Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Virginia Waters, Newfoundland by-election today

Location of Virginia Waters in St. John's

A provincial by-election is being held today in the riding of Virginia Waters, Newfoundland and Labrador. The riding had been represented by former Progressive Conservative Premier Kathy Dunderdale, but she resigned the seat on February 28, following her resignation as premier a month earlier. Her resignation had followed a huge hit to her personal popularity in the province, but also in her party's support. Since her resignation, the province has been run by Tom Marshall, who will serve as interim Premier until the Tories can elect a leader in July, with the winner to become the province's 12th Premier.


Virginia Waters is located in St. John's northeastern suburbs, containing the neighbourhoods of Wedgewood Park, Ricketts Bridge, Penetanguishene and Airport Heights. The riding runs roughly from the shores of Virginia Lake in the east to the tip of Windsor Lake in the West, and is named for both the lake, and the Virginia River, which flows through the district.

The riding contains mostly newer housing developments, and is growing in population. The Airport Heights/Penetanguishene area is especially growing, seeing a 44% population increase between 2006 and 2011. That area is home to newer homes, most being built since 1991. The rest of the riding is slightly older, with homes being mostly built in the 1980s.

The riding is also quite wealthy, with the median income of the riding being around $40,000, and the average income being around $50,000. Compare this to the provincial numbers of $25,000 and $35,000 respectively, and the St. John's totals of $30,000 and $40,000 respectively. The area around Virginia Lake is especially wealthy.

Demographically, the area is similar to the rest of St. John's. It has a large Catholic plurality, and ethnically is dominated by those of English and Irish ancestry. 

Political geography

2011 results by polling division

In the 2011 election, when Dunderdale was much more popular, she was able to sweep the riding, winning all but one poll, where she still managed to tie the NDP candidate. Dunderdale won the district with 60% of the vote, well ahead of her NDP opponent, who won 30%. She did even better in the 2007 election, where she won 73% and the NDP won 13%. The Liberals finished third in both elections winning 8% in 2007 and 10% in 2011.

The lone polling division that Dunderdale did not outright win in 2011 was poll #17, which corresponds to the Torbay Estates Apartments. Both her and her NDP opponent, David Sullivan won 44% of the vote there. Dunderdale's best poll was #26, which consists of a number of wealthy homes on the shores of Virginia Lake in the district's far east end. In that poll, she won 75% of the vote.

Federally, the district is located in the riding of St. John's East, which is represented by popular NDP MP Jack Harris. In both the 2008 and 2011 federal elections, Harris swept the area, winning every single poll by large margins. His worst area in 2011, was in the neighbourhood around Virginia Lake, where he “only” won 60% of the vote, much lower then the rest of Virginia Waters where he averaged more than 70% of the vote. The area hasn't always gone NDP however. The Tories won most polls in the area in the 2006 federal election, while the Liberals won the area in 2004. In 2000, the Progressive Conservatives swept Virginia Waters, while in 1997 the Tories edged out a win against a strong NDP campaign.


Dunderdale has held the district since 2003, when she defeated the Liberal MHA, Walter Noel. Noel had represented the area from 1989 to 2003. Before 1989, the area was a Tory strong hold, as the St. John's area has historically been very pro-Tory dating back to the province joining Confederation in 1949. Traditionally, Catholics and the upper class in Newfoundland have backed the conservatives, and they have historically been concentrated in the St. John's area. They opposed confederation in 1949, while the poorer, Protestant class outside the city supported confederation, and in turn the Liberals who also supported confederation. In recent decades this political cleavage has been less evident, as the Liberals have been able to win in the St. John's area, however traces of the old political polarization in the province still remain.

Since 1971, the riding has been a perfect bellwether riding, voting for the winning party in every election since.


