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Small fluctuations can make big differences in seats

Posted by padams under Election 2008, Election 2008 Campaign strategy

Paul Adams

first posted at the EKOS election site.

It’s a nail-biter. We are entering a stage in the election campaign when small regional fluctuations in support could make huge differences to the futures of the parties and their leaders. In a universe where there are many three-way races, and even some four-way races, quite small changes in popular support can dramatically alter the arithmetic in terms of parliamentary seats.  

A case in point: 

Yesterday evening, EKOS released the weekend’s results from its tracking poll, which on the surface showed very little change. The Conservatives and the Greens were down a percentage point from Friday’s three-day roll up and the Liberals were up a point. Otherwise no change. 

However, there were some subtle shifts in the regional numbers, most notably in the Atlantic provinces where the Liberals are doing better, and in British Columbia where the race between the Tories and NDP has tightened considerably. There were also smaller fluctuations in other regions. 

The results in terms of our seat projection model were quite dramatic. 

On Friday’s numbers, the Conservatives were achingly close to a majority – just three seats shy. And the Liberals were headed to winning almost 90 seats fewer than the Tories. 

The weekend numbers suggest a different story, however. The improved Liberal strength in the Atlantic provinces swings many seats over to the Liberals. They also creep up a few seats in Ontario at the Tories’ expense. The suggested result: a Conservative Party barely improving its seat performance over the last election. 

Small shifts: big implications for the potential result. 

This is not so much a prediction of the outcome of the election October 14, as a reminder that with so many seats exquisitely poised among the various contenders, very subtle shifts in public mood over the remaining days of the campaign may greatly alter the political landscape of the coming years. 

Seat Projection Oct 3

CPC 152

Lib 60

ND 41

BQ  54

GP  0

Oth 1

Seat Projections Oct. 5

CPC  130

Lib     78

NDP   42

BQ     58

GP       0

Oth     0

For detailed tables with regional breakdowns, go to www.ekoselection.com

Paul Adams is a former political reporter with the CBC and the Globe and Mail, and is now a member of Carleton’s journalism faculty, and executive director of EKOS Research Associates.