Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Observations on the Election

Winners on the day -

Jack Layton - the NDP gained seats and it elected an MP in Newfoundland, Quebec and Alberta for representation in 8 of 10 provinces. The downside is that the party only marginally increased its support across the nation and still finished quite a way behind its best result in 1988. The NDP is now sitting on 22 safe seats, really the highest level for them in decades, possibly ever.

Jack Layton's desire to be the leader of the official opposition is still far off from reality. The NDP was only competive in 50 to 60 ridings across the country. The NDP may finally be a party with representation in all of Canada, but it needs to be competitve in at least 100 to 150 to become the official oppisition.

If you count all the seats where the NDP won, came second or a strong third, you only get to 109 ridings which is a rise from 86 after the 2006 election.

Stephen Harper - yes they missed the majority, but they are up enough in seats to be able to govern safely for quite awhile. The party also did well in the popular vote, better than all the pollsters had them at. They finished with 37.64% of the vote which is only marginally less than the Liberals got in 1997 and more than Paul Martin got in 2004.

While the result was not what the PM wanted, the results show some strong positive trends for the party. At the end of the election the Conservatives safely won in 123 ridings, closely won in 20 more and were within reach in a further 26. There is a strongly emerging block of Conservatives seats in Canada based on a secure 70 in the west and 30 in Ontario. These are also the areas that are going to gain seats in the next redistribution.

Did Not Win of Lose

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc maanged to recover from some bad polling numbers to return to Ottawa more or less as the same party that was elected in 2006.

Stephane Dion and the Liberals had a historic low vote in the election. They did manage to break 25%, but not by a lot. They could have done a lot worse on election day but were saved by some close results, in fact the Liberals had almost as many narrow wins as the Conservatives did even though they 66 seats less. Almost 1/4 of the Liberals MPs were only narrow winners.

The Liberals have to be concerned about the collapse of the support for the party. In the west and parts of Quebec the Liberals finished at less than 10% of the vote. In BC, long the brightest place for the Liberals in the west, the five seats they did win masks the very close results of most of them and the very dismal results in the rest of the province. Of the 104 seats in Canada from Northern Ontario and west, the Liberals won 9 of them and were competive in only a handful more. You can not be government if you are not able to win seats in 1/3 of the country.

Elizabeth May and the Greens had a really bad night. The party not only did not manage to win any seats, their stars all did badly. Elizabeth May came a distant second. Adriane Carr came fourth in Vancouver Centre though got a reasonable number of votes. Blair Wilson came distant third. The party came seond in a total of five ridings, three of them in Alberta Conservative turkey shoot country. Mike Nagy in Guelph came third with over 20% of the vote and is the only close third place finisher.

Overall the party vote did not quite manage to reach 7%, a much lower percentage than almost any of the polls where saying and not a dramatic improvement over what Jim Harris did in 2004 and 2006 as leader. The only upside I can see is that in BC the Greens over took the Liberals in 10 ridings

Other Observations:
The number of ridings in which a candidate got more than 30 000 votes is up again. 4 in BC, 14 in Alberta, 9 in Ontario including one that lost, 4 in Quebec and one in Newfoundland. By party 29 Conservatives, 3 Bloc, one New Democrat and one Liberal that lost.

Voter turn out is down again, though not by a lot and the way the voter's list is now maintained, it is hard to tell what the actual turn out is.

In the next election, the 60 seats most likely to be in play are held 1/3 by the Liberals and Conservatives each, 1/4 by the NDP and 1/10 by the Bloc. This means the Liberals have a much steeper hill to climb to come back than most would expect.

Should the 22 new seats be added as proposed, most of them will end up in areas that favour the Conservatives. The ten proposed seats in Ontario will be in that 905 area that was almost swept by them this time. In BC the six new seats will go one on the island, one in the Okanagan and four in the 'burbs of the lower mainland. All of them are areas that voted Conservative this time. Alberta, their six new seats are clearly going to be Conservative.

If the next election is run on 330 seats, the Conservatives go into the election with about 138 safe seats.

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