I can’t read the tea leaves

I count it among my biggest liabilities that I have zero ability to predict election outcomes. This is almost ridiculous. I look at the issues. I reason things through. And still look totally stupid.

Consider the latest election poll today in the TJ.

It has the Tories and the Libs in a dead heat – within 1% inside a 3% margin of error.

So here’s how bad I am at this stuff.

I figured (and actually heard from several sources) that the Tories were up between 9% and 15% in their internal polls just a couple of weeks ago.

That, I figured was why they decided to go to the polls.

But apparently public opinion is not so slanted in their favour.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Consider Saint John.

I predicted ‘rootin’ for Hootin’ would win easily because of the bevy of announcements including the Lepreau refurbishment.

And she was trounced badly – lost every precinct.

So, today – just, what – less than a year from that by-election? I just assumed that Lord would get trounced in Saint John. In my mind, he would be beaten there worse than anywhere else in the province.

So, the TJ poll finds Lord with something like a 10 point spread in Saint John – by far his largest margin of support in all the sub regions of the province. In Moncton, he is neck-and-neck with Graham – despite the fact that last time he won 8 of 9 ridings in the Greater Moncton area.

So, what does this mean?

Whatever I predict will happen, put good money on the opposite.

Therefore, I predict that……..

Weird, huh? Please explain to me the error in my logic.

Here were my predictions on this election:

Lord would win big in Greater Moncton. My logic here was that things are well in Moncton and he has made big public spending announcements at the hospital, ‘medical’ school, etc.

Lord would win big in Fredericton. He has expanded the size of government probably more than any other Premier (all government including health care). He has given large wage increases after McKenna squeezed to get out of the deficit. Fredericton itself is doing quite well.

Lord would get creamed in the north with the exception of places where hospitals were ‘saved’, and old time Tory ridings.

Lord would win some if not all of the upper Saint John River Valley (except Woodstock) because of the heroic saving of the Nackawic mill and because – at least until the last 12-18 months – the economy up there has been relatively solid.

So, all told, in my ‘rational’ mind, Lord would win mostly Moncton, Freddy and the Upper SJR and that coupled with a few other old time Tory ridings would allow him to maybe squeak back in.

I also felt, somewhat less rationally, that there may be a sub-text of unsettledness that is not tracked by the polls and that New Brunswickers are just about ready to demand their government do something about their province’s feeble economy and rising levels of out-migration.

But that I fully admit is more wishful thinking.

Please tell me what’s wrong with my logic here?

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0 Responses to I can’t read the tea leaves

  1. scott says:

    No big error David. Two things here:

    1.) It is common for the governing party to lose one or more by-elections in between general elections. Mostly due to the fact the electorate can send them a message on particular discontents and issues whereas they don’t bring down the government. It’s almost like a bitch slap per say. (sorry about the phraseology) As well, I wrote extensively on the manner in which Hootin was acclaimed as PC candidate in SJ Harbour where the party cited special party procedures to shut down the open nomination process for the Saint John Harbour Progressive Conservatve riding association. The fact that there wasn’t a healthy all candidates debate/meeting and runoff hurt her immensely when it came time to start campaigning openly in the riding. Also, it was difficult for the Premier to offer a lot of goodies without committing himself mid-mandate. In other words, his hands were tied. Thus, Shawn Graham and the opposition were able to promise everything under the sun without being accountable…as well, they could criticize everything the government did until the cows came home as it is said. So the Liberals definitely had the upper hand when it came to that by-election last fall. The same can not be said now. I believe that the PC will reclaim there losses in Saint John and surrounding on the 18th. I would be very surprised if they didn’t.

    2.) Governing parties traditionally hold a fairly sizeable lead going into an election campaign. This is generally because they time it when the polls are high. Yet, as soon as the campaign begins, unless something drastic happens, the polls usually inch closer as the campiagn matures. It is my belief that election are won and lost, usually, by the party who has the least amount of gaffes and demonstrates significant signs of leadership over the duration of the campaign— this is what people want to see from the competing parties. (including yourself after reading your latest blog on polls and leadership) However, don’t get me wrong, the debate can be a turning point as it was in the ’84 federal election when Mulroney threw Turner a knockout blow, but seldom are they a major turning point in an election.