Monday, April 29, 2013

New Projection Update Puts Things In Perspective

A number of fixes, improvements and tweaks to our projection model have brought us more in line with other pundits. However our projection has the perhaps unique distinction of predicting that Christy Clark will be on the unemployment line in May (well, the one for high-profile politicians, at least) if the trend continues.

Our latest update, using the numbers from the latest Abacus poll, puts the Liberals on 28 and the BC NDP at 56 seats, which gives them a majority, despite a marginal "loss" of seats. Given the controversies that have led to BC Conservative candidates stepping down, it's not too surprising that the BC Tories are shut out. The lone "other" party to remain in the fray is Vicki Huntington in Delta South, who is projected to hold her seat (for now).

Premier Christy Clark's seat, marked in red on the seat-by-seat breakdown page, is a close one, but the model is giving Vancouver-Point Grey to the NDP challenger right now. David Eby may soon be brushing up on his MLA "Letter Commemorating Your Event"-writing skills. BC NDP leader Adrian Dix's seat of Vancouver-Kingsway, meanwhile, is a solid hold for him, and John Cummins fails to break through in Langley.

Other hot ridings right now include: Chilliwack, Kamloops-South Thompson, Kootenay East, North Vancouver-Lonsdale, Parksville-Qualicum, Penticton, Prince George-Mackenzie, Prince George-Valemount, Shuswap, Surrey-Panorama, and Vernon-Monashee. It's neck and neck in these places.

Interesting Political News

Our partners at have recently finished up a full geo-demographic segmentation of all of BC's ridings, and will be making that available to the paying public. They have kindly offered to share some previews of what their data looks like, so stay tuned for that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

BC Election News: The Latest and Greatest

The latest in BC election news is hot as a pancake. The election campaign continues!

Of course, in this post-recession age, one of the biggest issues is the economy. Needless to say, the parties have several differences in their approach to BC's political economy, as well as labour relations.

B.C. election: How an NDP government would deal with labour: Walkom  
“What we have to develop is a climate of respect,” she says. “I don’t think the union movement is expecting miracles. But people are really hungry for a change in approach.
“It may sound like a platitude. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But it makes a difference.”
The Real Issue: Election to decide which party sets B.C.’s economic course for decades 
The reversion to provincial sales tax (PST) means the province’s industries and businesses are returned to a complex tax regime that makes B.C. a less attractive place to invest. Reforms may be imperative.
A decision is needed on whether to continue the carbon tax, and whether to increase it if it remains. If the tax goes up, the government must decide whether to make a commensurate cut to personal and corporate income taxes — as the Campbell government did when the tax was introduced in 2008 — or to channel the extra money into general revenue or perhaps debt reduction.
Taxpayer-supported debt is projected to grow from $38 billion in the 2012-13 fiscal year to $46 billion in three years — and consume a growing portion of the province’s gross domestic product in the process.
B.C. election: Christy Clark's position on pipelines is as clear as tar 
I was hoping that Clark would explain how they would ever decide if the conditions had been met. If these conditions had any real credibility, she would have rejected the pipelines already based on the opposition from First Nations alone. Over 130 Nations have now signed the historic Save The Fraser Declaration opposing tar sands pipelines through their territory.
Not surprisingly, I didn't get a response.
Clark attacks Dix on Kinder Morgan position at leaders' debate

Don't just take BC Projections' word for it, there are various metrics and ways to predict the winner:

How a free-market prediction tool is seeing the B.C. election
UBC’s prediction markets launched in February, and have been tracking the parties’ fortunes over the past eight weeks. Nearly 120 traders have signed up and invested more than $12,000. So what do these traders predict?
The markets consistently predict an NDP win, with the odds of an upset at one in 10 or less. More interesting is how our traders predict the distribution of seats in the legislature. According to them, the NDP can count on 58 or 59 of the 85 seats, and the B.C. Liberals on 19 or 20. Two independent candidates are also expected to be re-elected.
BC Election: Social Media Standings #bcpoli
In an analysis of overall sentiment expressed in social media, all leaders fare well, although as Sysomos spokesperson Phoenix Lam points out, the grey area in the bars in the charts below, while they may be counted as favourable,  could be totally neutral – such as retweets of news stories.
To rank as unfavourable or favourable, the social media mention has to be something explicit that the analysis will recognize – such as ‘i love Christy Clark,’ or ‘I hate Christy Clark.’ This analysis, which counts the neutral rankings as favourable, turns up an 88 per cent favourable ranking for Clark on social media in the first week of the election.
BC Election 2013 Wildcard: How 'bout those Canucks? 
There are few teams anywhere as popular as the Vancouver Canucks. True, the strike-shortened 2013 NHL season has been a desultory and unsatisfying affair thus far. The Canucks won their weak division but rarely looked inspired in doing so, suffering numerous injuries and slouching their way through low-scoring victories over opponents that were, if not entirely hapless, possessed of very little hap. Christy Clark and the Liberals would not get much bump from this year's Vancouver squad.
Once you scratch the surface of numbers and polls, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of what's at stake in this election:

