Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Québec 2014: CAQ Vote Efficiency Up From 2012

The complete preliminary results are in:
LIB - 70 (41.5%)
PQ - 30 (25.4%)
CAQ - 22 (23.1%)
QS - 3 (7.6%)
With a uniform swing from last election, the seat distribution would have been LIB 76, PQ 35, CAQ 12, QS 2. Thus, from a projection modeling standpoint, the big news of this election is that the CAQ vote got much more efficient, allowing it to win 10 extra seats.

Consider the following:
- The CAQ gained 8 of the 9 ridings where it lost by less than 8% to the PQ in 2012 and that the Liberals did not win this time. The only exception was Rousseau, where outgoing Finance Minister Marceau held on. The only other CAQ gain was Masson, next door to Legault's riding. Therefore, it's as if the CAQ gained 8% on the PQ, even though the actual swing was only 2.6% (from a 4.9% gap to a 2.3% gap).
- The 5 CAQ losses to the Liberals were exactly the 5 ridings that it won by less than 8% over the Liberals in 2012. (The only other CAQ loss was Saint-Jérôme, where star CAQ incumbent Jacques Duchesnau, who did not run, was replaced by PQ star Pierre-Karl Péladeau.) Therefore, it's as it the CAQ fell by 8% relative to the Liberals, even though the actual swing was 14.3% (from a 4.1% gap to a 18.4% gap).
Taken together, the increased efficiency of the CAQ vote was worth a whopping 6% to the party! That is, if swing were uniform, the CAQ would have had to get about 4% more, equally from the Liberals and the PQ, to achieve its seat count of 22.

The increased efficiency of the CAQ vote is evidence that people do vote strategically when they can. It was hard to do in 2012 because both the CAQ and the electoral map were new. This time, however, potential CAQ voters had some guidance as to whether it was worth voting for Legault's party. This might have made the CAQ lose votes where it is uncompetitive, and gain votes where it is the main alternative to the PQ.

Of course, one could also attribute the increased CAQ vote efficiency to the CAQ leading a more focused campaign based on data from 2012. However, the PQ also had a very focused campaign, which did not prevent them from doing poorly where it focused.

How about the Liberal/PQ vote efficiency? It basically did not change compared to 2012. The PQ to Liberal swing was 16.9%, and there were 16 ridings that the PQ won by less than 16.9% over the Liberals in 2012 and that the CAQ did not carry this time. Of those, the Liberals won 14, the only exceptions being Bonaventure and Taschereau, which were both close. The only other Liberal gain from the PQ was Roberval, the riding of Premier-elect Couillard. Thus, the basic uniform swing model would have, as is often the case, done a fantastic job predicting seat changes between the two main parties.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Québec 2014: Last Polls, Four Scenarios, Prediction (just for fun), and Around the Web

Five firms have released polls conducted in the last week of the campaign (UPDATE: Changed the 3/31 Forum poll to the 4/3 Forum poll, released on 4/6):

Ipsos: 3/28-4/1, sample size 1012
EKOS: 3/27-4/3, sample size 1422
Léger: 4/2-3, sample size 1220
Forum: 4/3, sample size 1536
Angus Reid: 4/2-4, sample size 1410

Their numbers:

Ipsos:   LIB 37,    PQ 28,    CAQ 19,    QS 13 (committed: 40-28-18-12)
EKOS: LIB 40.0, PQ 26.3, CAQ 21.0, QS 9.6 (likely: 39.8-27.0-21.1-9.4)
Léger:  LIB 38.1, PQ 29.0, CAQ 23.4, QS 8.0
Forum: LIB 44,    PQ 24,    CAQ 23,    QS 6
Angus: LIB 39,    PQ 27,    CAQ 25,    QS 7 (likely voters only)

The big question is: will there be a "ballot box bonus," as there was in the three previous elections? If so, who gets it? In 2007, the ADQ (predecessor of the CAQ), third according to polls, finished second and almost formed the government. In 2008, the PQ unexpectedly won over 50 seats and almost prevented the Liberals from winning a majority. In 2012, the Liberals were four seats short of retaining power and ensured that the PQ was well short of the majority threshold, even though the last polls appeared to suggest a slim PQ majority.

