Friday, September 25, 2015

2015 Federal Election Link Round-up: Week 8

Less than four weeks to go! Here are the unweighted weekly averages:

Week 8: CPC 30.8% LPC 30.7% NDP 28.7% GPC 4.9% BQ 4.0%
Week 7: NDP 30.7% CPC 30.0% LPC 29.8% GPC 5.6% BQ 3.3%
Week 6: NDP 31.7% LPC 30.3% CPC 29.1% GPC 4.9% BQ 3.5%
Week 5: NDP 32.4% LPC 29.9% CPC 27.2% GPC 5.1% BQ 4.1%
Week 4: NDP 33.9% CPC 28.4% LPC 27.9% GPC 5.0% BQ 3.8%
Week 3: NDP 32.7% CPC 29.4% LPC 28.0% GPC 5.1% BQ 3.9%
Week 2: NDP 31.8% CPC 29.8% LPC 27.5% GPC 5.4% BQ 4.6%
Week 1: NDP 34.7% CPC 29.6% LPC 26.8% BQ 4.6% GPC 4.0%

Friday, September 25, 2015

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have been updated.

- Riding polls in Manitoba and Saskatchewan from Mainstreet.

- My analysis of the latest polls from yesterday. Is the NDP slipping? Nanos today argues against that, but Forum argues for it. The debate last night may make the question moot.

- I was on Power and Politics last night talking about the state of the race and the odd discrepancies in the polls yesterday.

- Nanos and Forum today show the same three-way race that they've been showing for awhile now. And an Alberta poll from Insights West with some interesting regional breakdowns.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

- It is pollmageddon today. Here's Nanos and Léger, showing the same old race. Here's EKOS, showing something unrecognizable. Here's Mainstreet in Ontario, and a few places in Quebec. And here's Forum in four ridings in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

- The Poll Tracker has been updated, and the riding projections will be updated shortly. In the meantime, check out the new feature Stephen McMurtry has added to the interactive projection map. It allows you to toggle between each party's high projected range, giving you an idea of what the map would look like if each party maxes out its potential wins. These numbers represent the likely ranges, and not the max ranges.

- My next regional spotlight is on southwestern Ontario.

- Your daily Nanos. Compared to the previous independent three-day sample, the Liberals are up a bit, the Conservatives are up a little, and the NDP is steady. It's the dance of the thousandth percentage points.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

- On the latest episode of the Pollcast, Phil Authier from the Montreal Gazette joins me to talk about that whole NDP Papineau poll.

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have been updated.

- Yesterday's polling panel with Dimitri Pantazapolous on Power and Politics.

- Polls from Forum and Ipsos Reid yesterday, and Nanos this morning.

Monday, September 21, 2015

- I took a stab at gauging the race in terms of whether opinion was firming up or not. It's not.

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have been updated.

- Your daily Nanos. Compared to the previous independent three day sample, the NDP is down about two points, the Liberals are down a little less than that, and the Conservatives are up about two points. Taking the entire campaign in three day blocks, the Tories have registered, from start to today 26%, 31%, 31%, 29%, and 31%. For the NDP, it has been 31%, 30%, 30%, 31%, 29%, and for the Liberals it has been 33%, 32%, 30%, 31%, 29%. Not a whole lot of movement, except maybe a swing from the Liberals to the Tories in early September.

- A few Atlantic Canada riding polls from Mainstreet Research.

- My second regional spotlight went up Saturday. This time the focus was on Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

- I was on The House Saturday, talking about debates and the economy.

Friday, September 18, 2015

2015 Federal Election Link Round-up, Week 7

So last week wasn't the tipping point. It seems we're back to a three-way race, and maybe the closest point of it so far in this campaign.

