Estimating what is going happen in the Quebec election is going to be very, very hard. We have some polling data which indicates the Parti Liberal and Parti Quebecois seem to be in the low 30s of support and Coalition Avenir Quebec is running around 20%.
The other data points to work with are the two by-elections on June 11th in Argenteuil and LaFontaine which would indicate that the Liberals are down from 2008 but that the PQ does not seem to have gained much. CAQ seems to be gained the most, but not enough to be a clear threat to win the most seats.
Year Turnout Liberal PQ "right"
2008 3,246,333 1,366,046 1,141,751 531,358 ADQ
2007 3,970,618 1,313,664 1,125,546 1,224,412 ADQ
2003 3,817,764 1,755,863 1,269,183 694,122 ADQ
1998 4,068,472 1,771,858 1,744,240 480,636 ADQ
1994 3,913,789 1,737,698 1,751,442 252,721 ADQ
1989 3,408,909 1,702,808 1,369,067
1985 3,411,607 1,910,307 1,320,008
1981 3,600,097 1,658,753 1,773,237 144,070 UN
1976 3,360,506 1,135,056 1,390,351 611,666 UN 155,451 Crediste
1973 2,970,978 1,632,734 897,809 146,209 UN 294,706 Crediste
1970 2,872,970 1,304,341 662,404 564,544 UN 321,370 Crediste
1966 2,324,829 1,099,435 (129,045) 948,928 UN
1962 2,136,967 1,205,253 900,817 UN
Highest in each column in bold, winner of the election is underlined
The turnout in 2008 was the lowest since 1973 but the population of the province had risen by more than 1,500,000 over that time. There should have been more like 4,400,000 voters in 2008 but there were only 3,246,333, this is more than 1,000,000 missing voters. From the 1960s to the end of the 1990s there is reasonably clear increasing total voter turnout other than in 1985 and 1989 when there was no francophone right wing party.
The biggest shift from the 2007 to 2008 election is the disappearance of more than 700,000 voters and almost all of them seem to have come from the ADQ. Why did these people not vote? With them simply staying home allowed Jean Charest to go from a weak minority government to a majority government.
In the six elections from 1981 to 2003 the Liberals manage to win about 1.76 million votes, this declined by roughly 400,000 in the last two elections. The PQ seems to also have suffered a loss in total vote but not as clearly or dramatically.
So what will happen in Quebec? If we look to Alberta, total vote rose by 340,000 votes of which almost all of it went to the Wildrose Party. The PCs gained 66,000 votes but I suspect most of those came from the Liberals who lost half their 2008 vote with the NDP gaining 46,000 of it as well. What we had in Alberta is a dramatic increase total voter turn out with most of that seemingly going to the populist right.
As I look around in Quebec, I do not see much love for Charest or Marois. I do not see either one of them improving on their vote total from 2008 and if anything the Liberals may drop another 100,000 to 200,000. What could happen is that CAQ may give enough people a reason to come back to the polls and vote. It think it is reasonable to see an total increase of 350,000 to 450,000 with much of that going to CAQ.
The 2011 Federal election saw an increase in the total vote in Quebec to 3,853,120 from 3,671,728 in the 2008 Federal election which was 425,395 higher than the turnout in the 2008 Quebec election. There are the potential voters out there.
If CAQ manages to win around900,000 votes in the election, what does this mean for the results? I have no idea because so many seats will be won by very narrow margins. It is possible for either the Liberals or PQ to win the most seats but almost impossible for either one to win a majority.
Early estimate of support
Party Vote Pct Seats
Liberals 1,300,000 33.33% 45-55
PQ 1,250,000 32.05% 45-55
CAQ 950,000 24.36% 20-26
QS 180,000 4.62% 1-2
Greens 150,000 3.85 0
Others 70,000 1.80% 0
The percentage numbers are win in the range of the polling I have seen and fit with the results in the two recent by-elections.