Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alberta provincial by-elections Monday

There will be four provincial by-elections in Alberta on Monday to replace outgoing members of the Legislative Assembly. Three of the by-elections will be in the Calgary ridings of Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills and Calgary-West, while the fourth by-election will be in the riding of Edmonton-Whitemud. All four ridings elected Progressive Conservative MLAs in the 2012 provincial election, and with generally safe margins at that. These by-elections were called by Alberta's new Premier Jim Prentice, who won the Tory leadership race in early September. Prentice won despite not holding a seat in the legislature, but is running in one of the by-elections, in Calgary-Foothills. Additionally, when Prentice named his cabinet, he chose two people who were also not members of the Legislative Assembly who will also be running in Monday's by-elections.  Prentice became Premier following the resignation of the scandal-ridden Alison Redford in March.  Dave Hancock, the now former MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud served as Premier until Prentice was overwhelmingly elected as leader six months later. Since there have been no by-elections since the provincial election in 2012, these four will be the first test for the governing Progressive Conservative Party—almost a midterm, of sorts.


Calgary-Elbow


This riding, located southwest of Calgary's downtown, was represented by Premier Redford from the 2008 election until resigning the seat in August. She served as Premier of the province from 2011 until March of 2014. Redford is not the only Premier to represent the riding, as Ralph Klein held the seat from 1989 to 2007. The riding has voted in the Progressive Conservatives in every election since its creation in 1971, except for the by-election to replace Klein in 2007. In that race, the waning popularity  of the Tories was enough to give Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins a surprise 800-vote victory over his PC challenger, Brian Heninger. However, just 9 months later, Cheffins lost to Redford in the 2008 general election, by an even smaller margin of 400 votes.  Redford easily cruised to victory in the 2012 election, thanks in part to a collapsed Liberal vote, as Liberal voters went to the Red Tory to stop the threat of the more right wing Wildrose Party. In the end, the Wildrose Party candidate James Cole finished in a distant second to Redford, losing by nearly 6000 votes.


MLAs (since 1959)

Calgary Glenmore
* E.S. Watkins, Prog. Cons. (1959-1963)
* W.D. Dickie, Liberal (1963-1969); Prog. Cons. (1969-1971)

Calgary-Elbow
* D.J. Russell, Prog. Cons. (1971-1989)
* R.P. Klein, Prog. Cons. (1989-2007)

* Craig Cheffins, Liberal (2007-2008)
* Ms. A.M. Redford, Prog. Cons. (2008-2014)

Calgary-Elbow contains a number of wealthy neighbourhoods located adjacent to downtown, including Altadore, Mount Royal and Lincoln Park. The Mount Royal area is particularly wealthy, with a median household income of $250,000. The riding is named for the Elbow River, which flows through the riding from the Glenmore Reservoir to just before it crosses under 4 St.


Calgary-Elbow 2012 election results by polling division
Calgary-Elbow 2012 election results by neighbourhood
Wealth is the biggest determiner in voting habits in this riding. Historically in Liberal vs. PC races, the Liberals have won in the poorer parts of the riding, such as South Calgary, while the Tories have dominated the wealthier neighbourhoods.  In 2012, both poor and rich alike united behind Redford, who won all but two polls in the riding. In fact, she won a majority of the vote in every neighbourhood. Overall, the 58% she won in the seat was the best mark for her party in the entire city. Her best neighbourhoods were still the wealthier parts of the riding, Elbow Park being her best, which gave her 65% of the vote. Her worst neighbourhood was Glamorgan, in the far western tip of the riding, where she still managed to get 51%. The Wildrose Party managed to win one poll in Glamorgan, but their best neighbourhood was the Bel-Aire/Mayfair/Meadowlark Park area in the southeast corner of the riding. There, they won 35% of the vote, but no polls. For all of the more left leaning parties (Liberals, NDP, Alberta Party and the Evergreen Party), Calgary South was their strongest neighbourhood; their combined vote, however, still would not have been good enough for even second place.

With a surprise by-election victory for the Liberals in 2007, it is entirely possible that Calgary-Elbow could come up with another electoral surprise on Monday. Recent province-wide polls show the Progressive Conservatives at least 12 points down from the 44% they won in the 2012 election, though polls during that campaign proved to be hugely inaccurate.  A 12 point drop in support in Calgary-Elbow would not be enough for the Tories to lose the seat. With the Liberals stagnating in the polls, it seems unlikely for the Grits to pick this one up. The only other party with a chance of winning would be Wildrose, but they may be too socially conservative for this wealthy district.

The Tories are running Gordon Dirks, a former cabinet minister in his native Saskatchewan, who Prentice appointed as Minister of Education, despite Dirks not yet having a seat in the assembly. Dirks is a former teacher, school board trustee and pastor, who has faced some criticism from the gay community because of the theological principles of Dirks' former church. Wildrose is running military commander and lawyer John Fletcher, the Liberals are running lawyer Susan Wright, the NDP is running Stephanie McLean (another lawyer), and the fledgling Alberta Party is running their new leader, Greg Clark.


Calgary-Foothills


In the northwest corner of the city lies the riding of Calgary-Foothills, a suburban riding containing the neighbourhoods of Edgemont, Hamptons, Hidden Valley and the brand new neighbourhood of Symonds Valley on the fringes of the city. The riding was represented by Progressive Conservative-turned-Independent Len Webber from 2004 until he resigned last month after winning the federal Conservative nomination in the new riding of Calgary Confederation. Webber left the Progressive Conservatives in March to protest the scandal ridden government of Alison Redford.

The riding is generally upper middle class, and has been a Tory stronghold for most of its existence. Since the riding was created in 1971, it has seen only one close election when, in the 1989 election, Tory candidate Pat Nelson beat Liberal Harvey Locke by 500 votes in a three way race. In every other election in the riding's history, the Tories have won handily. In 2012, Webber beat Wildrose Party challenger Dustin Nau by over 2,000 votes.


