Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Look at Windsor-Tecumseh

With the news of Ontario's Finance Minister Dwight Duncan getting set to resign from both the cabinet and from his legislative seat, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at the riding where a by-election will most assuredly be called by current Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne in the coming months - granted, this assumes the Liberal government doesn't fall before the time is up.

Riding History
Duncan himself has held the riding since 1995, when he won his initial election in the antecedent riding of Windsor-Walkerville from NDP MPP Wayne Lessard. Lessard won his seat in the 1990 Rae wave, but this represented the first non-Liberal win in Windsor-Walkerville since 1959, when the Progressive Conservatives lost it to long-time Liberal MPP Bernard Newman, who held it from 1959 to 1987. Liberal MPP Mike Ray held it for a single term during the Peterson majority government.

Riding results from 1977 to 2011
But, there's more to the current riding of Windsor-Tecumseh. If you're unaware, before the 1999 election, Ontario's provincial ridings had their own borders and numbered well over 100 seats. Mike Harris' PC government decided that Ontario's provincial ridings would instead match the federal ridings, with few variations here and there, in a push to reduce the number of legislators and the costs associated with them (or something like that). Thus, the 130 ridings that existed before, were compacted into 103, leading to many ridings that were composed of multiple older ridings. Windsor-Tecumseh is one of these, being made up of the pre-1999 ridings of Windsor-Walkerville in the west, and Windsor-Riverside in the east.

While Windsor-Walkerville was a Liberal riding, Windsor-Riverside was an NDP stronghold, held by NDP MPP Dave Cooke from 1977 until his retirement in 1997, when NDPer Wayne Lessard was elected in a by-election (results not shown in the accompanying graph). Before Cooke, it was held by NDP MPP Frederick A. Burr, from 1967 until 1977, and before then by PC MPPs.

2011 Results

The reason for the political distinctions between the old ridings aren't necessarily clear when you look at the 2011 results. The community of Walkerville itself is something of a battle between the Liberals and NDP, and this is the same as it spills over into the adjacent riding of Windsor West. Riverside, meanwhile, is a heavily Liberal community, as is the suburb of Tecumseh. The communities of Forest Glade and Fontainebleau also lean Liberal, but are slightly more competitive.

Most of the NDP strength in the riding comes from East Windsor, which is a lower income area as compared to other communities. This being said, they do have consistent strength throughout the riding, maintaining their status as the main opposition to Duncan in every community - except for the polls in Saint Clair Beach, which are Liberal-PC fights.

The lack of strength for the Conservatives here is probably what is the most interesting, as the more suburbanish nature of Tecumseh, Forest Glade, and Riverdale should play better into their hands,and it does to some degree, especially federally. But the presence of a strong Liberal like Duncan keeps the PC numbers down, as suburbanites have a better non-NDP alternative to vote for than the PCs.

By-election Outlook
The question, of course, is whether or not this riding will keep its Liberal character in a by-election. We saw in Kitchener-Waterloo that the NDP, if pushed to organize, definitely will - and that was in a riding that wasn't necessarily leaning towards them. Windsor-Tecumseh represents a much easier target for Andrea Horwath's party. Let's face it, satisfaction isn't high at all with the Liberals, especially in southwestern Ontario, so assuming the NDP are frontrunners in any by-election isn't crazy.

Current Rolling Average for Windsor-Tecumseh:
47% NDP, 30% Lib, 18% PC, 4% Green

Innovative Jan. 27-29 Poll:
45% NDP, 32% Lib, 16% PC, 6% Green

In my rolling average, the riding is a pretty good lock for the NDP, and the same goes for the recent Innovative poll that came out with the first Liberal lead in months. Whether or not Kathleen Wynne's premiership will change that we won't know until later down the road; but I have a feeling that it will take more than a new face to erase all of the damage to the brand left by McGuinty.

For the Liberals to make sport of Windsor-Tecumseh, it will require we either get a strong local face to run - could've been Sandra Pupatello, but she's apparently not interested in returning to politics - or Wynne will really need to impress Ontarians. On a local level, Liberals would need to ensure strong turnout from the more suburban parts of the riding, versus from East Windsor where the NDP expect to expand from. Windsor Liberals also need to ensure that suburbanites choose the Liberals over the PCs as the main opposition to an NDP surge.

But, this requires that there are no special circumstances to influence how the riding votes, a la Kitchener-Waterloo and the teachers organization. We'll see what happens in the coming months.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Jan! I appreciate your readership - even though I know we probably disagree on quite a few things! :D