Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The quest for official party status

The Greens are looking to make a splash in 2015. This past weekend, Les coulisses du pouvoir on Radio-Canada interviewed the appropriately named Daniel Green, who is one of the Green Party's deputy leaders and, apparently, the man who will lead the Greens' campaign in Quebec.

In that interview, Green acknowledged that the party won't form government. But with enough MPs (Green speaks of five to seven), it could hold the balance of power.

Coupled with the EKOS poll from last week that had Green tongues (and perhaps Daniel Green's as well) wagging, I took a look at the Green Party's chances in British Columbia in 2015 for my CBC column this week. Check it out.

Here, I thought we should take the exercise a little further and identify the ridings the Greens should be targeting to reach the 12-seat mark generally required to obtain official or recognized party status in the House of Commons. And while we're at it, let's look at the seats the Bloc Québécois needs to target to reach that same level.

These seats were identified by using the seat projection model's current levels of support, and increasing those levels of support proportionally throughout Canada. So, for example, doubling the Greens' support in British Columbia is worth more than, say, Quebec. I was also agnostic about where the Greens' new found support would come from, with other parties dropping proportionately to their current standing.

I've separated the Green list of 14 seats (two extras for good measure) into four tiers of winnable seats. Note that the percentages listed are those for the new electoral boundaries.

The riding of Thunder Bay - Superior North (Bruce Hyer's) is not included in this list, because on paper it is not a winnable one for the Greens. Hyer may single-handily win the riding, but that is the kind of thing the model will miss without some riding-level polling.

An honourable mention should also go to the riding of Fredericton in New Brunswick, as a Green MLA was elected within it last year. That means a critical mass of voters willing to vote Green, and that gives them an outside shot.

The first tier is all in British Columbia, and the three seats in it are the ones the Greens will be targeting most forcefully in the province.

Elizabeth May's riding of Saanich - Gulf Islands is first among them, of course, and she should have no problem being re-elected.

Next is Victoria, where the Greens took 12% of the vote in 2011, against 51% for the NDP. But in the 2012 by-election in the riding, the Greens captured 34% to 39% for the NDP, at a time when the NDP was polling much more highly in B.C. than they are now. The provincial Greens also elected their first MLA in a riding within Victoria's boundaries, putting it high on the list of winnable seats. Former CBC radio host Jo-Ann Roberts will be taking a run at it.

Third is Esquimalt - Saanich - Sooke, where the Greens took 13% of the vote in 2011, against 39% for the NDP. It is another riding at the southern end of Vancouver Island, where the Greens seem to have their support concentrated. Frances Litman, a photographer and former journalist with the Victoria Times-Colonist is running for the party.

The ridings in this first tier are the ones I'd expect the Greens to win if the campaign goes well for them. After this (and adding Hyer's riding to the list), we're entering into historic breakthrough territory.

Heading the list of ridings in the second tier is Yukon. The Greens took 19% of the vote there in 2011, finishing not far behind the Conservatives, who won it with 34%. Bizarrely, former Green Party of Ontario leader Frank de Jong is gunning for the nomination here. I'm not sure how much of a premium that will give him, but he will have a lot of campaigning experience. Complicating matters is that Yukon is a riding the Liberals are likely to win, considering their gains since 2011.

Next is Dufferin - Caledon, the traditionally strongest riding for the Greens in Ontario. The party took 15% of the vote there, will behind the Conservatives 59%, but again that critical mass of voters is present.

North Okanagan - Shuswap is not your normal Green riding, being in the B.C. Interior. But with 11% support in 2011, and a Conservative Party experiencing a steep dive in support in British Columbia, it is one that would be on the Greens' list if they are boosted high enough to win six seats.

Moving on, Calgary Centre is an interesting one for the Greens. The party captured 10% there in 2011, well behind the Tories, but then took 26% of the vote in the 2012 by-election. They had a good candidate in Chris Turner, who won't be back, but again we're talking about a mass of voters who have proven willing to cast a ballot for the Greens.

Back to B.C., South Okanagan - West Kootenay is in the same boat as the North Okanagan riding, requiring a big slip in Conservative fortunes.

And moving back to Vancouver Island, Cowichan - Malahat - Langford would be on the list of 12 for the Greens. They took 7% in 2011, against 44% for the NDP, but if the Greens win those three first tier ridings on Vancouver Island, the tide could bring in Cowichan - Malahat - Langford as well.

The fourth tier has a few interesting ridings, and a few long shots.

Winnipeg Centre is one of the latter, as the Greens took just 7% of the vote here in 2011. But the NDP has fallen on hard times in Manitoba, and the Greens could potentially benefit if their campaign is going well enough.

Add another Vancouver Island riding to the list: Nanaimo - Ladysmith, which had similar numbers to Cowichan - Malahat - Langford and could fall to a hypothetical Green surge on the Island.

If the Greens have a pocket of support on Vancouver Island, they also have one in cottage country north of Toronto. Bruce - Grey - Owen Sound is a riding where the party hit double digits with 10% support, but would have a hard time toppling the Conservatives, who captured 56%. However, if the Greens are to obtain official party status they are going to have to do some unexpected things.

Like win two seats in Calgary? Perhaps not. But with 14% in Calgary Confederation in 2011, there is a base with which to work in this riding.

Last on the list is a riding that would normally be a lot higher. Vancouver Centre was one of the best ridings in the country for the Greens in 2011. They took 15% of the vote, with the Liberals winning it with just 31%. But there's the problem. The Liberals are on track for big gains in British Columbia, putting Vancouver Centre out of reach. One might suppose that if the Greens are winning a dozen seats, they are likely eating into the Liberal vote significantly in a riding like Vancouver Centre. So the riding could be higher on this list than it actually is.