Week 7: NDP 31.4% LPC 30.0% CPC 29.6% GPC 5.5% BQ 3.1%
Week 6: NDP 31.7% LPC 30.3% CPC 29.1% GPC 4.9% BQ 3.5%
Week 5: NDP 32.4% LPC 29.9% CPC 27.2% GPC 5.1% BQ 4.1%
Week 4: NDP 33.9% CPC 28.4% LPC 27.9% GPC 5.0% BQ 3.8%
Week 3: NDP 32.7% CPC 29.4% LPC 28.0% GPC 5.1% BQ 3.9%
Week 2: NDP 31.8% CPC 29.8% LPC 27.5% GPC 5.4% BQ 4.6%
Week 1: NDP 34.7% CPC 29.6% LPC 26.8% BQ 4.6% GPC 4.0%

Friday, September 18, 2015

- I wrote about that internal NDP poll showing Justin Trudeau trailing in his own riding. Then the Montreal Gazette and Mainstreet Research went and scooped me with their own poll for the riding.

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have been updated.

- Your daily Nanos. Compared to their last independent three day sample, a drop of 1.9 for the Tories, a gain of 1.4 for the Liberals, and an uptick of 0.9 for the NDP. So, par for the course.

- Riding polls from Forum for University–Rosedale, Ajax, and Toronto Centre. Note that the Toronto Centre and University–Rosedale polls were conducted in August.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

- My analysis of today's numbers.

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have been updated..

- It is polling day, apparently. Polls from Mainstreet (BC only), EKOS, and Environics. Something for everyone.

- On the latest episode of the Pollcast, I talk with Shachi Kurl of the Angus Reid Institute. We go over her new poll comparing platform promises.

- I broke down the race in Atlantic Canada on Power and Politics last night. With maps!

- Today's Nanos shows virtually no change at all (we're talking well under a point per party) from their previous independent three-day sample. Forum's poll is looking more recognizable as the three-way race everyone is seeing, but it also means they have recorded a serious drop for the NDP and a modest increase for the Conservatives. And some B.C. riding polls from the Dogwood Initiative and Insights West.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have now been updated.

- In the first of a series of articles in which I will be breaking down the country region by region, I took a look at Atlantic Canada.

- Hier, sur Les voies du retour (1:18:30).

- Today's Nanos has another back-and-forth. But compared to its previous independent three-day poll, it is showing a 2.7-point drop for the Conservatives. Also, some interesting riding polls from Mainstreet Research for Ajax, Spadina–Fort York, and Calgary Confederation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

- Yesterday's ridings to watch: Oakville and Oakville–North Burlington.

- Your daily Nanos and a new Ipsos. Nanos showing little change from its previous independent three-day poll, apart from a modest Liberal drop. Ipsos is showing the NDP down a little.

Monday, September 14, 2015

- A double-header for today's ridings to watch: Oakville and Oakville–North Burlington.

- On the latest episode of the Pollcast, guest Greg Lyle from Innovative Research Group breaks down his latest poll, going beyond the three-way race.

- The Poll Tracker and the riding projections have now been updated.

- I spoke about the three-way race and the differing polls on Power and Politics on Friday and on The House on Saturday.

- A few polls out this morning: from Nanos, Innovative, and Abacus. Three-way race across the board.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ridings to watch: Oakville and Oakville North–Burlington

Throughout the campaign, I will be profiling some of the ridings to watch. Today's selections: the neighbouring Ontario ridings of Oakville and Oakville North–Burlington.

Major Candidates (Oakville)

Conservative Party: Terence Young (incumbent)
Liberal Party: John Oliver
New Democratic Party: Che Marville
Green Party: TBD

Major Candidates (Oakville North–Burlington)

Conservative Party: Effie Triantafilopoulos
Liberal Party: Pam Damoff
New Democratic Party: Janice Best
Green Party: Adnan Shahbaz

Oakville and Oakville North–Burlington have followed a parallel history in recent years. Both of these were easy Liberal victories in the three elections held between 1997 and 2004. But in 2006, these two ridings tightened up considerably. The Liberals managed to hold off the Conservatives in Oakville, but were beaten in Halton (the predecessor riding of Oakville North–Burlington) by the Tories' Garth Turner, who would eventually cross the floor to the Liberals anyway. In 2008, Terence Young in Oakville and Lisa Raitt in Halton won by fair margins, and increased them in 2011.

