Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Manitoba election prediction: PC landslide

Seat prediction map
Manitobans are heading to the polls today in what will be an historic provincial election. If all the polls are correct, then voters are set to elect a Progressive Conservative government in a landslide election, kicking out the governing NDP, which has run the province since 1999, winning four straight majority governments in the process.

Polls are suggesting the PCs are hovering around 50% in the popular vote, which would be their highest vote share since 1910. If they get a few points higher than that, it would be their highest vote share in the province's history. This means that the Tories will be winning seats they have never won before, some of them quite easily, like Brandon East, Interlake and Selkirk. The NDP meanwhile is polling in the mid-20s, which would be their worst result since 1988. The Liberals on the other hand are just looking to gain back relevancy. After winning just one seat and 8% of the vote in 2011, they are now polling in the mid-teens, and could see their best result since 1995. The Greens are also polling well, averaging at 8%, which would be their best result ever.

This has been an election of awful leaders. NDP Premier Greg Selinger is coming off of last year's controversial leadership election, which followed a caucus revolt. Selinger won the election by a narrow result, thanks in part to the backing of major unions in the province. Not only that, Selinger is carrying 17 years of governing baggage behind him. The man who will become Premier, PC leader Brian Pallister is carrying baggage of his own. Many see him as being too right wing for the province, and is currently embroiled in a scandal in where it was discovered he had been to Costa Rica 15 times since 2012, and had lied about his travels. As for Liberal leader Rana Bokhari, she has run a lacklustre campaign which included an awful debate performance. At the beginning of the campaign, the Liberals had been polling ahead of the NDP for second place, but have now fallen considerably behind. The only leader that seems to be popular is Green Party head, James Beddome, who will definitely benefit from a high protest vote this election.


 


Predictions

For my riding predictions, I have come up with a “rating” for each riding (safe, likely, lean or toss up), which rates how comfortable I am in my predictions for each seat. I've made these ratings by using recent regional poll numbers and comparing them to the last provincial election as well as an average result of the last provincial and federal elections (see maps below). In taking a look at both elections, I feel I have a way to identify any abnormal riding results, and account for this in my predictions. Where my numbers contradict each other in a riding, or where they show a close race, I've declared the seat a “toss up” and offered my gut prediction in that riding, based on its history and its candidates. I've also taken into consideration a couple of riding polls that have come out over the course of the campaign.



Overall, I am predicting a landslide Progressive Conservative victory, with the Tories winning 43 of the 57 seats in the legislature. This would be their biggest electoral win in the province's history. I am predicting that the governing NDP will be reduced to just 11 seats, which would be their worst election since 1966. And ss for the Liberals, I am predicting they will win three seats, their best total since 1995.

Polls are suggesting the Tories are winning about two-thirds of the vote in rural Manitoba, which means they will likely sweep all of rural southern Manitoba (including Brandon), leaving the NDP to their northern stronghold (though they could close Flin Flon to the Liberals). In Winnipeg, polls indicate that the Tories have at least a 15 point lead over the NDP, which will see the PCs win back their former suburban strongholds in the south and west ends, and eat into traditional NDP territory in the north and east of the city. This will reduce the NDP to their stronghold in the central and north central parts of the city. Meanwhile the Liberals should hold on to their lone seat of River Heights, and maybe pick up one or two more seats thanks to vote splits. The Greens may also win a seat or two. 

Here are my seat by seat ratings. Ridings are coloured in by how they voted in 2011. 

Seat by seat rating.

Ridings to watch


I've identified ten ridings as “toss ups” - ridings where my numbers have shown a close race. For each of these ridings I went with my gut (with detailed reasoning) as to how I believe they will go:

Concordia: This north Winnipeg riding is being defended by incumbent NDP MLA Matt Wiebe, who has represented the seat since 2009, when he took over the riding from its predecessor, former Premier Gary Doer. The seat has voted NDP in every election since it was created in 1981. Wiebe won the seat in 2011 by 35 points, and it is one of only five provincial ridings to go NDP in the last federal election. On paper it is a safe NDP seat, but with the amount of swing the polls are predicting, this riding could be in play. I'm still predicting the NDP to hold on though.

Elmwood: Right next door to Concordia is Elmwood, which is being defended by long-time NDP MLA Jim Maloway, who has held this seat from 1986 to 2008 and since 2011. This riding has also voted NDP (and its predecessor, the CCF) in every election since it was created in 1958. The result in the last election in this seat was relatively close though, with Maloway defeating his Tory opponent by 21 points. One glimmer of hope for the NDP is that they did win the transposed federal result here. However, my numbers show the PCs winning this seat in a close result, which is why I am predicting they will win it.

Flin Flon: This riding, located in northwestern Manitoba will see an interesting race, as its defending MLA Clarence Pettersen is running as an independent, after he lost the NDP nomination. Flin Flon has been an NDP seat since 1969, but Pettersen's candidacy is expected to split the NDP vote. In the federal election, the NDP won Flin Flon over the Liberals by a slim margin, suggesting the Liberals could be the party that has the best chance at benefiting from the split. The provincial Liberals are also polling better than the NDP in rural Manitoba. This is why I think they will win the seat.

Fort Garry-Riverview: The NDP won this central Winnipeg seat in 2011, but this should be a Green-PC race. Green Party leader James Beddome is running in this riding, and of the four party leaders, he has the highest approval ratings. The Greens are polling quite high in the city (around 10%) which is enough to put this riding in play. Without riding polling, Green Party targets are hard to predict, so it is hard to say whether Beddome will win this seat. I'd prefer to hedge my bets though, and go with the PCs here, who could come up the middle against a divided progressive vote.

