Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mulroney Size Majority

The Truth Hurts: Canadian Political Blog
Stephen Harper could be heading for a "Mulroney size majority", as in 1984, the way the current polling numbers are going. Based on the seat forecaster (see link in left column), the Conservatives currently have a solid majority of seats everywhere west of Quebec. I had previously written that unless the Conservatives made a breakthrough in Quebec or Atlantic Canada in the next few days you could write off a majority. Well, the Conservative numbers now clearly have traction in Atlantic Canada. Although they are still behind the Liberals in seats, it is virtually a dead heat. Given the momentum they have, one can expect that they will move ahead of the Liberals shortly. But there are two important questions remaining.

The first question is Quebec. I have been saying that if there were a sea-change happening in Quebec the polling data would be different than what we have been seeing. However, the Strategic Council poll out today breaks out "the Rest of Quebec" from the province as a whole. Outside of Montreal the dynamics of the election are definitely changing, and I have had to modify the voting patterns of the forecast model as a result. It is obvious that the Conservatives have the potential to take the Bloc on head to head outside of Montreal. They still need to increase in support to do any serious damage. However, to put it in perspective, they are now polling in this area of Quebec just slightly less than the percentage of the vote they got in Ontario in the last election. So with only two weeks left they have a lot of ground to cover, but they certainly could cover enough to make some serious gains. I already have them at six seats and it now appears a definite possibility that they could win more seats in Quebec than the Liberals. I am not sure if the Liberals have ever finished in third place in Quebec since Confederation.

The second question relates to the negative ads of the Liberal Party. Do not discount these ads. As negative ads go these are very good. There are an unusual number of them, but that means it is not the message of any one ad that the Liberals are counting on but the theme of all the ads. And of course the theme is that Harper will change Canada in a way you do not want. Although I would rank these ads as very good they are also very late. Had they run these ads on January 2 I do not know who would have formed government, though I think a majority for either party would have been out of the question. The problems with running them now is not that there is not enough time, because there is still plenty of time, but: 1) The dynamics of the election have already changed, and there are only two times a party has successfully overcome that: 1988 and 2004; and, 2) Running them now runs the risk of making the Liberals look desperate - voters do find desperate appealing.

What is clear is that there is going to be a Conservative government. What will be determined over the next few days is whether it will be a majority government or not. The question to Quebec is, "Would you like to Mulroney-size that?"
(The photo in the upper left is from Time Magazine.)