Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Strange Case of New York's 23rd

Since it's the first Tuesday of November next week, there are elections in United States. Most of the attention is on gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia where Republicans look poised to unseat and replace respectively Democratic governors. The Virginia race is an inauspicious start for DNC Chairman Tim Kaine. However, the real drama is in New York's 23rd district in a special election to replace former Rep. John McHugh (R) who is now Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The district is heavily Republican (the Dems failed to field a candidate for McHugh's first election in '02) and should have favoured Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava. However, the Republican base can't stand Scozzafava and has backed Conservative Party of New York candidate Doug Hoffman who is considered to be more in line with the new GOP. All of this was going to make for an interesting three-way race come Tuesday with the split right wing vote putting Democrat Bill Owens in contention. The race became downright strange this weekend whens Ms. Scozzafava suspended her campaign and released her supporters to vote their conscience. This makes Hoffman's victory a lot more likely. While this does not really represent a third party forming in the United States (the Republican caucus is preparing to welcome Hoffman with open arms), it does show just how far right the GOP has gone when a moderate Republican can't get herself elected in upstate New York.

Friday, October 30, 2009

At Issue Panel Needs A Recent History Lesson

The National can be a frustrating newscast to watch. Last night was a prime example. Mansbridge apparently has done an interview with Danielle Smith the new leader of Alberta's Wildrose Alliance. During the at Issue panel, he showed a clip where he asked Smith the somewhat obvious question of "if you hate provincial Tory deficits, how do you feel about federal Tory deficits?" Smith proceeded to walk the Alberta Tory tightrope by claiming that the evil NEP-Liberals forced Saint Harper the Prudent into deficit by opposing last year's economic update. One problem. At the time of last year's economic update, Canada was already in deficit. Even if you don't remember that part, the whole Liberals forced Harper into deficit story doesn't really add up.

The two issues that caused such uproar about the economic update were the plan to a) do nothing about the collapsing economy and b) cut party subsidies. The cynical among us would say mostly the latter. The resulting crisis hurt the Liberals badly and led to a change in leader. By the time of the budget when the party subsidies were off the table, Interim-Leader Ignatieff was clearly in no mood to oppose the budget and made only token showings of any opposition. Stephen Harper had as close to a tabula rasa as a minority government could have had on a crisis-budget. Our current federal fiscal mess, like the one Ms. Smith opposes in Alberta, was created by a Conservative government that cut taxes too fast in good times and was consequently burned when the economy turned sour. The stimulus spending is almost exclusively one-time spending that will only contribute to future deficits via debt payments. The real challenge is overcoming the structural deficits left by previous Tory budgets. Now, Ms. Smith is within her right to spin. The three journalists on the at issue panel, however, have a responsibility to call the BS. They didn't and promoted the Tory talking point of the Liberal opposition somehow being responsible for the federal deficit. Shame! I have to wonder if part of the reason for their sheepishness was Ms. Smith invoking the people of Alberta as her source for information.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Projection Update: Mr. Donolo's Hole

There seems to be a warm reception for the new man in the OLO. Best of luck to him. He's going to need some luck if these numbers are right. WARNING: THIS PROJECTION RESULTS IN A CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY.

National Picture:

CPC 156 (38.91%)
LPC 70 (27.01%)
NDP 29 (15.28%)
BQ 53 (8.71%)

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 21, NDP 10, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 12, NDP 2
ON: CPC 61, LPC 33, NDP 12
QC: BQ 53, LPC 13, CPC 9
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, NDP 1, CPC 1

That's downright ugly for the Grits. I will note that although the numbers indicate Avalon (NL) going Tory, that may or not be accurate depending on the mood of Premier Williams. The Liberals being shut out in Manitoba is a distressing possibility. This projection also would mean a loss of the two Liberal ridings in Southwestern Ontario: Guelph and London North Centre. Yes, it is possible for a party to win a majority with the current set up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ZAP!! You're No Longer Emitting

As much as I hate to give attention to people who disrupt the business of parliament, with bill C-311 in the news. I decided to do what I know most people in parliament won't do: read the damn thing. Always enlightening to read new (or new again) legislation. Bill C-311 is no exception. In essence C-311 is a cap and trade bill that would tie Canada to reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and a jaw-dropping 80% by 2050. As someone who plans to be alive in 2050 (unlike, say, the NDP caucus) setting outrageous targets for the government that will be handing out my CPP is a little frightening. I assume technological miracles are being assumed in that target. Relying on miracles is always a good way to get things done. There are some really fun parts later on. For instance get a load of 7 (1) (b) which states:

"The Governor in Council may make regulations under this or any other Act within the limits of federal constitutional authority limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be released in each province..."

