16 February 2011

Humber West post mortem

Granter won. 

Watton lost.

Myers came a distant third.

Tories held the seat and they still do.

That’s the simple result and for the truly simple, that’s all they will see:  no change.

Take a deeper look, though, and  you have a really interesting set of results. The figures used in this post are from Elections Newfoundland and Labrador’s website.

Over the three Danny elections, he polled an average of 3728 votes.  In the 2001 by-election, Williams polled 3606.  In 2003, Williams polled 3823 and in 2007, he actually polled fewer votes:  3755.

Vaughn Granter polled 2109 votes.  That’s 56% of Danny’s average over three elections.  He took 63% of the turnout but consider that Granter left home almost one Tory vote for every Tory vote he got.

Of course, it wasn’t Granter who left them home although the results suggest this was not any great endorsement of the local high school principal.  This by-election was really about Tom Marshall, Danny’s West Coast organizer.  Marshall campaigned hard for Granter, right down to an attack on ACAP debate organizers and their integrity.  And then there was the curious decision to leave the Premier home and bring out Danny Williams for some last minute campaigning. 

But still, for all that the Tories only managed to get 56% of Danny’s vote to the polls.
Meanwhile, Liberal Mark Watton garnered 1097 votes in his first time out.  That’s actually larger than the three-election average of 1088. The Liberals turned out 79% of the average for 2001 and 2003, their best results during the Danny Williams period.

Turnout was also down, coming in at  slightly less than 40%.  Turnout in the two general elections and the 2001 were – chronologically – 53%, 61% and 60%.

So sure, on the surface things look the same now as they did last December as far as seat count goes.

Just below the surface, though, lots of things seem to be changing.

- srbp -


Wm. Murphy said...

Not quite sure where it is but somewhere in your mind you believe that what you just wrote is a balance assesment of what happened in Humber...now that's funny.

First let me say that it is too bad that Watton lost...and it's too bad that he lost badly. I wanted him to be an MHA.

Ed your analaysis is hilarious...

You go on comparing vote count, turnout and campaign strategy based on past GENERAL Elections....helloooo...this was a by-election not a general election.

The bit about...."Vaughn Granter polled 2109 votes. That’s 56% of Danny’s average over three elections"...is like saying that black is white and white is black. It has absolutely nothing to do with the situation and it is like comparing the apple to the orange.

Then you go on speaking about voter turnout numbers for past GENERAL elections....helooooo...this was a by-election.....if you were not aware? Why don't you trot out some previous numbers on past by-elections to substantiate your argument. You won't, because you can't.

Sure things may be different below the surface and below the Hollett surface we know that your partisan bent will result in you spinning a story anyway you can to meet your goals. It's actually fun to watch the squirm.

It is also too bad that you never mentioned the result of democracy Ed...the people of Humber have shown their support for a candidate and democracy has spoken. Too bad that you don't have the guts to acknowledge the voter.

If your Post was a paper submitted to a Poli Sci class the grade would be an F...If it was something submitted to the writers of Yuk Yuks..the grade would be an A+

David said...

Sorry, have to disagree with you entirely.

There is analysis and then there is cheap spin and this current post is the latter.

Granter was neither a Premier or leader of a party. That had an impact.

It was a by-election. That had an impact.

He didn't show up to a debate and that did NOT have an impact.

He won by a margin of 2 to 1. That is a statement.

The PC nomination meeting had 1256 voters, that is more than Watton polled district-wide. That is a statement.

The Liberals have blown a real opportunity to show the Conservatives are on their back foot. Now the Dunderheads are inspired the train just keeps on a rollin'.

WJM said...

The PC nomination meeting had 1256 voters, that is more than Watton polled district-wide. That is a statement.

I wonder how many they would have had if they followed their own constitution?

Also, how come the "it was only a by-election" argument didn't apply in the Straits and St. Barbe in 2001?

Ursula said...

As Simms' said in his "eve of a by-election" commentary on CBC , "they have to do it all again in October ".

What he didn't say is that Granter is on his own then ,Marshall et al., will be too busy fighting for their own political lives to give [him] any support .

If Granter is like most of the newly elected MHAs , he will not be heard from again .

Jason Hickman said...

