Bourassa sees biggest drop in Advanced Voting
The north Montréal riding of Bourassa saw the biggest drop in advanced voting of the four by-election ridings, when compared to the 2011 general election.
The percent of registered voters who cast a ballot at one of the Advance Polls, open this past Friday, Saturday and Monday, dropped by almost half in Bourassa, QC, from 4401 or 6.3% of registered voters in 2011, to 2210 or 3.2% of registered voters in the current by-election.
By comparison, advanced voting was down by roughly a third of the 2011 GE rate in both Toronto Centre, ON and Provencher, MB.
Only in Brandon-Souris, MB has advanced voting in the current round of by-elections come close to matching that observed in the last general election; an indicator of the strong interest in the contest, and either presaging a change in hands for the seat, or a robust effort by the better-organized Conservatives at getting some of their vote out early.
Machine- or incumbency-politics should have favoured the Liberals getting a strong start in Bourassa as well, but I expect that external factors explain the poor showing. The federal by-election there has suffered from a low profile in comparison with the municipal elections across Québec which ran until November 3, and a lack of vote-determining ballot questions, both of which factors would tend to favour long-standing voting patterns and promote complacency.
There was also a good deal of confusion amongst voters, the campaigns report, given that the former M.P. Denis Coderre was running for mayor, and high-profile Green Party candidate Georges Laraque stepped down as the race was starting, after a lengthy and visible pre-election campaign.
These factors also no doubt explain the NDP's decision to take some dramatic and visible steps with weeks to go before E-Day, such as offering a free concert by their rock-star candidate Stéphane Moraille at the Bar Lindberg, launching their "Club-Privilege-Libéral" sign-campaign and website, holding a rally (video here) in the same room as Justin Trudeau did the week before, and vigourously prosecuting the street sign war (and associated sign-war-crimes, one assumes). Elizabeth Thompson has a good round-up of the campaign in iPolitics.ca that's required reading for those trying to catch up on the Bourassa race (see also the by-election wrap in Tuesday's La Presse), but the bottom line is that Liberal candidate Emmanual Dubourg is sitting on a comfortable lead even as he's facing a determined challenger.
A little sidebar now on filling rooms, body counts, and the marketing of the two opposition leaders: the Costa Del Mar is the only hall in Bourassa riding having the size to hold nomination meetings, rallies, and other large events. I've been there 3 times during the by-election race, once each for the Liberal and NDP nomination races, and this past Monday for the NDP's rally. Blogger Justin Ling referred to it as kitsch-y, but I think it's charming, and has probably hosted many a happy big italian wedding. There is a smaller room (used by the NDP for their nomination meeting), and a larger room used by the Liberals for their nomination meeting, and by both Trudeau and Mulcair for their big rallies this past week. It's rated for 350 people, but there was a bit of a frucus about the claimed attendance at both events.
Here is what the room setup looked like for each one. First, Mr. Trudeau on November 12.
Next, Mr. Mulcair on November 18.
Both approaches are leader-focused, but in one the leader stands in front of party branding and towers over the audience which watches passively and claps; while in the other one the leader is raised but surrounded with a more active audience that waves signs portraying party messaging.