St. John's East
J.G. Higgins, Prog. Cons. (1949-1951)
J.D. Higgins, Prog. Cons. (1951-1959)
J.J. Greene, Prog. Cons. (1959-1962)

St. John's East Extern
W.J. Browne, Prog. Cons. (1962-1966)
T.V. Hickey, Prog. Cons (1966-1975)

J.W. Dinn, Prog. Cons. (1975-1989)
W. Noel, Liberal (1989-1996)

Virginia Waters
W. Noel, Liberal (1996-2003) continued
Mrs. K.M.M. Dunderdale, Prog. Cons. (2003-2014)


The candidates

Running to replace Dunderdale for the Tories is St. John's city councillor Danny Breen. Breen is the councillor for Ward 1 which covers much of Virginia Waters. Breen has represented Ward 1 since 2009 when he defeated the incumbent councillor Art Puddister by a narrow margin. He was acclaimed in the 2013 election. Running for the NDP in the riding is another local politician, Sheilagh O'Leary. O'Leary sat on city council from 2009 to 2013, when she ran for mayor of St. John's. O'Leary was elected as one of four at-large councillors in 2009, when she won more votes than any of the other candidates running for an at large position, far ahead of the three incumbents running. When O'Leary ran for mayor last year, she was endorsed by the federal NDP, an unusual event for municipal politics. She ran a strong campaign against the popular Tory mayor, Dennis O'Keefe, winning 42% of the vote. Running for the Liberals is local businesswoman Cathy Bennett, who is the CEO of the Bennett Group of Companies. Bennett ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013, finishing in third place.

The most recent province-wide poll in Newfoundland was released in March, and was conducted by Corporate Research Associates. It showed the Liberals at 53%, the Tories at 33% and the NDP at just 13%. If this poll is accurate, than it is safe to say that the Tories are in trouble in a riding like Virginia Waters, which has been a reliable bellwether in the province, voting for the governing party in every election since 1971. However, all three parties are running strong candidates, which makes the result of today's by-election somewhat harder to predict.

Both the Tories and the NDP have suffered from internal struggles over the last couple of years that have really hurt their poll numbers. The Liberals however, which were nearly wiped out in the last two elections, have returned in full force. This is due to not only a divided opposition, but also an Atlantic Canada-wide resurgence for the Liberal brand, thanks in part to federal leader Justin Trudeau. Had the Liberals been in the political wilderness, and had the NDP not gone through its recent internal divisions, this riding would have been a prime pick-up opportunity for New Democrats, as the party did well in the St. John's area in the last election. However, the NDP has been discredited, and despite the strong candidacy of O'Leary, they are unlikely to do well today. The Tories on the other hand might still have a chance to win the seat, as they are running a more high profile candidate than the Liberals, in a riding that was once a Tory stronghold. However, I do not believe that will be enough for the Tories to win. So, I am personally predicting a Liberal victory.

We will find out for sure what happens when the polls close tonight at 8pm (6:30 Eastern).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quebec 2014 election results

Preliminary results- 100% of polls reported

Party Leader Seats Popular Vote %
Liberal Philippe Couillard 70 1,756,638 41.50
Parti Quebecois Pauline Marois 30 1,074,348 25.38
C.A.Q. Francois Legault 22 975,804 23.05
Quebec Solidaire Francoise David &
Andres Fontecilla
3 323,334 7.64
Option Nationale Sol Zanetti 0 30,807 0.73
Green Alex Tyrrell 0 23,268 0.55
Conservative Adrien Pouliot 0 16,525 0.39
Parti Nul Renaud Blais 0 7,532 0.18
Bloc Pot Hugo St-Onge 0 2,693 0.06
Marxist-Leninist Pierre Chenier 0 2,030 0.05
Parti Equitable Patricia Domingos 0 1,645 0.04
Parti des sans parti Frank Malenfant 0 1,291 0.03
Mon pays le Quebec Claude Dupre 0 521 0.01
Autonomist Team Guy Boivin 0 400 0.01
Unite Nationale Paul Biron 0 241 0.01
Q.-R.D. Robert Genesse 0 163 0.00
P.I. Michel Lepage 0 126 0.00
Citizens' Union Marc-Andre Lacroix 0 58 0.00
Independents N/A 0 15,361 0.36
Turnout: 71%
Seat %
Popular vote %


Monday, April 7, 2014

Quebec 2014 election - final seat projection

Final projection map

Today Quebecers go to the polls to elect 125 Members of the National Assembly, Quebec's provincial legislature. After only a year and a half, the Parti Quebecois-led minority government led by Premier Pauline Marois has sent voters back to the polls in an effort to win a majority government. When the writs were dropped a month ago, it looked like the PQ would finally be getting their elusive majority. However, following a bitter campaign the Liberals- who were in disarray as a party just a year ago- have clawed back and now look as if they are the party that is going to win a majority government.

