Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Final Alberta projection: NDP majority

Rachel Notley's New Democrats are on track to win a majority government in Alberta's provincial election tonight, according to the polls and ThreeHundredEight.com's projection. Brian Jean's Wildrose will likely form the Official Opposition, while Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives should finish as the third party in the legislature. Greg Clark's Alberta Party could win one seat, and David Swann's Liberals should be shut out.

This being Alberta, though, we should be ready for anything tonight.

The likely outcome

The New Democrats are projected to win between 48 and 61 seats, putting them comfortably over the 44-seat mark required for a majority government. They are projected to take between 40.9% and 47.6% of the vote. Even at their lowest range, the NDP is projected to win by almost 13 points. The NDP has a higher probability of finishing within the low to average band of seats (48 to 55) than they do in the upper band of 55 to 61 seats. The precise projection awards 55 seats and 44.5% to the New Democrats, which would mark the party's best performance in its history (by far).

Final projection
Wildose is projected to win between 17 and 31 seats and between 24.6% and 28% of the vote. Wildrose has a higher probability of finishing within the average to high band of 25 to 31 seats. The precise projection, of 25 seats and 25.9% of the vote, would be a mixed bag for the party. It would give them the most seats they have won in their short history, but represents a significant drop from Wildrose's 34% from the 2012 election.

The Progressive Conservatives stand to suffer the bulk of the seat losses tonight, and are projected to win between four and 17 seats, with between 22.5% and 26.1% of the vote. There is a much stronger probability that the party will win between six and 17 seats, however, than between four and six. The precise projection of six seats and 23.7% would represent the party's worst performance since 1967, in terms of seats, and 1963, in terms of votes.

The Liberals are projected to win no seats and between 2.9% and 3.4% of the vote. The precise projection of 3.2% represents the party's lowest share since 1982.

The Alberta Party could potentially win one seat. Along with other parties and independents, this group is projected to take between 1.9% and 3.2% of the vote.

Expecting the unexpected

The polls in the final days of the Alberta campaign have been absolutely unanimous, so in normal circumstances we would not be entering into today's vote with much uncertainty. The only real question would be whether Wildrose or the PCs would finish second.

Projection ranges
But because of what happened in 2012, and particularly since this projected outcome is so out of character with the province, we do need to pay attention to the projection's wider bands. These are meant to reflect 95% of potential outcomes, assuming the polls perform as well (or as poorly) as they have in other recent elections.

At these ranges, a series of outcomes are plausible. The New Democrats could win between 31 and 70 seats. That low end still represents their best result in the party's history, and would almost certainly put the NDP in the Official Opposition role (and give them largest opposition contingent Alberta has ever seen).

For Wildrose and the PCs, a victory is still plausible. It requires the polls to be about as wrong as they were in 2012, causing a swing that would still give the NDP the most votes but penalize them in the seat count. The NDP finishing second in the popular vote falls outside of the 95% confidence interval.

Wildrose could win as many as 44 seats, which technically gives them a majority. But that is at the extreme edge of the range, and so extremely unlikely. The PCs top out at 40 seats, meaning a majority is not in the cards for them. Altogether, only the NDP has a realistic chance of winning a majority of seats.

The projection maxes out at one seat for the Liberals, though I suspect they could do better than that (more on this below).

As for the minimum ranges for the PCs and Wildrose, both would be disastrous (one and nine seats, respectively). Both are unlikely to occur in conjunction, though. If the PCs end up that low, Wildrose has likely made some gains. And vice versa.

So, we should not rule out entirely a plurality of seats for either Wildrose or the PCs. But it is unlikely, going by the numbers. There was far more overlap in the projection between the Liberals and the PCs, in Ontario, and the Liberals and the PQ, in Quebec, when both Liberal parties won big majorities in 2014.

Regional breakdown

The New Democrats are projected to finish first by wide margins in both Calgary and Edmonton, while the race is tighter in the rest of the province.

Regional projections
In Calgary, the New Democrats are projected to win between 34.9% and 40.6% of the vote, giving them between 14 and 18 seats. The party has been making gains in the city throughout the campaign, finally moving in front at the end of April. Wildrose is projected to finish second with between 25.7% and 29.3%, winning two to seven seats. While the party is expected to place second in the vote, it will likely finish third in the seats. The PCs are projected to win between four and nine seats, with between 25.2% and 29.1% of the vote. The Liberals should take between 4.6% and 5.4% of the vote, while the Alberta Party could win its one seat here.

Regional tracking
As they have throughout the campaign, the New Democrats are projected to have a massive lead in Edmonton and its surroundings, with between 55.3% and 64.3% of the vote. That should give them between 23 and 28 seats, leaving only zero to four seats for the Tories and one to four seats for Wildrose. The PCs should take between 17.8% and 20.6% of the vote, with Wildrose in third at between 14.4% and 16.4%. The Liberals are projected to take between 3.5% and 4.1% of the vote.

The seat projection in the rest of Alberta has little relation to the popular vote. The NDP is likely to finish first in the region with between 34.2% and 39.8% support, but place second with between 11 and 15 seats. Wildrose should take between 32.1% and 36.5% of the vote, but between 14 and 20 seats. For the Tories, they are squeezed out horribly. They are projected to win between zero and four seats, despite having between 24.2% and 28.0% of the vote. The Liberals, with between 1.1% and 1.3% support, should finish behind the Alberta Party.

The polls

Polling in Alberta has been remarkably consistent. In the final set of polls, which all left the field on or after April 28, the NDP has registered between 37% and 45% support. In fact, in the last five polls - all taken on or after April 29 - the NDP has registered between 42% and 45%. That is a very tight grouping.

Polls making up at least 95% of the projection
In that very last set of polls, Wildrose has been the consensus second place finisher with between 23% and 27% support, compared to a range of between 21% and 23% for the PCs. It is hard to argue with that sort of agreement.

Not that this will stop anyone. There is no arguing with what the polls are saying - the only argument can be with whether or not to believe them at all. There is no reasonable way to look at these polls and conclude that Alberta is a three-way race, or that anybody but the NDP will win. That argument could be made using a whole slew of other factors, but the polls cannot be one of them.

