Friday, November 6, 2015

Liberals start Newfoundland and Labrador campaign with huge lead

The provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador was kicked off yesterday and will come to a close on November 30, but it is not setting up to be as exciting as the federal campaign that just came to an exciting finish. Instead, the campaign in Newfoundland and Labrador starts with the Liberal Party under Dwight Ball enjoying a 47-point lead over his nearest rival, the incumbent Progressive Conservative government of Paul Davis.

This is from the latest survey from Abacus Data. And with the start of the campaign comes the launch of the projection model for the Newfoundland and Labrador election, the first to use the three-election swing model I outlined earlier.

This campaign poses a few problems for the projection model. Before taking a look at the Abacus poll, let's go through them.

The first is the redistribution of the province's 48 districts into just 40. That represents a great deal of change and the combination of old districts into these smaller new ones. Because of the enormity of the changes, it makes it a tricky election to call with this three-election swing model.

Luckily, Kyle Hutton provided me with the transposition of the 2011 results onto the new boundaries. And the spreadsheet he designed helped me calculate the transposition for the 2003 and 2007 elections as well. So thanks to Kyle for that. You can follow him on Twitter here.

The second and third difficulties are compounded by the first: there were a large number of by-elections in the last legislature, and they featured some incredibly massive shifts in support. There were also a number of floor-crossings, which is doubly complicated in Newfoundland and Labrador due to the importance of the local candidate.

Now that these by-election results and floor-crossing incumbent MHAs have been split among multiple ridings, it makes it difficult to know what impact they will have within the new district boundaries. I have tried to estimate what the results would have been throughout the new ridings when a by-election took place within its boundaries, and have applied the floor-crossing factor as I would normally.

Then there is the matter of Newfoundland and Labrador's small population. It makes it much more difficult to project outcomes when a riding has a smaller population that can more easily swing in one direction or another, particularly when we're seeing such a massive shift in support as we are in this election.

Taken together, this leads me to encourage readers to exercise a great deal of caution with the seat projections, and to rely more than ever on the seat ranges. And as there are a relatively small number of ridings considered at play in the likely ranges, I'd also suggest concentrating on the 95% confidence interval — so the maximum and minimum ranges.

My urging of caution is doubly so for the riding-by-riding projections, which are primarily there to show how I come to my province-wide totals.

So where does that put us at the start of this campaign? It suggests the Liberals could win between 29 and 39 seats, putting them well over the 20-seat mark required for a majority and putting a near-sweep within their grasp (even the likely ranges top out at 38 seats).

The New Democrats are projected to win five seats, but that is up against their very maximum: instead, their range puts them between one and five seats, within the Tories' band of between zero and eight seats. As the incumbent government, however, the PCs have a better chance of winding up in the average to maximum range (one to eight seats) than does the NDP. So despite the average projection, I'd still call the PCs the favourites to form the Official Opposition at this stage.

The Abacus poll gives the Liberals 66% support, almost exactly where the federal Liberals ended up on October 19 and higher than any other result the NL Liberals have recently managed (their previous high was 60% to 62% a year ago).

At 19%, the PCs are at their lowest ebb, while the 15% for the NDP puts them back to where they were for much of 2014.

There is no good news at the regional level for any party but the Liberals, who scored their lowest support levels on the Avalon Peninsula and still managed 59%. The PCs had their best result, 26%, in central Newfoundland, where they are the incumbents in every riding, and 21% on the Avalon Peninsula. The New Democrats had their best result on the Avalon Peninsula and in St. John's, where all of their seats are located. If their vote is concentrated enough, they can win a few seats with these numbers.

Across the board, the numbers in this Abacus poll were stellar for the Liberals. Fully 73% of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would consider voting for them, compared to just 37% for the NDP and 32% for the Tories. A majority of voters would not consider voting for either the PCs or the NDP. And three-quarters of people in the province think the Liberals will win, including half of PC voters and two-thirds of NDP voters.

While Dwight Ball has very good personal numbers, he isn't beating Paul Davis because the premier is unpopular, who has a positive rating of 32%, with just 25% having a negative impression of him. Earle McCurdy also has a net positive score, with 26% having a positive impression of him against 22% who have a negative one.