MLAs (since 1959)

Calgary Bowness
* C.E. Johnston, Social Credit (1959-1967)
* L.F. Werry, Prog. Cons. (1967-1971)

Calgary-Foothills
* L.F. Werry, Prog. Cons. (1971-1973) continued
* S.A. McCrae, Prog. Cons. (1973-1982)
* Ms. J.S. Koper, Prog. Cons. (1982-1988)
* Mrs. P. Nelson, Prog. Cons. (1989-2004)
* L.W. Webber, Prog. Cons. (2004-2014)


In 2012, all but one poll in Calgary-Foothills went to Webber. Just one poll, in Symons Valley, went to the Wildrose. When the Liberals were somewhat competitive in 2008, the Grits did quite well in the Edgemont neighbourhood, which has a large Chinese population. In 2012, this was the Liberals' best neighbourhood, although they only won 11% of the vote there. Hamptons has been the most conservative neighbourhood in the riding in recent elections, including in 2012 when the Tories won 56% of the neighbourhood's vote. Their worst neighbourhood in 2012 was Hidden Valley, where they still won 51% of the vote. Hidden Valley was the best neighbourhood for Wildrose, but they still only managed 35%; on a side-note, Hidden Valley also has a large immigrant population.

Calgary-Foothills 2012 election results by polling division
Calgary-Elbow 2012 election results by neighbourhood



Calgary-Foothills is the riding in which Jim Prentice has decided to run. Running for the Wildrose Party is Kathy Macdonald, a retired police officer. The Liberals are running Robert Prcic, a businessman who was the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Northwest in 2012 (by the way, that was not a spelling mistake, his name is actually spelled Prcic). The NDP is running consulting firm manager Jennifer Burgess.

It is unlikely in my opinion that the Tories will lose this seat. The PC Party will be putting a lot of effort into ensuring their leader is able to win the riding so he can take his seat in the Alberta Legislature. The Tories won the seat by 20 points in 2012 and are unlikely to loose that much support in the by-election.


Calgary-West


Located in Calgary's affluent and suburban west end is the aptly named riding of Calgary-West. It is rectangular in shape and contains the neighbourhoods of Signal Hill, Strathcona Park, Christie Park, Aspen Woods, Springbank Hill and Discovery Ridge. The latter three neighbourhoods are especially wealthy, as all have median household incomes in the $150,000 range. The riding has been vacant since the end of September when its MLA, Conservative Ken Hughes, resigned to take a job in the private sector. Hughes, a former Tory MP for the southwestern Alberta riding of MacLeod, had only been an MLA since 2012.

The riding has gone Tory for much of its history, though it did go Liberal in 1993 with the election of Danny Dalla-Longa. From 1967 to 1986, the riding was represented by former Premier Peter Lougheed, who often won the seat with massive margins. The riding has been consistently conservative since the Tories won the seat back in 1997. In 2012, Hughes easily defeated the Wildrose Party candidate, Andrew Constantinidis, by over 2000 votes.


MLAs (since 1959)

*D.S. Fleming, Social Credit (1959-1967)
*E.P. Lougheed, Prog. Cons. (1967-1986)
*Ms. Elaine McCoy, Prog. Cons. (1986-1993)

*D. Dalla-Longa, Liberal (1993-1997)
*Ms. Karen Kryczka, Prog. Cons. (1997-2004)
*R. Liepert, Prog. Cons. (2004-2012)
*K.G. Hughes, Prog. Cons. (2012-2014)


Out of all four by-elections being held on Monday, it is this riding that saw the closest result in 2012. Hughes still won almost every poll in the riding, but the Wildrose Party still managed to win six polls, and tied in another. Half of the polls that they won were in the neighbourhood of Signal Hill, which was the best part of the riding for the WRP (winning 37%). For the Tories, their vote was fairly evenly distributed across the riding. There wasn't too much of a difference between their best area, Aspen Woods (where they won 54%), and their worst neighbourhood, Christie Park0( where they won 48%). Strathcona Park, in the riding's northeast corner, was the Liberals' most successful neighbourhood, as well as for the NDP and the Evergreen Party.  The combined support for all three parties, however, was far below the mark set by the Wildrose Party, even though it was the neighbourhood with the Wildrose Party's worst showing.


Calgary-West 2012 election results by polling division
Calgary-West 2012 election results by neighbourhood

If there is any riding that the Wildrose Party is able to win on Monday, it will be Calgary-West; this end of the city is very conservative. After all, the area has backed ultra conservative MP Rob Anders consistently over the years. If the Tories do drop 12 points in this riding, and only one of those points goes to the Wildrose Party, then Wildrose will win this seat. In other words, only a 7% two-party swing is needed for the Tories to lose this seat.

For the Tories, this is the only one of the four by-elections where they are not running a cabinet minister (or the Premier himself), and are in fact running hereto unknown police officer Mike Ellis. The Wildrose Party challenger is Sheila Taylor, who already holds office as a public school trustee. The Liberals are running lawyer David Khan while the NDP is running Brian Malkinson, a diesel heavy equipment supplier technician; Malkinson was the NDP's candidate in Calgary-Northwest in 2012.

My prediction is that Wildrose picks up this seat in a close race.


Edmonton-Whitemud


The lone by-election outside of Calgary will be in the riding of Edmonton-Whitemud, located in southwest Edmonton. Edmonton-Whitemud is the wealthiest riding in the city, and saw the largest Progressive Conservative percentage n the entire province in 2012 when Dave Hancock won the seat with 61% of the vote. As mentioned, Hancock served as Premier of Alberta between March and September, when he resigned his seat. The riding is roughly triangular in shape, being bordered by the North Saskatchewan River on the west, Whitemud Creek on the east and Anthony Henday Drive on the south. The riding is home to many different neighbourhoods, the largest being the new Terwillegar subdivision. The riding also includes the Riverbend area (Henderson Estates, Rhatigan Ridge), which is the wealthiest neighbourhood in the city.

