The NDP's surge

Earlier during this campaign, the Globe and Mail made fun of the fact that the medias gave too much attention on some variations in the polls. Specifically, the author, Brian Topp, wrote a sarcastic piece titled "Jack Layton's big orange wave begins!", simply because the NDP enjoyed a 3-points increase between two polls. Well, if these polls keep showing the same thing as the latest ones from Angus-Reid and Leger, we might have to actually talk about an orange wave.

For those of you who missed that, the NDP is projected at 25% in the latest AR poll, tied with the Liberals. In Leger, the NDP is at 22%, a couple of points behind the Grits. The growth is coming fro the Atlantic and the Prairies, but mostly from Quebec where this party now consistently stands above 20%, more often than never for around 24%, good enough for second place behind the Bloc. So, at least in Quebec, there is definitely an orange wave! I'll write later (in french) about an alternative model for Quebec, but let's focus on the NDP at the national level for now. Let's try to answer some questions.

1. Can the NDP win this election?

No. No need for a complicated model or anything, the answer is no. The main reason being that the Conservatives are still first at around 39% in almot every poll.

2. Can the NDP finish second (i.e: be the official opposition)?

This question is trickier, let's look at some numbers. Using the best poll only (the AR one), we get the following projections:

CPC: 136
LPC 78
NDP: 45
Green: 0
Bloc: 49

Remember, this is with only two seats from Quebec. Check my other post (later) where I show that the NDP could potentially win 5-6 seats in this province. So there is a possibility for this party to reach 50 seats! This is obviously a best-case scenario, but not impossible. Good enough for second place? Well not really. They would need many things to happen. In the Atlantic, the NDP would need the Tories to steal a lot of votes from the Liberals. In Ontario, even at 24% (in the AR poll), the NDP could only win 20-21 seats max. And in this province, they are involved in races against the Liberals and the Conservatives as well. Finally, they might get lucky and win 11 seats in BC and 5 in the Prairies, but these seats would mostly come from the Tories. So the short answer is no, the NDP is not really at the point of being able to be the official opposition. But it could be close if the trend goes on.

3. Does this surge help the Conservatives getting a majority?

This is based on the typical argument that the NDP will simply split the left-wing-progressive vote, and given our archaic electoral system, that would allow the Tories to win more seats. Is it true? Well, yes and no. In the Atlantic, they seem to be stealing seats from both. In Quebec, well, again, let's wait for my next post. In Ontario, the first couple of seats the NDP could grab do come from the Liberals. But then, they would start gaining MPs from the Tories. In the West (Prairies and BC), more often than usual, they would actually steal seats from the Conservatives. So, as you can see, it isn't that clear.

Another way to look at this question is to use this poll and re-do the pre-election coalition exercise I did here. Namely, I'm assuming that the Liberals and NDP would make a deal where, in every riding where NDP+LPC>CPC (and CPC is first), this coalition would run only one candidate. Using the second choices given by Ekos (and by abacus as well sometimes), I would get the following:

Number of ridings where the "progressive vote" split allows a Conservatives win: 37. Of course, the problem is that not 100% of NDP voters would switch to the Liberals one in the event such a coalition would exist. Taking account of the second choices, that would only make the Tories lose 5 seats.

So overall, I would say that no, the NDP's surge doesn't help Harper that much. This party is stealing seats from both parties.

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