Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Andrew Coyne is wrong, and the NDP will win at least 30 seats in Québec

Plenty of commentators, like Andrew Coyne (whose most recent article is an absolute must), are still skeptical about the NDP's ability to convert its polling numbers into a seat landslide in Québec. (See here and here.) Here are two common explanations for their skepticism, and why I think they're wrong.

Update, 6:45pm: Andrew has changed his mind from last night, and now agrees that the NDP will win over 30 seats in Québec. However, some still believe that they will only get 5 to 7 (see here and here).

1. The Bloc vote will turn out more than the NDP's.
Contrary to what many have asserted, the sovereignists are notoriously bad at turning out their vote. In almost every provincial and federal election, there is a prime à l'urne (ballot box bounce) for the federalist party/parties. The 2008 provincial election, when the PQ did unexpectedly well, was an exception and probably due to Quebecers being unenthusiastic about the incumbent government (Charest's Liberals). Such an anti-incumbency effect would clearly not hurt the NDP. While the NDP may not get a bounce because of its inferior organization, it is unlikely to be much worse than the Bloc at turnout.

2. The Bloc vote is efficiently distributed.
This is patently false. The Bloc vote was efficiently distributed in 2008 because it is quite uniform across French-speaking regions of Québec. This allowed it to win a lot of ridings by moderate margins, instead of wasting tons of votes on ultra-safe strongholds. This efficiency is predicated on the Bloc winning the Francophone vote. If the Bloc were tied with the NDP province-wide, it would still win Francophones, and Duceppe would trounce Layton seat-wise.

However, with the NDP 13% ahead of the Bloc, the Dippers are clearly also in the lead among Francophones. Both parties have quite uniformly spread votes. This means that the Bloc will lose dozens of races by 10% or less. Because the Bloc is no longer first, the same feature that made its vote very efficient in the past now makes it inefficient.

Now, obviously, there may be pockets of the province where the Bloc retreats less than elsewhere, which would make its vote less uniform and help it survive in some areas. The projection actually takes this into account through regional adjustments based on riding polls: if I applied a straight uniform swing without regional adjustments, the Bloc would be down to 9 seats.

Bottom line: If the election were yesterday, I'm confident the NDP would have won, at a bare minimum, a majority of Québec seats. Taking into account a potential recoil over the weekend, maybe that lower bound is around 30 seats for Election Day. However, while I think the NDP has probably stopped going up in Québec, I don't think that a voter recoil is much more likely than a further Bloc collapse. The best bet is that the Dippers win a majority of Québec seats, and that the Bloc loses at least half its caucus. I wouldn't even be surprised if the Bloc falls below 12 and loses official party status, though the odds of that are currently under half.

19 comments:

ArnBrown said...

Andrew Coyne voting Liberal and taking umpteen paragraphs to explain himself is apologetics to the nth degree. Of course he is going to vote Liberal, always was and always will. A worthwhile read? A waste of my time. His main concern is the continued good health of the publicly funded CBC and he is comfortable in his knowledge that a big government Liberal administration will always look out for him and his cronies.

Canada needs to smell the coffee. A return to tax and spend, protectionist doctrine is a deathblow to our economic recovery, whether Liberal or NDP

Election Watcher said...

What are you talking about? As far as I can tell, Coyne is a small-c conservative.

Anonymous said...

I have the NDP now at 35. With 23 to the Bloc, 10 to the Liberals and 7 to the Conservatives.

Election Watcher said...

I think that's high on the Bloc side. I'm not at all confident about my projection of 6 Liberal seats - 10 seems reasonable.

Skoblin said...

I think there are a lot of presumptions that will be proved wrong in this election, EW. The assessment of what may happen in Quebec on E-Day is one of them. Another, is that an NDP rise in Ontario will lead to increased Tory seats in another - as commentators have consistently failed to factor in either the specifics of particular regions or the simple fact that after a certain threshold vote-splitting becomes vote-concentration. Another assumption, is that as the NDP rises in support, blue Liberals will start heading to the Conservatives. This does not seem to have occurred. If anything, it looks like some Conservatives may begun switching to the NDP. This has clearly occurred in Quebec and now seems to be occurring in Ontario.

James said...

I've always like Coyne, but not sure if his last piece was overly convincing. It came across as "I'll hold my nose and vote Liberal." Actually, his tweet said it best:

http://twitter.com/#!/acoyne/status/63633581574074368

And on a side, thanks for all the work you've done over this election! It has become my main source.

Election Watcher said...

Thanks James! I'm not saying that his piece is convincing (though I basically agree with him). But I hope more voters can make a sober evaluation of the situation before voting. Many of my friends are quite accomplished, and yet have no clue about party record or platforms.