While the 2012 result in the riding may give the riding the illusion of being a safe Tory seat, it has seen many close races over the years. The Tories have held it for most of the riding's existence, but the Liberals did hold it from 1989 to 1997. When the Liberals won the riding with candidate Percy Wickman in 1989, it was at the expense of the province's Premier, Don Getty. Getty, whose party still won a majority government, had to ask a member of his caucus to step aside so that he could run in a by-election to enter the Assembly. The Liberals won the seat again in 1993 with a different candidate, Mike Percy, who defeated Hancock in his first attempt to win the seat. In 1997, the Liberals weren't so lucky, with yet another candidate running, Corky Meyer, who lost to Hancock by 2000 votes. Hancock has easily won in every election since, except in 2004 when he defeated Liberal Donna Smith by just 900 votes.

MLAs (since 1959)

Strathcona West
*R.H. McKinnon, Social Credit (1959-1967)
*D.R. Getty, Prog. Cons. (1967-1971)

Edmonton-Whitemud
*D.R. Getty, Prog. Cons. (1971-1979) continued
*P. Knaak, Prog. Cons. (1979-1982)
*R.K. Alexander, Prog. Cons. (1982-1985)
*D.R. Getty, Prog. Cons. (1985-1989) 2nd time

*P.D. Wickman, Liberal (1989-1993)
*M.B. Percy, Liberal (1993-1997)

*D.G. Hancock, Prog. Cons. (1997-2014)

Hancock's 60% victory in 2012 is fairly low for “the strongest riding for a winning party in an election”, especially in Alberta. Much of the province's “strongest Tory” seats went for the populist Wildrose Party in 2012, leaving wealthier urban ridings like Edmonton-Whitemund to become the safest Tory seats in the province. Wildrose did finish 2nd in 2012, but their candidate, Ian Crawford, finished over 7000 votes behind Hancock with 16% of the vote. With a margin like that, it would come as no surprise that Hancock won every single polling division in 2012. In past elections, the poorer neighbourhoods of the riding (Terwillegar Town and Ramsay Heights in particular) have gone Liberal, while the wealthier parts of the riding have been more conservative.


Edmonton-Whitemud 2012 election results by polling division
Edmonton-Whitemud 2012 election results by neighbourhood

In 2012, Hancock won a majority of votes in every neighbourhood of the riding. His strongest neighbourhood was the wealthy Bulyea Heights / Ogilvie Ridge area in the east central part of the riding, where he won 65% of the vote. His worst neighbourhood was the Bradner Gardens / Ramsay Heights area in the north end of the riding, which is also the riding's poorest neighbourhood. There, Hancock won 54% of the vote. For Wildrose, their strongest area was the Carter Crest / Leger area in the central part of the riding, where they won 19%. For both the Liberals and NDP, their best neighbourhood was Bradner Gardens / Ramsay Heights, where they together won 23% of the vote, more than the Wildrose candidate.

Running for the Tories in Edmonton-Whitemud is former mayor Stephen Mandel, who Prentice appointed as Minister of Health last month. Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013.  It is a fairly safe assumption in my opinion that Mandel will easily win. The question is, who will finish second? If one extrapolates current poll numbers, then the Wildrose Party, the Liberals, and the currently surging NDP all have a chance to finish 2nd in the high teens. Wildrose is running Tim Grover, a business owner, the Liberals are running registered nurse Donna Wilson, while the NDP is running Bob Turner, a doctor at the Cross Cancer Institute.


Outlook


For the Tories, a victory on Monday night would require maintaining all four ridings; losing any one of them would be a blow to the Premiership of Jim Prentice. For the Wildrose Party, a victory would be winning just one of the four ridings. It is unlikely that either the Liberals or the NDP will win any of the four seats, but a “victory” on election night for either party might just be a second place finish in any seat, but most likely in Edmonton-Whitemud.  We will find out what will happen after the polls close at 8pm (10 Eastern).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Manitoba municipal elections today

Residents in 134 of Manitoba's 137 municipalities will be heading to the polls today to elect their mayors, reeves, municipal councils and school trustees. The municipalities of Dunnottar, Victoria Beach and Winnipeg Beach went to the polls already, back in July, but the rest of the province votes today. Since the last municipal elections held in 2010, there have been a series of amalgamations across the province which are set to take effect on January 1. Elections for these new municipalities will be held today as well. These amalgamations were necessitated by new legislation limiting the population of municipalities in the province to at least 1000 people. Some municipalities in the province won't be going to the polls today because their entire councils have been acclaimed. These include Altona, Arborg, Carman, Elton, Gillam, Killarney-Turtle Mountain, Lac du Bonnet (town), Melita, Morris (town), Rhineland, St. Pierre-Jolys and Virden.

Newly amalgamated municipalities identified with red text.


Brandon

The race for mayor in Manitoba's second largest city is expected to be a close one between current mayor and former NDP MLA Shari Decter Hirst and former Deputy Mayor Rick Chrest. Chrest, who also has a background in business has been described as a centrist in contrast to the life-long New Democrat in Decter Hirst. Decter Hirst's mayoralty has been dogged by controversies over the last four years, but nonetheless could still eke out a victory. There haven't been any recent polls that I could find, but one conducted in January by Probe Research showed that Decter Hirtst was losing to Chrest by 5 points. However, that was a whole 10 months ago. There are two other candidates running for mayor, former teacher John Pauld Jacobson and businessman Mark Kovatch.

Map of Brandon's wards

In 2010, Decter Hirst unseated the incumbent mayor Dave Burgess, a Tory. Dexter Hirst won every ward in the city, despite only having won by 1500 votes. Burgess won a few polling stations in the more suburban, conservative-leaning suburbs in the western part of the city. However his support was not concentrated enough to win any wards. He came the closest to winning Linden Lanes Ward in the southwest corner of the city, which he lost by just three votes. Decter Hirst's strongest areas were in the more left-leaning central parts of the city. Her best ward was Rosser Ward which covers the city's downtown. If there's one ward Decter Hirst wins today, it will be Rosser. Chrest is likely to win a number of the wards in the western part of the city, and possibly some in the east part of the city, where he's from.




