Monday, June 17, 2013

Ottawa South a likely OLP hold

Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation as Premier of Ontario in September 2012, and bowed out officially when he was replaced by Kathleen Wynne earlier this year. At the time, he had said he would stay on as an MPP until the next election. But with the pressure building on the gas plant issue, McGuinty announced last week that he would be resigning his seat of Ottawa South, which he had held since 1990.

Ottawa South has been in Liberal hands for 26 years since 1987, when McGuinty's father first won the riding. It has been a safe seat over that time, with McGuinty's support remaining remarkably steady.

With the exception of the 1999 election, there has been very little change in both Liberal and Progressive Conservative support in this riding in the six elections contested by the out-going former Liberal leader.

But prior to 1987, Ottawa South was a relative safe Tory seat, having voted for the party in every election since its creation in the 1920s. However, the riding has under-gone some major demographic changes over that time. The political make-up of Ottawa South of over a generation ago might have little to do with voting patterns today.

The Progressive Conservatives took 42% of the vote in eastern Ontario in the 2011 provincial election, compared to the 37% captured by the Liberals and the 17% of the New Democrats. When the Liberals were tanking in the weeks before McGuinty announced his intentions to step down as premier, the Liberals had fallen to the mid-20s in support in the region, and behind the New Democrats. The PCs had surged ahead to around 50% support. Had a by-election occurred at that time, Ottawa South would have been ripe for the Tory picking.

But the Ontario Liberals' poll numbers have improved under Wynne. Most polls now put the Liberals back over 30% in eastern Ontario, with the last three polls from Abacus Data, Ipsos-Reid, and Forum Research putting the Liberals at 33%, 32%, and 42% respectively in the region. The Tories have dropped back to around the 42% they took in the last election. The New Democrats are also back down to the high-teens, and so should not be a factor in this by-election (except potentially as a spoiler).

Generally, with the Tories holding steady and the Liberals down a little from 2011, this should make Ottawa South a closer riding. With the Liberals' lack of an incumbent candidate, that also drops them a little more. That brings the margin down to potentially single digits. However, the Liberals should be able to hold the riding due to their long history in it and the decent support levels the party has been showing under Wynne.

But the wildcard in this by-election is the McGuinty factor. No one could deny that the riding is dominated by the McGuinty name. In addition to the family holding the riding since 1987, David McGuinty, Dalton's brother, has been the federal MP for Ottawa South since 2004 and, despite the poor showing for the federal Liberals in the 2011 election, still won the riding by 11 points.

However, with one of the two McGuintys gone, will voters in the riding still vote for the Ontario Liberals? Was this riding a McGuinty riding or a Liberal riding? Are residents in the riding upset over the problems that led to McGuinty's departure? The by-election will tell us, but until then the forecast is for Ottawa South to be  a Strong Liberal riding.

Christy Clark in Westside-Kelowna

A by-election will be held on July 10 in the British Columbia riding of Westside-Kelowna, in an attempt for B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark to get into the legislature after she lost her seat in May's provincial election.

There isn't a lot of data to go on here, as there haven't been any polls since the election on how British Columbians would vote today. But Ben Stewart won the riding easily in the last two elections, taking 58% of the vote to 31% for the NDP's candidate last month. The riding and its predecessors have been strongly centre-right for decades.

A poll by Forum Research (interviewing 350 people on June 6) found that support had not changed even with the replacement of Stewart by Clark, with 58% saying they'd vote for Clark, 30% for the NDP, and "less than 10%" for the Conservative candidate (the party took 11% in the last election). This would seem to suggest that voters in the riding will be sticking with their choices.

The only potential for trouble is if there is a reaction against parachuting Clark into the riding. It is unlikely, however, considering the history of the riding and that the Liberals are the government. It makes Westside-Kelowna a Strong B.C. Liberal riding.


  1. I'd say this is a real sinecure !!

    1. A sinecure is a position (job) that requires little or no effort yet, yields profit. While the process to become a MPP may require little effort the job itself certainly requires much.

      In modern parlance sinecure is usually reserved to appointments of a ceremonial or political nature sometimes without the means to make profit. In Canada the president of the Queen's Privy Council is sometimes viewed as a sinecure.

  2. Looks like you posted this a day too soon!


    1. The Forum Research survey conducted Thursday found the Tories at 37 per cent, the Liberals at 34 per cent, the NDP at 22 per cent, and the Greens at 4 per cent.

      Using interactive voice response phone calls, Forum polled 693 Ottawa South residents and results are considered accurate to within four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

      So in essence what Forum says is the two parties are tied. Poll results show less difference than M of E !!

    2. Yes, but that's still quite different from Éric's "Strong Liberal" forecast.


    3. It's still more likely that the Tories lead than the Liberals.

    4. Keep on dreaming Ryan !!

    5. I'm actually a Liberal Peter. My preference would be for the Liberals to hold it, I don't think it'd be a big sign of anything if they lost it.

      It's not about dreaming though. It's math. The Forum poll shows a 3 point lead. While that falls short of a 95% level of significance, there is still a greater than 50% chance that the Conservatives are in fact ahead based on that poll alone.

    6. And that three point lead pales against a FOUR point M of E.

      In other words this poll can't be depended on to be the final result !!

    7. No poll can be depended on for the final result. That doesn't change the fact that the Liberals being at 37 and the Liberals at 31 are equally likely based on this poll.

  3. Eric do you have any recent polls on the Ontario political scene??

    Seems to me that it has changed since Wynne took over ??

  4. The Ottawa South poll shows a swing we have seen in quite a few Ontario polls lately - PCs up ever so slightly (from 33.5% in 2011 to 37%), Liberals way down (from 49% to 34%) and the NDP way up (from 13% to 22%)...needless to say the Libs will try to reel in those NDP votes...but in a byelection those "strategic voting arguments" tend not to have much resonance

  5. Here's some fun history:

    2013 BC Election - NDP wins Gordon Campbell & Christy Clark's riding.

    2012 Quebec Election - PQ wins Charest's riding.

    2007 Calgary-Elbow by-election - Liberals win Ralph Klein's riding.

    Can anyone think of other examples?

    1. Macdonald and Mackenzie King both lost their seats during general elections.

      Cecil Clark won Russell MacLellan's old riding of Cape Breton North in a by-election.

      During the McKenna sweep of 1987 Hatfield's riding was won by the Liberals

      Robert Chisholm won John Buchanan's old riding of Halifax-Atlantic during a by-election

      Dave Barrett lost his seat of Coquitlam during the 1975 election to the Socreds

  6. The Bloc winning Chretien's riding.

    2001 the BC Liberals winning the ridingsof all the previous NDP premiers lol

    1. The Liberals have never won Mike Harcourt's old riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant which is currently held by Jenny Kwan of the NDP.

      The Bloc won Mulroney's old riding of Charlevoix

  7. 2011 the NDP won Duceppe's riding as well as the federal ridings previously held by Bouchard, Chretien and Charest

  8. If history repeats itself this can be a Tory pickup as seats by previous Premiers have flipped.
    1990: David Peterson lost his seat in the general election.
    1996: Bob Rae's seat went Liberal in a by-election.
    2003:Mike Harris' old seat went Liberal as the PC's narrowly won a by- election the year before


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