Fort Rouge: This central Winnipeg seat is the riding where Liberal leader Rana Bokhari has chosen to run. A riding poll from the beginning of the campaign showed a three-way race with Bokhari ahead of the PC candidate by just two points. At that point in the campaign the Liberals were doing much better in province-wide and city-wide polling, but now they are doing much more poorly. It is entirely possible that this drop in Liberal fortunes has happened in Fort Rouge as well. The NDP is running a star candidate in First Nations musician Wab Kinew, and I predict that this split in the non-PC vote could cause the Tories to come up the middle and win this seat for the first time since 1969.

St. Johns: My numbers suggest a tight NDP win in this north-end riding, but what will make it hard for the New Democrats to keep this seat is the fact that incumbent MLA Gord Mackintosh has decided to retire, making this an open seat. This seat has been won by the NDP, and its predecessor the CCF in every election since it was created in 1958, and Mackintosh won the riding in 2011 by an impressive 44 point margin. Because of these factors, I believe the NDP will manage to hang on to this seat.

The Maples: This ethnically diverse riding in the northwest corner of Winnipeg has had a history of electing Liberals to the provincial government, but none since 1995. A rebound in Liberal fortunes suggests that they will be competitive there, but will it be enough for them to win? The NDP, which holds this riding, is hoping for a split in the anti-NDP vote in order to hold on to the riding. However, I believe the surging Tories will pick this up, thanks to a split in the anti-PC vote, winning this riding for the first time ever.

Thompson: Way up in the north of the province is the riding of Thompson, which has been held by the NDP's Steve Ashton (who had challenged NDP leader Greg Selinger in last year's leadership election, following a caucus revolt) since 1981. The riding has only voted for the Tories once in its existence, in 1977. However, my numbers suggest that this riding may be in play. It is hard to fathom the PCs winning this seat though, considering Ashton won it by 40 points in 2011, and his daughter, Nikki won Thompson in last year's federal election. Because of this, I think the NDP will hold on to the riding.

Tyndall Park: The Liberals came a close second in this northwest Winnipeg seat in the last election, losing to the NDP's Ted Marcelino by a 10 point margin. Because of this, my numbers are suggesting a narrow Liberal win here. Though, with their faltering campaign, it is not a given, and either the NDP or the PCs might be able to win it as a result. Though, I think I will trust my numbers and predict a Liberal win here.

Wolseley: This central Winnipeg seat saw the Green's best result in 2011, when their leader, James Beddome won 20% of the vote, coming in second place. Beddome chose to run in Fort Garry-Riverview though, but the Greens are still running a star candidate in environmentalist David Nickarz in this riding. NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer defeated Beddome by a 40 point margin in 2011, a difference that will be very hard for Nickarz to overcome. It is hard to predict insurgent Green campaigns, and so I will play it safe and predict an NDP hold here.


Outlook


While losing will obviously be bad news for the NDP, it will mean finally getting rid of Selinger, and replacing him with a stronger leader. Also, beating out the Liberals for second place would be a minor victory, as we know from the results of the federal election, Manitobans would be quite willing to vote Liberal with the right leader, and a third place finish for the NDP would be a disaster for them.

As for the Tories, many people are suggesting it could be a “one and done” government for the party, due to weaknesses of Brian Pallister. He is being likened to former PC Premier Stirling Lyon who only lasted one term, before voters ditched his government in 1981. But, we may be getting ahead of ourselves here.

For the Liberals, they would be wise to ditch Bokhari as leader, though she will want to hang on if they make any seat gains. However, she will probably have to keep her seat first!

For those who want to follow the results, the polls close at 8pm Central Time, which is 9pm Eastern.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chicoutimi by-election charts and maps

Today, there is a provincial by-election in the riding of Chicoutimi in Quebec. The riding has been vacant since last October when PQ MNA Stéphane Bédard resigned his seat.

The riding of Chicoutimi, located in northeastern Quebec has been a PQ stronghold since 1973. It consists of the former city of Chicoutimi, which is now part of the city of Saguenay. The riding is one of the most nationalist in Quebec, voting yes in both the 1980 and 1995 referendums by large margins.

I have been quite busy lately, so I haven't had the chance to do my usual by-election profile. The riding should be an easy PQ hold though, so it shouldn't be that interesting of a race.  The PQ is running businesswoman Mireille Jean as their candidate. Polls show her as the clear front runner.

Despite not having the time to do a write up, I have made plenty of charts and a map...




As you can see, the PQ won most of the riding in 2014, though the Liberals were strong in the southern and eastern suburbs. The CAQ won one poll as did Saguenay councillor Marc Pettersen, who ran as an independent.

Here are the results by city council district for the last provincial and federal elections:

2014 provincial election in Chicoutimi - results by municipal district

2015 federal election in Chicoutimi - results by municipal district


The following chart shows the vote progression of the riding since 1989. The boundaries have not shifted since then.


Chicoutimi vote progression

And finally here is a list of the MNAs who have represented Chicoutimi since confederation:


Polls close at 8pm.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Swingometer based prediction of the Saskatchewan election

Overall prediction. Green = Saskatchewan Party; Orange = NDP
Voters in Saskatchewan are heading to the polls today in the 28th general election in the province's history. The governing conservative “Saskatchewan Party” (Sask Party for short), buoyed by the province's continued economic boom hopes to maintain their massive majority in the province's Legislative Assembly. The Sask Party, under the leadership of Premier Brad Wall has led the province since 2007, when they ousted the New Democratic Party (NDP), who had in turn ruled the province prior to that since 1991.


