Advance turnout shows busy GTA

2 days to go! Only 2 days to go in this Ontario election. Yesterday we got a bunch of new polls from Forum, Mainstreet and Pollara. Mainstreet is the only one still showing a decent lead for the PC (more than 3 points) while the others have a super close race. We also got the stats about advance voting and turnout. More on this after the projections.

It's nice to have a lot of recent polls with decent sample sizes. Also, the new update from Forum, showing a much tighter race, kind of broke with the trend that IVR polls were showing a decent PC lead while online (as well as live callers) polls were showing a tied race.

Anyway, here are the most up to date projections.

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

As for the possible outcomes:

As usual, riding by riding projections are available at the bottom.

I won't go into much detail here mostly because the projections haven't changed much. We are still in a situation where the Tories are favourite but it isn't hard to imagine a path to 63 seats for the NDP. We have something more interesting to talk about this morning: advance turnout!

Advance turnout

According to Election Ontario, about 768,895 citizens have already voted. This is more than the 647,261 of 2014. That year was marked by a fairly weak turnout overall at 51% (still better than the 48.2% of 2011). So, does it mean we can expect a higher turnout this time around? Not necessarily. Last year in BC, advance turnout was on fire but the overall turnout barely increased. There is simply a trend where people take more and more advantage of the possibility to vote early. So hard to tell if overall voter participation will be up. If it is however, I wouldn't expect a giant jump like what we saw for the 2015 federal election. Which is good news for polls watchers as they tend to be more accurate when turnout is similar.

Maybe more interesting for someone like me trying to predict the results at the riding level is to look at the advance stats per electoral district.

Here below you have the top 10 ridings with the more advance voters. 

1.Kingston and the Islands
2. Simcoe-Grey
3. Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke
4. Orléan
5. Guelph
6. Simcoe North
7. Northumberland-Peterborough South
8. Ottawa Centre
9. Toronto-Danforth
10. Burlington

Out of these ten, 6 are projected to go PC, 2 NDP, 1 OLP and 1 Green,

But total number of voters isn't that interesting. Not only are some ridings bigger, turnout can also tend to simply be higher in some of them years after years.

Instead let's look at the top 10 ridings where the advance turnout increased the most. When this happens, this is usually a sign of changes. In BC last year for instance, we could clearly see many ridings in the Lowe Mainland -in particular Surrey- where the NDP ultimately made many gains.

Top 10 ridings with biggest increase in advance turnout

1. Kitchener South-Hespeler
2. Brampton West
3. Markham-Unionville
4. Brampton South
5. Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill
6. Markham Stouffville
7. University-Rosedale
8. Davenport
9. Etobicoke North
10. Toronto-Danforth

The list continues with other 416 and 905 ridings mostly. Note that this is the top 10 if measure in percentage change. If I had used the increase in the number of voters, the list would include most of the same ridings but Kingston and the Islands would be there.

We see a clear pattern here: increased turnout in Toronto or in the Toronto suburbs. Out of the 10, 5 are projected blue and 5 orange. It shows that close races will most likely attract higher turnout.

So, can we infer anything else? Both in 2015 and 2017 (BC), the increased turnout was clearly helping the one party increasing (LPC in 2015, BC NDP 2017). This time around is more difficult since we have two parties clearly rising compared to 2014.

What this list shows me for sure is that the Liberals won't win these seats. Increased turnout isn't a good news for a collapsing governing party. If they were hoping to salvage some seats in downtown Toronto, they are most likely mistaken (well, unless the concession of Wynne somehow works). After, we can possibly interpret this list as the PC and NDP mobilizing their voters. Riding polls have shown the PC upsetting the NDP in the Brampton ridings (2 wins and 2 super close losses) while my projections are showing the NDP well ahead except in Brampton-South. At the end of the day, it might come down to which party gets its vote out the most.

I can also see this list as showing that the scenario where the NDP would sweep the very urban riding (core Toronto) while the Tories would win in the suburbs can happen. If that's the case, the electoral night could be long. The increases turnout in Davenport, Toronto-Danforth or University-Rosedale shows me the NDP is surging there while the Markham and Etobicoke ridings are pointing to the PC finally breaking into the GTA.

What says you? Do you have a better reading of the situation?