Winnipeg

By far, Manitoba's largest city is Winnipeg, which is home to more than half the province's population. The race for mayor of the city will be a free-for-all, as outgoing mayor Sam Katz will not be running again. The race to replace him is expected to be quite close between former NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis and centre-right candidate Brian Bowman, the former chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. A poll released by Inisghtrix Research conducted earlier this month showed Bowman leading 38% to Wasylycia-Leis' 36%. University of Manitoba administrator Robert-Falcon Ouellette was at 14% and former city councillor Gord Steeves was at 9%. Wasylycia-Leis had been leading in polls for most of the campaign, but now that the election is here it appears the conservative vote in the city has coalesced behind Bowman, and could be enough to put him in the mayor's chair. Other candidates in the race are exotic dancer booking manager Michel Fillion, city councillor Paula Havixbeck and public administration executive David Sanders.

Map of Winnipeg's wards

Wasylycia-Leis ran for mayor back in 2010 as well, losing to Katz 55% to 43%. Katz had been mayor of the city since 2004, when he won a rare mayoral by-election to replace outgoing mayor Glen Murray who would later become a cabinet minister in Ontario. In 2010, Katz won 11 of the city's 15 wards, while Wasylycia-Leis won the remaining four wards. His strongest wards were in the west end of the city, which is also the most conservative part of the city. His strongest ward was Charleswood-Tuxedo where he won 70% of the vote. This ward covers three of the city's four Progressive Conservative-held ridings in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. Wasylycia-Leis' four wards were in the north and central part of the city, Winnipeg's traditional working class and staunch NDP voting areas. Her strongest ward was Daniel McIntyre, which covers the Minto and Wolseley areas in the central part of the city. Interestingly, this area is in the federal riding of Winnipeg Centre, which was never held by Wasylycia-Leis herself. Wasylycia-Leis represented neighbouring Winnipeg North, which is still an area she did well in.

Winnipeg has historically been a very polarized city between its working class left-leaning north side, and the wealthier right-leaning south and west. In order to win elections in the city, parties and candidates have to be able to bridge this gap. The more centrist provincial NDP have been able to do this very successfully in recent provincial elections. In the 2011 election, only five of the city's 31 ridings did not go to the NDP. For the NDP, this meant winning several seats (a majority, in fact) in the south end of the city. Federally, the Conservatives have been able to bridge this gap in recent elections. They hold all but two seats in the city, including the (former) NDP stronghold of Elmwood—Transcona. Sam Katz also bridged this gap in the mayoral election in 2010. For Judy Wasylycia-Leis, she needs to not only win the north side, but break into the more wealthy south side of the city. For Bowman, he needs to hold on to most of Katz's wards in order to win.




It is quite fortunate for political watchers that both of Manitoba's major cities will see exciting elections today, with two candidates representing very different visions in each city. Polls close tonight at 8pm local time, or 9pm Eastern.




Monday, October 20, 2014

Levis, Quebec by-election today

Across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City lies the city of Levis, Quebec. Levis is home to the riding of Levis, whose voters are heading to the polls today to elect a new member of the National Assembly of Quebec in a provincial by-election. Voters in the riding last went to the polls just six months ago in the last provincial election held on April 7, when they voted in Christian Dube of the C.A.Q. Dube resigned his seat in August to work for the Casse de depot et placement, a fund that manages Quebec's public pension plans.

The riding of Levis hugs the St. Lawrence River in a narrow strip running from the city's eastern limits in the east to the Chaudiere River in the west, and from the St. Lawrence in the north to Autoroute 20 in the south. The riding contains the old core of Levis, the former city of Lauzon, and the former municipalities of Saint-David-de-l'Aberiviere and Saint-Romuald. Lauzon and Saint-David were amalgamated with old Levis in 1989, while Saint-Romuald was amalgamated in 2002. Saint-Romuald is found in the borough of Les Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere-Est while the rest of the riding is in the Borough of Desjardins.


Demographics

Despite being considered a suburb of Quebec City, a majority of homes in the riding were built before 1980. The riding is overwhelmingly Francophone, with 98.0% of inhabitants having French as their mother tongue, compared to just 0.9% for English. The riding is also overwhelmingly White at 97.7%. There are few immigrants in the riding, with just 4.5% of the riding being either first or second generation. In terms of ethnicity, almost all of the population identifies as Canadian (96.2%), with a majority also identifying as French (50.7%). There is also a small Irish population (5.9%). 87.1% of the riding is Catholic, while most of the remainder of the population is non religious at 10.3%. The riding is slightly wealthier than the provincial average. The median income is $31,000 while the average is $37,000. The largest industry in the riding is health and social assistance at 15%. Retail is next at 13.3% and there is also some manufacturing 11.1% of the labour force.


History

Levis is found in the “small-c” conservative heartland of Quebec known as the Chaudiere-Appalaches region. The riding is found in the federal constituency of Levis—Bellechasse which is held by Conservative cabinet minister Steven Blaney. Blaney has held the seat since 2006. The riding also went Tory during the Mulroney years in the 1980s, and it even voted Social Credit in 1962. Provincially, the riding has been held by the centre-right C.A.Q. since 2012, and has also been represented often by centre-right parties in the National Assembly, like the A.D.Q. (2007-2008), Ralliement creditiste du Quebec (1970-1973) and was held off-and-on by the Union Nationale before that.