Vote projection over time
The trends are an important reason for that. The New Democrats have only been gaining. Not once since the projection was launched at the start of the campaign has the NDP dropped in support. The NDP started the campaign at 20%, which promptly grew to 25%, then 30%, then 35%, then 40%, and now 45%.

The PCs, by contrast, have been nothing but flat, with a slightly downwards tilt. The party is showing no signs of momentum in the final days. The same goes for Wildrose, which took a hit after the debate and has been stuck in the mid-20s ever since. If there is to be a late swing, it will have to be sudden and not based on any previous movement.

How the leaders fared

For a provincial election so dominated by the leaders, and with a relatively high number of polls, there hasn't been much leadership polling. But what there has been has echoed the voting intentions surveys - great for Notley, middling for Jean, bad for Prentice.

Notley's numbers have been stellar, with about half of Albertans saying their opinion of her has improved throughout the campaign (less than 1-in-10 think otherwise). She has topped all of the polls on who would make the best premier, and her approval rating is through the roof.

Prentice, by contrast, has seen his personal approval ratings plummet. His campaign has had the opposite effect of Notley's, worsening voters' opinion of him in a majority of cases. His approval rating rivals that of Alison Redford before she resigned in disgrace.

For the other leaders, the campaign has not had much effect. Jean and Swann roughly split on approval ratings and whether they have improved or worsened voters' opinion of them. This argues against any sort of advantage for them going into the ballot box.

Riding projections
The most confident prediction I can make is that Rachel Notley will win her seat of Edmonton-Strathcona. In fact, the projection model gives this a 100% probability. Her projected vote share, of between 84% and 98%, is almost certainly exaggerated. The PC candidate, Shelley Wegner, is projected to take 7% to 8% of the vote. I think she'll do better.

Brian Jean will have a closer race in Fort McMurray-Conklin, which he is projected to win with just 56% confidence. His vote share is projected to be between 35% and 40%, with the NDP's Ariana Mancini taking 32% to 37%. The PC incumbent, Don Scott, comes up third with between 25% and 29%. I imagine there will be more of a movement towards Wildrose from anti-PC voters who could instead be wooed by the NDP.

Jim Prentice is expected to win his riding of Calgary-Foothills with 90% confidence, and between 50% to 58% of the vote. Wildrose's Keelan Frey is projected to take between 27% and 31%.

Liberal leader David Swann could be in tough in Calgary-Mountain View, where the NDP's Marc Chikinda is favoured by the projection with 37% to 42% of the vote. Swann is awarded 24% to 28%. I think it will be closer than that, and Swann could defy the model (Liberals have done that before in Alberta).

The most interesting race may be in Calgary-Elbow, where Alberta Party leader Greg Clark is narrowly favoured with between 20% and 33% of the vote. PC incumbent Gordon Dirks is expected to take between 26% and 30%. The projection is a literal toss-up. The wildcard will be Wildrose and NDP supporters.

A note on the Liberals

One major assumption the model has made in this campaign is that the polls will over-estimate the Liberals by about the proportion of candidates the party is not running in this race. As a result, the projection drops the Liberals' vote considerably, as the party is running less than a two-thirds slate. But the latest round of polls have had the Liberals very low already. Perhaps Albertans are more aware of whether or not there is a Liberal candidate in their riding than other voters have proven in other elections where a party did not run a full slate.

If I did not penalize the Liberals as I have done, they would be projected to take 4.9% of the vote province wide (6.1% in Calgary, 4.6% in Edmonton, and 3.4% in the rest of Alberta). This would award them between zero and two seats, with the maximum range going up to three.

I have also done the same thing with the Alberta Party, which did not run even half a slate of candidates. The party is expected to take around 1.5% of the vote. If, instead, I relied on the polls, I'd give the Alberta Party and the other parties a total of 5% support, reducing (in conjunction with removing the penalty from the Liberals) the NDP to 42.7%, Wildrose to 24.9%, and the PCs to 22.7%. The seat projection would be virtually unchanged.

2015 not like 2012 or 2013, but could have its own surprises

The PC dynasty about to meet its maker? Sounds like 2012 in Alberta. The NDP projected to win in a western province? Sounds like 2013 in British Columbia.

Oh, did you not know the polls missed those two elections? I'm reminded every day - apparently I keep forgetting!

There are a lot of reasons that this election is nothing like those two examples.

In the 2012 Alberta election, Wildrose held a lead of eight points over the Progressive Conservatives, on average. In this election, the NDP's lead has averaged 17 points over Wildrose, and 18 points over the PCs. Obviously, that is quite different. The degree of error, or the size of a late swing, needs to be at least twice as large as it was in 2012, and that election was exceptional enough.

But if there was a late swing in 2012, there were few pollsters to capture it. In an election that occurred on a Monday, all but two pollsters dropped out of the field on Thursday or earlier. This time, however, the last three days of the campaign had three pollsters in the field (four polls in total), and the numbers held steady. In 2012, by contrast, the final Forum poll showed the gap between Wildrose and the PCs shrinking to just two points - a hint that something big was about to happen?

No such hint has been given this time.

The dynamics of the campaign were different as well. Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot more anger and fed-uppedness with the Prentice Tories than there was with the Redford Tories. There seems to be more genuine interest and energy surrounding the NDP campaign than the Wildrose campaign in 2012. The last week of the Wildrose campaign in 2012 was a very bad one. This time, the only party that had a particularly bad last week was the PCs.

Rachel Notley is polling better than Danielle Smith was, and Jim Prentice is polling worse than Alison Redford was. There are three parties garnering a lot of support, giving vote-switchers from these three parties two viable alternatives. In 2012, there was only one alternative.

The only commonalities between the 2012 and 2015 elections are that they are elections in Alberta, and the PCs are trailing. That's it.

In the 2013 B.C. election, the New Democrats held a lead of only eight points over the B.C. Liberals, again half the size of the lead the Alberta NDP currently enjoys. And the B.C. Liberals had spent the entire campaign closing the gap. Here, the PCs have spent the entire campaign widening it.

