Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 Quebec provincial election - Week 3 projection

Week 3 projection map
Over the course of the last week, the Quebec political landscape has made a dramatic shift, if the polls are to be believed. Last week I reported that according to polls at the time, the PQ was headed for a slim majority government. Flash forward to this week, and it looks like the Liberals will be the party headed towards a majority.

As the campaign goes forward, there have been a number of events that could have caused the shift over the last week. Firstly, the appointment of media baron Pierre Karl Peladeau (aka “PKP”) as the PQ candidate in Saint-Jerome made big news, and recent polls have shown that voters are now less likely to support the PQ as a result. PKP  is a controversial character in Quebec politics, and leading a right wing media empire is sure to scare off some of the PQ's traditional left of centre base. Another cause for the shift might be controversial statements that some PQ candidates have made, such as the candidate in Gouin, Louise Mailloux, comparing baptism and circumcision to rape and making other controversial statements, and LaFontaine candidate Jean Carrière making Islamophobic comments and supporting far-right French politician Marine Le Pen. While Carrière was fired, Mailloux was kept, which shows --at least in part-- that the PQ is doubling down on these controversies, perhaps in an effort to show its base how nationalist they are. After all, most of the minority communities they are alienating live in safe Liberal seats. In addition to these controversies, it is possible that the Liberal campaign of scaring voters by suggesting a PQ majority would definitely lead to another referendum is working. Evidence of this could be seen in the leaders debate last night where PQ leader Pauline Marois acted very defensive about the issue, promising not to hold a referendum unless Quebecers wanted one.

Since my last projection map from last week, there have been four polls released that I have now factored into my current projection. Leger, CROP, Ipsos Reid and Forum Research all released polls during this time frame, and each one has progressively shown the Liberal lead get larger. Leger's poll released a week ago showed the race tied 37-37 between the Liberals and PQ. Forum Research's poll released yesterday showed the lead now at 45-32 in favour of the Liberals.

Each of the four polling firms all have different ways of breaking down their regional numbers, so I had to create overlap regions to take into account the overlap between the regions defined by the different polling companies. For example, CROP appears to have a region called “Couronne de Montreal” (Crown of Montreal), which was described as being the 450 area code. The 450 is much larger than the Montreal Metropolitan Region which other pollsters used. This overlap region I have called the “Outer 450”, and consists of 13 ridings. I had to further divide this region because Forum Research divides its “Rest of Quebec” region into north and south (at the St. Lawrence), and this area includes the outer 450 as well. Both CROP and Ispsos Reid also separates the Island of Montreal from the surrounding area which meant that I had to divide those regions as well in my projection. 

As for tweaking my numbers in individual ridings, I held off on making any new changes for the time being. One exception is in the riding of La Piniere where the PQ has confirmed they are not running a candidate. The incumbent Member in that riding, Fatima Houda-Pepin is running as an Independent after quitting the Liberal Party. Houda-Pepin, despite being a Muslim, is a fierce supporter of the PQ's controversial charter of values. The PQ decided they did not want to run a candidate against her. After much thought, I decided in my projection to use the PQ vote from the 2012 election as a base for her support. It's not perfect, but obviously without a candidate, most of the PQ vote could go to her. The point is moot though, as the seat is a safe Liberal one- that is unless Houda-Pepin carries a significant personal vote with her, which is rare for independents in Quebec politics.

This week's projection shows a 12 seat swing from last week, with the Liberals picking up all 12 seats from the PQ for a total of 68. The PQ would win 52 seats, with the CAQ at 3 and the QS at 2 (no change from my last projection for either the CAQ or QS). Two of the 12 seats the Liberals have picked up since my last projection are in Laval (Sainte-Rose and Laval-des-Rapides; the latter has voted for the governing party in every election since it was created in 1981, and is Quebec's best bellwether). Two more gains for the Liberals in the inner 450 region would be La Prairie and Montarville (both ridings currently held by CAQ).  Out of the remaining eight seats where my projection has changed, one is in Quebec City (Jean-Lesage), while the remaining ridings are located outside the two major metropolitan areas: Abitibi-Est, Saint-Maurice, Ungava, Megantic, Richmond, Saint-Francois and Argenteuil.

Tomorrow is the last day to file candidacies before the election, so my next projection will take into account which candidates will actually be on the ballot.

Here are my current projections for each riding. Ridings are shaded based on how they voted in the 2012 election. In La Piniere, I have Independent candidate Fatima Houda-Pepin at 13.3%.