(apologies if this appears twice; I seem to be having some tech difficulties:)

Ed, these were the goalposts you set up in your Kremlinology 32 post:

If Mark Watton wins on polling day or even comes a decent second, people around the province will start to wonder about her her ability to lead the party and the province. Sure the faithful and the pitcher plants will cheer and pretend all is well. But among the politicians and the politically inclined, the view may be decidedly different.
Just think of it this way: unless Vaughn Granter blows Mark Watton into dust at the polls, Danny’s trip to Corner Brook will be seen as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre of Kathy Dunderdale’s political credibility and maybe her career.

Is VG's two-to-one margin of victory over MW, with VG getting 63.5% of the vote, enough to meet the standard that you set? If not, what margin of victory would he have needed to meet it?

Cain said...

Three obvious things that were not mentioned:

1. Turnouts are usually always less for by-elections.

2. In a by-election, people inclined to vote against the government are more motivated to get out and vote than those who are pro government.

3. It was a crappy day in Corner Brook.

In light of all of the above, I was genuinely surprised that Granter won by as much as he did, especially against a very credible candidate like Watton.

Edward Hollett said...

Thanks guys for trotting out the stock incumbent defence talking points. They are predictable even if one of the sources is neither predictable nor identifiable. Cain, Murph and David. Well done, right down to David's ridiculous line about the Liberals blowing an opportunity.

@David: two things come to mind right off. First of all, some commenter said today that if the weather had been better, then the Tory vote would have been higher. Sure and so for the Liberals. iof things were different they wouldn't be the same. If that's the sort of bullshit you might consider insightful, I'll just have to disappoiint you.

Second, in six years of blogging the one thing I know is that those who start out by accusing me of spin are either torquing Tories or people without an argument. Only you know which of the two (or both) you are.

The Tories do not market individual candidates on their merits. They push the Danny team and now the Danny legacy. You can see that plainly in Danny's comments the day he dropped in on the district. 9Did he also make rafts of phone calls behind the scenes as well?)

The campaign was a standard Tory campaign: very well organized if inefficient in cost per vote terms and all the bells right down to feeding poll results to lobby reporters. This was Danny's west coast machinery headed by Tom Marshall running a blue candidate against the Libs who pitched their guy.

The Tories hid Granter because in a straight on match-up, Granter would lose. They played defensive ball all the way, played to their strengths and they won. They did it because it made sense and it works/worked.

But look at the turnout they got compared to their other efforts over the decade. Then compare that to the Liberals within the Liberal. That's the only way to detect trends legitimately and reliably. Doing similar comparisons over time gives other possible trends and they may or may not match the usual public commentary.

Compare apples to apples and include the different strategies employed and the reasons for them. It's the only reliable way to do it and to tell what is spinning and what ain't. If you do that it quickly becomes clear who is torquing in this thread and it ain't me.

Edward Hollett said...


I don't think anyone (me included) held out much hope that Mark would squeek out a win here. This was a safe Tory seat surrounded by Tories and with a lot at stake.

When I said blow him to dust, I was referring to the Danny-esque wins, especially the Maurice Budgell hammering. Early on, I settled on a series of stages.

If things went as I thought they might initially, we should be looking at the Tories winning with better than 70/30.

A 60/40 split would be significant overall. It turned out to be 65/35 and that is in what anyone would have classified as a safe Tory seat.

When I put that together with events of the past couple of months (the sudden leadership deal with Danny's involvement), problems over the past couple years and now Rex Barnes challenging an incumbent, I think what I have thought all along: things in October won't look like what people are currently surmising. Media like to talk about Dunderdale's leadership and much of the commentary we've been hearing is pretty much stock stuff that has little appreciation of the subtleties and nuances of things. (like even recognising that there was a backroom deal cooked up suddenly and for thus-far unexplained reasons)

Overall, I think we should all stay tuned to see what happens next. I've been saying that for over a year even as all the commentariat looked forward confidently to Danny's third term and subsequent retirement in great triumph.

And 65/35 split in Tom Marshall's backyard? If I was a Tory I wouldn't be sleeping very comfortably right now.

Peter said...

