Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Breaking down the Quebec vote

Ever since the controversial Mario Beaulieu became its leader in June, the Bloc Québécois has been drifting further into irrelevance. What kind of opportunity has this opened up for the other parties in Quebec?

To read the rest of the article on the CBC website, click here.

But let's go over the data quickly, first paying attention to the new Angus Reid Global poll released this morning.  Nationwide, it puts the Liberals ahead of the Conservatives by six points, finally putting Angus Reid in line with the consensus of other pollsters. I briefly analysed the poll here.

The Quebec results are of particular interest, as they break the deadlock between Léger and CROP. Léger gave the Liberals a 10-point lead in the province, while CROP gave the NDP the edge by two points. Angus Reid comes down on Léger's side, putting the Liberals ahead by six points.

As you can see, they tally among eligible voters for Angus Reid is quite close to Léger's. On the other hand, Angus Reid's estimation of likely voters puts it closer to CROP. But we saw in the Ontario election how likely voter models can come up short and are still in an experimental phase.

Angus Reid was also in agreement with CROP and Léger on preferences for prime minister: Thomas Mulcair was ahead of Justin Trudeau in all three polls.

Though CROP may be a little more bullish on the NDP in Quebec than other polls would consider appropriate, the poll does have some value for its regional breakdowns.

If we consider the NDP a little too high, we can still derive a lot of information from the CROP survey. It would still suggest an NDP lead among francophones, as Léger has it (albeit by a narrow margin). It would still put the NDP and Liberals in a close race throughout the province, though with the Liberals likely having the edge in each region instead of the NDP.

Otherwise, everything looks as it should be. The Bloc is stronger in the Montreal suburbs than in Montreal itself, and is polling best in the regions of the province. The 3% score in Quebec City is probably too low, but CROP has been putting the Bloc in single-digits in the capital for three consecutive polls now. The Parti Québécois is also polling badly in the region, where the Conservatives put up their best numbers.

Quebec will undoubtedly be the most interesting battleground of 2015, though its importance will still take a backseat to Ontario. But much is riding on what happens in Quebec. While the identity of the government will not be decided here (it won't be an election where either the NDP or Liberals would be in the running for government - it will have to be one or the other vs. the Conservatives), the province could decide the kind of government that is formed: majority or minority. And in the latter case, the number of seats it gives to either the Liberals or NDP could indeed make the difference between a Conservative (though likely short-lived) minority or one formed by either of the opposition parties. When was the last time the vote in Quebec will have mattered so much in a federal election?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Riding History: Winnipeg South Centre

The riding of Winnipeg South Centre and its predecessors has a storied history, having been represented by the first Labour MP ever elected in Canada, the son of a prime minister, a few premiers, and a man whose remains were laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.

This is the third riding the history of which I am profiling as part of the 2013 Kickstarter campaign. This riding was requested by backer Owen Black, who generously contributed to the project that led to Tapping into the Pulse: Political public opinion polling in Canada, 2013. The ebook can be ordered here, or directly from Gumroad hereAmazon for your Kindle here, or from Kobo here.

The history of what would become Winnipeg South Centre starts with the riding of Selkirk, which was first contested in an election in 1871.

It was won by 'Independent Conservative' Donald Alexander Smith with 70% of the vote, or 239 ballots in all. He defeated John Taylor, who took 103 votes.

Smith began working with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1838, being stationed in Labrador before taking charge of the Montreal Department. He was sent as a negotiator during Louis Riel's Red River Rebellion, and later accompanied Sir Garnet Wolseley's famous expedition to the colony.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal
Smith was re-elected in 1872 with 81% of the vote. As an independent Conservative, he supported Sir John A. Macdonald, but broke with him in a dispute over having his expenses related to his role in the Red River expedition reimbursed. He turned on Macdonald and voted the government down in 1873 over the Pacific Scandal.

He was re-elected in 1874, still as an independent Conservative, defeating A.G.B. Bannatyne, the Liberal candidate, who would go on to represent the riding of Provencher. In 1878, Smith won his closest election with 50.4% of the vote - defeating another Conservative candidate.

But the election was declared void, and in 1880 Smith fell short. Again, it was a contest between two Conservatives, as Thomas Scott took 56% of the vote to Smith's 44%.

Smith's story only gets more interesting here. After his departure from Manitoba politics, Smith was named President of the Bank of Montreal, a role he held from 1882 to 1887. He was knighted in 1886, and would become the MP for Montreal West from 1887 to 1896.

Strathcona's house in Scotland
While still an MP, he became the governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1889. In 1896, he was named Canadian High Commission to Great Britain, fulfilling that role until 1914. In 1897, he was given a peerage as Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal. He was the chairman of the Burmah Oil and Anglo-Persian Oil Company, as well as the chancellor of McGill University from 1889 to 1914.

He was a philanthropist and empire builder, giving away millions of dollars during his lifetime. He and his cousin paid for the construction of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and he personally funded Lord Strathcona's Horse, a unit that fought in the Boer War. When he passed, his funeral was held at Westminster Abbey.

Already in 1880, these were big shoes to fill. Scott, born in Upper Canada, was a journalist who had served as MLA for Winnipeg and also as mayor of the fledgling city.

He was re-elected in 1882, when the ridings in Manitoba were re-formed and Winnipeg received its own seat. Scott was a former military man, commanding the Ontario Rifles as a colonel during the Red River Expedition, and raising the 95th Manitoba Grenadiers for service during the North-West Rebellion.

Scott did not seek re-election and in 1887 his place was taken by William Scarth, a Conservative and a Scot. The election was decided by just eight votes.

Hugh J. Macdonald
Perhaps his nerves could not take it, and Scarth did not run for re-election in 1891. Instead, Hugh J. Macdonald stood as the Liberal-Conservative candidate. He also happened to be the son of the prime minister.

Macdonald won more easily, with 57% of the vote against the lone Liberal candidate. But after the death of his father, Macdonald lost his appetite for politics and resigned. Joseph Martin, a former Liberal MLA and Attorney General of Manitoba, was acclaimed in his place in 1893. Martin was a Liberal, the first from that party to represent the riding.

Martin was defeated in 1896, and would later be the Premier of British Columbia in 1900. Macdonald made a return to politics, defeating Martin with 51% of the vote. He was back in the game as he had been named Minister of the Interior and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs, despite not sitting in the House of Commons. But the Conservatives lost the 1896 election to Wilfrid Laurier, and Macdonald was out of cabinet.

