Don Valley West likely to become Liberal riding again

As Conservatives slip in national polls, local candidates follow suit, experts say

If John Carmichael’s vote follows national trends for Conservatives, he may have trouble getting re-elected as Don Valley West’s MP, analysts say.

For weeks during the 2015 election campaign, national polls disagreed on which of the three main parties was in the lead.

Recently, however, the national projections have been coalescing in the Liberals’ favour, with poll aggregation website ThreeHundredEight.com projecting 33.6 percent support for the Liberals, 31.8 percent for the Conservatives and 23.8 percent for the NDP, as of Oct. 10.

Though a thin margin, it’s enough for experts to be reasonably certain that Conservative incumbent John Carmichael will lose Don Valley West on election day.

“What happens in these elections is, the national campaign goes up and down, and it takes all the ridings up and down with it,” says Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff. “So what we’re seeing nationally is, we have the Tories down about 10 points from 2011, and that’s translating into them being down about 10 points in each of their ridings.”

As of Oct. 10, ThreeHundredEight.com was listing a Liberal victory in Don Valley West as an 87-percent probability, with Liberal candidate and former MP Rob Oliphant projected to receive 53.3 percent of the vote, versus 32.5 percent for Carmichael and 9.3 percent for the NDP’s Syeda Riaz.

In an article posted on the CBC website on Wednesday Oct. 7, ThreeHundredEight founder Éric Grenier provided analyses of several ridings in Toronto, including Don Valley West, which he identified as a “favourable gain” for the Liberals; that is, a riding the party has a good chance of winning.

“At the end of the day, members of parliament very, very seldomly have the ability to buck the national trend,” Bozinoff says. “They’re not great vote-getters on their own.”

While there are exceptions to the rule, like former Ontario premier Bob Rae winning Toronto Centre for the Liberals in 2011, few incumbents have that sort of “big name” impact, he says — especially a backbencher like Carmichael.

Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at U of T and director of the school’s Canadian Studies program, echoes Bozinoff’s assessment, noting that Don Valley West has traditionally voted Liberal in the first place. (The party controlled the riding from 1993 until 2011, when Carmichael won by a margin of only about 600 votes.)

“Unlike the United States, where there’s high levels of incumbency, Canadians tend to vote for the party,” Wiseman says. “The local candidate is generally secondary.”

Pauline Beange, who teaches Canadian politics, parties and elections at the University of Toronto, believes that Carmichael shouldn’t be counted out, however.

“Incumbents are always at a stronger position, because they have automatic name recognition,” she says. “And if they have been good at constituency services — attending events and so on — that’s another strong point in their favour.”

While Environics Analytics cannot offer predictions for Oct. 19, the organization’s practice of collecting post-election data and dividing it into the company’s signature PRIZM Canadian lifestyle categories does yield some interesting observations, says Rupen Seoni, Environics Analytics’ vice president and practice leader.

“There are 15 different PRIZM segments in this riding,” Seoni says. “The most affluent segments, such as Cosmopolitan Elite (average household income: $469,882 per year), voted decisively Conservative, but the more culturally diverse segments, such as Newcomers Rising (average household income: $59,751 per year) voted decisively Liberal.”

While the percentage breakdown of each PRIZM segment in Don Valley West is a closely guarded secret, Seoni says that broadly, the number of affluent voters in the riding outweighs its population of culturally diverse voters.


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Posted: Oct 12 2015 4:01 pm
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