Wednesday, September 19, 2007

THE QUEBEC BY-ELECTIONS: WHAT DO THEY MEAN?

Let's look at them one at a time.

1. Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot.

In the last General Election January 23, 2006, the results were (in round numbers):

Bloc - 28,000 (56%)
Conservatives - 12,000 (24%)
Liberal - 5000 (10%)
NDP - 2700 (5.4%)
Total votes cast - 50,000 (67% - based on 76000 eligible voters in 2007 by-election).

In the by-election September 17, 2007, the results were (in round numbers):
Bloc - 13,500 (42%)
Conservatives - 12,000 (37.5%)
Liberal - 2400 (7.4%)
NDP - 2500 (7.9%)
Total votes cast - 32,500 (43% based on 76000 eligible voters)

Summary:
1. Bloc lose 14%
2. Conservatives gain 13.5%
3. Liberals lose 2.6%
4. NDP gains 2.5%
5. Turnout down by 24%

Conclusion:
Conservatives make big gain on the Bloc. NDP gains a little on the
Grits. Turnout very low.

2. Roberval - Lac-Saint-Jean

In the General Election, January 23, 2006, the results were (in round numbers):

Bloc - 18,000 - 45%
Conservatives - 15,000 - 38%
Liberal - 3000 - 8.5%
NDP - 2000 - 5%

Total Votes cast - 40,000 (63% of 63,000 eligible voters in the 2007 by-election).

In the byelection the numbers were:

Bloc - 8000 - 26.8%
Conservatives - 17,500 - (59.7%)
Liberal - 2,800 - 9.6%
NDP - 700 - 2.3%
Total Votes Cast 29,527 (46% based on 63,000 eligible voters).

Summary:
1. Bloc loses 18%.
2. Conservatives gain 20 %.
3. Liberals gain a little - 1.1%.
4. NDP lose 2.7%.
3. Turnout down by 17%.

Conclusion: Conservatives win big over the Bloc. The rest is a wash. Turnout very low.

3. Outremont

In the last General Election, the results were (in round numbers):

Bloc: 12,000 (29%)
Conservative: 5000 (12%)
Liberals: 14,000 (34%)
NDP: 7000 (17%)
Total votes cast 41000 (65% of by-election eligible voters)

In the by-election, the numbers were:

Bloc: 2600 (10.9%)
Conservative: 2100 (8.6%)
Liberals: 7000 (29%)
NDP: 11,400 (47.5%)
Total votes cast: 24000 (37.5%)

Summary:
1. Bloc lose 18.1%
2. Conservatives lose 3.4%
3. Liberals lose 5%
4. NDP gain 30.5%
5. Turnout down by 27.5%

Conclusion:
NDP win big over the Bloc, and picks up a few points from the Conservatives and Liberals. Conservatives go nowhere in the big city riding. Turnout very low.

So who took it on the chin?

I say the Bloc. Its losses were the greatest in terms of popular support - 14%, 18%, and 18.1%. It also lost a seat. It bodes ill for the Bloc and by extension, Pauline Marois' PQ.

Who was the big winner? Why the NDP of course. They haven't had a seat in Quebec since Phil Edmonston fluked one in 1990 in a by-election in the Riding of Chambly. Edmonston, a contrary sort who continues to be a superb consumer advocate fingering 'lemon' autos, was also a Quebec nationalist. He was never at home in the NDP and packed it up without running again in the next General Election in 1993. That, so far as I know, is the only time the NDers ever took one in Je me souviens land. So, why did they win in Outremont? Apart from the qualities of the candidates, which I am not in a position to comment on, one could easily conclude that Layton's robust attack on the government's Afghanistan policy must have had an impact - and therefore a bright Amber light for Steve Harper.

For the Grits, it must have been a disappointment to lose Outremont. And for the Conservatives, the win in Roberval and the gain in Saint-Hyacinthe must have felt good. But their dismal performance in Outremont will give them pause.

The two leading parties - Grits and Conservatives - have more work to do in Quebec before they roll the dice and plummet the country into another General Election.

9 comments:

Bruce Stewart said...

I agree the Bloc was the party that came out of Monday night's by-elections looking the worst off.

Thanks for adding up the figures.

Stephen said...

Your 'turnout very low' comments are misleading, if I may say so.

Federal by-election turnouts should not be compared to federal general election turnouts, but to other federal by-election turnouts.

Otherwise, you're comparing apples and oranges. By-election turnout results will almost always be lower than general election results, at any level.

If you were to compare Monday's by-election turnout figures to the turnouts in other recent federal by-elections in Quebec, I think you'd find that they were well within the usual range.

Not 'very low' then, at all, unless you're measuring by the wrong standard.

lance said...

Stephen, and yet no one bothers to question comparing the _results_ of a byelection to perceived results in a future general election.

Cheers,
lance

s.b. said...

I dont care what anyone else says. I'm ok with the BLOQ imploding and not being a federal Party anymore, which I have predicted will happen within 5 years to party insiders close to Dion. We should base our next election strategy in Quebec at chipping away BLOQ support, and assume if they are in the election after the next one we can take most of their seats. We need to focus on going after the BLOQ in this province not the Conservatives.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Stephen:

If I had said that the turnout in the by-election was low compared to the turnout in a general election, would you agree with my conclusions?

And S.B., I agree. The Grits should go after the Bloc.

And Bruce, thanks for your comment.

Darryl

finnegan said...

Darryl:
It was nice to have you back on the 6th and again this week to reassure me that the nasty old "b.a." doesn't have you in it's clutches again!
I started to comment after the 6th about why you don't get more comments - something about long posts and traditional structure (complete sentences and paragraphs etc.) - but I hit the wrong key and deleted my deathless prose. Now I see you have several comments!
Anyway, turning to the current post, and specifically Outremont: I have a feeling the candidates, as between the NDP and the Liberals, played a major role in the outcome. Before the elections, the pundits in the news media were criticizing Dion for appointing a clone of himself, but afterwards they were characterizing it as a failure of leadership. It was a failure in the sense of choice of candidate, but it was one riding, so could be a cheap lesson for Dion in the next general election.

burlivespipe said...

Wasn't mr lemonade himself, in 1989, who won the NdP's only seat in Quebec? Phil Edmonston had a real large profile and won his seat by a real huge margin, again I believe, at the Libs' expense.
Not that I'd compare Mulcair with Edmonston -- he has a very strong chance of retaining this seat, at least until he starts to read all the wild policy ideas being wielded at the annual convention.
Had Dion not won the leadership, all odds say Mulcair would have ran as a Liberal...
But, besides your astute dissection which points to the real loser, isn't the 2nd loser Michael Fortier? Not only did he not have the cajones to run in his own riding, but now his Mp is a member of the party that wants to abolish Fortier's easy ticket (never mind his deceitful seat at the cabinet table)...

Darryl Raymaker said...

Damned if your not right, Big Daddy. Old Lemonade got miffed when Davey Barrett became influential in the Party and skedaddled after only one term. More money in finding the lemons, I guess.

As far as Fortier is concerned, you're right again. He doesn't want to give up the guaranteed salary and pension. I predict Canadians will hear less and less from Fortier in the months and years ahead. he's almost through, baby!

Darryl Raymaker

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