the numbers guy

3 days out, PQ hold lead but tight ridings make result too close to call

Posted on: September 1, 2012

Three days out, the result of Tuesday’s Québec election remains impossible to call. We’ve seen a flurry of polls over the past week, all of which indicate the Parti Québecois holding on to a lead of between 4 and 5 points. With the single exception of a 20 August Forum poll, the polling evidence is remarkably consistent about party support levels – the PQ on 32-33%, the PLQ on 26-28%, the CAQ on 27-28%, Québec Solidaire on 7-9%.

A seat projection based on these polling averages yields a fascinating result – the PQ are on a projected 67 seats, just over the 63 they need for a majority:

  • Across the province, the PQ win a majority with 67 seats, the PLQ win 33 seats, the CAQ 23 seats, and Québec Solidaire win 2 seats.
  • In Montréal, the PLQ are projected to win 20 seats, followed by the PQ with 18 seatsQuébec Solidaire with 2 seats and the CAQ with 1 seat.
  • In Québec City, the CAQ are projected to win 7 seats, with the PLQ and PQ winning 2 seats each.
  • In the Rest of Québec, the PQ are projected to win 47 seats, with the CAQ winning 15 seats and the PLQ 11 seats.

What makes the end result so difficult to call are the large number of closely contested seats. No fewer than 25 of the 125 ridings have a projected margin of victory of under 5%. Of these 25 close races, the PQ lead narrowly in 14, the PLQ lead narrowly in 8 and the CAQ in 3:

The PQ are either ahead or within 5 points of the leader in 24 of the 25 close ridings – meaning they could win as few as 53 seats or as many as 77. The PLQ are projected to win between 25 and 39 seats, the CAQ between 20 and 32 seats and Québec Solidaire 2 seats with an outside chance of a third.

There are still three days to go, and Alberta showed us that a lot can happen in three days. I’ll be keeping a close watch on the final polls of the campaign for any signs of a last minute Alberta-style swing to one of the parties.

With so many ridings this close, a late swing of just a percentage point or two could make all the difference. It’s all shaping up to be a very exciting election night on Tuesday.

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