Monday, April 14, 2014

Quebec (massive post)

Warning, as indicated in the title, this is a massive post. It contains a number of loosely connected ideas that I will go though section by section by section.


I've attempted to overlay federal results on to provincial ridings. To do this I "eyeballed" the poll by poll maps; so you can certainly dispute if it's accurate. I also decided to treat the election as though it was indeed run on the map. Thus, for example, La Piniere and Pontiac end up with stronger local candidates.

Now the whole point of doing this was to allow us to see where the NDP's real strength is. Sadly, if the NDP wins 96 seats, we can not focus to see where it is strong. "Everywhere" is not a good answer. I had thought about not even posting the above map, but to avoid calls of partisanship, I will post that map and this one:

This map is similar to the above, except that I boosted the vote of the other parties. In any riding where I even had to so much as think about who won (if not the NDP) I decided the NDP therefore lost. This helps show where some of the other parties have some latent strength.

However, if we are going to compare this to a Quebec election map, we should try to look at is as a Quebec election; so I merged the Grits and Tories into one party for this final map.

This gives us a much better idea of where any provincial NDP party might be able to win seats.

While making the above, I got curious and asked myself "What if Quebec voted like the rest of Canada?"

To narrow that down I decided to investigate, "What if Quebec voted like Ontario?". That means a 2.5 party system with the Liberals and Tories as the big 2 parties.

As you can see from the above map, the NDP would do very well in the suburbs of Montreal. That is not a "normal" area of NDP strength, especially in Ontario.

To create these maps I use a combination of real election results (Lib and Con vote from 2011, NDP vote from 2008), urban planning (certain neighbourhoods can vote based on their overhead "look") and census data From Pundits' Guide to help me figure out what ridings in Quebec would vote for if Quebec voted like Ontario. The result is as follows.

I have already posted these maps to twitter, and will be posting additional maps such as this to twitter; so if you are interested, feel free to follow me at thenewteddy.


I encourage you to look at the ekos poll and it's full tables. They show us some interesting things. We can cross-reference (and add, and average, and all sorts of complicated math) to get the provincial-for-federal and federal-for-provincial numbers. This will show us, for example, how many voters support both the Liberals and PLQ, or how many NDPers voted CAQ, and how many Tories voted CAQ, so on and so forth. I end up with (roughly) the following numbers:

30.9% - Liberal and PLQ
16.5% - Bloc and Parti Quebecois
8.8% - NDP and CAQ
7.8% - Conservative and PLQ
6.3% - NDP and Parti Quebecois
6.1% - Conservative and CAQ
5.5% - NDP and QS
4.0% - NDP and PLQ
3.0% - Liberal and CAQ
2.0% - Liberal and PQ
2.0% - Bloc and CAQ
1.7% - Conservative and PQ
1.3% - Liberal and QS
1.0% - Bloc and QS
0.5% - Bloc and PLQ
0.3% - Conservative and QS

If the NDP takes even half of their federal vote...

41.2% PLQ
23.3% PQ
15.6% CAQ
12.3% NDP
5.4% QS

I think, however, a more realistic option would see...

The QS collapse. The only way to prevent this is for the PQ to die, or, to elect PKP as leader.
Otherwise the only possible way to save the QS is to have sovereignty become popular again.
Bloc-QS voters will go PQ, while Liberal-QS voters go PLQ. The small Conservative-QS voterbase, likely separatist, would go PQ.

The CAQ has a very inefficient vote at this level. In addition, left-wing voters will likely go to a left wing party.
The CAQ would shut see it's Liberal support go PLQ, and Bloc go PQ. It may, however, retain Conservatives.

With a federalist alternative, NDP voters would be more comfortable voting for the NDP over the PLQ.
Add to that the collapse of the QS and CAQ as noted, and I expect from all 3 the NDP could draw 85% of voters.
From the PQ, however, I do not. These voters already know they are voting PQ, and would probably break 50-50 at best.

Our result?

44.5% PLQ
26.4% PQ
17.6% NDP
7.4% CAQ
0.8% QS

Remember these are numbers based on this last election alone, not accounting for any change that may occur, or the 2018 campaign.

If the campaign is "normal" - and none of the last 4 campaigns in Quebec have been - then we can expect a few things.

