Sunday, May 1, 2011

Election Oracle: 2011

















It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve made any posts on this blog. Life has made it hard to keep up with the writing and there’s a good community of Manitoba bloggers that keep the ideas flowing and the debates going. While I’m not sure if I’ll bring this blog back to life at some point, I’m happy for now to use it for my election predictions. Usually, I come in a bit closer than just about anyone, but we’ll see if that holds true for this time, especially when the last polls of the campaign are still showing increased movement toward the NDP.

Canada

Last election (incl byelections): C 145, N 36, L 77, B 49, I1
Prediction: C 152, N 84, L 51, B 20, I 1

They key question from the start of the campaign was whether the Conservatives would get a minority or majority. The second that emerged was whether the NDP will form the Official Opposition. I’m predicting 152 Conservatives, which is a small increase and within a few seats of a majority. If I’m wrong and they pick up a few extra Liberal seats in Ontario, then they may eke out a slight majority. The NDP will be solidly in second place, even if their organization can’t convert all of their support into hard votes. The last few polls of the campaign have showed the NDP numbers still increasing, but I’ve tried to offer fairly conservative predictions.

If my prediction is right, it’ll be a tepid win for the Conservatives – they’ll have yet another minority, leaving them unable to push their agenda through Parliament, but it’ll be a strong minority, which means they’ll be too strong to be pushed aside by an opposition coalition. It’s a historic rout for the Liberals and one from which they may never recover, if a British-style left-right realignment is the outcome. It’s also a crushing defeat for the Bloc in Quebec, which has dominated since their formation in the early 1990s. Now they’re more of a chip than a block. For the NDP, it’s an astonishing result and an endorsement of Jack Layton’s style and direction.

So what lies ahead? For the Conservatives, they’ll continue in a minority government and continue strategizing about how to hold back the NDP from further growth. I can only hope that the Conservatives see this election as a sign that Canadians prefer vision and substance over dirty tricks and character assassinations, but that might be too much to hope for. It may get worse yet.

For the NDP, as Official Opposition, the task ahead will be one of discipline, coalition building (informal rather than formal) and developing an image, platform and strategy for forming government. All parties go through some growing pains as they transition from a protest party into a governing party and the federal NDP won’t be any different. As well, with Liberals, Bloquistes and Greens all migrating to the NDP, the party may no longer be interested in a formal merger or coalition deal. The new NDP is the coalition.

For the Liberals and Bloc, regrouping will be tough. Right-wing Liberals may gravitate to the Conservatives in the hopes of stopping further NDP growth. Left-wing Liberals who’ve flirted with the NDP but saw them as having no chance of forming government will now feel the pressure to move to the NDP. With the Liberals in third place, potential candidates, leaders and donors will now all be much harder to come by. For their part, Bloc members may wonder what point there is in sticking around. More socially conservative nationalists may drift to the Conservatives while left-leaning ones will feel compelled to join many of their colleagues in supporting what is now the largest social democratic party in Quebec. The Bloc and Liberals will try to convince voters that this election was a blip or a one-off event, but clawing their way back isn’t going to be easy.

Atlantic

Last election: C 11, N 4, L 17
Prediction: C 14, N 7, L 11

Apart from several Conservative and NDP pickups, I expect the Atlantic to be mostly unchanged, even though some polls are pointing to a last-minute NDP surge here. I see Tory pickups in Avalon, Malpeque, Madawaska-Restigouche and Moncton and one loss to the NDP in Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Look also for NDP gains in St. John’s South and Dartmouth.

Possible surprises: Tory win in Random-Burin-St. George or NDP wins in Central Nova (Peter McKay) or Halifax West. Some pundits have suggested these, but I’m sceptical they’ll happen.

