Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Polls, One Reality

That reality: incumbents invariably have an advantage.

The two polls, of course, are ones done by CROP (totally my favourite pollster) on the Montreal ridings of Outremont, held by the NDP's Tom Mulcair, and Lac-Saint-Louis, held by the Liberal's Francis Scarpaleggia.

As you can see, both Mulcair and Scarpaleggia are safely ensconced in their ridings, despite hype from the Liberals in Outremont, and Conservatives in L-S-L, over their candidates, Martin Cauchon and Larry Smith, respectively.

What does this tell us? Well, I don't agree with this assessment, though it may have some elements to tell us what's going. However, I think the fact is that once you have an incumbent that does a relatively good job, well, you usually kind of end up sticking with him or her. Despite two heavyweight candidates, the challenging parties aren't catching a break. Neither of these were hyper-marginal, like Gatineau, though Outremont was close; but they could tell us a story we might have to accept. No one has done anything to totally piss off Canadians and their electorate yet, or at least, there's no other options that give us the opportunity to get something better. This election is kind of a dud, for all parties. Yay.

Overall, however, remember that these riding polls aren't the most accurate things ever. There's time for everything to turn around.


  1. I have other plausible explanations. For Lac-St-Louis, Smith really put his foot in it again. This time practically an excercise in blackmail.

    As for Outremont, I have other theories.

    I different theories here, but my opinion is all of the above are at play in Outremont, right down to the change of vote intention with the more socially conservative Chassidic Jewish community.

  2. While it's true that incumbents generally have an advantage, most of the material I've read (see e.g. the studies mentioned by Andrew Steele here) suggests that the main advantage is the ability to scare off strong contenders.

    So the polls showing a complete flop by well-known and well-promoted challengers like Cauchon and Smith looks to be explained by broader trends (the NDP's gains across the province and the failure of the Cons to move the needle at all in urban areas) rather than by the incumbency of the MPs involved.

  3. CK,

    You may be right, but I think it's a broader fact that incumbents are just there to stay unless you give voters a good reason not to keep you.


    I disagree. Though those are statements that can be apart of why these polls are showing what they are, the fact is, Mulcair isn't doing particularly well for what he could (he's getting what he got in the by-election) thanks to the NDP upswing, and Scarpaleggia is getting what he got in 2008. If you take these polls at face value, there hasn't been a lot of change for these men in their ridings over the years. They're steady.

  4. Besides CK, why would social conservatives for Tom Mulcair and the NDP? Isn't that kind of the opposite effect?