Monday, December 20, 2010

Harper to target 190 ridings, so which ones will we go after?

Election speculation is ramping up, with Ignatieff, Layton and Harper all rattling their sabers at one another, saying that none of them are afraid of an election, and all expect to come out winners. While this could simply be end-of-the-year bravado from the party leaders, all who have had their ups and downs in 2010, the likelihood of a spring vote has greatly increased, regardless of what is in the 2011 budget. My guess? There will either be a call in March, or Harper will bet on an earlier election before the budget. Simply idle speculation, but nevertheless...

With all of this going on, the Globe and Mail has come out with a report about Conservative strategists targeting an extra 45 ridings on top of the current 143 they hold for the next election. It's easy to go down a list of low-hanging fruit for the Conservatives, so I won't do that here, but the G&M gives a few hints of what ridings the Conservatives will go after, including three in Newfoundland, and lots in the Greater Toronto Area, where they just recently managed a slim win in the former Liberal stronghold of Vaughan. They're specifically targeting ridings such as the three Bramptons, where the vote in 2008 was close. Mississauga East-Cooksville also gets an honourable mention due to long-time MP Albina Guarnieri's decision not to run again, and Conservative beliefs that they can snag it with the right candidate (which seems unlikely now, due to Mississauga East-Cooksville MPP and Ontario Labour Minister Peter Fonseca's decision to run in Guarnieri's stead).

Going from what's been mentioned in the article, the biggest margin the Conservatives believe they can overcome is in the riding of Charlottetown in PEI, where Liberal MP Shawn Murphy won't be running again (there are also prospective candidates lined up), which is a margin of 17.95%. There are higher margins in Newfoundland, but because of the rather unique situation that occurred in 2008, its not proper to use those numbers. Though, if we did, they'd have to overcome a 65.42% margin as their highest, in St. John's East. Hm.

So, in order for the Conservatives to reach for Charlottetown, they need a 9-point swing from Liberal to Conservative in the riding. That's more than the 7.5% swing they needed for Vaughan. So, clearly, with the right candidate, this isn't out of the question. If such a swing occurred in all Liberal-held ridings, let's just say that the Conservatives would easily get their majority. But, a 9-point swing is probably not going to occur in all ridings, so rest assured, that scenario of doom is unlikely. But, think of this way, folks: it took the Conservatives an extremely high-profile candidate against a low-profile Liberal candidate in order to win in the riding of Vaughan, and then they won it only just. Unless the Conservatives can do this same sort of magic in all their target ridings, including against incumbents, they have their work cut out for them. It will not be as easy as people expect. A 9-point swing might seem like nothing, but it's actually huge.

But, I digress; this post is about what ridings the Liberals should target. If we use the same criteria as the G&M article states (in other words, Charlottetown's 18-point margin), there are 54 ridings that I can find that fit the bill. 32 of them are Conservative, 12 are NDP, and 10 are Bloc. 28 of the 54 ridings are ridings we lost in 2008 (indeed, only one riding we lost in 2008 to the Conservatives, Richmond, fell out of range, while two others, Churchill and Nickel Belt, went NDP). That's enough to put us in a minority position, with 131 Liberals, 111 Conservatives, 25 NDP, and 39 Bloc. That's some nice pickins', right there.

However, as with the Conservatives, 9-point swings in all of these ridings is unlikely. This is setting our sights high, but so is the Conservatives aiming for Charlottetown. If we lower the bar a little, maybe we can get somewhere. What if we drop that down to 10%, or a 5-point swing, a relatively reasonable goal?

Here are the ridings we can grab on such a swing, well within reach:

Kitchener-Waterloo (0.03%)
Ahuntsic (0.30%)
Egmont (0.30%)
Mississauga-Erindale (0.43%)
Oak Ridges-Markham (0.57%)
Kitchener Centre (0.76%)
Saint John (1.42%)
Haute-Gaspesie--La Mitis--Matane--Matapedia (1.91%)
Brome--Mississquoi (2.45%)
Jeanne-Le Ber (2.46%)
Vaughan (2.5%)
West Nova (3.79%)
London West (3.67%)
Gatineau (3.75%)
Saanich-Gulf Islands (4.07%)*
Sudbury (4.81%)
North Vancouver (4.89%)
Welland (4.98%)
Miramichi (5.05%)
Nunavut (5.54%)
Trinity-Spadina (5.82%)
Ottawa-Orleans (6.10%) 
Vancouver Kingsway (6.18%)
Outremont (6.36%)
Thunder Bay-Rainy River (8.03%)
Pontiac (8.42%)
Haldimand-Norfolk (8.48%)
Kenora (8.49%)
Thunder Bay-Superior North (8.69%)
Ottawa West-Nepean (8.86%)
Brant (8.88%)
Saint Lambert (9.12%)
Thornhill (9.58%)
Laval (9.69%)
Alfred-Pellan (9.75%)

As you can see, most of them are Conservative. Not hard catches, really. With these 35 ridings, the Liberals would bump themselves back up to a respectable position. These are certainly more feasible targets than Charlottetown and Mississauga East-Cooksville for the Conservatives, no? Where's my Globe and Mail editorial?