I'm sure Premiers Stelmach, Wall and Williams may have some questions about the federal government's constitutional authority to hand down such restrictions. When the flaws of your plan are right there on the page, it may be time for a new plan. Also curious is 10 (1) (a) (iii) which includes "fiscal incentives" as a means of getting emissions down. Now by fiscal incentives, the NDP couldn't mean a carbon tax right. Not after the fuss they made in the last election about Dion's evil carbon tax. The problem with the plan in general, however, is that there is very little thought about how you'd actually manage such a program. Yes you set a cap and you issue permits for emissions. Okay, are we selling the permits for a set price? Are we auctioning them off? There's a lot of different theories on how to do this and C-311 is decidedly vague. I know Liberal MPs will probably end up voting for this thing. They shouldn't. Canada's challenges on climate change are unique and are going to have to be addressed in a dynamic fashion. We can't expect to know the road ahead today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Seadoo v. Snowboard

That's the race shaping up in Okanagan -- Coquihalla with Ross Rebagliati seeking the Liberal nomination in the riding currently held by Stockwell Day. I am supportive of anyone who wants to seek public office, regardless of their political affiliation. I am certainly supportive of Ross Rebagliati ambition if that's what he wants to do. My questions here are for the LPC or I guess or more accurately the LPC-BC who have decided to ask Rebagliati to run in Okanagan -- Coquihalla. Let me paint the picture with my current projection for the riding:

CPC (Stockwell Day): 54.2%
NDP (TBA): 16.72%
GPC (Dan Bouchard) 15.01%
LPC (Rebagliati?): 14.28%

Okay, statistically, to paraphrase Joe Lieberman, it's probably a three way tie for second. The problem is it's a distant second. If Rebagliati can rally the anti-Day vote to his banner, all the power to him. It's probably still going to leave him 20 points back. When you have candidates with name recognition, you want them to do well. This doesn't mean flying star candidates into safe seats all the time but it does mean avoiding embarrassing defeats. It hurts the narrative during elections, especially at the regional level when your star candidate is going down to defeat and going down hard. If you're looking for a happy middle ground think about Justin Trudeau running in Papineau. Papineau was a winnable unheld seat which is exactly what you want for a star candidate.

If you are going to run Rebagliati in a no-hope riding in central British Columbia, at least run him in his current home town of Kelowna where at least he could claim to be the local guy. There's no current candidate for the Grits (according to Pundits' Guide) and the Liberal odds are actually a little better (35 point margin with the LPC leading the three way tie for second). I'm all for three hundred and eight strong candidates, but we can be selective where we run the candidates with national name recognition.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Projection Update October 22nd Edition

Okay, no fancy title, just the facts today. Only one seat changes from last week:

National Picture:

CPC 149
LPC 78
NDP 29
BQ 52

Province - by - Province

BC: CPC 21, NDP 10, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, LPC 2, NDP 2
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 58, LPC 36, NDP 12
QC: BQ 52, LPC 14, CPC 9
NB: CPC 5, LPC 4, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Afghanistan Run-Off Vote 2009?

It is downright depressing watching the "election" process in Afghanistan. The unbelievably high level of fraud is embarrassing for everyone involved. If the numbers are accurate, there should be a run-off. The constitution demands it. The security on the ground makes it less likely. 1 million invalid votes out of 5.5 million cast. Why are we believing the results are close to accurate? How can we guarantee Karzai and Abdullah are even the top two candidates? Fraud that systemic throws into question every ballot "cast". Canadian soldiers are risking their lives to help these politicians cheat their people. Enough is enough. Get our brave men and women home.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Projection Method Revision and Update

There has been a lot of commentary that my projections seem out of whack with current polling. Frankly, I agree. I diagnosed the culprit not as my system of projection, but the polling aggregates I was using to make my projections. No offense to Eric over at threehundredeight who does a wonderful job, but the innate conservatism of those numbers meant they were lagging current polling. As a result, I've tried my hand at aggregating polls. These projections are based on all public polling I could find for the last thirty days. The weighting is based on the age and sample size of the polls. Future projections will be based on a rolling 30 day aggregate. I've included my polling aggregate results in parentheses for your information.