Young won Oakville with 52% of the vote, beating out the Liberals' Max Khan, who took 31%. The New Democrats' James Ede captured 14% of the vote, which was a recent high for them. Young won almost every single poll in the riding, the boundaries of which have not changed for this election.

Oakville North–Burlington, however, is an entirely new riding carved out of the southeastern portion of Halton. Raitt won that portion of the riding handily, losing only one poll and taking 54% of the vote, with the Liberals' Connie Laurin-Bowie at 27% and the NDP's Patricia Heroux at 16%.

So the two Oakville ridings showed very similar levels of support in 2011: the Conservatives just over 50%, the Liberals at around 30%, and the New Democrats at around 15%. That would suggest capturing both ridings would be a tall order for the Liberals, and a virtually impossible one for the NDP.

The Conservatives' task has been made a little more difficult as Raitt has opted to run in the new riding of Milton, which comes from the bulk of Halton. In her place, the Tories are running Effie Triantafilopoulos, who has served as Chief of Staff of a few ministers on Parliament Hill, in Oakville North–Burlington. Young, a Conservative backbencher who started his elected political career as a Progressive Conservative MPP from 1995 to 1999, is running again for the party in Oakville.

His main challenger will be the Liberals' John Oliver (no, not that one), a former President and CEO of the Halton Healthcare Service and an assistant deputy minister in the provincial health ministry. In Oakville North–Burlington, the Liberals are running city councilor Pam Damoff.

Running for the New Democrats in that riding is Janice Best, director of the COPE union, while health consultant Che Marville is running for the party in Oakville.

The Greens have not yet named a candidate for Oakville, while Adnan Shahbaz, an instructional coach in the local school board, is running for the party in Oakville North–Burlington.

Proj. as of Sept 13 - Ridings highlighted in light blue
Along with Burlington, which is a much safer riding for the Conservatives, the projection currently identifies these two ridings as the last Conservative seats separating Liberal-dominated Mississauga from the NDP's fortress in Hamilton.

But they are very close. Oakville is currently projected to go Conservative by less than a point, with Young projected at between 39.1% and 45.3% support to Oliver's 36.6% to 43.5%. The NDP's Marville, at 12.7% to 14.3%, and the Greens, at 3.6% to 4.3%, are not considered to be important players in the race.

That is also the case in Oakville North–Burlington, where the NDP's Best is projected to take between 15.4% and 17.3%, while the Greens' Shahbaz would take between 3.3% and 3.9%.

The race is instead between Triantafilopoulos (38.5% to 44.5%) and Damoff (34.9% to 41.5%). The tight race makes these two Oakville ridings two of the closest neighbouring contests in the country.

That is, as long as current trends hold in Ontario. The projection current gives the Liberals 35% and the Tories 34.3% support, with the NDP at 25.5%. When the Liberals were polling more strongly in the province just days ago (they were at 40.6% on Sept. 9), these were two ridings that would be at the top of the list of those liable to swing over to them. But that Liberal mini-surge was made primarily on the backs of the New Democrats, who appear to be recovering somewhat (from a low of 22.3% at the time of that Liberal high). If that continues, ridings like these become much more difficult for the Liberals to win.

This would seem to be the key to these two ridings. When the Liberals used to win these ridings in the late 90s and early 2000s, the New Democrats took under 10% of the vote. But a vote split can't really be blamed for the Conservatives' 2011 victories here, as they captured a majority of the vote in both of these ridings.

Marginal seats like these, if the race continues to be three-headed, could end up deciding who places first, second, and third in the national seat count. Oakville and Oakville North–Burlington are two ridings to keep an eye on.

Friday, September 11, 2015

2015 Federal Election Link Round-up, Week 6

Is this the tipping point? Or just the latest tipping point?

Below are the unadjusted averages of the polls conducted so far in the campaign, by week. I'll update Week 5 and 6 numbers as more come in.

