The Globe and Mail has launched an interactive election-forecasting tool that analyzes polling data and helps make sense of it all. Try the election simulator at tgam.ca/election-forecast.
This week Paul Fairie, who designed the predictive model, looks at three competitive regions in Canada.
Quebec's political landscape is the most competitive and unpredictable in the country. In 46 of the province's 78 seats (59 per cent), the Globe's Election Forecast gives more than one party a decent chance (greater than 10 per cent) of winning the riding on election day. Contrast this with Alberta, where only one party has a decent chance of winning in 70 per cent of the ridings. This matches Quebec's historical pattern of sometimes swinging wildly between elections. The last one was a good reminder of this, with the New Democrats going from holding just one riding to winning 59 of the province's 75 seats. With four parties polling at 20 per cent or greater, a hugely unpredictable part of this election is how Quebec will swing.
Suburban Toronto often plays a decisive role in Ontario provincial elections, delivering Conservative majorities in the 1990s, just as they delivered Liberal ones in the 2000s. The same holds true in this election. In Brampton, for instance, the average probability of victory for the leading party in the city's five ridings is just 70 per cent. This is more competitive than the province as a whole, where the parties in first place have an average winning probability nearing 86 per cent. A similarly high level of competitiveness exists in neighbouring cities such as Mississauga, which strongly suggests that much of the province's electoral fight will take place in the area just outside its largest city.
In British Columbia, the most competitive part of the province lies in a ring just outside Vancouver, with four seats in areas such as Richmond and Delta being forecast as three-way races. Winning seats in these areas could be critical to the formation of an NDP-led federal government, with the party in recent months turning a 13-point loss to the Conservatives in 2011 into a 13-point lead.
Paul Fairie is a University of Calgary political scientist who studies voter behaviour.