Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Battle for Eglinton-Lawrence

No, not that battle, because that one has already ended (and it didn't end well for us).

No, this is the new battle for Eglinton-Lawrence, this time on the provincial scale. The contenders are incumbent Ontario Liberal MPP Mike Colle, versus treacherous bastard and PC candidate Rocco Rossi, and unknown Dipper and Green candidates, though they're barely sidebars if the federal results were any indication.

If you are a Liberal but don't receive various e-mails and updates and twitter feeds from people like the Ontario Liberal Party and the Young Liberals and other sources of Toronto-based Liberalism, you won't know how much has been invested in this riding so far. But it has been a lot, with obvious reasons why. Rocco Rossi, former federal Liberal chief fundraiser, former mayoral candidate, and generally nice fellow, is a rallying cry for Liberals across the province against the Ontario PCs. His crossover from Liberal insider who kayaked rivers for us to Tory political hack/Hudak mouthpiece is a compelling story for the McGuinty Liberals who desperately want some example for loyalists to rally against

This all being said, E-L was a very good choice for the Ontario PCs to run Rossi in. As I explained in a post last February, Eglinton-Lawrence is likely to be much less about local factors as it will be about provincial trends overall. It may very well be that Rossi is an unpopular candidate, and Colle a mildly popular incumbent, but as we saw federally, if the swing is good enough then it won't matter a heck of a lot. The riding leans Tory enough in certain areas for the PCs to rally enough support on a swing in other parts that Colle ends up out of the job, just like Volpe.

But, again, let's look at this in a better context which we can do now. There is a Pollara poll out (h/t Far and Wide) on E-L, which gives Mike Colle an 18-point lead over Rossi, 48-30, with the 2007 NDP and Green candidates at 15% and 7% respectively.

As always, there are major caveats with any riding-specific poll. They are not necessarily accurate, though they could be. The federal election's riding polls, for instance, were a mixed bag, usually hit or miss, though very accurate in a place like Newfoundland in two out of three ridings polled, while bombing in the Quebec polls. This of course depended on the swings presented during the election; as we know, Newfoundland ended up with most local incumbents retaining a strong advantage versus the simple party swing, while in Quebec, the local candidate barely mattered.*

What people need to ask themselves about this Pollara poll and Eglinton-Lawrence is this: does the local candidate matter more, or does the national (or, in this case, provincial) swing matter more?

If the candidate and local issues become front and center, it's likely that Pollara is more than likely correct in its polling, and we'll see Colle fight an effective battle against Rossi.

If the national trend are what really matters, I would give the advantage to Rossi, based on the unpopularity of the McGuinty government as it currently is.

I personally think it will turn more on the latter, mostly because of its procession federally (Volpe's numbers went down as the Liberal's numbers went down in Toronto since 2004). However, I'm open to other arguments. But we'll see on October 7th who will be heading to Queen's Park.

* (for those interested, I'll be doing a post on the accuracy of the various riding polls in the next couple of days)


  1. It's the Jews! No but seriously, it is! Harper changed voting patterns by having Jewish Canadians vote for him, partly, due to his stances on Israel. Foreign Affairs is not a provincial matter, therefore, it is more difficult to convince those same people to vote PC. Ridings like Eg-Law, York West, and Thornhill have greater chances of electing Liberals to Queens Park than they do to Ottawa.

  2. Riding By Riding is right. Living in Montreal you see that the Conservatives are fighting to win the Jewish vote, because of their stance on Israel. In Quebec remember the Conservatives dropped 5% and the NDP gained 31%. In Mount Royal where 30% of the population is Jewish which have traditionally voted Liberal. Irwin Cotler lost 15% (above the provincial average), and the Conservatives went up 8% (which went the opposite of the provincial trend) and the NDP candidate Jeff Itcush only went up 10%. Stephen Harper did a good job in moving the Jewish vote. he didn't quite win the riding, but if you look at Montreal the riding the Conservatives gained the most was Mount Royal.