To the extent there can be a sure thing in Canadian politics, experts agree that Liberal incumbent Carolyn Bennett is likely to win in Toronto-St. Paul’s.
As of Oct. 10, poll aggregation website ThreeHundredEight.com was listing Bennett’s win as a 95 percent probability, with the veteran MP projected to receive 55.3 percent of the vote, while Conservative Marnie MacDougall and the NDP’s Noah Richler at 22.8 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
“None of those findings are surprising,” says Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. “What ThreeHundredEight does, I believe, is simply take the federal numbers that it has for Ontario and then shoot them into the provincial numbers.”
As of Oct. 10, ThreeHundredEight was projecting 33.6 percent national support for the Liberals, versus 31.8 percent for the Conservatives and 23.8 percent for the NDP.
Even in 2011, Bennett received 40.6 percent of the vote, about eight percent and 4,500 votes ahead of her Conservative rival.
“I would be shocked if Carolyn Bennett lost,” Wiseman says. “After all, she got elected when the Liberals won less than 19 percent of the vote four years ago.”
Wiseman’s analysis is echoed by Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff, who says that nationally the Liberals are consistently polling about 10 points above and the Conservatives around 10 points below their respective results in the 2011 election, and those numbers are consistently translating into the ridings.
“Anyone in a riding currently held by the Liberals is extremely likely to carry it, unless the national campaign collapses,” Bozinoff says. “(Bennett has) already won, and if you add 10 more points, she’s just going to win by more.”
Pauline Beange, who teaches Canadian politics, parties and elections at the University of Toronto, agrees.
“Incumbents are always in a stronger position, because they have automatic name recognition,” she says.
“If they have been good at constituency services — attending events and so on —– that’s another strong point in their favour,” she adds, citing Bennett as a good example.
While Environics Analytics cannot offer predictions for Oct. 19, the organization’s method of collecting post-election data and dividing it into the company’s signature PRIZM Canadian lifestyle categories does yield some interesting observations, Rupen Seoni, Environics Analytics’ vice president and practice leader says.
According to the organization’s data, the Liberals dominated Toronto-St. Paul’s in most segments in 2011. The Conservatives only took the most affluent segment, known as “Cosmopolitan Elite” (average household income: $469,882 per year), while the NDP did better among the more culturally diverse and lower-income segments in the riding.
“But these segments are fairly small in this riding,” Seoni says.