Monday, October 24, 2016

Medicine Hat--Cardston--Warner federal by-election today

Today marks the first federal by-election of the 42nd Parliament, just as Canada's new Liberal government enters its sophomore year. Voters in the southern Alberta riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner head to the polls to elect a new Member of Parliament, following the death of Conservative MP Jim Hillyer who died last Spring due to cardiomyopathy. Hillyer was first elected to Parliament in 2011 in the neighbouring riding of Lethbridge, and switched to the Medicine Hat riding for the 2015 election when its boundaries shifted to encompass his hometown of Raymond, located just south of Lethbridge. While it pains me to speak ill of the dead, Hillyer's short tenure in Parliament was criticized by even those in his party for his 'poor service of his constituents'. When he first ran for office in 2011, he was criticized for not attending any candidate debates and for embellishing the truth in his campaign literature. It did not matter though, as he was easily elected in both 2011 and 2015 (though in a mostly different riding the second time), due to running in true blue Conservative country: southern Alberta.

Map of the riding
Since the 2015 federal election, the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals have enjoyed a tremendous honeymoon period, and are still polling nearly ten points higher than what they won in the last federal election, witch much of this coming at the expense of the (for all intents and purposes) leaderless NDP. The Conservatives, who are also leaderless, have not been hurt by The Liberal honeymoon, as they are polling at about what they won in 2015. Trudeau remains a very popular figure across the country, and even has a large swath of adoring fans in southern Alberta. While he is still mostly detested in that corner of the country, a rally he attended two weeks ago in Medicine Hat attracted nearly 2000 people.


Map of Medicine Hat neighbourhoods

Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner can be found on the southern and southeastern boundary of Alberta. It is shaped like a backward “L”, with Saskatchewan on the east, and Montana on the south. In the west, the riding begins at the Belly River, and wraps around the Lethbridge area and Taber County, ending at CFB Suffield in the north. While the riding appears to be rural, and many have claimed it is, this is a misnomer. The City of Medicine Hat dominates the riding, as it is home to nearly two thirds of the riding's population. The rest of the riding is mostly empty ranching land, or oil and gas wells. Other than Medicine Hat, the riding is home to a few smaller communities, such as Cardston, Magrath, Raymond and Bow Island, while the Medicine Hat suburb of Redcliff is the riding's second largest city or town. The riding is also home to Canada's largest Indian Reserve (second largest in population), Blood #148, a Blackfoot reserve which is home to over 4000 people. The people in Blood #148 will be voting in their second federal by-election in just over two years, as they were previously located in the riding of Macleod which had a by-election in June 2014.


Except for about a 9% Aboriginal population, the riding is overwhelmingly White. But despite this, the riding does have some interesting cultural and ethnic demographics. The riding has the highest ethnically German population in the country, with 36% of people claiming it. Germans immigrated to southern Alberta in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and have long since been integrated into the country. Still though, 7% of residents indicate German as their first language in the census. This makes German the riding's #2 language, and some rural areas in the central part of the riding have large numbers (over 40%) of German speakers. After German, the riding is also home to significant populations with English, Scottish and Irish backgrounds. 10% of the riding claims some sort of Aboriginal background, most of this being Blackfoot. Blackfoot is the native tongue of about 1% of the riding.

The riding also has an interesting religious makeup, as it is home to Canada's largest Mormon population. Over a quarter of the riding is considered “Other Christian”, with much of this is Mormon, which was also the religion of Jim Hillyer. Mormons began settling the western part of the riding in the late 19th Century, and built the first Mormon Temple outside the United States in Cardston in 1887. Hillyer's hometown of Raymond was also settled by Mormons. The “other Christian” group also includes a sizable Mennonite population who are the descendants of some of the early German settlers to this region. In total, 72% of the riding is Christian, including 21% being Catholic, and 10% being United Church. Over one quarter of the riding has no religion.

The riding is poorer than the province as a whole. The median income is about $30,000 compared to $36,000 for all of Alberta. The average income is $40,000 which is over $10,000 less than the provincial average. While the riding has a reputation for cattle ranches and oil and gas extraction, the dominance of City of Medicine Hat in the riding has resulted in the leading industries in the riding being health care and social assistance, retail trade and construction.


A riding known as “Medicine Hat” existed all the way from 1908 until the most recent redistribution before last year's election. Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner was originally going to be named just “Medicine Hat”, but the addition of the Cardston and Warner areas, which have not traditionally been lumped in with Medicine Hat in one riding meant that a name change was preferred.

From 1905 when Alberta joined confederation until 1908, Medicine Hat, then a town of 3000 people, was located in the riding of “Alberta (provisional district)”. In 1908 a riding called “Medicine Hat” was first created. This first Medicine Hat riding included a large swath of southeastern Alberta, including Lethbridge (then a home to 2000 people). In the north, the riding extended as far as (but not including) Hanna and as far as Strathmore in the west. Subsequent redistributions shrunk the riding down further, with a new Lethbridge riding being created in the west. The Cardston and Warner parts of the current riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston--Warner were usually located in the Lethbridge riding, but the Warner area was added to Medicine Hat in the 1966 redistribution but was removed once again in 1987, joining back with the Lethbridge riding. In the 2013 redistribution, the Cardston area was added to the riding for the first time since the 1908 redistribution and the Warner area was also added back to the riding. Both of these regions were previously in the Lethbridge riding. The 2013 redistribution also brought in the Blood 148 Indian Reserve which was previously located in the Macleod riding. To compensate, the Medicine Hat riding lost Taber and Newell Counties (which includes Brooks) to the new riding of Bow River. These counties have traditionally been part of the Medicine Hat riding, and this region had been continuously part of the riding since 1976. Also in 2013, the riding lost a small strip of territory in the far north of the riding (between the Red Deer River and the Suffield Air Force Base) to the new riding of Battle River—Crowfoot. 

MPs for Medicine Hat and Medicine Hat--Cardston--Warner
In its early days, the riding was competitive for the Liberals and even was won by the Progressive Party in 1921. However, following World War II, right wing parties have won every single election in Medicine Hat except for the first Trudeaumania in 1968. That election was an anomaly though, as the riding's MP, Bud Olson had switched from the quickly dying Social Credit Party to the Liberals, and was elected thanks to the splitting of the right wing vote between the SoCreds and the Progressive Conservatives. Olson had only beat his Tory opponent by 200 votes, and was shown the door in the next election when the Social Credit vote collapsed and Progressive Conservative candidate Bert Hargrave won. The Tories held the seat from that point on until 1993 when the Reform Party won the seat for the first time. Reform became Canadian Alliance which merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003 to form the Conservative Party and the Conservatives have won this seat ever since.

