Thursday, May 24, 2012

Etobicoke Centre

A judge has ruled that the election in the riding of Etobicoke Centre last year is null and void.  I have no idea when Conservative Ted Opitz ceases to be an MP and until he decides if he is appealing or not everything is in limbo.  He has until Saturday to decide.

The last time the courts over turned a federal election result was in York North after the 1988 election.   The election was November 21st 1988, the courts ruled on July 6th 1990 and the by election was held on December 10th 1990.

Based on my reading of the court decision, there is little or no hope of any appeal being successful, there is nothing obviously wrong with the decision based on the evidence in the case.  I am assuming there will be a by-election.   For some detailed good analysis of the riding, read this post by Alice Funke.

The history of Etobicoke Centre is more  centre right than anything else.  

Year  Cons  Libs  NDP  Green  Member
1979  51.3  37.7  10.2        Wilson
1980  47.1  41.4  10.8        Wilson
1984  56.8  29.8  12.8        Wilson
1988  48.4  40.5   9.6  0.4   Wilson
1993  41.6  54.3   2.2        Rock
1997  39.2  54.6   5.3        Rock
1999  54.1  40.4   2.8  0.8   Stockwell prov
2000  38.6  56.4   4.6        Rock
2003  39.4  49.4   7.6  3.6   Cansfield prov
2004  28.4  58.3   9.9  3.2   Wrzesnewskyj
2006  33.2  52.4   9.6  3.8   Wrzesnewskyj
2007  34.1  50.2   8.4  7.3   Cansfield prov
2008  37.5  52.4   8.3  5.4   Wrzesnewskyj
2011  41.2  41.2  14.7  2.6   Opitz
2011  32.8  51.4  12.0  2.0   Cansfield prov
(1993, 1997 and 2000 are total vote for both right wing parties)


  • Boris Wrzesnewskyj is the first sitting incumbent to be defeated in this riding in 15 federal and provincial elections.
  • The 2011 federal election was the only election that was close, 1980 was the next closest and that is not what I would call close.
  • If the election goes badly for the government, the Conservative should still expect to get 33% to 37% of the vote.  
  • The Liberals have done well since 1988 and never dropped below 40.4% of the vote in that time.
  • The NDP has not been any sort of a factor in this riding, ever.

What is interesting is how this by-election will play out.   The polling indicates to me that that the NDP is up federally and provincially, the Conservatives are down federally and the Liberals are down provincially.

I know that Forum has conducted a poll of the public in this riding, but I have issues with Forum, they seem to have been coming in low for governing parties and over for the presumed primary opposition.   Also the nature of polls in ridings are very, very hard to get accurate for a host of logistical and systemic issues that I am not going to get into.  

The Forum poll was a small sample, only 507 people which means it has a broad bell curve.  If 80% of the respondents expressed an opinion, the curve is even flatter.  

The poll was also conducted before any candidates have been named and certainly without seeing how much effort the NDP will put into the by-election.  If the NDP spends anywhere near to $85,000 the party will make gains.

Last elections and current polling averages for Ontario - poll data from 308 dot com:
Party 2011 Fed 2011 Prov Fed Avg Prov Avg 
Cons   44.4%    35.4%     36.8%    35%
NDP    25.6%    22.7%     32.4%    29%
Libs   25.3%    37.6%     24.1%    30% 
Green   3.8%     2.9%      5.3%     6%

If the polling is reflected in the riding, the Conservatives are looking at a drop in their support and may only see 33% to 35% of the vote.   Historically this means they should lose in the by-election.

What will make this by-election interesting is the rise of the NDP.     I do not think anyone is seriously talking about the NDP winning here, but they are in a good position to dramatically increase their support since odds are they will actually spend the full amount they are allowed and try to win.   If they do try seriously tin win they should be able to get 20% to 25% of the vote, more might be possible.

If we assume the Greens take 3% to 5%, this leaves 35% to 41% of the vote for the Liberals.   If the Liberals are marginally less popular than in the federal election, the 41% is not realistic for them.  If the NDP does catch the public's imagination in the riding or if the public wants to vote for the only party in Ottawa that seems to be actively opposing the government, the NDP vote could top 30% of the vote.

I think the odds are in the Liberals favour to win this election, but it is possible for the Conservatives to hold it or even for the NDP to win it.  No one should assume the Liberals have any sort of lock on this riding.

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