Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nova Scotia Election - Postmortem

The Nova Scotia election produced vote gains but seat losses for the Conservatives, both seat and vote gains for the NDP, and losses in both for the Liberals.

It has been coming on gradually, but thirty years ago the NDP was not a factor in Atlantic politics. However, when the NS Conservatives head into the next election seeking a fourth term in office, the logical alternative, if there is a "throw the rascals out mood", will be the NDP.

Also not noticed much, but the NDP's strongest provincial showing (excluding the territories) was in Nova Scotia in the 2004 and 2006 federal elections. And the NDP now dominates the fastest growing part of Atlantic Canada's largest province - Metro Halifax.

It has taken the federal Liberals 20 years to notice that they were no longer a factor in francophone Quebec. They should take note now of this new threat to Liberal strength in a region long essential to federal Liberal victories - think of the near miss of Chr├ętien in the 1997 election caused by the unpopularity of his EI "reforms" down east.

Politics is perpetually fluid and trends can reverse, but the NDP seems to be setting down deep roots in Atlantic Canada.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nova Scotia Election - Last Words

I have not been able to get a sense of the dynamics of this campaign but it has unfolded almost perfectly from the perspective of the NDP. If the last CRA poll is to be believed they are in a neck and neck race with the Conservatives, but because the poll had the Conservatives up by a negligible two points there is no media expectation of an NDP victory. This helps the NDP because it prevents an anti-NDP rallying effect from playing out.

The Conservatives don't have their tv ads on their site but I would say that the NDP efforts are quite good, exemplifying what seem to be very effective campaign communications overall. The NDP's media is much better than the weak efforts of the Liberals, which seem to reflect their weak campaignl.

The sheer Liberal weakness increases the chances of a Conservative majority. Just a narrow lead over the NDP would be all that is necessary. The concentration of NDP support in Halifax and their weakness on the rural mainland also makes possible an outcome where the NDP would have the most votes but finish second in seats. We will know tomorrow.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


The Republicans narrowly won a special election (what we call in Canada a by-election) in California’s 50th Congressional District on Tuesday. The margin was 49-45 in a district that went 58-37 for the Republicans in 2004.

My forecast model suggests that the CA-50 special election result translates into a 56-40 Democratic advantage nationwide. This is larger than the average of recent generic Congressional ballot polls. While more than the usual caveats apply to this number crunching, it should also be noted that this would give the Democrats a 245 to 190 margin in the House of Representatives.

The blogosphere is offering differing interpretations of the result (update: some interesting comments here in Swing State Project), some critical of the Democratic candidate’s campaign. However, there is no good news in any of this for the Republicans. This wasn’t a hypothetical generic Congressional ballot (for the limitations of which, see here), these were real votes in a solid Republican southern California San Diego suburban/ex-urban district where the Democrats should not be expected to be competitive.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Nova Scotia Election Poll

There is a new poll out in Nova Scotia from Corporate Research Associates and it reports a close race between the NDP and the Conservatives, with the Liberals a distant third.

The overall numbers are:

PC - 38
NDP - 36
L - 20

That translates into the following using my seat calculator:

PC - 30
NDP - 18
L - 4

However, the poll sample size is only 572 yielding a margin of error of ± 4.1%. The small gap plus margin of error mean that a wide range of outcomes are possible. For example, lets just reverse the PCs and the NDP (well within the margin of error). That would then give us:

PC - 25
NDP - 23
L - 4

You can see that the Conservatives do have the advantage: their vote is more efficiently distributed than the NDP and they are ahead in the poll, but the actual outcome remains very much in doubt. The Halifax Chronicle Herald said the poll showed the Conservatives are "flirting with a majority", when what they ought to have emphasized was the sheer closeness of the race.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Al Gore Movie

We went off to see the Al Gore movie tonight. Here are the words of Roger Ebert on the film's web site:
“The director, Davis Guggenheim, uses words, images and Gore’s concise litany of facts to build a film that is fascinating and relentless. In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.”

If the worst case scenario of global warming unfolds, of course, then all other issues slide into insignificance, so I echo Mr Eberts comments.

With the release of the movie comes word that Gregg Easterbrook who I have always seen as an oddball, but who is nonetheless a widely read American writer, has flipped his position as a longtime skeptic of global warming. He wrote a column about his conversion in the New York Times on May 24 to coincide with the opening of the movie in New York. The column is now behind their subscription wall but here is an excerpt:

Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert.... Once global-warming science was too uncertain to form the basis of policy decisions ...

Clearly, the question called for more research.

That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger:

The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society in 2003 both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling.

In 2004 the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any ''substantive disagreement in the scientific community'' that artificial global warming is happening.

In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences joined the science academies of Britain, China, Germany, Japan and other nations in a joint statement saying, ''There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.''

This year Mr. Karl of the climatic data center said research now supports ''a substantial human impact on global temperature increases.''

And this month the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found ''clear evidence of human influences on the climate system.''

Case closed. Earth's surface, atmosphere and seas are warming; ocean currents are slowing; ice shelves are melting faster than projected; spring is coming ever sooner; rainfall patterns are changing; North American migratory birds are ranging father north; the ability of the earth to self-regulate to resist warming appears to be waning. While natural variation may play roles in climatic trends, overwhelming evidence points to the accumulation of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, as the key.

And those are the words of a person who first heard Gore on the topic 20 years ago and who has resisted reaching this conclusion.