The target for the Greens may not need to be as high as 12 seats. If they did hold the balance of power, they might be able to demand recognition as an official party, despite winning fewer seats than the customary dozen (they might get it either way, depending on how generous the government in power feels).

At that point, things start to become a bit more plausible. Win all of the first tier ridings, plus Thunder Bay - Superior North, take Yukon with de Jong, Dufferin - Caledon in Ontario as the tide rises, and the Greens have six seats. Far from the realm of fantasy.

It isn't impossible, but the Greens would need some serious momentum to win more than three seats (May's and Victoria, plus either Esquimalt - Saanich - Sooke or Hyer's) in 2015.

An easier road for the Bloc Québécois

The quest for 12 is a much more manageable one for the Bloc Québécois. In the end, they were victims of the first-past-the-post system in 2011 (after being a beneficiary of it from 1993 to 2008, so perhaps it was deserved) as the party captured over 23% of the vote in Quebec but won just four seats, fewer than the Conservatives and Liberals who each took less than 17% of ballots cast.

And with the province seemingly divided among four parties, the Bloc can come up the middle and win a lot of ridings with less of the vote than they had in 2011. So, that makes the Bloc's path to 12 a lot easier to map out. They just need to get over a low bar, and the luck-of-the-vote-splits will have a lot to do with it.

For that reason, I haven't split the Bloc's ridings into tiers. But here are 14 prime candidates, from which the dozen seats the Bloc needs can be drawn.

Many of the seats are located in the regions between Montreal and Quebec City.

Bécancourt - Nicolet - Saurel, held by Louis Plamondon, is the most likely to stay within the Bloc fold. Nearby Richmond - Arthabaska may no longer have André Bellavance on the ballot, but the party did win it in 2011. However, the Conservatives will be targeting this riding. Sherbrooke is also a riding that could go back to the Bloc.

On the other side of the St. Lawrence, Saint-Maurice - Champlain and Berthier - Maskinongé in the Mauricie region could be won by the Bloc, though Ruth Ellen Brosseau has done more than most NDP MPs in Quebec to ingratiate herself to the locals.

The Bloc has a few seats to target south of Montreal: Saint-Jean, Salaberry - Suroît, and Pierre-Boucher - Les Patriotes - Verchères. In all three of these, the Bloc will be facing off primarily against the NDP.

North of Montreal, seats the Bloc would be most likely to win if they are to reach 12 would be Montcalm, Repentigny, and Laurentides - Labelle. Again, their main opponent here would be the New Democrats, though the presence of a Forces et Démocratie incumbent MP in Repentigny complicates matters there.

In eastern Quebec, the Bloc could take Rimouski-Neigette - Témicouata - Les Basques and Beauport - Côte-de-Beaupré - Île d'Orléans - Charlevoix, though in the latter they will have to vie with the Conservatives as well as the NDP.

Honourable mentions in this part of the province should go to Avignon - La Mitis - Matane - Matapédia and Gaspésie - Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, both of which the Bloc took the most votes in during the last election (the latter was won by the NDP, but with the new boundaries it goes Bloc). The first riding is an interesting one since it was won by the Bloc's Jean-François Fortin, who will be leading Forces et Démocratie and likely has a better chance to win it for them than the Bloc does.

Lastly, there is the riding of La Pointe-de-l'Île in eastern Montreal, where party leader Mario Beaulieu will be making his stand. It is a riding that wouldn't necessarily be very high on the list without Beaulieu, but we can bet that the party will be pulling out all the stops to get its leader elected.

The odds of the Bloc achieving official party status is certainly much higher than those of the Greens, numerically at least. But it is easier to imagine a scenario in which the Greens are awarded official party status despite not reaching the 12-seat mark than it is the Bloc.

If both did manage it, though, it would bring us back to the time of the 1997 and 2000 elections, when five parties had at least 12 seats in the House of Commons. I don't think we're quite likely to have a fully-fledged five-party system starting this year, but it is interesting that we're now in a position where that is part of the conversation.

A tangential, unlikely part. But a part nonetheless.


  1. While I'm extremely impressed by Elizabeth May I would like to hear from other Greens so I can see if there is party "policy" or not ?

    1. Green Party policy is always available online in a document called Vision Green:

  2. 5 seats would a spectacular success for the Greens. 12 is not credible.

  3. 3 I see as a near lock, 5 as possible. 12 requires some big shifts. A collapse for one of the big 3 parties to open a hole or some wedge topic that the Greens are on the right side of and the others are on the wrong side of. Or a 'Bloc BC' effect to happen - where BC does a Quebec, a large portion voting for one party to force people to notice them ala Quebec with Liberals pre 1984, PC in '84, Bloc from 93-2011 and NDP since then.

    1. Yeah, the target of 12 is more about pushing this to its logical conclusion.

      I don't think three is a lock - I'd call that the best case scenario. As much as five is if something big happens.

    2. Eric
      Saw your piece on Power & Politics tonight. WOW those Maritimes numbers are something else !! Thanks for a great piece.

