The Status Quo By-Elections That Supposedly Changed Everything

November 26th, 2013

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Behold the status quo by-elections that supposedly changed everything. After months of the full pundit treatment, each party kept its seats in the face of stiff competition and shifting terrain.


Nov 2013 By-Election Results

By-Election Metrics – 2013 By (Nov)

Metric Brandon-
, MB
Provencher, MB Toronto
, ON
Bourassa, QC
Larry (M)
Ted (M)
Chrystia (F)
Emmanuel (M)
Contest Cons-Lib Cons-Lib Lib-NDP Lib-NDP
Polls 210/210 195/195 268/268 204/204
%TO 44.7% 33.6% 38.0% 26.2%
Raw Margin 391 6,315 4,438 3,051
Votes/Poll 1.9 32.4 16.6 15.0
% Margin 1.4% 28.2% 12.8% 16.7%
% Marg 1-3 36.7% 49.9% 40.4% 35.0%
% Marg 1-4 39.2% 54.3% 46.2% 43.4%


Conservative candidate and former Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire squeaked through for the government in Brandon-Souris, MB by a margin of 391 votes or 1.4% of the vote, obtaining a 44.1% vote share, over her nearest competitor Liberal Rolf Dinsdale (at 42.7%), while NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski took one for the team, coming in at just 7.4%, as voters punished the federal NDP for the provincial government's sales tax hike to pay for flood mitigation. Maguire saw the Conservative vote drop by some 10,000 votes since the 2011 general eletion, while Dinsdale picked up almost the same number. Lower turnout accounted for the NDP and Green drops.

Likewise in Provencher, MB, Conservative candidate Ted Falk was able to carry the day with a 58.1% vote-share, even as he shedded 14,800 votes since the 2011 GE. His nearest Liberal opponent picked up around 4,100 of them, while the NDP shedded 5,200.

But it's in the hotly contested riding of Toronto Centre, ON that we see the most interesting movements. The Conservatives lost some 14 percentage points in vote-share over 2011 GE, while the NDP picked up 6 and the Liberals gained 8. But did the NDP really gain 6 points from the Conservatives? Likely not, given that the Conservative vote dropped by some 9,600 votes, and the NDP dropped a further 4,200. It was the Liberals who actually gained 5,800 votes or so, even over Bob Rae's performance in 2011. Of course we'll need to see the poll-by-poll results to know who or where that came from for sure, but it seems likely more of it came from 2011 Conservative voters than NDP ones.

Finally, we now know that the low advance poll turnout in Bourassa, QC was simply presaging the low turnout on Election Day itself. Liberal Emmanual Dubourg handily won, increasing his vote share by 9 points, while the NDP held its ground, and the Bloc and Conservatives both fell back.

Taken together, the by-election results provide some evidence that the Liberal Party grew in this round of by-elections from out of its right flank. Given that the media winner of the last round of by-elections was Elizabeth May's Green Party — which is nowhere in the current round – it remains to be seen how long-lived the impact of this growth will be.

Party Scorecard – 2013 By (Nov)

2013 By Lib NDP Grn BQ Cons Rest
Seats 2
2nds 2

13 Responses to “The Status Quo By-Elections That Supposedly Changed Everything”

  1. Tyler says:

    What do you mean the Liberals gained 5,800 votes in Toronto Centre? The numbers I’m looking at show they lost 5,750… unless I’m reading things wrong…

  2. George Pringle says:

    I had hoped that the NDP would have cemented their hold on the Official Opposition position. Sadly it looks like the Liberals will return to their second place finish in 2015 and perhaps will retake Olivia Chow’s seat in a byelection next fall.

    It also looks likely that the PM will have to put the final nail in the Senate coffin by holding an abolish Senate referendum with the election of 2015, Supreme Court judgement willing.

    The NDP needs the boost in taking credit for the success for one of their long standing policies actually implemented. Trudeau, so far, has defended his Senate cronies. Doing so in a referendum will hurt him.

  3. Paul Barber says:

    In Toronto Centre the Liberals had fewer votes in the by-election than 2011 (turnout was down about 20,000 votes) but a higher vote share. I suspect that in all four by-elections the Senate scandal had Cs staying home although some may have come out at the end for the party in Brandon-Souris where turnout was greatest. The Conservative share did drop steadily in the Forum polls (which ended up close to the result) in Toronto Centre, so the Liberals may have gradually pulled in more Conservatives as the campaign went on.

