3 new riding-level Mainstreet research polls

Riding-level polls are seldom even though they can be quite useful. Mainstreet Research provides us with 3 new polls in the ridings of Ajax (Ont.), Calgary Confederation (Alb.) and Spadina-Fort York (Ont.).

The results in all three polls are somewhat different from what we would expect given provincial polls. Let's take a look.

1. Ajax

2011 (transposed to new map) 44 38 15 3
Projections 30 51 16 3
Mainstreet poll 39 37 20 4

It was a relatively close race in 2011 (in a slightly different riding though) for the Conservatives. With the drop experienced in Ontario and the Liberals on the rise in this province, we'd expect this party to lead in this riding (as per the projections). According to the poll, the Liberals are actually lower than 4 years ago. The Liberal candidate, Mark Holland, is the former MP of Ajax-Pickering, so this is a perfect rematch of 2011. It's therefore really hard to imagine the Liberals not higher this time around. In Ontario, the LPC is currently polled to have gained 9 points. This is a significant swing. On the other hand, the drop of the Conservatives is quite small here.

Honestly, if this poll is right, then the provincial polls are more likely wrong. Because it's hard to reconcile the two. Of course, the margins of error for this riding-level poll are relatively wide at 3.65%. Actually it should be even more since there were 15% of undecided that were dropped. So it could simply be that we are observing the normal statistical variation. It remains however that this is a riding we'd expect the Liberals to win relatively easily this time around.

2. Calgary Confederation

2011 (transposed to new map) 52 18 16 14
Projections 34 30 25 11
Mainstreet poll 37 38 19 6

If the Liberals were lower than expect in the Ajax poll, this is the complete opposite here. The Conservatives are currently down a good 20 points in Alberta, but the margin of victory in this Calgary riding was so important that you wouldn't expect the Grits to be ahead. There is also a significant number of undecided (14%) and the results could be different depending on how these undecided vote. Mainstreet actually asked but 67% of them were not leaning towards any party. Among those who did, 18% were leaning Conservatives, 7% NDP and 6% Liberals. So technically the Tories are slightly ahead here.

Also, it'd be surprising to see the NDP pretty much stable while this party is up 10-points province wide. But overall, this poll is much more in line with what we'd expect than the Ajax poll, despite the Liberals being higher than expected.

3. Spadina-Fort York

2011 (transposed to new map) 21 24 50 4
Projections 10 34 51 4
Mainstreet poll 13 39 45 3
This is the riding of Olivia Chow, the wife of the late Jack Layton. She had resigned from her seat to run for mayor of Toronto. The NDP lost this seat in a by-election where the Liberals had surged from 23% to 54%. Now that she's back however, we do expect this riding to go NDP.
This poll is very much in line with what we'd expect. The NDP is a little bit lower (and the LPC higher) but this could simply be a residual of the by-election results. Of the three polls, this is the one with the highest number of undecided (23%) which makes the results among decided voters a little bit less useful.

Overall, I can't say the projections are very similar to these three polls. Except for Spadina-Fort York, the projected winners are different in the other two ridings! While I can see the results in Calgary Confederation as being right, I honestly can't believe the ones in Ajax. There is no way the Liberals are actually lower than in 2011.

I'll take these polls into account and make the necessary modifications in the model.Usually, I do an average of the projections and the riding-level polls. I don't trust these polls very much but at the same time I can't ignore this information.