The 1993 election was the last to see the winning candidate receive less than 60% of the vote, and was the last time the Liberals won more than 20% of the vote. The riding usually votes overwhelmingly for the main right wing candidate, and only sees somewhat competitive elections when the right wing vote is split. In recent elections, the true battle has been for second place. In 2015, the Liberals finished second with 18% of the vote. In both 2008 and 2011 the second place party was the NDP which won 11% and 13% respectively.

Political geography

Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner is a very, very Conservative riding. Except for the Blood 148 Indian Reserve, every single poll voted Conservative in 2015. Even in the city of Medicine Hat. And outside of the Blood 148 reserve, every single poll has voted Conservative in every single election since the Conservative merger in 2013. And most polls are won by quite large amounts.

The rural areas of the riding are much more Conservative than Medicine Hat itself. All of the rural counties in the riding gave Hillyer at least 80% of the vote in 2015, and only three rural towns did not give him at least 80% of the vote. Home to a large number of Mennonites and Mormons, Cardston County, in the riding's far west was the best municipality for Hillyer, where he won 89% of the vote. His worst municipality was Medicine Hat, where he still won 64.5% of the vote. However on the Blood Reserve, he won a minuscule 2.5% of the vote. There, the NDP (despite finishing third in the overall vote) won 62%, with the Liberals coming in second with 34%. Medicine Hat was the best municipality for both the Liberals and the NDP who won 22% and 9.5% of the vote respectively.

Within the city of Medicine Hat itself, Hillyer's best neighbourhood was Saamis Heights, a newer suburb on the city's south side, where he won 73% of the vote. Hillyer's worst neighbourhood was the Downtown, where he won 47% of the vote. Downtown Medicine Hat was the best neighbourhood for the NDP's candidate, who won 18% of the vote. The best neighbourhood for the Liberal candidate was the Southeast Hill / South Flats area, on the south side of downtown, where they won 31% of the vote. 

2015 federal election results by community

Overall, the best poll for the Conservatives was poll #170, which covers the community of Leavitt, south of Cardston. Leavitt is a Mormon village in Cardston County, which was founded by Thomas Rowell Leaveitt, who had fled the United States after a crackdown on polygamy laws. Hillyer won 94% of the vote there, with just ten people voting for all of the other parties combined. On the other end of the spectrum, there were three polls on the Blood Reserve where Hillyer won a grand total of zero votes (polls #148, #149 and #150). These polls cover the northeastern half of the reserve, and are close to Lethbridge.

Google Streetview photo of Leavitt, Alberta
Google Streetview photo of the Blood Reserve

When it comes to federal elections, voters in the Medicine Hat area are very inelastic. That is, they tend to not change their votes too often, even when the rest of the country is. Despite the Conservatives losing a lot of support across the country in 2011, they actually gained a swing 0.1% in the riding. The Liberals did see an uptick in support, receiving a swing of 6.8%, but this pails in comparison to the 21% national swing they won. Overall, the two party average swing to the Liberals was 3.3%. The Liberals saw the biggest swings in their direction in Medicine Hat and in the Blood Reserve. The Conservatives saw some reasonable swings in more rural areas, and especially in Cypress County. 

In the last provincial election, the election results were not as homogeneous as in past federal elections. The NDP orange crush was big enough to not only win a few polls outside of the Blood reserve (which they won by nearly 90% of the vote), but an entire riding: Medicine Hat, which covers the northern and central parts of the city. Within the Medicine Hat provincial riding, the NDP won the central part of the city, while the Wildrose won the more suburban parts, and the PCs won a few polls in the Norwood and Meadowlands neighbourhoods. Outside of Medicine Hat and the Blood First Nation, the NDP did not win any polls. Most of the rural polls voted for the Wildrose Party, except for a few scattering polls that the Tories won.

Historically, the provincial riding of Cardston-Taber-Warner which overlaps the western third of the Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner riding has been very favourable to right wing third parties. In the 2004 provincial election, it was the only riding to vote for the Alberta Alliance (which later became the Wildrose Party), which helped give that party the credibility which led to its future success.


The next MP for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner will likely be Conservative candidate Glen Motz, who is a retired Medicine Hat police officer. Motz is a social conservative, who became a police officer after following “God's call”, and has a bachelor's degree in religious education. His main opponent is Liberal candidate Stan Sakamoto, a Medicine Hat businessman who is credited as being the first Japanese-Canadian to be born there. Despite a Justin Trudeau rally in Medicine Hat that attracted 2000 people, it would be a huge surprise if Sakamoto could pull this off. Despite going NDP in the provincial election, Medicine Hat is a fairly conservative city, and the rural part of this riding is about as conservative as it gets.

Let's not forget there are other candidates running as well. The NDP is running Bev Waege, who was the party's candidate in Cypress-Medicine Hat in the 2015 election, but was not swept up in the orange wave, finishing third. The Greens are not running any candidates, but look for the Christian Heritage Party candidate (and leader) Rod Taylor to do well here- and by that I mean possibly finish ahead of the NDP. The Libertarians are also running a candidate, as is the Rhinoceros Party.

While I predict the Conservatives will easily win this by-election, I predict the Liberals will win a few polls in central Medicine Hat. They will also likely win the Blood 148 Reserve back from the NDP, as they did in the 2014 Macleod by-election (albeit with comically low turnout). We'll see just how well they do when the polls close at 8:30 Mountain Time (10:30 Eastern).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Nova Scotia municipal elections today

Today is election day across Nova Scotia's 51 municipalities, as voters go to the polls to elect new mayors, councils and members of the province's eight school boards.

Since the last election held in 2012, the province has reduced the number of municipalities from 54 to 51. This is because on April 1 2015, three municipalities were annexed by their surrounding municipalities. Bridgetown was annexed by the County of Annapolis, Springhill was annexed by the County of Cumberland and Hantsport was annexed by the District of West Hants. The topic of amalgamations and annexations of municipalities in the province continues to be a heated debate as municipalities must wrestle between shrinking tax bases and providing adequate services. A flashpoint in this debate came earlier this year when voters in Pictou County rejected the idea of amalgamating the county's municipalities in a plebiscite by a 66%-34% margin.

Map of Nova Scotia's 51 municipalities


Nova Scotia's municipalities can be divided into three types: Regional Municipalities, Towns and Municipal Districts/Counties. Nova Scotia hasn't had any incorporated cities since a series of amalgamations in the 1990s. There are three Regional Municipalities in the province, including the two largest municipalities, Halifax and Cape Breton. These are unlike the Regional Municipalities in Ontario, for example, in that there are are no lower levels of government in those areas. They are quite large in size, having been created out of the former counties that existed in their place. Each of the three regional municipalities are headed by a mayor, elected at-large and have a number of councillors elected from “districts” (usually called wards in other provinces).