Winnipeg riding, 1895
To make matters worse, the results of the election were declared void and a by-election was held in 1897. That was enough for Macdonald, who thrust himself instead into provincial politics. He would become leader of the province's Conservative Party and then the Premier of Manitoba for much of 1900.

The 1897 by-election was won by R.W. Jamieson, a South African and former mayor of Winnipeg. It was the first time the Liberals won an election in the riding, and they did so with 66% of the vote. But Jamieson passed in 1899, and a by-election was held in 1900.

Arthur Puttee
In an election decided by nine votes, Arthur W. Puttee won as the Labour candidate. He was the first Labour MP to be elected to the House of Commons in Canada. Active in local unions and founder of The Voice, a left-wing newspaper, Puttee benefited from a split in the local Liberal organization and the Conservative decision not to field their own candidate, instead supporting the Liberals.

In the general election held later that year, Puttee again faced off against E.D. Martin, but this time Martin ran as an independent with Conservative support. A faction of the Liberals supported Puttee, and he won with 60% of the vote.

Puttee's luck ran out in 1904, however, when the Liberals united and named their own candidate - one the Conservatives could not support. Puttee took just 13% of the vote in that election, as the Conservatives took 42% and D.W. Bole, a local alderman and pharmacist, won with 45% of the vote for the Liberals. The experiment with the Labour Party was over.

Bole did not last long, declining to run again in 1908. The Liberals named Douglas Cameron, a former MPP from Ontario and future Lt. Governor of Manitoba, as his replacement. But Alexander Haggart of the Conservatives prevailed with 50% of the vote. Puttee did not run again either, and instead a Socialist candidate captured 11% of the vote.

In 1911, Haggart was re-elected with 55% but resigned to give a seat to Robert Rogers, who had been named to cabinet. Rogers was acclaimed later that year.

A former MLA and Minister of Public Works in the provincial government, Rogers had run unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in the riding of Lisgar in 1896. He was named Minister of the Interior and for Indian Affairs, and was briefly the Minister of Mines in 1912. He finally took over the federal Ministry of Public Works in 1912, holding the job until 1917.

But Rogers did not want to form a coalition with Liberals in that election, when the party split between Unionists and those loyal to Laurier. George William Allen instead ran and won with 88% of the vote, smashing the Liberal candidate in the new riding of Winnipeg South.

In 1921, the Liberals under Albert Blellock made a comeback, winning the riding with 54% of the vote. It reverted to the Conservatives in 1925, as Rogers returned to the Conservative fold.

(Note that from 1924 to 1976, another riding named Winnipeg South Centre did exist.  But it lay north of the Assiniboine River.)

Robert Rogers
In 1926, Rogers was defeated by Liberal candidate and former alderman John McDiarmid, another Scot. Rogers would then make an unsuccessful bid for the party leadership in 1927, finishing fifth out of six candidates in the race that saw R.B. Bennett become leader. A re-match with McDiarmid in 1930 went Rogers's way by a slim margin, however. McDiarmid would go on to be a Liberal Progressive MLA and cabinet minister until 1953, when he was named Lt. Governor.

Rogers declined to run again in 1935. An advertising executive and veteran of the First World War, Leslie Mutch, won the riding for the Liberals as Mackenzie King was returned to power. He took 44% of the vote in an election that saw Winnipeg South have its first CCF candidate. The party captured 15%. A Reconstruction candidate took 9% of the vote.

Mutch would be re-elected three more times, serving in the Liberal government throughout the Second World War. In 1945, Mutch won by his closest margin with 39% of the vote to 31% for the Progressive Conservatives and 30% for the CCF. That would be the best performance for the CCF or even the NDP in this riding.

He was a backbencher until 1948, when he was named Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. In his last campaign of 1949, Mutch defeated former Conservative MLA Gunnar Thorvaldson, who would find himself named to the Senate by John Diefenbaker in 1958.

Leslie Mutch
In 1953, Owen Trainor, a physician, narrowly won the riding back for the Tories but he died in office three years later. A barrister, alderman, and captain with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Gordon Chown retained the riding for the party in 1957 with 52% of the vote. He was re-elected in 1958 with an increased majority, and became the Deputy Speaker in 1962. In the election held that year, he defeated Margaret Konantz by a slim margin: 41% to 40%. Konantz was the first female candidate the riding had seen. Her listed profession was 'housewife'.

Konantz would become Manitoba's first female MP in 1963, when she won with 44% to Chown's 40%. She was following in the footsteps of her mother, who had been the province's first MLA.

But Konantz did not remain in the House of Commons for long, being defeated in 1965 by Bud Sherman of the Progressive Conservatives. A journalist, future MLA and cabinet minister, Sherman himself was in for only one term when James Richardson won the riding back for the Liberals in 1968 in the whirldwind of Trudeaumania.

Richardson was a business man and decorated WWII pilot. He was named Minister of Supply and Services in 1969, and would start a long reign of Liberal dominance in the riding. From 1968 until 2011, the riding would only vote-in Liberals.

Re-elected in 1972 and 1974 with declining support, Richardson was named Minister of National Defence after the 1972 election. In 1974, he defeated Sterling Lyon of the Progressive Conservatives. At the time, Lyon was a former provincial cabinet minister smarting from a failed bid to take over the Manitoba PCs. But he would later return to provincial politics and be premier from 1977 to 1981.

Richardson did not remain in the Liberal caucus for much longer. He resigned from it in 1978 to sit as an independent, as he opposed "the entrenchment of language rights in the constitution and generally disagree[d] with the government's official languages policy."

By 1979, the riding was now known as Winnipeg-Fort Garry and the Liberals put up Lloyd Axworthy as their candidate. He had been an unsuccessful candidate in Winnipeg North Centre in 1968, and had since served as a Liberal MLA. Provincial politics did not entirely leave him in 1979, as he narrowly defeated former PC leader Sidney Spivak.

Axworthy would win the riding five more times, with his vote share increasing to 46% in 1980 and 1984 and increasing again to between 56% and 61% in the 1988, 1993, and 1997 elections. He was named Minister of Employment and Immigration in Trudeau's government of 1980, and Minister of Transport in 1983. He held off a Bud Sherman comeback in 1984 when the Liberals were otherwise drummed out of power.