Over the last three days, since I made my last projection, there have been a plethora of polls released, and the general trend in each one shows a last-minute shift by voters from the faltering PQ to the resurrected CAQ, which is approaching their vote share from the 2012 election (27%). While no poll has them that high, the fact the CAQ is approaching their 2012 numbers is a good sign for that party, which looked like it was going to win just a handful just days ago.

In the last week, Ipsos, EKOS, Leger, Forum Research and Angus Reid all released polls which I have used in my model to make a projection for today's election. I also made some last minute tweaks to my model to reflect a projected last minute shift in votes, based on historical last minute shifts in vote intentions. I focused primarily on the 2008 election, as polls then showed a similar gap between the Liberals and PQ in comparison to polls for this election. The 2008 election resulted in a Liberal majority, which polls had accurately suggested in the week prior to the election. Unusually for Quebec elections, the PQ did better in the ballot box than polls had predicted while the Liberals did slightly worse. This is probably due to some would-be Liberal voters staying home, believing the election to be a foregone conclusion. I predict a similar scenario in this election, which is why I made a last minute adjustment in favour of the PQ and against the Liberals. I also boosted the CAQ's numbers while reduced QS's numbers as CAQ usually does better in the ballot box than polls predict (plus, polls are showing that they have the momentum at the moment), while QS does worse.

Now, let's take a look at what my model is suggesting for each region of the province (based on the regions Leger used in their poll released March 25) and what to look out for on election night (“ridings to watch” in bold).

Bas-Saint-Luarent / Gaspesie / Iles-de-la-Madeleine

In this region, my model shows no change from the 2012 election. The Liberals are projected to win one seat (Rivere-du-Loup-Temiscouta) while the PQ is projected to win the other 5 ridings. One riding to watch is Bonaventure which used to be a Liberal strong-hold but swung heavily to the PQ in 2012. I haven't caught on to a large swing back to the Liberals in this region, so it's hard to say if Bonaventure will go back to the Liberals. Gaspe is another riding that went Liberal in 2008 but swung heavily against the Liberals in 2012.

Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean / Cote-Nord

Polls have suggested the Liberals have made large gains in this region, which is perhaps one of the most pro-sovereignty parts of the province. My model shows the Liberals gaining two seats in the region, Roberval and Dubuc. Roberval is the riding where Liberal leader Philippe Couillard is running in. The seat was a bit of a toss-up at the beginning of the election campaign, as it usually votes for the PQ. However, I am pretty sure Couillard will easily win Roberval at this point. Dubuc is the main riding to watch in the region, as it is usually the most Liberal friendly riding in the Saguenay.


Quebec's capital district will be one of the more important regions to watch tonight. Currently the CAQ holds six of the 11 seats in the region, but the Liberals have been polling well there, and could take some of those seats away. My model shows the Liberals winning the ridings of Charlesbourg, Montmorency, Vanier-Les Rivieres and Portneuf- all seats the CAQ won in 2012, plus the three that they won in 2012. This leaves the CAQ with two seats in the region- Chauveau and La Peltrie. If the CAQ surge continues, look closely at the four ridings my model shows the Liberals winning from them, as those will be the four seats in play in the region. The PQ currently holds two ridings in Capitale-Nationale, Taschereau and Charlevoix-Cote-de-Beaupre. Both of those seats are in play if the PQ really tanks it, as my model shows only modest leads for the PQ in both ridings. Chalrevoix-Cote-de-Beaupre will be particularly interesting to watch, as it is the seat of Premier Pauline Marois.

Mauricie / Centre-du-Quebec

This part of the province will be another one to watch tonight, as all three of the major parties have a strong presence there. Both the CAQ and the Liberals won three seats there in 2012, while the PQ won two. My model shows the PQ hanging on to their two seats of Champlain and Saint-Maurice. However, my model shows Saint-Maurice being very close, and the Liberals could edge out a victory there. The three CAQ-held seats in the region are also going to be ridings to watch. Of the three seats, I have the CAQ retaining Arthabaska and Drummond-Bois-Francs, but losing Nicolet-Becancour to the Liberals, mostly due to a riding poll which came out a week ago that showed the Liberals unexpectedly ahead there.


