Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Battle of Quebec

If the Battle of Quebec is going to make or break the outcome of the next federal election, it would be interesting to know where the swing vote could swing, and how that affects final outcomes. If 1 in 10 Tory voters in Quebec voted instead for the Liberals, Roberval--Lac-Saint-Jean is lost by the Tories. If one in every 4 Tory voters defected to the Liberals, the Tories still win 7 seats (minus Lawrence Canon and Sylvie Boucher). Conservatism has made a strong “beach-head” in the Quebec City region. Maxime Bernier should be the Quebec lieutenant.

In Quebec, the NDP now owns a riding. What do they need to make any impact? Hypothetically if they were successful in converting 10% of the Bloc votes and 10% of the Liberal votes, their only new seat would be Gatineau. If the NDP took 1 in 4 Bloc voters, and 1 in 10 Liberal voters, they still only win one extra seat. If the NDP siphoned 1 in 3 Bloc votes and the Liberals hold, the NDP still only wins Outremont, Gatineau, and Drummond. If that highly unlikely shift were to occur in the Quebec left wing, the Liberals would gain 8 new seats without gaining a single vote. The Liberals have more to gain by NDP converting Bloc than the NDP does. The mathematics of first past the post can sometimes be counter intuitive. Reset everything to zero and then test the seat change if Ignatieff were able to bleed off a modest 15% of the Bloc vote. Nine seats swing Liberal.

If you consider that the Bloc broke off from the Mulroney government, how would the metrics change if the Bloc defectors went back to the PC tent? Let’s say there was a seismic shift from the Bloc back to the Tories of 1 in 3 Bloc voters. The new Quebec count would be 38 Tory, 20 Liberal, 15 Bloc, 1 NDP and 1 independent. That would be an improbable shift, that would require an earthquake like Charest going back to Ottawa to be PC leader. If the awe inspiring Ignatieff were able to convert a quarter of the Bloc, then the Liberals would steal 15 seats, and the Tories would also gain Chicoutimi and Abitibi without gaining any votes. No matter which way you slice it, the Tories biggest prospect of gains is converting Bloc voters who voted for Mulroney in his day. I don’t know how you do that, I don’t know if you can do that, but that is just about the only road to 180+ Tory seats in parliament. Give Maxime Bernier a Quebec post, and send him off with the mandate of peeling off 25% of Bloc voters. See what happens.

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