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SEAT PROJECTION

Liberal Minority Now in Play

[OTTAWA – April 16, 2009]

Paul Adams

During the 2008 election, EKOS regularly published seat projections based on its surveys of public opinion. And we are doing this once again with our latest poll, published Thursday, April 16. (NOTE: the CBC, which had the exclusive right to release the results of the public opinion survey did not participate in this seat projection.)

At EKOS, we publish seat projections not because we believe it is possible to predict the next election with precision: after all, an election could be just months away, or it might not happen for years. We publish these projections because in the new era of Canadian politics, where minority governments are the norm, the numbers of seats each party might take is crucial to understanding the balance of political forces at play.

Party organizers and pollsters look at these projections all the time. Why shouldn’t you?

No seat projection model is perfect, but EKOS is proud to say that our last projection of the 2008 campaign proved to be the most accurate of any made publicly available. It projected the solid Tory minority, the Liberal collapse, and the BQ’s strong showing in Quebec. We did slightly underestimate the size of the Tory win, and we think this may have been because Conservative supporters, bolstered by greater motivation and a superior organization, turned out in relatively larger numbers than the supporters of other parties.

Of course something like this might happen again next time. Our poll has shown that although Conservative strength is sapping away, those remaining Conservative supporters are strongly committed to their party and its leader, Stephen Harper.

It is worth noting that although our methodology for projecting seats here is similar to what we employed during the election, we did not have the very large nightly samples that gave our election projection more precision with regard to smaller regions such as the Atlantic, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Nor have we attempted to conduct sub-regional analysis within the larger provinces as we did at the end of the election campaign.

Nonetheless, this seat projection, seen from the perspective of the last general election just six months ago, suggests some startling changes in Canada’s political landscape.

On these numbers, the Liberal Party would gain nearly 60 seats, and would easily be the largest party in Parliament, in line to form a minority government. Indeed, if the Liberals were to revive the idea of a coalition with the NDP, the two parties would have a majority – without needing the support of the Bloc Québécois (or any other party). Once again, the Liberals would be an Ontario-dominated party, with more than half their seats coming from that one province, though they would have representation across the country with the exception of Alberta.

The Conservatives would fall below 100 seats. Their caucus would once again be dominated by Western MPs, and more than a quarter of them would come from the single province of Alberta. These numbers suggest a stunning rebuke for the party in Quebec, which not so long ago was the repository of the Conservative dreams of majority government. On this projection they would fall to a single seat in the province. Though retaining a substantial foothold in Ontario, they would be outnumbered 2-1 by the Liberals.

CPC

Liberal

NDP

BQ

Green

Other

TOTAL

CANADA

98

130

29

51

0

0

308

Atlantic

10

18

4

0

0

0

32

Quebec

1

23

0

51

0

0

75

Ontario

32

65

9

0

0

0

106

Manitoba

5

5

4

0

0

0

14

Saskatchewan

8

4

2

0

0

0

14

Alberta

27

1

0

0

0

0

28

British Columbia

15

12

9

0

0

0

36

Yukon / Territories

0

2

1

0

0

0

3

A note on our methodology:

This seat projection is based on the results of a recent poll conducted using EKOS’ unique hybrid internet-telephone research panel, Probit. This panel is randomly recruited from the general population, meaning that, the only way to be included in Probit is through random selection. Unlike opt-in internet-only research panels, Probit supports confidence intervals and error testing.

Taking our sample of 1,476 decided voters from across Canada, we have run them through a model that takes into account both the special arithmetic of our first-past-the-post system, and the parties’ historical patterns of support.

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