01.26.2015 01:27 PM

Seat projections are voodoo politics

But they’re fun. Here’s CBC’s latest, which you can take with several gargantuan grains of salt.



  1. bazie says:

    The main way they are useful is to get a sense of the way that polls related to seat counts. This is especially important this cycle because of the change in the seats. So if threehundredeight.blogspot.com is correct, the Liberals are being a bit
    “inefficient”. As in, a slight lead in the generic poll still results in a loss in the seat projection.

    This is an important point to consider – gargantuan grains of salt included – in that much of the media is obsessing over whether the Liberals or the Conservatives have a technical lead on each other in the polls. It is a fairly objective measure, but it isn’t the right one to care about.

  2. doconnor says:

    This projection is from threehundredeight.com.

    With fewer votes, but more seats, no doubt the Conservatives would still claim to be the only party that can legitimately form a government.

    If the end up with more votes, but fewer seats they would claim exactly the same thing.

  3. davie says:

    My fall back position with this gloomy poll is that the person who can command a majority in the House of Commons should be asked to form a government. I say that only because I think that that is the way a Westminster Parliament is supposed to work.

    • ben burd says:

      And if they can’t then what?
      But do you really think that wee davie the GG is going to suggest otherwise?
      And how long will it be before King Stephen abdicates?

      • doconnor says:

        “And if they can’t then what?”

        If no one can command the confidence of the House, then there will be another election.

        “But do you really think that wee davie the GG is going to suggest otherwise?”

        Harper would suggest otherwise. For better or worse the GG will stay silent, as is the tradition.

    • Tiger says:

      How it actually works is this:

      1. The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister, the ministry is the ministry — their positions are formally unaffected by the election. They have the right to meet the House and try to govern. (See King, 1925.)
      2. If they fail to command a majority, the GG can (and will) ask the leader with the next-best chance of commanding a majority.
      3. If they too fail, the GG can go to a third leader, or throw up his/her hands and dissolve Parliament for a general election. There have been such things as years with two general elections (1910 and 1974 in the UK).

      That’s both how it’s supposed to work and how it actually does work in practice — although a PM can play games with the confidence convention for a short period and survive (see Martin in May 2005, Harper in December 2008), if he/she has irrevocably lost the confidence of the House there’s nothing to be done about it.

      Popular discourse doesn’t reflect this reality, but it doesn’t change how things actually work.

  4. Just In Troo D'Oh!! says:

    Awesome sauce. Gotta love democracy!!!

  5. Sean says:

    Buffoonery of the highest order.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    The coalition bogeyman will not work as well as previously now that the Mother of Parliaments is inhabited by a Cameron-Clegg coalition. So far it has run its course without having to contend with a modern Guy Fawkes.

    No doubt Harper has already taken note of that.

  7. Brachina says:

    A billion things can happen, these are just snap shots of yesterday.

  8. “several gargantuan grains of salt”

    At least they are open about the size of the grains of salt. About plus or minus 20 seats.

  9. Steve T says:

    I love that the BQ only gets 2 seats – but isn’t there some way we can work that down to zero?

  10. Richard says:

    Polls – yesterday’s opinions and conclusions based on no election campaign. Oh well, perhaps polls reflect the starting point but most certainly not an ending point after an election campaign filled with 37+days of campaigning, attack ads, leader debates and the unexpected.

  11. Richard Besserer says:

    It’s rarely appreciated how accurate 308’s seat counts are—assuming the polls aren’t as utterly misleading as in Alberta and BC in the last elections.

    If the polls are accurate, then it wouldn’t surprise me either if our most likely scenario were indeed a Grit or Tory minority.

    I appreciate the honesty about the margins of error too.

  12. Drew says:

    I would welcome a PC minority.
    It would be the end of Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau would get a little more seasoning as the occupant of Stornoway.

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