Opening Statement



Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Dead Heat: Who Will Win + How?

[Post-script: Of course McGuinty will say no coalition, to hint otherwise would say he lacks confidence that he can win. Also, if swing voters feel safe they might stay with the NDP on election day rather than seek safety under the Liberal Tent. The NDP is guarded about the possibility of a coalition too. Under either a Liberal or a Conservative government they hold the balance of power, coalition or not, so there's no need to show their cards just yet.]

Election day is Thursday Oct. 6 of this week. Both the Liberal and Conservatives seem tied in a dead heat, if we are to believe the polls. Neither the Federal or the Toronto Municipal election polling numbers have turned out to be very accurate over the last year or so. In short, election day may just come down to a crap shoot, a roll of the dice as to who will win, and what happens afterward. It's still any one's guess. Let's examine this further.


Vote percentages don't necessarily match the actual seat numbers that will result for each party at Queens Park. For some interesting projections on this see http://electionalmanac.com/ Their seat projections are based upon polls from over a week ago, and therefore don't take into account the televised leaders debate. Then again the recent polls don't seem to shown any decisive win though Andrea Horwath's personal popularity may continue to grow. McGuinty and Hudak remain in a dead heat with perhaps a small bump in the viewer polls resulting from McGuinty's better performance in the debate. Otherwise the polling numbers don't seem to have changed much. The election race remains a dead heat with the Liberals and Conservatives both polling around the 35% mark. According to Election Almanac's projections we are looking at at a very slim Liberal majority! How can this be? Don't forget Ontario's population isn't spread evenly across the province, so the polling numbers won't evenly express true voter intent in every riding.


Another issue with the polling numbers is the actual demographics of the support for each of the three main parties. The NDP under Andrea Howarth has broken through the party's 20% glass roof and by some estimates is continuing to grow. In the personal sense she has done best this election in projecting an alternative to the "men in suits" running for the other parties. She comes across as warm and personable and has kept the Jack Layton glow shining. Party and platform wise, the NDP hasn't done as well though in inspiring mainstream confidence that they are ready to govern. Most importantly of all the NDP'ers voter base is largely young adults who are often not prone to actually show up to vote.


The Conservatives at 35% are pretty much at or just a little above the number of party faithful. If they don't like the leader or policies they won't switch votes, they just won't vote at all. The Toronto Sun, the most venomous of their supporters, while still declaring Hudak the winner of the debate didn't try to portray his win as a slam dunk. Quite rare. Apparantly Hudak wasn't Conservative enough in stating what cuts would be made. Had he done some more union bashing this might have been more reassuring to them. He's not quite enough like Mike Harris. He didn't list a lot of far right promises openly and clearly enough for the liking of a large enough percentage of his core group I suspect. Then again, smelling possible victory Conservative voters might just figure damn the torpedoes and come out to vote for him anyways, something they were not prepared to do under Ernie Eves and even less so with John Tory as party leader.


Where does this leave the Liberals? Their core support is amongst the aging baby-boomers, a substantial slice of the demograph, and perhaps even more importantly the group that is most likely to come out to vote. Quite frankly anyone with half a brain knows Ontario is doing relatively well right now in the current economic crisis. It is the international situation which is most likely to determine how jobs, finances and the economy goes in Ontario. Any other bromide is snake oil at best. Dalton McGuinty has stressed his good managerial skills, and can come across as believable on this count if still not being all that warm and reassuring. But in uncertain times, the simple cures promised by the Conservatives or even the NDP might seem pretty easy to swallow by the populace at large. Do they believe that a quick fix with lower taxes will work or do they prefer someone who will be steady and able to manage? If one believes it is all Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals fault that we are in uncertain economic times that voter might still gamble on swallowing the Tory snake oil come voting day. The Conservatives and Liberal messaging has pretty much come down to these two themes. Dalton the lying tax man or Dalton as the good, steady manager.


Another cause of great concern for the Liberals is a split in votes between them and the increasingly popular NDP. The Conservative have and still could quite likely win some more ridings first pass the post even though the total popular vote for their party is less than the combined vote of the other two. Often, we have seen a last minute switch of voters crossing back to the Liberals fearing a Conservative win. But Andrea Horwath has done well. Sensing a balance of power might now exist in a new post Bob Rae NDP her support could be tempted to stay with the leftist party rather than jumping ship to the Liberals come election day.

Much of the party canvasing this year focused on primarily finding out the residents political preference, rather than in trying to win over new support. These lists will prove invaluable come election day in getting out the vote. Each party will need a huge army of folk walking door to door, making phone calls and driving people to the voting stations. I still maintain that whoever gets the most of their support out wins be they Liberal or Conservative. Either way if it could be a minority government for either side with the NDP able to start calling a lot of the shots, or even forming a coalition, though that would be an issue I'd rather address later in another blog. Of course a lot can still happen between now and election day.


OECTA continues to encourage it's strategic voting option. Support your Liberal or NDP incumbent, they are both education friendly. As a teacher you won't want to see the Tory's coming down the middle in a split vote, they are not. If you have to hold your nose then so be it. If you have to help your own party do so in another riding where they are the incumbent. You really won't like a Conservative triad at the Federal, Municipal and Provincial level hatcheting away at our social services safety net for the next four years with their ill conceived economic remedy of cut, cut, cut!

So then, let me give you my top guesses how the election will turn out, in descending order:

1] A slim Liberal majority
2] A Conservative minority
3] A Liberal/ NDP Coalition
4] The polling is way off again and we get a Conservative majority

PS: For another real interesting and often quite accurate election result website go to http://electionprediction.org/



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