February 17th 2014: Ipsos poll shows tight race in Ontario. PC has the edge, NDP hurt by electoral system.

A couple of days after the two by-elections which saw the PC and NDP both win a seat (a loss for the Liberals in Niagara Falls and a hold for the PC in Thornhill), Ipsos-reid published a new poll for this province. Since I admit I don't follow Ontarian politics much, I'll keep this post to a minimum. I have a model and simulator for this province, but I cover Quebec and the federal elections a lot more. I'll hopefully change that in the future.

In term of votes, we have a close three-way race. If you do the math (or use my calculator for that), you'll see that given the sample size (828), the three parties are statistically tied. However, and this is a case where having a fully developped seat projection model is handy, the race isn't that close in term of seats. Specifically, the PC is the favorite here, with around 58% chances of winning the election (this probability accounts for the uncertainty due to the poll as well as the electoral system). Speaking of the electoral system, the NDP is clearly at a disadvantage. Indeed, even though this party is tied with the Liberals, they are projected with around 10 less seats and, more importantly, only 7% chances of winning. The Liberals on the other hand have 35% chances. Here are the projections (sorry, I don't have yet a nice infographic for Ontario). In order, you have the seat projections and the chances of winning (defined as winning the most seats).

PC: 40; 58.5%
OLP: 38; 34.5%
NDP: 29; 7%
Green: 0; 0%

I'm not sure if there is historically a clear pattern in Ontario regarding which party is favoured by the system (such as in Quebec where it's a well known fact the Liberals are at a disadvantage because of the concentration of the votes among non-francophones). I'd welcome comments and information about this. But as for the NDP here, I'd say it's pretty natural that the third party (based on the last general election, history and even other recent polls) would be the one hurt the most by our old electoral system.

Still, the fact remains that technically, all three parties would have a shot at winning (only if you account for the uncertainty due to the polls. I'm not saying here that the NDP could really win if, on election day, they were to receive 3 less points than the Conservatives). Also, regarding the two recent by-elections, we see that the projections based on this poll would have got the correct winner in each riding. The percentages are a little bit off, but nothing that can't be explained by the fact they were by-elections with different  turnouts than a general election. So this poll is probably giving us a relatively accurate snapshot of the current political landscape in Ontario.

If you want the detailed projections, the pdf is here.

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