Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Sadly, life/career is taking over, and I will not update the maps until at least mid-February. I wish you all a great 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Map for the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election


With the new census counts published last week, the numbers of congressional districts and electoral votes for each state for the upcoming elections have been set. Above is a map for the 2012 presidential election, with the following color-coding:

- Dark blue: Obama won by 19.25% or more in 2008
- Light blue: Obama won by 13.25% to 19.25%
- White: Obama won by 1.25% to 13.25%
- Light red: Obama won by less than 1.25% or McCain won by less than 4.75%
- Dark red: McCain won by more than 4.75%

These ranges are symmetric with respect to Obama's national margin of victory in 2008, 7.25%. The only adjustment was for Arizona, to remove the McCain home state effect. Obviously, the GOP may receive a boost in other states once their ticket is set.

The light blue states the Democrats are probably most worried about are Wisconsin (smallest margin among those states in 2008) and Michigan (due to the economic situation there). As for the Republicans, the most vulnerable red state is probably North Carolina, which Obama carried. Obama also carried Indiana, but he will have a hard time in the rust belt this time.

Assuming all colored states go to the favored party (otherwise, it's probably a blowout), the electoral count is 217-206 for Obama. He therefore needs 53 of the 115 remaining EVs. The Democratic senate successes in NV and CO and their gubernatorial win in MN this fall are encouraging for the White House; that's 25 EVs. On the flip side, I would be quite pessimistic about OH (rust belt) and FL (a mere 2.8% win in 2008). The remaining four states, PA, NH, VA and IA and their 43 EVs would probably be the toughest to call in a close national race. Obama needs PA and either VA or both NH and IA. He will need to activate his networks in NH and IA without the help of a primary race, and might want to make frequent trips across the Potomac while Republican hopefuls go at each other during the coming year.

As for PA, well if Pennsylvanians thought they got a lot of attention in 2008, they better get ready this time. As Pat Toomey showed in November, it is a state where the Tea Party can win...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Projection Trends, 2010

Here's the evolution of seat projections over this blog's 17-month-or-so existence. Below is a summary of the year from the perspective of each of the major parties.

Conservative Party: Before prorogation, the end of 2009 was a sweet one for the Tories. Although they weren't in majority territory, they were very close and slightly above their 2008 election results. On December 30, however, Stephen Harper announced that Parliament would be prorogued until early March, and what political observers would have asked were they not on vacation is whether this second prorogation would dent the Conservatives' popularity. Well, the answer came quickly in the new year, as polls immediately pointed to a tight race between the Tories and the Grits. What had been a 70+ seat lead quickly shrank to a 20-seat edge, and some polls even put the Liberals marginally ahead. The Conservatives recovered somewhat during the Olympics, and were then flat flat flat for nine months in the low 130s - perhaps fittingly given the lack of big news on the federal scene. However, the last month of the year saw, for reasons that are somewhat murky, a further recovery in Tory fortunes, and Harper ends the year only marginally behind where he was a year ago.

Liberal Party: The furor over prorogation obviously benefited the Liberals at the start of the year, and as the Tories partially recovered during the Games, the Grits gave back some of their gains. However, through the spring, even as the Conservatives were going nowhere, the Liberals kept sliding slowly, but surely. By mid-year, the Grits had coughed up almost all of their prorogation gains. The summer, however, reversed that trend, and by Labor Day, fresh from his BBQ tour, Ignatieff was just short of where he was during the prorogation episode. Unfortunately for the Liberals, as temperatures cooled, so did Canadians' sentiment toward their leader, and they end the year on a low, still ahead, but only marginally, of where they were in late 2009.

Bloc: The Bloc dipped a little early in 2010 due to the Liberals' strength. But as the Liberals slid during the spring, the Bloc recovered and even gained ground, staying above 50 seats for the most part through the rest of the year. 2010 was smooth sailing for Duceppe, as he had no real competition in Québec, and the situation seems unlikely to change any time soon.

NDP: For most of the year, the NDP's fortunes were inversely related to the Liberals'. During the good Grit stretches, the Dippers were in the low to mid 30s, while during Grit skids, the NDP hovered around 40. However, the late-year Tory surge has hurt Layton even as it weakened Ignatieff. Is this a temporary blip, or the beginning of the end of Layton's leadership?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

EKOS: Tories Lead by 5.5, NDP Up

EKOS decided not to wait until next week to give us its last poll of the year, which may also be the last voting intention poll overall for 2010. There is not too much of note in this poll. Overall, the NDP and the Bloc were somewhat stronger than usual, and the two main parties a bit weaker, but these changes are not statistically significant, and there are no surprising regional numbers, except perhaps that the Liberals are just 20 points behind the Tories in Alberta.

Adding this poll to the average gives:

CON - 142 (36.4%)
LIB - 80 (29.0%)
BQ - 52 (10.0%)
NDP - 34 (16.1%)

The average Tory national lead is 7.5% (due to rounding) 7.4% (Harris-Decima has posted its latest poll report, which allowed me to get unpublished numbers from previous weeks), almost unchanged.

