New Brunswickers head to the polls today to elect the 49 members of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly. Heading into the campaign, it appeared as though the opposition Liberal Party was headed for a certain landslide majority government. However, following a gaffe-filled CBC interview with Liberal leader Brian Gallant, the polls have tightened in the province, and nothing is certain in today's vote.
Polls have been few and far between in this campaign, which has resulted in few projections on my part. In fact, I have only done one other projection in this campaign. This is unfortunate, because it has meant I have not been paying enough attention to the election to come up with a decent model. Nonetheless, I will use my basic vote distribution model for this final projection to try and come up with some sort of numbers. For this final projection, I have used two polls in an attempt to come up with a projected seat count. These two polls are one published by Forum Research last night which shows the Liberals and Tories in a literal tie (40% a piece), and one conducted by Corporate Research Associates last week, which showed the Liberals ahead 45-36.
There has definitely been a shift, in what little polls there have been, from the Liberals to the Tories, at least since Gallant's interview with the CBC on September 12. This means it is quite possible that the momentum will carry forward, for the Progressive Conservatives, into the election today, and win in a close election. How much momentum they still have is something one can only speculate on.
Perhaps including the older CRA poll in my model may skew my projection in favour of the Liberals, when it is actually the Tories that have the momentum. However, the smaller sample size of the poll has ensured its weight is much smaller than in the Forum poll. Nonetheless, it is enough for my model to show the Liberals with a narrow 42%-38% lead. This translates into 30 seats for the Liberals and 19 for the Tories.
Another factor that may help the Liberals win the election is geography. The electoral map of New Brunswick has helped the Liberals out in the past. In the 2006 election, the Tories won the popular vote by a mere 0.4%, but it was the Liberals who won a majority government, winning the election by three seats. However, the map of New Brunswick's ridings has changed since then, and the map may be fairer than the last. In fact, a quick extrapolation of the 2010 results shows both parties would win close to the same number of seats if they were tied in the popular vote. While the current map might have been fair for the 2010 results, the distribution of the votes in this election may be very different. Despite the tie in their poll from last night, Forum Research shows the Liberals ahead in Central and Eastern New Brunswick, while they are far behind in the South. If this poll shows an accurate regional breakdown, then we can assume that much of the Tory support is sitting in the giant vote sink that is Southern New Brunswick, where my model shows them winning all but two seats. However, Southern New Brunswick only has 11 seats, and even if the Tories won all of them, they would be nowhere close to winning a majority.
If the Tories are to win the election, they will need to close the gap in the rest of the province, outside of the South. My model shows quite a few marginal seats that the Progressive Conservatives could win. The closest seats in my model (where the Liberals area ahead) are Memramcook-Tantramar, Moncton South, Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou, Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin, Fredericton-York, Oromocto-Lincoln and Saint John Harbour. A near sweep of these ridings could be enough for them to win the election.
Other than the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, my model shows no other parties winning any seats. Despite so much optimism from the NDP in the lead up to today's vote, the polls have not been favourable to the party (Forum has the NDP at 12%), as voters are shifting back to the more traditional two parties. This is not to say the NDP won't win any seats. There are a number of seats they have targeted, such as their leader's riding of Fredericton West-Hanwell, Saint John Harbour and Independent MLA (running for the NDP) Bev Harrison's riding of Hampton. The populist People's Alliance party (who are only running in 18 districts) are also targeting a number of seats, such as their leader's seat of Fredericton-Grand Lake, and their deputy leader's seat of Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin. Their deputy leader actually mentioned to me on Twitter that he was neck and neck in the seat, and that he would send me internal polls to prove it. I didn't receive any, and so my model has him at just 8%. The Greens have been polling well-ish (Forum has them at 6%), but we all know they tend to over-poll. Their best bet is the urban progressive-leaning seat of Fredericton South, where their leader is running. Due to the lack of detailed regional polls in the election, it is impossible for me to accurately gauge how strong local candidacies are of any party, especially the smaller parties, which tend to focus their entire campaigns on a small handful of seats.
|Leading mother tongue by census subdivision|
My overall projection map shows the geographic polarization of New Brunswick. The Tories are strong in the socially conservative “Baptist Belt” in south and west of the province, while the Liberals are stronger in the Acadian areas, along the Atlantic coast, and in the northeast. This is the general pattern in New Brunswick politics, and the key to victory tends to be in breaking into the other side's traditional territory, usually done with strong local candidates. New Brunswick election maps rarely show this polarization as much as my projection map does, and it is likely that the strength of certain local candidates will make this particular map look quite different from the actual electoral map that will be produced by the voters today.
|New Brunswick religion map by county|
Projected results by riding (ridings coloured by how they went in 2010, using transposed results):
Polls close at 8pm (7pm Eastern).