Fun with Numb3rs

Your Daily Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

The big update will wait until the final round of polls come in this weekend but, for now, the latest from Nanos, Ekos, and Decima have been added.

CPC: 36.1% (-0.2)
NDP: 27.7% (+1.1)
Lib: 22.7% (-1.1)
Bloc: 6.6% (-0.3)
Green: 5.6% (+0.1)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how shifts in regional support have historically transferred to individual ridings, and the chance the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

This is the only simulation model out there and, as such, it’s far more effective when projecting tight races or three-way races since it recognizes the riding could go either way depending how the numbers break.

CPC: 137 to 162 seats (mean: 149.2)
NDP: 63 to 94 seats (mean: 78.1)
Lib: 44 to 68 seats (mean: 56.7)
Bloc: 12 to 35 seats (mean: 23.2)
Ind: 0.8

Odds of Tory victory: 100%
Odds of Tory majority: 20% (down from 26% on Wednesday)
Odds of NDP official opposition: 97%

Since Wednesday, the NDP are up another 9 seats on average, and are now projected to win 23 to 51 in Quebec, 15 to 22 in Ontario, and 7 to 14 in BC. Those confidence intervals should narrow over the weekend once we’re hit with a batch of new large-sample polls, but there’s a lot of volatility out there right now, so I suspect we’ll have to wait until election day to see how a lot of seats break.

Remember, numbers could shift over the weekend. This isn’t a prediction for Monday – it’s an approximation of how the current polling numbers translate into seats.

(short methodology, long methodology)

Your Daily Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Fun with Numb3rs, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Today’s vote numbers include the new Nanos, Ekos, Angus, and Forum polls:

Popular Vote (change since yesterday in brackets):

CPC: 36.3% (-1.5)
NDP: 26.6% (+3.5)
Lib: 23.8% (-1.5)
Bloc: 6.9% (-0.4)
Green: 5.5% (+0.4)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how shifts in regional support have historically transferred to individual ridings, and the chance the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

This is the only simulation model for Canadian seat totals, and I feel this gives it a huge advantage. Other models will either undercount NDP seats in Quebec by showing them as a strong second everywhere, or they’ll overcount by projecting them as a slim first everywhere. This model recognizes they’ll win some of those “close seconds” and lose some of those “close firsts”…AND it recognizes that a 30-point swing won’t be uniform across the entire province. Yes, it means I can only peg the NDP seat range at between 15 and 44 seats in Quebec – but that’s all we really CAN say at this point, given the public polling data available.

CPC: 138 to 163 seats (mean: 150.4)
NDP: 54 to 86 seats (mean: 69.3)
Lib: 46 to 72 seats (mean: 58.9)
Bloc: 17 to 40 seats (mean: 28.5)
Ind: 0.9

Odds of Tory majority: 26% (down from 54% yesterday)

With our first batch of post-Easter polling data to feast on, there has been a lot of movement since yesterday. The NDP have jumped close to 20 seats, into second place. The Liberals and Conservatives are each down 5 seats, with the Bloc down 10.

(short methodology, long methodology)

Your Daily Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Given the number of polls we can expect this week, I’ll offer a quick seat projection update each afternoon around this time. For today:

Popular Vote (change since yesterday in brackets):

CPC: 37.8% (-0.8)
Lib: 25.3% (-0.4)
NDP: 23.1% (+1.1)
Bloc: 7.3% (-0.3)
Green: 5.5% (+0.4)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how historical shifts traditionally transfer to individual ridings, and the chance that the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

CPC: 143 to 168 seats (mean: 155.3)
Lib: 51 to 76 seats (mean:63.7)
NDP: 39 to 64 seats (mean: 50.2)
Bloc: 27 to 47 seats (mean: 37.9)
Ind: 1

Odds of Tory majority: 54% (down from 69% yesterday)

Since yesterday, the NDP are up 8 seats, with the Bloc down 4.5, the Tories down 3, and the Liberals down 0.5 – Quebec remains the wild card with the model projecting an average 15.2 seats for them there, but with a 95% confidence interval of 6 to 28 seats. So it’s still very much up in the air.

If you’re looking for an “on the ground” assessment of how the seats might break in Quebec, Fact Checker offers a detailed synopsis here.

(short methodology, long methodology)

Poll Soup: What the NDP surge means

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Polls, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Trying to make sense of what the NDP’s Quebec surge means in terms of seats is a difficult game. For starters, most public polls lump all of Quebec together when, in reality, a voter in Montreal is very different from a voter in Abitibi. Just because the Liberals or Conservatives are down province-wide, it doesn’t mean their incumbents are in danger, because their vote is so concentrated.

