Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ontario Election - How Large the Liberal Win?

I have been reviewing the polls, averaging them and making some intuitive guesses. Here is my final view of the outcome.

In the last week, the PCs have continued their steady decline. However, the PC vote is older and therefore turns out at a higher rate. In past elections polls have tended to underestimate the Tories. Nevertheless, the news for the Tories is quite bad - leader John Tory is headed towards a significant defeat in Don Valley West - TC estimates by around 8% give or take a few points.

Although the Liberals will win, the very latest polls do indicate a slight dip for them while the NDP is climbing a bit. Both parties are the opposite of the Tories with a disproportionate number of younger voters, and polls have in the past overstated their support.

However, it is the Greens who tend to be the most overestimated of all for a similar reason - a youthful alienated core of support. This tendency for polls to find too many Greens has been acknowledged for the first time to my knowledge by SES principal Nik Nanos who said in their firm's final pre-election release today, "support for the Green Party is usually over-reported in polls compared to actual ballot box". They actually offered a Green adjusted version of their final poll. It will be interesting to compare this to the actual vote shares.

The Conservative campaign was an unmitigated disaster - not only did they latch onto an issue they could have determined ahead of time would be unpopular in their promise on religious schools, but they put too much faith (no pun intended) in their "broken promises" theme forgetting that they offered no basis themselves for persuading the electorate that they, unlike the Liberals, could be trusted to keep promises. John Tory then shifted ground on religious schools in the middle of the campaign to show he too can bend a promise. Incredible! I also thought there was nothing at all in their platform to appeal to voters in a positive sense and I think this latter point should not be underestimated. Their biggest promise seemed to be to cut the health care premium financed by a vague promise of finding efficiencies, something I think many including myself reacted to with a healthy degree of skepticism.

Parties must give voters a reason to support them on election day and this the Tories failed to do. By contrast the NDP offered a clear bundle of commitments - eliminating the health care premium by raising income taxes, rolling back tuition fees and a higher minimum wage.

I have adjusted the final poll averages to reflect my views above and made a few adjustments to the calculations of my model. Here are the numbers:

Liberal PC N.D.P. GP Other Total
Seats 65 30 12 0 0 107
Votes 41.3 32.5 19.2 5.9 1.1 100

One final word: Danny Williams won a big majority tonight but he had a vote share (69.56%) that could have given him every seat. The difference in TC's view: strategic voting.

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