Le départ PKP: une bonne chose pour le PQ?


Pierre Karl Péladeau a pris tout le monde par surprise hier en annonçant son départ de la direction du PQ (et de la vie politique) en raison de problèmes familiaux. Cela à peine un an après son élection triomphante (57% des voix) à la tête du parti souverainiste.

Au-delà du choc initial, il y a de bonnes raisons de penser que cette annonce est en fait une bonne nouvelle pour le Parti Québécois. J'irais jusqu'à dire que la personne la plus triste hier était probablement Philipe Couillard!

PKP à la tête du PQ n'a jamais vraiment eu beaucoup de sens. Un corporatiste qui veut faire de la souveraineté une priorité pour le PQ? Un gars qui a déjà été directement opposé aux syndicats, eux qui ont depuis longtemps été avec le PQ? La personne qui avait fait déraillé la campagne de Pauline Marois en 2014 avec son poing levé, demandant un pays? Soyons honnêtes, PKP avait été élu à la tête du PQ simplement en raison de son nom et du fait qu'il était vu comme une "superstar" qui pourrait faire gagner le PQ, un parti qui a comme meilleur résultat du 21e siècle une courte minorité en 2012. En d'autres mots: le sauveur dont le PQ avait besoin.

PKP n'a jamais semblé très à l'aise en politique. Sa campagne au leadership n'était pas bonne (ça n'avait pas d'importance, la course avait été remportée dès que PKP avait annoncé sa candidature). Il multipliait les gaffes. Et son court règne à la tête du PQ a été marqué par plusieurs problèmes, surtout avec la vieille garde de ce parti.

Mais il y avait un gros problème, le PQ sous PKP n'allait nulle part. Du moins selon les sondages. Après une courte (et petite) lune de miel après son élection, le PQ était repassé en 2e position.

Regardons les plus récents sondages. Selon le Crop du 21 avril, le PLQ était en tête des intentions de vote avec 33% (1 de plus qu'en mars), le PQ arrivait 2e avec 26% (-4), la CAQ juste derrière avec 25% (+1) et QS à 14%. Tout cela avec 61% d'insatisfaits! Quant au Leger du 24 mars, le PLQ y était à 33%, le PQ à 30%, la CAQ à 22% et QS à 10%. 65% d'insatisfaits.

Transposés en sièges via le modèle de projections, cela nous donne essentiellement les résultats suivants:

PLQ: 46-64 sièges; 86% de chances de gagner
PQ: 29-55; 14% de chances
CAQ: 14-35; 0.2% de chances
QS: 3-6

À première vue ce n'est pas si mauvais pour le PQ. Ce dernier avait aussi remporté confortablement la partielle dans Chicoutimi il y a deux semaines. Mais rappelons-nous que nous sommes à mi-mandat du gouvernment Couillard, un gouvernement avec plus de 60% d'insatisfaits et empiétré dans de multiples scandales. Le PLQ est aussi souvent sous-estimé dans les sondages. Or, malgré tout cela, le PLQ reste en tête! Le PQ se bagarre pour la 2e place avec la CAQ et continue de perdre des sièges à QS (qui est probablement surestimé, comme c'est souvent le cas en-dehors des campagnes électorales).

C'est vraiment là que le bât blesse (ou blessait) pour PKP. Et l'ex chef du PQ en était bien conscient. Bien sûr, nous ne sommes pas en période électorale et Justin Trudeau a bien démontré que les campagnes peuvent changer les opinions. Mais PKP n'était pas Trudeau. Raisonnablement, le PQ devrait être en tête dans les sondages. De plus, la cote de popularité de PKP n'était pas bien haute. 55% des répondants du dernier Leger étaient insatisfaits de son travail. Même en se limitant aux électeurs Péquiste, PKP n'était "qu'à" 79% de satisfaits, le plus faible résultat des 4 chefs des principaux partis (auprès de leurs partisans).

La résistance du PLQ est remarquable. Tant dans les intentions de vote provinciales que dans la partielle dans Chicoutimi. Les Libéraux sont vraiment toujours là. Mais ils le doivent en partie à une opposition faible. Si cet article porte sur PKP et le PQ, on ne devrait pas oublier que François Legault et la CAQ ne font pas mieux.

Si l'on regarde dans l'avenir, une campagne avec PKP aurait pu être catastrophique pour le PQ. Surtout si son chef allait vraiment parler de souveraineté à tout va. Le PLQ se réjouissait de cela. La peur d'un référendum avait complètement déraillé la campagne de Pauline Marois, alors imaginez contre PKP! Les électeurs plus à gauche se seraient reportés sur QS. En plus, PKP avait le mérite d'attirer certains électeurs CAQ, ce qui divisait l'opposition. À plus court terme, PKP avait raison de vouloir moderniser le parti mais sa façon de le faire n'était probablement pas optimale. Son inexpérience politique était un autre handicap. Finalement, il reste qu'une partie des électeurs traditionnels de ce parti n'étaient pas vraiment d'accord avec PKP. Ces membres acceptaient PKP car il devait les amener à la victoire, mais cette dernière semblait de plus plus en improbable.