I should note that in both 2007 and 2008, the "bonuses" noted above were relative to the last CROP and Léger polls, while Angus Reid actually turned out quite accurate. In 2012, Angus Reid did not publish a pre-election poll, while all four firms in the field underestimated Liberal support.

So, let's look at what each of these scenarios would imply. In all cases, I'm assuming 7% support for QS, whose result was at the lower end of the last polls in the last 3 elections. I did not build a seat projection model, so I will use the one provided by Too Close to Call, which was the best model in 2012.

1. Angus Reid is right again: LIB 39, PQ 27, CAQ 25
LIB - 70
PQ - 40
CAQ - 13
QS - 2
The CAQ saves most, but not all, of its seats. The Liberals win a moderate majority, while the PQ has its second worst showing in the last 7 elections.

2. Liberal ballot box bonus (2012 scenario, exemplified by Forum poll): LIB 44, PQ 24, CAQ 23
LIB - 87
PQ - 27
CAQ - 9
QS - 2
Best Liberal since 1989 and worst PQ result since 1985 - would be a terrible shock for the PQ.

3. PQ rebound (2008 scenario): LIB 36, PQ 32, CAQ 23
LIB - 57
PQ - 57
CAQ - 9
QS - 2
We'd be up very very late (even on the West Coast)! The efficiency of the PQ vote allows it to challenge for government status, even while the Liberals clearly win the popular vote.

4. CAQ momentum continues (2007 scenario): LIB 36, CAQ 29, PQ 26
LIB - 62
PQ - 33
CAQ - 28
QS - 2
Another scenario where we'd be up late, both to see if the Liberals win a majority, and to see who forms the official opposition. What would it mean for the PQ if it ends up as the third party for four years?

So there's an outside chance of a PQ minority, and an outside chance of a CAQ official opposition with a Liberal government. However, it is by far most likely that the Liberals will form Québec's next government, while the PQ as the official opposition. A majority appears more likely than a minority, but the latter would not be surprising.

Just for fun, here's my totally unsystematic prediction (not projection):
LIB - 67
PQ - 36 (same as 2007)
CAQ - 19 (same as 2012)
QS - 3

Here are some projections from the usual suspects around the web (UPDATE: Too Close to Call's projection is now available. UPDATE 2: Blunt Objects (Kyle) projection added, and ThreeHundredEight projection updated.):
Blunt Objects (Teddy): LIB 72 (38.2%), PQ 35 (28.0%), CAQ 14 (23.0%), QS 4 (9.2%)
Blunt Objects (Kyle): LIB 69.5 (39.8%), PQ 47.5 (29.4%), CAQ 6 (21.0%), QS 2 (7.7%)
ThreeHundredEight:     LIB 69 (40.1%), PQ 45 (26.9%), CAQ 9 (22.8%), QS 2 (7.9%)
Too Close to Call:        LIB 72 (40.2%), PQ 40 (27.4%), CAQ 11 (23.3%), QS 2 (7.4%)

Happy election watching!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Elections Canada Publishes Official Transposition of Votes

Yesterday, Elections Canada published the official transposition of the 2011 General Election results onto the new electoral map. The seat changes by province are as follows:

Reconfiguration of Existing Seats
- NL: Liberals lose Avalon to Conservatives
- QC: Bloc loses Ahuntsic (now Ahuntsic--Cartierville) to Liberals, NDP loses Gaspésie--Îles-de-la-Madeleine (now Gaspésie--Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine) to Bloc
- ON: Conservatives lose Don Valley East and Nipissing--Timiskaming to Liberals
- MB: Liberals lose Winnipeg North to NDP
- SK: Conservatives lose two ridings to NDP due to former urban-rural ridings being reorganized into separate urban and rural ridings
- BC: NDP loses British Columbia Southern Interior (now South Okanagan--West Kootenay) and Burnaby--Douglas (now Burnaby North--Seymour) to Conservatives
- PE, NS, NB, AB: no resulting party change
Net: LIB +1, CON -1

New Seats
- QC: NDP +3
- ON: CON +12, NDP +2, LIB +1
- AB: CON +6
- BC: CON +5, NDP +1
Total (new): CON +23, NDP +6, LIB +1