"Second, in six years of blogging the one thing I know is that those who start out by accusing me of spin are either torquing Tories or people without an argument. Only you know which of the two (or both) you are."

Perfect defence, Ed. Insurmountable. You are totally neutral; everyone else is either torqued or a dork.

Edward Hollett said...

To quote Ronald Reagan, there you go again: That is not what I wrote.

That is your torque of it and once again you are completely wrong. I said that the people who start by accusing me of spin usually don't have an argument of their own. It's a variation on attacking the person.

My identity is known and my background is generally known. People can make their own decisions about whether my comments are correct and reasonable or not. The most credible way to rebut me is to argue coherently and cogently why I am wrong.

Instead they start out with accusing me of spin, then spin themselves from behind a fake identity or one that can't be associated with any known person.

Ooh, so credible.

See how easy it is - as in Jason's case to have a decent exchange of views even if we disagree. i fully expect he'll tell me I am full of it, just as Liam O'Brien used to but he still had some substance to his arguments.

Then you have the people who start with a series of assumptions about what they think I am saying and then attack that. Sometimes it's quite funny as people get more and more infuriated at my refusal to agree with their own delusions about what my position is. Bit like watching a dog chase his tail.

You must be well used to that sensation by now (including in this instance.)

Peter said...

Should I have read that whole post, or should I have stopped when you accused me of spin right off the top?

Wm. Murphy said...

“If I was a Tory I wouldn't be sleeping very comfortably right now”

Geez Ed...If I were a Tory I would have needed an alarm clock to get me out of bed this morning. A 2-1 trouncing will tend to get people in quick REM

I find that your "argument" is simply out to lunch. A comparison between Maurice Budgel and Danny Williams...is rich. I think that Watton shouldn't be compared to Budgell no more than Granter compared to Williams....so on that point your argument is totally off base

Sticking to your "argument"...you mention that… "They played defensive ball all the way, played to their strengths and they won. They did it because it made sense and it works/worked."

And your argument is what exactly?? If this is a strategy that works then why not exploit that strategy. Politics is about finding ways to get more votes than your opponent. What kind of an "argument" is that? ...The inference is that they should have done something else to satisfy your approach to how best to do things...how foolish.

If your "argument" also seems to be hung up about ...."Media like to talk about Dunderdale's leadership and much of the commentary we've been hearing is pretty much stock stuff that has little appreciation of the subtleties and nuances of things"...then you should probably try again!

While this may have been the case, I still give the voter more credence that they were happy about the subtleties and nuances of things...after all, unlike you, I respect the opinion and choices of the electorate and I believe they have every right in determining how, or how not to decipher the subtleties and nuances of things. When someone argues differently...it smacks of someone knowing better than the average person. Arrogance is another word that springs to mind!!

As another part of your “argument” you wondered whether Danny made rafts of phone calls behind the scenes…again…so what if he did?…so what they he helped out in the campaign. If we were to follow your argument this behaviour is somehow wrong and unfair. Funny how you never mentioned that Ken Dryden knocked on a few doors and made a few a calls.

Reading back on your Post and your response to comments, is really all one needs to know that your “argument” is completely out to lunch and without any sense of cogent or coherent reasoning

How’s that for being coherent and cogent…

P.s….still never answered why you consider Granter to be a “hand-picked” candidate?

Edward Hollett said...

Where did I accuse you of spin, Peter?

I pointed out that you imagined what I wrote and then started attacking your own imagination. That's setting fire to a straw man, having a delusion of something else.

Spin would be killing both your parents and then trying to pass yourself off as an orphan. ;-)

Edward Hollett said...

Thanks, "Murphy", for coming forward to prove my point to Peter again: someone using a fake identity to pour out a partisan diatribe and attack me for things you actually invented but I didn't say.

Soo credible.

Jason Hickman said...

You're full of it. Substance to follow in due course. ;)

Wm. Murphy said...

Your welcome Ed...
It is my pleasure to show your readers how reluctant you are to face a challenge when someone disputes your points of view.