MNAs:

1) J.-G. Blanchet, Cons. (1867-1875)
2) E.-T. Paquet, Liberal (1875-1879); Cons. (1879-1883)
3) F.-X. Lemieux, Liberal (1883-1892)
4) Angus Baker, Cons. (1892-1897)
* F.-X. Lemieux, Liberal (1897) 2nd time
5) N.-N. Olivier, Liberal (1897-1898)
6) Chas. Langelier, Liberal (1898-1901)
7) J.-C. Blouin, Liberal (1901-1911)
8) Laetare Roy, Liberal (1911-1912)
9) Alphonse Bernier, Cons. (1912-1916)
10) A.-V. Roy, Liberal (1916-1931)
11) Arthur Belanger, Liberal (1931-1935)
12) J.-T. Larochelle, A.L.N. (1935-1936); U.N. (1936-1939)
13) J.-G. Francoeur, Liberal (1939-1944)
* J.-T. Larochelle, U.N. (1944-1949) 2nd time
14) J.-A. Samson, U.N. (1949-1952)
15) Raynold Belanger, Liberal (1952-1956)
* J.-A. Samson, U.N. (1956-1960) 2nd time
16) Roger Roy, Liberal (1960-1966)
17) J.-M. Morin, U.N. (1966-1970)
18) J.-A. Roy, R.C. (1970-1973)
19) V.F. Chagnon, Liberal (1973-1976)
20) Jean Garon, P.Q. (1976-1998)
21) Ms. Linda Goupil, P.Q. (1998-2003)
22) Ms. Carole Theberge, Liberal (2003-2007)
23) Christian Levesque, A.D.Q (2007-2008)
24) Gilles Lehouillier, Liberal (2008-2012)
25) Christian Dube, C.A.Q. (2012-2014)


Political geography

Levis is not quite as conservative as the rest of the Chaudiere-Appalaches region. While the federal riding of Levis—Bellechase went Conservative in 2011, the Levis part of the riding went NDP. Historically, Levis has also been more supportive of the Bloc than the surrounding region. Provincially, Levis went for the centre-right C.A.Q. party, while Bellechasse went for the Liberals. However, other parts of Chaudiere-Appalaches gave the C.A.Q. stronger percentages in the April provincial election.

The riding itself is quite politically homogenous. In April, only two polling divisions in the entire riding went Liberal, while the remaining polling divisions all went for the C.A.Q. This is despite the fact that the Dube only won with 40.5% of the vote to the Liberals' 34.9% (it should be noted that the Liberals won the advance vote by a considerable margin in the riding, which mostly contributed to this).

2014 ELECTION DAY results by area

The older part of the riding tends to be less conservative. Old Levis was the worst part of the riding of the C.A.Q. in April, where they won 43% of the election day vote, compared to the 48% won in neighbourhing Lauzon. Old Levis was the best part of the riding for the more left leaning parties, with the PQ winning 15.7%, QS winning 8.9% and Option nationale winning almost a full percent. The Liberal vote was spread out fairly evenly throughout the riding. Historically, they have been better in Old Levis and Lauzon than the rest of the riding.


Outlook

Recent province-wide polling has shown that the C.A.Q. has moved firmly into 2nd place, behind the governing Liberals in the province, with the P.Q. in a distant third. The C.A.Q. is up at least five points from the election held in April, which has come mostly at the expense of the P.Q., but it has cost the Liberals at least three points in the polls, if not more. Therefore, it stands to reason that today's by-election will easily result in a C.A.Q. victory, considering they had won the seat in April. The C.A.Q. is running TV host Francois Paradis, who has worked for TVA. The Liberals are running municipal civil servant Janet Jones, who is counting on the popularity of the governing Liberals to be high enough for a surprise win here. The PQ candidate is Alexandre Begin, a political aide, who will try to prevent the PQ from seeing its worst showing in the riding since its first election in 1970, where they won 13.6%. The socialist Quebec solidaire party is running Yv Bonnier Viger who is a professor at Laval University and ran for the party in April. He will be looking at increasing the 6% of the vote he won, which was the best ever showing for the fledgling party. Also running of note is the leader of the Green Party, Alex Tyrrell and Conservative Party leader Adrien Pouliot as well as five other candidates.

Polls close at 8pm.


Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 New Brunswick Election - Final Projection

New Brunswickers head to the polls today to elect the 49 members of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly. Heading into the campaign, it appeared as though the opposition Liberal Party was headed for a certain landslide majority government. However, following a gaffe-filled CBC interview with Liberal leader Brian Gallant, the polls have tightened in the province, and nothing is certain in today's vote.

Polls have been few and far between in this campaign, which has resulted in few projections on my part. In fact, I have only done one other projection in this campaign. This is unfortunate, because it has meant I have not been paying enough attention to the election to come up with a decent model. Nonetheless, I will use my basic vote distribution model for this final projection to try and come up with some sort of numbers. For this final projection, I have used two polls in an attempt to come up with a projected seat count. These two polls are one published by Forum Research last night which shows the Liberals and Tories in a literal tie (40% a piece), and one conducted by Corporate Research Associates last week, which showed the Liberals ahead 45-36.

There has definitely been a shift, in what little polls there have been, from the Liberals to the Tories, at least since Gallant's interview with the CBC on September 12. This means it is quite possible that the momentum will carry forward, for the Progressive Conservatives, into the election today, and win in a close election. How much momentum they still have is something one can only speculate on.

Perhaps including the older CRA poll in my model may skew my projection in favour of the Liberals, when it is actually the Tories that have the momentum. However, the smaller sample size of the poll has ensured its weight is much smaller than in the Forum poll. Nonetheless, it is enough for my model to show the Liberals with a narrow 42%-38% lead. This translates into 30 seats for the Liberals and 19 for the Tories.



Another factor that may help the Liberals win the election is geography. The electoral map of New Brunswick has helped the Liberals out in the past. In the 2006 election, the Tories won the popular vote by a mere 0.4%, but it was the Liberals who won a majority government, winning the election by three seats. However, the map of New Brunswick's ridings has changed since then, and the map may be fairer than the last. In fact, a quick extrapolation of the 2010 results shows both parties would win close to the same number of seats if they were tied in the popular vote. While the current map might have been fair for the 2010 results, the distribution of the votes in this election may be very different. Despite the tie in their poll from last night, Forum Research shows the Liberals ahead in Central and Eastern New Brunswick, while they are far behind in the South. If this poll shows an accurate regional breakdown, then we can assume that much of the Tory support is sitting in the giant vote sink that is Southern New Brunswick, where my model shows them winning all but two seats. However, Southern New Brunswick only has 11 seats, and even if the Tories won all of them, they would be nowhere close to winning a majority.