In B.C., Christy Clark had moved neck-and-neck with Adrian Dix on who would make the best premier, and her party was polling better than the NDP on the economy. Now in Alberta, Notley is polling about twice as high as Prentice on the premier question, and is beating him on the economy.

Notley's polling numbers are far better than Dix's were. Clark's were also better than Prentice's.

And with the NDP ahead, many voters seemed comfortable voting for the Green Party. An exit poll showed that British Columbians expected the NDP to win. In Alberta, no party is filling that equivalent spoiler role.

But there are factors related to this election that could make the results tonight different from what the polls are suggesting.

The most important one is history. The Progressive Conservatives have been in power for almost 44 years, and change is a scary thing. A lot of voters may finally balk in the ballot box, with both Wildrose and NDP voters flipping back to the PCs. The polls give no indication that something like this will happen (in some polls, Wildrosers choose the NDP as their second choice, and New Democrats choose Wildrose), but theoretically it could. A lot of Albertans with infinitely more knowledge of the local situation than I believe it will happen - but that opinion cannot be based on any of the data I am seeing.

The biggest danger for a surprise result may be in the seat count. Things are still close enough in Calgary that a marginal swing could flip a lot of seats. Ditto for the rural parts of the province. Give the PCs seven-points' worth of NDP support, and you have a PC plurality. Give them even less, but a sprinkling of Wildrose support, and you have the same result.

So hold on to your hats. The polls are unanimous. In any other jurisdiction we'd all be very confident in the result. But this is Alberta, and not only is the polling history mixed but decades upon decades of experience are arguing against this surprising result. If you listen to your gut, to your anecdote, to conventional wisdom and assumptions, maybe you see the PCs pulling it off. If you want to go by objective, cold, unapologetic numbers, though, the NDP has it.

If I was a betting man, I'd go with the numbers. But then again, my gut has been feeling uneasy all week.


  1. Let's imagine you've lived in Alberta all your life, and voted in every election for which you were eligible.

    Let's further imagine that you were born in late 1949. You celebrated your 65th birthday last year. You're now retired.

    You're also too young to have voted in the last Alberta election the Tories didn't win.

  2. I actually thought the PC's could salvage something until the 5 Tweedle Dumb business leaders last Week-end. Who on earth thought threatening to take money away from Children's Charities was a good idea in any way whatsoever? That was Prentice's Kim Campbell, let's make fun of Jean Chretien's face for a national TV commercial, moment. And we all remember what happened to the PC's back then. 2 seats.

    If Prentice gets anywhere near that, some people on his campaign team need to be called out. The last few days have been really some of the worst campaigning anywhere in North American history.

    1. Oh, Marois's PQ campaign last spring was quite a trainwreck: starting in majority territory and finishing with your weakest result and almost getting beat to official opposition against a weakened leader and a one-man-show (say what you will about Couillard, but his past was quite problematic, and since his election, it has proven to be probably worse than what was exposed before and the CAQ is Legault and Legault alone). So maybe not be the worst NA campaign ever, but...

    2. BC NDP Adrian Dix's campaign was the worst ever. His rival, the governing BC Liberals had a ton of baggage, including the BC Rail corruption trial and the HST lie that finished Gordon Campbell's Premiership, leaving them 20-points behind the NDP at the beginning of the campaign; yet Dix refused to mention this atrocious record, neither of these, nor a hundred more BC Liberal transgressions. Christy pounded Dix and the NDP every single day with the completely false charge that the NDP had "destroyed BC's economy in the 90s" (it actually outperformed the subsequent BC Liberal decade by a significant margin), yet Dix stuck to his incredibly foolish "positive politics" campaign without any attempt to refute this easily disproved BC Liberal rote; he hired the runner-up to the federal NDP leadership contest who arrogantly refused to listen to warnings from party members and respected elders to change course---even hiring Christy's former chief-of-staff to assist; Dix eschewed advise to visit a barber and a taylor; finally, he got spooked nearing the finish line into making a completely stupid and unnecessary promise to shut down the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning project instead of fessing up that the 20-point lead had evaporated and complacent, soft NDP supporters needed to realize a win wasn't in the bag as polls suggested (he'd mistakenly assumed a sop to the Greens would suffice instead of admitting growing dissatisfaction with his pusillanimous campaign). Meanwhile Christy chirped her one-note LNG song, a ballooning promise of preposterous proportions which, of course, Dix made no attempt to refute.

      This had to be the worst campaign ever. The stakes were enormous, Dix's campaign was completely misdirected despite better advice. Some openly wondered if this could have actually happened by mistake. The only thing Dix did right was to quickly concede defeat to the stunned crowd at NDP headquarters---and leave via the back door as fast as possible after announcing his intention to resign.

      You can't possibly do worse than that.

    3. The BC economy underperformed Canada in general during a period of robust growth during the Harcourt-Clark-Dossanjh government.

  3. Although you make a case for the possibility that the polls are all wrong and the PCs might still do better than expected, it would be just as likely that the polls are all wrong in the other direction, PC voters stay home, and the NDP win almost every seat. On balance, I'd say that both scenarios are unlikely, and your projection is probably right, but it's an election, and with many votes yet to be cast, anything is still possible...

  4. Great analysis. This is going to be one of the most interesting election nights in the last few decades!

    Can I make a suggestion for future elections? Could you give us the % probability for each of NDP majority, NDP minority, Wildrose majority, Wildrose minority, PC majority, PC minority. They should add up to 100%. I'd like to see that done already with the federal projection!

    Good work Eric, as always!

  5. So, my final predictions, using the final numbers of 308, are:

    61 NDP
    18 WR
    5 PC
    2 ALP
    1 AP

    This is a very safe NDP majority, with WR as the official opposition. The PC is almost wiped out, the ALP remains inconsequential and the AP wins its leader's seat. My model overestimates the NDP in rural Alberta at the expanse of the PC (5%), and that would mostly translate into more seats for the WR, not the PC. The ALP seats are both toss-ups, with less than 1% separating them from the NDP.