In 1988, the riding became Winnipeg South Centre and saw its first indication of the coming split on the right. A Reform candidate took 2% of the vote in that election. That increased to 13% in 1993, when the Tories were reduced to just 9% support in Winnipeg South Centre. Axworthy's margin of victory in that election was almost 50 points.

Results since 2000
Axworthy did not run again in 2000, and school board trustee and former chair Anita Neville took his place. She won with 41% of the vote in that election, as the PCs made a decent showing of 28%. 

In 2004, the merger of the right helped Neville as she increased her share to 47%, the Conservatives taking just 27% of the vote (together, the PCs and Alliance had captured 37% in 2000). Neville was named Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women in Paul Martin's government, but lost the job when the Conservatives took power in 2006.

Neville was re-elected, however, this time with just 39% of the vote (then the lowest share the party had captured since 1965). She was re-elected again in 2008 with 42%, while the Conservatives still failed to better their divided showing of 2000.

But in 2011, the positive trend for the Conservatives overcame Neville, and chartered accountant and former Liberal Party member Joyce Bateman was elected with 39% of the vote. Neville took 37%.

As Winnipeg South Centre was one of the better ridings for the Liberals in a very bad election, with the margin being less than two percentage points, one would expect the riding to flip back to the Liberals in 2015.

That would certainly fit with the riding's profile. Since 1988, the Liberals have averaged 48% support, against just 31% for the Conservatives and its predecessor parties. The NDP has averaged 17% support since then, and 13 of the last 14 elections in the riding have gone the Liberals' way. But Bateman can count on an incumbency bonus. It will be a riding to watch in the next campaign.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Brunswick post-mortem: PC surge falls short

The results of last night's provincial election - when they finally emerged - should not have been too much of a surprise. But in the end, thanks to a misleading final election eve poll, the race was not as close as it seemed it was going to be.

As the polls had suggested would be the case for over a year, Brian Gallant's Liberals won the New Brunswick provincial election and will form a majority government. They took 27 seats and 42.7% of the vote, with the Progressive Conservatives taking 21 seats and 34.7% of the vote. The Greens pulled off an upset by getting their leader, David Coon, elected. The party took 6.6% of the vote province-wide, a very respectable result for a Green party over and above their seat win.

The New Democrats, despite taking 13% of the vote, the party's best performance in its history, did not win a seat or even come particularly close to winning one. This is an anomaly of the first-past-the-post system, and suggests that the strategy of focusing on a small number of seats, perhaps even one, is the better strategy to follow when a party has no realistic shot at a broader breakthrough.

The seat count for the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives fell well within the ranges that were projected (17 to 31 for the Liberals, 18 to 32 for the PCs). But the model had suggested the PCs could edge out the Liberals with fewer votes - and that was indeed the case at various points during the counting. It was also pointed out how close things were, and that three seats were projected with just 50% confidence. Two of those seats did indeed go to the Liberals instead of the Tories, enough alone to have changed the identity of the projected overall winner.

The riding-level projections were not as accurate, with 39 of 49 being called correctly. But in only five ridings was the potential winner not identified by the likely ranges, which is a decent performance.

What happened in those five ridings? In Tracadie-Sheila, the numbers were skewed due to the performance of NDP leader Roger Duguay there in 2010. In Fredericton South and Fredericton-Grand Lake, it seems the Liberals did not get the votes they were expected to in the capital. And in Charlotte-Campobello and Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston, the sophomore PC incumbents under-performed significantly.

Missing the Greens' win in Fredericton South was unavoidable, as the party was only polling marginally better than its 2010 performance. Strong local campaigns by small parties (Kris Austin of the People's Alliance in Fredericton-Grand Lake is another example) are impossible to register in province-wide polling. Surprises like these two will always slip through the cracks.

Had the actual results been plugged into the model, the results would have been comfortably within the ranges, and a Liberal victory would have been projected (though at a few points in the evening I would have been very nervous). The riding-level projection would not have been any more accurate.

Why is this the case? For one, smaller provinces are harder to forecast because there are fewer votes in each riding. That means there is much more potential for local factors to swing a riding more easily.

But perhaps most important was the lack of polls, the lack of regional polling data, and the significant miss by Forum Research in its election eve survey.

Despite the small sample and age of the poll, the Corporate Research Associates' final survey of September 15-18 proved to be quite accurate, missing no party by more than the margin of error. Only the over-estimation of the Liberals by 3.3 points was relatively large, but it was still a very respectable showing. It would have been interesting, however, to see what CRA would have reported at the very end of the campaign and whether it would have come up with the same result with a larger sample.

Forum's poll was off the mark, but for one main reason: a significant over-estimation of PC support. They were closer for the Liberals than CRA was, and were also closer for the NDP. But in having the PCs over-estimated by over five points, Forum's result was well outside the margin of error and skewed the perception of the race to an important degree. Last night's result was no tie. Making an error in the numbers is always a problem, but painting an inaccurate portrait of a race compounds the error exponentially.

My projection would have been better off without the Forum poll (had Forum not published, my final projection would have had a cumulative error of just 4.3 points), but it is impossible to know beforehand which polls will perform well. It would have seemed a good idea to ignore Forum's final Alberta poll in 2012, despite the fact it was the only one that suggested Wildrose might not win. And it would have been a bad idea to prefer CRA's final poll in Nova Scotia in 2013 to Forum's. Sometimes, it is just the luck of the draw. Forum struck out last night, in part because the methodology they use invites the potential for a skewed sample. If they had polled throughout the final weekend and attempted (any or more) callbacks, they might have gotten closer to the mark.

Overall, however, the election was not a failure for the polls. CRA did a very good job and, aside from the final survey, Forum was lock-step with that firm along the way. Both firms captured the fall in NDP support and, with the exception of the final Forum poll, both suggested that the Liberals were the ones to beat as the campaign unfolded. They also captured the PC's modest gains as the campaign came to a close, but the surge the party experienced was nowhere near as large as expected. They did outperform the polls at the beginning of the campaign by a few points, but not nearly enough to seriously challenge for government (though they almost did thanks to their very efficient vote distribution).

