It appears that the honeymoon for the NDP may be over. As they continue to hold steady at 32%, the Conservatives, once in third according to Forum, are now tying the NDP in their latest poll. The Liberals remain in third with 26% support, not far from the other two parties, but decisively the third place party. The Bloc Quebecois has 5% of the vote nationally, and the Greens are rebounding slightly from the last round of polls with 3% support.
Forum predicts, with its numbers, that the Conservatives will have a minority government with 155 seats, the NDP in second with 120, the Liberals in potential kingmaker status with 59, the Bloc Quebecois taking 2, and the Greens holding Elizabeth May’s seat.
Here is the seat projection with my model*:
British Columbia: 41% New Democratic (26 seats), 29% Liberal (8 seats), 23% Conservative (8 seats), 6% Green (0 seats)
Alberta: 54% Conservative (27 seats), 28% New Democratic (5 seats), 15% Liberal (2 seats), 2% Green (0 seats)
Saskatchewan/Manitoba: 42% New Democratic (12 seats), 41% Conservative (14 seats), 14% Liberal (2 seats), 2% Green (0 seats)
Ontario: 33% Liberal (40 seats), 32% Conservative (41 seats), 31% New Democratic (38 seats), 3% Green (2 seats)
Quebec: 29% New Democratic (34 seats), 26% Conservative (20 seats), 23% Liberal (14 seats), 18% Bloc Quebecois (9 seats), 3% Green (1 seat)
Atlantic Canada: 33% New Democratic (11 seats), 32% Conservative (12 seats), 29% Liberal (9 seats), 6% Green (0 seats)
Total: 32% New Democratic (127 seats), 32% Conservative (124 seats), 26% Liberal (75 seats), 5% Bloc Quebecois (9 seats), 3% Green (3 seats)
*Since Northern Canada was not polled, their three seats will have the same MP’s in the total for the sake of simplicity.
According to my numbers, the NDP will still be hanging on by a hair to first place in seat count with 127 seats. The Conservatives will be three seats behind at 124, forming the Official Opposition. The Liberals will be in third, and due to their ideological position, will likely be the kingmaker, with 75 seats. The Bloc Quebecois will take 9 seats, 3 short of Official Party Status, and the Greens will increase their caucus to 3 seats.
The regional trends are mixed for the three major parties. The Conservatives are gaining in Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, and declining in British Columbia and Ontario. The NDP is gaining in Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, and declining in British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. The Liberals are gaining in British Columbia and Quebec, and declining in Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. The Bloc Quebecois is declining in Quebec. The Greens are declining in Ontario, gaining in Quebec, and holding steady elsewhere.
What implications do these trends have? Well, in this case there are two sides to every coin. The Conservative gains in Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba and Atlantic Canada represent returns to form in regions they have had a stronghold. This will bode well for maintaining their numbers, but at the same time, it’s not a route for expansion. Quebec is possibly the only main route for expansion in seat count for the Conservatives, and it bodes well for them that they are rising there. Declines in British Columbia and Ontario represent the losses of strongholds, and if Conservatives want to win, they should at least concentrate resources into Ontario.
The NDP gains in Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada all have two things in common – they are all expansions into areas where they have not previously been strong, and they are Conservative strongholds. If they can successfully eat into the Conservative vote here, it may be enough to push the Conservatives down while pushing their own numbers up. This is especially crucial in Ontario – any party that wants to form government needs to win Ontario. In addition, inroads into Atlantic Canada hurt the Liberals, prime competitors with the NDP as the alternative to the Conservatives. If they can become the tactical party in Atlantic Canada, a place that has had strong Liberal polling for years, it bodes well for the NDP nationally. However, the vote increase may not be enough to offset declines in British Columbia and Quebec. British Columbia, though a Conservative stronghold, has been quite friendly towards the NDP in recent years, and Quebec is at the center of the NDP’s strategy. In addition, Alberta, though never a federal NDP stronghold, just recently elected Rachel Notley’s NDP to govern at the provincial level for the first time. Declines there, while not significant in terms of the Alberta NDP’s seat count in federal elections, may be a harbinger of strife to come.
The Liberal gains in British Columbia and Quebec represent boons to their electoral success. While British Columbia in terms of seats is a Conservative stronghold, the real hurt will come to the NDP if these gains are sustained and sufficient. The NDP has been polling quite well there, and it would hurt their chances of forming government if the Liberals gain at their expense there. Inroads into Quebec also push the NDP’s numbers down, and if the Liberals can overtake the NDP in Quebec, the entire NDP strategy falls apart, since the NDP strategy is centered on Quebec. Declines in Alberta and Saskatchewan/Manitoba do not represent much hurt to the Liberals, since they were at rock bottom there in 2011 anyway. However, the fact that they are declining in Ontario and Atlantic Canada is quite troubling for their chances. Ontario is crucial for all three major parties to win – without Ontario, there is little chance of forming government. Declines there with corresponding NDP gains may result in voters tactically voting for the NDP, sending large numbers away from the Liberals. Atlantic Canada, the one region to consistently have a Liberal plurality, has the Liberals now suffering in the polls. This also is a potential harbinger of ill fortune for the Liberal Party in their quest to form government.
The Bloc Quebecois honeymoon, also shown in the Abacus poll of the previous day, may be over. They are projected to form 9 seats, which is 3 shy of Official Party Status. They are also currently in fourth in the popular vote, similar to where they were before. However, if they can push down the numbers of other parties enough, they wouldn’t have to gain support to win more seats. The Greens, though still not projected to win any seats in British Columbia (I highly doubt Elizabeth May will lose her seat, but it may be a sign of potential inroads not happening), appear to be viable in Ontario and Quebec. This can bode well for Bruce Hyer, the other Green MP.