Even more challenging is trying to understand how a surge like this will be spread across the province. Most seat projections use the 2008 election as their baseline – my model is based primarily on 2008, but it also factors in the previous 2 elections and a regression “prediction” based on riding demographics. I think that’s a key improvement since it includes information about the voters, not just how they’ve voted in the past, but even then, all that data is from the old reality. We’re living in a very new reality.

If the NDP doubles or triples their Quebec-wide vote, it’s impossible to predict what the impact will be in each individual riding. The simulation model I use factors this in to a certain extent, which is why I report the probability of a given seat going to each party, rather than boldly saying if they’ll will win or lose. But the end result of this is a 95% confidence interval for NDP seats in Quebec of 3 to 19 – that’s hardly a precise target, and there are a lot of seats they have between a 4% and 8% chance of winning…with a few more polls showing the Dippers in first, that range will creep up.

Pundits Guide has a good article on the danger of taking these projections as the gospel truth. It’s also important to remember that a lot can change in a week – just because something is projected today, it doesn’t mean it will come to pass on May 2nd.

So with all those caveats, here’s where we stand with 7 days to go (change since last week in brackets):

CPC 38.6% (+0.5)
Lib 25.7% (-1.3)
NDP 22.0% (+1.9)
BQ 7.6% (-0.7)
Green 5.1% (-0.4)

Keep in mind that with the exception of a turkey-dinner fueled Nanos poll, we haven’t seen data from any phone calls conducted since last Wednesday (NOTE – I ran this before today’s Innovative and Environics polls were released).

So the above vote and the following seat projections could very well change significantly in the coming days. As such, I’ll be back with updated projections later this week, a closer look at the seats to watch in each region over the weekend, and a final projection on Sunday night. Also, I’ll post daily seat projections on Twitter.


Not surprisingly, the largest NDP movement has come in Quebec, where they’ve gone from a 0-7 seat range last week, up to a 3-18 range this week. These gains have come almost exclusively at the Bloc’s expense, with Liberal and Conservative seat ranges in Quebec unchanged from last week:


To get a better sense of how well the model is handling the wacky world of Quebec politics, consider the following two riding polls, released today (and fielded last week):

Brome Mississquoi – Bloc 32%, Lib 26%, NDP 26%, CPC 11%
Chambly Borduas – Bloc 37%, NDP 24%, Lib 15%, CPC 7%

Comparatively speaking, my model has Brome as a 35% chance of going Bloc, 35% chance of going Liberal, and 28% chance of going NDP. Which makes a lot of sense given the riding survey findings. It also underscores why a probability model is so much better for these kind of ridings. A simple projection would just put it down as a Bloc victory, without recognizing there’s a very good chance the Liberals and NDP could very well win it.

In Chambly, I still show the Bloc with a 96% chance of winning, with the NDP at just 4% – once again, this is consistent with the riding poll that has the Bloc up by 13 points.

Poll Soup: And here comes the NDP?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Polls, Seat Projections | Leave a comment


Tons of polls out today, with something for everyone.

If you’re a Liberal, you’re no doubt salivating at eating into the 8-point Tory lead in today’s Decima and yesterday’s Ekos polls. The NDP are surging in the latest from Leger and Angus Reid, with the latter showing them tied for second with the Liberals. The Tories, meanwhile, enjoy double-digit leads in Nanos and Forum polls.

Put it together and what have you got? Not a huge shift from last week, with the NDP up and the Tories down: (change since last week in brackets)

CPC 38.1% (-1.1)
Lib 27.0% (-0.3)
NDP 20.1% (+1.7)
BQ 8.3% (-0.4)
Green 5.5% (-0.9)

Translating this to seats, we see a similar shift, with the Dippers up and the Tories down:

Last week, the Conservative seat range was 141-168 seats, with a 46% chance at a majority. This week, their range is 138-162, with the majority odds down to 22%. For the Dippers, their pre-debate range of 22-35 seats has jumped to 28-42…and there are now 7 seats in Quebec they have at least a 5% chance of taking, with Outremont (89%), Gatineau (44%), and Hull-Aylmer (30%) the most promising.


As I’ve said before, I don’t want to post seat-by-seat numbers, since models like this work far better at the aggregate level and can’t possibly take into account all the riding-level dynamics. But I recognize the fun in this, so here are a few of the ridings to watch. Just please bear in mind that these projections are all based on regional shifts – just because the Tories are up in Ontario, it doesn’t mean they’re up in Ottawa, and a good (or bad) local campaign or candidate, can make a huge difference. And, of course, this is a reflection of current polls – this isn’t a prediction of where support levels will be on E-Day.

