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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Red tide

Tonight's MQO poll, reported by NTV, has set tongues a-waggin' and chatterers a-chatterin', as expected.

It shows the provincial Liberal surge that started earlier this year is no fluke, with the party now commanding the support of a majority, 52%, of decided respondents. It has been twelve years since the provincial Liberals have polled this high. The NL Liberal party, before July of this year, had not led in any public poll since May 2001 (other than a statistical tie in May 2004). And no party has had majority support since the PCs slipped to 47% in March 2012.

Speaking of the PCs, there will no doubt be some among their number who will find not just schadenfreude, but the regular kind of freude in a poll that has them back up to 29%, and back into second place, ahead of the Dippers, for the first time since January. A little mathematical reality check for those gleeful Tories: you are still polling at barely half the actual popular support you got in the general election two years ago this month. And (for you, at least) that is a Very Bad Thing. An outright majority of a notional House of Assembly, elected on the MQO numbers, would be newly-elected Liberal MHAs who defeated a PC incumbent to get there, in the process defeating luminaries such as Eli Cross, Tony Cornect, Doctor Darin King, Dan Crummell, Nic McGrath, Glen Little/john, Keith Russell, and Kevin O'Brien. Even the Premier's own seat, on the MQO vote swing, would be doubtful.

The continuing smell of Outgoing Government lingering as it is over the PCs, explains the curious thing about the NDP result. On the face of it, 18% is bad. It's worse than the MQO poll in July, which had them at 30%, and worse than the actual 2011 election result, and any public poll since May 2011, when the federal NDP's "Layton Effect" seems to have first given the provincial party serious wind in its sails.

But the NDP got 25% in the last election. As bad as it is to be 7% off that mark, the Tories are in much more dire polling straits. And that explains why, even as a 52% Liberal vote would result in a big whopping Liberal majority, the NDP would notionally — and not adjusted for any of the recent, um, changes in its caucus — hold on to most of the seats it won in 2011, and might even be able to snatch a few from the debris of PC implosion.

Here’s the notional district-by-district map* based on the MQO vote-intent figures. For the current opposition parties, dark colours indicate holds and pale colours are pickups. For the incumbent outgoing PCs, dark blue is a hold, while paler blue is a hold by less than a notional 10% margin of victory. Light grey indicates a district where the projection models are in disagreement about the notional winner. The projection model does not take into account changes in affiliation of incumbent MHAs, including the NDP schism and the Osborg migration from the blue to red teams. (Click to enlarge.)

The Liberal caucus would notionally jump to at least 29 members, with another eight districts too close to call — and all of those, potentially in the Liberal column — for a total of up to 37 seats. For the first time since the general election of 1999, that would include anywhere from one to seven Liberal seats in St. John's and its suburban communities.

The NDP could retain a caucus of up to five or six, including one or two potential pickups, thanks to the continuing Tory doldrums. And the incumbent PCs would notionally be reduced to somewhere between six and twelve seats, depending on which way the tossup districts were to fall — including recently PC-bedrock Carbonear–Harbour Grace, soon to be the site of the governing PC party's first by-election test in one of its "held" seats.

* To be taken with a grain of salt – the overall seat totals in swing models are more accurate than district-by-district projects, as the errors in the latter tend to cancel one another out.



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