First off, its no secret that the entire month and a half of polling has been fairly erratic. While there were no polls showing a Green majority or anything crazy like that, or even the NDP moving out in front, the momentum and lead has switched back and forth almost daily between the Ontario Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. That was the case at least until around the beginning of June, when the Liberals started picking up more and more leads in polls and in my projection - its something I noticed of course, but I didn't write down for... I have no idea why, really. You can see basically the same trend in ThreeHundredEight.com's range tracker charts, however:
|Credit: Eric Grenier of ThreeHundredEight.com|
This being said, yesterday's final poll releases were all over the map, especially in regards to the position of the NDP, ranging from a low of 19% to a high of 30%. Things, in other words, are insane, depending on who you ask.
Why this is, I don't think anyone is exactly sure, though it is very likely just what happens in this kind of low-engagement election, where people don't care and probably don't want to answer some pollster's questions too often. No matter the reason, it has caused some concern among the Twitterati of the #onpoli universe, with people asking whether or not the polls can be believed (and by extension, whether projection models like mine are credible). Often times they'll point to the flops in BC and Alberta as reasons for us to be on our guard.
But lets be fair to our pollsters - they have tried really hard to make sure they avoid those mistakes again, with some success too, as noted by the hits they had in the recent elections in Quebec and Nova Scotia. We should not discount their numbers, erratic as they are, on the basis of a couple of bad results that most critics don't even understand the reasons for.
So before you roll your eyes at the below projection, calling me a partisan hack or that the polls are useless, just give it a chance. I'm not predicting anything out of line with anyone else, and our troubled pollsters have taken some precautions to try and ensure a good result - that is what that whole "likely voter" thing is about, after all (where the Liberals also started trending up, I may add). By tomorrow night we will know whether the effort put in by everyone involved was worth it - and I think people may just be pleasantly surprised.
With that out of the way, here is my projection for tomorrow's election, with some explanation after:
If you want to see detailed riding-by-riding projections, visit my projection page to the side (or just click here). The above is a basic summary of the final projection for those in a rush.
Essentially, I'm projecting a Liberal government, with a small chance of the PCs forming one, albeit an extremely slim one. The Liberals should, if the polls are correct, hold at least 42 seats, meaning they only need a few well placed wins here and there to form a minority government. A majority, while not impossible, is going to be a stretch, but only the Liberals could manage it at this point.
How did we get to this result? It isn't exactly surprising, given that despite all the ups-and-downs of the campaign, we have essentially ended up back where we were in 2011, with the Liberals and PCs down only by a fraction of an amount, and the NDP up only just as well. In fact, I think the biggest gain in support has been for the Green Party!
The Liberals just happen to be very fortunate in their choice of opponents. The NDP have gained in support, but almost exclusively in Southwestern Ontario - they've dropped consistently in support in Toronto, where the Liberals have gained and are easily in contention for the few NDP ridings in the city, such as Trinity-Spadina and Parkdale-High Park.
The Liberals have also remained very competitive in the GTA throughout the campaign's polling, so much so that the expected PC gains (low hanging fruit such as Ajax-Pickering, Brampton-Springdale, or Mississauga-Erindale) have not materialized in my projection. In fact, at the current numbers I project that no Liberal ridings in the GTA are in danger of flipping, and there is very little movement overall since 2011. I could of course be wrong, but if I'm not, it will be the Liberal's saving grace as without major inroads in the GTA, the PCs are not going to form government.
Speaking of, Hudak's PCs have not had a grand time throughout the polling campaign. The party has made some marginal gains in Toronto, held their own in the GTA and Eastern Ontario, but seem to have fallen back a tad in the Southwest. Overall the picture remains the same for them as it was in 2011 - good results, but not enough to surpass the Liberals, just hold them to a minority. However, I doubt "good enough" will be satisfactory for the PC Party however, and this kind of result would likely lead to Hudak's ouster. At least, we can only hope.
But we shall see. Today I'll be working for my local campaign here in Burlington, so I won't really be paying attention until the results start coming in. Hopefully I'll be on Twitter by that time too.
All I can say for now is make sure you get out and vote if you live in Ontario! Polls open up at 9am, and whoever you're voting for - good luck!! They're going to need it. ;)