National Picture

CPC 150 (38.13%)
LPC 77 (28.15%)
NDP 29 (14.99%)
BQ 52 (8.73%)
GPC 0 (9.39%)


BC: CPC 21 (40.47%), NDP 10 (22.83%), LPC 5 (23.66%), GPC 0 (12.69%)
AB: CPC 28 (62.98%), LPC 0 (15.46%), NDP 0 (11.46%), GPC 0 (9.19%)
SK*: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB*: CPC 10, LPC 2 , NDP 2
ON: CPC 59 (42.87%), LPC 35 (32.42%), NDP 12 (14.78%), GPC 0 (9.66%)
QC: BQ 52 (37.46%), LPC 14 (25.51%), CPC 9 (19.54%), NDP 0 (9.77%), GPC 0 (7.09%)
NB**: CPC 5, LPC 4, NDP 1
NS**: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
PE**: LPC 4
NL**: LPC 6, NDP 1

*Prairie Aggregate:
CPC 53.06%
LPC 21.84%
NDP 18.9%
GPC 6.32%

**Atlantic Aggregate:

LPC 38.04%
CPC 31.4%
NDP 23.02%
GPC 6.97%

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And Will The Member Resign!

Gerald Keddy must resign from office. Why? Forging cheques. Unless Mr. Keddy was personally giving over 300k to a local community group, he's not authorized to sign government cheques. This particular cheque is identified (comically enough in the memo line) as being from the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program administered in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The agency is under the jurisdiction of Peter McKay and Keith Ashfield politically but the cheque should presumably bear the signature of ACOA president Monique Collette or some other high ranking bureaucrat in that organization. He can't claim that he didn't know what was going on when his signature is on the cheque... in a different ink from the one it was printed in. The Conservative logo is appalling, Mr. Keddy's signature may be worse. As much as members might like to say it, they can't legally bring home the bacon themselves. Gerald Keddy is the Member of Parliament for South Shore -- St. Margaret's and the Chairman of the Commons Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans. He has proven himself unworthy of either office. Resign! If he won't Mr. Harper, it behooves you to remove him from his chairmanship and your caucus.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Because There Weren't Enough Opinions Out There

I'll throw another log on to the fire. Michael Ignatieff is going through what almost all Leaders of Her Majesty's Official Opposition go through. This is both true and a truism. The problem for Ignatieff is not the current abysmal poll numbers, but the political position he's gotten himself into. It all started when he decided the only person who could be interim leader was himself. Now, I understand that hindsight is 20/20 but think this through. The 2009 budget was always going to be fairly unopposable for the Liberal Party of Canada. A stimulus was beyond necessary and the Conservatives wanted to do it. Thus, Ignatieff had to support budget. The problem was he had to support the budget while showing himself to be different than Stephane Dion. That was no mean feat. Dion had both been too weak as leader (all those abstentions added up in the public's mind) and too strong in the wake of his defeat in the 2008 election (coalitions are not a very Canadian concept). Ignatieff had to neither abstain nor threaten to defeat the government. Thus, the absurdity of putting the government "on probation." While people thought it brilliant at the time, it trapped Ignatieff politically. The Tories called his bluff. They didn't live up to the demands they didn't want to live up to and forced Ignatieff first in June and then in the fall to threaten the government with defeat less than a year after their election. At this point, there's very little room for Michael Ignatieff to back away from the edge of the cliff. The only thing stopping from falling off the edge is Jack Layton and the empty pockets of the NDP. That's not really a tenable position for a Liberal leader.

The other part of his problem is that he's just spent a significant amount of money on putting bad advertisements on the air. Adds that frankly are just cause for derision. With the self-proclaimed prince of darkness back on the scene, I have to wonder why Ignatieff didn't go negative in English. I know he went negative in French, taking the absurd step of doing it himself but 233 out of 308 ridings didn't see those ads. It will be interesting to see whether there's any follow-up to the Liberal Party's great second quarter fundraising totals. I'm skeptical. Remember how much fanfare accompanied the good news? We are now weeks past the end of the third quarter, no fanfare. It may come, I'm not holding my breath. If the party spent all of its money on bad ads, Ignatieff won't have the capital to earn himself new political capital. As I said at the outset, he could recover from this; opposition leaders have a little bit of Lazarus in them. I just wouldn't want to be in his position right now.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Projection Update: Dead Heat... In Jeanne - Le Ber Edition