Week 6: NDP 32.4% LPC 30.9% CPC 28.1% GPC 4.6% BQ 3.4%
Week 5: NDP 32.4% LPC 29.9% CPC 27.2% GPC 5.1% BQ 4.1%
Week 4: NDP 33.9% CPC 28.4% LPC 27.9% GPC 5.0% BQ 3.8%
Week 3: NDP 32.7% CPC 29.4% LPC 28.0% GPC 5.1% BQ 3.9%
Week 2: NDP 31.8% CPC 29.8% LPC 27.5% GPC 5.4% BQ 4.6%
Week 1: NDP 34.7% CPC 29.6% LPC 26.8% BQ 4.6% GPC 4.0%

A trend away from the Conservatives and towards the Liberals is definitely taking place in this campaign. But it seems that the narrative of the NDP-Liberal switchers does not particularly hold. Since Week 2, the New Democrats have been steady. The gains the Liberals have made seem to have come from the Conservatives.

Friday, September 11, 2015

- The Poll Tracker has been updated, along with the riding projections. My analysis of the weird day of polls is up on the CBC here, and you can catch my on Power and Politics on CBC News Network tonight.

- I also wanted to address how I am handling Nanos's daily tracking poll. Two things: every three days, there is a sample that is independent of a previous sample. When that happens, the latest poll and the poll done three days previously are given 100% of the weight they would normally get. Between those three days, though, every new poll is weighted at 100% and the intervening polls, which overlap with the newest numbers, are weighted at 33% of their normal weight. So what this means is that, right now, the September 8-10 poll is weighted at 100%, as is the September 4-6 poll. The polls in between those dates (there was no polling on the 7th) are currently given a weighting of 0%. When the next poll, the September 9-11 poll, comes out, the September 8-10 poll will be reduced to 33%, and the September 9-11 poll will get 100% weighting. This will continue until we reach the next three day sample of September 11-13, and so on, and so on.

- Two new polls this morning. Nanos is showing some movement, particularly compared to their last independent three-day sample. Compared to those numbers, the Conservatives are up significantly, the Liberals less so, and the NDP is steady. The other poll, by Forum, shows the NDP steady, the Liberals down, and the Conservatives up. Tory rebound? I'll be updating the Poll Tracker today, but haven't determined yet whether or not to wait for the EKOS poll that is supposed to be out in a few hours.

- In case you missed it yesterday, Saskatoon–University is my latest riding to watch.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

- Saskatoon–University is my latest riding to watch, a tight Conservative-NDP battle with a Liberal spoiler in 2015's new battleground of Saskatchewan.

- My analysis of the latest Nanos numbers, and how it has budged the Poll Tracker into a narrow Liberal lead in the seat projection. The riding projections have also been updated.

- I tallied the August federal numbers for the monthly averages. Doesn't matter much now, but will one day when we look at the long term trends.

- I mentioned it yesterday, but if you haven't noticed there is now an interactive map of the projections up on the projections page! Thanks very much to Stephen McMurtry, who put the map together.

- Hier, sur La croisée en Alberta: Des sièges conservateurs albertains en jeu.

- I did double podcasting duty yesterday. First, the new episode of the Pollcast is up, with guests David Akin (of Sun Media) and Christian Bourque (of Léger). We go over the state of the race at the midpoint of the campaign. I did the same, more briefly, with Chris Hall on his mid-week The House podcast.

- Your daily Nanos, with the Conservatives up.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

- Check out the riding projections page. There is a little surprise there for all of you!

- The Poll Tracker has been updated, and the riding projections as well.

- I did an overview of the refugee crisis polls for the CBC. The upshot? Conservatives less supportive of doing more than Liberal and NDP voters, which explain the difference in positioning of the three parties.

- New numbers from Nanos and Ipsos. The latter shows a stable, close race. Nanos shows the Liberals up, the NDP and Conservatives down.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

- Here's my analysis of where things stand as chapter one ends and chapter two begins.

- The Poll Tracker has been updated with the new Nanos poll. Shockingly for all the scoffing about Forum, Nanos's numbers are probably most similar to their most recent poll. Recall, those Forum numbers were 36-32-24. Nanos has it as 33-31-26.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Riding to watch: Saskatoon–University

Throughout the campaign, I will be profiling some of the ridings to watch. Today's selection: the Saskatchewan riding of Saskatoon–University.