The six ridings in the Eastern Townships were split three-apiece between the Liberals and the PQ in 2012. My model shows the Liberals picking up two of the PQ seats in the region, Saint-Francois and Sherbrooke. The remaining seat, Johnson looks like will be a three-way race if my model is to be believed, but the PQ is still on top. Sherbrooke will be the most interesting race in my opinion, as it was the seat of former Liberal Premier Jean Charest, before he lost it in 2012. This election will be a true test as to whether or not the riding can be called a Liberal seat, or if it was just a “Jean Charest” seat during the time he was Liberal leader.

Island of Montreal

Montreal has 28 of the province's seats, and is the largest region in the province in terms of population. However, the island is highly polarized, between the separatist east end and the rest of the island. Few ridings ever change hands on the island, and my projection shows that none will do so this time either. The PQ will hang on to their 6 seats, Quebec Solidaire will win their two, and the Liberals will win the rest. There are a few ridings on the island to watch however, as the QS looks to expand from their base on the Plateau in Montreal's east end. I have heard that the QS has a particularly strong campaign in Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques. Other targets for the QS include left leaning Rosemont and the riding of Laurier-Dorion where their co-spokersperson Andres Fontecilla is running. Without much polling information for any of these seats, it was impossible for me to alter my model to acurately give the QS a boost in any of these ridings, except Laurier-Dorion. There, I gave Fontecilla a special “QS spokesperson” boost, similar to what Amir Khadir and Francoise David have seen in previous elections in their ridings. This boost was not enough for my projection model to give the riding to QS however. Outside of possible QS targets, only one other riding could possibly change hands, and that is the PQ held riding of Cremazie. Cremzie is the only riding that resembles a swing riding in Montreal, as it has gone Liberal in the past, and even voted “no” in the 1995 referendum. However, my current model shows the PQ retaining the seat.


The Liberals should easily win all five ridings in the Outaouais. One riding to watch there will be Papineau. The Liberals narrowly won the riding in 2012, and it was therefore a prime target for the PQ. However with the PQ down in the polls, the riding should easily be retained by the Liberals. A riding poll released recently confirmed this.


The PQ currently holds all four seats in this region, and according my projection, are set to win all four of them once again. However, one riding, Abitibi-Est is a toss-up at this point. The riding is a bit of a bellwether, and did go Liberal in a close race in 2008, so it's possible it could go Liberal again. The Leger poll from March 25 showed the PQ way ahead in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region, so the fate of Abitibi-Est falls on whether or not the Liberals have been able to close the gap enough to win it.


This region is by far Quebec's most conservative leaning area, and because of that, it should be the right of centre CAQ's strongest region tonight. They may even win the most votes there. Currently, CAQ holds three of the region's seven ridings, Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere, Beauce-Nord and Levis. My projection has CAQ winning those three seats, with the Liberals retaining the remaining four ridings in the region. According my projection, CAQ has a shot of winning Bellechasse and Beauce-Sud as well.


Currently, four of Laval's six ridings are held by the Liberals, while the remaining two are held by the PQ. My projection shows both of those PQ ridings, Laval-des-Rapides and Sainte-Rose as going Liberal as well, giving the Liberals a sweep of the Island. Laval-des-Rapides in particular will be a riding to watch, as it has voted for the winning party in every single election since it was created in 1981. I have no reason to believe that it will buck the trend in 2014.

