Sure thing? Conservatives poised for victory?

Well, that’s certainly the case if you ask any right-wing/conservative blogger out there. However, I’m not so sure, and not only because I’m petrified of the effects of a Conservative Majority (which some are so bravely predicting).

All this hubbub is, after all, based on polling data but as I have said before, polls are finicky… bordering on useless devices when you’re talking about what will be the actual results of this election.

For this reason, I am very reluctant to concede that the Conservatives are guaranteed even a minority… this is why.

I invite you to look at the polls at the link above… but specifically, look at the changes between regions in Canada. When it comes down to it, Canada can be split into 4 regions in terms of electoral importance and differentiation…

#1 Ontario ; #2 Quebec ; #3 Western Canada ; #4 Atlantic

Now, I would say that the Liberals were strongest right before the Christmas break (around the 23rd of December) so we’ll use that as our starting point, and the latest available data (ie: closest to Jan 17) as our ending point. There are a number of different pollsters with widely different numbers, so I will give the range… it also further demonstrates my point.

Ontario… last election, in most ridings in Ontario, the Conservatives had very little support. The races were not close, the Liberals or NDP, for the most part, won handily.

Here is how the numbers have changed since Dec 23rd:

Dec 23 –

  • Lib: 43-46%
  • Con: 33-38%
  • NDP: 15-18%

Jan 16 (thereabouts)

  • Lib: 31-38%
  • Con: 38-41%
  • NDP: 19-20%

Western Canada… in the last election, the Conservatives pretty much swept Western Canada. Aside from some Liberal and NDP strongholds in Vancouver, Victoria and a couple prairie ridings, it’s hard to see any of this changing.

Dec 23 –

  • Lib: 15-35%
  • Con: 40-52%
  • NDP: 19-23%

Jan 16 (thereabouts)

  • Lib: 22-30%
  • Con: 45-59%
  • NDP: 14-20%

Atlantic Canada… the Atlantic provinces have always been interesting. They were once strong CPC territory, now, they are strong Liberal and NDP territory, will they switch to the Conservatives again?

Dec 23 –

  • Lib: 40-46%
  • Con: 29-33%
  • NDP: 19-24%

Jan 16 (thereabouts)

  • Lib: 38-45%
  • Con: 32-39%
  • NDP: 20-26%

Quebec… Here, we add in the Bloc… which is the key to this whole post:

Dec 23 –

  • Bloc:50-59%
  • Lib: 24-31%
  • Con: 7-8%
  • NDP: 8-10%

Jan 16 (thereabouts)

  • Bloc:43-48%
  • Lib: 18-20%
  • Con: 13-26%
  • NDP: 9-12%

Now… take a serious look at the changes in those polls.. in Western Canada and Atlantic Canada support for the Liberals and Conservatives have actually both grown, but only marginally. If you take into account the spread in the different polls you can come up with pretty much any result you like. But even in the best case scenario for the Conservatives, an actual change in seats in these regions is unlikely. The Conservative voters in Western Canada seem to be solidifying their support. In Atlantic Canada the best case scenario for the Conservatives is pulling even… so they may win a seat or two more, but a full collapse of the Liberal support just isn’t happening.

That takes us to Ontario… last time around, the NDP and Liberals fought for many ridings, the Conservatives, for the most part, weren’t a factor. No doubt the Conservatives have increased their support in Ontario, but how solid is it going into an election? Much like Atlantic Canada, even in the best case scenario, the Cons and Libs are polling even with each other, while the NDP is showing a solidifying level of support. My personal prediction is Ontario will be full of very close, three way races… but in the end the Liberals and NDP will exchange ridings and the Conservatives will again pick up one or two.

So… where in Canada are the Conservatives going to pick up enough seats to actually capture a minority? There is only one region left. Quebec.

Here, the Bloc comes into play… the polls show that support for the Bloc is still overwhelming across Quebec. That means no new non-Bloc seats. In current Liberal ridings, ridings that were close Bloc/Liberal races last time… the new Conservative support will simply split the Liberal support… the result? More Bloc seats.

There is no doubt that this election can go either way… it’s going to be a very very tight race in ridings across the country. However, I think after looking at *all* the numbers (rather than simply the “good” numbers) one can simply not dismiss the possibility that the Liberals could end up with another minority. Yes, by the same token, we could see a Conservative majority… but I see this support as very soft and so diffused across the country that riding-by-riding, it won’t make a huge difference.

This speaks to another issue, electoral reform. I have no doubt that in a proportional system the Conservatives would likely form a minority government. And that would be fair… because the other parties, including the Greens would also have representation.

If the election on Monday tells us anything, it should tell us that the time for Electoral Reform is long overdue in this country. It’s time Canadians are truly heard.

Update It should also be noted that for the regional polling, the margin of error is up around 5-10%

Polls… love ’em or hate ’em. The only one that really matters is the one on January 23rd. So get out and vote!