Major Candidates

Conservative Party: Brad Trost (incumbent)
New Democratic Party: Claire Card
Liberal Party: Cynthia Block
Green Party: Valerie Harvey

It has been awhile since ridings in Saskatchewan were ones to watch, but the new riding boundaries in the province have made it a true battleground. And one of the ridings that looks like it will be hotly contested is Saskatoon–University.

Brad Trost has been a Conservative MP since 2004, when he first won the riding of Saskatoon–Humboldt, the closest thing to Saskatoon–University's predecessor riding. That was a close contest: Trost took 27% of the vote, with the NDP's Nettie Wiebe taking 26%, a few tenths of a percentage point more than the Liberal candidate, while out-going independent MP Jim Pankiw took 20% of the vote.

After that, though, Trost easily won the riding in 2006, 2008, and 2011. In that last vote, he captured 52.7% of ballots cast, with the NDP taking 35.1%, and the Liberals just 8%.

Re-distribution has had a big impact, however. Trost had won massively in the rural parts of the old riding, though the population in these polls was low. Those areas have been lopped off to form part of the riding of Carlton Trail–Eagle Creek. The area around College Park East in Saskatoon, which Trost won in 2011, is also gone.

However, it isn't all bad news for Trost. A section of the city on the west bank of the Saskatchewan River that voted Conservative has been bolted on to Saskatoon–University. But the bulk of the riding is now urban, and the sections of it that the New Democrats won in 2011 (the section towards the city centre along the river) are still there. Trost did win in the northeastern suburbs of the city, however. So unlike the neighbouring riding of Saskatoon West, this is not one that the NDP would have won with the redistributed boundaries.

Instead, the results in the new boundaries were 48.6% for Trost, with the NDP capturing 38% and the Liberals taking 9.6%.

Trost is up for re-election, and his main opponent is the NDP's Claire Card, a veterinarian and teacher in the city. A better-known face may be that of the Liberal candidate, Cynthia Block. She is a former journalist and broadcaster, having co-anchored the CTV evening news in Saskatoon. The Greens are running lawyer Valerie Harvey.

The projection is as close as it gets, but gives the nod narrowly to Card. Taking into account polls in the field to September 9, she is projected to have the support of between 33.3% and 37.4% of voters, with Trost projected to take between 32.9% and 38% of the vote. As you can see in the breakdown (taken from the new interactive riding map here on, the model gives it, on average, to Card by 0.1 points.

Block is projected to take between 21.4% and 25.4% of the vote, with the Greens' Harvey projected at between 5.4% and 6.4%.

This will be an interesting riding to watch on election night. It is one that the New Democrats can pick up in Saskatchewan, but is not as much of a slam dunk as Saskatoon West or a likely gain like Regina–Lewvan. The Conservatives have an incumbent in Trost, which is not the case in other ridings in the province. And the Liberals have a candidate with some name recognition.

The question might be whether the Liberals will take as much of the vote as they are projected to take at the moment. If Card is seen as the more likely person to beat Trost, Liberals may flock to her - giving her a more comfortable margin of victory than the regional swings would have predicted.

According to an Environics poll conducted for LeadNow on August 15-16, it appears that this has not happened yet - and that it might not even be necessary for Card to win. The survey, which included 629 decided voters, gave Card the lead with 41%, followed by Trost at 34% and Block at 22%. The margin of error on a sample that size is about four points.

But that was ages ago, now. The campaign has rumbled on for almost another month, and more than a month is still left to go. Things could change drastically nationally, regionally, and in this riding. But I think it will be one to watch on October 19.

August 2015 federal polling averages

As we are knee-deep into the campaign, I won't do a deep analysis of the federal averages from August. Instead, I'll just post the information here for consistency.

The New Democrats led in August with 33.7%, followed by the Conservatives at 29.1% and the Liberals at 27.1%.

