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Jagmeet Singh celebrates after winning Burnaby South by-election
Image by Jonathan Hayward via Canadian Press/CBC News.

Turnout was exceptionally low – even by by-election standards

  • Burnaby South: 29.9%
  • Outremont: 21.4%
  • York-Simcoe: 19.9%

When we look back at the last major wave of by-elections in December of 2017 we see relatively higher levels in turnout – most notably in British Columbia.  

  • South Surrey–White Rock: 38.1%
  • Battlefords–Lloydminster: 26.9%
  • Scarborough Agincourt: 26.8%
  • Bonavista–Burin–Trinity: 21.4%

Geography matters and the winning parties won in areas they need in 2019

  • Liberals were able to pick up a fairly strong NDP seat despite pollsters showing the party’s support across Canada decreasing overall.
  • Quebec is home to a great number of NDP seats and if the Liberals wish to remain in power they will have to win over many of the ridings held by NDP incumbents.
  • The NDP under Singh has lost a great deal of support in Quebec and Outremont reflects this as the party’s share of the vote declined by 18%.
  • The NDP will absolutely need to eat away at Liberal held ridings in BC to make up for their loss of support in Quebec.
  • The Tories were able to hang on to a safe seat in a strategically important region of Ontario. The increase in support for right-of-centre candidates in the riding would Liberal strategists something to think about as they will need to win parts of suburban Toronto if they want to stay in power. The Liberals’ share of the vote declined by 8.8% from 2015.

Maxime Bernier is an oddball and is a tad of a thorn in the side of the Tories

  • Bernier’s best performance last night was in Burnaby South where he obtained 10.6% of the vote. The Tory share of the vote dropped by 4.6% which means that many conservatives could have casted their ballots for Bernier but the PPC was still able to drum up its own support organically. His performance in the riding has confused many pols and pundits alike. Expect to see the PPC tout its performance out west as a “sign to come”.
  • Despite being considered the renegade “Albertan from Quebec”, Bernier still draws a fair bit of his power from his home province. However, the riding of Outremont saw Bernier obtain just 2.1% of the vote. It is believed that this largely came at the expense of the Conservatives as the CPC share of the vote in the riding during this by-election declined by 2.2% from their performance in 2015. The same cannot be said for Bernier in Ontario as his share of the vote was 1.9% and the Tories were able to increase their share of the vote by 3.7%.

Adrian Macaulay, Director of Research & Polling