Are there lessons to learn from this election? Emphasizing the limitations of a forecast with thin polling data is an important thing to do, and I tried to do that in my final projection. Perhaps in the future it would be a better idea to do away with precise projections when the data is thin in order not to give the illusion of certainty. In small provinces, that may be the way to go.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 New Brunswick projection

The following are ThreeHundredEight.com's final forecasts for the provincial election in New Brunswick, scheduled for September 22, 2014. These numbers were last updated on September 22, 2014, and reflect the best estimates as of September 21, 2014, the last day of polls included in the model. You can click on all of the charts below to magnify them.

Click here to read the detailed analyses from the main site concerning the New Brunswick election and new polls. 

The vote and seat projections in the central columns reflect the best estimates based on the available polling data. The low and high projections are based on the over-estimation or under-estimation of support the polls are likely to make, while the minimum and maximum projections are designed to include 95% of potential outcomes.

The chart below shows how each party is classified in the model for the determination of the high and low ranges, and the probability that the result will fall within any of the projection ranges.

Based on these probabilities, there is a 61% chance that the outcome of the election for the Progressive Conservatives will fall between the best estimate (or average) projection and the high projection. There is an 74% chance that it will fall between the average and maximum projection, and so on. There is a 5% chance that the outcome will fall outside of the minimum and maximum ranges.

A detailed explanation of the vote and seat projection models and how the probabilities are calculated can be found here.

The projections are subject to the margin of error of the polls included in the model, as well as the inherent inability for the projection model to make perfect estimations of real-world dynamics. The projection ranges are a reflection of the degree of error polls have made in recent elections. The probabilities are based on how polls have differed from election results in the past.

The following chart lists the polls currently included in the projection model that make up at least 99% of the weighted average, as well as the weight each poll carries. It also lists the media outlet that either commissioned or first reported the poll. The sample size is for the sample of decided and leaning voters.

By including polls in the projection, no representation as to the accuracy or equivalency of the methods used is implied, nor should inclusion be seen as an acceptance, endorsement, or legitimization of their results. However, the weighting scheme takes reliability partly into account.

The following is a list of the current projections for all 49 of New Brunswick's ridings. These are the best estimates of likely outcomes if an election were held on the last day of polling. The high and low results are  the estimates of likely floors and ceilings, based on the high and low vote projection ranges. The probabilities listed beside each riding is the likelihood that, if an election were held on the last day of polling, the winning party identified by the model would actually win. It does not assign any probability to a particular trailing party winning the riding - if a projection gives the leading party a 75% chance of winning, there is a 25% chance that any of the other parties could win (though, in practice, most ridings are only contests between two parties).

These riding projections are not polls and are not necessarily an accurate reflection of current voting intentions in each riding.


Final New Brunswick projection: Toss-up

Both David Alward's governing Progressive Conservatives and Brian Gallant's opposition Liberals have a shot at forming government in tonight's provincial election in New Brunswick.

The final polls have suggested that a tightening of the race has occurred in the final week of the campaign, and the very last poll conducted yesterday indicates that it could very well be a tie. We will see tonight whether that is the case, but because of the uncertainty in the polls the result is, right now, a toss-up.

The likely outcome

The projection model considers it almost equally likely that the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives will win tonight's election.

The Liberals are projected to take between 39.6% and 45.4% of the vote, while the Tories are projected to take between 38.6% and 42.5%. There is quite a bit of overlap there, and the seat projection bears that out. The Liberals could take between 17 and 31 seats, while the PCs could take between 18 and 32 seats.

The precise projection gives the Liberals the edge in the vote with 41.7% to 38.6% for the Tories, but gives the PCs the edge in seats with 26 to 23.

But this is literally as close as it gets. Three seats are projected to go to the PCs with 50% confidence - in other words, a true coin flip. If all of those seats instead go to the Liberals, then the seat count would be reversed, with 26 going to the Liberals and 23 to the PCs. The model is giving the PCs the edge in seats by a collective margin of two percentage points across those three seats.

And they aren't the only close calls. There are three more seats projected with 53% confidence (two PC, one Liberal) and three more with 56% confidence (again two PC, one Liberal). It will not take much to reverse the seat count entirely. This is a projection made with very little certainty of the final outcome.

This might be surprising, considering that the Liberals have led in the polls for over a year - and by nine points in the most recent survey from the Corporate Research Associates. But it is the final poll of the campaign that has injected a large dose of uncertainty into today's result. More on that later.

The projection does not consider a seat for the New Democrats to be likely. With 11.7% support, or between 8.3% and 14.7%, the party is only marginally above where it was on election night in 2010.

Neither are the Greens or the People's Alliance expected to win any seats. The Greens end the campaign projected to take between 4.3% and 7.5%, or 6% more precisely, a relatively good result for them.

Expecting the unexpected

Really, the entire night is an exercise in surprise. But if we extend the ranges to the minimum and maximum levels, encompassing 95% of all likely outcomes, we still see a lot of overlap between the Liberals (7-36 seats) and PCs (12-42 seats).

The NDP's higher range extends to two seats, so the potential for a minority government exists if the seat count is otherwise as close between the Liberals and Tories as the projection currently has it. I would not count out the possibility of an NDP seat, as the party has made major strides forward compared to 2010, when it was almost an afterthought. Though the polling numbers don't suggest the party has made significant inroads, it does seem like the party has done good work to legitimize itself a great deal.

The polls

There have been precious few polls in this campaign. In all, just five were published. In Nova Scotia, a similarly sized province, last fall, there had been 27 polls published (three rolling polls).

In the early stages of the campaign, it did not seem to matter too much. The Liberals were polling around 45%, the PCs around 31%, and the NDP around 15%. There was no major variation that couldn't be explained by the margin of error. But the last two polls have changed things considerably.

The CRA poll of September 15-18 did not show major Liberal slippage, but did suggest that the Tories were making gains with the NDP faltering. From 29%, the PCs were then at 36%. And from 17%, the NDP was down to 11%. Was there something going on?

The poll conducted and published yesterday by Forum seems to suggest there is change afoot. Forum had the Liberals with a 10-point lead on September 11,  but yesterday Forum reported the lead to have vanished: a tie at 40% apiece, with the NDP slipping again to just 12%.

The trends, as you can see above, have pointed at PC gains. (The chart shows the error bars taking into account the margin of error, the trends for CRA and Forum, and the days each of them were in the field.) The Liberals have been slowly dropping - the NDP as well - while the PCs have been moving forward. So this could be for real.