It is also my pleasure to show, once again, that you would prefer to dance around citing and complaining about people's identities than deal with the comments that consistently shoot your "arguments|" out of the water. Your refusal to answer simple questions and points of view is a clear ommission that you have no rebuttal. It is very clear. In this instance your assesment of the Humber By-election is laughable and reeking with nonsense. Just imagine someone providing an analysis of the byelection referring to General Elections. Just imagine someone complaining and whining about the winners strategies while not even mentioning any shortfall about the Liberal Party. Frankly, it is mind boggling to even think that not once have you acknowledged that one of the reasons the Libs lost is because the Party is in total disarray and not capable to govern the Province. Look in the Liberal mirror Ed...there are lots of answers to go along with some of your observations as to why things are the way they are.

It's been a pleasure to point these things out...your refusal is the biggest form of acceptance and an admission that I have hit the "nail on the head"

It's almost like shooting fish in a barrell!!


Edward Hollett said...

Pure nonsense, as usual, Murph. You make things up and then expect me to rebut your fiction.

You invent my position and then claim I cannot refute your own fictious claims about what I believe.

And you spout all of this from behind a fake identity.


Wm. Murphy said...

Sleepy Ed??

Like I said ...shooting fish in a barrel

Edward Hollett said...

Well, it's more like shooting off your own toes, Murph, but your metaphor's in the right neighbourhood.

too bad your comments aren't as accurate or credible.

Wm. Murphy said...

Well Ed...on two occaisons you mentioned that Granter was "hand picked"...why don't you let us know what you mean

Edward Hollett said...

So what about it wasn't clear?

Jason Hickman said...

Ok, just kidding. You're not *completely* full of it :)

Here's what I'm thinking:

1. It's usually foolhardy for anyone to make too much of a big deal about by-elections, as a general rule (obviously, we can all think of exceptions), when it comes to predicting what will happen in a general election.

2. By the same token, it's usually a mistake to take the results in one district and extrapolate them province (or country) wide. Just because the Tories get 90% of the vote or whatever it is in Kilbride, or just because Yvonne Jones is able to clean up in Cartwright, doesn't help in predicting the results province-wide.

3. In this case, if we ARE going to read anything into last night, we had a high-profile MHA (to say the least!) retiring. Whatever VG brought to the table - and IIRC he beat, among others, the mayor for the nomination, so presumably he had *something* - he wasn't Danny W. Meanwhile, I have no problem admitting that MW seemed to be a very good candidate. And yet, despite it all: a two-to-one win, within shouting distance of 2/3 of the vote. That wouldn't cause me to lose that much sleep, if I'm Tom Marshall. But in any case, the "main event" is this October.

4. Maybe Yvonne J catches fire, but I think you'll agree, the odds of her winning aren't great. Leaving my own bias aside, it wouldn't shock me if the Grits pick up a small # of seats, showing progress, but not enough to seriously challenge to win - a la Ed Byrne and the Tories in '99....

5. And if I'm right, THEN it gets interesting. Does YJ give way? Do one of the possible saviours of the Lib Party come out to take over?

6. Lastly, I don't think the fact that Rex is going to challenge for a nomination is a sign of a PC Party on the ropes - quite the opposite. Presumably, if Rex thought that the Tories were on the way out, he wouldn't be looking around for a district to run in.

Anyway, point being, much can change between now and October. But I think the by-election gave more comfort to the Tories, and I think the real excitement will come after what I predict will be a perhaps-somewhat-reduced PC majority this fall.

(I *still* find NL politics more interesting than ON politics, no matter how long I'm exiled here!)

Edward Hollett said...

1. All potentially valid points except that I am not just basing it all on one by-election. Exceptionalism is an interesting line of argument but I am drawing trends over time to show how exceptionalism doesn't hold up. (Numbering doesn't correspond to yours)

2. In this post, I trended over three elections and compared apples to apples.

3. What I am talking about here, in part, is the relative effectiveness in getting out their own vote. Look at he state of one organization versus the state of the other over the course of the by-election.

The size of granter's win is not as interesting as the amount of effort it took to get out less of the vote. People weren't voting Granter for the Tories; they were voting Danny/Marshall/Tory

4. Granter personally wasn't as much of a factor as you (and others) seem to be assuming. basically The Outfit ran the show and he had the backing of the Outfit from the start, as I understand it.