Les membres du PQ vont devoir faire un choix. Mais s'ils choississent le bon candidat, ils pourraient relancer leur parti. Le PQ va aussi bénéficier d'une visibilité accrue dans les médias (ce qui peut être à double tranchant cependant). Et une fois choisi, le nouveau chef bénéficera d'un petit bonus traditionnel. Juste à temps pour préparer l'élection de 2018. Dans tous les cas, l'expérience PKP au PQ est maintenant une chose du passé. Qui lui succèdera? On peut imaginer qu'Alexandre Cloutier, qui avait terminé 2e l'année dernière, devrait être l'un des favoris. Cependant, il était aussi l'un des candidats les plus ouverts à organiser un autre référendum. Un enjeu pas forcément gagnant actuellement et une position qui permet au PLQ de faire une campagne facile. Si je devais donner un conseil, je dirais qu'unifier le mécontentement contre le gouvernement Libéral est bien plus prioritaire pour le PQ que de parler d'un autre référendum.

Let's stop this nonsense: a referendum on electoral reform is not only necessary, it is desirable

Canada has used the same electoral system for federal elections since 1867. All the provinces also still use the same system of "First Past The Post" (FPTP). For many Canadians, this is probably the only system they even know or are aware of. However, the (new) Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looking to change or reform this system.

Justin Trudeau announced his plan before the campaign and repeated it as an electoral promise: 2015 would be the last election under the FPTP system. Which system would replace it would have to be decided later. But the Prime Minister doesn't seem to want to submit the proposed change to a national referendum. I believe that this decision is borderline non-democratic. At the very least, it's just plain wrong for multiple reasons. I'll go over them in this post.

Before I do however, I'd like to remind the readers that I have been one of the biggest supporters of electoral reform in this country. I have made this position clear on my blog many, many times. I truly despise FPTP and I personally think proportional representation is a far superior system. So do not think that this article is written by somebody who is simply trying to find ways to kill electoral reform. It's quite the opposite. And to add to this full disclosure, I voted Liberals last October. Not that it really mattered anyway in my urban Vancouver riding!

1. Domestic as well as international precedents make holding a referendum a reasonable expectation

Some provinces have attempted to change their electoral system. British Columbia held a referendum on the question in 2005. Almost 58% of the voters said "yes" to changing the system to the Single Transferable Vote (STV). However, the government of BC had set the threshold at a ridiculously high 60%. Since it was so close, they held another referendum four years later. That time around, voters chose the status quo by more than 60%. Why the sharp shift in public opinion? Well, for starter, the questions asked were not the same in both referendum (and the question does matter!). More generally, I guess electoral reform was simply not seen as important anymore. It must be noted that the proposed system, STV, is a relatively complex one and many voters didn't take the time to actually study it.

Ontario also held a referendum in 2007. Instead of the STV, the proposed system was the mixed member proportional representation (MMP), a system inspired by the German system where two different types of MLAs are elected: some with the current system and some with a proportional system. Ontarian rejected MMP by more than 63% of the votes.

PEI also rejected the MMP in 2005.

While all these referendums were unsuccessful (well, it's debatable for the first one in BC), they show that asking voters if they want to switch system is a well established precedent in this country. And these provinces are just following in the foot steps of other international examples such as New-Zealand (MMP, accepted in 1993, confirmed in 2011) or the UK in 2011 (who rejected the Alternative Vote).

All in all, it's quite difficult to find an example of a jurisdiction who changed its electoral system in the 21st century without asking its citizens.


2. The Liberals do not have a mandate to unilaterally change the system

This is one of the main arguments I always hear. Put simply, people will argue that since the Liberals won a majority last election while promising electoral reform, then they already got the mandate they need to do so. A variation of this argument (made necessary when people are reminded that the Liberals still "only" won 39.5% of the votes) is to add the votes of the LPC, NDP and Green (all in favour of reforming the system, although not necessarily with the same preferred alternative), we get over 62% of the voters who already supposedly "approved" an electoral reform.

This argument is absolute nonsense. It makes me genuinely mad when I hear or read it. And I also think a lot of the people using it are hypocrites. For instance, I'd like to see what they'd say if the Parti Québécois was to hold a "élection référendaire" where the PQ would interpret winning a majority of seats as a "OUI" to separate from Canada simply because it was one of their promises, along with what they'd do in education or public finance. And yes, I'm well aware that this would be illegal based on the ruling of the Supreme Court, but I'm talking about political legitimacy here, not legal one.

An election is not a referendum on every promise of the winning party. On top of that, electoral reform was never a major issue during the previous federal election. I dare you to find a poll where voters cited it as a major one.