Forum's record in election-eve polling is a generally decent one. In Alberta in 2012, its election eve poll was the only one that suggested Wildrose might not win easily. In Ontario earlier this year, Forum had the Liberals winning a majority (but the Tories too high). They were close to the mark in Nova Scotia in 2013, though so were other polls in the field.

It makes it hard to discount the poll, particularly since CRA was hinting at gains. And this poll's sample of decided voters is almost four times as large: 1,269.

How the leaders fared

It is a rare campaign where all three major party leaders have negative approval ratings, but that has been the case in New Brunswick.

David Alward started the campaign with a -33 rating (27% approval, 60% disapproval) but has ended it at -21 (35% approval, 56% disapproval). This is somewhat in line with CRA's 'best premier' numbers. Alward was at 22% at the beginning of the campaign and 13 points behind Gallant. He ended it at 27% and just five points behind.

Gallant has not had a successful campaign, at least according to the polls. He was a +1 in Forum's first poll, with one-third of New Brunswickers not having an opinion of him (34% approval, 33% disapproval). Yesterday, he was at -10, with an approval rating of 36% and a disapproval rating of 46%. His 'don't knows' dropped by 15 points, but 87% of those people who made up their minds about Gallant went over to the disapproval side. That does not bode well for tonight.

And Dominic Cardy started the campaign as the leader with the best numbers, at +5 (34% approval, 29% disapproval), transitioning to +14 at mid-point (38% approval, 24% disapproval) but plummeting to -6 in Forum's final poll (34% approval, 40% disapproval). This suggests he may have trouble getting a ballot box bonus. By the end of the campaign, only 7% told CRA that he was their choice for premier. He was at 17% in May 2013.

Alward should have no trouble being elected in his riding of Carleton. The model gives it to him with 96% confidence, with between 58% and 67% support vs. 24% to 27% for the Liberal candidate.

Gallant, too, should be elected without issue in Shediac Bay-Dieppe. It is projected to go to him with 90% confidence, with between 51% and 58% of the vote to 28% to 32% for the PC candidate.

The model does not consider Dominic Cardy a likely winner in Fredericton West-Hanwell, which is considered to be a PC seat with 67% confidence. The model puts Cardy in third with between 15% and 26% of the vote, against 37% to 43% for the PC candidate. But I would consider this riding one that could go over to the NDP nevertheless.

David Coon is projected to take between 13% and 22% of the vote in Fredericton South, potentially placing as high as second. As Coon was in the leaders' debate for the Green Party, he could even outperform this tally.

Few polls, much uncertainty

This election was supposed to be an easy one. In the year before the vote, the Liberals were enjoying a lead of almost 20 points, and that lead seemed to be holding through to the end of August. The race tightened one the campaign got going, as is usually the case, but the last set of polls has thrown all expectations to the wind. And it shows why at least one more poll would have been helpful to give us a clue of whether CRA or Forum is on the mark.

Consider two scenarios. The first assumes that CRA was accurate and that voting intentions remained static over the last few days. Forum's final poll, then, was perhaps a victim of the margin of error. My model, based solely on the CRA poll, would give the Liberals 31 seats and the PCs just 18 (or a range of 23-35 for the Liberals and 14-26 for the PCs). In other words, a relatively certain result.

The second scenario assumes that Forum is right, and that CRA was registering the first signs of PC gains. The model then gives the PCs 28 seats to 21 for the Liberals (or a range of 21-35 for the Tories and 14-28 for the Liberals). A closer result, but more clearly a PC victory than the current projection.

Instead, we are somewhere in between in the worst of worlds. Considering the nine ridings projected with 56% confidence or less, a gust of wind could easily make the outcome change from a 26 to 23 split in favour of the Tories to a 30 to 19 split in favour of the Liberals. A gust of wind in the other direction could instead transform the close result into a comfortable PC victory of 28 seats to 21. It makes for an exciting night, but a terribly nerve-wracking one for me - and more importantly the candidates with their futures at stake tonight.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Liberals lead in final days as PCs close gap

Though the race is tightening, the Liberals under Brian Gallant appear on track to form New Brunswick's next government when voters go to the polls on Sept. 22.

The latest numbers put the Liberals in the lead with 45 per cent, against 36 per cent for David Alward's governing Progressive Conservatives. The New Democrats were at 11 per cent, with the Greens in fourth at 6 per cent.

You can read the rest of the article on CBC.ca.

The projection has changed only a little with the addition of the CRA poll, and primarily at the margins. Liberal support upticked slightly from 44.3% to 44.8%, while the Tories were up 1.6 points to 35.3%. The NDP was down 1.8 points to 11.9%.

In terms of the seats, the Liberals and Tories swapped one in the projection. The Liberals are now projected to win 31 and the Tories to win 18.

But the likely ranges are more interesting. From 28 to 37 seats for the Liberals, they have dropped to between 25 and 35. That puts them just above the minimum threshold for a majority government. The Tories have gone from 11 to 21 seats up to 13 to 24 seats.

And the drop in NDP support has resulted in the party's maximum falling from five seats to two seats.

We should expect to hear from Forum on Sunday night, as Forum tends to put out numbers on the eve of an election. If that occurs, I will try to update on Sunday night as well and have a full analysis on Monday. I will be looking for signs that the PCs are indeed making gains.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland's decision and the polls

In the end, the referendum result on Scottish independence was not as close as the polls made it out to be. Granted, it was still a relatively near-run thing. But the 55% to 45% result was not the 52% to 48% the polls suggested would be the case. Why?

Put away your pitchforks for a moment, and let's look at what might have occurred. Undoubtedly, the pollsters that were in the field in Scotland will be doing some work of their own. It will be interesting to see what they come up with in the coming days.

But first, let's look at what the polls said would happen.

If we do a simple average of all the polls that were in the field to September 16 or 17, we see that, after the removal of undecideds, the Yes side was expected to take 47.8% of the vote, with the No side at 52.2%. The Yes side was thus over-estimated by 3.1 points, and the No side under-estimated by the same amount.