If the Tories are to win the election, they will need to close the gap in the rest of the province, outside of the South. My model shows quite a few marginal seats that the Progressive Conservatives could win. The closest seats in my model (where the Liberals area ahead) are Memramcook-Tantramar, Moncton South, Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou, Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin, Fredericton-York, Oromocto-Lincoln and Saint John Harbour. A near sweep of these ridings could be enough for them to win the election.

Other than the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, my model shows no other parties winning any seats. Despite so much optimism from the NDP in the lead up to today's vote, the polls have not been favourable to the party (Forum has the NDP at 12%), as voters are shifting back to the more traditional two parties. This is not to say the NDP won't win any seats. There are a number of seats they have targeted, such as their leader's riding of Fredericton West-Hanwell, Saint John Harbour and Independent MLA (running for the NDP) Bev Harrison's riding of Hampton. The populist People's Alliance party (who are only running in 18 districts) are also targeting a number of seats, such as their leader's seat of Fredericton-Grand Lake, and their deputy leader's seat of Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin. Their deputy leader actually mentioned to me on Twitter that he was neck and neck in the seat, and that he would send me internal polls to prove it. I didn't receive any, and so my model has him at just 8%. The Greens have been polling well-ish (Forum has them at 6%), but we all know they tend to over-poll. Their best bet is the urban progressive-leaning seat of Fredericton South, where their leader is running. Due to the lack of detailed regional polls in the election, it is impossible for me to accurately gauge how strong local candidacies are of any party, especially the smaller parties, which tend to focus their entire campaigns on a small handful of seats.

Leading mother tongue by census subdivision


My overall projection map shows the geographic polarization of New Brunswick. The Tories are strong in the socially conservative “Baptist Belt” in south and west of the province, while the Liberals are stronger in the Acadian areas, along the Atlantic coast, and in the northeast. This is the general pattern in New Brunswick politics, and the key to victory tends to be in breaking into the other side's traditional territory, usually done with strong local candidates. New Brunswick election maps rarely show this polarization as much as my projection map does, and it is likely that the strength of certain local candidates will make this particular map look quite different from the actual electoral map that will be produced by the voters today. 

New Brunswick religion map by county
 
Projected results by riding (ridings coloured by how they went in 2010, using transposed results): 


Polls close at 8pm (7pm Eastern). 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 New Brunswick Election Projection #1 (Sept 4)

Projection Map #1
We are now two weeks into the New Brunswick provincial election, since the writs dropped August 21, which marked the beginning of the campaign. This means that there are just two and a half weeks to go before New Brunswickers head to the polls on September 22. And, only this week have there been any polls released. Now that there has been some polls, I can finally do my first seat projection of the campaign.

Corporate Research Associates (CRA), Atlantic Canada's main pollster, released a poll on September 2nd showing the Opposition Liberal Party firmly in the lead at 48%. The governing Progressive Conservatives were in second, with 28%, and the NDP was at 17%. Forum Research also released a poll, a few days earlier, showing similar numbers; The Liberals were at 46%, the Tories at 31% and the NDP at 15%. Both of these polls were conducted before Labour Day, so there is the caveat of notoriously unreliable Summer polling, but the numbers are on par with CRA polls from the Spring.

Neither pollster provided for any regional or even linguistic breakdowns in their numbers, which will make individual seat projections a lot more of a crapshoot than in other provinces. For my first projection, I took an average of the two polls (weighted based on sample size), and plugged it into my projection model, which is based on the transposed 2010 election results. (See this post for the calculated transposed results of the 2010 election). I also made some minor tweaks to reflect which candidates will be on the ballot (the nomination period having ended), and I also made adjustments in three ridings based on circumstance:

* Tracadie-Sheila: I reduced the support for the NDP in this riding, because the party saw a larger-than-usual vote share in 2010 because their leader at the time ran in this riding. (I based my math on what the NDP should have received in this riding in 2010, if it saw the same swing as the rest of the province.)
* Fredericton West-Hanwell: Conversely, I raised the support for the NDP in this riding, because their leader is running in it. (I based my math on the increase that NDP leader Dominic Cardy saw when he ran in a by-election two years ago in Rothesay, compared to province-wide polling at the time.)
* Carleton-Victoria: In this riding, the Liberals suspended their candidate (Andrew Harvey) based on fraud charges. Because the nomination period is over, he will remain on the ballot. I have yet to come up with a very good math-based solution to base my projection in this riding, but for now, I weakened Harvey's candidacy based on a similar scenario that occurred in the federal election, where a Liberal candidate appeared on the ballot after losing the party's support due to scandal. Assuming most of his vote will go to the NDP, I increased the NDP's share in this riding accordingly, to compensate. I may want to tweak the numbers in this district in the future, as my model still shows the Liberals in second place.



As always, I will be making further adjustments to my model to reflect candidate strengths, and other factors in the coming weeks. But for now, my model shows a large Liberal majority government. According to my projection, the Liberals would win 38 of the 49 seats in the New Brunswick legislature. The Tories would win 10 seats (almost all of them in the socially conservative “Baptist belt” of southwestern New Brunswick), and the NDP would win one seat (Fredericton West-Hanwell, where Cardy is running). This would be a 25 seat increase for the Liberals, and 32 seat decrease for the Tories from the 2010 election. For the NDP, it would be their first seat won since 2003. For the Liberals, it would be their largest electoral victory since 1995, and it would be the worst defeat for the Tories since then. In that election, the Liberals won 48 of 55 seats, and won 52% of the vote to 31% for the PCs, a similar result to current polling.

