Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekly Projection Update - Conservatives by Five

The projection has been updated and has incorporated the two most recent polls from EKOS and Angus-Reid. There has not been huge movement, but there has been movement.

In the short-term, five-poll projection, the Liberals have gained five seats to pull within five of the Conservatives, who have lost five. This classifies the government as an "unstable co-operative" one, since the two major parties are so close to one another. The NDP has gained two seats while the Bloc has lost two. In the national vote, the Liberals are up 0.6 points, which have come from the Greens, NDP (0.1 points each) and the Bloc (0.4 points).

In the long-term projection, the Conservatives have lost a seat to the Liberals in Quebec. This puts the two parties at 120-115 seats, again an unstable co-operative government. There has been virtually no movement in national support, except for a small 0.1-point gain by the Liberals. Regionally, things remained stable except in the Prairies, where the Conservatives (0.3 points) and the Liberals (0.4 points) gained at the expense of the NDP (0.7 points).

So, things are tightening up once again. We've been hearing Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff talk about a fall election recently - Ignatieff hinting at it and Harper asking for politicians to focus on the economy (which, to be fair, did not prevent the Prime Minister from dissolving parliament in September).

The two leaders are, of course, just positioning themselves for the fall session. The committee discussing EI reform was, in all likelihood, not called to actually reach any conclusions. If some sort of agreement could be reached, all the better, but much more likely is that the Tories wanted to be able to say that the Liberal proposals were irresponsible while the Liberals want to say that the government is being stubborn. The nomination of Pierre Poilievre, one of the most partisan MPs in the House of Commons, to this committee is a good indication of what is the government's intent.

This kind of talk only makes an election more likely. Both Ignatieff and Harper are trying to goad the other into blinking, as Harper knows that Ignatieff might fail to form government after an election (thus buying the Tories much more time) and Ignatieff knows that Harper will likely lose many seats, if not power. Undoubtedly, Harper would prefer to avoid an election. He has nothing to gain, as the 143-seat win in 2008 is almost certainly the best he'll ever do, and much to lose. But, should an election be called and the Conservatives squeak out a win, the party will be able to continue governing for another two or three years. Ignatieff can't wait forever for the polling numbers to assure victory and, as the 2006 election showed, an election campaign can change everything. The longer he prevaricates, the greater the risk he will be considered a Dion II.

Taking all this into account, we seem to be inexorably headed towards an election within the next nine months.