A majority (or plurality, depending on whether the option "no opinion" is offered) also thinks the government should indeed keeps its promise to change the system. At the same time, Canadians seem almost perfectly divided regarding the need of a referendum. It's interesting to note, however, that only Liberal supporters (and, surprisingly, Bloc voters) think a referendum is not necessary. Even NDP voters (who we can think would usually support electoral reform) think asking Canadians is required. A different poll, conducted a couple of months ago, showed strong support for holding a referendum.

It's also important to note that even if you accept the principle that the Liberals have won a mandate to change the system, they never said which alternative they'd choose. It wasn't part of the electoral promise. And depending on whether they choose the STV, MMP or the Alternative Vote, it can have dramatic impacts of the outcome of the next election. Therefore, it's only fair to at least ask Canadians which alternative they prefer. On a personal note, I'd vote YES to the STV or MMP without any hesitation but I'd have to think about it if we were offered the Alternative Vote as this system might make the results even less proportional.


3. It creates a dangerous precedent

The electoral system is an essential part of the Canadian system. So much that some people argue the government can't change the system on its own and that it's similar to a Constitutional change. I won't enter this debate, but let's remember the outrage of many over the attempts by the previous PM Stephen Harper of reforming the Senate unilaterally. While he indeed didn't have the legal right to do so, let's realize that, for all intents and purposes, changes to the Senate would have far smaller consequences than changing the electoral system.

If Justin Trudeau changes the system unilaterally, what would prevent the next Prime Minister to do the same? Do we really want to have such a fundamental part of our democratic system at the mercy of the next guy winning a majority of the seats (with, most likely) a plurality of the votes?

At the very least, such big changes should require a super majority of the House of Commons. You don't want one party with 39.5% of the votes being able to rewrite the rules of the game. While the Conservatives will most likely never accept to change the electoral system, we should at least have a consensus among the other parties. I could tolerate the system to be changed if 65 or 70% of the MPs were to vote in favour. I'd still consider a referendum a much more democratic solution. And one that would guarantee the alternative not to be changed in 4 years for instance.


4. It's just plain wrong.

Yes the Liberal government can change the system without asking us. It can even do it without the support of the other parties if the current commission doesn't lead to a consensus opinion (which is quite likely if you ask me. I believe the Liberals will stick to the Alternative Vote/Instant Run-Off they favoured while the NDP will want proportional representation and the Conservatives won't want to change anything). But it simply shouldn't.

Justin Trudeau won the last election fair and square. The achievement is all the more impressive given that he started the campaign in third place. He ran a very good campaign. And a mostly positive one. He made some bold promises. So why would he now stop and be a coward? Why would he now start imposing a reform on people if he truly believes they might not want it?

I understand why many supporters of electoral reform don't want a referendum. We've seen that it has systematically failed in previous experiences in this country. This is why Justin Trudeau even said last week that "a referendum is a good way not to get electoral reform". While I commend the Prime Minister for not forgetting about this promise (as opposed to Jean Charest in Quebec in 2003 who, after promising a reform, kinda realized that the current system wasn't that bad), I feel truly disappointed in hearing the Prime Minister literally admitting that this is the best way to force this reform on Canadians.

In particular, I think he's forgetting one very important fact: no major party campaigned for the "YES" during the lost referendums in this country. I was already in BC when the STV got defeated. The referendum was held the same day as the general election. Which means this issue was never really put forward during the campaign. Both the BC Liberals and NDP didn't want to get actively involved in the campaign, including when asked during the debate. Given that the proposed system wasn't the wasn't the easiest one, it was pretty much impossible for the "YES" to win. Same thing in Ontario with an easier system.

What I'm saying here is that the situation could and would be very different if we were to hold a referendum just on this, with the Liberals (and I guess the NDP and Green) actively involved and trying to convince people. If people really want electoral reform, then asking them shouldn't be an issue.

Do not mix it with the next election though. This is an issue important enough that we should vote on it alone. And preferably before the next election. We still have time to do it the right way. Yes it might be objectively difficult to win this kind of referendums as many voters might not be fully informed (something that was very apparent in the reasons why BC voters rejected the STV) and therefore choosing the known status quo. But the Liberal government should see this as an opportunity to campaign and convince people, not as a reason to ignore people and decide for them.

I have wanted electoral reform for years, but I also want it done the right way. And this means a winning referendum. I was devastated when BC voters rejected the STV in 2009. That remains truly one of the worst moments I've had while being involved or following politics (side note: I've been on the losing side of every single referendum or plebiscite in BC since I moved here in 2008). I still think a referendum is the only way to go.

Élection partielle dans Chicoutimi: le PQ favori

Un premier billet depuis un bout de temps! Après la (très) longue campagne fédérale, j'avais décidé de faire une petite pause. Il faut dire que faire des projections hors des périodes électorales n'est pas des plus intéressants. Mais après ces quelques mois, il est temps de retourner au travail. J'ai plusieurs projets, incluant des modifications importantes au modèle afin de tenir compte du taux de participation. Mais en attendant,  l'élection partielle dans Chicoutimi représente l'occasion idéale pour relancer le blogue.