A note about the following tables: the percentages in each row may not add up to 100%, as I am waiting till after the filing deadline for candidates, and thus certain parties and independents are not yet included.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 Quebec provincial election - Week 2 projection

Week 2 projection map

The Quebec election campaign is now in its second week, so it's now time to present my Week 2 projection map. For this map, I have tweaked my projection model to take into account two important factors that effect riding-level election results: a lack of incumbency and the presence of a party leader on the ballot.

The Quebec election will feature at least 14 seats with no incumbents (open seats). The results in these seats will no doubt have different trends in their results than seats that do have incumbents. In taking a look at open seats in the 2012 election, I noticed that the parties that saw a positive 2008-2012 swing across the province (i.e. CAQ [compared to the ADQ in 2008] and QS) saw an even stronger swing in open seats compared to seats with incumbents. Likewise, parties that saw a negative swing between the 2008 and 2012 elections saw stronger swings against them in open seats. The difference between the province-wide swing and the open-seat swing for all parties showed a similar ratio, averaging to be about 1:1.23. That is, for every 1% a party's share of the vote would swing in either direction province wide, their swing in an open seat would be 1.23%. For my model, I applied this ratio to the parties in each of the 14 seats that will have no incumbent on the ballot.

The second major tweak I applied to my model was the “leader bounce”. Liberal leader Philippe Couillard is running in the normally-safe PQ seat of Roberval. Couillard, being a leader of a major party in the province, is likely to see a large swing towards him on election day. To estimate how much of a swing he will get, I took a look at similar scenarios from the 2012 election. One similar-ish scenario was in the riding of L'Assomption where CAQ leader Francois Legault was running in. In L'Assomption, Legault was able increase the share of the CAQ vote (compared to its predecessor, the ADQ) by 23.7 points. This was much higher than the province-wide swing to the CAQ, which was 10.7%. Another similar-ish example was in the riding of Nicolet-Becancour, where Option Nationale leader Jean-Martin Aussant was running. Option Nationale didn't run in the 2008 election, so I compared his result to what Quebec Solidaire won in 2008, since they didn't run in Nicolet-Becancour out of courtesy to Aussant. Comparing the two results gave Aussant a 22% swing, a full 20.1% more than the province wide swing for the Opinin Nationale (which was from 0% in 2008 because they didn't exist for that election). I make the assumption that in both cases (for Legault and Aussant) that their swings were also inflated because Legault was running in an open seat, and Aussant was the incumbent in his riding (he was elected as Pequiste in 2008). To calculate the estimated boost that Couillard could get, I took the average swing above the province-wide swing in both cases, and reduced it to factor in the fact that Couillard will be running in a seat that already has an incumbent, PQ MNA Denis Trottier.

I also created a second “leader bounce” estimate for Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Andres Fontecilla who is running in the Montreal riding of Laurier-Dorion. For most of its history, Quebec Soildaire was led by both Amir Khadir and Francoise David as "co-spokespeole". However, their party constitution states that only one co-spokesperson can sit in the National Assembly, so when both Khadir and David were elected in 2012, Khadir stepped down as co-spokesperson, and was replaced by Fontecilla. Fontecilla will likely see a boost in his share of the vote in Laurier-Dorion, much like Khadir and David saw in their ridings over the last two election. The question is, how much will Fontecilla's boost be? To calculate this, I took a look at the average swing that both Khadir and David saw in 2008 and 2012 in their ridings and compared it to the QS province-wide swing in both elections. Their swing came out to be an increase of about 8.1%, with an average of 5.5% coming from the PQ and 2.3% coming from the Liberals (the rest coming from minor parties). To calculate what Fontecilla may get on election day, I used these averages to factor in my projection for Laurier-Dorion.

In Roberval, my tweaks pushed Couillard into a narrow lead over his PQ opponent. In Laurier-Dorion, my projection tweaks put Fontecilla in a close race with Liberal MNA Gerry Sklavounos, however I still have Sklavounos ahead. The other projection tweaks I made for the open seats didn't result in much change, however they could play a factor if polls change dramatically.

Outside of these tweaks, I also inputted three new polls into my projection. Forum Research released a poll last week, and CROP released a poll on Monday. In addition, Leger published a Quebec City regional poll this morning. Forum Research's regional breakdowns divided the Rest of Quebec region into “North Shore” and “South Shore” which I can assume refers to whether or not the respondent was north or south of the Saint Lawrence River. Because of this, I have also split my projection model "rest of Quebec" region into two. CROP unfortunately did not publish their regional breaks, so I divided their results proportionally based on the Leger poll from earlier in the campaign and the Forum poll. For my projection, I have included both the Forum Research and CROP polls, the Leger Quebec City poll from today, and the Leger poll I used last week, but replacing their Quebec City numbers with their new poll. 

