Saturday, December 30, 2006

Green Vote

The Greens have been enjoying a favourable press in recent months including suggestions they might dramatically improve their showing in the anticipated 2007 elections. I think that is unlikely, and one reason for saying that is the Green Party is hurt more by the first past the post system than are either the NDP or the Liberals, their natural competitors for small 'g' green votes.

I used my forecasting model to measure this using the results of the 2006 federal election. The results can be seen in the table below (click on the graphic to enlarge):

What I did was reverse the vote shares between the Greens and the NDP in the one case, the Greens and the Liberals in the other. That is I assumed that for every province, the Greens would get what the NDP actually won while the NDP would receive the same vote share as the Greens actual 2006 share, and I did the same in a second exercise involving the Green and Liberal votes.

What I discovered is that with exactly the same vote share as the NDP actually had in 2006 the Greens would have won only 8 seats, compared to the NDP's 29 (a deficit of 21 seats). If they had the Liberal vote share they would have won 76 seats compared to the Liberals actual 103 (as deficit of 27 seats).

This tells us the Greens have a far more dispersed vote pattern than either the Liberals or the NDP and that a Green vote is more likely to be cast for a losing candidate, even if the party were to succeed in dramatically increasing its share of the popular vote.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Many elections coming in 2007

TC has had a hiatus in posting due to an old computer giving way to a new HP machine.

Happy New Year one and all.

2007 is going to be a big year for elections.

We are likely to have a federal election, and provincial contests in several provinces, including Ontario and Newfoundland for certain as they both have fixed dates in October. As well, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec & P.E.I. may go to the polls, but the governments in all those provinces are in political difficulty to one degree or another so delays are possible.

One interesting potential is that there could be minority governments in both Ontario and Quebec after the votes have been counted. Quebec has long had monolithic politics dominated by the Quebec Liberals and various nationalist competitors, but it is becoming more fragmented both federally and provincially. The big development of the past few years is the emergence of the leftist Quebec Solidaire, not as a serious contender for power or even seats, but as a drain on PQ votes. Despite recent strengthening on the part of the Quebec Liberals, this election is still leaning to the PQ.

In Ontario, there have been many polls in the past two years showing a close race between Liberals and the PCs, with the NDP making gains. More recently the polls have been suggesting a second albeit reduced Liberal majority.

TC thinks it highly likely that the Saskatchewan NDP, in power since 1991, will finally lose office. See this time series of Saskatchewan party preference polls conducted by Environics. (You have to scroll way down to find it.)

In Manitoba the election looks to be both close and interesting. The NDP have never won a third term in Manitoba but Premier Gary Doer is an astute and highly experienced politician, and gives the NDP their best chance ever of yet another victory. The most recent Probe Research Poll does give the Conservatives a narrow three point lead, but the pollsters theselves argued after the release of the poll that because the Tory gains were concentrated in rural areas, the poll could actually mean an NDP win. TC shares that assessment; however, the real message of the poll is simply that it could go either way.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Honeymoon

It seems like a return to normalcy (as Warren Harding so inelegantly put it). The Grits are back. Two polls out this weekend, one from Ekos, the other from Ipsos, would both produce Liberal majorities.

There is a strong Stéphane Dion honeymoon underway. Given that one must automatically cede 40+ constituencies to the Bloc in Quebec, it is difficult in Canada for anyone to win a majority, which makes these results all the more impressive.

An average of Ipsos and Ekos gives us the following seat distribution:

Liberal - 163
C.P.C. - 89
NDP - 8
BQ - 47
Other - 1

However, this is just first blush. Dion is not well known outside Quebec so these preferences must be considered as weak.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dion & the NDP

Dion could potentially cause harm to the part of the NDP’s appeal that comes from urban social liberals for whom issues such as the environment, gay marriage and more arts funding are major concerns, but Dion will have little impact on the party’s appeal to its poor, working class constituents. Dion’s appeal may be a challenge for the NDP in places like Ottawa Centre, Trinity-Spadina or Parkdale High Park, but of little or no consequence in Winnipeg North Centre, Vancouver East or Timmins- James Bay.

With green competition from the official Green Party and now from the Liberals plus an incumbent neo-con government that will tempt its supporters to vote strategically, the circumstances facing the NDP are highly adverse. However, they do have strong leadership on the part of Layton, who for example, was busy this summer touring small communities suffering from hard times in the softwood lumber industry. It would be a mistake to be dismissive of a party that is ably led, and currently in far stronger shape than in the mid-nineties.

A little post game analysis

The results of the third ballot on Saturday took my breath away. I always thought Dion could win, but I was astonished at the sheer scale of the switch by Kennedy delegates to Dion. Clearly it was a large number of anti-Rae (& anti-Ignatieff for that matter) Ontario delegates who made the difference.

In some ways it was a process of elimination: the long race revealed Ignatieff’s fundamental flaws, Rae despite a skilled performance simply wasn’t acceptable to the Ontario wing of the party, and Kennedy could not speak French.

