Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Ipsos poll, Battleground Toronto, and this site's name

After Friday's confusion arising from diametrically opposed polls being released on the same day, Ipsos Reid cleared things up a little yesterday evening by splitting the difference in its poll for Global News.

The CBC Poll Tracker has been updated with these latest numbers, and continues to show a tie between the Conservatives and New Democrats. The riding-by-riding projections have also been put up-to-date.

I identified what was potentially the main reason for Mainstreet Research's divergence from the consensus in my Poll Tracker analysis on Friday: namely, that Mainstreet had some abnormally high scores for the Conservatives among 18-to-34 year olds.

After removing the undecideds myself, I calculated that the Conservatives had 43% support among this age group in Mainstreet's poll. That was very high. You can see how high in the chart below. Mainstreet's poll is the second last in this chart, and is in italics. All the other polls are recent findings from other pollsters among this age group. Ipsos's latest is at the bottom of the chart, showing the Conservatives at just 17% among this group.

18-to-34 year olds, Mainstreet in italics
So, you can see that this is a bit of an issue. If this age group represents about 20% of the weighted sample, the discrepancy between Mainstreet's numbers and those of other pollsters would be worth about four points to the Conservatives. That drops them from the 38% of that poll to 34%, just about where Ipsos has them.

Of course, everybody else could be wrong or this could have been a momentary excitement on the part of young Canadians that lasted a couple of days, but the odds of that would seem rather low.

Leafs not the only blue team likely to struggle this fall in Toronto

In light of the Liberal nomination battle in Eglinton-Lawrence that saw Marco Mendicino defeat Eve Adams on the weekend, and yesterday's announcement that Olivia Chow was returning to the federal scene, I took a look at how the parties's chances are shaping up in Toronto for the CBC.

I hadn't fully realized something before writing this piece: Toronto itself, and not just the GTA in general, was very important to the Conservatives in 2011. They won eight seats there, after winning zero seats there in every election prior to that going back a few decades. Eight seats out of 22 in Toronto is quite good (tying the NDP), but it is very important when you consider that the Conservatives made a net gain of 23 seats between the 2008 and 2011 elections. That means Toronto represented just over one-third of the Tories' gains in the last election. The 905 is important for the Conservatives, but the 416 is no slouch either.

ThreeThirtyEight not going to happen, so please stop asking me

The name of this site,, is in homage to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight as well as the number of seats that are currently in the House of Commons and were in the House when the site was launched in 2008. It might as well also represent the number of times I have been asked when I will be changing the name of the site.

Let me clear it up once and for all (not that I've been saying anything different from the last few years). The name of the site is not going to be changed to ThreeThirtyEight or variations of that. And the name of the site is already quite long, so changing it ThreeHundredThirtyEight, as some have suggested, would be a step in the wrong direction too.

A few reasons for why I will not be changing the name of this site to reflect the new number of seats in the House of Commons:

1) It has been this way for almost seven years, which gives this name its own branding strength. It would be confusing to suddenly change the name and I'd likely be correcting people for a year or two. While the site was named after the number of seats in the House of Commons, it was never meant as a running tally of the number of seats in the House of Commons.

2) Four elections occurred with 308 seats up for grabs. You have to go back to 1965 to find a string of at least that many elections with the same number of seats. It is a particularly interesting era to name the site after, with three minority governments and the newly merged Conservative Party. Stephen Harper, Jack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe led their respective parties in all four of thsoe elections, and it is hard to name three federal leaders that have more greatly marked their respective parties or Canadian politics in the 21st century. Harper embodies, in many ways, the merged Conservative Party, Duceppe has led his party for almost 20 years, and Layton set the NDP on the path that might bring it to power this fall. The 308-seat House was also the only House I ever really knew, having started getting interested in politics after the 2000 election.

3) This site was launched in 2008 because of how interesting I found FiveThirtyEight. But to change the name of the site to ThreeThirtyEight (or 338 as many would call it) gets the name much too close to FiveThirtyEight (538). That would also lead to confusion, as well as being discourteous to 538.

4) If this site still somehow exists in another 10 years, I'll have to change the name yet again.

5) Last I checked, the URL was taken anyway so the whole thing is moot.