With 110 seats across the country considered too close to call by the pollsters, the Canadian federal election outcome is still very much up in the air one month into the campaign. The latest numbers at the Election Prediction Project website are, however, suggestive and give insight into the campaign strategies we have seen so far.
According to the website, while Stephen Harper is currently leading the pack in terms of projected seats at 96 to the NDP’s 79 and the Liberals’ 50, he is a long way from majority territory. If he will be able to continue as Prime Minister, should these numbers hold, is in grave doubt.
The truth is in the numbers. Looking across every province in Canada the Conservatives have lost ground and are projected to lose seats in the Maritimes, British Columbia and Quebec compared to their 2011 election results. They are also projected to lose seats in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and there are nine battleground ridings even in Alberta, usually a bastion of Conservative support, that are too close to call.
To win a majority the only way forward for the Conservatives is to pick up substantial numbers in Ontario. The Conservatives had 69 seats in Ontario at the dissolution of Parliament. According to the Election Prediction Project they are currently projected to win 43 seats. However, the more important number for the Conservatives is the 41 seats there considered too close to call. The polls in Ontario aren’t encouraging though. The Conservatives may get most of their seats back but will likely not do too much better than that.
For Thomas Mulcair and the NDP the path to minority power is much straighter. They have enough distributed support across the country and are the main beneficiaries so far of the Conservatives’ projected seat losses. But they will have to hold the lion’s share of the 54 seats they have in Quebec and pick up a few in Ontario to take them into governing territory. The Liberals and Bloc are fighting hard in Quebec to wrestle seats away from the NDP. There are 33 seats in that province still considered too close to call as the three parties battle it out for them.
Of the major parties, the Liberals face the bumpiest road toward becoming a governing party. They are being squeezed out on the left by the NDP and have reached the limit of their potential gains on the right. The Liberals are, however, projected to pick up more seats in this election from their 36 at the dissolution of Parliament. According to the Election Prediction Project website, they are currently likely to win in 50 ridings with their biggest gains coming in Ontario with marginal gains in British Columbia and the Maritimes.
The only play for the Liberals is in Quebec where they have a little traction and could pick up some more seats. The Liberals would have to see astonishing gains in that province though over the next month in order to think about getting into governing territory. And the polls do not seem to show the likelihood of that. Expect Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to spend most of his time over the next month in Quebec and Ontario saying things amenable to those voters’ ears.
The most likely election result as of today is either a Conservative or an NDP minority government. And it will come down to two things in voters’ minds: Is it time for change? Or do we stick with the horse that brung us?