Background


The last provincial election in 2011 saw the Saskatchewan Party win a landslide majority, winning 49 seats to the NDP's nine. The large thumping was largest landslide since 1982, and the Sask Party's 64% share of the popular vote was the highest in the province's history. The province had fallen in love with Brad Wall, and were enjoying the province's new found economic prosperity. Since then, Wall has become the poster boy of conservatism in Canada, especially since the defeat of Prime Minister Harper last fall, and the defeat of countless conservative provincial governments across the country. Every other province is now led by either a Liberal or an NDP Premier (though the Liberals in BC are notably right-of-centre).

Wall's popularity has made it difficult for the NDP to gain any traction in opposition. Their defeat in 2011 forced its leader, Dwain Lingenfelter to resign, which was helped by the fact that he lost his Regina Doulgas Park seat. Lingenfelter would be replaced as leader by Saskatoon Massey Place MLA Cam Broten, who has tried to renew the party, perhaps exemplified by a new swanky retro looking logo. However, the party has lingered in the polls in the mid 30s for much of the last four years, nowhere close to the Sask Party which has not dipped under 50% since the last election. All the polls now show the Sask Party to be leading the NDP at around 60% to 30%.

Since 2003, the province has only elected members of either the right wing Saskatchewan Party and the left wing NDP. The provincial Liberals have been nearly dead in the water since last winning a few seats in 1999. In the least election, the Liberals ran just nine candidates in the 58 seat legislature, and won a grand total of 0.6% of the vote. The Greens were the third party in that election. They ran a full slate of candidates, winning nearly 3% of the province wide vote. But for the Greens, Saskatchewan's brand of prairie populism is an anathema to the party.

While the Liberal brand is on the rise across the country, thanks to the federal Liberals still enjoying a honeymoon period, the provincial Liberals in Saskatchewan have failed to really capitalize on this. The party is running a full slate in this election, but most polls show them in mid-single digits, often behind the Greens. It is unlikely the Liberals will win a seat, though their leader, Darrin Lamoureux is running in a brand new riding and is not facing any incumbents. In all likelihood though, this election will see all of its seats go to either the Sask Party or the NDP. 

The Swingometer! Click to enlarge.


The Swingometer


Considering Saskatchewan is basically a two-party province, a fun way to make a rough prediction of the election outcome is to use what is called a “swingometrer”, something that viewers of British elections might be familiar with. A swingometer shows the uniform swing needed for a particular party to win a seat. My swingometer shows the two-party swing needed from the result of the 2011 election. The two-party swing is calculated as the average percentage point change each of the two parties has to shift in a particular seat for the opposing party to win it.

As fun as swingometers are, this election will likely not be all that fun to use it. All four polls that have come out just before the election show a very small swing in the NDP's favour from the result of the last election. The most NDP friendly of these polls was conducted by Mainstreet Research, which showed a 1.6% swing from the last election (it gave the NDP 31%, down 1% from the last election and the Saskatchewan Party 60%, down 4.3% from the 64.3% they won in 2011 – giving a swing to the NDP of 1.6%). This swing would net the NDP just one extra seat (Saskatoon Fairview), albeit just barely. The other three polls are less favourable to the NDP, showing even smaller swings in their direction. Insights West's poll showed the smallest swing, just 0.1% to the NDP. Except for the Mainstreet poll, none of the other pollsters show a swing that would be large enough for the NDP to gain any seats. Average the four polls, and the swingometer tells us that this election will produce an exact status quo result. Due to the recent seat redistribution, this would give the Saskatchewan Party two extra seats from their 2011 result (51 seats) and the NDP one extra seat (for a total of ten).

To win a majority government, the NDP would need a 17.4% uniform swing in their favour, which would give them the 31st riding on the swingometer, Saskatchewan Rivers. The NDP would need a 22.2% swing to win the riding of Yorkton, which is the province's best bellwether, which has voted for the winning party since 1964. For Brad Wall to go down in defeat, the NDP would need a uniform swing of 31.6% to claim his riding of Swift Current. All this is a moot though, as the NDP is not going to come close to winning a majority.

So, are we headed for the status quo? Maybe. But, the pollsters are showing different regional swings, which might put some seats in play. Also keeping in mind that the swingometer is a measure of uniform swing, and we all know that in reality, ridings do not swing in tandem. If we take a look at the regional breakdowns in the recent polls, we see that most of the swing in the NDP's favour is coming from Regina. An average of three regional polls suggests a 3.7% swing to the NDP in the province's capital. This would be enough to claim the riding of Regina Douglas Park (2.5% swing needed), the seat that former NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter lost to the Sask Party's Russ Marchuk in 2011. Marchuk will not be running for re-election, and redistribution has made the seat much more NDP friendly, so a win there would not be unexpected for the New Democrats.


Seats to watch


Outside of Regina Douglas Park, none of the regional polls suggest any other seats will change hands using the swingometer. Of course, that's not to say that none will. Here are my picks for seats that could change hands (other than Regina Douglas Park):

- Moose Jaw Wakamow: This riding was won by the Saskatchewan Party in 2011, but boundary changes have made it a notional NDP seat. The Sask Party has the incumbency advantage, and the NDP is not running the same candidate as they did in 2011, so this is a possible “pick-up” for the governing party, albeit just a notional one. The Saskatchewan Party only needs a 0.7% swing to win this seat.

- Saskatoon Fairview: Using the swingometer, this is the NDP's #1 target. They would only need a 1.6% swing to claim the seat. However, regional polls in Saskatoon suggest the New Democrats may not even see a swing in their favour in the city. Making it harder for the NDP is they are up against Jennifer Campeau, the minister of Central Services, who is the incumbent.