    I don't have official confidence intervals, but as a rule of thumb, I use less than 2% as a toss-up, less than 4% as a maybe, less than 6% as a probably, less than 8% as a likely and more than 8% as a sure-bet. Using this rule, I have 17 toss-ups, 5 maybe, 8 probably, 5 likely and 52 sure-bets.

    The projections can sometimes add up to slightly more than 100% (or less), but it is approximate and should be close enough. A party with 0% means there is no candidate. Less than 0% means a very very unlikely win! I could modify my formulas to avoid those particular instances and simply show a 0%, but I didn't take the time. I also have a most definite win in Edmonton-Strathcona for the NDP with 102%, so take it with a slight grain of salt and just understand this means the NDP can't lose there.

    In the following post will be all the riding projections (so I can't cheat and lie about my performance later). In order, you'll aways have the PC numbers first, followed by WR, NDP and ALP. I have the AP only in Calgary-Elbow, so they'll be the fifth set of numbers.

  6. Airdrie 1,59% 60,20% 39,85% 0,00% WR
    Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater 24,15% 27,29% 49,37% 0,00% ANDP
    Banff-Cochrane 23,24% 31,51% 48,20% 0,00% ANDP
    Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock 16,11% 40,74% 40,53% 0,00% WR
    Battle River-Wainwright 14,18% 43,49% 39,36% 1,25% WR
    Bonnyville-Cold Lake 20,68% 41,97% 39,11% 0,00% WR
    Calgary-Acadia 29,49% 37,86% 38,97% -1,20% ANDP
    Calgary-Bow 31,68% 31,33% 37,80% -2,14% ANDP
    Calgary-Buffalo 8,82% 0,19% 39,36% 40,37% ALP
    Calgary-Cross 20,96% 30,28% 38,75% 6,89% ANDP
    Calgary-Currie 32,30% 17,71% 40,28% 2,87% ANDP
    Calgary-East 24,57% 32,15% 45,04% -3,70% ANDP
    Calgary-Elbow 23,15% 17,75% 19,67% 4,48% 31,43% AP
    Calgary-Fish Creek 21,25% 40,35% 40,44% 0,00% ANDP
    Calgary-Foothills 40,23% 24,13% 38,69% -5,37% PCA
    Calgary-Fort 18,61% 19,22% 52,72% 6,49% ANDP
    Calgary-Glenmore 22,10% 39,09% 40,46% -1,08% ANDP
    Calgary-Greenway 40,10% 27,45% 43,10% 0,00% ANDP
    Calgary-Hawkwood 29,72% 26,87% 39,50% -1,22% ANDP
    Calgary-Hays 37,76% 27,81% 37,14% -2,84% PCA
    Calgary-Klein 25,87% 26,00% 39,09% 8,66% ANDP
    Calgary-Lougheed 31,52% 31,03% 38,84% -1,44% ANDP
    Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill 28,88% 30,16% 41,13% -1,05% ANDP
    Calgary-McCall 4,98% 20,01% 35,68% 36,21% ALP
    Calgary-Mountain View 13,94% -2,63% 39,29% 38,14% ANDP
    Calgary-North West 37,27% 28,97% 37,17% -4,04% PCA
    Calgary-Northern Hills 31,88% 28,20% 40,85% -0,69% ANDP
    Calgary-Shaw 15,71% 42,12% 38,58% 0,20% WR
    Calgary-South East 27,47% 38,64% 37,55% -3,79% WR
    Calgary-Varsity 34,23% 12,93% 39,60% 9,40% ANDP
    Calgary-West 29,37% 39,06% 37,77% 0,00% WR
    Cardston-Taber-Warner 19,08% 36,35% 43,08% 0,00% ANDP
    Chestermere-Rocky View 19,20% 45,69% 18,57% 0,00% WR
    Cypress-Medicine Hat 4,89% 56,27% 39,51% -1,24% WR
    Drayton Valley-Devon 32,47% 31,27% 44,04% 0,00% ANDP
    Drumheller-Stettler 16,01% 41,64% 36,52% 0,00% WR
    Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley 27,33% 24,61% 47,86% 0,00% ANDP

    1. Calgary-Glenmore> Stephen Harper's seat federally... NDP to win provincially...

    2. Less than 1,5% though, so it's not by much... I consider it a coin-toss.

    3. Yes, I noticed that but thought I was misreading... Éric, if I'm not mistaken, has it an NDP at 81% confidence...

    4. Haha, didn't really pay attention, but the coin-toss was with the WR, so not correct anyway! XD

    5. Funny that this riding should turn out to be so peculiar. In fact, it's not even a coin toss, or rather, it's a toss in which the coin lands on its edge!