Projected results by riding (ridings coloured by how they went in 2010, using transposed results): 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Provincial by-election today in St. George's-Stephenville East, Newfoundland

Location of St. George's-Stephenville East in Newfoundland
Voters in the southwestern Newfoundland riding of St. George's-Stephenville East will head to the polls today to elect a new member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly (MHA) for their district. The seat became vacant in June, when its MHA, Progressive Conservative Joan Shea (nee Burke), Newfoundland's Environment Minister resigned, citing a lack of energy. Shea's departure is yet another sign of the declining fortunes of Newfoundland's governing Progressive Conservative party, which is currently amidst a postponed leadership election. (The party was set to acclaim businessman Frank Coleman as leader in July, but he had to withdraw amidst controversy, citing family matters, thus delaying the vote until September).




Map of the riding, showing poll boundaries and various geographic features

































Geography

The riding of St. George's-Stephenville East can be found in the southwestern corner of the Island of Newfoundland. It takes in the eastern half of the Town of Stephenville, the riding's largest municipality, and wraps around St. George's Bay, including the towns of Stephenville Crossing and St. George's. The riding continues southward along the southwestern coast of the province, ending at the tiny community of Red Rocks, northwest of Port aux Basques. Stephenville, Stephenville Crossing and St. George's are the only incorporated municipalities in the riding. However, there are many smaller unincorporated communities dotting the coastline. The three municipalities are located in the north of the riding, close to the mouth of the St. George's River. The population in the rest of the riding are concentrated in two regions: Bay St. George South in the central part of the riding, and the Codroy Valley, in the south.


Demographics


The riding has a large unemployment rate, with labour force participation in most communities being below 50%. This fact makes the riding fairly poor, with most communities in the low $20,000 range for median individual income, which is nearly $5,000 below the provincial median. Those who do work tend to work in Sales and Trades, with the traditional fishing industry having been decimated in recent years. Ethnically speaking, the riding has a good mix of English, French, First Nations and Irish roots. Catholicism is the majority religion, while Anglicanism is the largest Protestant denomination.


History


St. George's-Stephenville East was formed in 1996 when the riding of Stephenville was split in half, with its eastern section joining the riding of St. George's to form the new riding of St. George's-Stepheville East. While most of the territory in the new riding came from St. George's, the MHA from Stephenville (Kevin Aylward) would represent the new riding.


Including the preceding St. George's riding, the riding has been a good bellwether, having voted for the party that would go on to form government in every election since 1979. The Liberals most recently won the seat in 1999, with 53% of the vote. Since then, they bottomed out at 25% in 2007, but increased their share of the vote in 2011 to 33% when their leader (Kevin Aylward) ran in the seat. The Tories have held the seat since 2003, when Shea (then Burke) defeated Liberal Ron Dawe, who held the seat as Tory in the 1980s. Burke defeated Daw by less than 500 votes, or about 8%. She was easily re-elected in 2007 with 74% of the vote, but Aylward gave her a run for her money in 2011, when she won 49%. The NDP has rarely ever run in the riding. In fact, the party has only run in the seat once since the district was created 18 years ago. Bernice Hancock ran for the New Democrats in 2011, winning a respectable 17% of the vote.


MHAs

W.J. Keough, Liberal (1949-1971)
A.M. Dunphy, Prog. Cons. (1971-1975)
Mrs. H.A. McIsaac, Liberal (1975-1979)
R.G. Dawe, Prog. Cons. (1979-1989)
L. Short, Liberal (1989-1993)
B. Hulan, Liberal (1993-1996)
K. Aylward, Liberal (1996-2003)
Mrs. J. Shea (Burke), Prog. Cons. (2003-2014)


Political geography


Shea's victory in 2011 was helped by winning large margins in the southern, more rural parts of the riding where she won all but one poll. Her best region was in the Bay St. George South area, where she won 62% of the vote. Her best poll was also in this region, #25, where she won 76% of the vote. This poll covers the community of McKay's. The Liberals did their best in the Stepheville area, where they won 38% of the vote. This was still not enough to beat Shea there, but they did win four of their eight polls in this region. However, the strongest poll for the Liberals was #17, where they won 78% of the vote. This poll covers the community of Mattis Point, which is across the St. George's River from Stephenville Crossing, Aylward's hometown. The NDP's best region was also the Stephenville area, where they won 21% of the vote. Their best poll was #11, which covers the community of Black Duck Siding in the northern part of the riding. In this poll, the NDP won 35% of the vote, which was not enough to win the poll. However, the NDP did tie one poll with the Liberals, #29. This poll covers the community of Highlands in the Bay St. George South area.



Results of the 2011 provincial election by polling division

































Federally, the area belongs to the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's. The area was much more Liberal in the 2011 federal election, with Liberal MP Judy Foote winning 38% of the vote in St. George's-Stephenville East polls. However, this number was much lower than her 50% she won across the federal riding. Within St. George's-Stephenville East, St. George's area was the best region for Foote, while the Tories did the best in Bay St. George South, the only region in St. George's-Stephenville East where they beat the Liberals. This region tends to be the most anti-Liberal area in the riding, both provincially and federally, while Stephenville has historically been the most Liberal. In the 2011 election, the NDP's best region was actually the Codroy Valley in the south. Across the provincial riding, the federal Conservatives won 33% of the vote, the NDP won 27% and the Greens won 2%.

Recent election results by region










Despite the NDP having only run in the seat once in the riding's history, the federal party has had a lot of success in the region, sweeping the Catholic-majority region in 2004 with the candidacy of Des McGrath, a Catholic priest. The party also did well in 2008, capturing a number of rural polls.


Outlook


In today's by-election, the Tories are running Kippens (a town outside the riding) resident Wally Childs, a principal at a school in St. George's. The Liberals are running Scott Reid, a political science instructor at Memorial University, who was raised in the Codroy Valley. The NDP are running their candidate from 2011, Bernice Hancock, who is a program director from Stephenville.

The most recent province-wide polling suggests the Liberals are headed to a landslide majority government in the next provincial election. This means that bellwether seats, like St. George's-Stephenville East will more than likely be caught up in the Liberal tide. This is why I am fairly confident that the Liberals will win the riding tonight.

