Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By-election post-mortem

The result in Winnipeg North was a surprise.  TC has no explanation to offer.  308.com did forecasts of the by-elections but found this constituency inexplicable:
Obviously, the projection here was a complete and utter failure. The NDP's Kevin Chief and the Conservatives' Julie Javier under-performed, while Lamoureux surpassed all expectations. Even had I taken into account the provincial numbers here, I still wouldn't have had Lamoureux over 25%. His drawing power was completely unpredictable, and all I can really say about it is that any projection which would have given this result would not have been based on anything but a gut feeling.
I did a little number crunching on the results but could see no discernible pattern so my previous admonition stands: one should not read too much into the results. In this respect one voice stood out from the usual media claptrap.  Dan Lett in the Winnipeg Free Press wrote:
What do all these results, and the results of Monday night's byelections, tell us? We in the media are trained to detect and report the slightest change in fortune or momentum. But the results in these most recent byelections do not change the fact that this is a country in political gridlock.

The results did not tell us, for example, if Ignatieff and Harper have job security as leaders of their parties. Both head parties that are growing impatient about their lack of progress. Or if either the Liberals or Conservatives are willing to force an election next spring. Did voters punish the NDP in Winnipeg North and the Liberals in Vaughn? Does Lamoureux's victory in Winnipeg North redeem Ignatieff?

Not really. The Tories captured the last in a series of right-leaning suburban seats in Ontario. And it was the indefatigable Lamoureux, not the Liberal Machine, that triumphed in Winnipeg North. You can search for greater meaning in these results -- and Lord knows, we in the media will keep looking -- but it's not really there.
Well said.