 50% of the vote.

      This is nothing new; for one example, vote efficiency delivered the NL Liberals to Official Opposition even though the NL NDP beat them by 5% of the popular vote.

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    3. It has the opposite effect here Tycho. You can be more extreme when you only need the support of 39% to your opponents 43% (or really, 61% who wouldn't vote NDP). If a government actually needed the support of a majority of its citizens, it would be forced to be more moderate. Look at any of the modern PR systems (anything with an open list or MMP), and they've pretty well all achieved that. Whatever your partisan stripes are, this sort of thing is just wrong and bad for everyone. It makes the NDP complacent and less vibrant than they could and should be, and it disenfranchises the other parties supporters entirely.

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  6. It's a bit peculiar that the PCs would win the 18-35 crowd; that typically seems to be the crowd that supports the NDP (and Greens) the most.

    Also, I wonder how that big margin between the NDP and PCs in the RoM would effect overall seat count. Generally speaking, in the RoM the NDP support is pretty concentrated to the north, and in many of those ridings the NDP won by a considerable margin. It definitely does look like the NDP would still win a majority with these numbers.

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  7. Much like the Bloc Quebecois and the remnants of the Reform Party, the NDP has little interest in implementing the electoral reforms that it claims to favour upon realizing that it would no longer benefit the party and its patronage machine. I'm a member of the NDP, and this is something that has to change. From the perspective of sound public policy, ethics, and credibility, the NDP's behaviour here is utterly inexcusable. I am better than that, and it is dejecting to me that my party does not want to be. Every time I think about this issue, I feel as Joe Clark did in 2003.

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    1. The biggest opportunity would be a minority government. Then a party with a lot of leverage will have a strong interest in seeing electoral reform achieved. Let's hope it happens soon.

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    2. How are unstable governments or governing institutions "sound public policy" or for that matter political parties always on an election footing due to the (in)stability of Parliament? Surely in such scenarios the long and medium term are discounted heavily by the politicians?

      As for ethics some PR systems such as that used in Eire allow votes to be counted multiple times. If one votes for a candidate who quickly falls off the ballot your vote will be "redistributed" or counted a second time for your second choice; whereas if one votes originally for one of the two finalists your vote is counted only once.

      Even if one accepts that your vote is "only counted once" (I personally do not) it still leaves one to question why someone's third preference vote should have as great a worth as my first preference vote?

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