But Ball is head and shoulders above both of these, with 50% of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians holding a positive impression of the Liberal leader. Just 10% hold a negative view.

The trump card for Ball, though, is that 60% of voters think it is "definitely" time for a change of government, while another 25% think a change would be good but is not necessarily important. Only 9% think the PCs should be re-elected.

So it will take some doing for the Liberals to lose this one. For now, the thing to watch is whether either the PCs or NDP can do something to avoid the election turning into a complete landslide. The federal Liberals went 7-for-7 on election night in Newfoundland and Labrador. Something very close to 40-for-40, with these sorts of numbers, is likely for the provincial Liberals on November 30.


  1. I am surprised the NDP performs so much better than the Tories at a slightly lower level of popular support. While I appreciate much of the NDP's support is concentrated around St. John's-at 20% and 21% respectively, it seems unlikely to me either the NDP or Tories will win a seat in Town much less five.

  2. One riding we all may want to keep an eye on is Windosr Lake where former N.D.P. M.P. Ryan Cleary is running for the Tories.

    1. While it's not at all a big jump from federal NDP to provincial PCs, NDP supporters upset that Jack hasn't won all seem intent on assisting Cathy Bennett's Liberal chances to defeat Ryan.

      Which I think is unfortunate

    2. I can appreciate the historical significance of the Liberal party that make The PCs and NDP strange bedfellows but, Cleary's actions from a NDP point of view is pure treachery since, he was a member of the provincial party by virtue of being a federal party memeber. The NDP only has provincial membership so, one wonders if his penchant for Newfoundland nationalism was so strong why did he not join the Tories in the first place?

    3. it's well established he called the NDP "losers" on multiple occasions. What happened with Cleary was he was simply a placeholder candidate. And then he won.

      It wasn't because he was NDP that he won. It was because he was Ryan Cleary, and former editor of The Independent newspaper.

      He was not truely an NDPer, but since both Ryan and Jack lost re-election, the local NDP want someone to blame and it might as well be Ryan Cleary.

  3. What are the chances that the Liberals get a clean sweep of all 40 seats? I think it is quite likely personally, given the immense popularity of the Liberal brand in Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador being the best province for them in the federal election (they got over 70% of the total vote there, correct?).

    1. The Liberals hold the poisionous history in NL of 1. The total economic collapse of the 1990s under Clyde Wells and 2. Immense dislike amongst anti-confederates and the 48% who voted "No" in 1948 and the legacy of Joey's attempt at a banana republic province from 1949 to 1972. And 3. The NL Liberals are farther right than the PCs and are known to be big public cutters.

      You can't say, at least regarding NL's insane political scene, that by virtue of federal Liberals being popular here that the provincial Liberals are the same beast. Speaking to people, I'd say Liberal support is very soft. People are angry at government while over 50% are actually very satisfied with its performance. The PCs and NDP will hold a good number of seats in this province, I have trouble believing the Liberals would win more than 30.

    2. "48% who voted 'NO'".

      Only if you believe the vote was fair!

      I haven't studied the issue as much as I would like but, certainly there of some characteristics of the vote that are odd and has lead some to conclude the vote was rigged by the British and Canadian governments. Turnout is the most obvious. Why would turnout decline by three per cent at the second determinative referendum? Why would the 14.3% of Newfoundlanders who voted for a continuation of the Commission of Government vote overwhelmingly (78%) in favour of Confederation instead of responsible government and independence? This seems illogical as both responsible government and the Commission were nationalist positions albeit to different degrees. Why were the ballots burned?

    3. OK, this is most certainly the deadest horse I've seen flogged in quite some time. That vote was 67 years, or ⅔ of a century ago. Anyone old enough to have voted in it would be 88 or older now.

      Time to let it go...