Lanaudiere / Laurentides

This region encompasses the north shore suburbs of Montreal, and will in all likelihood be the most volatile region of the province for this election. Currently, the PQ holds all but four ridings in this region, with CAQ holding the rest. Polls have shown a resurgence for the CAQ in this region in particular, meaning that they could actually make gains on the four seats they currently hold. My projection shows CAQ picking up Deux-Montagnes, Repentigny and Rousseau from the PQ to go with the fours seats they won in 2012 (Blainville, Groulx, L'Assomption and Saint-Jerome), for a total seven seats in the area. The Liberals are projected to gain one seat here, in Argenteuil, a once safe Liberal seat that the PQ won for the first time ever in a 2012 by-election and retained in the 2012 general election. Of particular interest in this region is the riding of Saint-Jerome where media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau is running for the PQ in an open seat won by CAQ in 2012. Many believe that naming the controversial Peladeau's as a candidate was the beginning of the PQ slide in the polls, and he could be punished by Saint-Jerome voters. L'Assomption will be another riding to watch, as it is the riding of CAQ leader Francois Legault. A recent riding poll suggested he would win his seat, and the recent surge for the CAQ will in all likelihood cement his victory there. The real question is how many seats can CAQ win in this region? In addition to the seven my projection says they'll win, they also have a strong shot at winning Masson, Mirabel, Terrebonne and Bertrand.


Monteregie, containing Montreal's south shore suburbs, is another politically volatile region, but is much more polarized than the north shore. The PQ holds 12 seats in Monteregie, the Liberals hold seven seats and the CAQ holds three. Of those three, only in Granby does my projection show the CAQ retaining. However the other two ridings the CAQ holds, La Prairie and Montarville will still be seats to watch, to see if the CAQ can hang on to its support in Montreal's southern suburbs. In both cases, I have the Liberals winning, as they were competitive in both seats in 2012. One reason my projection shows the CAQ not winning many seats on the south shore compared to the north is the fact that the Liberals are more competitive in the south, and since they are doing well in the polls, it's harder for CAQ to compete. Whereas on the north shore, it is much easier, with the PQ being normally the stronger party, but suffering in the polls.

In addition to the Liberal pickups from the CAQ, my projection also shows the Liberals winning Saint-Hyacinthe in a very close match up. This would be a big win for the Liberals, who haven't held the seat since 1994. One more riding to watch in the region is La Piniere where former Liberal-turned-Independent Fatima Houda-Pepin is running. She is the current incumbent MNA, but left the Liberals in support of the PQ government's infamous charter of values. While she didn't join the PQ, the PQ did decide not run a candidate in the riding. Despite this, independents rarely win seats in Quebec, and it is unlikely that she will win in such a safe Liberal seat.

Projected popular vote share per riding (riding backgrounds coloured by 2012 winner).

That's it for my Quebec projections. Enjoy election night. Polls close at 8pm.


Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 Quebec provincial election - Week 5 projection

Week 5 projection

We're now into the final stretch of the Quebec provincial election, with just three days to go before Quebecers head to the polls on Monday. Surprisingly, polls have been few and far between since my last blog post two weeks ago, and over that time there has been little change in the Liberal's lead over the governing Parti Quebecois. The two parties have fought it out in what has been described as one of the dirtiest campaign's in the province's history.

Due to the lack of polling over the last fortnight (and perhaps a bit of mid-election campaign fatigue on my part), I have held back on providing an update until now. Over this period, there have been just three province-wide polls released to the public. On March 23, Leger produced a massive poll of 3397 respondents with regional oversampling to provide data as to what is happening in Quebec's regions. This has meant dividing my model into the 12 regions defined by Leger, to come up with a more accurate projection of the Quebec election. The Leger poll was followed up by a Forum Research poll on March 31 and an Ipsos poll on April 1. We have also seen the release of three local riding polls in L'Assomption, Papineau and Nicolet-Becancour. All of these polls have been factored into my current projection map.

On top of the polls released over the last two weeks, I have further made tweaks to my model. The Leger poll showed Quebec Solidaire well below their 2012 election level on the Island of Montreal, and due to this, my model began showing the QS down to just one seat. I didn't feel comfortable with this outcome, so I gave QS a boost in the 2 seats they currently hold (Mercier and Gouin), similar to the boosts they've seen in those seats in the last two elections. This tweak may have proven unnecessary however, as the recent Ipsos poll had QS at 19% in Montreal, a full 7 points more than their 2012 totals. While this poll may be an outlier, it is possible that QS could pick up more than just the two seats they currently hold on Monday. Without anything other than circumstantial evidence, I can only speculate as to where they could pick up seats. I have already given them a boost in Laurier-Dorion where one of their co-spokespersons are running, as I see that riding has being a possible pick-up opportunity for the party. Another possibility for the QS is picking up Rosemont, which is not outside the realm of possibility, considering how left wing the area is. Also, the QS could pick up Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques where they did well in 2012, and are running the same star candidate in Manon Masse.