First, without the Charter, Marois, and the PQ being as they were, we can expect the Liberals to lose some of their support.
Second, the PQ almost certainly has a bit more life in it; but the next leadership will be bloody, and the NDP could pick up some of that.
The CAQ will have a real struggle to do well; then again they have done this in the past.
Legault needs to position his party as a right-wing alternative. Couillard may not allow him to by passing his own right of centre agenda.
This presumes that Legault is able to turn the CAQ into a right-wing alternative, but that he loses a lot of support along the way.
Lastly, this presumes the QS does not manage to convince voters there are good reasons to vote QS over NDP.

With such presumptions we could assume a pre-writ poll as follows.

38% PLQ
32% PQ
22% NDP
8% CAQ

If the campaign does not change much, the results may well look like this; This is therefore my "prediction" for the 2018 election:


So it's great to look at what could or may happen, or how things might have been; but how do things stand currently. Thanks to polls and math, we can find the answer to that quickly and simply.

According to the latest projection, based on numbers from, the Liberals are expected to take 33.8% of the vote in Quebec, compared to 26.4%. The Bloc is down at 19.6% with the Tories bringing up the rear at 14.9%

I've been updating the ElectoMaticLite into a full ElectoMatic. According to the latest numbers, the program, which turns provincewide polling numbers into riding by riding election projections, tells me that the riding held by the Independent, Ahuntsic, currently has 46% for the Liberals, 21% for Mrs Mourani, 15% for the Bloc, and 11% for the NDP.

The full map suggests 22 Liberals from in and around Montreal, 16 NDP, and 2 Bloc. As well out in the Regions, there are expected to be 16 NDP members elected, 10 Liberal, 7 Conservative, and 5 bloc.


So what's the best and worst that can happen for the parties between now and 2018?

Quebec Solidare
The best scenario for QS is the PQ takes a sharp turn to the right, and the NDP never takes off*. In such a scenario, it's not that hard to imagine my earlier "triple QS vote" map becoming a reality for the party. PKP becoming PQ leader would certainly help.
The worst scenario for QS is not only the PQ returning to it's traditional stomping grounds, but the NDP really becoming a force to be reckoned with in Quebec. If this, as I expect, happens; the QS is done.

Coalition avenir Quebec
The CAQ's has two paths to glory. They also need the NDP to never take off* but need a PQ that remains where it is, or, moves to the left. Such a scenario leaves current fertile ground open to be farmed for votes bt the CAQ.
The second path would have the CAQ take a sharp turn to the right. This could mean they can avoid the NDP and PQ and take a bite out of the PLQ vote. The danger is the possibility of isolating themselves (see my federal map for reference).
The worst scenario for the CAQ is a PQ that turns to the right (PKP again) and a strong NDP. In such a scenario it is not hard to imagine them only winning a single seat in the next election; Granby.

Parti Quebecois
The best result for the PQ is a return to the old days. While it is early days, there appear to be three major competitors for the leadership. One of them, Lisee, has hinted that he may offer a commitment should he win. "No referendum in the first term." If this is true, and he wins, and he sticks to his guns; he may just make it through a full campaign without being distracted by the issue. This is likely the best the PQ can hope for, as, it could well lead to a majority government.
The worst result for the PQ is a repeat of what we just saw. Drainville is the candidate that, at this time, appears to represent this. He is the mastermind behind the so-called racist charter, and could well try to run a second campaign on it. Facing a vote hungry QS, a CAQ that's determined to not die, and an NPDQ gunning for PQ voters, such an alternative may end the PQ for a generation.
Lastly is the wildcard, Peladeau. He represents a shift to the right for the party, and this could well revive the brand. PQ could become PC as it is in other provinces and battle with the PLQ on their own home turf politically. This could prove to be a brilliant strategy or a terrible one. It's difficult to say as Quebec culture itself is in flux, perhaps more now than during the quiet revolution.

Parti Liberal Quebec
The best the PLQ can hope for, and what they really need, is a quiet, stable, strong, competent, and ethical government. The less they are in the news, and the better the economic statistics, the better things are for the new government.
The worst for the PLQ is division, corruption, waste, and sluggish growth. Most of their argument of this election was based on the fact that they could manage the government better fiscally; should they fail to do so, they will be punished by the voters.

