|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.