By that measure, it was a bit of a miss. All but one of these polls had the Yes side at either 47% or 48% after the removal of undecideds. Missing by two or three points is not a horrible result, but all of the polls missed in the same direction. This suggests it was not a question of bad polls exactly - if they were simply done incompetently, some should have had the Yes side lower than 45%. Instead, there was an issue with what people were telling the pollsters.

The average support for the Yes side before the removal of the undecideds was 44.1%, or 0.6 points lower than the result. In fact, virtually all of the polls had the raw Yes support at or lower than 45%. Could it be that the undecideds, who averaged 7.4%, swung to the No side?

If that was the case, it means that roughly 90% of undecideds voted No, with just 10% or so voting Yes. That is a rather big number. In 1995, support for the Yes averaged 47% in the final polls with support for No at 42%. Portioning out the 11% of undecideds suggests that about 20% of them would have voted Yes, and 80% of them No. So perhaps the lopsided result in Scotland is not outlandish.

But the undecideds may have just not voted. And an exit poll done by Lord Ashcroft suggests that the last-minute deciders swung to the Yes side, not the No side. His poll suggested that 15% of Yes supporters made up their minds in the last few days of the campaign or on voting day itself, compared to 6% of No voters. This means that roughly two-in-three voters who decided how to vote at the last moment swung to the Yes side.

Assuming that is accurate, that blows the theory that it was a disproportionate swing to the No side among undecideds that messed the polls up.

Another finding from the Ashcroft poll, however, points to something else.

The poll found that 14% of No voters would be 'reluctant in any way to tell your friends, family, or colleagues how you voted', compared to 11% of Yes voters. That is not a huge difference, but it could explain some of the error if we assume that people who would be reluctant to tell their friends how they voted would be reluctant to tell pollsters how they would vote.

Turnout might be another contributor to the miss.

In the four councils that voted for independence, turnout was 79.1% (Glasgow was the main culprit). In the remaining 28 councils that voted against independence, turnout was 86%. If we use that as a rough measure of how much more likely unionists were to vote than secessionists, then the polls would have instead had the Yes at 45.7% and the No at 54.3% - a much closer prognostication than their actual tally.

Put these two factors together, and virtually all the error is accounted for. It means a combination of being less likely to vote on the Yes side, and being more likely not to reveal voting intentions on the No side. So the question then is - was it ever going to be close?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scottish referendum going down to the wire

On Thursday, Scots will decide whether to leave the United Kingdom and dissolve their union of over three centuries. The polls suggest the outcome could be as close as the one that almost split Canada apart 19 years ago.

The campaign for Scottish independence certainly appears to have the momentum.

You can read the rest of the article at CBC.ca.

The referendum campaign in Scotland has been an interesting one. It started out as a long shot, but as the vote has approached the 'Yes Scotland' campaign has closed the gap. They still trail, on average, but it is close enough that the result could go either way. The pollsters are saying that the 'Better Together' side will prevail, but only just.

Below I've plotted all the polls that have been published since the beginning of the year, and cropped the y-axis so that the chart is easier to read. You can see just how close it has gotten.

It will be interesting to find out tomorrow how the polls do. Will they be right that the No side will win by a narrow margin? Will undecideds swing to the Yes side like they have been for the past few weeks? Or will they stick with the status quo?

We'll find out tomorrow night.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Liberals still lead in New Brunswick, and some news

The projection for the upcoming New Brunswick election, approaching fast on Monday, has been updated with the latest poll from Forum Research. The Liberals continue to lead, though the gap is narrowing. But before getting to that, a little news.

I'm excited to announce that I am joining the CBC News political team. I'll be writing for CBC.ca as well as appearing on television and the radio, covering polls and projections in the run-up to the 2015 federal election. It will be a lot of fun, and as the vote gets closer and closer we should have some great stuff for you.

My first article for the CBC, looking at the lay of the land as the House returns, can be found here.

It will be business as usual for the time-being on ThreeHundredEight.com. I'll be posting links to my articles and appearances here, in addition to keeping you up-to-date on the latest polls, as always.

I'd also like to thank The Globe and Mail and The Huffington Post Canada for the great opportunity they gave me to write for them since 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Now to New Brunswick.

It has been a quiet campaign on the polling front. Forum's poll, conducted on September 11, is the first set of numbers we've seen since the Corporate Research Associates poll that left the field on August 31.

The projection has narrowed as a result of this poll, with the Liberals down 3.1 points to 44.3%, or between 42% and 48% support. The Progressive Conservatives have gained four points, hitting 33.7%, or between 32% and 37%. The New Democrats took a hit of 2.7 points, falling to 13.7%, or between 10% and 17% support.

The Liberals are now projected to win between 28 and 37 seats, down from the 32 to 41 seats from the last projection. The Tories are now up to 11 to 21 seats from eight to 15, while the NDP is now projected to win only zero to one seat.

Of note is that the maximum and minimum ranges now overlap between the Liberals and Tories, meaning a PC victory is now plausible. It requires a big miss by the polls, however.

The Forum poll showed the Liberals still leading with 42%, down four points from their previous survey of August 25. The PCs were up just one point to 32%, while the NDP was down two points to 13% and the Greens one point to 6%.

This poll pegged support for other parties to be 7%, a gain of six points and the only shift that is outside the margin of error.

There is only one other party on the ballot, that being the People's Alliance of New Brunswick (PANB). There are a smattering of independents as well. Has the PANB made significant gains?

We can't say for certain whether respondents were intending to vote for the PANB or an independent candidate, though in all likelihood the majority of them intend to cast a ballot for the PANB (the party has 18 candidates, compared to nine independents). But therein lies a problem. Most New Brunswickers will not be able to cast a ballot for the PANB. Were the poll respondents aware of that?

With a PANB candidate in just 37% of New Brunswick's 49 ridings, many voters may not have yet realized that they will not have the option to vote for the PANB. That alone, then, could drop that 7% support to just 2.6%, or 3.6% if we make allowance for the 25 ridings that have either a PANB or independent candidate on the ballot.

This is one reason why the projection shows such low support for other parties. My methodology for estimating the support of smaller parties is to focus on how they performed in the last election and the number of candidates running in the current one. This method has been very successful in the past. The PANB does not have enough candidates to net 6% or 7% of the vote. That would require them to average about 19% in every riding. In 2010, the party averaged 4.6% per riding, or 3.4% if we exclude leader Kris Austin's notable performance.