- Prince Albert Northcote: On the swingometer, this is the next seat on the NDP's target list after Saskatoon Fairview. The Sask Party won it in a close race in 2011. The NDP is not running the same candidate however, so it might be hard to defeat the Sask Party incumbent. The NDP needs a swing of 1.8% to win it.

- Regina Coronation Park: Two of the three regional polls in Regina give the NDP a large enough swing to pick up this seat, which the New Democrats would need 4.8% swing to pick up. They would have to defeat cabinet minister Mark Docherty to claim it though.

Wild card: Regina Pasqua: This brand new riding in the southwest corner of Regina is, on paper a somewhat safe Saskatchewan Party seat. The Sask Party would have won it with 56% of the vote in 2011 had the riding existed then. However as it is a new seat, they have no incumbent in the race. And this is the riding where Liberal leader Darrin Lamoureux is running. Considering the Liberals are polling in the upper lower digits in Regina though, it is unlikely that they will win it.


Outlook


Using my swingometer, and looking at the regional swings in recent polls, I predict that the Saskatchewan Party will win a landslide majority, winning 50 seats to the NDP's 11. My swingometer-based prediction is that the NDP will win one more seat than they would have in 2011 on the new boundaries (Regina Douglas Park).

If the polls are correct, then we are looking at a very boring election, with very few – if any – ridings changing hands. Brad Wall, the most popular premier in the country is destined for his third straight majority. Polls close at 8pm Central Standard Time (10pm Eastern Daylight Time).

Seat by seat prediction (ridings coloured by how they would have voted in 2011 on the new boundaries):



Friday, March 18, 2016

Saskatchewan's new electoral map

The results of the 2011 election on the new map
The Saskatchewan provincial election, scheduled for April 4 is fast approaching, and voters will be electing their Members of the Legislative Assembly on a new map. The size of the legislature will be increasing from 58 seats to 61, to compensate for the growth in Saskatchewan's two largest cities, Saskatoon and Regina. Elections Saskatchewan has not provided for a transposition of the 2011 provincial election results, so I have once again done my own transposition of votes.

The 2011 election saw the conservative Saskatchewan Party win in a landslide, picking up 49 of the 58 seats, while the remaining nine seats were won by the NDP. The Saskatchewan Party swept rural Saskatchewan, winning every seat outside of Saskatoon and Regina except for the two northern ridings, which were won by the NDP. In Regina, the Saskatchewan Party took eight of the 11 seats, and in Saskatoon they took 8 of the 12 seats, leaving the NDP with three and four seats respectively.

Actual results of the 2011 election

The redistribution process gave two new seats to Saskatoon and one new seat to Regina. Outside of the big cities, there were still boundary changes, but nothing too major. Considering the three new seats were added to the cities, one might be inclined to believe the NDP would have been the benefactor of the redistribution. This may be true in an even 50-50 race, but using the 2011 results, the extra seats would have helped the Saskatchewan Party, as they were added to suburban areas, which favoured the Sask Party in 2011. All three of the new seats would have voted for the Saskatchewan Party in 2011.


The NDP did benefit with the re-drawing of the Moose Jaw Wakamow riding. In 2011, the Saskatchewan Party candidate won the seat with 49.1% of the vote to the NDP's 45.9%. The mostly urban riding contained five rural polls that voted overwhelmingly for the Saskatchewan Party. The redistribution however removed all five rural polls, which would have been enough to turn the riding orange, giving the NDP a theoretical 48.3% to 46.9% victory. Overall, this means that redistribution would have given the Saskatchewan Party a net gain of two seats and the NDP one.


Redistributed results of the 2011 election by riding

Regional analysis

Most of the major boundary changes occurred in and around the major urban areas of the province. Most rural ridings saw only minor boundary shifts.

Saskatoon exurbs

North of Saskatoon, the riding of Martensville was divided up with the more rural northern portion (including the communities of Waldheim, Hague and Dalmeny) being transferred to the new riding of Biggar-Sask Valley, which was created mostly out of the former Biggar riding. The larger Martensville riding communities of Martensville and Warman were moved into a new Martensville-Warman riding, along with two rural polls taken from Saskatoon Northwest. That riding now becomes an exclusive exurban riding north of Saskatoon, as its other four rural polls were transferred to Rosetown-Elrose. East of Saskatoon, the new “rurban” riding of Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota was created, taking in the Stonebridge subdivision and part of the Briarwood subdivision in Saskatoon and combining it with a large swath of rural territory to the city's south and east, including the Dundurn area and the Village of Clavet. This rural territory includes parts of the former ridings of Humboldt and Arm River-Watrous. To compensate, the Humboldt riding had to move its southern boundary past Watrous (thus becoming the new riding of “Humbolt-Watrous”), while Arm River-Watrous also had to move its southern boundary, taking in parts of the riding of Thunder Creek. Losing Watrous meant that the riding would be re-named to just “Arm River”.

Saskatoon city

In addition to the new riding of Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota, the City of Saskatoon gains one new riding, in its east end. Most of the ridings in Saskatoon saw minimal boundary changes, but a number of ridings on the east side of the city saw larger changes to accommodate the addition of a new riding (as well as the aforementioned Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota.)

