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.


Thierry Soucie said...

Actually, the projections for my simulator, using the poll average from 308, gave me:

67 PLQ
39 PQ
16 CAQ
3 QS

However, I had cheated and removed the trend from Marois's riding, allowing her to win in Charlevoix-Côte-de-Beaupré. If I hadn't done that and let my projector do its job, I would have predicted her losing to the PLQ, giving:

68 PLQ
38 PQ
16 CAQ
3 QS

Those results are pretty close to the actual results, only 9 seats would need to switch to a different party. I had underestimated the CAQ, but that was mostly due to the PQ being overestimated by 1,5%, and in that zone, it was the difference maker in a few ridings, especially against the CAQ. In total, I would have been wrong in 16 ridings and right in 109, for an efficiency of 87,2%.

Using the results of the election, I get:

73 PLQ
31 PQ
18 CAQ
3 QS

On the seat total, only 4 seats would need to switch over to the CAQ to have the actual results (3 from the PLQ and 1 from the PQ). I would have correctly predicted 111 ridings and been wrong in 14, for an efficiency of 88,8%. I find this results pretty good for my simulator's first run, especially since it's something I did in my spare time for fun. However, I find that the 88,8% with the actual results is too close to the 87,2% of the polls.

By making a slight modification to how my riding algorithms are calculated, using the poll average, I get:

70 PLQ
38 PQ
14 CAQ
3 QS

The PLQ and QS's seat numbers are correctly projected, but the PQ and the CAQ are still quite off with 8 seats needing to switch between them. I would have correctly predicted the outcome of 111 seats out of 125, for an efficiency of 88,8%, the same as my previous version's actual results efficiency.

Using the actual vote results however, I get:

72 PLQ
34 PQ
16 CAQ
3 QS

Only QS is correctly projected, but overall, only 6 seats need to switch to the CAQ (2 from PLQ and 4 from the PQ), which would be 2 more than my previous version. Riding per riding on the other hand, it becomes more accurate, with only 10 mistakes out of 125, so 115 correct projections, for an efficiency of 92%.

I don't have a website where I post my predictions (yet, maybe I could start one, but I don't know anything about websites...), but I did place my predictions on 308 and tooclosetocall before the election. I thought it was interesting to point out that my projector had given much more seat to the CAQ from the PQ than a uniform swing model, and many more than the two models from the aforementioned sites.

Election Watcher said...

Hi Thierry,

Good job indeed on coming closer the CAQ's good seat count, though I guess even your model didn't quite go all the way to 22. That might actually be a good thing, since, as I explained in this post, there are reasons to believe that a new party like the CAQ would have strategic issues in its first election (2012): electors don't exactly know the ridings where the party is strong, and the party can't pinpoint where its supporters are. So it's normal that the CAQ's 2014 seat count is higher than what its 2012 results would suggest.

It'd be fun if someone examined whether, historically, a new party's seat count underperforms its vote percentage in its first election. Might even be a publishable political science paper if it hasn't been done before! (I'm not a political scientist.)

I'm not a computer whiz myself, but making a website with Blogger was quite painless, especially if you don't do the graphics I have in the sidebar. I would encourage you to make your own blog, so that you can say a little more about your methodology and get your own followers! And if you do so, let me know - I'd be glad to add a link to your blog.