The Greens averaged 5.1%, while the Bloc Québécois was at 4.1%. Another 0.9% said they would vote for another party or independent candidate.

The New Democrats led in British Columbia and Quebec, the Conservatives were ahead in Alberta and the Prairies, and the Liberals were in front in Atlantic Canada. The race in Ontario was about as close as it gets, but the Tories were narrowly in front.

With these levels of support, the New Democrats would have likely won 131 seats, the Conservatives 116, and the Liberals 90. The Greens would have won one seat and the Bloc none.

Now back to the campaign!

Friday, September 4, 2015

2015 Federal Election Link Round-up, Week 5

Let's take a look at the on-going campaign with a wider focus. Below are the un-adjusted averages of the polls conducted so far in the campaign, by week. I'll update Week 4 numbers as more come in.

Week 1: NDP 34.7% CPC 29.6% LPC 26.8% BQ 4.6% GPC 4.0%
Week 2: NDP 31.8% CPC 29.8% LPC 27.5% GPC 5.4% BQ 4.6%
Week 3: NDP 32.7% CPC 29.4% LPC 28.0% GPC 5.1% BQ 3.9%
Week 4: NDP 33.9% CPC 28.4% LPC 27.9% GPC 5.0% BQ 3.8%

Any trends yet? The NDP seems to be going back and forth, while the Liberals are better off now than they were at the start of the campaign. The Conservatives could be slipping, while the Bloc seems to be.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

- A few polls this morning. One from Forum (still looking strange, but less strange than the last one) and the other from Léger. I've updated the Poll Tracker with these new numbers, and my analysis of the EKOS poll's effects on the Poll Tracker that was posted on the CBC last night will be updated shortly with this new information. I'll also try to have the riding projections updated later today.

- I was on The House this morning, talking about Battleground Montreal.

- Hier, sur Phare Ouest au Colombie-Britannique (après la musique!).

Friday, September 4, 2015

- EKOS is out, and shows the NDP down. The Poll Tracker has been updated with it. An analysis will follow shortly on the CBC.

- Another quiet day! But we wait with bated breath for the poll from EKOS that is supposed to come out today. In the meantime, I've updated the By-Election Barometer with the results of last night's vote in Calgary-Foothills and Simcoe North, as well as the new forecasts for the ridings of René-Lévesque and Whitby-Oshawa.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

- I've profiled Edmonton Centre as today's riding to watch. Will it be a three-way race? An NDP victory to mirror the provincial win in May? Or will the Conservatives benefit from a split of the vote?

- Quiet day on the polling front, though there are some interesting numbers from Abacus Data here at Maclean's. Trudeau leads on fun, Harper on running a country and a business. But Harper's lead on those issues was not as large over Mulcair as he would like it to be, and Mulcair was up on things like giving career advice or negotiating a contract.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

- The latest episode of the Pollcast is out. This week, I'm joined by Bill Curry of The Globe and Mail and Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg - two journalists who know their stuff on the economy. So we talked about the economy and its impact on this campaign.

- I spoke with Prince George CBC radio about the importance of B.C. in the election.

- For the first time in a long time, British Columbia could be the decisive province in this election. I broke down the numbers in my column for the CBC today.

- Mainstreet has a poll concentrating on the island of Montreal today. Nothing too surprising. Close race between the NDP and Liberals overall, but NDP way ahead among francophones and the Liberals way ahead among anglophones.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

- The Poll Tracker was updated earlier today, and the riding projections are now updated to match.

- Provincial politics alert: the Angus Reid Institute is out with its quarterly assessment of the approval ratings of Canada's premiers. Nothing really striking. Brad Wall and Rachel Notley are the only ones with a net positive rating. Kathleen Wynne, who has been the premier the most present in the federal campaign so far, is a net -29.

- The Polls Panel debuted on Power and Politics last night. Rosemary Barton moderated a panel that included me, Dimitri Pantazapoulos of Maple Leaf Strategies, and David Coletto of Abacus Data. It will be a regular weekly segment. Check it out here.