The riding of Saskatoon Southeast has become much smaller, as it loses all of its rural territory, as well as the subdivision of Stonebridge and part of Briarwood to the new riding of Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota. Saskatoon Greystone loses the neighbourhoods of Greystone Heights and Grosvenor Park (gaining part of Saskatoon Eastview to compensate), thus forcing a name change to “Saskatoon Churchill-Wildwood”). Greystone Heights and Grosvenor Park are moved to the new riding of Saskatoon University, which is made up mostly of the former Saskatoon Sutherland riding. In the northeast corner of the city, the old riding of Saskatoon Silver Springs is essentially being divided into two. The western half of the riding (west of Lowe Rd.) becomes the new riding of Saskatoon Silverspring-Sutherland, which also adds the Sutherland neighbourhood from Saskatoon Sutherland (hence the name change to “Saskatoon University”). The eastern half of Saskatoon Silver Springs becomes the new riding of “Saskatoon Willowgrove”, which also adds the eastern half of the College Park East neighbourhood from Saskatoon Sutherland and two polls in Briarwood and a rural poll from Saskatoon Southeast.

Regina exurbs

West of Regina, all of the rural parts of Regina Qu'Appelle Valley have been redistributed into the new riding of “Lumsden-Morse”, a sprawling rural riding that runs from Regina westward to Swift Current, taking in much of the former riding of Thunder Creek. The new Lumsden-Morse riding also takes in the rural area southwest of Regina, including the communities of Rouleau and Avonlea, which were previously in the riding of Indian Head-Milestone. Indian Head-Milestone shifts its borders eastward to compensate.

East of Regina, the riding of Regina Wascana Plains loses the community of Pilot Butte to Indian Head-Milestone, and the Regina neighbourhoods of University Park (transferred to Regina University) and part of Windsor Park (transferred to Regina Gardiner Park).

Regina city

Within the city of Regina, there were quite a few boundary shifts in suburban ridings to make way for the one brand new riding in the city. On the east side of the city, Regina Dewdney has been renamed to “Regina Gardiner Park”. It loses the neighbourhood of Glen Elm Park South to Regina Douglas Park, and part of Glen Cairn to Regina Northeast, while gaining Rothwell Place from Regina Northeast and part of Windsor Park from Regina Wascana Plains. On the south side of the city, Regina South splits in two, with the area east of Albert Street becoming the new riding of Regina University (which will also include the neighbourhood of Hillsdale, currently in Regina Douglas Park) and the area west of Albert Street joining the new riding of “Regina Pasqua”. In addition to the west side of Regina South, Regina Pasqua will also include all of the Albert Park area of the city and the Regina International Airport, currently in the riding of Regina Lakeview as well as Pioneer Village currently in Regina Rosemont. To compensate, Regina Lakeview has moved eastward to take in the Wascana Lake area from Regina Douglas Park. Meanwhile, Regina Rosemont shifts its boundaries northward, taking in the neighbourhood of Normanview West North, currently split between Regina Qu'Appelle Valley and Regina Walsh Acres. This forces Regina Walsh Acres to move its westward boundary to include Sherwood Estates, currently in Regina Qu-Appelle Valley. The remainder of the urban portion Regina Qu-Appelle Valley has become the new riding of “Regina Rochdale”.

Swift Current

Premier Brad Wall's riding of Swift Current has shrunk in size, with its boundaries becoming nearly coterminous with the city's boundaries. The riding loses all of its rural area, with about four polls being transferred to Cypress Hills, about three polls to Lumsden-Morse and one poll to Wood River.

Yorkton

Saskatchewan's bellwether riding of Yorkton also shrinks in size, as the riding becomes strictly urban in nature. The riding loses most of its rural territory to Canora-Pelly with half a poll being transferred to Melville-Saltcoats.

Moose Jaw

As mentioned earlier, Moose Jaw's southern riding of Moose Jaw Wakamow loses all of its rural territory to Lumsden-Morse, becoming a notional NDP riding. The riding also gains the far east end of the city from the riding of Moose Jaw North, which remains a notional Sask Part riding.

While there were other boundary changes across the province, those are probably the most noteworthy.

Saskatchewan's new election map (click to enlarge)

If the Saskatchewan Party can win another landslide on April 4, this transposition map will likely be very similar to the election results. But this is in no way a prediction of what will happen. That will be coming a little bit closer to election day.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Victoriaville, Quebec mayoral by-election today


Location of Victoriaville
Residents of the city of Victoriaville, Quebec are heading to the polls today in a rare mayoral by-election. The city of 43,000 people in central Quebec is the main city in Quebec's Bois-Francs region, known for being Quebec's breadbasket. The city's top post has been filled on an interim basis by councillor Christian Lettre since the previous mayor Alain Rayes' election to the House of Commons for the Conservatives last October.

Politically, Victoriaville sits at the edges of Quebec's more conservative and nationalist leaning regions, and has elected both Conservatives and Bloquistes to the House of Commons in recent elections. Federally, the city is in the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska which the Tories picked up from the Bloc in last year's federal election with the election of Rayes. The BQ's André Bellavance had held the riding since 2004 before that. André Bachand held the riding for the Progressive Conservatives from 1997 to 2004. The city of Victoriaville itself has been much more nationalist than the riding as whole though, voting for the BQ candidate even when the riding voted PC in 1997 and 2000.

Provincially, Victoriaville is in the riding of Arthabaska, which has been held by Sylvie Roy of the right-of-centre Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) since 2012. Arthabaska has been won by the nationalist Parti Québécois and the federalist Liberals in recent years as well. The Liberals' Claude Bachand held the seat from 2003 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2012. The PQ held the riding from 1989 to 2003, and the CAQ's predecessor, the ADQ held the riding briefly from 2007 to 2008. Arthabaska backed the “Non” side in the 1980 sovereignty referendum, but switched to the “Oui” side for the 1995 referendum, though “Oui” only won 56% to 44%.


