In a surprising turn of events, the polling firm that first showcased the NDP’s rise is now showing the NDP decreasing and the Liberals rebounding. This comes after a months-long trend of NDP gains and Liberal declines, and multiple polling firms confirming EKOS’s earlier findings. Whether this is margin of error or the beginning of another trend, only time will tell.
In the latest EKOS poll, the NDP still leads in the popular vote with 30.2%, the Conservatives are in second with 29.4%, the Liberals remain in third with 25%, the Greens hold steady with 7.1%, and the Bloc Quebecois rebound to 5.9%. The Bloc’s results prove that while Gilles Duceppe cannot return his party’s fortunes to their heyday, I was wrong in writing off the effect this honeymoon period might have on the major parties, especially the NDP, whose strategy centers around strong results in Quebec. There is no telling, with four months until the next election, whether Gilles Duceppe taking leadership of the Bloc again will have a lasting effect.
Here is the latest seat projection with my model using the latest EKOS poll*:
British Columbia: 37% New Democratic (25 seats), 23% Conservative (8 seats), 22% Liberal (6 seats), 14% Green (3 seats)
Alberta: 50% Conservative (28 seats), 29% New Democratic (5 seats), 13% Liberal (1 seat), 5% Green (0 seats)
Saskatchewan: 40% Conservative (11 seats), 30% New Democratic (3 seats), 14% Liberal (0 seats), 6% Green (0 seats)
Manitoba: 36% Liberal (5 seats), 32% Conservative (6 seats), 25% New Democratic (3 seats), 4% Green (0 seats)
Ontario: 34% Conservative (54 seats), 30% New Democratic (36 seats), 27% Liberal (26 seats), 8% Green (5 seats)
Quebec: 28% New Democratic (28 seats), 25% Liberal (20 seats), 24% Bloc Quebecois (19 seats), 18% Conservative (9 seats), 4% Green (2 seats)
Atlantic Canada: 36% Liberal (18 seats), 31% New Democratic (8 seats), 21% Conservative (5 seats), 8% Green (1 seat)
Total: 30.2% New Democratic (109 seats), 29.4% Conservative (123 seats), 25% Liberal (76 seats), 7.1% Green (11 seats), 5.9% Bloc Quebecois (19 seats)
*Since Northern Canada was not polled, their three seats will have the same MP’s in the total for the sake of simplicity.
These results predict the Conservatives holding onto a minority government with 123 seats despite coming in second with the popular vote, down 43 seats from their 2011 result. The NDP will retain Official Opposition status with 109 seats, up 6 from their 2011 result, despite coming in first in the popular vote. The Liberals will remain in third place with 76 seats, up 42 from their 2011 result, which, while disappointing for the formerly Natural Governing Party, will likely give them a large amount of sway in a Parliament with no majority. The Bloc Quebecois will return to Official Party Status with 19 seats, up from 4 in 2011, a far cry from their heyday but a return to some level of prominence. The Greens will balloon to 11 seats, up from 1 in 2011, but I must disclose that the model is not necessarily accurate with the results of the Greens because their vote distribution tends to be more concentrated in certain areas rather than uniform, and the model does not take into account this concentration.
In terms of its relation to the latest EKOS poll, there is a definite return to the norm of the last year. The Conservatives again have a small plurality in seats, which is a result of their vote distribution and incumbency advantage and the NDP is again an Opposition party. The Liberals and Greens remain relatively steady, while the Bloc surges.
The regional trends are proving less uniform than the findings of the last couple of weeks. The NDP is gaining in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Atlantic Canada and declining in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. The Conservatives are gaining in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, stagnant in Quebec, and declining in British Columbia and Manitoba. The Liberals are gaining in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, stagnating in British Columbia, and declining in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Atlantic Canada. The Bloc Quebecois is gaining in Quebec. The Greens are gaining in British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, stagnating in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, and declining in Saskatchewan (though the Greens getting 20% support in Saskatchewan as of the second-most recent EKOS poll seems unlikely).
What do these regional trends spell out? Well, it’s a mixed bag. For the NDP, its gains being largely in places where it is not currently strong can signal expansion. However, this is a mere possibility, as the Conservatives have had a well-oiled machine there for over a decade. It is also good for them that they are making gains in British Columbia, a longtime stronghold, though they may be inefficient votes. Declines in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec are quite troubling. Rachel Notley’s win in Alberta is largely heralded as the reason for the rise in federal NDP fortunes, so for declines there to occur does not produce a good outlook. Ontario is a bellwether province that frequently decides the winner of the election, so long-term NDP declines would be a disaster for their election strategy. As stated earlier, the NDP’s strategy also revolves around a strong Quebec. If the Bloc Quebecois continues to eat into the NDP, then the NDP might be kept from forming government.
The Conservatives also have mixed results ahead of them. The gains in Alberta are largely a return to their 2011 result, but that can be a blessing. Since they are a nine-year incumbent government, it is unlikely their seat count will increase anywhere, so holding steady is a win for them. Holding Saskatchewan and Ontario, currently Conservative strongholds, is crucial to their strategy. It is also good for them that they are making inroads in Quebec, possibly their only chance of expansion.
The Liberals possibly have the brightest outlook out of the three parties with a shot at the Prime Minister’s office. Their gains in Manitoba may prove irrelevant as they have had a minimal presence there for a long time, but for their gains to be centered around Ontario and Quebec, the two largest provinces, is crucial to their strategy. The 199 seats these provinces possess could be more than enough to form government if they play their cards right. Their stagnation in British Columbia as of this week is still a gain from the 2011 election. Their declines in Alberta and Saskatchewan are largely irrelevant, as they barely registered there and that will continue to be the case in the long-term. Their declines in Atlantic Canada might be more troubling, but are still a step up from 2011.
It is hard to tell whether the Bloc Quebecois will remain steady with Gilles Duceppe as a leader. On the one hand, Mario Beaulieu was certainly a drag on the Bloc Quebecois’ numbers for an entire year, but on the other, the honeymoon effect has deceived pundits before, and the sovereigntist movement is flatlining in Quebec. Only time will tell.
The Green result, if accurate, puts them nearly at Official Party Status. Of course, this model does not represent well the type of vote the Greens get, which is concentrated in various ridings. Also, with large seat counts such as Ontario and Quebec, the model can become more pronounced in its seat error, so these findings should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it does appear that gains for the Greens from 2011 are nearly certain in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. The Saskatchewan decline just represents a return to form, as the last poll had the Greens at 20% in Saskatchewan, a highly unlikely scenario.