  7. Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview 18,40% 6,34% 69,33% 3,71% ANDP
    Edmonton-Calder 16,28% -2,46% 72,77% 2,44% ANDP
    Edmonton-Castle Downs 38,65% 2,76% 48,38% -0,64% ANDP
    Edmonton-Centre 16,48% -5,25% 49,83% 38,87% ANDP
    Edmonton-Decore 27,02% 3,62% 57,64% 5,13% ANDP
    Edmonton-Ellerslie 29,10% 11,35% 48,66% 2,21% ANDP
    Edmonton-Glenora 22,87% 1,25% 63,33% -2,37% ANDP
    Edmonton-Gold Bar 17,27% -7,96% 71,49% 6,06% ANDP
    Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood 1,60% 11,17% 88,31% 3,96% ANDP
    Edmonton-Manning 27,06% 13,94% 61,84% 2,01% ANDP
    Edmonton-McClung 34,99% 4,46% 53,62% 0,00% ANDP
    Edmonton-Meadowlark 9,31% 6,51% 40,34% 40,09% ANDP
    Edmonton-Mill Creek 42,81% -3,35% 43,80% 6,54% ANDP
    Edmonton-Mill Woods 14,89% 11,15% 49,11% 13,87% ANDP
    Edmonton-Riverview 28,09% -1,98% 62,95% 7,56% ANDP
    Edmonton-Rutherford 27,51% 0,63% 42,17% 11,42% ANDP
    Edmonton-South West 41,28% -5,04% 44,22% 6,69% ANDP
    Edmonton-Strathcona 1,80% -15,13% 102,65% -0,68% ANDP
    Edmonton-Whitemud 31,51% -6,35% 58,47% -2,39% ANDP
    Fort McMurray-Conklin 24,42% 34,69% 42,45% -6,43% ANDP
    Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo 24,52% 39,75% 37,72% -6,39% WR
    Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville 21,21% 26,27% 43,01% 3,26% ANDP
    Grande Prairie-Smoky 22,34% 34,06% 38,40% 1,22% ANDP
    Grande Prairie-Wapiti 28,43% 26,17% 42,48% 0,00% ANDP
    Highwood 13,37% 53,05% 35,40% 0,00% WR
    Innisfail-Sylvan Lake 12,24% 41,29% 39,10% 0,00% WR
    Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills 22,38% 28,97% 40,59% 0,00% ANDP
    Lacombe-Ponoka 8,80% 40,21% 50,15% 0,00% ANDP
    Leduc-Beaumont 29,19% 21,79% 43,39% 0,00% ANDP
    Lesser Slave Lake 22,93% 36,72% 41,63% 0,00% ANDP
    Lethbridge-East 26,14% 21,91% 50,77% 0,32% ANDP
    Lethbridge-West 16,97% 14,01% 73,90% -7,78% ANDP
    Little Bow 7,40% 50,45% 41,84% 0,70% WR
    Livingstone-Macleod 14,19% 44,96% 39,44% 0,00% WR
    Medicine Hat 15,19% 40,17% 44,79% 0,00% ANDP
    Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills 6,51% 54,49% 39,92% 0,00% WR
    Peace River 35,86% 14,74% 49,03% 0,00% ANDP
    Red Deer-North 14,18% 23,16% 42,28% 17,53% ANDP
    Red Deer-South 22,15% 25,44% 47,86% -1,71% ANDP
    Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre 14,23% 51,07% 41,55% 0,00% WR
    Sherwood Park 28,93% 18,94% 41,61% 0,00% ANDP
    Spruce Grove-St. Albert 45,55% 12,01% 44,60% -1,23% PCA
    St. Albert 45,93% 1,74% 43,47% -2,37% PCA
    Stony Plain 22,07% 30,04% 42,05% 1,80% ANDP
    Strathcona-Sherwood Park 28,78% 23,51% 44,77% 0,00% ANDP
    Strathmore-Brooks 3,97% 58,61% 36,62% 0,46% WR
    Vermilion-Lloydminster 33,09% 36,53% 40,94% 0,00% ANDP
    West Yellowhead 32,95% 20,45% 50,30% 0,00% ANDP
    Wetaskiwin-Camrose 30,07% 21,56% 46,50% 0,00% ANDP
    Whitecourt-Ste. Anne 23,77% 31,76% 41,77% 0,00% ANDP

  8. Liberals won about 40% of the vote in alberta in 1993.Ndp is also sitting at aroung 40%. Their base was also edmonton like the ndp. Yet they won about 30 seats. No way on earth the ndp is winning this. polls are overestimating wildrose. Many polls are unreliable. I was polled and I live in Ontario (via internet).

    1. The Liberals took 39.7% of the 1993 vote, giving them 32 seats, but the Conservatives received 44.5% and 59 seats. (The NDP were at 11% and 0 seats.)

      Éric's forecast of 44.5% and 55 seats for the NDP is broadly consistent with the 1993 numbers. The NDP isn't sitting at "around 40%" in recent polls; they're at Ralph levels, and those few points make all the difference.

      We'll know in a few hours.

    2. Nothing wrong with that logic... Except that in 1993 the right wing vote wasn't split between two parties like it is now.

      ...and unless you were using a VPN based in Alberta, you were not polled for the Alberta campaign. That's not how Internet polling works. Maybe for the federal or Ontario scene which both had polls come out during the campaign, though.

    3. It's not the same thing.

      In 1993, the NDP also took 11% (putting the NDP-ALP combined total over 50%), while the PCs won 44.5% and SoCreds won 2.4%. This time, the NDP-ALP-AP-Green total is near 50%, but the NDP have almost all of it while there is a near-even split on the centre-right.

    4. John,

      That is true however, things also change. Yesterday the PEI Tories won 8 seats with 37% of the vote. 20 years ago with the same vote share the Tories may have only won 2-3 seats, ridings get re-distributed and while the number of ridings may broadly be similar the contents of each may be quite different from its predecessor.

  9. It's going to be a late night tonight! I better pick up some Whiskey on the way home :)

    1. Probably not so late, but still worth whiskey...

    2. I agree with you, every thing is worth whiskey. ;)

  10. In the only poll that counts there is no way NDP will get 17 seats in Calgary (4 or 5 at best), Rural is overstated as well. WR and PC will be above 44 combined.

    1. I hate that I am in agreement with you. I so want the Tories to be kicked out and for the NDP to form the government. I think most of Edmonton except maybe Southwest, McClung, and dare I say it, Castledowns will remain PC, I think (and hope) Blakeman will hold onto her Edmonton-Centre seat, and the rest will go NDP. So that's 16 seats in Edmonton. I think Calgary Bow will stay Liberal as will Mountainview, but I do think Joe Ceci will pick up in Calgary-Fort, as will East, Currie, Varsity, Klein go NDP. So that's 21. Lethbridge appears to be swinging NDP, giving 23 seats total. I think after that the numbers are totaly unpredictable and are anyone's game.

    2. Agreed I predict today will be a bad day for pollsters.

    3. PCs and WR could be over 44 combined, but that won't stop the PCs from finishing third in the seat count.

      Even in this fantastical scenario wherein the NDP doesn't win a majority, the PCs would still be the junior partner in any right-wing agreement.