With all those disclaimers in place (also: do not use seat projections and operate heavy machinery), I’ll gladly take requests for others in the comments section:

-In PEI, the Liberals gace a 28% chance of taking back Egmont, but the Tories gace a 38% in Malpeque and 33% in Charlottetown.

-Justin Trudeau is at a 75% chance to hold in Papineau.

-Kingston and the Islands is the most vulnerable Liberal seat in Ontario (25% hold), with Sudbury, Mississauga-Erindale, Vaughan, Trinity-Spadina, Oak Ridges-Markham, and Kitchener-Waterloo all at between 20-30% chances of being picked up.

-Linda Duncan is at an 84% chance of holding Strathcona, with Edmonton East a 1-in-10 shot for the NDP and Edmonton Centre a 1-in-10 shot for the Liberals.

(click here for methodology)

Pre-Debate Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Up until now, I’ve taken the approach that the polls are rather meaningless, as the electorate still isn’t tuned in to this campaign. There’s no need to curl up in a fetal position in the shower just because your favourite party is down 10 points in Atlantic Canada.

But consider this the last free pass. Voters traditionally tune in after the debates, and there’s no reason to think things will be any different this time. If the polls aren’t moving by this time next week, it will be time to start worrying.

As the above trend-line shows, there has been little movement in the polls since last week:

Nanos (April 8-10, n = 982 phone): CPC 41%, Lib 30%, NDP 15%, BQ 8%
Decima (April 7-10, n = 1018 phone): CPC 40%, Lib 28%, NDP 15%, BQ 8%
Ipsos (April 5-7, n = 1001 phone): CPC 41%, Lib 26%, NDP 19%, BQ 9%
Ekos (April 4-7, n = 2555 autodial): CPC 36%, Lib 28%, NDP 17%, BQ 8%
Angus Reid (April 4-5, n=2031 online): CPC 38%, Lib 27%, NDP 21%, BQ 8%
Environics (Mar 30-April 5, n = 968 phone): CPC 38%, Lib 25%, NDP 20%, BQ 8%

Running Average: CPC 38.8%, Lib 27.4%, NDP 17.7%, Bloc 8.8%, Green 6.2%

This marks a slight narrowing of the gap from last week, but the emphasis is on slight. At the rate we’re going, it would take a 4-month campaign for the Liberals to win.

At these numbers, if we were voting today, the Tories would have a 45.5% chance at a majority (down from 56.5% last week). The Liberals are up 6.4 seats from last week, with the Conservatives down 1.6, the NDP down 2.1, and the Bloc down 2.5. Despite this, the Liberal seat range places them right around their 2008 totals.

Here are the tables – for the methodology, check out last week’s update. To clarify, “safe seats” are seats the party has a 95% chance of winning given current poll numbers and “seats in play” are seats they have at least a 5% chance of taking – it’s based on current levels of support, it’s not a prediction.

Updated Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Despite some mid-week adventures by Nanos, the poll numbers stayed relatively flat in Week 1 of the campaign. In effect, outside of our daily dose of Nik, there wasn’t a lot to report on until Ekos and Leger rolled in over the weekend. (We also got new numbers from Decima today, but only after I ran my seat projections)

The end result, is a vote line as flat as Saskatchewan.

As a bit of context, the graph above gives a daily popular vote average from on all publicly released polls, based on:

-How recently the polls were conducted. Each poll is given a one-week half-life which meaning a poll released today is worth twice as much as one released a week ago. I consider a poll “added” to the sample on the mean day it was in field (i.e. night 2 of a 3 night field).
-Poll sample sizes
-The accuracy of each company’s election polls over the past 5 years

From this, I ran my seat projection model. For the lengthy methodology, click here. The key thing to keep in mind is this model simulates the election 10,000 times in every riding – in each simulation, I include 3 sources of variance:

1) The variance between regional shifts and riding shifts observed in the 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections (i.e. if the Liberals are up 5 points in Ontario, how can we expect their vote to swing in a given riding?)
2) Sample variance, based on the sample size of the polls being used
3) “Pollster variance”, based on how much polls have missed the mark in recent campaigns, beyond the sample variance

The model also takes by elections and incumbency into account. And unlike other models, it includes not only the 2008 election as the baseline, but some 2004 and 2006 election results, as well as a riding projection based on demographics. This helps “smooth” out anomalous results from the 2008 campaign, to ensure we don’t project the Greens winning Central Nova or anything like that.

What I want to stress is that this model is completely data-driven. At no point have I “tweaked” the results, or given boosts to individual candidates. Once you start doing that, you might as well just consult the Election Prediction Project.

Also, when calculating variance numbers, by election effects, and incumbency effects, the numbers I’m using are based 100% on research I’ve conducted (using 2004 and 2006 data to simulate the 2008 election). No factor (outside of the 7-day polling half life) has been arbitrarily picked.

