On Monday voters went to the polls in two Manitoba ridings: Provencher and Brandon-Souris. Provencher is a riding that is largely rural. Its largest community is Steinbach, population: 13,000. Brandon-Souris meanwhile is home to Brandon, Manitoba's second largest city. Approximately 46,000 Brandonites live in the riding (not all of them electors) which has an eligible voting list of almost 62,000.
But what if Merv Tweed and Vic Toews hadn't resigned and we had two Manitoba byelections anyway? We took a look at what would happen to the ridings in Winnipeg (Manitoba's largest city) if the Provencher and Brandon-Souris vote swings had happened there instead to see what Winnipeg might look like in 2015.
Brandon-Souris vote swing would wipe out Tories & NDP in Winnipeg
The result for the Liberal Party of Canada in Brandon-Souris was extraordinary. The party gained an incredible 35 per cent while the Conservatives dropped just about 20 per cent and the NDP almost 18 per cent with the Greens holding steady. The tightest race would be Kildonan-St. Paul with a 7 per cent margin of 45 to 38 for the Liberals over the Tories followed by Winnipeg Centre where the Liberals would lead the NDP by 12 per cent, 48-36.
A 35 per cent point swing is unlikely to say the least, but in elections anything can happen. In many of the ridings in Winnipeg, it was the NDP who placed second, but then again, this was also the case in Brandon-Souris where the Liberals came in fourth in 2011.
Provencher vote swing would give Liberals 3 new seats
In Provencher, the Liberals gained 23 per cent compared to the Conservatives who lost 12.5 per cent and the NDP who lost almost 10 per cent. Provencher is just outside the boundaries of Winnipeg further east from St. Boniface but at the same time, Provencher is one of the safest conservative seats in the country - not to mention rural. So if the Liberals are up 23 per cent in a rural seat what would happen if we moved that swing into the city of Winnipeg? Winnipeg-Provencher806
As you can see, both the NDP and the Conservatives pick up 2 seats each. In Winnipeg Centre the NDP would keep its only seat in the city by besting the Liberals 43-34. Meanwhile the Conservatives would hold Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia by just 4 per cent and Kildonan St. Paul by 14.25 per cent.
The most interesting result is in Elmwood-Trascona where the NDP would pick up the seat from the Conservatives by just a little under 2 per cent, 36-34. Elmwood Trascona was an NDP riding in 2008 though the Tories squeaked by to steal it in 2011. The Conservatives losing votes to the Liberals is good news for the NDP in this riding even if they lose votes as well.
Tories have most to lose in Winnipeg to Trudeau's popularity
With 6 of the 8 seats in Winnipeg right now the Conservatives have to be worried about how popular Justin Trudeau will be with Winnipeggers. Nonetheless, a 35 per cent increase in vote share across the board in Winnipeg during a general election is difficult to believe. The map doesn't change from Provencher's result however when you take Brandon-Souris' vote swings and cut them in half. Again the Conservatives lose Saint Boniface and Winnipeg South Centre to the Liberals, while losing (barely) Elmwood-Trascona to the NDP by less than 0.10 per cent.
In the next election, Trudeau's Liberals will be challenged to recruit enough volunteers to make such swings happen. Liberals will need strong riding associations to leverage every riding possible into a win. Even so, it's important to remember that in Quebec the NDP had virtually no ground organization in many of the ridings they ended up winning. The provincial scene will impact these races as well, in both Brandon Souris and Provencher the NDP vote cratered at 7 per cent and 8 per cent respectively which some have attributed to fallout from the provincial sales tax hike. It may well be that there was no further down for the NDP to go in these ridings leaving them with just their die hard supporters. What does the NDP cratering look like in Winnipeg Centre? Pat Martin is not likely to want to find out.
The byelection results (and their coverage) will be good news for Liberals and boost morale for their volunteers, supporters and donors, but the Conservatives aren't done just yet. A day is a long time to go in politics and we have well over a year and a half to go.
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