Although ten seats changed hands due to reconfiguration, the net effect was minimal. Virtually all the action comes from the allocation of new seats, which would have heavily favoured the Conservatives in 2011. This is unsurprising: most of the seats were added in Alberta, suburban Vancouver, and especially suburban Toronto, three areas that the Tories virtually swept in 2011. However, if the Liberals keep their current strength into the 2015 elections, many of those suburban Toronto and Vancouver seats could instead fall into their hands, so the redistribution will not necessarily heavily favour Conservatives going forward. However, since the Tories win an overwhelming majority of the new seats when they do well, we can conclude that while the new seats may not make Conservative governments that much more likely, they do make Conservative majorities much more likely.

I have not been tracking polls lately, and likely won't until closer to the election. However, using ThreeHundredEight's current polling averages and applying uniform regional swings yields:
LIB - 133 (+97 from transposed 2011 results)
CON - 122 (-66)
NDP - 78 (-31)
BQ - 4
IND - 1

The fact that the Liberals manage only an 11-seat edge with a 5.9% lead is bad news for them: their vote appears to be distributed very inefficiently. (Consider that the Tories won by 63 seats with a 9.0% advantage.) This is true both in Québec and Ontario, where 4-to-5-point leads only give them virtual ties in the seat count (with the NDP and the Tories, respectively). Still, a gain of almost 100 seats is nothing to sneeze at. More importantly, Liberal support is up so strongly that its current distribution, even within each region, may differ significantly from its 2011 distribution.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trashing the Metropolitan Division Is so... 2013

As recently as last month, Metropolitan division teams had won only about 35% of their games against the West and 45% of their games against the Atlantic. But they have been on a good run lately, and as of today, have won 45% of their games against the West and 51% of their games against the Atlantic. Suddenly, the Metropolitan division has a similar record (in fact, marginally better as of this post's writing) as the Atlantic division.

In fact, the whole "West is so much stronger than East" thing is less and less true. Again, as of early December (or was it late November?), Eastern teams had won only about 36% of their games against the West. Now, it's 45%, meaning the in the past few weeks, the East has actually had a winning record against the West.

I wonder when the hockey commentators will catch on to the new reality. (Or maybe they don't need to, if the Metropolitan/East goes back to sucking in the coming weeks.) All this is masked by the fact that the West still has 9 of the top 13 teams in the league (and the Metropolitan has only one), but if the current trend continues, that'll change.

As a Habs fan, I have to point out that the Leafs have just two regulation wins in their past 25 games - yes, 2/25. I blame this for the Metropolitan catching up to the Atlantic. On second thought, nah, just keep doing what you've doing, Leafs - I like you this way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Redistribution 2012: How Many Seats Each Province Should Have Gotten

Redistribution 2012, which gave 15 new seats to Ontario, 6 to Alberta, 6 to BC and 3 to Quebec, was based on Statistics Canada's population estimates for July 2011, as of December 2011. However, those estimates were based on the 2006 Census and subsequent birth/death/migration statistics.

Today, Statistics Canada published revised population estimates that incorporate data from the 2011 Census. Using the revised population estimates for July 2011 and applying the legislated formula, we see that:
- Ontario and BC should each have gotten one fewer seat;
- Alberta and Québec should each have gotten one additional seat.

Even though, as explained above, the number of ridings in each province was based on the 2006 Census, the new districts were drawn based on the 2011 Census. The reason is that boundaries are adjusted based on actual census counts, available soon after the census, while each province's number of seats depends on population estimates, which take into account census undercounting and take over 2 years to produce.

By the way, the use of population estimates for redistribution is new: under the old law, actual census counts were also used to determine each province's seat allocation.

