Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nova Scotia 2013 Election Day Projection

Final Projection Map. (Note: Not a prediction)

Nova Scotians head to the polls today to elect all 51 members of their Legislative Assembly. If polls are to be believed, the province is set to kick out the governing New Democratic Party, lead by Premier Darrell Dexter, and replace them with the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. Since my last projection two weeks ago, the Liberals have held their 20 point lead in the polls, which by all estimations would be enough to win a majority. That is, if polls are to be believed.

Previous provincial election campaigns in Canada have shown that polls can be as much as 10 points off, and produce widely different results than expected. So, when it comes to making projections like this one, it is important to remember that caveat.

Since my last projection, Abacus Data joined Corporate Research Associates in doing daily tracking polls, which was then followed by Forum Research in the last few days of the campaign. Abacus and Forum did regional breakdowns, which are crucial for making strong projections. For my final projection, I will be taking a look at the final Abacus and Forum polls, while ignoring the last CRA poll which was released on the weekend- and lacked any regional breakdowns. Both Abacus and Forum show the Liberals well out in front, by around 20 points, approaching 50%. Both the NDP and the Tories are in the 20s. Abacus even showed the Tories in second for the first time in the campaign, polling at 28% to the NDP's 24%. Forum shows the NDP at 26% and the PCs at 23%. Forum shows the Liberals at 48% and Abacus has them at 46%.

Both pollsters divided the province into 4 regions, which are roughly Halifax, Cape Breton, the North and the Western part of the province. I'm not sure of the exact breakdowns the pollsters used, but for my projection I made my best guess. Cape Breton is unambiguous, I assumed Halifax refers to the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), and then I put everything in the eastern and northern parts of the province in “North” and the rest into the west (South Shore/Fundy).

The most recent polls for both companies show that their regional breakdowns are vastly different in both the north and Cape Breton. Personally, I am inclined to agree more with Forum which shows the Tories ahead in their traditional best region- Northern Nova Scotia, and the Liberals ahead in their former bastion of Cape Breton. Abacus shows suspiciously the opposite:

Abacus Data
Forum Research

South Shore / Annapolis Valley
North Shore / Fundy
Halifax Regional Municipality
Cape Breton

Outside of those two regions, the Liberals are well out ahead in the western part of the province, which means large margins in the Liberal stronghold of the Annapolis Valley where their leader, Stephen McNeil is from. On the south shore, which was lumped in this region, who knows what is really going on. There are many stories about how unpopular the NDP is in the region, but with the Tories also polling well, and it not being a traditional Liberal area, this will be a region to watch tonight. However, the main region to watch will be the Halifax Regional Municipality, which is home to 20 of the province's 51 ridings. This area is the NDP's strongest region, where they won 54% of the vote in 2009, and are polling the best in. The Liberals are ahead of the NDP though in Halifax according to both pollsters, and for the Liberals to win, it will be their main key to victory.

For my projection, I took a skewed “average” of both polls in each region. I skewed the results based on the sample size, which resulted in favouring Forum which polled 922 people to Abacus' 600. I then compared this average to the 2009 results in each riding, to come up with a projected result. I also made some minor tweaks, such as factoring in by-elections held since the last election. However, I did not factor in my “gut feeling” which makes me feel the NDP will be wiped out on the south shore (my numbers still have them winning three seats), and the Liberals winning Colchester North, where their candidate- the incumbent MLA- crossed the floor after being elected as a Tory (and is rumoured to be way ahead). I wish I had the time to factor in more intricacies, but at least this projection shows the “bigger picture.”

The “big picture” projection gives the Liberals a majority – 32 seats. The NDP would form the opposition at 11 seats, and the Tories would finish third with 8. My projection has the Liberals winning pretty much everywhere, except for the South Shore, where I have them winning just one seat. The Liberals would be particularly strong in the Annapolis Valley, where they are projected to lose just on seat, and win in three ridings with over 75% of the vote. I also have them projected to win all but 2 seats on Cape Breton, and win a pivotal 12 of the 20 HRM seats. For the NDP, they would be reduced to their strongest ridings in the province. 6 of their 11 projected wins are in the HRM, and three more are in the South Shore. In reality, they could potentially be reduced to a base handful of seats in Halifax, and one in Cape Breton. For the Tories, my projection should a splattering of seats, with no concentration anywhere- not even in the north where they are usually the strongest. My projection has them winning three seats there, but in reality one of them (Colchester North) will most certainly be going Liberal. It would be good news for the Tories if they did win the two seats in the HRM where I have them ahead, as they were shut out of the region in 2006.

What kind of intrigue will election night bring? Will the Liberals win their widely expected majority? Or will today's election be yet another disaster for the polls? Will the NDP survive to at least form the official opposition? Or will the Tories' momentum as shown in the latest Abacus poll carry them past the New Democrats? A defeat will most assuredly result in the door for Premier Dexter. He will probably win his riding, but a majority Liberal government would be too much of an exit sign for him. If the Tories don't save grace, their leader, Jamie Baillie could be shown the door as well. As it stands, my projection even has him losing his Cumberland South riding.

Polls will close at 8pm Atlantic time (7pm Eastern). Don't forget to follow me on Twitter as I analyze the results as they come in.


  1. Projection is a far better word to use than Prediction (been using it for years)

  2. For sure. I don't even agree with some of the data I produced. Personally I would flip Colchester North and Cumberland South. I also think the Liberals will win Queens-Shelburne, Lunenburg and Sackville-Beaver Bank.