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Appreciation of Alberta 2004


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though I don't have time to start playing scenarios right now (univeristy late-session rush), I checked the Alberta 2004 election to have a glimpse into Albertan politics. What I had instead was a glimpse into a militant's view at the eve of the election.

First thing, the candidates' attributes. Strangely, all candidates have only three in leadership, while most other scenarios will place leaders with 4 unless they visibly lack leadership. Klein is relatively weak, I expected him to get a 4 in charisma, since he seems to be quite liked as a "speaks his mind, says what no one dares" kind of man. The Liberal leader is relatively the same and the NDP's leader has the same stats as Klein, weird for even an experience MLA to have as much experience as the prime minister who's been there for a decade. Oh well. Wait, did I say every candidate had 3 in leadership? No, I was forgetting the Albertan Alliance leader, he's got 4 in everything, except experience, where he has 2. There seems to be a problem there, this is not how he really is I realized, this is how every militant would like his leader to be. Did I mention that the creator (if I'm not mistaken) campaigned for the Albertan Alliance?

The parties' establishment scores also showed some bias, every party got five. The "how well established" statistic means how much the media pay attention to the party and how well organized it is. It seems to me that the Conservatives and Liberals should be the only ones to have 5, and even there, with the state of the opposition parties in Alberta, maybe the Libs deserve a 4. The NDP, like its federal counterpart, deserves a 4, and the Alliance deserves a 3 maximum, no such small party will be as well established as the governing party of a decade, except for major political upheaval. The funds are also wrong, the Alliance has more money than the Liberals and the NDP, which would surprise me, but the Conservatives have four times more money than the Alliance, which is good, as it appears to me that they've got a lot more cash than the others.

For the initial starting percentages, it seems to me that the author has taken the poll that was the most optimistic towards his party, since it starts with a good 3 or 4 more points of support as it ended up with (12 vs 8), and that's with 17% undecided (meaning it would end with 16% easily). This is a mistake that should be avoided, you must aim for an average or for the polling company that is more often dead on the money (that's a good expression, right?), then change it a little by normal election-day movement.

For example, in Québec, the Liberals always end up with more support than it usually is granted with in polls (in average about three more points), because its electorate is more loyal and votes more often, yes, but also because of what could be called a "security boost", electing a centrist, well-established party is not as "scary" as a party that is considered more radical and younger. So though polls in Québec showed at first the third party ADQ at 25%, the PQ at 36 and the PLQ at 36, I moved in my scenario 4 points from the ADQ to the PLQ and 1 more point from the ADQ to the PQ, since I knew the ADQ was a protest vote that wouldn't hold till the election (it ended up with 18% FYI).

I could also say that the issue positions of Brian Mason are a little too much to the Left than it should (Left on Balanced Budget? Come on, the NDP, especially in the West, is fiscally responsible).

In conclusion, my dear David, I know you must have done your best, but next time, don't do a scenario on an election while still caught in the passion of it. To militate, you have to think positive and to be all worked up about it, so you will at each time end up showing more bias than you should. Wait a little to cool off, then you can do it, remember what they say, hindsight is 20/20. Or simply write down what you believe, then change it in disadvantage of your party and in advantage of the main opposition party.

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But, as someone told me, the exact results are not entirely accurate, since the final results take campaigning into effect. On many occasions, a riding's initial projection shows a candidate ahead other than the one who actually wins.

So, when doing a scenario, one must try to match the percentages by what they may have been at the beginning of the election.

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That would be tricky Appel, and I'm not so sure that it would be quite the same. I know when I play a custom scenario, I often feel a bit cheated if the initial standings that I see pop up bear little resemblance to the final vote. It just doesn't feel like the same election. But its a matter of taste, of course.

Perhaps the best way to reflect the "unfinished" nature of the electorate is just to increase the amount of undecided voters? I know it isn't perfect, but it would be easier than trying to find polling data for say, Alberta 1979 seven weeks before the election.

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Rather than polling data, you could try to get the general estimation of a party's campaign, then adjust for it. If all parties made good campaigns, no one screwed up nor made enormous mistakes, you could simply use the end results (you could also search for star candidates and take 5 points away from them to reflect the quality of their candidacy).

If a party led a reasonably good campaign, take 2 or 3 points away from it for the beginning (my recommendatiom to do this: copy the ridings_data file into Excel twice, the left column has a function that modifies the result according to a number you enter, if you want I can send you one to see how it works). If a party stumbled literally, give it 4 or 5 points more in the beginning (but adjust the quality of the candidate in accordance). Since a 6 points change in voting intentions between day 1 and election day is pretty much the most radical change I've seen (without cheating), don't modify a party by more than 6 points.

At least, it seems to me a good compromise.

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