    4. It's not just those who voted "No" it's also those alive for the votes a d those Born in the 2 decades thereafter. And anyone who resents having a picture of Smallwood hung on the wall between the Pope and Family, and his cult of personallity, and his liberal ways of vote suppression and the missing election reports from every election he won to 1971. And anyone who resents his messianic overtones and above all, the resentment that we couldn't even have a civil conversation about the merits of whether or not Confederation was a good thing or whether we sold ourselves out in the terms of union which are still law of the land without being called a traitor, which I heard a VOCM host say just last week.

      The Liberal Party will always be Smallwood's party.

    5. I think the 1948 referendum a very important event in Canadian history, one that has repressions to this day politically, culturally and economically. It is no wonder some Quebecois are skeptical of Ottawa's involvement in their own referenda processes when the historical record points toward Canadian collusion and trickery in both 1948 (Nerwfoundland) and 1995 (Quebec) referenda. After 67 years the truth should be known for good or ill and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can make up their own minds.

    6. That the vote happened so long ago is all the more reason to ignore its results.

    7. in 1948, the British were actively divesting themselves of colonial territories (for financial reasons - the Americans were charging unexpectedly steep interest on post-war loans). I'm surprised they even bothered with a referendum.

    8. Well it's been 252 years since the Treaty of Paris yet, Quebeckers still feel obliged to vote for nationalist causes in fairly large number (Marois received over 1,000,000 votes last election)! The Bloc received close to 900,000 votes last month. We ignore history at our peril.

    9. NL, you can't see the Liberals getting more than 30 seats? When they are running at 66% and are at minimum 59% in St. John's? Wow. Your support for the Tory's is getting to the point of being painful.

    10. Working backwards from a clean sweep for the Liberals, for the NDP (whom I'm still officially a member of interestingly enough), they'll win 4 or 5 AT LEAST. Who? Earle, Buckingham, Gerry Rogers, the omnipresent Lorraine and I'll give them credit for at least 1 more victory, probably for Barron in Labrador West.

      For the PCs, we'll return Sandy Collins, Davis, probably david Brazil, Jim Lester has a good chance of winning and so does Steve Kent. Keith Hutchings will probably take Ferryland.

      That would leave the Liberals around 30. The Liberals have such shitshow candidates as David Letto and Danny Dumaresque. Letto is a tory hack I can't stand, and Dumaresque is the perennial Liberal loser. We also have ex-PC MP Rex Barnes running as an independent against Liberal Al Hawkins. That'll be an interesting race too.

      Just because a lot of people are saying they'll vote Liberal doesn't mean that people will not vote the way they always do, which is for the person first, party second. People aren't yet as confident in Ball as they were for Danny. That will play an effect.

    11. Admittedly I'm not a local, but Earle winning his seat seems like a longshot. He's facing off against a cabinet member and a former Liberal MP. He'd have to ask for some pretty massive personal vote totals to become part of the "AT LEAST" (all caps!!!1!) roster, and looking at this guy... well, I just don't see it. He couldn't even convince Cleary to stay with the party following his defeat, and that guy seems pretty easily influenced.

    12. The NDP came a close second last time in St. John's West it is probably their second best hope after Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. It should be a three way race which all things being equal help the NDP I think. Coady has name recognition but, that is about it-She was dumped by the electorate once not too long ago, she may be the front runner but she is far from a shoo-in.

  4. PC members with best odds of Winning:
    Kevin Pollard for Baie Verte—Green Bay
    Calvin Peach for Placentia West—Bellevue,
    Sandy Collins for Terra Nova,
    Premier Davis in Topsail—Paradise,
    Keith Hutchings in Ferryland (most Conservative riding since 1832 when it was first created),
    Minister of Transportstion and Works David Brazil in Conception Bay East—Bell Island (because he's running against perennial Liberal loser Danny Dumaresque, lost every election since 1997, including a loss to then independent Yvonne Jones in southern Labrador, now the MP for Labrador,
    Glen Littlejohn for Harbour Grace—Port de Grave,
    Complete toss up between NDP (Mark Gruchy) and PC (Kevin Parsons) in Cape St. Francis
    Health Minister Steve Kent in Mount Pearl North
    Well known local farmer Jim Lester for Mount Pearl—Southlands