  4. janfromthebruce says:

    I disagree with George’s view. Essentially, and as Hebert stated in the Toronto Star, “In the long-shot battle for those traditionally Liberal seats, the NDP put up as good or better a fight as it had under Jack Layton and against Michael Ignatieff in 2011.

    In Bourassa, the New Democrats maintained a level of support on par with the score they had finished with at a time when the so-called Orange Wave was sweeping Quebec.”

  5. Shadow says:

    Yeah the NDP had a good night, they are poised to keep Quebec seats and keep eating away at the Liberals in Toronto.

    Liberals can be cautiously optimistic. Remember what a predictor their Winnipeg North victory was ?

    The Conservatives are dispirited to be sure although Brandon had some very local circumstances at play.

    They need to get on the right side of this senate issue. ABOLISHMENT …

    Trudeau has already said he supports reform short of constitutional change.

    Make him the defender of the status quo.

    Have him answer for Mac Harb, Raymond Lavigne, workplace harassment of women.

  6. Frank Godon says:

    As a candidate in Brandon-Souris what I seen the last 2 days was nothing short of ridiculous. And it all started with the poisoned poll put out by Forum. While calling my supporters to make sure they went and voted 90% were telling me that they were pulling their support from me and going to Larry – which I agreed with – because of the big lead Rolf had (29%) they were protesting their vote with me, but could not see a Liberal win this, I agreed with them and told them that it was their choice and I wasn’t holding them to their support of me. But also on the other end I had Liberal protest voters who told me they were voting for me because Rolf had such a big lead that he wouldn’t need their votes – so I lost the Conservative protest votes that would not go to Liberals and I gained the Liberal protest voters all due to what a messed up polling company published, which was way off. This same company phoned my house 3 times on Sunday – I voted 3 times for “other” yet in their results they said no one voted for “other”. It has also been on twitter that they called this guys mother (who was a Liberal supporter) 6 times – I think that this company is liable for misrepresenting its numbers and causing a candidate to lose. But we can never prove this can we.

  7. burlivespipe says:

    What a bunch of malarkey. This is all interesting denial from the NdP crowd, but will someone admit openly that they expected more? You can’t be knocked under 10% in many voting exercises, byelection or not, and not wonder what’s happening. Mulcair mops up the floor with PM Scumbucket on a daily basis, but apparently Canadians are true to form — they liked Perry Mason, but loved Captain Kirk.

  8. Paul McKivett says:

    Alice: Interesting results which, of course, I am happy with. Would have liked the win in BS. The next by election is in another safe Conservative seat in Alberta. When does that have to be called by? Also do you think other long-serving members may decide to call it a day before Oct 19, 2015 thereby ensuring a series of by elections for our entertainment?
    George, good to see to remain rock solid in your views! Miss you here in Victoria.

  9. Shadow says:

    Justin Trudeau really provoked some backlash by quoting Jack Layton as part of his ‘Angry Tom’ attack campaign.

    Like most politicians who claim to be positive and take the high road Trudeau is being utterly hypocritical.

    Glad to see news stories call him on it by pointing out instances of negativity from the red team.

    I do find it somewhat amusing that Justin Trudeau is no longer capable of making any speech or remarks anywhere without somehow managing to offend somebody.

  10. George Pringle says:

    Not so rock solid Paul. I really thought (hoped) the NDP would destroy the Liberal and turn Fed politics into a two party state like BC. More hope than thought probably.
    Shoot we’re back to the 2.5 parties as per normal, still good for our re-election with the divided vote but I’d rather us pick up the Blue Libs and the Red Libs go to the NDP.

  11. doug says:

    What I find interesting is the collapse of the Conservative vote in both Bourassa and Toronto Centre as well as the collapse of the NDP vote in both Manitoba ridings. One could try to write this off as spillover from annoyance at the NDP provincial party but then the Liberals also had an astonishing upswing in Calgary Centre a while back with the NDP vote collapsing. Is the NDP losing credibility across the prairies?

  12. janfromthebruce says:

    In response to doug, byelections have different kinds of influences in contrast to regular elections. Thus local influence tends to have much higher influence. B/c of the candidate dynamics, one could suggest that the NDP voters lent their votes to either the Libs or Greens to beat the Con candidates.

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