Another tweak I had made was in the riding of Sherbrooke. My model began showing the Liberals leading there following the huge Leger poll, but I felt that their strength in my model may be boosted by the fact that their former leader and Premier, Jean Charest was on the ballot in 2012. I attempted to rectify this by weakening the Liberals in my model. To do this, I made a calculation of how much “personal vote” Charest carried with him based on how much of a boost he got in the riding when he first ran in the seat in 1998. Despite the Liberals losing ground in the province-wide popular vote in that election, Charest saw a 3.7% swing from the PQ in the riding.

I of course may make further tweaks to my model before my final map on Monday. For example, one thing I've been concerned about in my model is the closeness of PQ leader Pauline Marois' seat of Charlevoix-Cote-de-Beaupre. The Liberals have won the seat in the past, but not since 1994. Due to the collapse of the PQ in the Quebec City region according to polls, Marois' numbers in Charlevoix in my model have her in a close race against her Liberal opponent. However, my gut tells me it's not as close as my model shows. I may make other changes to my model as well, so please stay tuned.

Changes since my last projection

Despite two weeks passing since my last post, there have been few changes on my map. Three seats have actually flipped from the Liberals to the PQ in the last two weeks. Two of them in the north: Abitibi-Est and Ungava. Ungava being coloured red in my last projection had me scratching my head since the seat has never gone to the Liberals before (despite having an Anglophone plurality). Abitibi-Est did make sense going Liberal though, as the riding is a bit of a bellwether. However, the Leger poll from March 23 showed the PQ having a massive lead in northern Quebec, so it makes sense that they would sweep the region's four ridings. The other seat my model showed flipping to the PQ is Saint-Maurice. This also makes sense, as the Liberals haven't won the riding since 1989.

To counteract these PQ gains in the last two weeks, my model shows two ridings flipping from the PQ to the Liberals (from my last projection). One of these seats is Dubuc, in the Saguenay region. This gain was the result of a strong Liberal showing in the Leger poll from their Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean-Cote-Nord region. It is possible that this Liberal strength in the region is concentrated in the riding of Roberval where Liberal leader Philippe Couillard is running. However, it makes sense that Dubuc would go Liberal as well, as the Liberals have won it as recently as 2008. The second riding that the Liberals have gained since my last projection was more of a surprise. This is in the riding of Nicolet-Becancour. This change was made as the result of a recent poll that showed the Liberals ahead there. This poll was a surprise for me, as not only did my projection have the PQ ahead there, but the Liberals have not won the riding since 1989. You can insert your concerns about riding polls now.

Another riding poll had me switch one more riding in my projection. A CROP poll produced for the CAQ indicated that their leader Francois Legault is ahead in his riding of L'Assomption. Since my last projection, I had attempted to tweak his riding to give him a boost, considering that the CAQ had strong numbers in the Laurentides-Lanaudiere region according to the Leger poll. I figured that a lot of this strength was coming from Legault's riding, but even after giving him a boost, it wasn't enough for him to lead in the riding. Apparently I should have given him a larger boost, if this CROP poll is to be believed. Personally, I do believe the poll, since I did have some suspicions that he may be leading in L'Assomption. This gain in my projections gives the CAQ a grand total of 4, up from 3 two weeks ago. However, I believe the CAQ could win more, as the last time they won 15-20% of the vote (as polls are currently showing them at), they won 7 seats (as the ADQ, CAQ's predecessor). If they do win more than 4 seats, the additional seats will likely be in the Quebec City region, where they won most of their seats in 2008. However, the Liberals are currently polling very well there, which is why I only have the CAQ at four seats province-wide, with only two in the Quebec City area.

My current seat projection still shows the Liberals with a majority government, albeit a narrow one. The Liberals may have a commanding lead in the polls (my projection model gives them an 8 point lead), but due to wasted Liberal votes in safe seats, my seat projection doesn't give them much room to work with. My model is pointing to a similar scenario as the 2008 election, where the Liberals won a narrow majority, but won the popular vote by 7 points. 

These are my current seat by seat projections. Riding background reflects how the riding voted in 2012: