May 2nd 2013: New Angus-Reid poll shows a much tighter race

If you have twitter and are following the BC election, you probably saw the new poll for CTV by Angus-Reid. After almost 3 weeks of campaign, it seems the race is getting closer as the BC Liberals are climbing up while the BC NDP is going down.

I'll update the general projections (that averahe the most recent polls) soon, but based on this poll only, the projections would like like this:

The riding-by-riding projections are here. As you can see in the pdf, Adrian Dix and his party now "only" have a 92% chances of winning the election. I say only cause until now, they were at 99-100% and had been there for a long time. Some might think that 8% is too little for the Liberals, but they are still polled 7-points behind the NDP. 7-points is significant and way outside the margins of error. For the Liberals to win, you'd still need the polls to be wrong. Not as wrong as in Alberta, but close. So 8% it is. The model and simulations already account for a lot of uncertainty in order to give the victory 8% of the time to the Liberals.

However, as I was saying in my previous post, I wouldn't be surprised if the race is actually even closer as I suspect the BC Conservatives and Green to be overestimated in the polls. One reason is the high number of ridings where these two parties don't run candidates. Polls don't account for that. A lot of people will show up on election day just to find out there is no candidate for the they wanted to vote for. Since the potential Green voters will likely vote blank or NDP and the potential Conservatives will blank or go for the Liberals, the net effect on the chances of winning for the two main parties is ambiguous. But I'd think that the Conservatives are probably slightly more overestimated than the Green. Also it's well possible the Green support is heavily concentrated in some ridings, especially on Vancouver Island. If the Green gets some seats there, it'll be at the expense of the NDP. So put the two effects together and the Liberals could well be only around 10 seats behind.

Finally, there has been a tendancy in this country, both at the provincial and federal levels, for polls to underestimate the center-right incumbent. Could it be the case with Christy Clark again? It's possible. I'm not sure why this tendency exists, but it definitely does.

The Liberals don't need to leap frog the NDP to win. The electoral system being what it is, Christy Clark could stay in power despite getting less votes. In the simulations (that, remember, account for the uncertainty due to the electoral system), the BC Liberals wins 85 times out of 1000. But their support province-wide is above the NDP only 33 times. It means that the Liberals can win even if they get slightly less votes than the NDP. In the best case scenario (for the Liberals, they win with 34.2% of the votes while the NDP gets 37%. This is an unlikely scenario, but not an impossible one. I pointed out in previous posts that the electoral system (and the distribution of the vote) was slightly in favor of the Liberals. At that time it didn't matter as the NDP lead was so important, but it's another story now.

So the last 2 weeks of this campaign will be crucial. Adrian Dix needs to stop the BC Liberals to increase more, especially if it comes at the expense of his party.

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