Si vous ne voulez que les chiffres et projections, les voici:


Maintenant, voici les explications.

Après 17 ans en politique, Stéphane Bédard avait démissionné en octobre dernier. Perdre un député de longue date n'est jamais une bonne nouvelle pour un parti. Mes estimations montrent que cela se traduit en moyenne par une perte de 5 points (peu importe les variations provinciales et régionales qui peuvent s'ajouter). Une moyenne qui cache cependant d'importantes variations d'un député à l'autre. La première tâche est ainsi de déterminer si Stéphane Bédard bénéficiait d'un effet personnel important.

Lors de la précédente élection générale, il avait remporté son siège avec 34.5% des votes, devant le PLQ à 29.5% et la CAQ à 17.5%.  Tout cela avec une participation de 70%, soit juste en-dessous de la moyenne provinciale. Mes projections en 2014 avaient bien Stéphane Bédard gagnant, mais avec une marge bien plus importante (40% contre 31% pour le PLQ). Tant le PQ et la CAQ étaient surestimés dans mes projections, probablement car je n'avais pas inclus (ou prévu) la bonne performance du candidat indépendant Marc Pettersen qui avait obtenu 11% des votes.

Par rapport à 2012, Stéphane Bédard avait chuté d'environ 10 points, soit bien davantage que le 6.6 points du PQ à l'échelle provinciale. Entre 2008 et 2012, il  avait cependant perdu un peu moins de pourcentages de votes que le PQ en moyenne.

Ainsi, s'il y avait un effet Bédard, cet effet n'était pas des plus forts. Je pense qu'appliquer mon estimation moyenne d'une perte de 5 points est raisonnable.

Le plus récent sondage Crop (fait entre le 17 et 21 mars) avait le PLQ devant à 32%, le PQ deuxième à 30%, la CAQ à 24% et QS à 11%. En se basant sur ces chiffres, et en incluant l'effet de la perte d'un député de longue date, les projections ont la candidate PQ largement en avance.

Il y a également eu deux sondages locaux faits par la firme Segma. Le premier, du 18 au 23 mars plaçait le PQ juste devant le PLQ. Le second, du 5 au 6 avril, voyait la candiate PLQ chuter lourdement et la candidate PQ confortablement devant. Est-ce l'effet de l'affaire Sam Hamad? Ou s'agît-il tout simplement d'une variation statistique normale? Étant données mes projections, j'aurais tendance à penser que le premier sondage surestimait le PLQ.

Au final, il semble que Mireille Jean va remplacer Stéphane Bédard comme députée de Chicoutimi et que le PQ conservera son siège. Tous les indicateurs montrent une victoire de la candidate péquiste.

Après, il reste que les élections partielles sont plus difficiles à prédire. La participation y est en général moindre et cela peut influencer les résultats. En particulier, il n'est pas rare de voir les pourcentages des tiers partis en-dessous des prédictions. Cela pourrait nuire à la CAQ ce soir. D'autre part, tel que mentionné ci-dessus, il y avait un candidat indépendant lors de l'élection générale. Le modèle redistribue ces votes proportiellement entre les autres partis mais cela constitue probablement une mauvaise hypothèse. En utilisant les résultats et projections de 2014, je dirais qu'il est raisonnable de penser que l'absence de Marc Pettersen est probablement une bonne nouvelle pour le PQ.

Au final, tout autre résultat qu'une victoire du PQ constituerait une surprise majeure. La question est davantage la marge de victoire. Je fixe la barre de succès pour le PQ à 40%. Quant au PLQ, terminer deuxième et passer la barre des 30% constituerait un bon résultat.

Performance of the polls for the 2015 federal election

Well, what a Liberal wave! Even the most optimistic projections didn't have the Liberals over 180. It wasn't a very good night for me (in terms of projections, not saying anything about the result itself) and I'll have to look into it. But it doesn't look good, there is no way around it.

When I wrote my final projections analysis, I said that while the poll average was showing a Liberal minority, they were essentially three possible sources of error or uncertainty. 1) Is the last minute momentum for the Liberals (seen in the very last Forum and Nanos) as well as the collapse of the NDP real? It turned out it was, especially in Quebec 2) Will the Conservative be underestimated? They were, slightly (one of the few successes for me last night!) and 3) What about Quebec? The race was so tight that pretty much anything could happen. And what happened is a collapse of the NDP.

For now, let's look at the polls and how close they were. Some did really well, others were quite off.



I calculated the average total absolute deviation. For each party, you take the absolute deviation as the official results minus the voting intentions in the polls, you sum it over the five parties and you average. I also calculated how many parties were within the margins of error for each poll. This is indicated by the color.