    3. For the Greens a big lesson was learned the past 2 elections - win seats or go home. Nothing else matters. No one listens to you just because you got over 1 million votes (2008) they only listen if you have a seat (2011) and you only get respect from the other parties if you have multiple seats. Official party status in the HOC is critical for growth so the Greens will be focused laser like on key ridings. The money is there for full campaigns (record fundraising the past year for dollars per vote in 2011 Greens are ahead of the Conservatives and NDP as I recall). With the Liberals/NDP/Conservatives needing to run full campaigns in hundreds of ridings each the Greens have the luxury of a more focused approach. It worked wonders for May last time and might just allow a major breakthrough this time. The biggest fly in the ointment is the mass media and if they choose to declare the Greens as irrelevant on day one (prevent May from being in debates, minimal coverage vs the others).

  4. Bit unlikely, but it would be interesting to see the Greens in a position where they could hold the balance of power. It is possible if either the Conservatives or Liberals run short a few seats and more so if the Greens picking up a few more.

    I think the most ideal and realistic situation right now would be a minority Liberal government where they could play kingmaker (though they wouldn't be the only party capable of doing so). The Liberals would likely be more open to the Green's ideas than the Conservatives and it would give the Libs another option if the NDP was too sore after going back to third party status and the BQ was unwilling.

    At minimum it would give the Greens a chance to advance some of their agenda for once and it might help legitimize them as a serious party. Would be a particularly good chance to pass some accountability/transparency legislation and hold a referendum on voting reform (both are on the Liberals stated agenda but it might make them go a bit further than they would otherwise).

    1. BQ gains all come at the cost of the NDP, so not very interesting beyond splintering the landscape.

      Green with official status could make things more interesting, if you assume a slightly more extreme change. With the agnostic view of equal gains, the Greens take a disproportionate of seats from the Conservatives and NDP (8 and 5, respectively). Assuming a full 14 seats for Green and BQ means the balance of power still lies with the NDP at 45 seats.

      However, a bigger breakthrough for the BQ could mean more power for the Greens. Assuming we have a large anti-Big 3 movement, with a small shift to the BQ (11.6%) and a big shift to Green (28.0%), you might end up with a Conservative minority with the Green as the smallest party, but no two parties big enough to keep power amongst themselves (CPC 129, LPC 116, NDP 40, BQ 34, Green 19).

      As a side note to this exercise, I noticed a few difference between Elections Canada names and 308 names.

      Prov 308 EC
      BC Esquimalt - Saamich - Sooke Saanich—Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
      BC North Island - Powell River Vancouver Island North—Comox—Powell River
      AB Medicine Hat - Cardston - Warner Medicine Hat
      SK Carlton Trail - Eagle Creek Humboldt—Warman—Martensville—Rosetown
      ON Carleton Rideau—Carleton
      ON Humber River - Black Creek York West
      ON Orléans Ottawa—Orléans
      ON Northumberland - Peterborough South Northumberland—Pine Ridge
      ON Peterborough - Kawartha Peterborough
      ON Toronto - St. Paul's St. Paul's
      QC Beauport - Cote-de-Beaupre - Ile d'Orleans - Charlevoix Charlevoix—Montmorency
      QC Therese-De Blainville Blainville
      QC Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères
      QC Rimouski-Neigette - Temiscouata - Les Basques Centre-du-Bas-Saint-Laurent
      QC Chicoutimi - Le Fjord Chicoutimi
      QC Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle Dorval—Lachine
      QC LaSalle—Emard—Verdun LaSalle—Verdun
      QC Longueuil - Charles - LeMoyne LeMoyne
      QC Longueuil - Saint-Hubert Longueuil
      QC Marc-Aurele-Fortin Sainte-Rose
      QC Vaudreuil—Soulanges Soulanges—Vaudreuil
      QC Ville-Marie - Le Sud-Ouest - L'Ile-des-Soeurs Ville-Marie

    2. I played with the numbers some, with the assumption of agnostic source of Green votes, there isn't a scenario with a Liberal minority where the Green party holds the balance of power without passing the NDP in size as #3.

    3. I know it probably isn't that likely with the current numbers, just that it within the realm of possibility. The Liberals would probably have to do a bit better in the next election than where they are currently polling.

      Mind you I am a bit skeptical about the seat distribution currently on 308 since it favours the Conservatives so much and appears so bad for the Liberals when they are essentially tied (not that the numbers are wrong but that it would play out that way in an actual election).

    4. The Conservatives have a baseline advantage over the Liberals partly because they tend to be more popular in rural electoral districts, which, on average, have a lower average population than suburban or urban electoral districts.

    5. @Mapleson
      Someone can correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe balance of power is assuming (in the case of a LPC minority) that none of the NDP, CPC, or Bloc is willing to prop up the LPC, but the Greens have the power to prop up the LPC. So if the LPC wins 167 seats, and the Greens win 3, that would give them the balance of power.

      As an aside, I'm not convinced this is a plausible scenario. If the LPC wins 160-169 seats in the next election, and the NDP for any reason brings down the government (either forcing a new vote or, theoretically, forming a coalition with the CPC), I think it is reasonable to assume the NDP will get crushed the next time voters go to the polls. The NDP cannot afford to be seen bringing down the first non-Conservative government in 9 years. So the NDP is basically forced to support the LPC anyway. In a theoretical scenario where the NDP is the party that wins 160-169 seats, the reverse applies to the LPC. And if the CPC wins less than a majority (or strong minority with Bloc support to reach majority), the NDP/LPC/Greens will all have to bring down the CPC immediately for the same reason (presumably seeking to form a coalition as they would have the majority).

