Monday, November 30, 2015

Final Newfoundland and Labrador projection: Liberal majority

The Liberals under Dwight Ball should be elected with a majority government in today's provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador, with Paul Davis's Progressive Conservatives most likely to form the Official Opposition. The New Democrats under Earle McCurdy should be the third party in the House of Assembly.

The Liberals are projected to take between 53.5% and 60.8% of the vote, with 56.3% being the precise projection. At the maximum and minimum ranges (the most appropriate measure in a province with such small constituencies), the party is projected to win between 25 and 36 seats, more than enough to put it over the threshold of 20 seats required for a majority government.

The PCs are projected to take between 26.7% and 30.9% of the vote, or 28.1% more precisely. The Tories are projected to win between three and 13 seats.

The New Democrats are projected to win between 13.9% and 16.5% of the vote, awarding them between one and six seats.

In the broad strokes, the polls have been generally consistent in that they have pointed to a majority government for the Liberals, the PCs in second, and the NDP in third. But they have been less consistent in terms of the size of the Liberal lead over the Tories.

Early polling in the campaign was more consistent, giving the Liberals between 65% and 74% of the vote, against 17% to 21% for the Tories and 9% to 15% for the NDP.

But polling done in the later part of the campaign has been less consistent, with the Liberals ranging between 52% and 67%, the PCs between 22% and 31%, and the NDP between 10% and 19%.

Forum has been the biggest source of disagreement, after showing almost identical numbers to Abacus's first poll of the campaign. Forum's two polls done on Nov. 24 and Nov. 29, the two most recent polls of the campaign and the only two done entirely after the final leaders' debate on the CBC, have put the Liberals at either 52% or 54% and the PCs at either 29% or 31%, while the two last polls from Abacus and CRA have pegged the Liberals at either 64% or 67% and the PCs at 22%.

The Forum poll of Nov. 24 was not weighted regionally, with an over-weighting for responses on the Avalon Peninsula. But the effect was negligible, by my calculations expanding the Liberals' lead from 23 points to 25 points. The last poll was weighted regionally, however.

We'll see if Forum or Abacus/CRA is on the mark, though in a campaign where the Liberals are leading by such a wide margin and the PCs are so unpopular we might expect Forum's IVR polling to get somewhat more honest responses. The difference could be that shy Tory effect, or the idea that the Liberals need an opposition, one that has only taken hold in the last days of the campaign. Or it could be that Forum is wrong. We'll see soon enough.

It does make a big difference in the potential outcomes. The chart below shows what the model would be projecting if it was only taking into account each individual poll.

As you can see, Forum's polls still give the Liberals a majority but a much smaller one. The polls from Abacus and CRA would deliver a landslide, with the maximum ranges topping out at 38 seats with Abacus and 40 seats (all of them) with CRA.

It will be interesting to see what the results will be tonight. It is a difficult election to predict down to the seat level, with a limited number of polls having been done in the final week and the potential for local factors and candidates to be hugely important. And what impact will the seeming inevitability of the Liberal victory have on turnout? Lots of potential for some surprises — but just around the edges. Anything but a Liberal majority would be a shock.