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Election surveyor projecting BC Liberals to reclaim both Prince George ridings in 2020 vote

Liberals have held the two electoral seats for 19 consecutive years
Mike Morris and Shirley Bond with BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson (middle) in Prince George. (via Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters)

Anything can happen in any given election.

While we may only see preliminary results on general voting day for the 2020 B.C. campaign and complete results as early as mid-November, as a result of the high volume of mail-in ballots, a national surveyor is projecting a return to Victoria for Prince George's Liberal candidates.

As of Wednesday (Oct. 21), 338Canada cites that both Shirley Bond and Mike Morris are projected to reclaim their seats in the legislature at odds of 97 and 91 per cent respectively.

In terms of the popularity vote, the Liberals are favoured in Prince George-Valemount at 50.7 per cent, down by 7.5 per cent from the 2017 campaign, but still ahead of the NDP at 36.5 per cent and the Greens at 11.4 per cent.

Prince George-Valemount 338Canada projection - Oct. 21, 2020Prince George-Valemount popular-vote chart as of Oct. 21, for the 2020 B.C. election. (via 338Canada)

In Prince George-Mackenzie, the popular vote is slightly narrower between the Liberals (49.3 per cent) and the NDP (39 per cent). 

Prince George-Mackenzie 338Canada projection - Oct. 21, 2020Prince George-Mackenzie popular-vote chart as of Oct. 21, for the 2020 B.C. election. (via 338Canada)

Both ridings are also labelled as ‘Liberal likely’ as opposed to ‘Liberal safe’ in regions like Peace River-North and -South and ‘Liberal leaning’ in Nechako Lakes.

The website aggregates a variety of data in projecting who will win an election, but no local, riding-by-riding polls.

Mario Canseco, president of Research Co. and frequent collaborator with Glacier Media, says while it’s possible to extrapolate seat counts and projections with the methodology used, the problem is when people interpret it as an actual poll. 

It’s also ‘problematic’ when candidates use 338Canada projections as actual polls, especially those who aren’t ‘savvy’ about what the website is doing, despite its clearly stated intentions.

“[338Canada is saying] this is how we think the vote will land but it’s not an actual poll,” he said. figures are not based on individual riding polls, rather they take into account electoral history, how the party is doing regionally and demographic information, for example, household income, age, population density, education and employment.

Canseco compared it to how individuals analyze a race based on observation and political analysis, not polls, for example, if a seat was won with a small margin or where a leader visits.

“We all make that analysis in our head,” he said.

Projecting seats by using country-wide or regional polls had its origins in the U.K. where people can actually bet on local elections, Canseco explained, so there was a keen interest to have accurate projections on how local seats would land.

Canseco added the projections are an ‘interesting exercise’ but it’s not a substitute for polls; in fact, it relies on actual polls to extrapolate its seat projections.

“I don’t see a problem with this website – it’s actually a lot of fun,” Canseco said. 

“The problem I have is the misinterpretation.”

But this can happen with regular polls when questions are loaded or if you don’t allow an “undecided” option, results can be skewed, Canseco added.

Provincially, 338Canada predicts John Horgan’s NDP to win a majority government with at least 52 potential seats in the legislature, equal to winning 47.5 per cent of B.C.’s popular votes.

General voting day is set for Saturday (Oct. 24) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

You can click here for information on how and where to vote in Prince George.

- with files from Maria Rantanen, Richmond News

BC government seat projection 338Canada - Oct. 21, 2020Seat projection chart as of Oct. 21, for the 2020 B.C. election. (via 338Canada)