      The only way the Greens would truly get a relatively larger amount of power is if the NDP+LPC=CPC, the Bloc is unable to prop up the CPC, and the Greens are able to prop up the LPC and NDP. So say the LPC gets 100 seats, the NDP 67, the CPC 166 and the Bloc 2, with 3 for the Greens. I don't know how to analyze the numbers but this sounds like a plausible breakdown if the CPC does a little better than currently projected, and the Bloc does poorly (which can absolutely happen concurrently). In this case, the LPC and NDP cannot form a majority, even with the Bloc, but they can with the Greens. The Greens still need to support the other "progressives" as I mentioned before, but in this example we would likely end up with a formal coalition and May in cabinet, which would be a fantastic outcome for the Greens - can you imagine what May would accomplish as Minister of Democratic Reform in a formal coalition government? (Although assuming it is Trudeau-led, he would probably try to make her Minister of the Environment instead to protect the LPC in future elections - his party will be a net loser from MMP which is what the NDP and Greens would both push for) This is a plausible outcome (insofar as it doesn't require something bizarre to happen like a large number of NDP supporters voting CPC or the reverse), it's just not likely because the seats have to land so precisely for it to happen. A few seats in either direction and we either have a LPC+NDP coalition without the Greens, or a CPC majority.

    6. @cody TK,
      That is a very tight scenario. Enough to push the Liberals over the Conservatives, but not enough to secure a Majority. Using the same agnostic assumption as the Greens, a shift of 11.1% gives the Liberals 168 seats and the Greens the balance of power, while a shift of 11.2% gives the Liberals a majority. In this highly unlikely case, then I would assume the Liberals form a coalition with the Greens giving them the Ministry of Environment and maybe VPM.

    7. @Gale,

      That is why the Conservatives like the FPTP system and why the Liberals would prefer a Single Transferable Vote. Meanwhile, the NDP prefer proportional representation, because that works best with their voting pattern. The Conservatives have a higher average percentage of votes per riding, while a lower winning percentage of votes average.

  5. I'd bet on 3 Greens (two on Vancouver Island + Hyer).

    I'd put Vancouver Centre on a higher tier though. Adriane Carr picked up 26,000 new votes between the municipal elections in 2011 and 2014. She placed first in all of Vancouver for Council even. Adriane Carr didn't have that on her CV last time.

    1. I'd put Vancouver Centre on a lower tier, because in the past Adrienne Carr (former leader of the BC Green Party) was the candidate and the Green Party of Canada put a lot of effort into it. Now Carr's been elected to Vancouver City Council and is unlikely to be the candidate again.

      I'd put Cowichan-Malahat-Langford on a much higher tier. The Greens are putting a lot of effort into this riding, and they have a candidate who's already out and knocking on doors. Importantly, the riding has no incumbent. The previous (and very popular) NDP incumbent would have barely won according to redistributing the votes from the old boundaries into the new (70% of the voters in the riding were previously in Nanaimo-Cowichan). The riding has a high first nations population (there are 15 reserves within the Cowichan Regional District), and the Greens are running a first nations candidate. The riding has a similar mix of rural, young suburbanite, and first nations that almost propelled Adam Olsen to victory for the Greens in a nearby riding in the recent provincial election (he lost in a 33%-33%-32% split). I am definitely not unbiased in my assessment, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. :)

    2. But is Adrianne Carr running again? I thought she planned to stay in municipal politics now that she's elected there rather than run federally again.

    3. That's a good point. Is Carr running again or not?

      I agree with you on Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. From what I hear the Greens are viewed as a major threat throughout the south island.

    4. Odds are Carr has a campaign team that she will encourage to work with the Greens in that area. A strong ground team can make all the difference in an election. Especially if it gets tight.

    5. Steven, Adam Olsen didn't win in the last provincial election; it was Andrew Weaver and it wasn't in a riding nearby Cowiichan-Malahat-Langford. It was in Oak Bay-Gordon Head which is not rural, suburban, and does not have a high Aboriginal population. It is an urban riding right next to Victoria proper.

    6. @Jordan, please re-read my original comment. I didn't say Adam Olsen won, I indicated he lost in a 33%/33%/32% split. I didn't say his riding neoughboured Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, I said it was nearby (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford includes the Highlands, so goes right to the Saanich border). And that riding does closely mirror the breakdown of the riding Adam Olsen contested.

  6. The Greens will not substantially increase their representation in Parliament unless we abandon the "first past the post" system, and for that to happen, they will have to hold their noses and vote NDP. It's a safe bet that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals are going to do anything that would threaten their duopoly on power.

    1. Proportional representation would be more likely if the urban areas were more accurately represented, based on the electoral reform referenda revealing that support for electoral reform is correlated with population density. The Conservatives, through the Fair Representation Act 2011, are improving the representation of urban areas. Enfranchising those under the age of 18 would also increase the probability of proportional representation, based on the high-school mock elections revealing that the parties which support proportional are more popular in high schools than the adult populace.

  7. Considering how flaky the BQ leader is, I think they will be lucky to win more than three seats, and I wouldn't be surprised if come election night their tally is actually zero. It all depends how daft Mario Beaulieu is, and so far all indications are that the answer is very.

    1. I second this. The Bloc may have had a chance to gain back official party status with Paillé or some other generic Bloc leader. Mario Beaulieu is just awful and Bloc voters will either vote for another party or stay home.

    2. yup, Mario Beaulieu hasn't had much television exposure as of yet. But once he opens up his mouth during the campaign trail, he will hurt his party's chances

  8. Even if the Greens do make a breakthrough this year winning 12 seats their wins will likely come from seats least expected rather than the second, third and fourth tier seats presented here.

    When the 2011 election started many pundits thought Saanich - Gulf Islands will be a battle between the Tories and Liberals because of the 2008 numbers.

