Sunday, September 28, 2008

Riding lessons

Apparently a couple of Lib bloggers are trying to deflect attention from the New Democrats' strength in the polls by challenging NDP supporters to list the ridings which the party could win. In the interest of pushing that commentary into the "careful what you wish for" column, here's a relatively quick list of ridings which the NDP can realistically espect to target in the current federal election based on the current trajectory of the campaign.

Before getting to the list, note that I've mentioned before the pitfalls of relying too heavily on the previous election's results to determine where parties stand now. And to further highlight the point, remember that the Cons' 2006 results included ridings where they went from under 5% of the vote to winning the seat. Which means that the below list of 105 ridings is far from exhaustive - and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the NDP has designs on some additional seats based precisely on their being off the radar at the moment.

That said, for the sake of relative simplicity, I've worked off of the complete 2006 federal election results, and assembled the list as follows.
First, I start with any riding where the NDP's 2006 result plus a reasonable share of 2006 Lib votes (keeping in mind that over half of current Lib supporters are willing to vote strategically to stop Harper) would be sufficient to place the NDP in a position to win. From that, I'll:
- add any riding where there are special circumstances which would justify putting the riding in play even though the 2006 vote totals alnoe wouldn't do so. In these cases, I'll include a brief note as to why the riding is included; and
- delete any riding which 2006 numbers alone would put in play, but where there's another reason to eliminate them. (This would consist of Saanich-Gulf Islands where the NDP's candidate has resigned, as well as ridings which I've assumed to be safe Lib for now.)

Without any further ado, here are the ridings I'd think the NDP can realistically contend in if it can put a reasonable number of current Lib swing voters in its column by the end of the campaign. By my count, this includes a total of 105 ridings - with potential to add more if the Libs really do collapse, since a substantial number of the Libs' ridings in Ontario and Quebec are left off for now.

North (2): Northwest Territories, Nunavut

BC (21): British Columbia Southern Interior, Cariboo—Prince George (controversy surrounding Dick Harris' pod people scheme), Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, Okanagan-Shuswap, Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Fleetwood—Port Kells, Newton—North Delta, Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, Surrey North, Burnaby—Douglas, Burnaby—New Westminster, New Westminster—Coquitlam, Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, Vancouver Centre, Vancouver East, Vancouver Kingsway, Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Nanaimo—Alberni, Nanaimo—Cowichan, Vancouver Island North, Victoria

Alberta (2): Edmonton East (star candidate), Edmonton—Strathcona

Saskatchewan (7): Palliser, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, Regina—Qu'Appelle, Battlefords—Lloydminster (Gerry Ritz scandals), Blackstrap, Prince Albert (retired incumbent), Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar

Manitoba (7): Churchill, Selkirk—Interlake, Elmwood—Transcona, Saint Boniface, Winnipeg Centre, Winnipeg North, Winnipeg South Centre

Ontario (40): Ottawa Centre, Ottawa—Vanier, Kingston and the Islands, Peterborough, Oshawa, Scarborough Southwest, Beaches—East York, Davenport, Parkdale—High Park, Toronto—Danforth, Trinity—Spadina, Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, Hamilton Centre, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, Hamilton Mountain, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Welland, Brant, Guelph, Huron—Bruce, Kitchener Centre, Chatham-Kent—Essex, Essex, Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, London—Fanshawe, London North Centre, London West, Sarnia—Lambton, Windsor—Tecumseh, Windsor West, Algoma—Manitoulin—
Kapuskasing, Kenora, Nickel Belt, Nipissing—Timiskaming, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Thunder Bay—Superior North, Timmins—James Bay

Quebec (11): Levis-Bellechasse (star candidate), Hochelaga (star candidate), Saint-Lambert (star candidate), Jeanne-Le Ber (star candidate), Lac-Saint-Louis, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Outremont, Westmount—Ville-Marie, Gatineau, Hull—Aylmer, Pontiac

New Brunswick (5): Acadie—Bathurst, Fredericton, Madawaska—Restigouche, Miramichi, Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe

Nova Scotia (8): Central Nova, Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Bill Casey vote split), Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Halifax, Halifax West, Sackville—Eastern Shore, South Shore—St. Margaret's, Sydney—Victoria


Newfoundland (2): St. John's East (ABC, star candidate), St. John's South—Mount Pearl (ABC, star candidate)

So there you have it. But having met the Libs' challenge, let's offer this question back. Will they work to elect New Democrats in these ridings - and any other riding which I may have missed - if the NDP is ahead of the Libs by the end of the campaign? Or does their commitment to stopping Harper end when another party is in the best position to carry out the job?

Update: Note as well that a commenter at Danielle's blog has already pointed out a similar - but not identical - list based on seats where the NDP has won or finished second. Which presumably means we can add those to the list above as well.

Update: Corrected Manitoba list - see comments.

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