One of the challenges of attempting to pontificate on elections in specific communities, be they federal, provincial or municipal, is we generally don’t get any specific polling information (at least the public doesn’t; candidates and parties often do.)
That means it is difficult to figure out who might be leading at any given time or how dynamics are changing the way, for instance, we see the NDP leading the polls nationally, much to the surprise of many.
But there is any answer to this problem – sort of (no I don’t mean the little poll down the side of this page which has the scientific accuracy of a Republican presidential candidate discussing climate change.)
Threehundredeight.com is a polling aggregation site that has something of a remarkable record in terms of accurately predicting election results through a complex series of factors and calculations involving polling data, history etc. etc.
The site has been so successful over the years, its founder Eric Grenier now works as an analyst for CBC, which carries Grenier’s charts and poll tracker on its site.
(For those interested in more about how the tracker works, it’s all explained in great detail at threehundredeight.com)
What makes the site relevant for this particular discussion though is not its history predicting election results but the fact it not only predicts the overall results but predicts seat-by-seat results for all 338 seats. Including Bay of Quinte.
Simply put, the results for individual ridings are determined by comparing the results of the last election with current polls. For instance, if a party managed 20 per cent in a given region in the previous election and is now polling at 40 per cent in that same region, their results in each individual riding would be doubled.
(Again the reality is a little more complex and explained further on the website.)
And using that formula, and the various addendums involved, what threehundredeight.com says Jodie Jenkins and the Conservatives have a 71 per cent chance of winning the riding.
Specifically, it says the Tories will get 37.4 per cent of the vote (ranging from a possible low of 35.6 to a high of 41.2) to top Terry Cassidy and the NDP’s 28.1 (27.0, 30.4) and Neil Ellis and the Liberals 27.3 (24.6, 29.2).
Now before we just skip the election and hand the seat over, a couple things should be noted, first and foremost the fact that Grenier acknowledges that his mapping takes no account for local candidates and what they do in the riding.
Second, as impressive as Jenkins projected numbers are it should be noted that Daryl Kramp and Rick Norlock, who occupied the two seats that were separated to make the Bay of Quinte riding both received more than 50 per cent of the vote in the last election, so the current blue number is a double digit drop from previous elections.
Similarly, Cassidy’s numbers come off an unprecedented high for the NDP while Ellis comes off previously unforeseen low for the Liberals, meaning all things being equal, Ellis numbers are probably stronger than they appear and Cassidy’s a little lower.
At least until the election begins in earnest.
And that’s where things will get very interesting, because that’s the one thing that can significantly throw off Grenier’s tracking, namely local candidates standing out – or bombing – within their own borders.
So the candidates really have two choices, depending on where they currently sit in their projections.
First, they can ride the coattails of their leaders and parties and hope those numbers either stay strong (Jenkins), keep growing (Cassidy) or bounce back (Ellis.)
Or they can try to change things significantly on the ground in Quinte.
That’s a lot more work, but at least at this point seems to be the best bet for at least two of the three, which means the third would be best served by engaging as well.
The nice thing about that would be that voters in the Bay of Quinte would win regardless of who eventually becomes MP because we would have had an election that engaged our candidates with us.
As it should be in every election.
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