    Another example is the NDP doing exceptionally well in Brampton in the last federal and couple of provincial elections. On paper there were way more low hanging fruit for them. But with a strong candidates (Jagmeet Singh and Gurpreet Dhillon), improved organization and focused messaging they were able to win a specific riding and come close to winning another one.

    I'd say Thunderbay Superior North would be a more winnable riding for the Greens than Dufferin-Caledon, Vancouver Centre, Winnipeg Centre etc. The latter three ridings have strong incumbents that have been winning elections for their respective parties in ridings that are considered strongholds for their parties.

    I'd say a winnable Green riding would need

    1. Star candidate that can bring forward strong local network
    2. A riding where GPC values can resonate
    3. A vulnerable riding for other parties
    4. Liberals must perform weak for the Greens to be successful

  9. I don't understand why the former Ontario Green Leader wants to run in the Yukon. It would seem that it would be hard to win against an incumbent MP and a former MP running again. While the Greens clearly have a bloc of support in the Yukon, aren't they more likely to split the vote again? (Which seems to have happened up there in 2011).

    1. De Jong lives there now, so that would be the reason he is running in Yukon, rather than some other riding.

  10. Also Eric, why no mention of FeD? They have as many seats as the Greens and the Bloc.

    1. There is no polling data for FeD, and without any very detailed polls I really wouldn't be able to say which seats they could win.

      I don't think FeD will be much of factor outside of Fortin's own riding. It doesn't seem like they even intend on running a full slate in Quebec.

    2. "There is no polling data for FeD, and without any very detailed polls I really wouldn't be able to say which seats they could win."

      That seems like a self fulfilling prophecy though. No one talks about FeD because there's no polling that includes them; there's no polling that includes them because no one talks about them.

      "I don't think FeD will be much of factor outside of Fortin's own riding. It doesn't seem like they even intend on running a full slate in Quebec."

      Yes, I imagine it would be hard to find 78 candidates all named Jean-Francois. ;)

  11. There is a major flaw in the Green as a real party argument...

    They are in an existential downward spiral to irrelevance due to extremely poor and irritating leadership.

    In 2008 the Green had 6.8% of the vote nationally and 9.8% of the vote in BC.

    Then in 2011 with Ms. May winning a seat as a "major" break through they got 3.9% of the vote across Canada and 7.7 of the vote in BC.

    I am pretty sure that we can get agreement that Ms. May was a once every 2nd or 3rd election where all the non-Conservative parties throw their own parties platform and partisanship under the bus to form a rainbow coalition and to elect a token candidate... Ms. May in 2011 and Joe Clark in Calgary Centre in 2000.

    Taking Ms. May's riding where she got 31,890 (46.3 %) of the vote out of the mix it brings the BC percentage down to 6.2%

    That is a drop of (9.8-6.2) = 3.6 % pt of the Green vote across BC from 2008 to 2011... That is a 36% drop in Green support across BC and a (6.8-3.9= 2.9% pt ) drop across Canada.... 42% drop across Canada.

    If the Green party wants to exist it needs a new leader. Let Ms. may run as an independent which is basically what she did last election.

    Preemptive comment on the argument but, but but EKOS has them at 8.9%

    EKOS had them at 8.5 a month before the last election and an average of 11 % in the 84 pre-writ polls with a high of 13.3%

    EKOS does not do a creditable job polling Green support.

    1. The Greens learned the hard way that you can get a million votes and it adds up to nothing in the grand scheme of things - after the 2008 election the Greens were ignored by the media and kept out of the 2011 debate due to not having a seat. A good effort was made to get May elected in 2008 but she ran against a strong Tory minister who had help from Mike Duffy - the interview Duffy did with May & Pete MacKay was disgusting in the way Duffy was asking MacKay exactly what he wanted to be asked then asked May if she felt she was a credible candidate - no shock when the Conservatives gave him the senate seat as a reward. Bottom line - 2008 the Greens fought a national campaign and couldn't get a seat. 2011 the Greens fought for a seat and said 'screw it' to a national campaign and gained far more from it. In a FPTP system you need to focus 100% on winning seats. Popular vote means nothing. 1 million votes and a toonie gets you a coffee at Tim's.

    2. Agreed re: EKOS, but BCVOR - just because May doesn't appeal to you doesn't make her a bad leader. She's trying to appeal to the right.

    3. Ryan

      not my opinion... just the facts:

      In 2011 Ignatieff had a drop of 27% of Liberal voters.

      May had a drop of 42% of Green voters.

      Duceppe dropped 39% of the BQ vote.

    4. Ummmm.......stating your opinion on someone's leadership is not a fact. Its an opinion. At least to those who are not blinded by partisanship.

      I could just as easily say Stephen Harper's leadership is a disaster...fact. But I would not because that is an opinion, like your opinion on May's leadership.

      Things like the CPC are the only party charged with In and Out elections fraud or Dean Del Mastro was convicted of elections fraud are facts.

      Please try and be less partisan, its getting tedious and in your words irritating.

    5. @BV Voice of Reason, there is a point you may have missed.

      Elizabeth May appears to now be spending most of her time promoting her more promising candidates candidates. At a recent event she had both the Victoria and Cowichan-Malahat-Langford candidates with her, and the event was not in May's riding. She's acting like a typical party leader, an incumbent who has the luxury of winning her riding easily so she can support the team instead. She didn't have that luxury in 2011, so the nationwide and BC-wide vote suffered. She spent almost all her time in her riding then, but now seems set to tour supporting the national campaign and the most promising candidates instead. Maybe it'll work for the Greens, maybe it won't, but it should nonetheless be different.