The second form of municipalities are towns, which are very small in geographic size compared to the regional municipalities and the counties and municipal districts. There are 27 towns in Nova Scotia. Each are headed by mayors, elected at-large and have a number of councillors.

The final form of municipalities are the counties and municipal districts. The only difference between counties and municipal districts are that the municipal districts are generally smaller than the counties, having been created out of counties themselves. However, their form of government is much the same. There are nine county municipalities in Nova Scotia and 12 municipal districts. All but two of these jurisdictions are headed by wardens, while the remaining two (Lunenburg District and Colchester County) are headed by mayors, elected at large. In this election, Kings County will elect its mayor for the first time, ditching the old warden-council system. Municipalities with the warden-council system have the wardens elected from among the elected councillors by the councillors themselves. Each county and municipal district are divided into a number of districts from which their councillors are elected.

 Elections in major municipalities



Mayoral candidates
 In the Halifax Regional Municipalty (recently re-branded as just “Halifax”), Atlantic Canada's largest city, the result of today's mayoral election is a foregone conclusion. Mayor Mike Savage, the former Liberal MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour (2004-2011) has finished his first term as mayor of the city, and will likely enjoy being re-elected into a second term in the same fashion that most mayors are re-elected in Canada for their second terms, that is in a large landslide. He is only being challenged by one opponent, businesswoman Lil MacPherson who is challenging the centrist mayor from his left. She is the owner of a local organic restaurant. Only one poll of the race was conducted, back in the summer, showing Savage had a commanding 85%-15% lead over MacPherson.

 Savage won the 2012 race in a much more crowded field, but still by a decent margin, winning 58% of the vote, ahead of challengers Tom Martin (20%) and Fred Connors (18%). Three other candidates ran as well, each winning about 1% of the vote. Savage won all 16 districts in the city, doing the best in his native Dartmouth, while doing worse in the more rural parts of the city and in the inner-city. His strongest district was Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East (District 6) where he won 69% of the vote, while his worst district was Spryfield-Sambro-Prospect Road (District 11) on the Chebucto Peninsula, where win won 45% of the vote. This was retired police officer Tom Martin's strongest district, where he won 27% of the vote. Activist and businessman Fred Connors' strongest district was Peninsula North (District 8) in the inner-city, where he won 27% of the vote.

Map of Halifax's 16 council districts

On regional council, four of the city's 16 districts have open races, that is the incumbent in those seats have decided to retire instead of running for re-election. The four districts are District 1 (Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley), District 5 (Dartmouth Centre), District 8 (Peninsula North) and District 12 (Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park West-Wedgewood). There will be no elections in District 3 (Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage), District 4 (Cole Harbour-Westphal), District 15 (Lower Sackville) and District 16 (Bedford-Wentworth) as the incumbents there have been acclaimed.

Cape Breton 

Mayoral candidates
The mayoral race in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be a re-match of the 2012 election between Cecil Clarke and Rankin MacSween. Clarke served as the MLA for Cape Breton North from 2001 to 2011 for the Progressive Conservative Party before being elected mayor in 2012. MacSween is the head of a community economic development agency.

In 2012, Clarke defeated MacSween by a 59%-38% margin with three minor candidates winning the remaining 3%. I was lucky to be sent the results by district by the region's elections office, though the results by district may be a bit misleading, as over half of all voters voted in advance and did not have their votes recorded by district. Nonetheless, of those voting on election day, Clarke won all but one district in the region. He was especially strong in the Sydney Mines and North Sydney areas (Districts 1 and 2), which cover the provincial riding he represented. The one district he lost was District 11, which covers the New Waterford area. MacSween won the district by just 0.7% of the vote. The New Waterford area has historically been a very strong region for the NDP in provincial elections.

Cape Breton's 12 council districts

Cape Breton has a 12 seat municipal council, which only saw a minor boundary change since the last election. Every seat in the region will see a contested race, and four districts will have open races, including District 10 where disgraced former Liberal MLA Dave Wilson is running.

Kings County

Main mayoral candidates
The third largest municipality in Nova Scotia is actually Kings County, located on the Bay of Fundy in the Annapolis Valley. It includes the communities of Greenwood, Kingston and New Minas just to name a few. The county is seeing its first ever mayoral election, as it has switched from having a warden-council system to a mayor-council system. County warden Diana Brothers has opted to run for re-election in District 5 instead of running for mayor. Running for mayor of the county are four candidates: Rick Ackland, Dick Killam, Peter Muttart and Laurie Porter. Muttart is a county councillor representing the Port Williams area. Killam has also sat on council in the past, as has his wife. Rick Ackland is a retired lawyer who ran for a council seat in 2012, but had his candidacy disqualified. Porter does not appear to have an active campaign.

King County's 9 council districts (new map for 2016)

In addition to ditching the position of warden, the county has also reduced the number of council districts from 12 to nine, reducing the size of council from 13 members to ten. Due to a number of retirements on council however, no district is seeing more than one councillor run against each other.

Colchester County

Mayoral candidates
 The province's fourth largest municipality is Colchester County, which is in the northern part of the province, stretching from the Bay of Fundy to Northumberland Strait and completely surrounding the Town of Truro. Among other communities, it includes the villages of Bible Hill and Tatamagouche. Bob Taylor has been the county's mayor since 2008 and was re-elected by acclamation in 2012. Taylor is a Liberal, having run for that party in the 2006 provincial election in the riding of Colchester North. Unlike in 2012, Taylor is not running unopposed for the mayoralty this time. Councillor Christine Blair has entered the race against Taylor. She represents District 1 on council, which covers the Bible Hill and Brookside communities.

Colchester County's 11 council districts

Colchester County has 11 districts on council, most of which will not be seeing elections as their incumbents have been acclaimed, or in one case (District 1), a non-incumbent was the only candidate to offer. Elections will only occur in two districts: District 2 and District 11.

Those are the four biggest municipalities, but there are other races being held right across the province of course. Polls close at 7pm Atlantic time (6pm Eastern).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Scarborough--Rouge River by-election today

Another provincial by-election is being held this week, this time in Ontario, in the suburban Toronto riding of Scarborough—Rouge River, to fill a vacancy created last March when its provincial member of parliament, Bas Balkissoon unexpectedly resigned for mysterious reasons. Balkissoon, a member of the governing Liberal Party, had represented the riding since a by-election in 2005. The riding has a long history of voting for the Liberals; it has voted Liberal in every provincial election since 1985. However, recent election races in the riding have been fairly close, and the expectation is that this by-election will be too.