Yes, a tie has broken out in the battleground riding of Jeanne - Le Ber. The Liberals and Bloc are tied at 35.61% of the vote. I have no clue how to resolve this. I could flip a coin or draw lots but I'm going to go with the incumbent which is the Bloc's Thierry St.- Cyr. Without further ado, the rest of the projection:

National Picture:

CPC 128 (+1)
LPC 97 (-2)
BQ 51 (+1)
NDP 32

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 9, NDP 3, LPC 2
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: LPC 48, CPC 45, NDP 13
PQ: BQ 51, LPC 17, CPC 7
NB: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stephen Harper's Culture of Defeatism

The four by-elections have been called for November 9th. It is interesting that the Conservatives are not just downplaying their chances in Québec and BC but also in Nova Scotia. Cumberland --Colchester -- Musquodobolt Valley is as safe a Conservative seat as they come. If you don't count the victory by exiled Conservative turned independent Bill Casey in the last election, the Tories have only lost the riding once in the slaughter of 1993. For Tories to be saying they don't expect to win any of the seats means one of two things: either they think that people in rural Nova Scotia are still angry about the Atlantic Accord etc. or they think they can win there and are trying to set the bar so low that they can't help but jump over it. Time will tell. In the interim, I decided to run off a quick projection based solely on the 2004 and 2006 results and the current polling:

CPC 49.25%
LPC 21.9%
NDP 20.49%
GPC 7.35%

Those numbers explain why I've been counting this riding as Conservative in all my projections to date. It also seems to contradict the Conservatives low expectations.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Brussels Breathes

Ireland has passed the Lisbon Treaty by a two to one margin.

Ridings In The News

As promised, a quick look at my current projections for some ridings making the news these days. Just a quick reminder that my projections don't compensate for strength of candidate. I'll start in BC, where Elizabeth May has taken up residency in Saanich -- Gulf Islands:

CPC 36.8% (Current MP Gary Lunn)
LPC 34.68%
GPC 15.01%
NDP 13.35%

Yes, May's Greens are projected third. A reminder that this riding lacked an NDP candidate last time out which significantly distorts their projected total. Speaking of the NDP in BC, a by-election is looming in New Westminster -- Coquitlam to replace Dawn Black who moved into provincial politics. The normal warnings are in force for a by-election:

NDP 39.62%
CPC 32.63%
LPC 17.28%
GPC 9.62%

In Québec most of the noise has centered around Outremont where Martin Cauchon will take up the Liberal banner:

LPC 42.23%
NDP 28.65 (Current MP Thomas Mulcair)
BQ 13.13%
CPC 7.87%
GPC 7.09%

Once again, the massive vote shift toward the NDP in Outremont is hard to deal with in my model. Thus, the NDP may be undervalued. However, you can see why this riding is so important to Liberals in Québec who view it as one of the easiest pick ups out there. Another possible Liberal pick up in Jeanne -- Le Ber where the odd person out in Outremont, Nathalie Le Prohon is looking to carry the Liberal banner:

LPC 36.31%
BQ 35.21% (Current MP Thierry St-Cyr)
NDP 12.06%
CPC 7.18%
GPC 7.13%

There are also a couple of Bloc MP's to be replaced sooner or later in Québec. Paul Crête must be replaced in Montmagny – L'Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup:

BQ 39.9%
LPC 24.78%
CPC 22.94%
GPC 5.88%
NDP 5.47%

In Hochelaga, Real Menard is gone, although his replacement might wait a bit:

BQ 44.57%
LPC 27.05%
NDP 12.48%
GPC 7.45%
CPC 6.59%

I am aware there's also a by-election to be held in Nova Scotia but as I've said before my projections for Cumberland -- Colchester -- Musquodobolt Valley are not reliable.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Projection Update: Sky Is Falling Edition

With all the bad news coverage and bad poll numbers out for the LPC this week, I've decided to throw a seat projection update on to the fire. Yes, the Liberals are down to 2006 type levels in this projection, but no they are not about to fade into the political abyss. It is somewhat reassuring for me to finally see some movement in my projection numbers. I was a little worried that they were overly historically deterministic.

CPC 127 (+7)
LPC 99 (-8)
NDP 32 (+1)
BQ 50

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 8, LPC 3, NDP 3
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: LPC 48, CPC 45, NDP 13
QC: BQ 50, LPC 18, CPC 7
NB: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP1
NS: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

I'll put up some riding-by-riding numbers for some ridings in the news over the weekend.
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