Barring something unforeseen happening, it looks like writ will be dropped this Sunday for an election to take place on September 20th. I will blog periodically as campaign progresses and on major issues. Below is where I see the parties right now and starting line, but note that can change. While some elections like 2019 result in election day numbers similar to pre-election poll numbers; others like 2015, 2006, 1993 just to name a few resulted in results that most at beginning would have said are crazy. So this is where things are now, not necessarily where they will be on election day. Still I think Liberals winning most seats is extremely likely. I believe there is about a 5% chance Liberals will not be largest party so they are definitely heavy favourites. But in no election is the winner ever 100% certain.
Below are my thoughts on each of the party, so lets see if these look accurate or silly on September 20th.
Liberals: Definitely in the driver’s seat but still would only take a slight uptick to win a landslide majority of over 200 seats while only a slight drop to struggle to hold the 157 they have (note biggest drop in Tory support is Prairies so Tory vote is probably not as inefficient as was in 2019). That being said, short of a monumental mess up or one opposition leader really catching on, they should win most seats. Real question is will it be a majority or minority. I think majority is narrowly favoured, but wouldn’t be shocked if they fall a bit short either.
Conservatives: Right now in very bad shape and most likely election will be a defensive one. Pandemic has been devastating for parties on right as moderates who they need to win over tend to support vaccinations, vaccine passports, and public health restrictions, while much of their right flank opposes them so have to look over both shoulders. Go right and fail to win key swing votes they need. Go closer to centre and risk PPC or Maverick Party gaining and splitting votes. Still Tories do tend to outperform polls is one saving grace, but usually only 2-3 points so not nearly enough to get them anywhere near power. Perhaps one thing that could cheer them up is Harper going into 2006 election had similar numbers, but you also had a 13 year incumbent rocked by major scandal, not 6 year one who people seem okay with thus I think shifts like you saw in 2006 are very unlikely.
NDP: Singh has very high personal numbers so definitely has potential for NDP surge. Still repeating 1990 election in Ontario, 2015 in Alberta, 2011 federally, or 2018 in Ontario will be tough. To make matters worse, NDP vote heavily skews towards millennials who generally don’t vote in same numbers as older voters do. That being said Singh’s personal popularity does bode well if Trudeau slips up and more importantly lead amongst millennials suggests long term party has potential to do quite well.
Bloc Quebecois: Down a bit from last election, but Quebec tends to be quite volatile and usually we don’t know which way they will go until about 2 weeks before election so I could see them either gaining or losing seats.
Green Party: With all the infighting, they are pretty much toast. They will be lucky if they can hold onto a single seat. Their best option would be immediate leadership change but might be too late. BQ back in 2017 was in similar crisis and things looked bleak but recovered through leadership change, but Greens lack time for that.
PPC/Maverick Party: I suspect both win 0 seats and underperform. Most of their rabid supporters hate Trudeau with a passion so when push comes to shove, I expect most to end up voting Conservative in end (although won’t be nearly enough for Tories to win).
So these are my pre-election thoughts. As for how I will vote, well it definitely won’t be Liberals or NDP. Conservatives are probably party I am closest to, but admit unless they run a surprisingly strong campaign with good ideas, I will probably end up voting for them with my nose plugged. And if they screw up badly enough, I may consider spoiling my ballot. Too bad we don’t have write-in option like US does as I would seriously consider that if we had it.
4 thoughts on “Upcoming election”
Overall I agree. Liberals will almost certainly win the most seats but I’d put the low end at about 135 and the high end at about 190. That said, the pathway to a Liberal majority probably goes through Alberta and British Columbia…
Atlantic Canada: Mostly status quo. The Liberals have little room to gain (3 safe CPC seats and 1 safe NDP seat, so +1 the best case) but little room to lose – only seats that may flip are Miramichi and perhaps a couple in eastern Nova Scotia.
Quebec: I think any Liberal gains in polls are wasted here, since they will likely run up numbers on Montreal Island. The Bloc should win most of the “regions” while the Conservatives should hold their base around Quebec City but get annihilated everywhere else.
Ontario: The Liberals may pick up a handful at the fringes of Ottawa and Toronto, but overall I expect little change as there isn’t much low hanging fruit laying around due to polarization. The top 5 LPC pickup opportunities IMO are Flamborough-Glanbrook, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, Northumberland-Peterborough South, Carleton and Hamilton Mountain, while the top 5 CPC pickup opportunities IMO are Bay of Quinte, Niagara Centre, Richmond Hill, Markham-Thornhill and Peterborough-Kawartha (breaking bellwether trends). The two Windsor seats I would argue are good pickup opportunities for BOTH parties, as potential 3-way races.
Manitoba: The Liberals may take back a couple in Winnipeg, but otherwise status quo.