Scarborough—Rouge River is located in the northeast corner of Toronto, covering a number of very diverse neighbourhoods like Malvern and Agincourt North. It is named for the Rouge River, which runs through the east end of the riding. East of the Rouge River is Rouge Park, which covers about a quarter of the riding's area and surrounds the famous Toronto Zoo. The urban area of the riding is divided into two clusters, Malvern/Morningside Heights in the east and Agincourt/Millken in the west. These urban areas are further divided into sub-neighbourhoods.

Map of Scarborough--Rouge River's neighbourhoods


Scarborough—Rouge River is noteworthy for its huge immigrant population. A full two-thirds of residents are immigrants, over half of which have immigrated to Canada since 1981. China and Sri Lanka are the biggest source of immigrants to the riding, but many immigrants have come from the Philippines, India and Hong Kong too. Only 5% of the residents are third or more generation Canadians.

While the riding is very diverse as whole, it is not just one big mixed bag; the two urban clusters have attracted immigrants from different sources. The western half of the riding (west of Markham Road) is heavily Chinese, while the eastern half of the riding is more diverse, but is dominated by a large South Asian population. All together, the riding is 33% South Asian, 31% Chinese, 11% Black and only 8% White – making it one of the least Caucasian ridings in the country. Another 8% of the riding is Filipino. English is still the mother tongue of a plurality of residents (40%), while Chinese is the first language of 27% and Tamil of 12%. 39% of the riding is Christian, with about half of that being Catholic. 21% of the riding is Hindu, the largest concentration of Hindus in any riding in the province. 9% of the riding is Muslim.

The riding is a bit poorer than the province as a whole. The median household income in the riding is $62,000 (provincial median is $66,000) while the median individual income is $21,000 (provincial median is $31,000). The largest industries are manufacturing, retail trade and health care and social assistance.


For most of its post-confederation history, this part of Scarborough was mostly farmland, and Malvern was but a village with a post office. From Confederation until 1955, all of Scarborough was located in the provincial riding of York East. At that point all of Scarborough became the riding of York—Scarborough until Scarborough's post war population growth necessitated that the riding be split up into small ridings in 1963. At that time, everything in Scarborough east of Markham Road became the riding of Scarborough East and everything west of Markham Road and north of Lawrence Avenue became Scarborough North. Over the next few decades, the north end of Scarborough began to grow, with development only finally slowing down in the 2000s.

Beginning at the 1975 election, all of the north end of Scarborough was united within a newly-shaped Scarborough North riding. Population growth made the riding smaller over the course of its history until the area became Scarborough—Rouge River in 1999 when provincial riding boundaries were made to match their federal counterparts. This means that in the next provincial election, most of the riding will be transferred to the new riding of Scarborough North, while the eastern half of Malvern will be moved to the new riding of Scarborough—Rouge Park. (On a side note, the arbitrary division of the Malvern community is quite unfortunate, considering that a better boundary could have been Markham Road, would have made not only a better “natural” border, but also marks the border of the two major ethnic communities in Scarborough's north end.) 

Scarborough--Rouge River MPP list

Scarborough North and Scarborough—Rouge River have been continuously represented by Liberals since 1985, with Alvin Curling representing the area until Balkissoon's by-election win in 2005. Before 1985, the area was a safe Tory seat, but the increasing number of immigrants moving into the area helped the Liberals take it and made it into a safe Liberal seat. The riding would remain a safe Liberal seat until both the NDP and Progressive Conservatives began making inroads into the minority communities. In 2011, NDP candidate and school trustee Neethan Shan, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, gave Balkissoon (himself an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago) a run for his money, losing by just over 2000 votes. The 2014 election would become a three-way race with city councillor Raymond Cho (a Korean immigrant) running for the Tories against Balkissoon and Shan, who ran again. Fewer than 5,000 votes separated the first place Balkissoon and the third place Cho. With the Liberals moving to the left in their rhetoric in that election, it is possible many socially conservative immigrants were turned off of by the Liberals as the riding was only one of a few in the province that saw a swing from the Liberals to the PCs.

Political geography

Following the recent collapse of the Ontario Liberal Party's (and to a lesser extent, the federal Liberal Party) support among all immigrant groups in this riding, the Chinese western half and the South Asian eastern half of the riding have begun voting differently. Whether this has something to do with the party platforms or their respective candidates remains to be seen. However, patterns have emerged since 2011 showing that the Chinese population is increasingly voting for Conservative candidates, while the South Asian population has been increasingly voting NDP. The Liberals have still been able to get enough votes from both communities, and from the other minority groups in the riding (such as Filipinos and Caribbean Blacks) to still win the seat. In 2014, the only neighbourhood in the riding to vote PC (Port Royal) also happens to be the most Chinese neighbourhood in the riding, with 76% of the population there being of Chinese ancestry. Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods that voted NDP (Brookside, Dean Park, Morningside Heights) have the highest South Asian populations in the riding. The rest of the riding voted Liberal in 2014, to varying degrees, and is home to a more diverse population than the aforementioned neighbourhoods.

Partisan index map by neighbourhood
Just like in my Halifax Needham post from Tuesday, I also did a partisan voting index map for Scarborough--Rouge River. In each neighbourhood, I calculated the average difference in support between each of the three parties in the last two elections from the provincial average. This is slightly different than the calculations I did last time, as I had compared the Liberals to the NDP only (with the index showing the difference from an even two-way race), but this time I used three parties, so I couldn't do that, but it amounts to pretty much the same thing. Anyways, the map shows the NDP has done much better across the riding (especially in the east) compared to their province-wide numbers, while the Liberals are about even, while the Tories tend to under-perform throughout the riding. 

These ethnic voting patterns have been evident in recent federal elections as well. In the 2011 federal election, the western half of the riding went Conservative, while the eastern half overwhelmingly backed the NDP's Rathika Sitsabaiesan, a Sri Lankan Tamil, who ended up winning the seat with 41% of the vote. With the riding's South Asian community split into two ridings in 2015, Sitsabaiesan was forced to run in the more Chinese-dominated Scarborough North seat, where she finished in a distant third behind the Liberal's Shaun Chen and the Conservative's Ravinder Malhi. The rest of the riding became part of the new riding Scarborough—Rouge Park which the Liberals easily won with their candidate, another Sri Lankan Tamil, Gary Anandasangaree. Did the 2015 election show that immigrants had come back to the Liberal fold? Perhaps, but only time will tell. What is clear is that South Asians appear more receptive to the Liberal Party than Chinese Canadians who are more divided in their voting allegiances. 