- Nanos is out with its latest four-week sample (his last one before going to a nightly tracking poll?). Must have been a lot of movement in either the latest week or the week that was dropped off the poll to move the Conservatives from first to third.

- In case you missed it yesterday, check out the riding profile I did for Kenora yesterday.

Monday, August 31, 2015

- Throughout the campaign, I'll be taking a close look at some of the ridings projected to go down to the wire. Today's profile is of the northwestern Ontario riding of Kenora.

- Here's my analysis of the latest numbers. I took a deeper look at some of the interesting findings in Innovative's new poll.

- The By-Election Barometer has been updated, with the additions of Fabre and Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne in Quebec. Both are forecast to be Strong PLQ holds.

- The Poll Tracker has been updated, along with the riding projections.

- Two polls out over the last few days, a massive report from the Innovative Research Group published over the weekend and a brand new poll from Abacus Data this morning. Both are showing the same close race.

- This weekend on The House, we talked about the economy and the polls.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Riding to watch: Edmonton Centre

Throughout the campaign, I will be profiling some of the ridings to watch. Today's selection: the Alberta riding of Edmonton Centre.

Major Candidates

Conservative Party: James Cumming
New Democratic Party: Gil McGowan
Liberal Party: Randy Boissonnault
Green Party: David Parker

Edmonton Centre used to be a perennial tight race, but it joined most other ridings in Alberta as an easy seat for the Conservatives in the 2008 and 2011 elections. This time, it looks like Edmonton Centre could be a close race once again.

The Liberals were the last non-Conservative party to hold the riding, with Anne McLellan having won it in 2004 by a narrow margin: 42.5% against 41.1% for the Conservatives' Laurie Hawn. The riding then swung over to the Conservatives as the party took power, with Hawn capturing 44.9% of the vote to 38.6% for McLellan.

The riding moved more heavily over to the Conservative camp in 2008, when Jim Wachowich carried the Liberal banner. Hawn took 49% of the vote then, with Wachowich taking just 27.4%. Hawn's margin of victory increased in 2011, but his vote share actually dropped to 48%. It was the NDP's Lewis Cardinal who finished second, with 25.4% against 22.4% for the Liberal candidate.

In that election, Hawn won the westernmost part of the riding, with the New Democrats and Liberals winning many of the polls in the easternmost part of the riding, a section of Edmonton Centre that the Liberals used to win.

With re-distribution, the riding has lost a slice in the west that Hawn had won comfortably in 2011. That makes holding the riding more difficult for the Conservatives than it otherwise would be, particularly as Hawn is not running for re-election.

Taking his place is James Cumming, a former head of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and a local businessman. The Liberals have nominated Randy Boissonnault, a consultant and former journalist/commentator, while the New Democrats have landed the biggest name with the candidacy of Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Going by the numbers, at least, the race would seem to be between McGowan and Boissonnault. At the moment, the projection very narrowly favours the Liberals, who are projected to take between 31.4% and 37.3% of the vote in the riding. McGowan is right in there with Boissonnault, though, with between 32.6% and 36.7% of the vote. Cumming is projected to take between 25.5% and 29.5% of the vote, while David Parker of the Greens (a retired engineer making his fifth run for the party) could take between 1.8% and 2.2% of the vote.

McGowan may have a much better chance than this, however. He has some name recognition and the party is doing well in Edmonton as a whole, whereas the Liberals have shown no particular strength in the city in the few regional polls done in the province. The provincial New Democrats won this part of the city handily, so that makes for a lot of voters with recent experience of voting NDP.

It would also be premature to write-off Cumming and the Conservatives. Theirs is still a potent brand in Alberta. But the party could suffer from not fielding an incumbent here.

So there a few interesting story lines in Edmonton Centre. Is this a seat the NDP can pick up to consolidate the stellar breakthrough of the provincial party in Alberta? Are the Liberals going to win some of the seats they used to win in the West in the past? Will Edmonton Centre be one of those ridings in Alberta in which the split to the left of them works in the Conservatives' favour?

There are a few ridings in Alberta that will be interesting to keep an eye on. Edmonton Centre is definitely one of them.