Fun With Numbers: 2008 Conservative Breakthroughs
Click on the link for a fuller explanation, but the short of it is these were ridings where the Liberal candidate did a lot better than you'd expect them to, once regional shifts and incumbency effects were taken into account. So, for example, if the Liberal vote dropped 7 points in Edmonton from 2006 to 2008, and a Liberal candidate held onto the party's 2006 vote, then (ignoring incumbency for a second) he'd be considered to have performed 7% better than expected.
Keep in mind this is relative - Stephen Harper's +1% residual doesn't mean he's not an asset in Calgary Southwest...only that 2008 Stephen Harper wasn't any better than 2006 Stephen Harper.
So, here are the top 10 Tory ridings from 2008 - the ridings where the Conservatives did a lot better than we might have expected:
1. Chicoutimi-Le Fjord (+14%): Despite all the problems Harper had in Quebec in 2008, Jean-Guy Maltais increased the Tory vote here by 10%, largely at the expense of the Liberals.
2. Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou (+13%): Same story as above. Despite Harper's problems in Quebec, there were a lot of ridings where the Tories made big gains last election. Some may peg the blame for this on Dion, but I'd be inclined to think a lot of hard work on the ground may have had something to do with it.
3. Western Arctic (+12%): Part of this was a "bounce back" from 2006, when the Tories seriously under performed in this riding.
4. Manicouagan (+12%): See 1 and 2, above.
5. Peace River (+10%): This one deserves an asterisk - the bump is really only because an independent candidate snatched up 20% of the vote in 2006.
6. Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup (+10%): This one is really interesting, because it means last week's huge by election gains in this riding built off of big gains in the last general election. Given that, I could certainly keep an eye on some of the other Quebec seats here, where the Tory vote increased last election.
7. Thornhill (+9%): This is definitely a riding the Tories targeted before the last campaign. And, with a little help from Peter Kent's name recognition, it certainly paid off at the ballot box.
8. Sault Ste. Marie (+9%): Cameron Ross and the Tories did a great job turning this from an NDP-Liberal duel in 2006 to an NDP-CPC duel in 2008.
9. BC Southern Interior (+9%): Another asterisk, as the Tories dropped their candidate in 2006, after he was hit with smuggling charges during the campaign.
10. Vaudreuil-Soulanges (+9%): Well, I guess that's some consolation for Senator Fortier.