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.

19 comments:

  1. I live in this riding. I'm voting for Boissonault, but my money is on McGowan.

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  2. This was the one Liberal riding in Alberta for many years. Landslide Annie seemingly couldn't be defeated.

    But then in 2011, the last Liberal between Ralph Goodale and Hedy Fry finally went down to defeat.

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  3. I thought Anne McLellan lost in 2006?

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    Replies
    1. Yes she did. I'm apparently unaware of the passage of time.

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  4. I'm betting that as the conservatives slowly sink in the polls and there still is a lingering resentment in Alberta towards the liberals , the ABCs will vote Ndp especially if it looks like they might form the government

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  5. I just moved to Edmonton-Centre and would agree with Hurtin' Albertan's predictions. I am undecided who I am voting for, and will probably vote strategically based on YOUR predictions, Eric, to ensure the PCs don't win in the riding again. McGowan and Boissonault are both decent candidates and will represent the riding well. I am currently lean toward the NDP, but that could change.

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    Replies
    1. The PCs don't exist anymore, Charmaine.

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  6. For my part, as a voter in this riding, I will not, not ever vote PC. I'm not fond of the NDP for ideological reasons and I'm not quite over the Liberal's scandal from the Chretien years.

    I'll probably spoil the ballot as I have for some elections now.

    Sure would be nice to have someone to vote for, but alas, 'tis not so.

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    Replies
    1. "Decline" to vote is a better option. A declined ballot has more weight than a spoiled ballot. It says "none of the above"
      To decline, go to the poll, get your ballot, immediately return the ballot to the poll officer and state that "I Decline to Vote". Your ballot will be deposited in a separate envelope and counted as such.

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  7. I live I the riding. The LPC lawn signs outnumber all others by a wide margin. LPC appears more likely based on that and its history.

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  8. If you look around this riding, the lawn signs show a big lead by the LPC.

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  9. McGowan hasn't got his signs yet, so maybe wait a week or two before picking a winner based on that.

    Also, the Boissannault signs seem to be overwhelmingly on public space, which says they have a good sign crew, not voters.

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  10. I live in this riding as well. There are few and far between Liberal lawn signs in my neighborhood with a few Conservative ones. It is mostly NDP signs on people's lawns despite the NDP's lawn signs getting out late. I voted Liberal last election, but Gil McGowan and the NDP reflect better the working middle class that make up this riding. The LPC's came in 3rd last election. The last riding poll i saw had the Cons @ 39%, NDP 35% and LPC back around 22 or 24% with an error of +/-4%...

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  11. I like your site, ERic. But how can you justify you riding projection for Edmonton Centre. There hasn't been a single riding-level poll that puts the Liberals in first place (both Environics and Forum had them in third. Yet, your riding projection regularly shows them as the party most likely to win. What gives? You realize that the Liberals are using your numbers as the equivalent of a poll -- when you (and they) know better. Can you at least confirm that you riding projections are NOT as reliable riding level polls? Gil McGowan, NDP candidate, Edmonton Centre.

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    Replies
    1. I readily admit it - it is right there on the projection page. But my system only awards 50% of the weight in a riding to a riding poll, because they have proven more hit or miss.

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  12. Thanks for the quick response, Eric. For those who haven't read Eric's disclaimer on the top of the projections page, it says the following: "These riding projections are not polls and are not necessarily an accurate reflection of current voting intentions in each riding." I urge voters to keep this in mind when deciding which party has a better chance of knocking off the Conservatives in Edmonton Centre. The only two REAL riding level polls conducted in the campaign so far (by Environics and Forum) show the CPC in front (40-39 percent); the NDP in second (35-30 percent); and the Liberals in third (27-22 percent). If you're an Anyone But Conservative (ABC) voter, please keep these numbers in mind...and ignore Liberal efforts to pass Eric's riding projections off as a poll. Thanks! Sincerely, Gil McGowan, NDP candidate, Edmonton Centre.

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  13. Yes very insightful Gil to point this out! The NDP have a very good chance of defeating the PCs! Why doesn't the NDP point out that James Cumming has not appeared at 7 consecutive Candidates Forums. This is an appalling disregard for the democratic process. People of Edmonton Centre wake up!!

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  14. The gaff made by Cumming regarding telling a law professor to renounce his heritage may shake things up in this riding. I am in this riding and am an ABCer. Since a lot of Cumming's lost votes will likely move to the LIberals, and with the NDP flagging nationally, My strategic vote will also go with the Liberals.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/james-cumming-conservative-bill-c-24-1.3260212

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  15. A new local poll was released today. From Mainstreet Research; paid for by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Puts Gil McGowan (NDP) in lead, followed by James Cumming (CPC) and Randy Boissonnault (LPC). Does that affect predictions when added to formula? http://www.friends.ca/files/PDF/Mainstreet-Report-15oct13.pdf

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