Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Few Election Predictions: a Report Card

On the 24th of March, as the election became an inevitability, I posted some 'campaign predictions'. I didn't make 'the big prediction' - who would win, or more realistically by how much - but I did consider many other things. Let's look back and see how well I did, now that the election is over.

  1. We'll see an initial jump in Conservative numbers - they'll jump into the forties for a week or so. Not only because the 'no-election' camp will support them (if they're not already) but also because their camp is more firmly established, and the 'undecideds' will rise (an event which is hidden in polling soundbites), dipping from the other four parties' support. This was kind of true. There was the tiniest of bumps. But campaign-long, the Tories' numbers remained very consistent in the polls - polls which, of course, are eating crow at the moment.
  2. We'll also see an initial NDP jump, though perhaps a more moderate one. It will have longer legs, though. Well, I'd like to be smug here - but in a sense this was wrong. After all, just a few days after the writs were dropped, the NDP had sunk down a few percentage points. In the early days of this campaign, the NDP were looking like a non-entity.
  3. At some point in the campaign, we'll see the NDP within five percentage points of the Liberals, and there will be plenty of talk about the NDP replacing the Liberals as the main federalist alternative. I can say nothing about whether or not that bubble will make it to election day. I need to take credit here though. I couldn't have guessed how quickly 'within five points of the Liberals' would become 'within five points of the Conservatives': during the campaign, there wasn't much talk about the NDP replacing the Liberals because it seemingly became 'fact' overnight, though many refused to believe it until they saw it on May 2nd. The talk now is about whether it's permanent or not.
  4. Jack Layton's health will be a recurring bugaboo, and perhaps surprisingly it will be the Liberals who will push it as an issue. I was completely wrong here, and kudos to the Liberals, and the other parties, for not quite sinking that low. I was, at least, right about the Liberals attacking Layton.
  5. Ignatieff will change his tone during the campaign, trying to redefine his image as something more prime ministerial. It might work. I'm not sure how to assess this one. Ignatieff changed his tone on several occasions during the campaign. He impressed in certain ways, but I don't know that he ever really approached 'prime ministerial'.
  6. The NDP's Québec bubble will burst. The only way this can be seen as anything less than history's most stupendously poor prediction would be if I claimed that by 'burst' I meant 'expand rapidly in all directions'. My tendency toward pessimism is visible here - though to my credit at least in March I had the prescience to say that there even was a Québec bubble. Few others did. And more on that below...
  7. The Liberals will reveal a few more Conservative scandals that that've been holding onto. They will not have much of an effect. There were a few ineffectual Conservative scandals, yes. Actually quite a few, with such a numbing regularity that by the end they meant nothing at all. But the prediction surmises that the Liberals had had them up their sleeves, waiting for the perfect moment, and that seems to attribute to the Liberals a long-term strategy that they seem incapable of actually possessing.
  8. The Conservatives will largely succeed in defining the election on economic terms as opposed to ethical terms. The Liberals will follow suit, and in the second half of the campaign will talk Conservative overspending more than Conservative abuses of power. This was very true of the Conservatives, and should have been true of the Liberals too. By the end, contempt of parliament was pretty much a dead issue. But then again, the Liberals were too.
  9. The debates will be hard on Harper. He will come across as aloof, surly and tired. This one was wrong. He did good enough in the debates, actually. History will be rewritten to show these two debates as resounding victories for Jack Layton, but that wasn`t really the general consensus at the time.
  10. Elizabeth May will utterly fail in getting her voice heard. Depends on how you look at this one. Nationally? Completely true. The only time the media paid attention to her was when she was talking about how the media won't pay attention to her. But locally, she was amazingly successful, and more power to her for it. Ultimately, I think the Greens made the right decision in going super-local instead of national.
 These come down to 'not bad'. Few of what I predicted was especially radical, and few of what happened that was truly radical was reflected in my predictions. A failure, then?

Well, not a success at any rate. So I can comfort myself with this: All the way back in August of 2010, I wrote something on the NDP in Québec that turns out to be really eerily prescient. In a piece that goes from sober observation of some inconsequential polling numbers to wild extrapolation and in to the realm of pure science fiction... and that turned out to be almost 100% true from start to finish. Please feel free to read it. It'll make these predictions seem beside the point entirely.

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