The Conservative Tide Ebbs

The following projection is based on a series of polls released during the first half of July, 2019, by Nanos, Abacus, Ipsos and Mainstreet, producing a blended and weighted sample of 7700 respondents. The Conservative Party of Canada leads with 148 projected seats, followed closely by the Liberal Party, with 145 seats. The New Democratic Party trails a distant third (27 seats), with the Bloc Québécois ranking fifth with 14. Four seats are projected for the Green Party of Canada, one for the People’s Party of Canada, and one seat is projected for an independent candidate. This is not to be interpreted as a prediction of the future, but rather is an estimate of what the parliamentary seat distribution may have looked like, if an election had occurred during the period of polling.

The national numbers suggest a Conservative decline since the previous month, but the polls represent a wide range across the polling firms. The Liberals have a six percentage-point lead with Nanos and a two-point lead with Mainstreet, but the Conservatives have a six-point lead from Ipsos and a one-point lead from Abacus. This projection, however, is based on regional data. The province with the greatest Liberal seat gain since the previous projection was Ontario, unsurprisingly. It has the greatest number of seats, and the highest proportion of swing ridings. Moreover, it is led by premier Doug Ford, whose popularity has fallen through the floor in light of a budget cutting education, health care and other social programs. His provincial Progressive Conservative party support level has declined from 41% to 24% in the year since he was elected, and duelling television ads during the playoff run by the Toronto Raptors provided a foretaste of what the election campaign might look like. The anti-Conservative ads suggested that CPC leader Andrew Scheer was Ford's puppet, and the anti-Liberal ads featured a focus group from the previous election reminding the viewer that Justin Trudeau wasn't prepared for prime time. It isn't clear what, if any, was their impact, but they could be a precursor of the campaign ahead.

In addition to Ontario, the Liberals made slight gains in some other regions, notably the Atlantic, while Green momentum has tailed off somewhat. It might also be noted that a constituency poll indicates Jody Wilson-Raybould is ahead in her Vancouver-Granville riding. What this seems to portend for the future is that the election contest is a "jump ball," where no party enters it with much of an advantage or with a leader who resonates with much of the public.


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Table 1: Federal Seat projections - July 2019 (2015 election results in brackets)

Canada 148 (99) 145 (184) 27 (44) 14 (10) 4 (1) 1 1
Atlantic 9 (0) 22 (32) 1 - - - -
Quebec 13 (12) 48 (40) 2 (16) 14 (10) - 1 -
Ontario 49 (33) 58 (80) 14 (8) - - - -
Prairies / North 24 (18) 6 (8) 1 (5) - - - -
Alberta 32 (29) 1 (4) 1 (1) - - - -
British Columbia 19 (10) 10 (17) 8 (14) - 4 (1) - 1

Note: The "regional swing model" is more fully explained in a paper presented by Dr. Barry Kay to the 2009 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, entitled "A Regional Swing Model for Converting Canadian Popular Vote into Parliamentary Seats 1963-2008." It should be noted that the application of the model above does not make use of the "incumbency effect" described in that paper. In tests for past elections, using late campaign polls to project electoral outcomes, the model has proved to be accurate within an average of four seats per party since 1963. Readers interested in post-dictions for past federal elections dating back to 1963, for projections using pre-election polls dating back to the 1980 federal election and for three Ontario provincial elections, may contact me at [email protected].

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