Federal election campaign in final stretch — what could be the outcome?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party leads his top rival in safe districts ahead of Canada’s election next week, but is bleeding support to smaller parties while many races remain too close to call, polling shows.
Seat projections by Nanos Research, unveiled Wednesday at Bloomberg’s Canadian Fixed Income Conference in New York, showed Trudeau’s Liberals are on pace to win at least 127 of the parliament’s 338 seats, with the Conservatives next with at least 84 seats. Another 95 seats remain too close to call in the Oct. 21 vote, while smaller parties are on the rise.
The Liberals’ vote is more efficient than the Conservatives’ and translates more easily to gaining districts, Nanos said. More than one in four remain toss-ups, with the election set to be decided in Toronto’s suburbs, known by their 905 area code, and on the Pacific Coast, he said. None of the parties currently has enough support to win a majority, he said.
“It’s battleground 905 and also British Columbia,” Nanos said. The Conservatives are at 33 per cent support nationally, compared with 32 per cent for the Liberals, Nanos polling shows. “In Ontario, the Liberals are still doing well but watch the 905 because the Conservatives need to do better in the 905 in order to do well in the election.”
Nanos’s projections are based on over 73,000 statistically modeled polling stations, and assign parties a seat when they’re projected to win by at least seven percentage points. The Liberals and Conservatives had narrowed to similar projections after Trudeau’s blackface scandal jolted his campaign, but the gap between the two has since widened again.
The New Democratic Party, which is left-leaning and entered the campaign with the third-highest number of lawmakers, is projected to win at least 19 safe seats, while the separatist Bloc Quebecois is projected to win at least 11 safe seats. The final numbers will likely be higher once toss-up seats are decided. The Bloc could gain perhaps 20 new seats, Nanos said.
The NDP is hovering at 19 per cent support overall nationally, but needs to break through the 20 per cent threshold to have a major impact on seat projections, the pollster said. The strength of the NDP and Green Party in British Columbia could end up leading to seat gains for the right-leaning Conservatives, who would see the center-left vote split up among those two parties and the Liberals, Nanos said.
The number of races that are too close to call is rising, but the number of razor-thin toss-ups is falling. Of the undecided seats, 27 are projected to have margins of two per cent or less, down from from 37 seats a week ago. Another 68 seats are currently projected to have margins of victory between two per cent and seven per cent, up from 54 seats a week earlier.
Trudeau will lose seats in Atlantic Canada, in part due to Conservative gains in New Brunswick, Nanos said. Conservatives are projected to sweep the Prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, while large stretches of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia remain too close to call. Those three provinces are Canada’s most populous, and have the most districts.
“You look at the national number and it looks close,” Nanos said. “But if you took the Prairies out of the equation, the Liberals are actually much more competitive right now.”
Election 2019. Find more in-depth coverage of the federal election campaign here. On Oct. 21, tune into BNN Bloomberg’s special election coverage starting at 5 p.m. ET and stream full coverage of the vote on BNNBloomberg.ca.