Saskatchewan: Another Conservative sweep most likely, unless the NDP can peel back a couple on splits from Maverick (or if Maverick can become the dominant western party). It should establish itself clearly as Canada’s most right-wing province.
Alberta: Here’s where things get interesting. I do expect the CPC to lose at least a couple, if not several, seats even without Maverick, and the split potential could really hurt them. That said, the LPC-NDP split could also be a factor especially in Edmonton. The most likely to move left are Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Mill Woods (both to LPC) and Edmonton Griesbach (to NDP). Riverbend and Manning are longshots. In Calgary, the LPC could possibly be competitive in up to 4 seats, with Skyview the most likely pickup followed by Calgary Centre, Confederation and Forest Lawn – seats they will need for a majority. That said, if Maverick can really get traction, it would be in the rural areas where even O’Toole is seen as a liberal and they’d likely beat the CPC to win outright except in Lethbridge, where the NDP might have a shot on a perfect 3-way split.
British Columbia: This is where it will clearly be majority or minority. The interior should be mostly Conservative (although the larger cities may give the Liberals a fighting chance) and the island mostly NDP. However, Greater Vancouver is where all three parties will be tooth and nail and destiny will be determined there as the LPC have significant growth potential, but the CPC can pick up a few more on splits (although I expect them to lose ground) and the NDP can make serious gains too. The Green collapse will either play into the Liberals or NDP – but who?
I would agree with a lot of this. On Atlantic Canada unless O’Toole can establish himself as a former Progressive Conservative not Reformer, I don’t see many changes there. Atlantic Canada is fine with Red Tories, but strongly distrusts more right wing elements.
Quebec is a wildcard as they are known for wild swings mid way through campaign so no prediction there.
For Ontario agreed, Liberal gains will be in fast growing areas on rural/urban fringes, I don’t see them picking up too many truly rural ridings. Urban/rural divide is much larger than in past so even if Liberals have as big a lead as in 90s (which is unlikely) it won’t be a sweep. NDP could gain some downtown Toronto ones, especially if CPC not seen as a threat. On paper O’Toole is a better candidate for Ontario than Scheer, but conditions are far less favourable so more likely to lose than gain seats.
Manitoba I think Liberals have good chance at regaining the two Winnipeg seats they lost in 2019, but the five rural Tory ones I expect them to easily hold.
Saskatchewan I could see NDP or Liberals gaining Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River as 2/3 aboriginal so if one of the two parties can unite progressive vote and bring aboriginal voters out in big numbers, it could flip. Saskatoon West could go NDP and Regina-Wascana possible if enough strategic voting but realistically I expect Tories to win at least 12 seats there.
Alberta I think will due to Kenney’s unpopularity see a big drop in Tory support, but I would be surprised if they lose more than 5 seats. Trudeau is still very unpopular there and NDP numbers may look good now but Singh is not Notley and won’t necessarily win much from him. I don’t see Maverick party getting much and any traction they get will be like Buffalo Party in last Saskatchewan election doing well in super safe Tory ridings while low single digits in urban ones. That being said, if Tories lose more seats than expected, could be a warning sign for Kenney. By contrast if they do better than expected may be a warning sign to Notley things aren’t quite as rosy as polls suggest as it does seem in Alberta for whatever reason Tories always get about 5% more than polls suggest.
British Columbia will see Greens decline but agreed three way race. Not sure Liberals will regain seats in Interior. Possible but skeptical as Horgan fell flat there despite landslide win. I do think though you will unless a lot of strategic voting see lots of candidates winning with only around 1/3 of the popular vote. While unlikely, if Tories have a good campaign they could win majority of seats in BC with less than 35% of the popular vote thanks to splits.
Overall I think 135 and 190 seats for Liberals about right if you use 95% confidence interval but I have seen enough election shockers in my life that I wouldn’t rule out Liberals going above 200 seats or losing outright. Heck even NDP winning outright while extremely unlikely is still plausible. An NDP or Tory win very unlikely and chances very low, but not 0%.
Miles, your election predictions have never been silly, so I won’t even try to quarterback them now. What I do predict is increasing distrust in government generally o the part of more voters, as a cynical minority government calls an election right now in the middle of a far-from-over pandemic, solely because they see a chance to grab a majority. I agree with your analysis of the landscape, if not your voting choice. Sadly, I don’t have a great alternative voting recommendation to make. This may be a hold-one’s-nose election for a lot of citizens.
I think turnout will be interesting too. With Tories less of a threat, Liberals may have tougher time motivating progressives to show up and coalesce behind them. Singh popular with millennials, but not so much with boomers and latter tends to vote more than former. Tories in past have tended to do well when turnout is low, but O’Toole sort of has worst of both worlds. Hasn’t moderated enough to pick up swing voters, but at same time base is unhappy with his move towards centre so motivation of right wing base is much less than under Harper or Scheer.