Perhaps the debate, in which Austin took part, has boosted his party considerably. But even that looks unlikely. Support for other parties stood at 7% among anglophones, but also 5% among francophones. How plausible is it that the PANB, a party that has a reputation (deserved or otherwise) of lacking respect for francophones, and which is led by a leader who does not speak French and so could not participate in the French-language debate, is polling almost as strongly among francophones as it is among anglophones?

The minimum/maximum range for "Others" in the projection should suffice to capture the PANB's support.

Also of interest in this poll were the results for the three main leaders. Brian Gallant, whose party is ahead by a wide margin, is not polling as well as he was at the end of August.

His approval rating dropped by five points to just 29%, while his disapproval rating ballooned to 46% from 33%. Even among his party's supporters, his approval rating is just 62% and his disapproval rating is 19%.

David Alward's numbers held steady, at 26% approval and 63% disapproval. Those are not enviable numbers by any stretch, but they are no longer so horrible compared to Gallant's.

Dominic Cardy of the NDP is doing better. His approval rating was up to 38%, but more importantly his disapproval rating was down five points to 24%. And for all the noise about the direction that Cardy is taking the NDP, just 5% of NDP voters said they disapproved of him.

But liking Cardy is not the same as voting for him, as the party's drop in support attests. And when respondents were asked how they rated the leaders on specific issues, Cardy was still behind the others.

On who would best handle the budget, Gallant edged out Alward with 27% to 26%, with Cardy at 18%. On who could best bring jobs and growth to the province, it was Gallant at 31% to Alward with 28% and Cardy at 12%. Only on being able to cut waste was Cardy competitive.

Though Gallant was more comfortably ahead on ethics and vision, that he was only a few points up on Alward on economic questions should be of some concern for the party. Alward may be too unpopular to make major inroads, but if Cardy can eat into Gallant's support the race could get a lot closer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Doug replaces Rob - what now?

A quick analysis on the news out of Toronto this afternoon. With Rob Ford out of the race to be Toronto's mayor due to health problems, the campaign has changed radically. But with Doug Ford taking his place, and undoubtedly set to run a campaign based on the premise that a vote for Doug Ford is a vote for Rob Ford, will the support levels so far recorded in the race change dramatically as well?

There are two competing factors at play. The first is that Doug Ford is not his brother. Rob Ford has managed to maintain a degree of sympathy with a segment of the population despite all of the issues of the last year. Doug Ford, on the other hand, has no such well of sympathy. 

There have not been many polls conducted related to the possibility of a Doug Ford candidacy. But a few polls have asked about him. The most recent survey, a poll conducted by Forum Research in May, put Doug Ford at only 20% if he replaced his brother. This was at a time when Rob Ford was polling at 24%.

Rob Ford's approval rating at the time was 32%, one of the lowest levels he has ever recorded. Doug Ford's approval rating in the same poll was 30%. 

In a poll conducted by Forum in November 2013, Doug Ford was similarly polling below his brother.

And in an Ipsos Reid poll from the same month, 34% of respondents said they trusted Rob Ford whereas only 30% said the same about Doug Ford. To be fair, however, Doug Ford's approval rating in that poll was two points higher than Rob's (42% to 40%).

So this suggests that we might expect, all things being equal, that Doug Ford would poll below his brother's level of support, which is currently averaging 29%.

The second factor at play, however, is that Doug Ford will not be replacing his brother in a vacuum. Though Rob Ford has withdrawn from the mayoral race, he has put his name on the ballot to be a councilor. Doug's candidacy, then, is almost as a proxy for Rob. This is the Ford family running for the job, rather than Doug alone. Some voters who liked Rob but not his brother may still vote for Doug Ford because of this. Add the extra sympathy that Rob Ford's health problems might give him, and it has the potential to boost the kind of numbers Doug Ford would have had on his own.

So perhaps the next set of polls will show little difference, with Doug merely being slotted in for Rob. But there are seven weeks left to go in the campaign, and Doug is not the campaigner his brother is and has had testy exchanges with the media in the past. He will have debates to attend as well. If he manages to maintain Rob Ford's support out of sympathy at first, he may have difficulty holding on to it through to October 27.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wide Tory lead confirmed in new Toronto poll

The polls are starting to converge in the Toronto mayoral race, as the Toronto Star published the latest numbers from Forum Research this morning. The results of the poll are virtually identical to the last set of numbers that were released by Nanos Research. And that means John Tory's comfortable lead over Rob Ford and Olivia Chow looks confirmed.

The poll, conducted the day before David Soknacki's withdrawal from the race, gave Tory 40% support among all respondents, a gain of six points over Forum's previous poll of August 25-26. Ford was down three points to 28%, while Chow was down two points to 21%. Soknacki scored 6% in this his final poll of the campaign.

If we remove the undecideds, Tory's lead would increase to 13 points, with 42% to 29% for Ford and 22% for Chow.

This is the strongest result that Tory has managed in any Forum poll, and the lowest number we have seen from Chow. But for Ford, who appeared to be potentially making a comeback in Forum's last poll, this is just a return to the numbers he was putting up between the end of June and early August. In the end, his surge was indeed a fluke.

One thing noted by the Star was Chow's drop of 10 points in Scarborough, where she has just 9% support. That seems like an unusual and unlikely result, but at the same time she gained 11 points in Etobicoke-York, where she is now apparently almost as competitive as she is downtown. So the two oddities probably cancel each other out.

If we iron out the Nanos poll from early July, the trends have been pretty clear and consistent. Chow has been dropping across the board since mid-June, and it has been Tory who has benefited. Ford's numbers appear to have rebounded slightly (he seems more likely to end up closer to 30% than the 20% that seemed probable in the spring) but it is Tory who has taken command of the race.

Will Soknacki's departure change much? He wasn't taking many votes off the table. At 6% in this poll, he was polling as high as he ever has.

Forum did ask how people would vote if Soknacki was off the ballot. The overall results were little different, with Tory being boosted to 41%, Ford to 30%, and Chow to 24%, with 5% either undecided or casting their vote for another candidate.

If we remove the undecideds, we see that Chow may be the candidate who could benefit the most. Of the six points that become available, she would get three of them, boosting her to 25% support. Ford gets two of those points, and the last goes to minor candidates.