5. Look at tomorrow morning's post for another chunk of the argument at least as far as polls go.

6. Talking about Yvonne catching fire is an example of bashing a straw man. I haven't said anything of the sort. Your ref to 99 is important though: in 99 the commentariat would have told you the Tories were doomed and the Libs were in power forever. Two years later? not so much. The chatterati didn't notice the vote swings and other details that showed a severe weakening for the Libs.

7. Barnes reflects many things but no one said it was a sign of the Tories on the ropes. It is a sign of the internal fractures for one thing (Rex's reference to being on good terms with the party) that can break down the illusion of a monolith some people currently have.

8. Crossing the floor is a possibility and Ray isn't the only one. Do all the people in the Tory caucus like each other? Will they like each other less if the May poll continues the downward slide from last fall?

Don't forget some other details (leadership still unresolved really). Parties in power weaken. people get stale. it';s all natural stuff that can change personalities and dynamics.

On your last point about a reduced majority, I'd say that is a fair bet. Just remember that even that is a radical change from last fall. When Danny left the Tories went from fighting to take five seats to working to hang on to seats.

But anyone who thinks that what appears to be so today will be the case in the fall is just delusional or naive: THAT is my point. What people assumed last November didn't last to last December.

And in this case if you look at a more detailed analysis you can see issues that others are missing and that help explain much more than anything else.

Like I said, read tomorrow morning's post and see if that makes more sense.

Newfoundland said...

The results in the by-election while not stellar, still shows a major improvement in the Liberal vote. You have to look beyond the riding itself and think about the response from across the province from all districts, the interest in what was going down.

Secondly, you had a high profile Conservative candidate in Williams retiring. His popularity would have propelled a monkey into office. He actually had to come out of hiding to shore up support for Granter.

You had Tom Marshall having to take to the air to endorse Granter and swallow his pride in doing it. Granter had stepped forward to the Liberal Party and expressed interest in running against Marshall in the October general election. Want to talk about someone being opportunistic. It wasn't about bying into the Conservative mantra, but about taking advantage of a coat tail upon exit.

As for beating the mayor for the nomination? What merit does that hold? Again, a monkey could have beaten Greely in the nomination.

Want to talk about the nomination some more. How about the residents of Wheelers Road dragged out of their houses to go vote for Granter at the nomination and then when they show up to vote, they're told "you're not in the district so you can't vote" ... after no one in the Granter HQ would talk to these people (I'm hearing there were over 50 of them, mostly seniors) they called the Liberal HQ only to find they were NOT in the district. There may be a formal complaint filed with respect to this, but not sure if anything can be done about it now.

Mark Watton was a formidable candidate. The race was much closer than the vote indicates. The Danny factor and Marshall taking to the air were influences. Granter didn't even know Williams was called by party faithful to come save the day!

Yvonne Jones is not the best leader of the Liberal Party. However, look at the day when she took the leadership. Williams was in politics, no one wanted to take him on because it was political suicide. Yvonne Jones did what she had to do and has to be respected for that. The mistake the Liberals made was appointing Kelvin the interim leader. The monkey from the PC Nomination and the race could have done a better job.

As for Rex Barnes, look for things from him. Hunter isn't wanted in caucus. Barnes was picked to tackle him although there is still some animosity that is existing in that camp and as indicated, Barnes may just walk across the floor. If Hunter wins the nomination, word has it Barnes will run as an independent.

Newfoundland Political Junkie

Jason Hickman said...

Just a couple of points, then I'll leave things be, at least for now:

* I wasn't in C.Brook so I can't really comment on who had the more efficient campaign, but if the Tories were able to bring more of an effort, that's not a bad thing.

* Not trying to set up a strawman (-person?) with YJ. Just making the point that notwithstanding the weaknesses you've suggested exist, I just don't see her winning next time 'round, and the by-election didn't do anything to change that. (Butt-covering disclaimer: Things could change, sure - but they'd have to change a *lot*.)

* I don't think people were saying the Tories were toast after the '99 election - and I was there for that one. That was kind of my point - if the Libs can gain some seats (and I'm not conceding they will, or saying it's what I want just saying that it's probably the most likely result as things stand), they'll be in an interesting place, and the issue of Liberal leadership will be particularly interesting.

