Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Ontario election near the finish line: Can strategic voting put the NDP over the top?

When the Ontario campaign got underway it appeared the PCs were headed for an out-sized majority. They stumbled, largely because they are led by an unctuous idiot. The Wynne Liberals, as I noted in an earlier post, never had a chance, a fact that Wynne recently, and for some bizarre reason, candidly acknowledged.

It is the NDP that clearly poses a challenge to the PCs but even with the late breaking family finances scandal most polling suggests the Conservatives should eke out a victory. There are no shortage of seat predictions, but all, including my own, are likely to suffer because of the massive shift in the political landscape from 2014. I have developed a modified version of my seat prediction model that alters how I calculate the number of NDP seats. I call it the NDP Strategic Voting Model.

First, here are recent public polls, released since the beginning of June:

A slight advantage to the Conservatives but still close. Most of these individual polls put the PCs ahead. However, Abacus Data is an outlier and has the NDP up by four. 

So what does all this mean in seats?  Let us look first at what the polling average in the table above (PCs ahead by 0.7 of a percentage point) would produce using my conventional model and then with the NDP strategic calculation.

The point of the NDP strategic model is that it takes the concentrated NDP support from last time and spreads it around more evenly.  I believe some version of this effect will occur.

So what would we get if the Abacus Poll has it right that it is the NDP that leads (note there is always some poll closer to the actual result than the average). Here the impact of the NDP Strategic Voting Model is more profound.

The Abacus poll if it proves accurate would, by my estimate, produce a PC minority using a conventional calculation, but a comfortable NDP majority (based on a four point lead in the popular vote don't forget) if we use the NDP Strategic Voting Model. The model of course is neat and symmetrical. In the real world strategic voting is likely to be messy and idiosyncratic.  Many voters will be baffled trying to figure out what they should do to oppose the Tories. The NDP Strategic Voting Model calculates that the PCs have a one and a half point structural advantage - the NDP would need a lead of that amount to get ahead of the PCs (others suggest they would need something larger).

All this serves to illustrate just how uncertain things are in Ontario at the moment. One correspondent suggests we rename it Peyton Place. He has a point! A majority in the new legislature is 63 seats. It now looks like we will have to wait until the polls close to know what party (or parties) will form government post June 7.