    Possibly Beth Crosbie in Virginia Waters—Pleasantville by virtue of being daughter of John Crosbie
    And possibly Tracy Perry on the south coast in the very remote rural riding of Fortune Bay—Cape la Hune (where 3 towns still exist in the riding without any trucks or cars, so Gaultois, McCallum and Rencontre East msy vote PC with promises of new ferries), the town of St. Alban's and Head of Bay d'Espoir will probably go PC while in Hr. Breton the power struggle is there to elect Liberal Bill Carter, everyone in Hr. Breton knows a St. Alban's candidate will serve St Albans and a Hr Breton candidate will ignore Head of Bay and St. Albans. The stretch of coast between Pool's Cove down through Mose Ambrose, Boxey and Wreck Cove will go Liberal, while Hermitage and Seal Cove are toss ups.

  5. I think the site is going to be in huge trouble with the seat model, again, just like the federal election. The math just doesn't make sense, again. If poll numbers reflect anywhere near what is happening, there's no way the PC and NDP are getting 3 seats each, and it doesn't matter what happened in the last elections. The factors in Canada in 2015, are yet again very different. And mathematicallly it's just nearly impossible with 66% vote count for one party, and 59% in the smallest area. Now I think there'll be a push back as I believe Newfoundlanders want some sort of opposition. This is where polling is very important to a democracy. But if these numbers hold, there is just no logical way the opposition is getting 6 seats, no matter what the model says. There's a even a decent chance for a clean sweep, if not one opposition party getting swept out entirely. If these numbers hold up, My prediction is all but one each for the PC's and NDP.

  6. Possibly. Except in 2007 the PCs took 70% of the vote and the opposition parties were able to win four seats between them, and only in Labrador did the party had less than 64% in any one region. The PCs had 65% to 69% support in the three regions on the island in which the opposition won a seat.

    Anyway, note that the model is projecting 1-4 seats for each the PCs and the NDP (or 0-9 for the PCs or 1-5 for the NDP at the full range), so there is certainly scope within the projection for a repeat of 2007.

  7. Right now the Liberals has a 40+ point lead. Trudeau won a overall majority on October 19 with a 8 point lead in the popular vote 39 to 31. Barring a hurricane or a flood, the liberal should easily take 36 seats on Nov. 30. How do people push back against a big majority by a party they say they support? Especially when they also say they want change. Expecting them to vote against the party they say they support seems a little naive to me.

  8. So 31 Libs, 7 PC, 2 NDP. All of you mainlanders tell me again how a liberal sweep was inevitable. Classic example of why mainlanders can't be relied on to offer armchair punditry

    1. @NL Patriot and PC'er,

      A clean sweep was always on the outskirts of possibility, and more recent polling made it highly unlikely.

      Your own prediction wasn't that great: "NDP, they'll win 4 or 5 AT LEAST. Who? Earle, Buckingham, Gerry Rogers, the omnipresent Lorraine and I'll give them credit for at least 1 more victory, probably for Barron in Labrador West." Rogers and Lorraine Michael were returned, but you were wrong on all other accounts.

      Earle Incorrect (56% Liberal by Eric - Correct)
      Buckingham Incorrect (67% NDP by Eric - Incorrect)
      Gerry Rogers Correct (88% NDP by Eric - Correct)
      Lorraine Michael Correct (95% NDP by Eric - Correct)
      Barron Incorrect (71% NDP by Eric - Incorrect)

      Sandy Collins Incorrect (100% Liberal by Eric - Correct)
      Paul Davis Correct (67% Liberal by Eric - Incorrect)
      David Brazil Correct (50% Liberal by Eric - Incorrect)
      Jim Lester Incorrect (81% PC by Eric - Incorrect)
      Steve Kent Correct (65% PC by Eric - Correct)
      Keith Hutchings Correct (93% PC by Eric - Correct)

      Tracey Perry Not Called (97% Liberal by Eric - Incorrect)
      Barry Petten Not Called (71% PC by Eric - Correct)
      Kevin Parson Not Called (77% PC by Eric - Correct)

      In total Eric: 33 of 40 right; you: 32 of 40. Not bad for a mainlander to call more right than a political activist.


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