Tuesday 3 May 2011

What Happened To Canada?

How did the Conservatives end up with a majority when many experts were predicting, at most, a Conservative minority?

I think it boils down to an unexpected loss of 16 Liberal GTA seats to the Conservatives.

The NDP, Bloc and Green parties all ended up with seats in the range (or very close to the range) I was predicting. But, the Conservatives ended up with many more seats and the Liberals with way less seats than I and many were predicting.

Perhaps voters liked the Liberals less than they were letting on in the polls.
Now, did the Conservatives pick up these extra seats because of a split the vote in those ridings, or, did the Conservatives really get a lot more votes?

In all areas of the country, there was a bit of variation compared to the campaign polling results. But in Ontario, particularly in the GTA, mainly in suburbian Toronto, there were 16 seats that switched from Liberal to Conservative. Many of these seats were not seen as close races from polling data. Some were, yes, but many were not. After checking out the numbers and comparing the vote percentages between last election and this election in a number of these ridings, I found a common pattern. In most cases, a large percentage moved from the Liberals to the NDP. Now, all of these ridings were usually a contest between the Liberals and Conservatives, with the NDP in a distant third. In most of these ridings, there was a big vote swing from Liberal to NDP, also accompanied by a slight rise in the Conservative vote. Many of these ridings weren't especially targeted for strategic voting. There wasn't a big swell of Conservative support in Toronto, but the non-conservative support just spread out enough for the Conservative to win.

Maybe people thought that there would be enough of them throwing their support behind the NDP to get them elected in these ridings. I put it down to a combination of people not being happy with the Liberals performance as of late, dislike of their leader, and people liking what the NDP had to offer more, and a more likeable leader in Jack Layton.

This swing of votes DID end up working in these voters favour in 3 Toronto ridings that the NDP picked up much to my surprise: Scarborough-Rouge River, Scarborough Southwest and York-South Weston.

So, now we have a Conservative Majority.

See also:
iPolitics.ca: Is it time for pollsters to question themselves?

Pundits' Guide - "Splits" Decisions: A closer look at vote shifts in Greater Toronto
Pundit's Guide attributes the switch from Liberal to Conservative in Toronto ridings to people switching voting from Liberal to Conservative, and that the NDP rise in those areas came mainly from a combination of Green and new voters. Looking at the raw voting numbers, I can see that some of the changes can be attributed to this, but not all. There is too much of a big drop in Liberal numbers mirrored by a big rise in the NDP numbers in some ridings. But, taking into consideration that the Conservatives were 2nd in these ridings last election, having Liberals switch to voting Conservative, just by a few percentages, would be enough to let the Conservatives win in these ridings.

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