In the past few days we have had a number of polls come out. Although the numbers vary slightly, all of them show the Tories slightly ahead, but far from a majority and also the gap between the Liberals is much smaller than last time around. It is important to remember there is still probably another 8 weeks to go until the actual vote, so much can change during that time. Below I will give a synopsis of where I see things at and what possibilities there are. These are not based on the polls, they also take into account historical voting patterns, general mood in the different parts of the country, and also the different possibilities that could happen. A couple of things that are worth keeping in mind when trying to predict the outcome. Polls change so the numbers we see today are unlikely to be what the actual results are, rather they are a snapshot of where things are. In any given election normally, 80-90% vote the same way they did in the last election, while 10-20% vote differently. Since 1993, in pretty much every election, between 10-20% of ridings have voted for different parties while 80-90% have stuck with the same party. The undecided can either break in favour of the incumbent or the challenger although they usually favour one over the other. Usually the incumbent if there are unsure of the challenger, while the challenger if it is clear the incumbent needs to be tossed from office. So lets get to it on a region by region basisAtlantic Canada
With a high margin of error and no polls yet from CRA (Corporate Research Associates) giving the province by province breakdown, things are a bit sketchy here, but nonethless here is where I think things are.Newfoundland & Labrador
Liberals: With Fabian Manning not running again in Avalon and the fact they won the other four rural ridings by large margins, I expect the Liberals to take those five seats barring some major upset. They did face a bit of a challenge in St. John's South-Mount Pearl, but considering that it appears much of the NDP vote came from disgruntled Tories, I think the Liberals will probably hold this, but no guarantee.
NDP: They won St. John's East by huge margins so as long as Jack Harris is MP, this should be an easy hold. St. John's South-Mount Pearl is a possibility, but unlikely
Conservatives: Danny Williams may have given up on his ABC Campaign, but the damage has been done. I expect the Conservatives to recover somewhat from last time, but not nearly enough to win any seats (barring some major upset). I don't think the Tories will be shut out of Newfoundland & Labrador for decades to come like the Liberals have in Alberta, but I don't think they will win any seats here as long as Harper is leaderNova Scotia
Liberals: Really only two ridings in play for them. With the provincial NDP still in their honeymoon phase, they could lose Dartmouth-Cole Harbour to the NDP, but likewise pick up West Nova which ever since 1867 has always been known for close results and flipping back and forth each election. The other four Liberal ridings should stay Liberal barring some major upset and the remaining five are probably out of reach for now at least.
Conservatives: The Tories should hold Central Nova since despite the risk of MacKay losing his seat, the Tories have consistently gotten in the 40s percentage wise so I think the odds are MacKay holds his seat. Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is probably the most Conservative of Nova Scotia ridings so with Bill Casey no longer running it should swing back to the Tories, but I think it will only be plurality (40-50%), not an outright majority (over 50%) as Casey got in 2004 and 2006 when he was still a Tory. South Shore-St. Margaret's and West Nova are both vulnerable so don't be surprised if the Tories make some big announcement here or throw a lot of money at those two ridings. Pork Barrel may be seedy, but it does tend to work, although it may not necessarily enough to save those two MPs.
NDP: With the provincial NDP still being in its honeymoon phase, I would not be the least bit surprised if the NDP gains seats here. In fact this is probably the best time possible for the NDP in Nova Scotia as the high polling numbers for the provincial NDP won't last forever.Prince Edward Island
The Liberals should easily hold Cardigan and Charlottetown. Malpeque will probably stay Liberal, but there is an outside chance of a Conservative gain, but not likely. Egmont is up for grabs as it was a close race last time around, but the Tories now hold the incumbent advantage. Anything from the Liberals narrowly retaking this to a larger Tory win seems plausible.New Brunswick
Conservatives: Unless there is a major collapse in the Tory vote a la 1993, the Tories should easily hold Tobique-Mactaquac, New Brunswick Southwest, and Fundy-Royal. Fredericton could go Liberal, but considering it rarely tosses incumbents out, the fact COR in the early 90s provincially won here and the combined right greatly exceeded the Liberal vote in 1993, 1997, and 2000, I would give the Tories the edge here, but not a guarantee. Miramichi is traditionally a Liberal riding, but with the Tories holding the incumbent advantage, I would say anything from a narrow Liberal gain to a wider Tory win is plausible. Saint John has been very close in the last two elections and probably will be again. Neither Paul Zed nor Rodney Weston hold the immense popularity Elsie Wayne did thus a landslide by either would be a big surprise. I would say the Liberals have a slight edge here right now, but really this is a toss-up.
