On the homefront now

06.09.04

Our own election is taking some twists and turns. Damian Penny calculates that the SES tracking results showing the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals for the first time means that the CP could actually win the election:

But here’s the thing: Quebec no longer sends 73 Liberal MPs to Ottawa. The Bloc has won most of Quebec’s seats ever since the 1993 election, leaving the Liberals with around 35 Quebec MPs at most. The Bloc is far ahead of the Liberals this time around, and if Martin wins 25 Quebec seats, I think he’ll be lucky.

That means the Conservatives would have to win 25 more seats than the Liberals in the rest of the country – hard, but not that hard. The Liberals will likely win most of the 32 seats in Atlantic Canada, but the Conservatives will win all but one or two of the 28 seats in Alberta, thereby cancelling out that advantage. SES now puts the Conservatives ten points ahead in Ontario, ahead by 6 in B.C. and ahead by 7 in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

If these numbers hold, I think we’d looking at a Conservative minority government. As for a majority, alas, Sari is right – you can’t realistically do it without picking up at least a few Quebec seats.

The thing about polls, as I’ve been arguing, is that they don’t reflect political reality in Canada because they aren’t added up by riding. The party that wins the popular vote doesn’t always win the election. We almost take the system for granted at this point.

I still don’t think that this is Harper’s election. The last time a Conservative government won in Canada (during the Mulroney years), it had the backing of considerable political forces in Quebec. Since then, the Liberals’ dwindling support in the rest of Canada might very well go to the Conservatives, but the Bloc will be picking up the support here in Quebec.

Polls are also notoriously inaccurate. People may feel no pressure to say one thing on the phone to a pollster, but when they actually go vote where it counts they can do another. With the slips lately from the Harper camp on divisive issues like abortion, some people may be getting scared. The public is fed up with the Libs, but I simply don’t see the Conservatives getting elected in Canada without more than perhaps a single seat won in Quebec – which is the most they can realistically hope for here. No, I think this is a polling blip and that we will end up with a Liberal government, albeit a minority one.

The party that will gain the most? Sadly, the NDP. Their swing votes will suddenly matter in parliament in the case of a minority government, and their agenda given much more attention than usual. Good news? Hardly.

Which of us is right? We’ll have to see in three weeks, I suppose.

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