As we can see, the averages (adjusted or not) did better than most of the polls except the very last two. This is quite rare that the average doesn't do significantly better than the polls and this is really because of what appears to be a last minute collapse of the NDP with its voters going to the Liberals. By the way, my adjusted average had the Liberals slightly too low, but notice there are the same (or partially the same) Nanos poll twice here. If we count it once, the unadjusted was 37.1 and I was really close. My adjustments were really to boost the CPC a little bit and to decrease the Green and Bloc. All three were going in the right direction and made the adjusted average better.

I admit I'm usually skeptical of such last minute trends but it seemed to have been the case yesterday. Notice however that Nanos didn't have the NDP 10 points behind the Liberals in Quebec in its last poll. But I'll add the provincial comparisons later.

So bottom line, the very last polls got it right. Nanos got all five parties within the margins of error, although these were pretty wide given the small sample size. Still, very impressive. Forum did also very well and I hope it'll finally stop people from always thinking they are a bad firm. Forum also got most of the provincial numbers right, but I'll add to this later.

By the way, Mainstreet did well for the average total error but terrible for the number of parties within the margins of error. This is because of the insane sample size they had.

So, should we always only use last minute polls? I don't know. It's very risky to base the analysis entirely on 1 or 2 polls with small sample sizes. But it would have worked a lot better yesterday. Although Quebec, one of the biggest surprises of the night, would still not have been right as even last minute polls had the NDP much closer to the Liberals than what happened.

So polls did pretty well yesterday, at least at the national level. However, it shows that even small deviations (like for the NDP) can have dramatic impacts on the seat projections. You get one province wrong (like Quebec) and you are off by 20 seats.

I'll add later this week the analysis by province.

The 58 ridings that will decide the election

The 58 ridings that will decide the election
Here is the list of ridings where there is uncertainty. Specifically, I defined them as ridings where the winner was projected with less than 70% chance of winning. So that includes all the 2, 3 or 4-way races out there. And by experience, once your chances are above 70%, the model makes few mistakes (logically, duh).

There are 58 of them. As you can see, in most of the ridings, there is little to no uncertainty.

You can find them here or below.



Projections finales et une analyse du Québec

En ce lundi 19 octobre, les Canadiens vont très probablement élire un gouvernement Libéral minoritaire. Il y a cependant assez d'incertitude pour que d'autres scénarios soient possibles, tel qu'une majorité Libérale ou une minorité Conservatrice.

Je ne compte pas ici faire un copier-coller de mon article en anglais. Je vais plutôt me concentrer sur le Québec. Sachez simplement qu'une minorité Libéral est de loin le scénario le plus probable. Viennent ensuite une minorité Conservatrice (environ 18% de chances) et une majorité Libérale (environ 10%, bien que cela pourrait être davantage si vous croyez les sondages de dernière minute indiquant une tendance favorable aux Libéraux).

Intentions de vote; Projections de sièges avec intervalles de confiance à 95%; Chances de remporter le plus de sièges

Les projections détaillées sont disponible ici ou ci-dessous (Scribd est sympa sur un ordi mais terrible sur un cellulaire ou appareil mobile)




Le Québec est maintenant une course à 4. Les Néo-Démocrates sont favoris pour remporter le plus de sièges (58% de chances que cela arrive) mais les Libéraux ont leur chances. Tout comme, en théorie, les Conservateurs et le Bloc. Cependant, pour ces deux partis, les chances sont vraiment minces et demanderaient des erreurs majeures des sondages.

Les sondages n'arrivaient pas vraiment à se décider au Québec. Certains sondages ont le PLC devant à plus de 30% et le NPD 2e à seulement 25%, alors que c'est l'inverse pour d'autres. Pour les Conservateurs et le Bloc, les sondagent alternaient entre 17% et 24%! Tout cela fait en sorte que le Québec est relativement imprévisible. À l'inverse, mon modèle avec coefficients régionaux marche en général mieux au Québec qu'ailleurs.

Le Bloc va très probablement faire des gains par rapport à 2011 tout en récoltant moins de votes. Le mode de scrutin et la lourde chute du NPD engendrent ce résultat. Gilles Duceppe est très proche dans son comté, mais il n'est pas favori.

Le graphique ci-dessous vous montre pas mal tous les scénarios possibles si l'on tient compte de l'incertitude des sondages ainsi que du mode de scrutin. Le premier histogramme vous montre la distribution des sièges pour chaque parti alors que le second illustre le nombre de circonscriptions en fonction des chances de gagner.


Comme vous pouvez le voir, les distributions s'entrelacent beaucoup. Les Conservateurs sont très concentrés alors que le NPD et PLC sont les plus dispersés. Pour le Bloc, la soirée peut se terminer en beauté avec 20 sièges ou en catastrophe avec zéro! Remarquez les courbes PLC et NPD pas mal plates et ainsi ayant beaucoup d'incertitude.


