I have a love/hate relationship with horse race politics. After all I did polling for a living for over a decade. There is no doubt that for a certain kind of numbers nerd, it can be exciting watching the numbers go up and down and searching for a searing explanation.
At the same time it really is the low form of political commentary – too easy, too insubstantial and too inside baseball – sportscasting for guys (and I mean guys) who are bad at sports.
But there are two by-elections looming so let’s look at the horseraces.
There are two sites out there speculating on the results. Both predict a walk away for Joe Trasolini in Port Moody. No dispute here.
It’s Chilliwack Hope where the speculation gets more far fetched.
Bernard Schulman over at BC Iconoclast is definitive. He says straight out the BC NDP can’t win there: “There are about 18,000 people in the riding that do vote for all the time or some of the time and vote on the right side of the spectrum. If there is an even split and decent turn out the Liberals and Conservatives both get close to 9,000 votes versus the NDP at 6,500.”
But the Elections BC numbers don’t support that analysis. The average number of right wing votes have rarely topped 12,000, while the NDP trends around 5-6000. So a right wing split sets up a potential narrow three way race.
That’s if this were a traditional race in a traditional time.
Over at threehundredeight.blogspot.com the analysis takes into account the political shifts revealed in recent polls by Angus Reid and Forum Research: “If we apply these two polls to the swing model for these two individual ridings, we get the following results (not a prediction):“CHILLIWACK-HOPE New Democrats: 41-43% Liberals: 32% Conservatives: 26-27% “PORT MOODY-COQUITLAM New Democrats: 46% Liberals: 28-30% Conservatives: 24-26%”
I tend to believe the second analysis and not just because I want to believe the second.
First, there has been a significant voter shift away from the Liberals and towards both the Conservatives and, to a lesser extent, the NDP. Any decent prediction has to incorporate that shift.
Secondly, the recent polls show that the current Liberal vote is soft and unmotivated. Reading the Forum poll you get the feeling that getting out the BC Liberal vote in these by-elections will be akin to taking a Datsun 510 to a tractor pull.
And then there’s the more ephemeral evidence of tough sledding for the BC Liberals: the slew of last minute endorsements from the past, the frantic ads and ridiculous, sleezy attacks, the lack of volunteers and legislative shut-down so staff and MLAs can fill in. (Hi Pamela Martin. How’s that leave form coming?)
Pile it all up and I think 308 is right about Pt. Moody and may even be over-estimating Liberal strength in Chilliwack Hope. I see the Liberals finishing third there, behind the NDP and the Conservative.
If that turns out to be right, the material for political speculation grows exponentially. We won’t be talking horserace. We’ll be on death watch.