Skoblin: The Quebec thing is just so huge that unless you sit down and play around with the numbers, you don't believe it. I still think that an NDP rise in Ontario helps the Tories, but as I said before, not by much. My guess is that for every 1% NDP increase, the Tory-Liberal gap increases by around 0.3-0.4%. The NDP vote is quite inefficient in Ontario, and I don't think it can surge enough to overcome (or like in Québec, reverse) that fact.

Those Tories that switched over to the NDP are probably populists with no well-defined ideology. I think Harper would have gained blue Liberals to replace them if he weren't such a dick.

Skoblin said...

EW,

I have been monitoring the Ontario numbers for NANOS- and granted NANOS has a comparatively high MOE on a provincial basis - but there seems to have been a steady drop in Conservative support moving in tandem with a rise in NDP levels. This - of course -could mean a complicated transfer of blue Liberals to the Tories and then populist Tories to the NDP, except it does seem that after an initial drop in support, Liberal numbers in Ontario seem to be stabilizing - thus implying a shift of support directly from the Tories to the NDP. Probably too difficult to make any certain assessment with the MOEs being so high though. Are the other pollsters showing this occurring?

Election Watcher said...

EKOS has the Tories flat in Ontario, with all of the NDP rise coming from the Liberals and Greens...

Bryan Breguet said...

1. for the turnout of PQ (and ADQ) in 08, I think the main reason was that a lot of Liberals actually thought it was a sure win and didn't bother voting. I mean, as you said, the score of the PQ was unexpected. I don't see that happening this time as I can't imagine any NDP voters thinking it's all "in the box" lol

2. For Nanos, to be honest, they seem to have been trailing the numbers of everyone else all campaign long. It's probably their small rolling panel, but they should change it. When Ekos, AR or Forum were showing a drop in the Tories vote in Ontario, Nanos had them growing at 45%... lol So now Nanos is closing the gap with the other sites. We had the same problem with the NDP and Nanos.

Ian said...

"I think Harper would have gained blue Liberals to replace them if he weren't such a dick."

Ha! Now THAT's what I call a good analysis.

Those blue Liberals and red Tories are homeless right now. They should form a party (I'd say keep it simple and just call it the Liberal Party). Let them be the party of civilized democratic capitalism (real liberalism) and play a centrist role in a new, more proportional Canadian political system.

OgtheDim said...

I'm wondering if soft red Tories would actually stay home knowing that a Tory minority might get both a change in their party's leadership (the anti-Dion approach of some Liberals the last time) and a probably inept and short term NDP minority. They could get a red tory leader and a majority.

Earl said...

New IR Poll:

Tories 38

NDP: 33

Lib: 18

http://www.globalwinnipeg.com/decisioncanada/Tories+poised+election+despite+surge+poll/4699763/story.html

Election Watcher said...

Thanks Earl - saw that (and more). You may have noticed that the projection changed around 6:10 :) Post coming soon.

Bryan Breguet said...

You pissed off Andrew Coyne big time! lol Just kidding, he twetted your site and said that he DOES believe NDP will win more than 30 seats.

DBM said...

That the bloc doesn't excel at getting its vote out doesn't mean the NDP won't have problems doing so.

Even if they had efficient organizations on the ground in Quebec, which they don't by most accounts, the NDP would have been hard pressed to identify their new support in only two weeks.

Election Watcher said...

Bryan - Haha yeah, I saw that. Hence the update :)

DBM - What I'm saying is that both parties have problems, so unless you think that the NDP issues are huge, it doesn't make sense to think the Bloc will benefit greatly on the net. In general, I don't think GOTV can change the winner in more than 10% of ridings, and that's being generous.

The other thing is that the wave happened so suddenly that the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc will probably be getting out lots of former supporters that are now NDP voters...

Anonymous said...

Of course, no one can predict the outcome of this election.

I just want to say that if the predicted surge of the NDP makes people go out and vote, the entire nation will be the winner. No matter what the outcome turns out to be.

Just go vote and our democracy will gain strenght.

Anonymous said...

@Arn - Coyne isn't a liberal, if you read any of his article's he is a small c-conservative, with libertarian leanings. Coyne hit it on the head - the current conservative government has repeatedly displayed a wilful contempt for the principles and processes that define governance in Canada.

Are the liberals any better, they haven't been in the past, though not as egregious or flagrant (if that counts - which I am not sure it does). That said, you don't reward bad behaviour and they have demonstrated contemptible behaviour, characterized by this view that 'democracy is an inconvenience...'