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Conservatives defy the odds in Brandon-Souris

With Forum polls predicting a Liberal sweep in Brandon-Souris, and a series of scandals bogging the Conservatives, it appears they've pulled off a surprise comeback, but the trends are not in their favour.

Recent electoral results show a Liberal comeback, demonstrating force in ridings that were traditionally Conservative strongholds. In addition, the Liberals crushed the orange wave from the last election, reaffirming their position as a solid alternative to the Conservatives. The resulting buzz has been good for Justin Trudeau, but detrimental to Thomas Mulcair, and worrisome to Stephen Harper.

The results keep the status-quo giving the Conservatives Manitoba ridings Provencher and Brandon-Souris and the Liberals Toronto-Centre and Bourassa.

In Toronto-Centre, the media giants faced off and Liberal Crystia Freeland beat NDP Linda McQuaig to replace former Liberal Interim leader Bob Rae. The voter turnout was 38%.

Toronto-Centre Results

Party Current Trend Forum Trend May '11
49.1% 47% 41%
36.4% 39% 30.2%
8.7% 11% 22.6%
3% NC 3% 5%
In Bourassa, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was replaced by Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg who beat NDP Stephane Moraille. The voter turnout was 26.2%.

Bourassa Results

Party Current Trend Forum Trend May '11
48.1% 43% 40.1%
31.4% 31% 32.3%
13.1% 15% 16.1%
4.7% 8% 8.8%
In Provencher, Former Public Safety Minister Vic Toews got replaced by Ted Falk who had no issues beating Liberal opponent Terry Hayward who finished a distant third in 2013. The voter turnout was 33.6%.

Provencher Results

Party Current Trend Forum Trend May '11
58.1% 48% 70.6%
29.9% 37% 6.7%
8.2% 6% 17.9%
3.8% 8% 3%
Things get interesting once we look at Brandon-Souris. Polls leading up to the byelection all predicted, until the day of, that Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale was supposed to upset the Conservative stronghold, some pollsters expected him to wipe the floor - with 59% of the vote. However, in a surprising turn of events, Conservative candidate Larry Maguire grasped the riding by a mere 392 votes. The voter turnout was 44.7%.

Brandon-Souris Results

Party Current Trend Forum Trend May '11
44.1% 30% 61.7%
42.7% 59% 5.4%
7.4% 6% 25.2%
4.9% 5% 5.7%
The headlines leading up to the vote usually spoke of a variant of "Liberals to win 3 of 4 ridings" and pollsters at Forum Research gave numbers indicating a likely trend. On November 24, Forum released its last poll giving the Liberals a remarkable 59% in the riding. Elections shouldn't be determined by polls, but a discrepancy between pollsters and election results usually signals mysterious things.

The Conservatives were desperate in Brandon-Souris. In an unprecedented move, PM Harper mailed each of their residents a signed letter arguing for Maguire's election. The letter, however, was filled with typical Conservative rhetoric and half-truths. Furthermore, the Conservative smear engine took over treating Dinsdale the same treatment former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff got in 2011. Even stranger, there have been mumblings of mysterious late-night phone calls. Interesting for a riding the pundits predicted would be lost by a good margin and there is no erasing that, even Harper's press secretary acknowledged such.

Headlines

"The pundits were saying that we were some 30 points behind in Brandon-Souris ... but our candidate did very well and we came out with a victory," Paul Calandra said.

Looking at the polling data in each riding, the question becomes, what are the odds that the pollsters were off? What are the odds that the Conservatives defied the headlines and narrowly won?

Recent Forum Polls for Brandon-Souris

Party Current Trend Nov 14 Trend Oct 17
59% 44% 39%
30% 36% 35%
6% 9% 12%
5% 9% 12%
Forum Research, November 24, 2013.
The pollsters have been wrong before, just look at the recent British Columbia provincial election where the NDP were left to pick up the pieces of what was speculated to be a historic win. Nonetheless, given the large difference exists in one riding and doubt remains enshrined given Elections Canada confirmed over 200 ridings were effected by abnormal robocalls in the 2011 election, it is now common practice - or should be - to question the validity of unexpected results.

Nonetheless, the trend is clear and Liberal support is on the rise. In each and every riding, the Liberals incurred gains, and in Brandon-Souris, those gains were significant enough to nearly take the riding.

Are you satisfied with the byelection results? Is there a trend to be made from it? Did the Conservatives defy the odds in Brandon-Souris? Share this article and join the discussion and let us know what you think: Facebook, Twitter, Google+.