Volatility and likelihood of voting

In their June podcast, Qc125’s Philippe J. Fournier and L’Actualité’s Alec Castonguay were talking about Laurier-Dorion, my riding (in which Martin was in charge of phone banking during the 2012 elections). This Montreal riding runs south of the Metropolitan between L’Acadie and Papineau. It brings together two very different neighbourhoods on either side of a train track: Parc-Extension to the west and Villeray to the east.

Parc-Ex is the place to go feast on butter chicken (I usually go for lamb korma though) and watch cricket being played by people much more experienced than in Seducing Dr. Lewis.

In Villeray, you’re asked in coffee shops whether you’d like cow’s milk, almond milk or soy milk, and butchers work directly with local farmers to source their meat. In short, it’s a lot like the Plateau in a lot of people’s minds. (The Plateau is very different from Villeray, but I’ll keep my Montreal-focused parochial feuds for those times when I’m visiting with cousins.)

So, as the guys over at the L’Actualité politics podcast were saying, Laurier-Dorion is a riding that Quebec Solidaire could snatch from the Liberals if enough people in Parc-Ex stay home. Up to that point, I’m fully onboard. Where things get dicey is when they contrasted the possible lack of enthusiasm in Parc-Ex’s non-French-speaking electorate —which is solidly in the QLP column— with the supposedly inevitable enthusiasm of QS voters in Villeray:

Les partisans de Québec solidaire, là, ils ne restent pas à la maison. Quand t’es Québec solidaire, dans’ vie, la seule chose qui te reste, c’est d’aller voter. Ok? Parce que tu sais que tu vas pas gagner. Alors ils vont aller voter.1

That might be the impression QS social media fervour gives, but the Quebec Solidaire electorate is in fact the most volatile amongst parties that hold seats in the National Assembly. And I have the numbers to prove it!

Source: “La politique provinciale au Québec.” Léger, 18 August 2018, p. 7.

Quebec Solidaire is the only party at the National Assembly for which more than half the people intending to vote for it could change their minds. It’s almost always been like that since Léger started breaking down results for Quebec Solidaire voters back in 2012.

Taking a look in the rearview mirror

In the ten Léger polls for which we have QS data, it only happened three times that Coalition Avenir Québec voters professed to be less sure of which party they’d be casting their votes for than those of QS (31 July 2012, 31 August 2012 and 13 March 2014). Incidentally, the Parti Québécois electorate is generally the steadiest.

So they’re gonna vote?

In addition to displaying greater volatility, Quebec Solidaire voters are less inclined to going to the polls than PQ and CAQ voters. It resembles the QLP electorate in that respect.

Source: “La politique provinciale au Québec.” Léger, 18 August 2018, p. 39.

Four out of five people who said they intended to vote for Quebec Solidaire are “certain” of going to vote, but one out of five did say it was only “probable.” Amongst people intending to vote for the Part Québécois, it’s just one out of ten.

Therefore, the people who tell polling firms that they intend to vote for Quebec Solidaire are not a bunch of democracy warriors perpetually ready for combat. These are ordinary people who are sympathetic either to the party’s discourse or to its approach, but not quite enough in many cases to make it to the polls or to actually change sides.

Source data

You can access the spreadsheet from which the chart was generated on Google Spreadsheets.


  1. (Quebec Solidaire supporters don’t just stay home. When you support Quebec Solidaire, you don’t have anything left but going to vote. See? Cause you know you won’t be winning. So they go and vote.) L’Actualité. Politique: notre mise à jour de juin! 41:02-41:10. Accessed 18 August 2018.

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