Ici on voit la concentration du vote Libéral et Conservateur. Ces deux partis ont en effet pas mal de comtés assurés (alors que le NPD n'a en fait aucun comté assuré à 100%, ce qui était impensable il n'y a que 4 semaines de cela), mais à l'inverse, le PLC et PCC ont moins de sièges probables.

Au final, il se peut que le NPD bénéficie du mode de scrutin pour une fois (il en avait déjà profité en 2011 au Québec mais ce pourrait être encore plus visible lundi soir). Personellement, je crois que Thomas Mulcair joue sa tête au Québec. Si son parti sauve 35-40 sièges, cela pourrait être suffisant pour conserver son poste. Mais s'il devait perdre "sa" province, je suis sûr que sa position serait très précaire.

Final projections for the Federal Election 2015: Liberal minority, surprises possible

After the longest campaign in Canadian history, it appears voters have made their choice and will elect a Liberal minority on Monday. There is however enough uncertainty for a surprise to happen, whether it's a Conservative minority or a Liberal majority.

This will be a very long post. The first part is the summary and then you have the detailed analysis. So for those who don't like to read, here are the final projections.

Voting intentions; Seat projections with 95% confidence intervals; Chances of winning the most seats

These projections are really my best guess for tomorrow. Given past election results, the multitude of national and riding polls and how accurate polls can be, I get that Justin Trudeau has about a 82% chance of becoming the next Prime Minister. I should probably phrase it more as "winning the most seats", but it'll ultimately be the same.

So another minority, but most likely a stable one for a while as both the Conservative (for sure) and the NDP (I predict it'll be the case) will be looking for new leaders. I think for Thomas Mulcair, it depends on the extent of the loss tomorrow. 72 seats isn't too bad, especially if they keep Quebec. But it could also get ugly. According to polls, the NDP is actually down in every single province or region!

You have the riding by riding projections (with chances of winning for each candidate) below. You can either click here or use the Scribd thingy (if you are on mobile, avoid Scribd at all cost).


All in all, the big picture take-away from these numbers is that a Liberal minority is by far the most likely outcome that can occur tomorrow. But odds show a Conservative minority is possible as well as a Liberal majority. I know it sounds like I'm trying to cover every possible scenario so that I'll at least have the correct one, but it's more about putting odds on those scenarios. The same way that when you go to the casino, you know you can win, but you also want to know how likely you are to become rich.

Remember that polls and projections have a lot of uncertainty. It's important to reflect this uncertainty the best possible way. Still, don't get me wrong, anything but a Liberal minority tomorrow would be a big surprise and a punch to pollsters and people making projections like me.

If you are interested in more details and analysis, then please keep reading.

Conservatives underestimated?

Still, it's far from a sure thing. How is that? Well first of all, I slightly adjust the polls to account for the likely underestimation of the incumbent, This is a phenomenon we have observed in multiple elections, including the last 3 federal ones. You can also see this as accounting for the so-called "shy tory" effect where people are too embarrassed to admit they'll vote Conservative (what might have happened in the UK earlier this year). Additionally, we need to remember the Tories usually do better among older demographics and they tend to vote more (although Ekos and Forum actually show the Liberals ahead in every age group).

My adjustments are relatively small and boost the Tories by 1.5 points compared to a simple poll average. They are definitely smaller than the adjustments of others or what we've seen from Angus Reid with the Likely Voters adjustments. Is it a good assumption or should I go with the 3 points of last time? Or maybe even more as Conservative voters might feel even less likely to admit who they are voting for. Ekos for instance note that the Conservatives are lower in phone polls with live interviewers (aka a human person) versus automated phone calls. At the end of the day, this is the part where this becomes more of a guess than anything else.

Another illustration of the possible underestimation of the Tories come from the numbers among people who voted in advance. Ekos actually show the Conservatives ahead while Angus see them neck and neck. When I looked at patterns between the turnout and other variables, I didn't find much. Abacus also concludes that people who voted by anticipation do not significantly differ from others. Still, it shows that even though these advanced polls took place right when the Liberals were surging, the Tories were still in the game. As I said before, Liberal supporters need to remain cautious, their party hasn't won yet.

All in all, I'm pretty convinced the Tories are indeed underestimated. But by how much? Well your guess could be as good as mine. I think whatever boost they'll enjoy could ultimately be canceled out by the last minute momentum of the Liberals and the possible switch of some NDP voters (see below).

However, it's really important to realize that if the polls are underestimating the Conservatives as much as they did in 2011 (especially in Ontario), then Stephen Harper could well win more seats tomorrow. This is a possibility we need to acknowledge.

Majority?

The chances of a Liberal majority are actually smaller than of a Conservative minority. That should put things in perspective. Yes it's possible and last minute, one-day polls of Forum for instance show the trend is in favour of the Liberals, but the average doesn't. Still, if we allow for the possibility that the Conservatives will be underestimated, we need to do it for the Liberals as well. In order to win 169 seats and more, Justin Trudeau would need to finish first in Quebec in terms of votes, clean Ontario and win BC. Possible, but unlikely.