Quebec

Last election: C 10, N 1, L 14, B 49, I1
Prediction: C 8, N 36, L 10, B 20, I1

The story here is the catastrophic meltdown of the Bloc and the meteoric rise of the NDP. Many pundits are completely puzzled by the NDP’s strength, but the party’s been laying the groundwork for growth and seeing incremental results for years. Of course, the perfect storm of good fortune for the NDP in this election helped throw open the flood gates. I predict Duceppe will lose his own seat in Laurier-Ste-Marie, making the Bloc’s collapse even more stunning. Look for NDP gains throughout the Montreal/Laval, Gatineau and Quebec City regions.

While the Liberals will lose some seats to the NDP, including Westmount, NDG, Lasalle-Émard and Hull-Aylmer, the few good news stories of the night will come when they pick up Bloc seats (Ahuntsic, Haute-Gaspésie and possibly Brome-Missisquoi where Denis Paradis is running) as the NDP siphons away Bloc votes. The Tories will lose Beauport-Limoilou, Charlesbourg and Pontiac (Lawrence Cannon, one of my least favourite MPs) to the NDP, but should hold on to the rest. Unfortunately, independent Arthur André, known for working another job while being an MP and making intolerant comments on the radio, will probably eke out a victory over his Bloc and NDP competitors.

Possible surprises: Everywhere, as untouchable Bloc and Liberal strongholds fall. Watch for NDP star candidate and Innu leader Romeo Saganash in a close battle with the Bloc for his northern Quebec seat.

Ontario

Last election: C 52, N 17 , L 37
Prediction: C 60, N 22, L 24

With Quebec not interested in their party, the Tories needed Ontario to get their majority. It would have worked well if the NDP only cut into the Liberal vote, so as to toss Liberal-Conservative races to the Tories, but the NDP have pulled votes from the Tories too. I predict most new wins for the NDP in the Toronto area, including Beaches-East York, Davenport, Oshawa, Parkdale-High Park and and York South-Weston. I think they’ll also win Oshawa from the Cons.

The Liberals, squeezed from both sides, will probably lose around one third of their Ontario seats, including many in the 905 belt. The Holland-Alexander race has drawn a lot of attention in Ajax-Pickering. I predict a Tory win there as well as in Mississauga South, Brampton-Springdale and Brampton West. A few Toronto seats are likely to swing Tory as well (a first since the 1980s), giving them Don Valley West, Eglinton-Lawrence and York Centre.

Possible surprises: I expect Iggy will be safe in his own seat, but a surprise of the night could be the Tories giving him a run in his home seat. If the NDP really surprises, they may pick up Scarborough Southwest, Guelph, Essex, Kenora and others, but I expect they’ll fall a little short in these ridings.

Manitoba

Last election: C 9, N 3 , L 2
Prediction: C 9, N 4, L 1

I don’t expect the electoral drama that’s going on in most other provinces to really reach us here in Manitoba. The NDP should win Winnipeg North back from the Liberals in a close race, giving us the same result as in 2008.

Possible surprises: The Conservatives could surprise and win Winnipeg South-Centre from the Liberals or Elmwood-Transcona from the NDP, but I don’t think their numbers are quite high enough to do it.

Saskatchewan and Alberta

Last election: C 40, N 1 , L 1
Prediction: C 39, N 2, L 1

There is NDP momentum in our two neighbouring prairie provinces, but it’s probably not enough to make many seats change hands. NDP targets include Palliser, Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Edmonton Centre and Edmonton East. Of these, I predict an NDP win in the Saskatoon seat with tighter races but not wins elsewhere.

Possible surprises: Conservative nomination loser James Ford is running again as an Independent in Edmonton--Sherwood Park and there’s an outside chance he could pull off an upset. The NDP might also surprise with a second seat in Alberta. On the other hand, it’ll be one of the few big letdowns of the night for New Democrats if they surge Canada-wide but end up shut out of Saskatchewan again.

British Columbia

Last election: C 22, N 9 , L 5
Prediction: C 21, N 12, L 3

The NDP has seen big upward movement in their poll numbers here as in most other provinces and it should gain them a few more seats. On election night, watch for them battling to pick up Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, Vancouver Island North and Surrey North from Tories, while the Tories fight close races to pick up Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca (vacated by Keith Martin) and Vancouver South (Ujjal Dosanjh).