It is a little unwise in the immediate wake of such an event to make sweeping comments about the consequences of such an event, but the pundits have weighed in, and their negativity is summed up nicely in this post by Paul Wells.

It is foolish to make glib comments on what will happen in Quebec, as many do, in the next election. It is a notoriously difficult province to read. Ahead of time no one predicted Chrétien’s success in 2000, or Harper’s breakthrough in 2006. Dion does start at almost an historic low point for the Liberals in Quebec. Perhaps he has nowhere to go but up?

Dion may not win the next election (governments usually defeat themselves). The Globe poll this morning makes also clear he is simply not well known in English Canada. But he is smart and savvy, and his 10 years of political experience will serve him well. The test will come with the demands of being number one in the organization, the test Martin failed so miserably.

His most important advantage is that he is the first post-Inconvenient Truth major party leader in Canada, and TC thinks the zeitgeist will see astonishingly rapid growth in concern about global warming in the next few years. No one is now better situated to take advantage of that.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Turn out the lights....

The party's over. Dion gained 65.7% of the increased votes on the third ballot, Rae 19.8% and Ignatieff 14.6%. Stéphane Dion will win the Liberal leadership on this next ballot.

Results of first two ballots

Here are the numbers from the first two ballots:

There were 1103 ballots cast for Kennedy and Dryden.

Second Ballot - Where do we go from here?

It seems quite clear now that Ignatieff won't win, but he did not suffer a major meltdown on this ballot, which presumably assures him a place on the final ballot.

So can Dion overhaul Rae who leads him by 158 votes? The Kennedy camp has a large number of Ontario delegates, many with a history of opposing Rae. The leading candidates (including Kennedy) gained 372 votes on the second ballot. This time there are about 1100 to be redistributed. Could Dion could make it to the final ballot? It is by no means certain. The winner will be either Dion or Rae.

First Ballot - Good for Dion, Bad for Ignatieff

The media is claiming the first ballot numbers demonstrate weakness for Ignatieff, principally because they believe his team had built up expectations. I think the more revealing comment was in the Jeffrey Simpson story in today's Globe:

Michael Ignatieff delivered the best speech at the Liberal convention last night — eloquent, passionate, nicely crafted — that nonetheless left a majority of the crowd almost stone cold.

In a telling reaction, his delivery and content galvanized his supporters, whereas everywhere else, even his best lines barely sparked any clapping.

When other candidates spoke about the challenge of climate change, delegates everywhere applauded, but when Mr. Ignatieff did so, more than half the hall barely responded. The same reaction attended his other themes, all of which are popular with Liberals.

The results were best for Dion who surpassed Kennedy, if just barely and receiving the endorsement of Martha Hall Findlay, a sentimental favourite in the hall, does help. However, Rae could still emerge as the anti-Ignatieff.

The second ballot will tell us if many delegates, freed now to vote as they wish, will move in significant numbers from their original end of September choice.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ignatieff's speech had more content than Rae's

As the speeches went, Ignatieff's had some policy content. Better than Rae's. TC liked his commitment to universal access to higher education, but the clichés were in plentiful supply.

However, TC awaits Mr. Ignatieff's profound apology for supporting the idiot George Bush on Iraq in 2003.

The ranking in terms of speeches TC heard:
1. Dryden
2. Dion
3. Findlay
4. Ignatieff
5. Rae
6. Kennedy

Ignatieff had the best video

Among a bad lot, but seeing one of Karlheinz Schreiber's strongest Canadian supporters, Marc Lalonde, delivering an endorsement, did not endear Mr. Ignatieff to TC.

Rae's Speech Sparkled...

Compared to Kennedy's. Helped illustrate just how weak Kennedy was. But like his whole campaign, it was free of content and essentially vacuous, and he did not speak much French. He had a coherent narrative, but policy-wise his speech, like his whole campaign, was a great big ZERO.

CBC Goof

The CBC just had a caption saying Gerard Kennedy defeated David Miller as an NDP candidate in the 1999 election, which is so far for TC, the highlight in a cliché-ridden speech. No so. He defeated Irene Atkinson. See this CBC election web site to confirm this fact, but scroll down below the 2003 numbers. Kennedy did defeat Miller in a 1996 by-election.

The clichés keep coming. This is the weakest speech so far.

Dion Speech

Dion goofed by not finishing on time, but immediately thereafter, John Manley on CBC, who is among the dumbest of the dumb, claimed there is no light between the candidates on the environment. NOT true!!!

As TC wrote about there are really only three of the candidates, Dion, Findlay and Kennedy, who deserve any praise on this issue, and Dion is head and shoulders above the rest.

Liberal Convention... live blogging

Going to live blog a bit tonight. Thought Martha Hall Findlay gave a good speech but missed Brison and Volpe. Dryden gave a terrific speech (who was the speech writer?. Illustrated some of his unrealized potential. But his French is still weak.