One thing for sure, the last minute trend was incredibly favourable to the Liberals. Nanos shows the Liberals increasing over the weekend, so does Forum and Ekos. So if you believe that one-day polls done during the weekend can accurately measure last minute shifts (I'm skeptical and prefer averaging over a couple of days; I also tend to think pollsters love using the last minute shift as an excuse when they're wrong), then you should actually prepare for a Liberal majority. Not that the Tories are collapsing, but the NDP sure is.

The exact chances of a majority depend on how we model uncertainty (see below for the technical discussion). It's between 3.2% and 17.9%. I thus went with the average, middle of the road scenario for the pdf above.

The reason I believe a majority is out of the question for the Liberals is because even the last minute polls don't show a much larger lead in Ontario. The surge seems to be coming from elsewhere. But Ontario is really the key to a majority for the Liberals.

Here below you have a graph representing the probability of a Liberal majority as a function of the lead (in percentage points) in Ontario. As you can see, the Liberals start having a chance around 15 or 16 points. Polls haven't shown the lead to be that wide in average. Of course, the Liberals could win Ontario by "only" 11 points and do better in Quebec and BC. I'm simply showing one of the key determinants here.



Vote splitting

One of the infamous issues of our electoral system where two parties can split the same vote and allow a third one to go through. It's often blown out of proportion because people assume that all the NDP voters would switch to the Liberals for instance when it's not that simple. I re-run the analysis I did the other day and with the final numbers, I get that vote splitting allows the Tories to win 35 seats. There a total of 64 ridings where the total of the NDP and Liberals votes is greater than the number of votes for the Conservatives, but only in 34 of those would a unique candidate actually defeats the Tory candidate. Still, it means that without vote splitting, the results would be:

CPC LPC NDP Green Bloc
Normal projections 120 137 72 1 8
Without vote splitting 85 165 79 1 8
Difference -35 28 7 0 0

It's a simulation and you can take from it whatever you want. It's possible that this issue will occur for the last time as both the NDP and Liberals want to change the electoral system (although they don,t currently agree on which system is better).


And now some remarks and analysis by topics.

1. The polls.

As usual for a federal election, we got a lot of polls. Every major firm provided numbers in this last week, some even multiple times over the weekend. Only Abacus strangely decided not to release final numbers.

These polls have shown a remarkable convergence. Even Ekos who had a tight race just two days ago ultimately showed the Liberals up by around 4 points. This is very similar to the latest numbers from Angus Reid. The rest, from Nanos, Leger to Forum (and others) all have the Liberals well ahead of the Tories. Not only is this true at the national level, it's true in the crucial Ontario where Justin Trudeau appeared to have taken the lead during the first week of October.

We also got a lot of riding polls. Some matched my projections exactly, some didn't. I had more success with polls from Forum and Mainstreet than the ones from Environics in general. When the differences were too important (and especially when they were confirmed by more than one poll), I adjusted the projections.


2. The story of this campaign

I covered this in details in my article yesterday for the Huffington Post.


3. A look at some province

The Atlantic provinces won't be the source of much uncertainty tomorrow. The Liberals should pretty much sweep the region. The Liberals will therefore take a very early lead in the seat count on your television (or Ipad, you crazy kids). There is really nothing much to say there. The Liberals have been ahead in this region the entire campaign and their lead actually increased.

Quebec is possibly the most unpredictable province. After weeks of dominance by the NDP (where, at some point, we wondered if the NDP would not be able to win over 70 seats there), the niqab happened and started the downward trend. Thomas Mulcair never managed to recover. As of tonight, we can't even be sure the New Democrats will finish first in Quebec, both in terms of votes and seats. The electoral system and the fact that the Bloc appears to be stuck at 20% or less in average means the NDP is likely to win the most seats though. The chances are 58% to be precise. The NDP could finish second in votes and still win more seats. Look at the detailed analysis in French. Note that technically, all four parties have a shot at winning Quebec! If polls have shown a convergences in Ontario, they definitely haven't in Quebec.

The Conservatives seem poised to at least make some gains in Quebec, thanks to the drop of the NDP and a small increase compared to 2011. It won't ultimately be enough to compensate the losses pretty much everywhere else.

As for the Bloc, well, this is kind of the wild card. Its confidence interval is quite wide (relatively) and, by being around 20%, is right at the threshold between winning many seats or losing them all. Even Gilles Duceppe isn't sure to win his riding.

Ontario is ultimately the reason Trudeau will likely become Prime Minister. If you look at the graph, you actually see the Tories increasing in most provinces over the last two weeks, except in Ontario. Not sure what happened there in early October but there was a sharp shift in the voting intentions.We moved from a tight race between the Tories and Grits to a situation where the Liberals were enjoying a comfortable lead. In this last week, the trend has been very constant and this is the main reason we don't think a majority is really likely for the Liberals.