    4. That burr of doubt that the NDP will win the massive majority presaged by the polls comes from an entirely understandable paranoia instilled by decades of apparently invincible PC rule. I fully empathise - I grew up in what is now Calgary-Glenmore/Calgary-Southwest, a veritable rogue's gallery among ridings (Preston Manning, Stephen Harper, Ezra Levant, and Jim Prentice have all had innings of one kind or another there). We have to confront that paranoia with rationality, though. Really, everything in the polls says strong NDP majority (the NDP leading in every part of the province plus a huge popular groundswell coupled with a huge negative reception for the PCAA, and relative indifference to the Wildrose). Even the vote-suppression tricks that have already been reported here and there (stealing of NDP signs, robocalls giving false polling station addresses, etc.) can’t make up for the huge lead and wave of support the NDP is enjoying.

    5. I want the PC kicked out as well, but in favor of WR. I think you mean Calgary Buffalo staying Liberal. I agree, along with likely Calgary Mountain view staying Liberal. I think outside of Calgary Fort there are few bankable or probable ridings for the NDP here. Calgary wants change, but is very wary of populist socialism, which generally hasn't fared so well in the rest of Canada. We still live in the most prosperous province in the country, with Calgary and Edmonton retaining the highest and second highest average family incomes, coupled with the lowest taxes. Of course there is room for improvement, and by and large it likely doesn't come from the entrenched PC dynasty. Its just viewed as the lesser of two evils. Or maybe its the evil of two lessers :)

    6. GFG I did mean Buffalo and not Bow, thanks. I am referring to David Khan hopefully getting elected and the riding staying Liberal.

    7. Charmaine, are you feeling relieved now? :~)

  11. Congratulations Rachel Notley..

    I`m gobsmacked...Here I am, skating on frozen hellfire ice while Alberta skies blacken with giant pink pigs flying around with reckless abandon,

    57 seats NDP

    17 Wildrose

    13 PCs

    See you in November Eric

    Cheers Eyes Wide Open

  12. Astonishing, the level of denial that I'm seeing here. If it's at all representative of what PC supporters on the ground are feeling, there is going to be tremendous anguish when the results are final. As with the Mitt Romney camp when they were beaten by Obama, they won't believe it until it happens, and even then it will take some time to sink in.

  13. Great write up Éric! I like how you clearly described the reasons 2015 is not 2012....people seem to not understand just how much the dynamics have changed

    My predictions:

    NDP 61
    Wildrose 22
    PC 2
    LIB 1
    AP 1

    Vote splits are not nice to the PCs

  14. Well look like the anti-NDP posters will be out in force today.

    As a note you can all scream to high heaven about the polls being off and overestimating this region or that... problem is you have no proof at all. Sure you could be right but you have nothing but your own belief and party bias to back you up.

    The truth is according to the polls the voters is going to crush the PC and WR into a rump and elect the NDP a big majority. You can call into question one poll or two but the whole election has seen the NDP rising in support, there been no showing the right-wing parties recovering even in the last minute. You have no legs to stand on when making those predictions.

    1. Polls are never wrong? The leg to stand on is living here and seeing the dynamics in action. CBC had three pollsters on yesterday and two predicted minority governments, one NDP, one PC, which went against their own polls results. When push comes to shove they just can't see the NDP making any significant push in Rural Alberta or Calgary. I agree

    2. You find it hard to believe that people who like Naheed Nenshi would vote NDP?

      I'm surprised people who like Naheed Nenshi ever don't vote NDP.

    3. Did these "pollsters" actually conduct or consult any polls?

      However unreliable polls may sometimes be, they don't hold a candle to pundits, who are generally hired guns for the status quo. I watched the CBC panel the other day with Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert and Bruce Anderson and I've rarely heard such an outpouring of vacuous, ill-informed comments, to the point where it seemed wither willfully obtuse, downright cynical, or truly moronic. On the weekend, Coyne was persisting in offering PCAA pearls like, 'turnout will bring the PCs a majority', 'the NDP vote will swing back to the Wildrose and PCs', ‘NDP support is concentrated only in Edmonton’, 'as we know from 2012, polls are unreliable', etc. He gets paid six-figures for that crap?

    4. It's not about polls being right or wrong, it's about passing personal opinion off as facts. The pollsters are gun shy because of 2012 but as Eric as stated what's happening this election isn't comparable to that happen in the last election.

      You can't seethe NDP forming a majority but that's what the polls are saying and there are good reason to believe them. If you take a step back from your bias you would admit whats happening and why.

      I'm a die hard, card carrying Dipper, but I like to live in reality even if the means I don't like what I'm seeing. It would be a nice change of pace if Liberals and Conservatives did the same.

    5. Hey man, I'm a Liberal and I didn't share the head-in-the-sand naivete of my fellows during the last federal election. Some of them were absolutely convinced that because they and a core group of their closest friend really want it to, Harper would lose. I don't understand that kind of willful denial.

    6. Sorry if that came off as rude. But I'm glad there at least someone one with me in reality.

  15. Here's mine, for posterity.

    NDP 50
    WR 28
    PC 8
    AP 1

  16. There was a comment at the 1abvote blog (acknowledging the untested nature of their methodology). They implied that their results had been showing some small PCAA recovery which stalled and reversed after the idiotic 5CEO news conference.

    1. That makes sense. Prior to that polls were generally mixed between who was second between the PCs and Wildrose.

      After that they all showed Wildrose second

  17. As with previous elections, I've enjoyed your insight and analysis, Eric. You've covered a lot of ground, and I often drive people to your site for numerous reasons. I look forward to the election post-mortem, I am sure there will be more to say!

  18. Excellent piece Eric. Here's hoping for change!

  19. I'm going out on a limb and saying the PC's get decimated tonight and end up with just 1 or 2 seats (aka doing a Kim Campbell). Either that or pull off a minority win - a 1/2 measure seems unlikely. The problem for the NDP is they are getting a province in trouble much like the Ontario NDP did in 1990. If they are smart they'll try to do electoral reform during their time in power to ensure they get representation even if they drop badly after this. IE: a form of proportional representation such as Mixed Member method that BC almost went to.