Changes from my last map

The biggest change from last week came in the Quebec City region, where my projection shows three seats swinging towards the Liberals. My projection now shows the Liberals ahead in Chauveau and La Peltrie (both from CAQ) and ahead in Jean-Talon (from the PQ). Outside the Quebec City region, I have the Liberals now ahead in Maskinonge, Papineau and Roberval (the latter based on the aforementioned projection tweak). In all three of those ridings, my projection from last week had the PQ ahead. One further change came in Megantic, where my projection last week had the Liberals winning, but now shows the PQ ahead.

With these changes, the PQ still is sitting in majority territory, but just barely- with 64 seats in the 125 seat assembly.  63 seats are needed to win a majority.

Here are my Week 2 seat-by seat projections (ridings coloured by 2012 winner):

I plan on making further tweaks to my model as the campaign goes on. If you have any suggestions as to what tweaks I should make, please let me know, by commenting here, emailing me, or by sending me a message on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Quebec provincial election - Week 1 projection

March 5 projection

Today the National Assembly of Quebec was dissolved upon the announcement that Quebecers will be heading to the polls for a provincial election on April 7. This ends months of speculation about when the current minority government would finally come to an end. As you may recall, Quebecers just went to the polls back in September of 2012.

As per tradition, I will be publishing projection maps each week of the election, and perhaps even more frequently. Yesterday, Leger released its final pre-campaign poll showing the governing Parti Quebecois with a 2 point lead over the opposition Liberal Party (37-35). This may be a small lead, but it may be enough to win the elusive majority they haven't had since 1998. (This is due to the massive Liberal vote sink in West Montreal). The centre-right Coalition Avenir Quebec was third in the poll with 15 points, and the left wing Quebec Solidaire party was in fourth at 8%. This would mark a large decrease for the CAQ, as they won 27% of the vote in 2012.

Leger was nice enough to produce regional cross-tabs of their poll, divided by the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of Montreal and Quebec City, and a third breakdown of everything else (Rest of Quebec). To produce my numbers, I extrapolated the 2012 vote within each of the 3 regions to match the regional poll numbers.  I only made one modification; in the riding of Nicolet-Becancour, I based my projection on a simulated 2012 vote count based on regional trends. This is because the Option Nationale leader, Jean-Martin Aussant had run in the seat in 2012, and while he did not win, he had a strong vote. Since he is no longer leader of the party, it didn't make any sense to have the ON with a high projected vote total in the riding. I will likely make more modifications as the campaign goes on to effect odd results of my projection model. But since it's the beginning of the campaign, I feel it is unecessary at this point.

Without further ado, here is my projected seat count:

 According to my numbers the PQ would win a majority (67) of the 125 seats in the National Assembly. They would be able to win enough seats in the nationalist heartland of the province, and in the Montreal suburbs to win a majority of seats. This would be a gain of 13 seats for the party. The Liberals would actually gain a net of one seat, up from the 50 they won in 2012. The CAQ would be decimated to a rump of 5 seats, down from the 19 they won in 2012. The QS would win the 2 seats they currently hold.

In 2012, the CAQ had won 6 seats in the Montreal suburbs, but my projection shows them being wiped out, with all of them going to the PQ. Four of the 5 seats they'd be left with would be in the Quebec City area, with the fifth seat being in Granby. Their leader, Francois Legault would lose his seat of L'Assomption. Additionally, the CAQ would lose 8 seats in the Quebec City area, however this seat loss favours the Liberals, as my projections shows the Liberals gaining 6 of the 8, with the PQ gaining the remaining 2. The remaining 5 seats that change hands are seats that the Liberals won in 2012 but my projection has the PQ picking up.  These seats would be Papineau, Richmond, Maskinonge, and two seats in Quebec City: Jean-Talon and Jean-Lesage. The Liberals' new troubadour leader, Philippe Coullard would lose the seat he plans on running in, Roberval by a huge margin (although, I may make some adjustments there). For the record, the Liberals would still win his current riding of Outremont where he has chosen not run for re-election in. In fact, all of the Island of Montreal's seats would not change hands.

Here are my seat-by seat projections (ridings coloured by 2012 winner):