At some point in the coming months, Elections Canada will publish the results of the 2011 election transposed onto the new districts. I'm hoping to resume posting seat projections after this information becomes available. (Transposition has already been done by others, but since I'm quite busy with work these days anyway, I'll wait for the official numbers.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's the Economy, Stupid! (and why the NDP should stop defending its 1990s economic record)

Much has been written about the gap between the last BC election polls and the actual results. But that was only half of the stunning BC Liberal comeback. The remainder happened in plain view during the campaign, when the NDP lead in the polls shrank from 20% to single digits. This change was likely caused by several factors, including:

1. Adrian Dix's flip flop on Kinder Morgan
2. The Liberal campaign (clear focus on economy and negative campaigning)
3. Christy Clark's charisma and optimism
4. The BC Conservatives' collapse

I would argue, however, that the underlying cause is simply BC's economic experience in the past 20 years. Without the experience of the 1990s, Dix's flip flop would not have ignited much concern about economic development under the NDP. The Liberal focus on the economy would not have resonated. Christy Clark's hopeful message on the economy would have fallen on deaf ears. And social conservatives might not have decided to pinch their noses and vote Liberal once more to keep the NDP out.

If you're a reader of the Vancouver left-wing media (e.g. Georgia Straight, the Tyee, etc.), you may be under the impression that BC's superior economic performance under the Liberals is a myth, or even a falsehood perpetuated by a right-wing media conspiracy. Indeed, according to BC Stats, BC's real GDP grew by an average of 2.8% per year during 1991-2001, compared to 2.5% during 2001-2010. However, this is not what people felt because:

- BC's population grew more quickly in the 1990s due to a wave of immigration related to Hong Kong's handover to China. Per capita, real GDP grew by 0.8% per year in 1991-2001, compared to 1.3% per year in 2001-2010. That's 60% faster per capita growth under the BC Liberals.

- The latter period, of course, included the sharp 2008-2009 recession, while the former included the tech boom. In Canada as a whole, real GDP per capita grew by 2.3% per year in 1991-2001, compared to 0.8% per year in 2001-2010. So under the NDP, BC fell behind Canada by 1.5% per year. Under the Liberals, BC outpaced Canada by 0.5% per year. That's a difference of 2% per year, or 20% over a decade.

- In the long run, higher GDP leads to higher disposable income. But over shorter periods, disposable income may be impacted by fluctuations in relative prices, taxes, the amount of corporate profits reinvested rather than distributed, etc. Of course, not only did the BC Liberals cut taxes, they were lucky enough that the federal government also cut taxes during their years in power. As a result, in 1991-2001, real disposable income per capita grew by 0.1% per year in BC (0.8% in Canada); in 2001-2010, it was 2.2% per year (2.1% in Canada). This is the kicker: in BC, real disposable income per person grew TWENTY-TWO TIMES FASTER under the Liberals (up to 2010) than under the NDP!

Clearly, the difficulties of the 1990s were not all the NDP's fault, and nobody would credit the BC Liberals for the myriad federal tax cuts in the late Chrétien/Martin/early Harper administrations. We can argue at length about whether the difference between NDP and Liberal policies contributed to BC's change of fortune. But given that people felt their income go up 22 times faster under the Liberals than under the NDP, when the NDP pretends that its economic record was as good as the Liberals', it just sounds out of touch. Statistics correspond to reality. The NDP can argue about statistics, but if its argument diverges too much from people's experiences, people won't listen.

Usually, when you've been out of power for 12 years, people forget what happened last time around, and your opponents bringing it up won't hurt you much. But when what happened was a decade of stagnating pocketbooks, people do remember, especially when the latter decade has been much better. People also understand that parties can change in 12 years. But people will conclude that you haven't changed if you insist that there's nothing wrong with your record. And they will further conclude, perhaps unjustly given the different economic circumstances, that the same stagnation will occur if you are back in power.

If, in response to Liberal attacks, the NDP had actually repudiated its 1990s record and explained how its economic vision has evolved, Adrian Dix might be Premier today.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 BC Election and the Pollsters

The dust is slowly settling after the surprising results of the 40th BC general election. The geographical divide between BC's different regions was very stark - even more so than in 2009:

Note: Updated to reflect changes due to the final count.
Island, Coast and Northwest: 15 NDP, 2 LIB, 1 GRN (14-4-0 in 2009)
Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster: 11 NDP, 5 LIB (8-8 in 2009)
Rest of Metro Vancouver: 19 LIB, 5 NDP, 1 IND (16-8-1 in 2009)
Fraser Valley and Interior: 23 LIB, 3 NDP (21-5 in 2009)
TOTAL: 49 LIB, 34 NDP, 1 GRN, 1 IND (49-35-0-1 in 2009)

But the salient feature of these results was, of course, its unexpectedness. Why did all the polls miss the boat? This seems to be a recurring theme in recent Canadian elections, but as we saw last fall, polls in the United States have remained quite accurate. Why are American pollsters doing so much better than their Canadian counterparts? Here are a few potential explanations, and how I feel about them.