    1. John Northey,

      BC's Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform did not propose a mixed member proportional electoral system. They proposed Single Transferrable Vote in multi-member ridings; similar to the Hale-Clark system in Tasmania or the voting system in Eire (Republic of Ireland). Basically, the province would be divided into constituencies of between 2-7 members. For example;The entire West Side of Vancouver would be a single riding electing 7 members. A voter only has a single vote but, that vote may be transferred should their preferred candidate (first [preference) be eliminated from the ballot therefore, voters would be encouraged to rank their preferences 1,2,3 etc...Candidates are elected once they hit their quota. Should a candidate surpass the quota any excess votes are re-distributed, should a candidate fail to meet the quota his votes are redistributed. The candidate with the fewest votes after the first and subsequent counts is eliminated. Generally, this system encourages parties not to run a full slate per constituency since, the more candidates per riding by party will dilute the vote and make it difficult for any candidate to reach the quota. For example, Let's say the BC Liberals will receive 60% support in the new West Side Vancouver riding if they ran 7 candidates each candidate would only receive 8.5%-probably not enough to get elected.

  20. Polls ARE never wrong, but their context, oft ignored, is everything. So many polls from different firms using different methodologies so consistently registering NDP support in the high 30's or low 40's are hard to argue with. What remains to be seen is whether the NDP has the ground game to deliver that support. In Edmonton their dominance is undeniable, but the situation in Calgary is less clear. Vote splits could take the city in any direction. What surprises me is the apparent late NDP surge outside these two cities. If it holds it will deliver a majority even if they don't dominate Calgary. Given all that I'll take a shot and say

    NDP 47
    WR 22
    PC 17
    AP 1
    L 0

  21. Might as well through out a forecast:

    NDP: 44
    WR: 29
    PC: 11
    Lib: 2
    AP: 1

  22. I've considered the right to be in descent for a number of years now ( in this I include the federal Liberals' internal struggle) ever since its zenith during the Thatcher-Reagan-Mulroney era. To explain Harper's first (and probably last) majority, I cite the collapse of the Liberal vote which handed him a default win; otherwise his patching together of the already fractured right was moribund from the beginning, yielding two of the most legislatively unproductive (minority) governments in Canadian history, and only then by bending the rules---Harper has never had the luxury of not having to resort to desperate measures like attack ads, electoral fraud and rushed, ham-handed execution of shoddily drafted legislation---much of that destined for SCoC rejection, definitely not a legacy of strength.

    BC Liberals, probably the farthest right of any government in Canada, have been mortally afflicted with the same moribundity, hanging on by the lucky circumstance of having to contest against the worst run NDP campaign in recent memory. Other than that, their neo-right ideology has, contrary to its self-proclaimed business acumen, actually tripled BC's debt, resorted to federal transfer payments several times more often than any NDP government ever did, wracked up record deficits and sold off or bankrupted public institutions to make up for it---all the while maintaining the worst child-poverty rate in the country for over ten years running. If it wasn't for Dix's incredibly foolish "positive politics" campaign, the BC Liberals would have earned defeat. Their far neo-right ideology has been a categorical flop.

    Alberta is a fascinating example of this general trend---perhaps even more intensely because of the longevity of its main conservative party which hung on for as long as it did by hiving off its farther right faction and broadening its tent into centrist---even centre-left---territory. Doubtlessly Alberta's rapidly changing demographics, and growing friction between traditionally conservative farmers and Big Oil, have contributed to the broader trend of right-wing moribundity, but Prentice accelerated its manifestation by attempting to reverse it against the tide. Instead of sticking with his party's gradual edging toward the centre, appealing to the left with specific, instead of general policies, and distancing itself from the farthest right elements, he foolishly accepted a bunch of Wild Rosers back into the fold and alienated centre and centre-left voters previously comfortable in the big PC tent with an assiduously right-leaning budget---that's more than moribund, it's terminal. The real trend had been in the opposite direction, starting with Ed Stelmach.

    This time it's an early election after an anomalously curious PC revival last time under Alison Redford. Albertans may have been, understandably after 43 years of the same party, a tad shy last time. Now, after having been jerked around by the nose-ring enough, and having built up their nerve with a dry-run, they've seen a new leader who addresses many of their concerns, many of which are now urban in nature. They now have the confidence to let the right go to its great reward like it is everywhere else. Thing is about the right, they never go with sportsmanlike clam but, rather, with the most maudlin, begrudging spitefulness imaginable. Unfortunately for them, they think that's a great time to ramp up their most radical policies. Voters aren't impressed with such childishness.

    1. The BC Liberals won the past 3 election because of poor NDP leadership; Why the NDP elected Dix who was convicted of obstruction of Justice is beyond me? Carole James who, although a very nice lady was unable to connect with the middle voter and who had absolutely no plans of her own. These two leaders made the NDP the party of "No". This lack of vision made the Liberals; "a party who want to get things done". Whether that be LNG, balancing the budget or advancing agreements with First Nations. The BC Liberals have and had a plan, a plan that can of course be criticised. The NDP only had criticism toward the Liberals but, no plan of their own!

  23. There are always hoards of people lining up to proclaim that "the polls are wrong!" - beforehand, when the polls don't back their preferred outcomes; afterwards, when the polls prove less than 100% exact. People genuinely don't understand and don't accept uncertainty, especially when it's tied up with whether they get what they want.

    But, this time around, I think the media has put pollsters in a lose-lose scenario. If the NDP *don't* win a big majority, the pollsters will be crucified on the basis of their actual polling results. But, if the NDP *does* win the big majority all the polls say they will, the pollsters will be crucified on the basis that the media have uniformly decreed this election to be a "tight contest", "a three-way race", "the tightest in memory".

    This is not a tight contest. This is a walk, a blow-out, a coronation. Sure, everyone is hedging their bets and that's understandable. But I suspect the upshot is that the polls will be declared failures *even if they prove exactly right*.

  24. A late comment, overall the highest advance turnout has generally been in seats Eric is projecting the NDP could win and the lowest where Wildrose could win.

    Does this mean the NDP has managed to get the vote? Or does it mean the PCs and WR have a lot of city votes in the can?