Results by neighbourhood in the 2011 and 2014 provincial elections


While the federal Liberals remain hugely popular in Ontario, their provincial counterparts are polling very poorly, and are well behind the leading Tories. The Liberals have now been in power for 13 years, and have endured scandal after scandal after scandal. While poor inter-election poll results is nothing new for the Liberals, they are especially at a low point – the most recent Forum Research poll from August indicating they are now 13 points behind the Tories. And one issue that is hurting them, especially with socially conservative immigrant voters is the liberalization of the province's sex ed curriculum. Popular among progressives in the province, it has been more religious, especially immigrant voters who have been the most opposed to it. One would think that this would help the Tories, considering their new leader, Patrick Brown was elected with the backing socially conservative immigrant groups. Earlier in the year he vowed to overturn the new curriculum if elected as Premier, but he has since backpedalled and has now indicated that he won't be overturning the law, a move that will not help him win a riding that is overwhelmingly immigrant.

Two polls released on the eve of the election from Mainstreet Research and Forum Research have shown that we are indeed headed for a close race. Mainstreet's poll shows the Tories have a 5 point lead over the Liberals, while Forum's poll shows a tie between the two parties. Perhaps unexpectedly, both polls show the NDP well behind in third place, despite the party finishing second in both of the last provincial candidates. One thing to keep in mind is that it is incredibly difficult to poll ridings with a large immigrant population. I saw this constantly in my polling work at EKOS in the last election, and Scarborough North (the new federal riding overlapping Scarborough—Rouge River) was no exception. Impressively, Mainstreet's poll was conducted in Cantonese, Mandarin and Tamil (in addition to English), and was even weighted by ethnic group. The details of the Forum poll were not published, but I personally doubt they went to the extent Mainstreet did. As a pollster, I am particularly curious to see how well Mainstreet's poll does, considering the methodology they used. Will the data be more accurate, or was it all an exercise in futility in an impossible-to-poll riding?

Two names on the ballot will be the same as in the 2014 election. City councillor Raymond Cho will once again be the PC candidate. Cho actually represents the eastern half of the riding on city council, and has been involved in municipal politics since 1991. Cho was once a New Democrat, having run for the NDP in the 1988 federal election. Cho later became a Liberal, and ran as an “Independent Liberal” in the 2004 federal election, which upset the party. He then joined the Progressive Conservatives and ran in 2014. The NDP candidate is once again Neethan Shan, who was recently elected to represent the riding as a school trustee for the Toronto District School Board. This will be his third attempt to win the seat, after having come second in 2011 and 2014. This election will be Shan's 10th electoral contest of his life. He was first elected as a school trustee in Markham in 2006 after losing in his first attempt in 2003. He then ran for the NDP in Scarborough—Guildwood in 2007, then for Toronto city council in 2010 and 2014, losing both times to Cho. Fast forward to last January when Shan was elected as a trustee in an unnecessary, low turnout by-election (as all school board elections are!). One thing that might be hurting his poll numbers is that he may be seen as an opportunist- and who wants to vote in another school board by-election if he wins? As for the Liberals, their candidate is Piragal Thiru who is described as a “Liberal activist”, and is a refugee from Sri Lanka. He won the Liberal nomination by defeating the riding's former MP, Rathika Sitsabaiesan who had switched parties from the NDP. With two Sri Lankans in the race, it is entirely possible their vote will be split enough to allow the Tories to win the seat, which I believe is the most likely scenario (but, hey- I was wrong about Tuesday's race in Halifax!).

There are five other candidates in the race. The Greens, who never do very well here, are running administrator Priyan De Silva. There are also Freedom and Libertarian Party candidates, a “None of the Above” candidate who is running as “Above Znoneofthe” (presumably to ensure they are last on the ballot) and an independent candidate, Queenie Yu, who running almost exclusively to repeal the changes made to the Sex Ed curriculum.

We'll see if I'm right about the Tories picking this seat up when polls close at 9:00pm.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Halifax Needham provincial by-election today

As summer comes to a close, the Fall election season in Canada begins today, with a provincial by-election in Nova Scotia. Voters in the north-end Halifax riding of Halifax Needham are heading to the polls to elect a new member of the provincial legislature, to replace longtime NDP MLA Maureen MacDonald who resigned last Spring due to health issues. She had represented the riding since the 1998 election, when the NDP tied the Liberals for most seats, but had to settle for the opposition. She was re-elected in every subsequent election, even in 2013, when the party was decimated at the polls after an unpopular term in government.

Neighbourhood map

Halifax Needham covers most of what is known as the “North End” of the Halifax Peninsula, as well as part of the West End. In the south, the riding begins at Citadel Hill on the north edge of the city's downtown, and from there, covers all of the northeast part of the peninsula. Its western border is Connaught Avenue and Bayers Road in the northwest and Robie Street in the southwest. The riding contains the site of Africville, an historically Black neighbourhood whose inhabitants were cruelly evicted by the city in the 1960s. The riding also includes CFB Halifax and the Halifax Shipyard and was the site of the famous Halifax Explosion in 1917. The riding is named for Fort Needham, a park which contains memorial bells recovered from a church destroyed in the explosion.

Average income in Halifax Needham (2010)


The north end of Halifax is historically the more working class part of the city, and is home to a large student population. This has made the riding one of the strongest NDP ridings in the province, and is likely why the party won the seat in 2013, one of only two seats the New Democrats won in the Halifax Metro area.
Despite the riding's working class history, the NDP only became competitive in the 1980s. Prior to MacDonald's win in 1998, the riding swung between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. After losing in the 1984 and 1988 elections, MacDonald finally defeated Liberal MLA Gerry O'Malley in the 1998 election, by a large margin. She handily won the next 5 elections, cementing the riding as one of the safest NDP seats in the province. However, the 2013 election was much closer, with MacDonald defeating her Liberal opponent by under 300 votes. 

List of MLAs since 1933

Political geography

When it comes to the riding's political geography, income is a pretty good indicator of how the area will vote. The northern part of the riding (Convoy Place) was the strongest neighbourhood for the Liberals in the 2013 provincial election, and is also the wealthiest neighbourhood in the riding. The southern part of the riding (North End) is least affluent neighbourhood in the riding and was the strongest NDP neighbourhood in 2013. This division was apparent in the 2015 federal election as well; the southern neighbourhoods of the riding voted NDP while the northern neighbourhoods voted Liberal. 

Results by neighbourhood in 2009 and 2013

Something new that I have done for this by-election analysis (and something I hope to continue) is to calculate the partisan voting index (based on the Cook Partisan Voting Index used in the US) for each neighbourhood in the riding. This calculation compares how each neighbourhood voted to the province as a whole, using the average vote share in the last two elections. For Halifax Needham, I compared the Liberals and the NDP as those two parties were the strongest in both of the last two elections in the riding. The index calculation shows that every neighbourhood in the riding is more NDP-friendly than the province as a whole, compared to the Liberals. According to the index, the North End is the NDP's best neighbourhood (with an index score of +19), while the West End (which was in a different riding in the 2009 election) is the Liberal's best neighbourhood (NDP +7).