* "But anyone who thinks that what appears to be so today will be the case in the fall is just delusional or naive: THAT is my point. What people assumed last November didn't last to last December." - Agreed, actually. I'm not assuming much of anything, politics-wise. My point is that the by-election last night didn't cause me to change what I think is *likely* to happen - it certainly didn't make me think we're in for a big shift in October.

Wm. Murphy said...

A couple of doozie quotes to start the day....

@ Newfoundland....."The race was much closer than the vote indicates"

Please let me jump in before Ed has a chance to agree on that point

In this case I am assuming ing that there is 10 balott boxes on the way to Sally's Cove!!

@ Ed...

"In this post, I trended over three elections and compared apples to apples"

What by-election trends would they be Ed? What kind of apples would they be?

Must get a cofee and get ready to read your assesment on the recent Telelink Poll...that should be a good read

NPJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

Watton's campaign team have said that themselves behind closed doors.

Um. No. They haven't.

Mark said...

And for what it's worth, I don't accept Ed's analysis, either. One of those areas where we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Wm. Murphy said...


and there you have it folks...an insider with the "inside" scoop.
The problem is that you seem to have spent to much time taking things to the bank

A couple of take aways to chew on (for those that at least have more than gums) there NPJ...

The weather is the same outside for both campaighns...just like the ice is the same for both teams.
Basing the reason for low turnout on demographicsis ...well...foolish. In fact the prepensity for seniors to vote is extrodinarily high compared to a younger demograph...regardless of the weather

Also the comment about "pulling a hail mary" is interesting. Probally the only time I have heard that in the context of a campaign losing by a 2-1 margin.

Also you mentioned that Granter's own poll showed 1800 voters....another intersting point considering that the Tory nomination meeting drew 1250 "Tory's"...brilliant logic

@ Mark

A quick note to thank you for throwing your hat in the ring and especially for elevating the debate and political discussion in the province.
It was a pleasure to watch and listen

Well done and I hope that you continue your efforts to find a seat in our Legislature

Edward Hollett said...


I have some concerns about your comments not the least of which is that they attribute comments and actions to both the Granter and Watton campaigns in the recent by-election and you are completely anonymous.

As such, I have temporarily removed them. I am concerned that you may have falsely attributed comments to others and left no recourse for them to take directly with you. The authenticity of your comments and the veracity of your comments cannot be verified. I am not prepared to expose myself to any legal action for a shadow.

Two things follow:

If you want to continue commenting then you will need to identify yourself at least to the point where I know who you are. I mean by that full legal name, address and a contact telephone number. I'll make a decision on rewstoring this post once I've had a chance to consider it after I know who you are and on what basis you are making any comments or claims.

Edward Hollett said...

@Jason: I appreciate your comments and understand that my comments and the post were not aimed necessarily at you.

I have really only proposed some fairly simple ideas based on one part of a wider analysis. There's more in the Telelink poll result. I don't see any of them as radical or even definitive. They are alternative views.

What is fascinating is the rather intense reaction from some quarters both for what they imagine I am saying and for some of the potential implications if my analysis were to be accurate.

Small things can make changes. Then again, there could be big ones as well.

Apparently those ideas strike fear in some people's hearts

Wm. Murphy said...

"What is fascinating is the rather intense reaction from some quarters both for what they imagine I am saying and for some of the potential implications if my analysis were to be accurate"

Wrong again Ed...the intense reaction comes when people read flawed analysis and bullshit.

I guess if we were all as polite as Mark was, then there would not have been any reaction that could be equated as striking fear in some people's hearts.

As for me, this type of discussion doesn't strike any political emotion....certainly not fear...it just tends to set off my bullshit meter

Flawed analysis will do that

Edward Hollett said...


Mark disagrees with my assessment.

Big deal. Lots of people do. Mark and I agree on other things.

Ditto Jason.

You, on the other hand, as now, spew pure bile and personal invective and do so from the most cowardly of positions: you write under a fake name.

I think that just about sums you up yet again. meanwhile, as far as bullshit goes, "Murph", I'll have to defer to your expertise. You certainly spout so much of it is would be hard to know where 'Murphy' begins and the bullshit ends. Silly me. With "Murphy", the bullshit has no end.