Ontario election: All bets are in

9 Oct

Don’t just take the word of the polls

If you are a savvy betting elector, you will already know that more than one election prediction / seat projection website is forecasting not only a Liberal majority in tomorrow’s Ontario election, but also a bigger – or just slightly smaller – majority than the Grits won in 2003. If that happens, Dalton McGuinty will become the first Liberal Premier of Ontario in 70 years to win back-to-back majorities.

And John Tory may be toast.

And so may the election-prediction-website industry, if MMP passes and renders obsolete all of the First-Past-the-Post-based prediction models.

While we still have our FPTP system, here’s a handy way to watch the returns coming in tomorrow:

In terms of electoral politics, it helps to imagine the province as an Ontario-shaped target, with a lopsided blue bull’s-eye in the middle, stretching across the rural southwestern, central and eastern parts of the province. That’s the Progressive Conservative heartland – a couple-dozen ridings that John Tory’s party should retain, barring a complete meltdown.

Splotches of NDP orange dot the outer edge of the province-target, where the most urban neighborhoods of Ontario’s cities and the least-populated expanses of its northern regions lie. In the last election, New Democrats won seven Ontario seats – all on this “outer edge” – and picked up three more in subsequent byelections.

Between the orange edge and the blue bull’s-eye is the red Liberal donut that’s covered most of Ontario’s ridings for the past four years.

Observers of federal politics will remember that during the Chrétien years of the 1990s, the Liberal donut squeezed in the conservative parties and pushed out the NDP, winning all but a handful of seats. With no donut hole, Ontario was a big Liberal pancake as far as federal politics was concerned.

There are probably only two ridings in the entire province where the NDP and the Tories compete with each other – Oshawa and London-Fanshawe. Generally, those parties work from different sides of both the political and geographical spectrums, trying to squeeze in the Liberals by stealing some of their suburban and urban seats. And the Liberals? They hope to bake up a bigger, puffier donut.

So there’s my Ontario election analysis: Tricolor target and… fried dough.

Better end this post quickly, lest I fall too deeply into the pit of political geekiness.

But before I go, a programming note:

For a less horse-racey, hopefully more enlightening, look at the campaign-about-to-end, have a look at this show, airing tonight and produced by me.


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