Background 

 

Rayes had been mayor of Victoriaville since 2009, when the post was opened up due to the city's previous mayor, Roger Richard (who had been mayor since 2001) decision to to not run for re-election. Rayes, who had been a mathematics and science teacher, won the 2009 mayoral election with 62% of the vote, defeating his nearest opponent, Éric Lefebvre by over 5000 votes. In the 2013 municipal elections, Rayes was re-elected with no opposition. Before his entry into municipal politics, Rayes had previously run for the ADQ in the 2003 provincial election, losing to the Liberals by just 1200 votes in the riding of Arthabaska.

Map of Victoriaville's 10 municipal districts (wards)


Unlike many larger cities in Quebec, Victoriaville has no municipal political parties, perhaps the reason for the lack of competitive races on council in the last election. In 2013, residents in three of Victoriaville's 10 wards (districts) had nothing to vote for, as not only was the mayor acclaimed, so were their local councillors. The only competitive race in the city was one of the two districts with no incumbents running. The eight incumbents running for re-election were easily re-elected to their seats.
 

Outlook 


Candidates for mayor

There are four candidates running to serve as mayor of Vicoriaville until the next municipal elections in 2017. The most well known candidate is easily André Bellavance, who was the riding's Member of Parliament from 2004 to 2005, and served as the Bloc Québécois' leader in the House of Commons briefly in the last parliament. He ran for the party's leadership in 2014, narrowly losing to Mario Beaulieu. Following his defeat, Bellavance left the BQ, and sat as an Independent for the remainder of his term. He did not run in the 2015 federal election, which saw the BQ reduced to a fourth place finish in his riding of Richmond—Arthabaska.

To people in Victoriaville, the next well known candidate is probably Gilles Lafontaine, who was the councillor for Arthabaska-Ouest, a district in the city's southeast, an area of the city which had been in the city of Arthabaska, before it was amalgamated into Victoriaville in 1993. Lafontaine has served on council since winning his seat in 2009, defeating incumbent councillor Donald Dumont by just 46 votes. He was easily re-elected in 2013, defeating his only opponent Charles Boulanger 905 votes to 364. To run for mayor, Lafontaine gave up his seat on council, which may spur on another by-election in the city down the road.

There are two other candidates running, André Guillemette and Simon Roux. Guillemette, a local businessman had previously run for council in 2013 in the Parc-Victoria district, losing to incumbent Marc Morin 677 votes to 485. It was the closest an incumbent councillor came to losing in that election. Roux on the other hand is a political neophyte. He is a 24 year old carpenter, making his first entry into politics.

Due to name recognition alone, I'd imagine Bellavance will probably win, though this prediction is cautioned by my ignorance of small city municipal politics in Quebec. We'll find out who wins for sure when polls close at 8pm.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Whitby-Oshawa by-election today

Today, voters in the suburban Greater Toronto Area (GTA) riding of Whitby—Oshawa are heading to the polls to elect a new member to Queen's Park, Ontario's legislative assembly. The riding was vacated in August, when its Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Christine Elliott resigned her seat. Elliott, the wife of the late Jim Flaherty, who was Canada's Finance Minister from 2006 to 2014, had run for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in 2014. She was the frontrunner from the onset, but was defeated by the insurgent candidacy of then Barrie Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Brown. A week after Brown was elected in a by-election to the legislature, she resigned her seat, prompting today's by-election. She will become Ontario's first Patient Ombudsman next year.

This will be the second by-election in Whitby—Oshawa in fewer than two years. There was a federal by-election held there back in November of 2014, to replace Flaherty who had passed away the previous Spring. The Conservatives held the seat in that by-election, but lost the re-distributed riding of Whitby in last Fall's federal election to the Liberals. You can read more about the riding's demographics and geography in my profile of the riding from 2014 here.  

 

Provincial history


The riding was created in 2005, when the provincial government decided to continue to have southern Ontario's riding boundaries match the federal boundaries (which has been the case since 1999), following the 2003 federal riding redistribution. Elliott has held the riding since its first election in 2007. She faced her toughest challenge in that election, defeating the second place Liberal candidate by over 4000 votes. In 2011, she expanded this winning margin to over 7500 votes. In 2014, she won the riding again, defeating her Liberal challenger by almost the same margin. In 2014, Whitby—Oshawa was only one of two GTA seats that the Tories won (the other being Thornhill), a testament to the popularity of the Elliott/Flaherty family.

Historical list of MPPs

Prior to 2007, Whitby was located in the riding of Whitby—Ajax. This was Jim Flaherty's riding before entering into federal politics. When he was elected to the House of Commons, Elliott won the seat in a by-election in 2006. Whitby—Ajax was created in 1996 when the Mike Harris government decided to shrink the size of Queen's Park so that the federal riding boundaries would match the provincial riding boundaries. Before this, Whitby was in the riding of Durham Centre from 1987 to 1999, in Durham West from 1975 to 1987, Ontario South (1967-1975), Ontario (1934-1967) and Ontario South again (1867-1934). 

Whitby--Oshawa vote progression

The Whitby area has been a Tory strong hold since the 1950s. Since 1955, the Progressive Conservatives have won the area in all but three elections. The NDP won in a three-way race in 1975 when that party formed the official opposition in a minority government, only to lose Whitby's riding in the next election in 1977. The Liberals picked it up in the 1987 landslide election, but lost it to the NDP when they won a surprise majority government in 1990. The Tories won the seat back in 1995, when Flaherty won the riding of Durham Centre in a landslide. Flaherty and his wife have held Whitby for the Tories ever since.