NEW! Partisan Voting Index by neighbourhood


Since winning the 2013 provincial election, the governing Liberals have enjoyed a considerable amount of popularity in public opinion polls, while both the NDP and the Tories are well behind. Most polls over the course of the year have had the Liberals hovering at around 60% of the vote, about 40 points ahead of the other two parties. The massive Liberal lead in the polls is fuelling speculation that Premier Stephen McNeil might call an early provincial election, even as early as this Fall, though such a move has often been disastrous in Canadian politics.

The lone electoral test the Liberals have had since the last general election was a series of by-elections held last summer, which paradoxically saw the Grits pick up two seats previously held by the NDP, while the NDP won a seat which was held by the Liberals. The two seats the NDP lost were in the industrial heartland of Cape Breton, while the NDP's win came in more suburban Dartmouth, signalling a potential demographic shift in support for the party. The NDP had been leaderless at the time (Maureen MacDonald served as interim leader), but have since elected a new leader in Gary Burrill, known as being a strong leftist. The move is a departure from the centrist policies of former leader and Premier Darrell Dexter, which many have criticized as having hurt the party while in government.
The only two parties that have a chance to win today's by-election is the Liberals and the NDP. The Tories have not been competitive here since they last won the seat in 1984, though they have subsequently finished in second in both 1999 and 2006. Federally, the Tories have not placed second in Halifax since 1997.

The Liberal candidate in the riding is Rod Wilson, a family doctor and executive director of the North End Community Health Centre. Hoping to keep the riding orange is Lisa Roberts, a former CBC journalist originally from Newfoundland. The PC candidate is businessman Andy Arsenault, while the Greens (who nearly de-registered as a party this summer) are running computer scientist Thomas Trappenberg, who was also the federal candidate in Halifax.

If the polls are to be believed, the Liberals should be able to win this seat, which they had only lost by a few hundred votes in 2013, as they are polling much better than in 2013, when they narrowly lost this seat. However, if the recent Dartmouth South by-election is any indication, the NDP could still hold on to this Metro seat, as it suggested that the NDP may still be strong in the region. In the federal election, the Liberals narrowly defeated the NDP in Halifax Needham (by about 300 votes) despite getting 62% of the vote province-wide, not too far off where the provincial Liberals are at in the polls right now. So my prediction is a narrow Liberal win (the Liberals could be helped by the fact that it's a summer by-election, and that means the high student population in the riding might not show up), but an NDP victory would not be a surprise. What would be a surprise to me would be either party winning by more than 1000 votes. 

A loss for the NDP in one of its safest seats would be a minor disaster for the party, which has seen its caucus shrink from seven seats down to five since the last election. With a provincial general election around the corner, it will make it harder for the party to win more seats if it is only defending five of them. It is far more important for the NDP to win this seat than the Liberals, though it would still be a pretty big boost for the Grits if they win it. Polls close at 8pm Atlantic Time (7pm Eastern).

Monday, May 9, 2016

New Brunswick municipal elections today

Map of New Brunswick's municipalities and wards
Voters in New Brunswick are heading to the polls today in municipal elections. Not only will voters be electing new mayors and councils across the province's 107 municipalities, they will also be voting for district education councils and regional health authorities. One municipality, Oromocto will also be holding a plebiscite to see if voters want bi-weekly recycle collection.

Since the last municipal elections in 2012 the province gained two new municipalities: the rural communities of Cocagne and Hanwell, bringing the total number of municipalities in the province up from 105 to 107. Furthermore, the Town of Tracadie-Sheila amalgamated with surrounding local service districts to become the new regional municipality of Tracadie.

Voters in the municipalities of Alma, Baker-Brook, Bath, Bertrand, Cambridge Narrows, Campobello Island, Clair, Hartland, Maisonnette, Meductic, Millville, Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska, Saint-Isidore, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, Saint-Quentin, Shippagan and Stanley will not be voting in council or mayoral elections, as all candidates running were acclaimed, that is they were elected to their positions without opposition.

The municipalities of Aroostook, Balmoral, Beresford, Blacks Harbour, Bouctouche, Canterbury, Cap-Pelé, Caraquet, Dorchester, Florenceville-Bristol, Gagetown, Hampton, Harvey, Hillsborough, New Maryaland, Nigadoo, Norton, Petitcodiac, Petit-Rocher, Pointe-Verte, Port Elgin, Richibucto, Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaël, Saint-Léonard, Shediac, St. Hilaire, Sussex, Sussex Corner, Tide Head, Tracy and Woodstock will not be holding mayoral elections, as candidates for that position were also acclaimed.

And, there will only be races for mayor in Charlo, Drummond, Saint Andrews, St. Martins and Upper Miramichi as the rest of council was acclaimed.

Let's take a look at the races in New Brunswick's three largest cities:



The race for mayor of Fredericton is between long-time mayor Brad Woodside and Ward 3 councillor Michael O'Brien.

Woodside has been involved in Fredericton politics for a long time. He was first elected as mayor in 1986, but was first elected to council in 1981. He resigned as mayor in 1999, but was re-elected in 2004 and has served as mayor ever since. He resigned in 1999 to run for the Liberals in the provincial election that year in the riding of Fredericton North, losing to the Progressive Conservatives in a close race.

Woodside won re-election in 2012, defeating left-leaning professor Matthew Hayes 63% to 37%. Woodside won 10 of the city's 12 wards, while Hayes won the two downtown wards, an area that is now held by the Green Party in the provincial legislature. Woodside saw his strongest support on the more suburban north side of the Saint John River.

This election is expected to be much closer than in 2012, as Woodside's opponent is more credible in city councillor Michael O'Brien, who has been a councillor since 2001. O'Brien was previously an engineer and worked for NB Liquor for 30 years. He is known for promoting affordable housing and social causes.

