By-election time

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.

It’s not.

Over at 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):

New Democrats: 41-43%
Liberals: 32%
Conservatives: 26-27%
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.

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5 Responses to By-election time

  1. Grant G says:

    LIB Barry Penner
    NDP Gwen O’Mahony

    CON Hans Mulder

    GRN Guy Durnin

    First off, the Greens aren`t running a candidate, those Green voters will NOT go to the Cons or the Liberals, Gwen O`Mahony received just over 33%…Now remember, the BC Liberals weren`t hated(near as much) in May 2009..

    The Green votes will go to O`Mahony, her base support is 33%, add the Green vote to that total..38.87 %…

    I guarantee that the BC Liberal`s vote won`t completely collapse in Chilliwack-Hope…But as you can see Gwen is already well over 1/3rd of the vote, almost 40% in fact..

    BC Liberals have lost half their vote, but here we go again, at least 5% of the BC Liberal vote support has gone to the NDP, maybe more, John Cummins is from the old Reform part of the Conservatives, abortion, cut Government services, privatize everything, religious dominant thought processes..

    Also, there is a very strong Environmental vote in Chillwack-Hope, with Enbridge threatening and now Kinder Morgan, I suggest that many centrist voters from the Liberals would rather go NDP than Harper`s Reformer`s farm team, not to mention Harper`s pension and health care cuts…Still with the environment, Gordon Campbell in 2009 had hoodwinked BCer`s(some) into thinking he was green, carbon tax, carbon trading and offsets, Liberals have thrown out all of their green credentials with LNG, fracking, incinerators, Fish lake, now the assault on the ALR, and more IPPs…

    I`m adding another 4% points of support to Gwen O`Mahony, giving her a total of..

    42% of the vote, a clear winner…Yes indeed, Gwen O`Mahony will win Chilliwack hope, an NDP sweep in by-elections.

    I agree completely Ian

  2. Grant G says:

    That first set of numbers are from the 2009 general election..I read Bernard`s screed, his math didn`t add up.


  3. I am looking at who is voting and who is not voting. In 2001 there were clearly a lot of New Democratic supporters that simply sat out the election, in 2005 and 2009 there were significant numbers of conservatives that sat out the election. You can compare the vote to the 2008 and 2011 federal election and see there are missing right wing voters.

    With John Martin as an option, there is a conservative to vote for and more of them are likely to vote.

    In 1991 and 1996 the right of centre vote in the comparable riding was 16,220 and 17,635, since then the population in the riding has risen.

  4. Rod Smelser says:

    Without looking up any particular numbers of my own, the thing that strikes me is that Bernard’s projections are inconsistent between the two seats. If the NDP is going to move to something over 40% in Chilliwack, you would expect them to be higher than 46% in Port Moody.

  5. Rod Smelser says:

    Er, I meant that to apply to the 308 projections! Sorry.

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