Political geography


As Whitby is mostly exclusively GTA suburbia, the whole town (yes, despite having a population of 122,000, Whitby is still a “town”) votes generally the same way. The Tories are a bit weaker in the northeast part of the town and in south. In 2014, the weakest neighbourhood for the Tories in Whitby was the new subdivision of Taunton North, located on the north side of Taunton Road. This was one of two neighbourhoods the Liberals managed to win, the other being Port Whitby, which is located on Lake Ontario in the south. The far north of Whitby is the most conservative part of the town, as this area is still mostly rural, except for the community of Brooklin. Rural Whitby was the only part of the town where Elliott managed to win a majority of the vote in 2014. The best neighbourhood for the Liberals was Port Whitby where they won 37% of the vote, and the best neighbourhood for the NDP was the Downtown, where they won 27% of the vote, but still in third place.


In the smaller Oshawa portion of the riding, the race in 2014 was more between the Tories and the NDP. The NDP won one neighbourhood in Oshawa (McLaughlin), which is the neighbourhood closest to Oshawa's downtown. In that neighbourhood, the NDP won 37% of the vote. The NDP always seems to manage to win a few polls there. Even in the 2014 federal by-election where the NDP won 8% of the vote across the riding, they still won a couple of polls in McLaughlin.

2014 provincial election results by neighbourhood

Outside of McLaughlin, the rest of the Oshawa portion of the riding is more Tory-leaning, as it is more suburban. In 2014, Elliott won every other neighbourhood in the city. Her strongest part of Oshawa was the rural northern part, where she won 47% of the vote. The Liberal's only finished second in one Oshawa neighbourhood, Northglen, which was also their best Oshawa neighbourhood, winning 29% of the vote.


Outlook


Despite the federal Liberals enjoying a honeymoon period following last Fall's federal election, the provincial Liberals in Ontario are deeply unpopular, following a number of scandals. The most recent poll published by Forum Research in December showed the Liberals trailing the Tories by 3 points (34-31), with Premier Kathleen Wynne at a rock bottom approval rating of 23%. This represents a drop of 8 points for the Liberals since the 2014 election, and a three point gain for the Tories. Based on this alone, it would seem that the Tories would be in a good position to keep a safe seat like Whitby—Oshawa in a by-election. And local riding polls confirm this. Mainstreet's last poll published just yesterday shows the Tories winning the riding over the Liberals 46% to 29%, with the NDP at a distant 12%. The Liberals have tried their best in their campaign in the riding, even bringing in Justin Trudeau, to rub some of that honeymoon love into the Liberal campaign, but to no avail.

Looking to keep the seat for the Progressive Conservatives is their candidate, Lorne Coe, one of three Durham regional councillors representing Whitby. His main opponent will be another one of those regional councillors, Elizabeth Roy, who is running for the Liberals. Roy previously ran against Elliott in the 2011 election. The NDP is running labour and human rights lawyer Niki Lundquist, while the Greens are running Stacey Leadbetter, a local law clerk.

One reason why the Tories have kept winning in Whitby was due to the popularity of Flaherty and Elliott. Demographically, the riding is not that much different from the rest of the suburban GTA, which was nearly swept by the Liberals in 2014. In last year's federal election, without either a Flaherty or an Elliott on the ballot, the Liberals managed to win the riding in a close race. Perhaps if the provincial Liberals enjoyed the popularity that their federal counterparts had, they could win this seat. But they do not, so it looks very likely that this riding will be a Tory hold.

Polls close at 9 pm.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Newfoundland and Labrador election forecast

A very qualitative seat forecast for today's election
Today is the day of the 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election, where voters in that province will be electing members to the 40 seat Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly. After governing the province since 2003, the Progressive Conservative Party, led by Premier Paul Davis is expected to go down to defeat to the opposition Liberal Party, led by Dwight Ball. Polls have continuously shown the Liberals with the lead over the Tories since 2013, and their lead in recent polls has been quite substantial. With the outcome all but a certainty, the question will be, which seats will the Liberals not win, if any? The Liberals have been an unstoppable force since the 2011 election, winning every single by-election, and gaining a number of defectors from other parties along the way. The Liberals went from winning just six seats in 2011 to having 16 when the writs were dropped.

Recent polls by Abacus and Corporate Research Associates (CRA) both show the Liberals with more than a 40 point lead over the Tories (64-22 and 67-22, respectively), while Forum Research published a recent poll showing a closer race, with the Liberals at 52% to the Tories' 29%. All three polls showed the NDP in third, in the teens. If Abacus and CRA are correct, it would be the largest Liberal victory in the province since 1956. In that election, the Liberals won 32 of 36 seats in the Assembly and 66% of the vote. This was the highest share of the votes the Liberals have ever won in the province.

Newfoundland and Labrador voters are no strangers to voting en masse for one party, whether its in provincial or in federal elections. Just last month, 64.5% of voters in the province voted for the federal Liberals, leading to that party sweeping the province's seven seats. In the last three provincial elections, the Tories won the support of a healthy majority of voters, including winning 70% of the vote in 2007, the highest vote share any party has won in Canadian history. Despite that historic number, voters in four ridings bucked the trend, electing three Liberals and one New Democrat to oppose the PCs, who won 44 seats.