1. Live Phone vs IVR vs Internet Polling
There is no evidence that traditional polls fare better than non-traditional ones in the United States or other countries. Some traditional Canadian pollsters suggest that new methodologies are behind the erratic polling in this country, but it's unclear why Canada would be different.

2. Resources for Data Analysis (Likely Voter Screen)
That said, methodology probably does matter, but at the stage of data analysis. Some US media organizations, unlike Canadian ones, actually pay substantial sums for their polls. This enables polling firms to do proper research and develop, for example, a reliable likely voter model. The availability of extensive exit polling data in the United States also helps.

3. Polarization and Undecided Voters
As we all know, the differences between Democrats and Republicans are stark, and even a month before the vote, there remain very few undecideds in a US presidential election, and in most US Senate elections. In Canada, the fraction of undecided voters is typically much higher. This produces a potential for sudden shifts that are hard for pollsters to capture.

4. Local Candidates
In the US, polls (except for "generic Congressional ballot" polls, which tend to be inaccurate) state the names that will actually appear on the ballot. In Canada, they typically only state the name of the party. A popular Canadian incumbent from an unpopular party may therefore enjoy more support than pollsters imply.

Hopefully, the Canadian pollsters figure things out before 2015, or the projections for the next federal election could be dead wrong...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013!

Ironic tidbit: the PQ fulfilled its promise to raise taxes on rich Quebecers only partially so that the top tax rate would remain below 50%. However, with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on high income Americans and the increased Medicare tax, individuals with federal taxable income above $400,000 and married couples with federal taxable income above $450,000 will be paying a marginal rate above 50% in California, New York City, Oregon and Hawaii. Those four jurisdictions have more than 50 million residents! It looks like Québec wouldn't have been so out of whack after all...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rudimentary Guide to Election Night

Sadly, work is getting in the way, and I won't be able to post as extensive a guide as I hoped before polls close. The basic thing to remember is that states are typically called immediately only when the margin is greater than 10%. Looking at my state-by-state map, this means that while most states in dark blue/red will be called right away, most (if not all) other states won't. Obama supporters certainly shouldn't freak out if PA isn't called right at 8pm ET, or MI/MN aren't called right at 9pm ET.

We likely won't get a call in any battleground state (tossups and those coloured in the lightest blue or red) until at least 10pm ET. So if you're on the East Coast, you can probably go have a nice long dinner and still not miss any big calls.

If any of PA, MN or MI is called before 10pm ET, Obama is performing at least a little better than expected, and he should probably be viewed as a 95%+ favourite. (Right now, it's more like 90%.) On the other hand, if NC is called for Romney before 10pm ET, then Romney is overperforming, and we're likely in for a long long night.

The Democrats have a decent chance of winning the Senate as early as 11pm ET; if not, it shouldn't be too long a wait after that time. Obama will likely not win the presidency that early, and while I do expect him to win before sunrise tomorrow (most likely between midnight ET and midnight PT), there's a chance that we're headed for long legal battles...

Also, keep an eye out for Marriage Equality propositions in ME, MD and WA, as well as MN's proposal to enshrine discrimination in their state constitution.

Happy viewing!

2012 US Senate Elections

For posts on the Presidential election, click here (state by state) and here (popular vote).

Note: Maine is safe for independent Angus King; it is coloured in light blue since he is likely to caucus with the Democrats.

Some states are less solid than the others. Of the "lean Democrat" states, I'm least confident about MA, IN and VA. Of the "lean Republican" states, ND and NV have the best chance of causing a surprise.

I think the Democrat is marginally ahead in both tossups, MT and WI. However, the advantage is so slight that they might have a better chance of splitting. (For example, if the Democrat has a 60% of winning in each, and the two races are independent, then the Democrats have a 36% of winning both, and the states have a 48% chance of splitting.) For this reason, I view the most likely outcome as the Democrats winning all states coloured in blue and both tossups, but the most likely seat count as 53-47.

Later today: a guide to election night