Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Final #abvote Projection: NDP Majority, Wildrose Opposition

After last night's fun in PEI, today's election promises to be even more fun, with the possibility - nay, the likelihood of a New Democratic majority in Alberta coming to fruition.

To the right is my final projection for Alberta, which you can view in detail if that is your thing. The summary of it his below, as well as charts showing the progress throughout the campaign:

I've arrived at this because all the polls up to this point have agreed that the momentum is with the NDP, and unlike in 2012 there has been no last-minute shift in the numbers - everyone is saying Rachel Notley is about to make history in the province, and turf the long-governing Progressive Conservatives.

In fact, the PCs are not only in danger of being turfed, but of being wiped out altogether. Polls show them consistently in third place or tied with the Wildrose Party, who look set to become the official opposition on the back of support (and vote splitting) in rural Alberta. It has gotten so bad that my model shows Premier Jim Prentice is not even favoured to win his own seat in Calgary-Foothills! The scale of devastation in Alberta for the PCs is total at this point.

The Alberta Liberals also seem ready to head back to the dustbin of the legislature, with their two incumbents - David Swann in Calgary-Mountain View and Laurie Blakeman in Edmonton-Centre - set for defeat. Their one "win" in my model is Calgary-McCall, and that is just a fluke of the vote splitting that went on there in 2012, when then-incumbent Darshan Kang won the riding for the Liberals as two the conservative parties battled it it. In fact, I expect the NDP to win there if any centre-left party is going to. Overall, the Liberals might be looking toward no seats, and less than 5% of the popular vote.

The Alberta Party, meanwhile, may still be able to win its leader's seat in Calgary-Elbow, but the party seems to have become somewhat irrelevant as the Orange Chinook rolled in. With the possibility of an NDP wave even in Calgary, Greg Clark may not be the choice of progressive voters after all.

Of course, all of this is dependent upon one thing: the polls being right. I take you back to 2012, when the final polls all showed a substantial Wildrose lead over the PCs, or back to 2013 when the NDP were about to sweep BC, and we all know how that turned out. There is a substantial number of undecided voters still left, maybe up to 40%, and really the electorate could swing any number of ways.

However, there is reason to think that it won't. First off, the swing in 2012 that messed up everyone's models came from progressive or centrist voters - Redford painted a scary picture of Danielle Smith and her unfortunately homophobic-candidate-laced party, and people ran to the Tories to protect themselves. People got over their anger at the PCs and voted to block the Wildrosers from power. Right now we're seeing those voters move to the NDP in droves, and there is no reason to suspect they'll filter back to the PCs.

There is a danger of the conservative vote moving to the PCs or Wildrosers however, a consolidation of anti-NDP voters who want to block the party from attaining a majority or even government. While there is a good chance (I feel) of this happening, it may not be enough - this wave is substantial, and there does not seem to be a lot of extra votes lying around for a surging PC/Wildrose party to take. After all, even combined the two conservative parties only have 54% of the vote - and there is no way one of these parties will take the all the voters of the other. If a surge does happen, I would expect it to hit 40% at best - that could be enough to stop the NDP from winning, but it isn't enough to stop them from making major, major gains.

One scenario I can imagine happening is similar to 1993, when the PCs almost lost to the Liberals - the latter foiled by recalcitrant NDP voters, who took 11% of the vote. The issue, however, is that the vote split is on the right this time.

So in order for the NDP to lose at this point, these polls would have to be massively wrong or voters would have to switch in massive amounts by midday. There is not much more to it - but I reserve the right to be wrong. After all, for some reason the NDP seem to be constantly disappointed with election results recently.

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