OK – I guess that short explanation turned into a long one. I’ll keep it brief on further updates. One final disclaimer – this is not a prediction of how the election will turn out. It’s based on the poll numbers released as of today…poll numbers that reflect a relatively unengaged electorate.

And with that, here’s what’s projected:

Based on the simulations, Harper sits at a 56.5% chance of a majority.

Mind you, this actually reflects a drop in support from him from my final pre-election simulation, which pegged him at between 148 to 178 seats. So the gap did narrow a bit in week 1, but it’s still a big gap.

Then, as now, Harper’s gains have come almost exclusively in Ontario. The lower end of that 95% confidence interval for Ontario is 51 seats – that’s the toal he got last election, and he could gain up to 19 more. In every other province, Harper’s expect seat total is within 1 or 2 of his total last election.

Again, it’s too early to consider this anything more than a fun statistical exercise. But, based on these numbers, it’s a lot more fun for Conservatives than Liberals.

Pre-Christmas Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Ho ho ho! Look what Santa has brought Stephen Harper for Christmas. Why, it’s a 17.6% chance at a majority.

For the first time since I started running these projections in July, a Conservative majority is a real possibility, abeit still a low probability outcome. Of course, these projections are based on where the ball is now – and Harper’s numbers always seem to bounce back down whenever he gets close to that elusive majority.




Since the last update, Harper’s largest gains have come in Ontario (up 6 seats on average) and BC (up 5 seats on average) – his support numbers have not shifted noticeably anywhere else in the country.

Does this mean he’ll try for an early 2011 election? Unless he thinks he can nab that majority, there’s no real incentive to. He’s in power, his job is secure, and the opposition parties aren’t exactly chomping at his heels (as these numbers show).

For a long methodology description, click here. For a shorter one, you can just read the first few lines of last month’s update.

November Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Yesterday, I gave an overview of the polling numbers – today, an updated seat projection.

The long explanation of how I came up with these numbers is here. The short of it is the model simulates an election 10,000 times, taking the following into account:

-Publicly released polling data
-2004, 2006, and 2008 election results
-Riding demographics
-The historical variance in riding results, compared to regional results
-Accuracy of Canadian pollsters in predicting recent provincial and federal elections
-Incumbency
-By election results

The benefit of this model over other projections is that this gives you a robust prediction that smooths out some of the blips you get when you only use the last election as your benchmark, it’s data driven, and it takes “election day swings” when the polls are all off into account.

It’s NOT a prediction of the next election, but reflects what we could expect if the election were held today.

So, with that, here are the updated projections:



If you compare these to the October sim…well, the results aren’t that interesting, with no party moving by more than 2 seats on average. I know “Nothing Happened” isn’t an eye-catching headline but, more often than not that’s the reality of the situation, as excited as well all get over every mini-scandal and ministerial resignation.

Now, as then, we’re on a crash course for a Tory minority, with only a 0.1% chance of a Liberal government and a 0.3% chance of a Harper majority.

Still, that would mean gains for the Liberals from 2008, most notably in Ontario (+8.1), but also in BC (+2.8), Quebec (+1.7), and Atlantic Canada (+1.4).

Seat Projections

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Seat Projections | Leave a comment

Below are my updated seat projections, I first posted in July. For the long methodology explanation, click here. To summarize it, the model projects the probability of each party winning every seat in the country, taking the following into account:

-Publicly released polling data
-2004, 2006, and 2008 election results
-Riding demographics
-The historical variance in riding results, compared to regional results
-Accuracy of Canadian pollsters in predicting recent provincial and federal elections
-Incumbency
-By election results

The benefit of this model over other projections is that this gives you a robust prediction that smooths out some of the blips you get when you only use the last election as your benchmark (like the Greens projected to win a seat in Atlantic Canada), it’s completely objective, and it takes “election day swings” when the polls are all off into account.

New this wave, I’ve assigned a two week “half life” to polls, which means a poll released this week is worth twice as much as a poll released a fortnight ago (assuming the sample size is the same and the “pollster accuracy” rating is the same).

It’s NOT a prediction of the next election, but reflects what we could expect if the election were held today.

So, with that, here are the updated projections:



On average, the Liberals are up 13.5 seats from July, with the Tories down 4.2, the NDP down 7.2, and the Bloc down 2.2. The largest gains for the Liberals have come in Ontario (up 9.4) and in BC (up 2.9). The Liberals “best case” scenario (upper end of 95% confidence interval) in Ontario has increased from 47 seats in July to 59 seats now.

The odds of a Tory majority have dropped from 1.6% down to 0.4%.



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