The Prairies and Alberta are still Conservative in majority but the Liberals will definitely make gains there. This is especially possible in Manitoba and in cities in Edmonton. As the NDP was falling in Quebec and its chances were going away, it appears some voters switched to the Liberals in order to defeat Harper.

Finally, British Columbia is the other wild card of this election. The NDP was dominating it for the first couple of weeks but could end up third there. The Liberal vote might be too concentrated in Vancouver, so that the Tories should win this province. If the polls, somehow, end up being wrong in Ontario and the race is tight as we start getting the BC numbers, it'll mean we'll most likely have to wait until late before calling this election

4. Could the Conservatives win when almost 70% of the population don't support this government?

The Conservatives won a relatively surprising majority last time. I say surprising because polls and projections were mostly predicting a minority. But a 2-3 points underestimation nationally and a 3-4 one in Ontario allowed Stephen Harper to win his majority. He even won seats in Toronto, something that was definitely the biggest surprise of the night.

This time around, his support was always gonna be stable but limited. Stable because at barely over 30%, he only has the core Conservative voters left. This matches perfectly with the around 30% of people who like Stephen Harper, think he's doing a good job and don't want to change government. Limited because many voters really despise him by now and would go as far as voting strategically in order to defeat him and his party. The ceiling for the Tories has been low for a long time now.

Ultimately, the only way he was gonna win was by having the other two parties splitting each other. Such vote splitting still occurs in some ridings (see above), but the Liberals have managed to gather enough support around them (and/or the NDP collapsed enough) to win anyway.

Stephen Harper also wanted the voters to mostly think of the economy and not take a chance with the other guys. But it appears that values could play a bigger role this time around, as shown by the latest Ekos and Abacus polls. Plus, of course, the fact that 60-65% of people have consistently shown they wanted a change of government. If you think about it, it's still pretty surprising the Tories are even in this race and they can thank the electoral system for that.


5. Uncertainty

The chances for the Tories depend on how you model uncertainty. I get the probabilities by doing simulations where I randomize the vote intentions (to account for the possible errors of the polls) as well as the distribution of the vote (to account for the fact the electoral system doesn't translate votes into seats perfectly). The idea is really to see all the possible outcomes and how likely they are. 

So a good case scenario for a party is when it beats the polls and has an efficient vote. The question is whether we should add correlation across provinces. For instance, if the Liberals out-perform the polls in Atlantic, are they more likely to outperform them in Alberta? The answer isn't very clear, so I did both. Adding correlation means that a party could be fortunate and do better pretty much everywhere.

So I ran the simulations twice, once with correlation and once without. Without, I find the odds of a Conservative victory to at 10.6%. With, they increase to 25%.

Similarly, having more uncertainty means more extreme scenarios. For the Liberals, adding correlation (which could be interpreted as a last minute boost, most likely coming from the fact some NDP voters would switch) increases the chances of a majority from 3.2% to 17.9%

Ultimately, I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle and this is what the graphic above displays.

Also, my simulations have proven to work remarkably well at the riding level (and this part doesn't depend on cross-province correlation). After 4 elections using the model (BC 2013, Quebec 2014 - and 2012 retroactively, Ontario 2014 and Alberta 2015), here where it stands.

Projected chances of winning Actual win percentage
0% 0%
1-30% 11%
30-50% 45%
50-80% 57%
80-99% 89%
100% 100%


As you can see, it works. So if your favourite candidate is projected at 0% in my final projections, I'm sorry but the odds are that he or she will lose (note: because I round the numbers, some candidates appear at 0% but are not. If they are at like 0.5%, the pdf will at least show some color on top of the percentage). Similarly, anybody projected with 100% confidence level should win tomorrow.

Therefore, maybe a better way to look at the race tomorrow is to see how many ridings each party is guaranteed to win and how many close races there are.

First, let's see how many ridings are at exactly 100% certainty for each party:

Conservatives: 23
Liberals: 38 (17 in the Atlantic)

None for the NDP or the Bloc. For the NDP, this is pretty insane. Just a couple of weeks ago, this party had half the ridings in Quebec completely locked up. If people will likely remember this election as Trudeau's triumph, we should also remember it was Mulcair's spectacular failure.

How many ridings are at 0.0% and therefore completely out of reach?

CPC: 99
LPC: 25
NDP: 181
Green: 332 (so 3 ridings where they can win because these simulations don't include the territories)
Bloc: 25 (in Qc)

Let's this information sink for a moment: there are only 25 ridings where the Liberals have no chance at all. This is incredibly impressive and shows how widespread this party's support is.

Finally, for each party, the number of seats currently projected as a loss by less than 5 points.

CPC: 19
LPC: 31
NDP: 13
Green:1
Bloc: 9

See for the Liberals, this means they could actually get quite a lot higher than my projections. It really depends if the last minute shift observed by some pollsters will translate into actual votes on Monday. More generally, here are the distributions of the chances of winning by parties.