Nouveau Parti Democratique
The NPDQ, in it's best form, could not only tap into federal NDP voters, but also manage to hoover up QS, CAQ, and PQ votes; as well as disenfranchised PLQ voters, and hard left Federalists who have always felt out of the loop in provincial elections. If this were to happen, they could go from 0 to hero, and form a majority government.
A slightly moderate option is for the party to be able to tap into some of the above, but not all of it due to one or more of the other parties managing to pull off a "best" result. This would see the party with one or two dozen members elected, clearly enough to make an impact, but not enough to come close to winning.
*The worst scenario is simple. The party never takes off. This can happen for a few reasons.
1 - The federal party bombs in the province in 2015, taking 4 or less ridings, and as a result, popularity simply fades.
2 - Other issues (Sovereignty for example) begin to capture to media attention as we close in on 2018 and the NDP is simply unable to make it's presence felt.
3 - After an unsuccessful attempt to organize, the party just gives up, and does not even bother running. This could leave the party as the dominant federal force, but would be as current, without a sister provincial party.


  1. This is why the non-francophone majority seats are important for the Liberals.

  2. Robert-Baldwin actually went NDP, apparently. Cons finished a close third.

  3. I don't see NDPQ forming as long when Mulcair is the federal NDP leader and Philippe Couillard is premier. Mulcair has openly stated he voted for the PLQ candidate in his riding. And he does have ties to this PLQ government.

    I don't see Mulcair opposing Couillard while potentially jeopardizing the NDP brand in Quebec. Since the federal NDP draws support from all four parties.

    I think the NDP will eventually venture into to Quebec provincial politics. Separatism is dying in Quebec, so there is a space for a left-leaning Quebec party that isn't separatist but rather nationalist.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. While I agree with your general statement on the NDPQ isn't this apace already occupied by the QS? To me it seems more likely that the QS will garner de facto NDP support in future as oppossed to the creation of the NDPQ that would split this voting bloc.

  4. Some really interesting scoping-out work, here. Very interesting.

    Also, to Big Jay: I was at the Mulcair presser when he spoke about how he voted. Not all of his comments were included in shorter versions of the story, but he was asked "how did it feel as a Federal NDP leader to have to vote for a provincial Liberal", to which Mulcair answered "it was easy, because I got to vote for my local candidate Geoff Kealey who is a social democrat who has a long history with the NDP and is the nephew of Frank Scott". So, it becomes a little harder to make Big Jay's extrapolation when those extra comments are factored in.

  5. Keep in mind that without a provincial NDP, the question of "who ELSE to vote for" comes up.

  6. I'm telling you now, any provincial NDP is more likely than not to be an absolute flop in its first time out, even its first few times out (assuming it lasts that long). Federal party ventures into Quebec have not proven to go well, look at the Creditistes or the PC Party, or the NDP's last attempt to launch a NPDQ. Plus this all depends on the federal NDP being willing to give the NPDQ resources when they'll be defending turf in 2015, and likely during a minority government period following that election. Simply put, it is going to take a lot of work to get a party like this up and running, I don't care how niche its appeal is.

    1. As you mention we've been down this road before in Quebec and it was as you describe a total flop. Today the political field is even more crowded and Quebec Solidare already holds a good portion of the potential QNDP vote.

      I think the big question for the NDP is why or how a QNDP would help them? Would it attract more supporters? Increase fundraising? Deliver better press? Or would it simply divide scarce resources?

      The whole structure of the NDP is somewhat problematic for Quebec since provincial parties are mere subsidiaries of the federal party. In short the provincial NDPs are not sovereign in their own right. This could set the stage for intra-Dipper conflict.

      At this stage the federal NDP's hold on Quebec is far from certain, they are down significantly in the polls from 2011 and I do not believe they ever developed a strong party and local organisations in the province. Considering all the work that needs to be done before 2015 the present does not appear to be an opportune time to start a provincial wing.

      P.S. I'm sure F.R. Scott would be rolling in his grave had he lived to see his nephew vote PLQ. Scott famously lampooned the Liberal party in his poems.