  12. Harper does not want May in the debates, because she embarrassed him so much the time she was allowed in.

  13. @BCVoR,

    Your logic might be compelling, if it were a reflection of reality. If you exclude Alberta support for the Conservative Party, their national average support falls from 33.8% to 30.8%. Is this significant of anything? No. The Greens learned their lessons from the Conservatives, you don't need the most votes to win the most seats, and without seats more the entire process is a waste of time, money, effort, and votes.

    Ms. May will be re-elected, and Victoria looks like a lock for the Greens, so your whole arguement is flawed when compared to reality.

    Do you consider the BQ still a real party? Neither will have official party status this time around, unless there is some fluke occurance in seat distributions, but it doesn't alter the underlying struggle for recognition.

    1. May did not get elected as a Green party member she got elected as a rainbow coalition.

      All Conservatives in Alberta got elected as Conservatives.

      As for Victoria being a lock?

      The 13,000 votes the Green got in the by-election will give them around 22% of the vote in the real election.,

      Of the 13,000 I would make an educated guess that a lot of them voted for Ms. May down the road in 2011. Will they vote in Victoria or for Ms. May in 2015?

      If the 6000 roving Green votes vote in Victoria rather than Saanich_Islands... well that is almost the exact margin that got Ms. may her seat.

      The problem with a focused Migrated vote is that was really close to Ms. May's margin of victory.

      Now that Ms. May has had her time as a MP will the Liberals be willing to cede a winnable seat to her?

    2. BCVOR that is a pretty odd way of looking at the results. May ran as a Green member. The Liberals and NDP ran candidates against her spending over $50k each they didn't concede the seat. There is no rainbow party. In Alberta I could just as easily say most Conservatives were really elected as Reformers not as Conservatives. Victoria looks like a good bet for the Green Party due to the strong by-election and strong candidate. The Greens are pulling in new voters who previously didn't vote and that is their key for winning. That is the largest block of voters out there -the non-voters. Find a way to draw them in and you can win. The Conservatives & Liberals are pushing more and more people into the non-voter category due to scandals and 'what difference does it make both are the same' so the Greens are chasing those voters down and saying 'you can make a difference - it isn't a waste of time to vote'. Get enough and seats will come.

    3. May lost her seat in 2008 because Peter MacKay ran against her. Unless the Liberals are going to waste a star-candidate to unseat the Greens, it makes more strategic sense to allow the Green Party to take one seat from the Conservatives and one from the NDP. For the Victoria by-election, it occured during a low in polling numbers for the Greens and while the NDP still had much stronger remains from the last general election. 4% and 29% from the 308 monthly tracker, whereas now they are at 6% and 21% respectively. Beyond that is whatever focuses effort the Greens enact to get the seats. We'll see in the fall who is right.

    4. The Green were polling at 8.5 before the last election where they got 3.9.

      The polls 6 months ago had Trudeau winning a clean Majority.

      Polls are meaningless especially when an election is a far way off.

      You had better hope that polls don't count for anything because EKOs just has the Cons in at 32.9 % which is well within the MOE that EKOS had the Cons most of the year before the 2011 election.

      The day before the election EKOS had teh Cons at 33.9... So basically Graves is saying that if the election were held tomorrow it would be the same Cons Majority as last time..... Maybe a bit bigger due to more seats added in Conservative areas.

      The Liberals did not run any candidate at all against Mackay.

    5. John, do you have any evidence the Greens are pulling in people who never voted before? I hear this all the time but have never seen any data supporting this claim. As far as I'm concerned, its just Green partisan spin.

    6. No evidence on pulling in new people. I'm sure if I did a stack of digging I could find some (compare votes from one election to the next). The big challenge is to get more non-voters to vote - it is by far the largest voting bloc in Canada and growing (sadly). The more negative campaigning the worse it'll get and the Conservatives telling elections Canada not to try to encourage people to vote won't help. Nor will the Libs & Cons doing insults back and forth on whatever the issue of the day is.

  14. Hmm, not sure if any of you live in Saanich - Gulf Islands but I do. SGI consistly votes in the low 70's% and over the years has usually, regardless of election been the Federal Seat with the highest participation rates. Ms May did not bring any new voters to the table. We did not run a good campaign nationally, which hurt us in SGI. We were also crippled by the fact that Ms May spent $400K prewrit from Sept 2009 up to the Writ being dropped. BC VofR is correct in the asseration of a coalition of Liberals, NDP and even Conservatives (some publicly gave Ms May a lot of money or bought billboard adverstising for her), such was their desire to get rid of Mr. Lunn. That is the real question for us here in SGI. Was it a strong desire to get rid of Mr. Lunn or was it a desire to see Ms May elected, an individual with no local ties to the Riding at all until she moved her in 2009. This election will tell part of that story. Paul McKivett, President, Saanich - Gulf Islands LPCBC

  15. Unlikely that the Greens get many seats, but never say never. Big shifts can occur during a campaign, we only need to look at the last election (NDP in Quebec) to see that.

    One topic I'm interested in is how rapidly do poll results shift during an election cycle compared against the non-election cycle? That is, how often does a party surge or drop in the 6 week election cycle? We've seen some shifts in the past 3-4 years, but I feel like the big ones are only during a campaign. I think most voters tend to not follow politics closely outside an election, then 'catch up' and decide to change their vote when it will mean something.

    Perhaps another good comparison would be to look at all parties that had historically 2-12 seats, how many of them went on to have party status?