Candidates for mayor

Fredericton's 12 wards saw a re-drawing of their boundaries, and so this year's council election will be fought on a new electoral map. Each ward elects one member to city council, which means there are 13 council members including the mayor. Wards 1, 4 and 5 will not have elections as the candidates in those wards were elected with no opposition. In Ward 4, a non incumbent was acclaimed, Eric Price, as its current councillor, Eric Megarity decided to run in Ward 6 instead, against sitting councillor Marilyn Kerton. New ward boundaries have meant one other sitting councillor has had to run in a different seat. In addition to Megarity's move, Ward 2 councillor Bruce Grandy is running in Ward 3, leaving that ward as an open seat. There will be two other open races as Ward 7 councillor Scott McConaghy and Ward 12 councillor Randy Dickinson are not running for re-election.
Fredericton's new ward map



Two-term incumbent mayor George LeBlanc will not be running for re-election, leaving the mayoral race in the Hub City wide open. LeBlanc's decision to not run has come after a failed bid to win the federal Liberal Party nomination in Moncton's riding in last year's federal election.  LeBlanc easily won re-election as mayor of the city in 2012, defeating former NDP candidate Carl Bainrbidge 87% to 13%. LeBlanc won all four wards in the city by over 85% of the vote.

The race to replace LeBlanc is between two sitting city councillors, at large city councillor Dawn Arnold and Ward 3 city councillor Brian Hicks. Hicks is a Liberal, having run in the 2014 provincial election in Moncton Northwest, losing to the PCs in a close race. He has served on city council since 1999, and was previously a businessman, having managed two inter-provincial trucking companies. Arnold was first elected to city council in the 2012 election, managing to top the poll in the race for at-large city councillor. Previously, she was the chair of the local “Frye Festival”, a local bilingual literary festival.

Candidates for mayor

In addition to the mayoral race, there are 10 seats up for grabs on Moncton's city council. Each of Moncton's four wards will elect two city councillors while the remaining two city councillors are elected city-wide on an at-large basis. With Arnold running for mayor, there will only be one incumbent (Pierre Boudreau) running for re-election as Moncton's at-large councillor. In addition to Boudreau, there are seven candidates running for the two at-large positions. With Brian Hicks running for mayor, and Ward 3's other councillor, Daniel Bourgeois not running for re-election, there will be an open race for that ward's two council seats. The incumbents in the remaining three wards in the city are all running for re-election.

Saint John


Saint John will also see an open race for mayor, as the city's current head, Mel Norton is retiring and will be running for leader of the province's Progressive Conservative Party. Norton had only been mayor of the city for one term, being first elected in the 2012 election, when he defeated the previous mayor, Ivan Court in a landslide, 76% to 15%. Norton easily won all four wards in the city, three of which with over three quarters of the vote. The only ward he did not break 75% was Ward 3, which covers the central part of the city, despite this being the ward he had previously represented on city council.

With Norton not running for re-election, five candidates have stepped up to replace him, Deputy Mayor Shelley Rinehart, councillor Bill Faren, former city councillor Patty Higgins, businessman Don Darling and fringe candidate Howard Yeomans.

The three main candidates for mayor
Rinehart was first elected to Saint John's city council in 2012, topping the polls for one of two at-large positions, becoming deputy mayor in the process. Prior to her election, she served as a business professor. She ran for the provincial Liberals in the 2014 Saint John East by-election, going down to defeat against the Progressive Conservative candidate, despite the Liberals having just won the seat two months earlier in the provincial election.  Farren is one of the two city councillors representing Ward 1, and was first elected to council in 2004.  Farren ran for the NDP in the 1999 provincial election in the riding of Saint John Lancaster, finishing third. Higgins sat on Saint John's council from 2008 to 2012, when she lost her Ward 2 seat by a narrow margin. While sitting as a city councillor, Higgins ran for the Green Party in the 2010 provincial election in the riding of Saint John Harbour, coming in last place. Darling is a local consultant and owns a small construction business, while Yeomans is a retiree who considers himself an “average citizen”.

Saint John's city council is elected the same way as Moncton's. There are four wards, which elect two councillors each, plus two councillors are elected at-large. The at-large councillor with the most votes becomes deputy mayor.

With Rinehart running for mayor, only one incumbent is running for re-election in the at-large race, Shirley McAlary. She is running against five other candidates for the two positions. Both incumbents from Wards 3 and 4 will be running for re-election as well. Meanwhile in Wards 1 and 2, only one incumbent is running for re-election. In Ward 1 only Greg Norton is running for re-election, as its other councillor, Bill Faren is running for mayor. In Ward 2 only John MacKenzie is running for re-election as Susan Fullerton is retiring.

Polls close at 8pm, Atlantic time or 7pm Eastern. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Manitoba election prediction: PC landslide

Seat prediction map
Manitobans are heading to the polls today in what will be an historic provincial election. If all the polls are correct, then voters are set to elect a Progressive Conservative government in a landslide election, kicking out the governing NDP, which has run the province since 1999, winning four straight majority governments in the process.

Polls are suggesting the PCs are hovering around 50% in the popular vote, which would be their highest vote share since 1910. If they get a few points higher than that, it would be their highest vote share in the province's history. This means that the Tories will be winning seats they have never won before, some of them quite easily, like Brandon East, Interlake and Selkirk. The NDP meanwhile is polling in the mid-20s, which would be their worst result since 1988. The Liberals on the other hand are just looking to gain back relevancy. After winning just one seat and 8% of the vote in 2011, they are now polling in the mid-teens, and could see their best result since 1995. The Greens are also polling well, averaging at 8%, which would be their best result ever.

This has been an election of awful leaders. NDP Premier Greg Selinger is coming off of last year's controversial leadership election, which followed a caucus revolt. Selinger won the election by a narrow result, thanks in part to the backing of major unions in the province. Not only that, Selinger is carrying 17 years of governing baggage behind him. The man who will become Premier, PC leader Brian Pallister is carrying baggage of his own. Many see him as being too right wing for the province, and is currently embroiled in a scandal in where it was discovered he had been to Costa Rica 15 times since 2012, and had lied about his travels. As for Liberal leader Rana Bokhari, she has run a lacklustre campaign which included an awful debate performance. At the beginning of the campaign, the Liberals had been polling ahead of the NDP for second place, but have now fallen considerably behind. The only leader that seems to be popular is Green Party head, James Beddome, who will definitely benefit from a high protest vote this election.



For my riding predictions, I have come up with a “rating” for each riding (safe, likely, lean or toss up), which rates how comfortable I am in my predictions for each seat. I've made these ratings by using recent regional poll numbers and comparing them to the last provincial election as well as an average result of the last provincial and federal elections (see maps below). In taking a look at both elections, I feel I have a way to identify any abnormal riding results, and account for this in my predictions. Where my numbers contradict each other in a riding, or where they show a close race, I've declared the seat a “toss up” and offered my gut prediction in that riding, based on its history and its candidates. I've also taken into consideration a couple of riding polls that have come out over the course of the campaign.

Overall, I am predicting a landslide Progressive Conservative victory, with the Tories winning 43 of the 57 seats in the legislature. This would be their biggest electoral win in the province's history. I am predicting that the governing NDP will be reduced to just 11 seats, which would be their worst election since 1966. And ss for the Liberals, I am predicting they will win three seats, their best total since 1995.