B.C. Election: Compare B.C. party platforms on 32 election issues 
Our platform comparison tool lets voters make side-by-side assessments of key statements on issues from democratic reform to taxation to health care, quoted from platform documents. Users can also “like” policy statements and see which party’s vision has the most support.
B.C. election leaders’ debate live: Christy Clark needs to shine to catch up to leading NDP

BC Election 2013: Multicultural Vote Courted By Politicians
With a reference to the "quick wins" to be had with an apology for historic wrongs, such as the Chinese head tax, the memo engulfed the premier's office in scandal. Clark's deputy chief of staff and the Liberal multiculturalism minister were forced to step down.
The issue cast a shadow over the Times of India Film Awards.

Just after that, the New Democrats were criticized for using hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to help organize political activities in multicultural communities. The majority of the NDP Members Constituency Office Centralized Fund was paid to Yiu, for work a draft report by the provincial auditor general's office deemed partisan.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Projection Update: NDP Majority Government (Surprise!)

I don't think anyone would be terribly surprised at this point to learn that we are producing our first projection for this election, which predicts an NDP majority in BC. The majority of the polling and the consensus among the pundity seems to confirm this is the case. Indeed, as we said in our last entry, this hasn't been the most interesting "horse race" type of campaign.

What's more surprising perhaps for our purposes is that we're predicting a few Conservative seat gains, as well as Green Party gains.

Posh-posh! You say.

Perhaps as we refine our model in the next few days this will change, but consider a few things that we don't think others are taking into account.

1. Seat totals have to be decontextualized from 2009 and then re-contextualized for 2013. Leaders in 2009 aren't around any longer, and new leaders have come to take their place, leaving their marks on the electoral territory. That will have an effect on their seats. The same goes for incumbents, "notable" candidates, and other in-riding controversies.

2. The Conservative party didn't run candidates much of anywhere in 2009. But where it did, it got an average of 7.4% of the vote. More candidates will be running this time, and the current EKOS polling shows the Conservatives at twice the level of support as the 2009 election.

That support has to go somewhere, and the new territory for Conservative candidates have to base their support on some particular level, which must be estimated somehow (we can't multiply their 2009 level of support by the change in polling, because if you multiply by 0 you will get 0).

Averaging the vote totals of all the ridings gives us a rough idea of what the BC-wide vote will be for each party. If a party's added-up BC-wide score is significantly less than what the polling says it should be, there needs to be a correction.

Based on the change from the average level of support in a Conservative-contested riding, we currently project four conservative breakthroughs in Boundary-Similkameen, Chilliwack, Kelowna-Lake Country and Kelowna-Mission. Langely, even with a few generous bonuses thrown at leader John Cummins, is very close, but still comes up a bit short in our numbers.

"Other parties" are a perennial problem for projections because they are generally very small parties scattered about the territory, mixed in with perhaps a few people in serious contention for a riding (or in BC's case, Delta South, where independent MLA Vicki Huntington holds the riding). Pollsters count the support for all these various columns in one big "others" number (usually less than 5% in polls, and much less on election day). Still, we have Ms. Huntington keeping her seat.

The Green Party may very well be in contention in Vancouver-False Creek, based on previous levels of support. Though perhaps with former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan running, this might not happen. More tweaks to our model will allow us to see if this bears out.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Building our Data, Making our Predictions

We're in the process of building up our data base with a view to publishing some projections on the 2013 BC Election. Admittedly, so far it is not a very interesting election, in that the "horse race" aspect of it has not been very suspenseful. But all elections are to some degree interesting, letting us test theories and examine what's happening on the ground.

That said, we've come across a number of interesting sites:

Global News offers up a polling division-level map of 2009 Election Results.

The aptly-named will focus on "Polling, Predictions and Policy". He puts an emphasis on prediction markets. Interesting to see what the betting public is up to.

The BC Iconoclast Blog has compiled a list of Candidates in the 2013 election.

Read More from Ontario Projections