By-election brouhaha

How the night went down in Brandon-Souris, Toronto Centre, Bourassa and Provencher

Trevor Hagan/CP

Welcome to live coverage of today’s four by-elections. Elections Canada will begin posting results tonight after the polls close at 9:30pm EST.

While we wait, some numbers.

First, here are Forum’s polls. At last report, Forum gives the Liberals an eight-point lead in Toronto Centre, a 12-point lead in Bourassa and an astounding 29-point lead in Brandon-Souris, and a surprisingly narrow 11-point lead for the Conservatives in Provencher.

Second, here are the 2011 splits.

Toronto Centre Liberals 40.1, NDP 30.2, Conservatives 22.6, Greens 5.0
Bourassa Liberals 40.9, NDP 32.3, Bloc Quebecois 16.1, Conservatives 8.8, Greens 1.6
Brandon-Souris Conservatives 63.4, NDP 25.2, Greens 5.7, Liberals 5.4
Provencher Conservatives 70.6, NDP 17.9, Liberals 6.7, Greens 3.0

Third, here are the cumulative splits in you combine the 2011 results for the four ridings.

Conservatives 39.6
NDP 26.7
Liberals 25.5
Greens 3.9

Finally, here are Paul’s thoughts ahead of tonight’s results, here is Nick’s preview, here is our coverage of the fun in Brandon-Souris and here is our coverage of Toronto Centre.

9:47pm. Two polls in, Liberal Rolf Dinsdale enjoys a robust seven-vote advantage in Brandon-Souris.

If the Conservatives have a tough night, there might be some attempt to suggest that by-elections are typically difficult for the governing party. This isn’t a terribly well supported thesis—see here and here. The Harper government has actually done very well in by-elections. At least between 2006 and 2011. During the first five years of its mandate, the Conservatives retained the one seat they held and picked-up four ridings that had been held by other parties (they also regained Bill Casey’s seat).

10:13pm. Brandon-Souris is tight—some suggestion here of where the night could be going.

Provencher is almost surely going to stay Conservative, but the exact result could be mildly interesting. Since 2004, the Liberal vote there has gone from 25% to 16% to 13% to 7%. The Conservative vote has gone from 63% to 66% to 65% to 71%. As I type, the Conservatives lead 55.5% to 31.9%. If Liberal Terry Hayward holds that share, he will have more than quadrupled his result in 2011.

10:21pm. Let’s go ahead and give Bourassa to Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg. If the current percentages hold, the result will be closer to the 2008 election result, but with the New Democrats having replaced the Bloc Quebecois as the second choice (and the Bloc Quebecois replacing the Conservatives as the third choice).

10:33pm. Mr. Dinsdale’s lead in Brandon-Souris is proving somewhat resilient, at least over the last 15 minutes, at least so far as the polls are being reported to Elections Canada (his lead was five points with 60 polls reporting, it’s three points with 85 polls reporting). It’s impossible to know where those polls are and what’s left to come in.

The numbers on the ground in Toronto Centre, meanwhile, show a healthy Liberal lead, whereas the early numbers from Elections Canada show a small lead for the NDP’s Linda McQuaig.

10:38pm. Ten more polls come in for Brandon-Souris and the numbers flip to a one-point lead for Mr. Maguire.

10:59pm. Through 150 polls, Mr. Dinsdale claims 300-vote lead, but absent any knowledge of which polls have reported, it’s difficult to know what that means. If the split in Brandon-Souris is between largely Liberal urban areas and largely Conservative rural areas, it depends on which of those areas are still to report.

11:06pm. Chrystia Freeland is apparently about to declare victory in Toronto Centre (Elections Canada gives her a ten-point lead with a little less than half of polls reporting). So the Liberals hold both of their seats. And now both Ms. Freeland and Ms. McQuaig get to decide which of the reconfigured Toronto ridings they’ll run in for 2015 (one of them could, for instance, stay in the new Toronto Centre while the other goes to the new University-Rosedale riding).

11:30pm. The precise numbers will change, but at this point the Liberals have improved their share of the vote in all four ridings and the Conservatives are down in all four ridings. The New Democrats are up in Toronto Centre, down slightly in Bourassa and well down in Brandon-Souris and Provencher. And it’s a bit of a wash for the Greens, up slightly in Provencher and Bourassa, down slightly in Toronto Centre and Brandon-Souris.

11:43pm. On the one hand, as the polls come in, Mr. Dinsdale lead’s is getting smaller (through 185 polls, it’s 122 votes). On the other hand, if the polls remaining to come in are from Brandon, he might be about to get a large boost.

11:46pm. And now Mr. Maguire leads through 190 polls. By 38 votes.

11:51pm. Let’s all pause for a moment to recognize and appreciate that Brandon-Souris is currently the source of national political intrigue and excitement. Of course, it already was the greatest by-election of our time.

12:19am. While we wait for the final 14 polls in Brandon-Souris, the final numbers are in for Provencher. Here they are, with the percentage-point changes in vote share from 2011 in brackets.

Conservatives 58.1 (-12.5)
Liberals 29.9 (+23.2)
NDP 8.2 (-9.7)
Greens 3.8 (+0.8)

12:27am. Ten polls remaining and the Conservative lead in Brandon-Souris is 287 votes.

12:34am. Five polls remaining and the Conservative lead in Brandon-Souris is 346 votes.

12:35am. Four polls remaining and the Conservative lead in Brandon-Souris is 343 votes.

12:38am. Three polls remaining and the Conservative lead in Brandon-Souris is 343 votes.

12:45am. Two polls remaining and the Conservative lead in Brandon-Souris is 407 votes.

12:51am. All polls reporting and the Conservative win in Brandon-Souris is by 391 votes.

Here are the final numbers with changes in brackets.

Conservatives 44.1 (-19.3)
Liberals 42.7 (+36.1)
NDP 7.4  (-17.8)
Greens 4.9 (-0.8)

12:56am. There is one poll outstanding in Bourassa, but here are the current numbers with the changes in brackets.

Liberals 48.1 (+7.2)
NDP 31.6 (-0.7)
Bloc Quebecois 12.9 (-3.2)
Conservatives 4.6 (-4.2)
Greens 2.0 (+0.4)

1:00am. So a rather good night for the Liberals and a fairly rough night for the Conservatives. Probably the best one can say for the governing party is that it could have been worse and at least it doesn’t now have to deal with the practical, psychological and narrative impact of a defeat in Brandon-Souris. If 2006 to 2011 was a run of by-election success for the Conservatives, 2011 to 2013 has now been a difficult stretch: a loss in Labrador after Peter Penashue resigned and narrow victories in Calgary Centre and Brandon-Souris, two ridings that would have previously been considered safe for a Conservative. The New Democrats back-up their 2011 result in Bourassa and increase their share in Toronto Centre (and now the riding boundaries change), but are surpassed by the Liberals in Manitoba.

Here is Paul’s analysis.

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