Polls close at 8:00pm Newfoundland time, or 6:30pm Eastern.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Brunswick provincial redistribution and transposition


2010 Election results on the new boundaries
Yesterday, New Brunswick Premier David Alward met with the New Brunswick lieutenant-governor, asking for the province's legislative assembly to dissolve on Thursday. This will mark the beginning of the 2014 New Brunswick election campaign, which is scheduled to occur in just over one month's time, on September 22nd. The 2014 election will be fought over new electoral district boundaries, which were set by a commission last year. In total, New Brunswick Legislative Assembly will be reduced in size from 55 seats to 49 seats, meaning there will be six fewer ridings in the province. In a rare move in Canadian history, the redistribution saw a complete re-draw of the electoral map, due to the dramatic decrease in the number of ridings.

The decrease in the number of seats in the Assembly hurts the depopulating north the most, as Northern New Brunswick loses two seats with the redistribution (going from 10 to 8). Next door Miramichi is also badly hurt by the redistribution, as it sees a 25% reduction of seats, going from four seats to three. The Upper Saint John River Valley, Central New Brunswick (Fredericton area) and Southern New Brunswick (Saint John) all lose one seat a piece. No regions of the province sees a gain in seats, but Southeast New Brunswick, which includes the Greater Moncton Area, sees a net gain/loss of zero seats. 

Actual 2010 election results


Due to these changes, I took the initiative to calculate the results of the last provincial election in 2010 and transpose them on the new boundaries. Unfortunately, Elections New Brunswick did not publicly release their own transposition numbers, unlike some other provinces. I'm not the only blogger to do to a transposition, nbpolitico did one (but he's only providing more detailed numbers at a cost) and Blunt Objects did one as well, free of charge (much to my chagrin, as I had already started on this project, not realizing someone else would do it!). Interestingly, both nbpolitico and Blunt Objects show different numbers than in my transposition. They obviously used a different methodology than myself, so all my effort was not all for naught. 


Methodology


To calculate my transposition, I identified which polling divisions would be going into which new riding, which was usually quite simple, but involved some guess-work, as in many cases, the new boundaries split up polling divisions. Then, I added up the results from the 2010 election from these polling divisions based on the new ridings they were in. But, that did not account for all of the votes cast in 2010. I had to account for advance votes and special votes (prisoners, military personnel, people living abroad). Advance votes were cast in larger polling divisions. Elections New Brunswick usually identified which polling divisions the advance voting divisions covered. When an advance polling division was entirely in a new riding, I added its result to the total for the new riding. When it spanned more than one new riding, I redistributed the results based on the ratio of the results in the regular polls they overlapped with. With the special votes, which were not allotted to any individual riding, I redistributed the results based on the same ratios as the regular votes cast in the riding. For example, if 40% of the Liberal regular votes in a riding were redistributed into riding “A”, than 40% of the special votes cast for the Liberals were allotted to riding “A”.

According to my redistribution methodology, the Liberals would have won 11 of the new ridings, while the Progressive Conservatives would have won 38. This would be two fewer seats for the Liberals from their actual 2010 total (13), and four fewer for the Progressive Conservatives, who won 42 seats in 2010. This shows that the new map is relatively fair, as it takes seats away from both parties. 



In Northern New Brunswick, the Liberals would have won just three seats, two fewer than the five they actually won in 2010. The Tories however, would retain their five seats. In Eastern New Brunswick, the Liberals would have won five seats on the new boundaries, down from seven which they actually won. This is beneficial to the Tories, who would win an extra seat from the Liberals in the Moncton area. Boundary changes in the rest of the province were more beneficial to the Liberals, where they won just one seat in 2010. The new boundaries would have given them two new seats, Fredericton South and Saint John Harbour. Changes in the rest of the province hurt the Tories the most, as they would see a reduction of five seats there.

The other parties in New Brunswick did not win any seats in 2010, and would not win any with the new boundaries either. The best result for the NDP would be in Tracadie-Sheila, where they won 33%, thanks to their leader, Roger Duguay having ran there. The Green's best result would be in Fredericton South, where they won 13% in 2010. Fredericton South contains the more progressive parts of Fredericton, taking in parts of the former ridings of Ferericton-Silverwood and Fredericton-Lincoln. The populist People's Alliance Party saw their best result in Fredericton-Grand Lake (14%), which contains part of the former riding of Grand Lake-Gagetown, where their leader Kris Austin ran.

Redistributed results of the 2010 New Brunswick election on the new ridings being used in 2014.

According to my transposition numbers, the closest of the new ridings on the new map would have been Moncton Centre, where my numbers show the Tories winning by just 6 (0.1%) transposed votes! Moncton Centre contains parts of the Liberal riding of Moncton East and the Tory riding of Moncton North. Interestingly, the incumbents from both Moncton East and Moncton North will duke it out to see who will win the new riding. The next closest riding would have been Saint John Harbour, where my numbers show the Liberals having won by 0.16%. This would be a gain for the Liberals, as the riding on its old boundaries elected a Tory in 2010. Fredericton South also saw a close race, with my transposed numbers showing the Liberals having won it by just 0.17% on the new boundaries. The new riding contains the most Liberal parts of two current PC-held ridings, Fredericton-Silverwood and Fredericton-Lincoln. Other close ridings were Fundy-The Isles-Saint John West (Liberal by 1.3%), Miramichi (Liberal by 1.3%), Bathurst West-Beresford (PC by 1.8%), Campbellton-Dalhousie (PC by 2.95%) and Shediac Bay-Dieppe (Liberal by 3.8%).

The 49 new ridings (click to enlarge)

Throughout the election campaign, I will be using my calculated numbers to do my seat projection forecasts for the election. However, there have yet to be any recent polls released in the province, so I will not be doing any projections until they are released. (Any poll conducted before Labour Day should be treated with a grain of salt, anyways).