The Greens are of course hoping for a win in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where Elizabeth May is running. It’s their one shot at a seat and I think they’ll fall well short, despite the poll they released claiming they’re in the lead.

Possible surprises: A stunning upset could come if Hedy Fry is defeated by the NDP in Vancouver Centre or if Elizabeth May somehow does pull off a win on Vancouver Island. A last minute NDP surge might also toss them some seats they haven’t won since 1988.

The North

Last election: C 1, N 1 , L 1
Prediction: C 1, N 1, L 1

Don’t forget about the north! I predict one seat apiece for each of the three parties – same as last time. The NDP in the Western Arctic (NWT) and the Conservative in Nunavut each stave off a former Territorial Premier running as the Liberal candidate.

Photo: John William Waterhouse's Consulting the Oracle, 1882.

9 comments:

Atlanta Roofing said...

It has been an exciting election because it has seemed anything is possible. In fact, it has never been more clear that an election campaign is designed to get a party (re)elected and absolutely NOT to debate policy issues and ideas in the light of day. We need to maintain multi-party choice in Canada and we need more professional journalists shining light in the dark corners.

Mike said...

I think you've over-estimated the Con seat count and under-estimated the NDP's. But then, I'm not the expert you are. I expect the Cons to get about the same number of seats as they had at disolution, and the NDP to win in about 100 ridings. The Libs will be an unhappy bunch tonight, and May has slightly worse than a 50-50 shot at winning her one seat for the Greens.

Mike said...

Though I'm not the expert you are, PT, I wasn't too far off last time when I predicted 136 seats for the Harperites:
http://stimpsonwrites.blogspot.com/2008/10/down-stretch.html

Prairie Topiary said...

Thanks for the comments.

Atlantic Roofing, I couldn't agree more. I think it was Kim Campbell who said that an election is no time to discuss serious issues. Now that we seem to be in an era of the permanent campaign, we seem to rarely ever discuss serious issues. It would be nice to see that change.

Mike, I hope you're right about my estimates. If the NDP does win way more than I predict, most of those additional seats are likely to come in Quebec, where I've erred on the side of caution in predicting upsets. There's a scattering of about 5-10 in BC, ON and NS that the NDP could also win. We'll see tonight!

Wolprog said...

I'm tempted to think that the strategy of disillusionment is partially intentional on the part of the Tories. Shrinking the electorate through lower turnout would tend to over-emphasize the Tory vote on a national basis.

I think that's potentially the case; it could also be merely that with the old Reform-Alliance section of the conservative movement from the west in control of the Conservative Party's institutional mechanisms and grassroots that the party is just generally more hostile to what they perceive as threatening 'left-wingers' from Central Canada expressed through the Liberal Party of Canada.

Prairie Topiary said...

Ouch, looks like I was a little off. I correctly predicted the outcome in 251 of 308 seats, which is 81%. That's worse than my 93% rate in 2008, but a little better than the 76% of Threehundredeight.com and electionpredictionproject.org. Democraticspace.com looks to have a result similar to mine.

Mike said...

It was a tough election to call. No way of knowing how the Lib and NDP vote distribution was going to affect the Cons. Turns out it helped the Cons a lot.
If 39.6% = majority, we really need electoral reform.

Mike said...

Part of Ekos Politics' post-mortem: "There was a late movement of Liberal supporters to the Conservative Party which shifted about three points to the Conservatives"

Could somebody tell me again why the Libs are 'progressive' or part of Canada's 'left'?

Prairie Topiary said...

A lot of the post-election analysis I've read talks about "blue Liberals", the ones who supposedly shifted to the Tories during the campaign. I hadn't heard the term before, but it's probably borrowed from the "blue dog" term used to describe right-wing US Democrats. While there are some progressives within the Liberal Party, I've also never quite understood why some people refer to it as left-wing party.

Further to the topic of getting predictions wrong, a study found that out those in the media were no better than a coin toss at prediting outcomes: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505171416.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

We bloggers are way better of course!