Analysis and Predictions with Dr. Normand Perreault.
By Leah Ching, Staff Writer
After three leading polls presented three different predictions as to which party would win the federal election, Canadians were left more confused than ever, and for good reason. The race has been presented frequently as a three-way contest, with each major poll giving different answers as to which party was in the lead. The data available indicates an extremely tight race to the finish between the Conservatives and Liberals; with the NDP slightly falling behind since these last major polling results were published.
Dr. Normand Perreault of the Political Science department offered an insightful presentation on how to analyze polling data and predict the outcome of this election. His presentation centered on using the statistics, polls, and data to make an informed prediction that “limited the range of one’s fantasies.”
Students, all eager to know who would lead Canada’s government for the next four years, attended Perrault’s presentation hoping for a decisive prediction. The discussion made use of many charts, graphs, statistics and polls, as Perreault explained to students, “Why do we focus on this? … Because it shakes us out of our dreams.”
In his presentation he looked at the number of undecided voters, which was only around 11.8%, and then identified a distinction between ridings that were already “clinched” (already safe to assume which party would win here) versus other ridings still in play. Doing so he used a 7% cut off mark. Perreault identified a total of 64 seats still possibly in play.
During the presentation, students looked at maps and noted the interesting patterns that appeared in certain areas; such as in Quebec, where the issue of the Niquab has largely dominated politics. Interestingly, Perreault noted that British Columbia might be the one to decide this election, with 14 seats still undecided at the time, making this a significant battleground for campaigners.
Also examined was what parties would gain votes if the Conservatives lost ground in certain areas. In B.C, the NDP stands to gain, whereas in Ontario, the Liberals would be the ones taking votes from the incumbents.
About the NDP, Perreault noted that their best-case scenario is around 33 more seats, so with a solid backing in about 85 ridings, the NDP doesn’t have much to gain or much to lose. The Conservatives and Liberals have a lot more room outside their core to make gains and suffer losses. Where it’s a safe game for the NDP, it’s not for the Conservative and Liberals.
Something to play a large role in the election is the phenomenon of “vote parking,” which makes reference to the idea that people express a different opinion at the beginning of the election, but this can change coming toward the end when the pressure is on.
Perreault also offered that government fatigue and low voter turnout might result in a loss for the Conservatives. “Democratic elections are like festivals. People mimic release from oppression, this is why it’s so important to emphasize themes of change and hope, must be momentous, historical, and promise to liberate.”
In the end, Dr. Perreault said he was not a betting man, but his prediction was that of a Liberal minority, or a Conservative minority government, noting that there is any flip or shift to be had, the Liberals would benefit. If the Conservatives are to suffer a loss, this may come about due to government fatigue, low voter turnout, and the state of the economy – in which case the Liberals will reap most of the benefits.