If winning 70% of the vote wasn't enough for the Tories to win every seat in the 2007 election, will the Liberals be able to do it today? The Tories could not win at least two of those four seats they lost in that election due to socio-economic and demographic factors in those ridings. Two of those seats, Burgeo-La Poile and Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair are both very remote, impoverished ridings facing large declines in their populations. They have the kind of demographics that are the very antithesis of Tory politics, even though the PC leader at the time was the populist Danny Williams, who built his majority on attacking the federal Conservatives. So, are there any ridings in the province that are the antithesis to Liberal politics, which will buck the trend tonight? Maybe, though I would argue the Liberal brand is strong enough in the province that they could win just about anywhere. There are three ridings in particular where I believe the Liberals may not win:

Cape St. Francis
This riding stands out in particular, because the Liberals have never won this riding located just north of St. John's. The St. John's area has long been the least friendly to Liberals, so if there is anywhere they will not win, it will be in historically Tory seats like this one. The Liberals did almost win the riding in 1996, in an election where they won 55% of the province-wide popular vote. PC MHA Jack Byrne held it by just 141 votes in that election. There was no NDP candidate however, and the NDP has proven to be competitive in this riding in subsequent elections. The NDP did quite well here in the 2011 election, winning 38% of the vote (while the Liberals won just 3%). How strongly the NDP does in Cape St. Francis will determine whether or not the Tories will be able to hold it. Their candidate in 2011, Geoff Gallant is now running for the Liberals, but they still have a strong candidate in defence attorney Mark Gruchy. If Gruchy can take enough votes away from Gallant, the Tories should manage to hold this seat. Tory fortunes are pinned on Kevin Parsons, who has held the seat since 2008, was the mayor of Flatrock before that, and is the son Kevin Parsons, Sr. who held the seat from 1986 to 1993.

Ferryland
This riding, located just south of St. John's is also a Tory stronghold, having voted for the Progressive Conservatives in every election since 1971. And unlike Cape St. Francis, the Liberals have not come close here in recent memory. In 2007, Tory Keith Hutchings won 84% of the vote in this riding, and was re-elected in 2011 with 72% of the vote. The NDP candidate won 24% of the vote here in 2011, while the Liberal candidate won just 4%. Hutchings, who is the province's Minister of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs is running for re-election. The Liberals are still aiming to pick this seat up though; their candidate, Jeff Marshall has been “campaigning for months” according to the CBC.

St. John's East-Quidi Vidi
This is the riding that former NDP leader Lorraine Michael has chosen to run in. It contains parts of two ridings that went NDP in 2011, St. John's East and Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. Michael has held Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi since 2006, and the NDP have held on to this area since 1990, avoiding landslide elections that elected both Liberals and Tories. If there's one seat the NDP should keep in this election, it will be this one. Michael led the NDP to an historic five-seat victory in 2011, but her leadership of the party was divisive, and two of her MHAs defected to the Liberals. She resigned as leader, but will be running again in this seat. She may not be popular among many members of her party, but she remains popular in her riding.

Others?
Those are the ridings I believe will not go Liberal in today's election. However, there are other ridings either the PCs and NDP could win. Two historical Tory seats that could buck the trend are Baie Verte-Green Bay (Tory held since 1993) and Bonavista (also Tory held since 1993). Their chances are increased by the fact that they have incumbents running for re-election in both seats. Conception Bay East-Bell Island is another Tory-victory possibility. While the Liberals last won the riding in 1999, they only won 4% of the vote there in 2011. The NDP candidate, Bill Kavanagh won 41% of the vote in that election, and is trying again this time. The Liberals do have a strong candidate in former Labrador MHA Danny Dumaresque. The incumbent MHA, David Brazil, who is also the Minister of Transportation and Works is running for re-election, and could come up the middle to win the seat. There of course could be other seats the Tories could win, based on the personal popularity of their incumbents, but it's anyone's guess where those will be.

For the NDP, their next best hope after St. John's East-Quidi Vidi is St. John's Centre, where NDP MHA Gerry Rogers is running for re-election. Other than Lorraine Michael, Rogers is the only other MHA running for re-election for the New Democrats. When Rogers won the seat in 2011, it was the first time ever that the party won the riding. She won the seat with 54% of the vote, defeating the Tory incumbent by over 500 votes. The Liberals only won 2% of the vote. However in this election, her main competition will come from the Liberal candidate, accountant Lynn Sullivan.

Other than the Tories and the NDP, the best chance for an independent (there are no other parties running) to win is former MP Rex Barnes, who is running in Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans. He was a Progressive Conservative MP for Gander—Grand Falls from 2002 to 2004, and served as mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor from 2005 to 2009.

Abacus conducted four riding level polls during the campaign for VOCM, including polling the ridings of Premier Paul Davis, who is running in Topsail-Paradise and NDP leader Earle McCurdy, who is running in St. John's West. Abacus' poll showed Davis losing in his riding to Liberal candidate (and Conception Bay South MHA) Rex Hillier 56-35. Abacus also showed the Liberals ahead in St. John's West, with their candidate, former MP Siobhan Coady leading McCurdy 57%-24%. If these polls prove to be correct, then both the Tories and NDP could be looking for new leaders fairly soon.

Forecast



Given all of this information, my (mostly) qualitative seat forecast is that the Liberals will win 37 of the 40 ridings in the province (the legislature will be reduced to 40 seats from 48 following a redistribution this year). The Tories will win two seats, and the NDP should win just one. Due to time constraints, I have not done a formal quantitative seat model for this election, but I do not expect to get many seats wrong, unless the polls are well off. In landslide elections, seat predictions become much easier, as the question only comes down to guessing which seats the winning party will not win.

In this seat-by-seat forecast, the riding names have been coloured based on how they voted in 2011:


We shall see the extent of the damage (both electorally, and to my forecast) after the polls close at 8:00pm local time (6:30 Eastern). It likely won't be a very long night.