"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Decision desk

Some predictions for the fascinating Quebec election that will be over, but not decided, this time tomorrow night:

1) A large chunk of the "undecided" vote in the polls is very decided. It's closet ADQ support, which will negate most of the electoral value of the usual...

2a) Federalist ballot-box bonus. The PLQ/PLC/Non(Oui in Charlottetown) vote has always been under-estimated in the last week's pre-vote polls, and almost always by every pollster. In the modern era, say, since the birth of the BQ in 1990, the value has ranged from an all-pollster average of 1.7% PLQ vote they missed in the 1994 provincial election, to the, likely aberrant, 7.7% all-pollster underestimation of PLC vote in the 2004 federal. The overall average federalist bonus, in the referenda, and federal and provincial elections, since Charlottetown inclusive, is 3.5%.

2b) Federalist ballot-box bonus. It won't be as large this time. The electorate is just too fragmented; the PLQ is no longer the only party for closet federalists to use to avoid voting PQ.

2c) Separatist ballot-box bonus. Besides the closet ADQ-cum-"undecided" vote noted above, the Parti vert and Québec Solidaire vote intention has been inflated by pollsters who prompt. This will work mathematically, in real votes, to the PQ's advantage.

3) All of this means that the pollsters may be closer to the final numbers, this time, than they have been in a while. And these numbers keep spelling the same thing: PQ minority. Charest cannot win even a minority government, given the cannibalization of his non-Montreal-non-Outaouais vote by the ADQ, unless he's at least 5 or 6 points ahead of the PQ. A majority PLQ government would require at least a 10- to 12-point lead; not on.

In fact, the PLQ vote is so notoriously inefficient, that Charest could have, on slightly different numbers, win the popular vote, and finish third in the seats. The ADQ isn't quite high enough for that to happen now. The PQ, on the other hand, can form a minority government, in an extreme situation, even by finishing third in the popular vote.

4) At this hour, one of the likeliest scenarios for Charest to eke out a minority win, in fact, rests with the ADQ overperforming. Dumont has already cannibalized almost all the PLQ seats he can; a couple more percentage points in the popular vote, and he would pick off just enough PQ seats in some of the outlying areas of La Couronne around Montreal to knock the PQ's seat total back down below that of Charest's.

The prediction: The ADQ will overperform. Most observers put them at 20-25 seats; the labradore decision desk sees the range as more in the 25-30 bracket as the ADQ racks up some surprises in Mauricie, the Townships, and the Montreal exurbs.

The rest will be divided almost evenly, though not quite evenly enough, between Charest's West Island-Outaouais rump and the PQ's heartland.

A 2- to 4-seat PQ minority.


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