But seriously, these 35 are excellent ridings for us. In fact, we have candidates in most of them, including some with excellent candidates, including Martin Cauchon in Outremont, Anita Vandenbeld in Ottawa West-Nepean, Karen Mock in Thornhill, John Maloney in Welland, Bob Speller in Haldimand-Norfolk, Nancy Charest in Haute-Gaspesie, and so on. These are fantastic candidates in ridings clearly on the Liberal radar, yet I don't ever hear much mention of them in the media, who instead focus on some off-chance Conservative targets with no confirmed candidates! Pft.

Regardless, the Liberals have some low-hanging fruit as well. If the Conservatives seemingly set a target of 190 seats, then we can easily set a target of 130 using the same criteria. If we have a clear plan like that, then maybe we'll see some progress, and attention from the media.


  1. One of the commenters on the Globe and Mail site noted that in the 118 ridings that the Cons are not targeting, they can take the local riding funds and use them for the national campaign. Why waste local campaign funds on candidates who have no chance at winning their ridings? Give these funds to the national campaign. While this may technically be illegal under Elections Canada's rules, all that is needed at the end of different ads is for a local candidate's registered agent to be mentioned or listed in fine print. The ad becomes local instead of national.

    "This ad has been approved by the registered agent for candidate Joe Schmoe."

  2. Heh heh, nothing like advising committing illegal acts to start off a new campaign.

  3. We all might want to check your list -- and go see who's naughty & nice -- against that of the

  4. Actually, I'm not advising it. The Cons did it in the last election.

  5. I've seen Catch 22, I hope it's successful, but its too much like, which was more organized and had a better, more uniting raison d'etre. It didn't get very far, despite.

  6. I think Martin Cauchon could well get Outremont back, although, it will be a squeaker; both he & Mulcair are quite popular.

    In Ahuntsic, that's twice they've had to have recounts because Bakopanos and Mourani results were so tight. It's a toss up (assuming Bakopanos is running again, of course).

    Haute Gaspesie? Don't bet on it. Much of the Gaspe Peninsula is separatist. I used to live in that particular riding to know this. Plus Duceppe has been the cheese standing alone in Question Period demanding Federal aid for the flood victims in the Gaspe Peninsula. So far, the feds have committed nothing, however, Ashfield has pledged to help New Brunswick flood victims. Duceppe could well add this to his sovereignty argument.

    I wouldn't bet on Jeanne Le Ber neither. Bruneau is not from the area and doesn't live in the area. The Bloc's Thierry St-Cyr, on the other hand is from the area and has that upper hand over Bruneau. Perhaps if someone else had won that nomination, there might have been a chance, as the other candidates running for the nom were actually from and live in the riding.

    Gatineau is a possibility, as are St-Lambert and Laval, where there are significant numbers of immigrants and Anglophones, thus, federalists.

    One riding that should be watched, believe it or not, is Justin Trudeau's riding of Papineau. He could lose it. In 2008, had it been someone other than Trudeau, the Bloc's Vivienne Barbot would have won it by another landslide. There was really no reason to vote her out. She's popular, smart and well known with the large Haitian community in St-Michel. She is still around. She's vp of the party nowadays. I have no reason to believe she won't run again. One mistake Justin is making in Papineau, all his riding events are concentrated in the more friendly Park-Ex district. To date, he doesn't really seem to venture out in the rest of the riding in the Villeray and St-Michel districts and those are the ones with the separatists. And he didn't win Papineau by a landslide neither.

  7. CK,

    Thanks for the comment. Bakopanos actually isn't running in Ahuntsic anymore; former borough councillor Noushig Eloyan is the new Liberal candidate.

    I don't know much about Bruneau, but I do know that Jeanne-Le Ber was nearly won despite not having a heavyweight candidate in 2008 either, unless you thought Christian Feuillette was a great candidate. I wouldn't write him off totally, especially if there's some sort of upswing for the Liberals in QC.

    As for the rest, well, I'll bow to your superior knowledge on the local politics. I wouldn't know the difference anyways! However, I do know and agree about Trudeau's chances in Papineau, as well; though I think he has a better-than-even chance of winning the riding again (he's an incumbent; he's a fundraising darling; he's already shown a willingness to fight in the trenches; etc.), you're absolutely right about him not going out into other parts of the riding - I've heard the same thing from my friend who lives in Duceppe's riding and regularly attends some of the events in the area for the Liberals. Maybe this'll change in the near future and he starts feeling some heat.

  8. Of course, we'll learn a lot more after the holidays, I believe. Harper apparently did tell his puppets that if they don't plan to run in the next election, to make their feelings be known now as he's reshuffling his dysfunctional family after the holidays.

    I heard rumours that Oda, Strahl and Toews were on the way out, however, Toews seems to be denying this a little too vehemently; we'll see, and then, of course, there's Peter McKay; I say the smart money says that he's a leaving. Those can be game changers too for at least some of those ridings.

  9. CK,

    I'd say the only riding among those four is Oda's, but that's stretching it. For some reason, all of Harper's retirees are in safe ridings. MacKay's riding could *possibly* fall with the right candidate, but we don't have any of those right now.