It will not transform the race, but it could give Chow a much-needed morale boost. If she does manage to pick up three of the available six points, the next poll will cast her as a candidate on the upswing. If Soknacki did not withdraw, there would have been the possibility that Chow would have dropped further, taking a lot of wind out of her campaign's sails. It gives her more time.

Perhaps Soknacki pulled out prematurely. Yes, he was still at just 6%. But his approval and recognition ratings jumped remarkably in this last poll. From an approval rating of 35% among the entire sample at the end of August, Soknacki jumped to 47%, with those not recognizing him falling to just 19%. That was the biggest move of any of the candidates.

Ford took the biggest hit, with his approval rating dropping five points to 34%. Tory's approval rating increased by three points to 63% among the entire sample (65% among those who recognize him) while Chow's was up two points to 49% (or 50% among those who recognize her).

Tory's approval rating is very high, and has been for some time. It puts him in a good position since he seems unlikely to leak support to other candidates. For the first time, this poll also put Tory ahead of Ford on the question of who could best handle the city's budget.

So Tory is the favourite as we enter this last stage of the campaign. Is it a slam dunk? Not at all. This municipal campaign is very long by Canadian standards. With almost seven weeks to go before the vote, a normal provincial or federal campaign would not have even started yet. That might lead us to believe that abrupt and significant change could still be in store. But longer campaigns mean opinions can solidify earlier. To win, Tory merely needs to avoid error. Ford likely cannot grow out of his base. That leaves Chow to make a move, and time is slowly running out.

Monday, September 8, 2014

August 2014 federal polling averages

The surge in Liberal support that was recorded by the polls in July was sustained into August, as four pollsters interviewing 5,424 Canadians were in the field last month. But the Conservative slump that was also recorded in July appears to have been erased, as the party is back polling to where it was in June.

The Liberals led in the polls in August for the 17th consecutive month, with 38% support. That was down slightly from 38.7% in July, but together July-August was the best two-month period the Liberals have managed since before 2009.

The Conservatives were up 2.6 points to 30.7% in August, while the New Democrats were down one point to 20.7%. That is their lowest level of support since March 2011, before their breakthrough in the subsequent election campaign.

The Greens were down 0.3 points to 5.2%, while the Bloc Québécois was down 0.1 points to 4.4%. Support for other parties stood at 1%.

The Liberals held onto the lead in British Columbia, picking up 1.5 points to reach 34.5% support. The Conservatives were up 3.2 points to 30.9%, while the NDP was down 4.3 points to 23.5% support. The Greens were unchanged at 10.3%.

In Alberta, the Conservatives held steady at 51.3%, with the Liberals down 1.9 points to 27.4%. The NDP was third with 14.7%, a gain of 3.6 points. The Greens dropped for the third consecutive month, by one point to 4.5%.

The Conservatives were up 1.2 points in the Prairies, leading with 36.2%. The Liberals were down 2.2 points to 31.2%, while the NDP was up 1.6 points to 25.7%. That was their best result since January. The Greens were down 0.5 points to 5.5%.

In Ontario, the Liberals dropped 3.4 points to 41.1%. But here again, this is their best two-month period since before 2009. The Conservative wobble that has been in place since the end of 2013 continued, as the party rebounded 4.4 points to 35.3%. The NDP was down 0.3 points to 17.4%, their lowest level of support in Ontario since February 2011. With the exception of a small uptick in June, the NDP has fallen in five consecutive months in the province. The Greens were up, however, by 0.3 points to 6%.

The Liberals also led in Quebec with 37.2%, a gain of 1.8 points and their highest level of support since January 2014. They have made gains in each of the last three months. The NDP was up 0.9 points to 28.8%, the party's best result in the country, while the Bloc Québécois was down 2.4 points to 16%. That is the lowest the Bloc has managed since before 2009, and most likely since before the 1993 election. The Conservatives were down 0.4 points to 14%, where they have been in five of the last six months, and the Greens were up 0.3 points to 3.2%.

Though it may not be fair to lay the blame completely at Mario Beaulieu's feet (the Bloc has been dropping since April, when the Parti Québécois was dealt a stinging defeat), it is hard not to find a correlation between the departure of two MPs and the departure of a whole swathe of voters. At the very least, Beaulieu accelerated the Bloc's slide.

So far, though, the NDP has not been the prime beneficiaries, as they were from the Bloc's original fall in 2011. Instead, the Liberals have taken advantage. Before Beaulieu came along, the Bloc was at 21% support in Quebec. It has since decreased by five points. The Liberals have increased their support by seven points since then, while the NDP has dropped by one. Of course, voters can move all along the line of scrimmage (Bloc supporters moving to the NDP, replacing NDP voters who went to the Liberals, etc.) but the end result of the shifts has been a significant improvement in the Liberals' position in Quebec.

The party is also well-positioned in Atlantic Canada, as it has registered majority support since throughout 2014. The Liberals were up 1.9 points in August to lead with 52.4%, the highest support any party has in any region in the country. The Conservatives were up 1.8 points to 22.7%, while the NDP was down 5.8 points to 17.7%. The Greens were up 2.8 points to 6.5%.

With these levels of support, the Liberals would likely win around 147 seats. That is a drop of 12 seats since July's projection, and 22 short of a majority.

The Conservatives were up 19 seats to 120, while the NDP was down six seats to 68. The Greens would likely win two seats (unchanged) while the Bloc could hold onto one (down one).

The Liberals did make gains in Quebec (two seats) and British Columbia (one seat), but were down one seat apiece in Alberta and Atlantic Canada, two in the Prairies, and 11 in Ontario.

The Conservatives were up 12 seats in Ontario, four in British Columbia, and one each in Alberta, the Prairies, and Atlantic Canada.

The New Democrats were down one seat in both Ontario and Quebec, and five in B.C., but were up one in the Prairies.

As the spring turned into the summer, it appeared that the Liberals were losing steam. From 36% and an eight-point lead in January, the party had fallen to 33% and a two-point edge in June. But the last two months have put the Liberals back in front with support they have not seen since Justin Trudeau's honeymoon just after his leadership victory.

While it puts the pressure on the Conservatives to regain that lost ground, it also puts the spotlight on the NDP. The party that forms the Official Opposition is heading towards the kind of numbers it put up when it was just the 'conscience of Parliament'. That needs to be reversed, and soon, if Thomas Mulcair wants a shot at 24 Sussex.