Polls are suggesting the Tories are winning about two-thirds of the vote in rural Manitoba, which means they will likely sweep all of rural southern Manitoba (including Brandon), leaving the NDP to their northern stronghold (though they could close Flin Flon to the Liberals). In Winnipeg, polls indicate that the Tories have at least a 15 point lead over the NDP, which will see the PCs win back their former suburban strongholds in the south and west ends, and eat into traditional NDP territory in the north and east of the city. This will reduce the NDP to their stronghold in the central and north central parts of the city. Meanwhile the Liberals should hold on to their lone seat of River Heights, and maybe pick up one or two more seats thanks to vote splits. The Greens may also win a seat or two. 

Here are my seat by seat ratings. Ridings are coloured in by how they voted in 2011. 

Seat by seat rating.

Ridings to watch

I've identified ten ridings as “toss ups” - ridings where my numbers have shown a close race. For each of these ridings I went with my gut (with detailed reasoning) as to how I believe they will go:

Concordia: This north Winnipeg riding is being defended by incumbent NDP MLA Matt Wiebe, who has represented the seat since 2009, when he took over the riding from its predecessor, former Premier Gary Doer. The seat has voted NDP in every election since it was created in 1981. Wiebe won the seat in 2011 by 35 points, and it is one of only five provincial ridings to go NDP in the last federal election. On paper it is a safe NDP seat, but with the amount of swing the polls are predicting, this riding could be in play. I'm still predicting the NDP to hold on though.

Elmwood: Right next door to Concordia is Elmwood, which is being defended by long-time NDP MLA Jim Maloway, who has held this seat from 1986 to 2008 and since 2011. This riding has also voted NDP (and its predecessor, the CCF) in every election since it was created in 1958. The result in the last election in this seat was relatively close though, with Maloway defeating his Tory opponent by 21 points. One glimmer of hope for the NDP is that they did win the transposed federal result here. However, my numbers show the PCs winning this seat in a close result, which is why I am predicting they will win it.

Flin Flon: This riding, located in northwestern Manitoba will see an interesting race, as its defending MLA Clarence Pettersen is running as an independent, after he lost the NDP nomination. Flin Flon has been an NDP seat since 1969, but Pettersen's candidacy is expected to split the NDP vote. In the federal election, the NDP won Flin Flon over the Liberals by a slim margin, suggesting the Liberals could be the party that has the best chance at benefiting from the split. The provincial Liberals are also polling better than the NDP in rural Manitoba. This is why I think they will win the seat.

Fort Garry-Riverview: The NDP won this central Winnipeg seat in 2011, but this should be a Green-PC race. Green Party leader James Beddome is running in this riding, and of the four party leaders, he has the highest approval ratings. The Greens are polling quite high in the city (around 10%) which is enough to put this riding in play. Without riding polling, Green Party targets are hard to predict, so it is hard to say whether Beddome will win this seat. I'd prefer to hedge my bets though, and go with the PCs here, who could come up the middle against a divided progressive vote.

Fort Rouge: This central Winnipeg seat is the riding where Liberal leader Rana Bokhari has chosen to run. A riding poll from the beginning of the campaign showed a three-way race with Bokhari ahead of the PC candidate by just two points. At that point in the campaign the Liberals were doing much better in province-wide and city-wide polling, but now they are doing much more poorly. It is entirely possible that this drop in Liberal fortunes has happened in Fort Rouge as well. The NDP is running a star candidate in First Nations musician Wab Kinew, and I predict that this split in the non-PC vote could cause the Tories to come up the middle and win this seat for the first time since 1969.

St. Johns: My numbers suggest a tight NDP win in this north-end riding, but what will make it hard for the New Democrats to keep this seat is the fact that incumbent MLA Gord Mackintosh has decided to retire, making this an open seat. This seat has been won by the NDP, and its predecessor the CCF in every election since it was created in 1958, and Mackintosh won the riding in 2011 by an impressive 44 point margin. Because of these factors, I believe the NDP will manage to hang on to this seat.

The Maples: This ethnically diverse riding in the northwest corner of Winnipeg has had a history of electing Liberals to the provincial government, but none since 1995. A rebound in Liberal fortunes suggests that they will be competitive there, but will it be enough for them to win? The NDP, which holds this riding, is hoping for a split in the anti-NDP vote in order to hold on to the riding. However, I believe the surging Tories will pick this up, thanks to a split in the anti-PC vote, winning this riding for the first time ever.

Thompson: Way up in the north of the province is the riding of Thompson, which has been held by the NDP's Steve Ashton (who had challenged NDP leader Greg Selinger in last year's leadership election, following a caucus revolt) since 1981. The riding has only voted for the Tories once in its existence, in 1977. However, my numbers suggest that this riding may be in play. It is hard to fathom the PCs winning this seat though, considering Ashton won it by 40 points in 2011, and his daughter, Nikki won Thompson in last year's federal election. Because of this, I think the NDP will hold on to the riding.

Tyndall Park: The Liberals came a close second in this northwest Winnipeg seat in the last election, losing to the NDP's Ted Marcelino by a 10 point margin. Because of this, my numbers are suggesting a narrow Liberal win here. Though, with their faltering campaign, it is not a given, and either the NDP or the PCs might be able to win it as a result. Though, I think I will trust my numbers and predict a Liberal win here.

Wolseley: This central Winnipeg seat saw the Green's best result in 2011, when their leader, James Beddome won 20% of the vote, coming in second place. Beddome chose to run in Fort Garry-Riverview though, but the Greens are still running a star candidate in environmentalist David Nickarz in this riding. NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer defeated Beddome by a 40 point margin in 2011, a difference that will be very hard for Nickarz to overcome. It is hard to predict insurgent Green campaigns, and so I will play it safe and predict an NDP hold here.


While losing will obviously be bad news for the NDP, it will mean finally getting rid of Selinger, and replacing him with a stronger leader. Also, beating out the Liberals for second place would be a minor victory, as we know from the results of the federal election, Manitobans would be quite willing to vote Liberal with the right leader, and a third place finish for the NDP would be a disaster for them.

As for the Tories, many people are suggesting it could be a “one and done” government for the party, due to weaknesses of Brian Pallister. He is being likened to former PC Premier Stirling Lyon who only lasted one term, before voters ditched his government in 1981. But, we may be getting ahead of ourselves here.

For the Liberals, they would be wise to ditch Bokhari as leader, though she will want to hang on if they make any seat gains. However, she will probably have to keep her seat first!

For those who want to follow the results, the polls close at 8pm Central Time, which is 9pm Eastern.