Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sweat on Hugh McFadyen's brow

The big pre-election Free Press/Probe poll was released today, with good news for the NDP and bad news for the Conservatives: results are 44% NDP, 37% PC, 16% Liberals, and 3% Other. That leaves the Hugh McFadyen and the Conservatives only five days -- including one long weekend -- to make up the gap before Tuesday's election.

Liberal numbers

The first thing I looked at was the Liberal numbers, because they'll play a major role in whether the NDP picks up or loses seats. If the Liberal numbers are up, it likely means that soft NDP voters in the suburbs are leaning Liberal and, consequently, that Tories are likely to win seats there. If Liberal numbers are down, the NDP tends to benefit, and that makes Tories seats more likely to go NDP.

At 16%, the poll pegs the Liberals at higher than the 13% they received in the last two elections. In Winnipeg, where the Liberals' only hopes are, they are at 17%, just a hair ahead of where they were in 2003. That likely means good things for the NDP's chances in Winnipeg's suburbs. Liberal numbers are not high enough for them to win more than two seats.

Winnipeg vs. non-Winnipeg

In the last provincial election, the NDP gained 53% in Winnipeg, compared to the Tories' 30% and the Liberals' 16%. Polls for Winnipeg now put the NDP at 51%, compared to the Tories 29% and the Liberals' 17%. If these numbers hold, it probably means that NDP incumbents in close Winnipeg seats like Fort Garry and Radisson will be safe. As well, since the party is holding its 2003 base, the numbers should also be a shot in the arm to NDP efforts to pick up Kirkfield Park and Southdale from the Tories and Inkster from the Liberals.

Outside Winnipeg, numbers are not as positive for the NDP. The poll puts them at 34%, down from the 46% they took in 2003. This drop in NDP numbers appears to have benefited both the Conservatives, at 49% (up from 44% in 2003), and the Liberals, at 15% (up from 9%). If these numbers hold, it puts several non-Winnipeg NDP seats at risk of going Conservative. In particular, Brandon West, Dauphin-Roblin, and La Verendrye are likely to be close. Minnedosa and Portage, both seats the NDP would like to pick up, are now likely out of reach.

Other parties

Other parties sit at about 3%. Two-thirds of this is Green Party support. The problem with this is that the Greens are running only in about one-quarter of Manitoba's constituencies: if 3% walk off to the polls fully expecting to vote Green, 3/4 are going to be disappointed with a ballot that has no Green candidate. These voters are probably a lot more likely to vote NDP than Conservative, which may make all the difference in several close seats. After the votes are counted, others are likely to get only about 1%, the same percentage as in 1999 and 2003.

Seat-by-seat predictions

Coming in the next couple of days.


Anonymous said...

Good analysis, though I disagree that the drop in NDP support will put many seats at risk. Last time around the NDP had record support outside the Perimeter and that netted them only one new seat. I'm not sure how those voters simply returning to the Tories will put a bunch of seats the NDP won in 1999 at risk. Most of the NDP support is bleeding to the Liberals who are in no position to challenge anyways. The Tories may net a seat or two outside of Winnipeg, but that will be it.

Richard said...

Thanks for your comments.

As I noted in my blog, there are only a few NDP seats I really see as being at risk - namely, Brandon W, Dauphin-Roblin, and La Verendrye - and by "at risk" I mean that they may be close, not that they're guaranteed losses.

And while you're right that the Liberals are in no position to challenge outside Winnipeg, the loss of some NDP votes to the Liberals still puts close NDP-Tory races more at risk of going Tory.

Personally, I think the NDP may lose only one of its non-Winnipeg seats, which sounds similar to your prediction. I'll be fleshing this out some more starting later today.