Given that this is most likely the last poll of the year, I will, over the next few days, post updated graphs and maps. But you can already imagine that these updates won't be too exciting: all parties are within 5 seats of their count in the last projection of 2009. Indeed, after all the ups and downs of 2010, the end changes are rather puny: the Tories lost 2, the Grits gained 4, the Bloc gained 3, and the Dippers lost 5.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Harris-Decima: Tories Lead by Just 2

The latest poll from Harris-Decima, unlike other recent ones, have the Grits and Tories in a statistical dead heat. Ontario is tied in this survey, while the Tories have low numbers (relative to other polls) in BC, Alberta and Québec. The Bloc, at 44% in Québec, is strong, though this is often the case in Harris-Decima polls. The same goes for the Greens at 21% in BC. This is a fairly weak poll across the board for the NDP, except in Alberta, where 14% is quite good for the Dippers.

There has also been a Léger poll with weak Bloc and strong NDP numbers. Both Léger and CROP have been consistently delivering better results for the NDP in Québec than national pollsters. Any idea why?

Adding these polls to the formula yields little change:

CON - 142
LIB - 82
BQ - 52
NDP - 32

The average popular vote lead for the Conservatives drops to a still sizable 7.4%.

Unless infrequent pollsters like Environics and CROP come out with new numbers soon, there may only be no more than one voting intention poll left this year: hopefully EKOS will release bi-weekly numbers next week. Shortly after that release, I will update the projection graph and hopefully also the maps.

Update: I just noticed that I missed a CROP poll that came out two weeks ago. Incorporating it into the average does not change the projections. So indeed, virtually all pollsters have said their final word of the year on voting intentions!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ipsos: Tories Lead by 10, NDP Drops

The most recent Ipsos poll was released on Friday, and confirms what all pollsters but EKOS showed: an increased Conservative lead. It also has the weak NDP numbers that EKOS, but not the other pollsters, picked up.

Adding this poll to the mix gives the NDP its worst seat count of the year:

CON - 144
LIB - 81
BQ - 52
NDP - 31

The average Tory lead over the Grits increases to 8.4%.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EKOS: Tories' Lead at 4.5, 5.2 a Week Ago

Unlike the three polls earlier this week showing the Conservatives at 35-38% and with a near 10-point lead, EKOS' latest numbers suggest that the situation has remained fairly stable, as they only spot the Tories a 5-point lead. According to EKOS, Ontario is still a tie, and the Liberals lead by a whopping 38 points in Atlantic Canada (as always, small sample alert), contrary to the other polls that have the Tories ahead in both regions. However, EKOS confirms the Conservative strength in BC.

Adding this poll to the mix moderates the Liberals' losses:

CON - 143 142
LIB - 79 80
BQ - 52
NDP - 34

On the face of it, the Liberals gained 3 seats from the NDP. Actually, only one seat was transferred in that way. In the East, the Liberals also had a net gain of 2 from the Tories, who took them from the NDP out West.

The average Tory national lead is 8.1%. However, because the regional breakdown for the first week of polling was not released, the above projections do not take that week into account. Also omitting it for the popular vote gap calculation would put the Tory lead at 8.4%.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Angus Reid: Tories Lead by 12

After two bad polls for the Liberals yesterday, we get today an even worse one from Angus Reid! Once again, the Tories lead in Atlantic Canada, but what's really great for the government is that they lead by 13% in Ontario. If this were borne out in an election, the Grits could fall as low as 60 seats nationally, and the Tories would have a good shot at a majority.

Adding this poll to the projection gets us back to almost exactly the 2008 seat count:

CON - 143
LIB - 76
BQ - 52
NDP - 37

The average Conservative national lead is now 8.7%. They won the 2008 election by 11.4%, but are able to reach the same seat count since their popular vote losses are from the West, where most Conservative seats are safe anyway. The small seat losses there are offset by gains in Atlantic Canada, which is very competitive between the two main parties and therefore has a disproportionate share of swing seats.

The most worrisome thing in all this for Ignatieff is that he didn't commit any major faux pas lately, and yet is back where he was last fall, after he foolishly announced he would defeat the government. The voters that the Liberals need to win an election may be harder to get back this time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two Polls: Tories Lead by 6.9, 11

We have our first two non-EKOS polls in four weeks today (talk about a drought!), and the news is bad for the Liberals: Nanos has them trailing by 6.9%, while Abacus has them at a paltry 24%, 11% behind the Conservatives. The regional breakdown is just as disastrous for Ignatieff:
- there have now been four polls in a row showing the Tories leading in Atlantic Canada;
- the two new polls show the Tories ahead in Ontario by 7-8%, more than in the last election;
- the Tories stay strong in BC, while the Bloc shows no sign of dropping in Québec.

Not surprisingly, incorporating these polls into the aggregate projection increases the Conservatives' seat count:

CON - 139
LIB - 81
BQ - 51
NDP - 37

The Tories are now at their best position of 2010, and the Grits are almost entirely back down to the doldrums of last fall. No wonder many Liberals want a new leader! The NDP got decent numbers in today's polls, but lost seats because:
- the Liberals' weakness didn't benefit the Dippers, who were pretty much "maxed out" on that front; and
- the Conservatives' gains in popular support were larger than the NDP's.

The average national lead for the Tories jumps to 7.6%.