  16. Are you looking at the 2015 boundaries or not? Most "places" you are talking about simply do not exist any more. Shifted polls have to be taken into account specifically, it's not clear you've done that. Other analysts have, see (and feel free to contribute).

    Burnaby - North Seymour is now Conservative by 2011 results, though the dead Burnaby has an NDP incumbent. Greens are running a SFU biochemist here prominent in Mountain and Kinder Morgan protests.

    For Greens star candidates seem to matter most. Joe Clark in 2000 was a star, not just some party leader.

    Drops in Green vote from polling to election day is easy to explain: Green voters are canny - most are tactical voters. When each vote meant $1.75 and the party needed nationwide voice and credibility, there was pressure to cast Green votes directly. In 2011 there were over a thousand Greens on one vote swap service alone trying to swap into Saanich-Gulf (full report at, far more participation in swapping than any other party proportionally, so it's obvious they changed strategies.

    "BC Voice of Reason" seem clueless about the obvious vote suppression of all small parties that FPTP creates. Probably most or all of those thousand Greens, who probably indicate a hundred thousand nationwide given how little attention got (only 78K visits to the website during the election?), voted tactically without any guarantee of reciprocation. As apparently did the huge shift of thousands of voters in Saanich-Gulf. Informal swaps can't be counted nor even easily estimated, but advertising the fact that decided Green voters all over Canada were willing to vote a second choice to get that over-the-top vote in Saanich-Gulf, seems to have had some effect in May's riding.

    1. If you're directing your comment to me, yes, my analysis does take into account the new boundaries.

  17. On the Green ridings:

    I have no idea why Victoria would look better than Esquimault on the numbers, given the much lower margin of victory due to the badly split vote in the latter. Do you expect that many NDP voters to shift? It's a very different situation than Saanich-Gulf where the incumbent was a very poorly performing Cabinet toadie.

    Calgary Centre and Yukon may come down to candidate personality factors. Frank De Jong, former Green Party of Ontario leader, is a good campaigner, though not the policy heavyweight that May or actual scientists are. The Nenshi organization in Calgary has helped Greens before. Nenshi himself may be leaning that way, as might former Toronto Mayor David Miller (who was supported explicitly by the Toronto Greens). Big city mayors certainly count as star candidates.

    Fredericton and Miramichi-Grand Lake deserve a bit more attention given that there has been a shift of the leadership of the environmental movement in NB to the Greens, especially there where fracking confrontations happened. Note that a Green ran second in Kent County, and that the Green leader won in the capital.

    I think Greens have a far better shot against a sitting Conservative cabinet minister who clearly will not be unseated without a fairly unified anti-Conservative vote. Or at least against a riding that the 2015 borders say "should" go Conservative by the 2015 results.

    If history holds, the NDP will strongly contest Burnaby - North Seymour even though the seat they hold no longer exists and the Conservatives are the real threat. If they were to give up just one seat by running paper candidate and tacitly encouraging vote swapping, the Greens would gain that seat but the NDP could gain as many as three or four by the Green votes swapped for the one. Rationality is not a strong NDP local campaign point, they very often undermine national goals and the party's structure makes this inevitable. Expect also strong resistance in Esquimault. It's in my opinion foolish for Greens to put so much pressure on NDP seats as across the country it's clearly a #LibCon vs. #GreeNDP policy divide, on Bill C-51, on the worst of the pipelines, on foreign policy. It would be far easier to get swappers or cross-party support where the Cons are in, which is why seats like South Shore- St. Margaret's and West Nova are more likely NDP and Liberal pickups respectively.

    1. Craig, the Greens only care about winning and are fine with spilling the vote in NDP seats and handing them to the Tories so long as it increases their vote share. Why else would they be trying so hard in Victoria, a riding that has one of the greenest MPs in all of Canada?

      Don't forget that the Greens are a centre-right, not left-wing or even centre-left party. Most of the top Green operatives are former PC members, May herself worked for Brian Mulroney. Andrew Weaver, the Green MLA, votes in favour of Liberal budgets and supports privatizing Victoria's sewage treatment plant. He is a small-c conservative.

    2. This is an important point. The Greens recognise that environmentalism is expensive, and they need a strong economy in order to fund it.


      Many provinicial Green parties are leftist (BC's certainly has been), but the federal Greens are much more fiscally sensible.

  18. I see five, maybe six Green seats as a lock. Eight are easy to see. Twelve will require some alignment of the stars, but is quite achievable for the party.

    In 2011, there were no Greens in any legislature across the country. Now there are four: two federal and two provincial members. In 2011, it was a bit strange to vote Green and a “wasted vote”. Now it's mainstream and a very real, meaningful choice. That will increase the Green voter turnout relative to polling numbers.

    In 2011, Elizabeth May was shut out of the debates. While the older parties will try to engineer that again, it could be a dangerous legal move for both the parties and the broadcaster consortium. The consortium would break campaign financing law on corporate donations if they give preferential access to some parties. Such a donation could also drive national party campaigns into an overspending situation. (The debates are worth millions in advertising.) To avoid this, the debate access rules have to be fair and defensible.

    In 2011, there was one fully funded Green campaign: Elizabeth May's. With that, she trounced a sitting cabinet minister. This year, winnable ridings will have the resources to win.

    In 2011, there was one Green star candidate: Elizabeth May. Now there are a number of Green star candidates and they're aligned with winnable ridings.

