Monday, December 20, 2010

Tory Majority: the Ottawa Spin Machine

The Ottawa scribes are at it again.  Jane Taber is getting spun round the block by a "senior Tory MP" in her latest missive, titled Tories target 190 ridngs. Let us examine just this one quote:
Some of their target ridings are obvious – the three seats in Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, that were held prior to the last election and not just the Avalon seat they lost as a direct result of Danny Williams’s Anybody-But-Conservatives campaign. Now that the popular premier has stepped down, the Conservatives think they can win them back. 
They think they can win "them" back.  One of the three is St. John's East.  Here is the result from the last election.

Parl Date Candidate Occupation Votes Votes (%) Party Elected
40 2008/10/14 HARRIS, Jack lawyer  30,881 74.55% N.D.P. 

NOEL, Walter economist  5,211 12.58% Lib 

WESTCOTT, Craig journalist - self-employed  3,836 9.26%

TOBIN, Shannon John student - entrepreneur  578 1.40% PC Party 

STORY, Howard businessman  570 1.38% G.P. 

COULTAS, Les retail manager  347 0.84% NLFP 

Jack Harris, the successful NDP candidate, was a longtime provincial member and former party leader who, it is clear from these numbers, is overwhelmingly popular in his riding.  Danny Williams or not, this one won't change.  This is but one example of the Tory spin that went unexamined critically by the Globe.

More broadly, the problem for the Conservatives is the same as before.  In 2008 with nearly a 12 point lead and a very weak Liberal leader, they could not win a majority.  They need about 62% of the seats outside Quebec, a little more than the Mulroney 1988 overall majority or Trudeau's in 1968.  Possible perhaps, but highly unlikely.  TC has discussed this issue before in greater detail here. The underlying math hasn't changed. Blogger Éric Grenier of writing recently in the Globe, makes essentially the same argument.