    1. What are the typical patterns? Is advance polling typically more common in urban ridings versus rural ridings?

  25. Great article Eric. You truly seem to get the strange reality that is Alberta. At 51 years old I have no memory of any other party being in power: there are no provincial civil servants that have worked under a different boss. Oh please let there be change.

  26. From the Toronto Star :

    Breaking News
    Liberals cruise to easy victory in PEI election

    The Liberals won a third straight majority government in Prince Edward Island on Monday night in an election that produced a surprise win for the Green party leader and a failure by the leader of the Progressive Conservatives to gain a seat in the legislature.

    Does this herald anything ??

  27. 1398 of 7141 polls reporting and everything playing out exactly as per the projection.

  28. For those interested Crow will be served on the patio followed up with a slice of humble pie.

    1. I wouldn't count on the humble pie, judging by Prentice's final act.

    2. Well looks like pie doesn't still well with some people.

  29. The only variation from the projection I'm seeing in these results suggests stunningly efficient strategic voting. The NDP is 5% lower than the projection and the PCs 5% higher. Yet this has no impact whatsoever on the NDP's seats - barring Swann in Calgary-Mountain View, they've got exactly the number Eric predicted. Rather, the PCs are holding onto a handful of seats the projection gives to Wildrose. So, not "shy Tories" or any other variant on conservative loyalists, but nose-holding progressives in hard ridings ...

  30. Looks like a complete NDP sweep of Edmonton, a very strong NDP showing in Calgary, and an intriguing East-West divide, province-wide between Wildrose and the NDP...

  31. Wow, Prentice not only resigns as leader of the PCs but resigns his seat! That means a by-election, already. I don't think folks will like that either...

    1. It will be interesting to see how that goes. WR needs an urban seat to give themselves greater legitimacy.

    2. They do, but the NDP candidate finished a reasonably close second place, so it might be a tough go for WR.

  32. Eric's model came very close to the final result, but the distribution is quite different - instead of 12 seats in rural Alberta, we're seeing a domination of every single Edmonton and almost all Calgary seats instead.

  33. I was skeptical, and I was wrong. To be fair, though, this was a change that really needed to be seen to be believed. Well done Eric, and well done New Democrats.

  34. Congratulations Eric, you got this election as close to right as you can get with all the complicating variables.
    I do have to wonder what this means for the federal Conservatives.
    Harper.s base has been shaken by the NDP, even the
    people in his own riding seemed to have voted NDP
    It will be interesting to see if this motivates the federal
    NDP and gives them a boost in the polls.

  35. Congrats, Eric! Even saw you being lauded on Global's live broadcast!

    Now, one notion that seems to be coming up, at least in the twitterverse, is the notion that Harper should be worried. Not at all, I would say. This victory was built on an undercurrent of frustration with an arrogant and entitled incumbency that just isn't there at the federal level, or certainly, at least, not to the same degree.

    Still, it's not that the win shouldn't embolden Mulcair. He should be quite happy. But it's the Liberals, not the Conservatives, who have something to lose. Those who weren't going to vote for Harper anyways, and had discounted the up-to-now-downwards-trending dippers, might well take a look tonight and say, "If they can win in Alberta—Alberta!—then maybe they're our best shot."

    Oddly, it might all be to Harper's benefit. A shift from the Libs to the NDP, but with the Libs fighting back, would just split the vote on the centre-left and make another Conservative majority that much easier. So unlike Mr. Prentice, Harper just might have something to celebrate.

    1. It should certainly embolden provincial NDP in other provinces, but I agree that Harper has no particular reason to worry about this.

      This might be bad news for Trudeau, however, as it helps legitimise the NDP as a left-wing alternative.

    2. This result might actually help Harper. Why? Because his base now is scared in Alberta - they have seen their worst case nightmare happen ... the NDP has a majority. Now the donors and volunteers can be rallied by 'dont let it happen federally'. Mix in the rule changes this time around (the longer the writ the more you can spend) and one can expect Harper to take full advantage.

      The federal Liberals are probably the biggest losers on the national stage as now the NDP has more momentum and can argue that they are the true party of 'beat Harper'. I'm looking forward to the two English debates this federal election as I suspect we'll see a strong Elizabeth May and Tom Mulcair, a weak Trudeau, and Harper on the defensive repeating slogans non-stop. The low expectations will help Trudeau and the non-stop attacks will help Harper get the sympathy vote.

    3. When I think "arrogant and entitled incumbency", I think Harper, and the proroguing of Parliament in order to avoid being thrown out, and the sequence of illegal behavior related to the Senate.

      Harper does have something to fear, and so do the Liberals.

    4. True, it may scare the Conservatives into action but would it not also really encourage the NDP and all those who wanted to vote NDP but were afraid of loosing their vote. I think the federal Conservatives have to really worry now as people wake up to the reality that a swing to the left is really possible. It can happen and did in Alberta.

  36. Mon Dieu !! Toronto Star

    NDP 54
    WR 21
    PC 10
    Libs 1
    AP 1

    Can we say slaughter ?

  37. Well, it looks like your projection was almost exactly right on the money, with only a slight difference in the opposition numbers. While 2012 was a bad year for polling in Alberta, it seems this time the polls got it right.

  38. Bravo Eric - your projection and analysis have once again proven accurate and insightful. I guess math isn't hard.

  39. I am really looking forward to this post-mortem.

  40. And of course, we don't know the final seat count yet, because there's a freaking TIE in Calgary-Glenmore.

  41. And of course the obvious question??
    What's the national result?

  42. looks like the PCs gained 3 or so percentage points in the last few days ???

    1. There appears to have been a roughly 4-point swing from the NDP to the PCs. The effect was the delivery of several WR seats to the Tories, all in Calgary.

  43. Wow. I hope this is a sign of future "party system realignments" not only in Canada but also in the US. An NDP-Wildrose contest actually *makes sense*, unlike dealing with the Progressive Conservatives or Liberals where you don't really know what you're voting for, as they've drifted very far from having ideologies of any sort.

    1. Yeah I like that idea for sure. What the USA needs is a real multiparty system. Will they get one?? Not in my lifetime I'll guess !!


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