    The fundamental point that Éric’s model is not reflecting is campaign focus. In 2011, one riding (Saanich—Gulf Islands) received volunteer help from across the country. The Green Party was never going to win any other seat in that election, so the campaign was 100% successful. Replicate that attention this year on every Green-winnable riding and Green Party official party status suddenly becomes a very real possibility. The only Green polling numbers that matter are those in the key ridings. The Green love won’t be shared equally across 338 campaigns.

    How should Éric capture that focus to improve model prediction? Excellent question. But an accurate model for the 2015 election should predict Elizabeth May’s trouncing of Gary Lunn when fed 2011 data, or at least her win.

    Éric, what does your current model say about Saanich—Gulf Islands 2011 based on that year’s polling data?

  19. Eric, why do you have the Greens so high in Victoria? Their polling numbers are not up that much. Are you using the 2012 by-election as your base-line?

    I really don't think it is wise to use the by-election results as a base-line. Voter turn-out is low in by-elections and the Conservative and Liberal results in Victoria were much lower in that contest than they will be in a general election.

    Also, the NDP was actually polling higher around the by-election than their results in the 2011 election, yet they did worse in the by-election than they did in Victoria in the general election. This suggests polling does not predict by-election results as 2012 polling would have suggested the NDP would have done even better in the by-election than they actually did (IIRC, you predicted an easy NDP win in that contest).

    1. Yes, I'm using the by-election results as a baseline, and moving the numbers according to how the polls have shifted since then. It is a method I've used with some success in other elections, but I am looking into whether or not I can improve upon it.

    2. Thanks for the answer. Certainly, by-elections do create slightly different results (mainly through decreased turn-out) than general elections. However, if you've had success with your model, certainly you should run with it! You are the expert, after all.

  20. As a backdrop, the Greens were always considered more of a novelty vote, where people parked their vote 'tween elections but that vote essentially dissipated during election campaigns.

    Along comes the 2011 fed election and May wins her seat in SGI. Must have been an on the ground stealth campaign as no one really saw that coming. Many thought it was a fluke as well.

    Then thereafter, along comes the fall, 2012 fed by-election in Victoria whereby everyone thought that it would be a slam dunk for the NDP. Yet on election night, when the results rolled in, the Greens led all night long until the advance polls came in at the end. No one saw that one coming either.

    And the BC Green party, during the May, 2013 provincial election also achieved impressive riding score results in Greater Victoria: 40%, 34%, 32%, 23%, 22%.

    Keep in mind that prior to May, 2013, the BC Green party was a dead organization - no media coverage, never heard from their then leader Jane Sterk, etc. After, 2013, with the election of the first Green MLA, Andrew Weaver, Weaver receives more consistent media coverage than the actual leader or the official opposition from the NDP.

    In fact, suffice to say, Weaver seems to have turned into the de facto leader of the opposition. He has also recently announced that he will run to be their new leader - with leadership convention sometime in 2016.

    Ergo, the provincial Greens have considerable momentum and have the wind in their sails, which will also benefit the fed Greens in BC in 2015. OTOH, the provincial BC NDP seem to be drifting, aimless, and moribund. And that will also negatively impact the fed NDP in BC in 2015. And Mulcair is no Jack Layton to boot.

    And then when we fast forward and come to the November, 2014 municipal elections in BC, the municipal results in Greater Victoria also showed a Green surge:

    1. New Green-backed Victoria mayor ousted NDP-backed mayoral incumbent;

    2. Green backed mayors also won in the neighbouring municipalities of Saanich and Central Saanich;

    3. The 2013 BC Green party also topped the polls on council in the municipality of Esquimalt;

    And on and on. Nobody really saw these results coming either. No doubt, a major political seismic shift is underway in the Greater Victoria area. And during the next 2017 BC provincial cycle, the BC Greens will undoubtedly garner additional seats in Greater Victoria.

    As for the 2015 federal scene in Greater Victoria, May has her SGI seat sewn up again. And the Green recruitment of a local well-known "star"candidate in neighbouring Victoria riding (Jo-Ann Roberts), puts the Greens as the odds on favourite as winning Victoria as well.

    Was not too sure about the 3rd neighbouring riding of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke but the Greens have nominated well there (Frances Litman) and with a potential "Green-tide" in Greater Victoria in 2015, she has a good shot at winning that seat.

    The next 2 best bets for the fed Greens in BC are north across the Malahat Pass into the Cowichan Valley. The provincial Greens obtained 19% popular vote share in one of the underlying ridings in the Cowichan Valley in 2013. Green-backed candidates also saw impressive results here during the November, 2014 municipal elections.

    The Greens have selected a FN lady as their candidate with quite an impressive CV. And many FNs reside in the Cowichan Valley who have always heavily voted NDP in the past. But FNs could be categorized as having enviro or "green" values.

    In the 5th and neighbouring riding to the north, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, the Greens have nominated Paul Manly, a former potential NDP candidate for the same riding who received a high media profile for being barred from being barred from running under the Green banner.

    In fact, just a few weeks ago, May and Paul Manly held a townhall meeting on Gabriola Island (via ferry from Nanaimo), which voted heavily NDP in 2011. May's town hall meeting in the local community centre was a packed, standing-room only crowd. Harbinger of things to come?

  21. I think that the Greens are vastly underestimated right now and will be a major factor in this next election. In BC the Greens will not be splitting the vote on the NDP but the other way around. At least the Greens won't be whining about it.

    I can attest to the Greens bringing out new voters because I am one of them. I have never voted before because it never mattered to me who won the election. It is always the same BS which ever of the 3 main parties get in. I feel the Greens not only want to change things but actually WILL change things.

    If they can reach me then they can reach a very large portion of the disillusioned voters.


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