Saturday, August 01, 2009

Future Battlegrounds: British Columbia

I said about a month ago that I would do semi-regular seat projections. Well, since then the polling on which my seat projections are based has been flatter than Stephen Harper's affect. As a result, my projections are basically unchanged from virtual deadheat. So, while I finish an actual update during some down time this weekend, I thought I'd take a look at some key ridings to focus on in the upcoming election. If you want historical competitiveness, CalgaryGrit recently did a nice piece analyzing the historically most competitive elections over the last three cycles. That isn't necessarily going to be reflected here. For instance, hypothetically, if there was a riding in Québec where the Tories were neck and neck in previous elections, my projections would not include it as a likely future battleground based on week Tory polling in the province. For starters, I thought I'd look at where the fur is likely to fly in British Columbia.

BC is always viewed as a tight three way race. This is both true and false. It's true that all three parties have bases of support in the province, its false that there are a ton of ridings where more than two parties are competitive. I'm defining competitive this far away from an actual election as any party within ten percentage points of the leader in the riding. The only riding where more than one party is within 10 points in BC is Burnaby-Douglas. My projection has the NDP incumbent (Bill Siksay) leading the Tories by 7.55 points and the Grits by 8.68 points. However, Burnaby-Douglas is not the only competitive or the most competitive riding in BC. What follows is a list with the riding name, the margin between first and second (in percentage points) and the competitive parties with the leader first (incumbents in bold).

Saanich -- Gulf Islands 0.01 CPC - LPC*
Vancouver Island North 1.29 NDP - CPC
North Vancouver 1.84 LPC - CPC
Vancouver Kingsway 2.47 LPC - NDP
West Vancouver -- Sunshine Coast -- Sea-t0-Sky Country 2.85 CPC - LPC
Richmond 4.45 CPC - LPC
Fleetwood -- Port Kells 5.6 CPC - LPC
Kamloops - Thompson - Caribou 6.62 CPC - NDP
New Westminster - Coquitlam 7.01 NDP -CPC (Vacant)
Burnaby -- Douglas 7.55 NDP - CPC - LPC
Surrey North 8.13 NDP - CPC
Nanaimo - Alberni 8.44 CPC - NDP

What is immediately clear is that the Tories have a lot of vulnerable incumbents in BC if history is any judge. Nine of these twelve ridings are held by the Tories. The Surrey North numbers still have some lingering Cadman effect in them (even though 2004 doesn't get much weight in my projections) but I think they'd be on the short end of the stick in North Vancouver and Vancouver Island North at very least if elections were held today.

*briefly, this result is skewed due to the NDP candidate troubles here in 2008; the Tories should be fine if the NDP siphons off Liberal votes

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