The path to a liberal majority in Ontario is reopened
Ten days before the federal election, Ontario made a Liberal majority possible.
But the party must accelerate the campaign dynamic that it has just recovered.
At the end of the penultimate week of the campaign, national polls show the Liberals trailing Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives by one to two percent. Because of the way votes are cast in ridings across the country, most forecasts, including Mainstreet Research’s, predict a minority victory for the Liberals, just like in 2019.
But the Liberals have just come across an inadvertent gift in the form of Quebec Premier François Legault.
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Legault urges voters not to vote for the NDP, the Greens, the Liberals or even the Bloc Québécois, but for the Conservatives, because he thinks Quebec would have the most autonomy under a Conservative government.
Support from one of the country’s most popular prime ministers would normally be worth as much as gold, but in this election it could be worth more to the Liberals.
The The Conservatives are far in third place to the Quebec Liberals. They follow the Bloc only a few points, but Legault’s instructions – addressed to Quebec “nationalists” – are less likely to shift the choice of potential Liberal voters than they do to steer Bloc voters towards the Conservatives.
The unintended effect of these voter reversals could, in a few ridings, help Liberal candidates get through the midst of victory, thus increasing Liberal gains in Quebec. Mainstreet’s projections currently give them more than half of the 78 seats in the province.
The full impact of Legault’s directive cannot yet be measured, since he only issued it yesterday.
And although it is not yet clear whether the leaders’ debates have changed their minds – in Quebec or elsewhere – a cataclysmic change in the polls seems unlikely, with many commentators complaining that the overall loser was the format of the debate, due to its rigid structure which often cut off exchanges between leaders.
In the meantime, the Liberals are in a good (but not a great) position in Ontario. If the vote took place today, Main street projects they would win 69 of the 121 seats in the province – a big improvement for a week and a half, when the O’Toole Conservatives ran for equal Liberal seats in the province.
But even after their four-point rebound in 10 days, the Liberals must gain five more in the same time frame to win the majority their leader is seeking, Mainstreet analyst Robert Martin told iPolitics.
If the Liberals increased their support for Ontario by five per cent by election day, those nine ridings – including seven where the Conservative candidates are currently leading – would fall into their hands. That would bring the Liberals’ projected number of seats to 174 – above the 170 needed for a majority.
But with that scenario comes a caveat: Even with the gains they would need in Ontario, the Liberals cannot lose support in the rest of the country.
It has been particularly difficult to predict who will win the 32 Atlantic provinces seats, Conservative strategist Anthony Koch told iPolitics. Mainstreet projected the Liberals took between eight and 28.
Koch also said that without a big incident that would move the needle, the Liberals are unlikely to get the support they will need for a majority at the end of the campaign.
“As far as all political parties across the country are concerned, most of the persuasion part of this campaign is over,” said Koch, who worked on the O’Toole leadership campaign and has long campaigned with Ottawa. -The Conservative MP for the region Pierre Poilievre during this election.
“The advance polls open today. Now it’s a push to get the vote. … Debates are on the sidelines, so conservatives (should) avoid bozo eruptions.
“In an absolute nightmare scenario for the Conservatives, is it technically possible for the Liberals to get a majority? Yeah, (but) I think that’s extremely unlikely, ”Koch said.