Liberals: Beausejour is one of the safest Liberal ridings east of Montreal so easy Liberal win. Madawaska-Restigouche almost went Tory in 2006, but considering that the Tories and Liberals tend to rise and fall more in line with their results in Quebec than New Brunswick, I think the opportunity for a Tory pickup has passed and I expect an even bigger Liberal win here. Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe almost went Tory last time around, but considering this is traditionally a safe Liberal riding, I expect the Liberals will win by a larger margin unless the Tories can recruit Bernard Lord as their candidate, in which case I think the Tories would gain this riding.
NDP: Hold Acadie-Bathurst easily, not even close in any of the other ridingsQuebec
Bloc Quebecois: In all likelihood the Bloc Quebecois will win fewer seats than last time around, although I doubt they will win fewer than the Liberals as due the distribution of votes, the Liberals need a 5 point lead in Quebec to actually beat the Bloc Quebecois in terms of seats. With the sponsorship scandal a relic of the past, I think losing seats to the Liberals is pretty much a foregone conclusion, the question is just how many. Still a see an outside possibility of the Bloc Quebecois picking up more Tory held ridings than the ones lost to the Liberals in which case they would have a net gain of seats. One thing to remember, is everytime it looks like the Bloc Quebecois is in trouble, they always seem to find a way to come back, so don't count them out just yet
Liberals: Gaining seats is pretty much a guarantee as the Liberals as they have recovered much of the lost ground since the Sponsorship Scandal. They will probably get over 20 seats, but not a guarantee. 25 seats is about how many they would get right now while 30 seats is a more optimistic projection. The key battlegrounds are Laval, South Shore Suburbs, and the Eastern Townships. If they cannot gain here, they can forget about forming the next government even if they make gains in Ontario. I could see them beating the Bloc Quebecois in the popular vote, but I would be shocked if they won more seats.
Conservatives: They have made somewhat of a recovery as most polls put them in the 15-20% range thus they at least have a shot at holding the 10 seats they have now, but any pickups seem very remote. Likewise with the Tories facing less negative press than earlier, I wouldn't be surprised if they fall into the low teens once the attacks on them are stepped up. A Tory majority is extremely unlikely, but if they are to get one they must hold the 10 seats they have in Quebec. Picking up an additional 12 seats in English Canada is plausible, but unlikely, while picking up an addition 22 seats is next to impossible. It seems their vote is mostly amongst older Quebecers, likely remanants of the Union Nationale from the 50s. This group generally has a high turnout which is good for the Tories in the short-run, but they are rapidly dying off, thus their future prospects look really dim for now in Quebec.
NDP: The battle will be for Thomas Mulcair to hold his seat, which at the moment I think he would lose, but we will see what happens here.Ontario
Although the polls have varied somewhat, most show the Liberals either tied with the Tories or slightly ahead. The Tories are either at the 39% they got last time around or very close, while the Liberals are definitely above the 34% they got last time around. Although things are bit fluid here, the combined right has usually gotten between 35-40% in Ontario. Since my birth in 1981, only once have they gotten above 40% (1984) and only once below 35% (2004) thus they should probably get in this range. So a lot depends on the split of the centre-left. Ernie Eves got 35% in the 2003 provincial election, yet got clobbered so the Tories could get in the high 30s and still lose a whole wack of seats if the Green and NDP votes coalesce around the Liberals.
Conservatives: At the moment they would probably lose a few of the close seats, but not a huge amount. They could under the right circumstances gain seats, but 60 seats is their absolute maximum, while I would say the odds are higher they will lose than gain. But by the same token I think the odds are they will get over 40 seats and unless they mess up really badly, I expect them to get above 35 seats. The 416 is probably off the limits unless the Liberals make a huge blunder and even then 1 or 2 seats at the most. The 905 belt is the key battleground and this will play huge role in determining the make-up of the next parliament. The Tories are probably ahead in the 519 (Southwestern Ontario), but with a strong rural-urban split here, I think they are pretty safe in their rural ridings, but are likely to face an uphill battle in holding their two Kitchener ridings (Kitchener-Waterloo and Kitchener Centre) and their one London riding. Brant probably leans Tory, but not entirely safe, while the others are only risk of the Liberals open a wide lead in Ontario. The 613 (Eastern Ontario) is the most Conservative part of the province and the Liberals would need a 15 point lead province wide just to run even with the Tories here. No prospects of pick-ups, but I would say there is a 50/50 chance for Ottawa-Orleans, while Ottawa West-Nepean, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, and Peterborough lean Tory but could go Liberal under the right conditions. The others they will likely win and in many cases but huge margins more in line with their Prairie and BC interior results than Ontario ones. Northern Ontario, I don't know a lot about, but they should hold Parry Sound-Muskoka, Kenora is a toss-up, while the others are unlikely to come their way.
Liberals: Most have said the Liberals have bottomed out in Ontario and although I don't think they have quite reached their rock-bottom point, I agree the odds of them winning fewer seats are quite low. They should dominate the 416 as usual, the only danger here is if they rack up huge margins they could win the popular vote in Ontario, but win fewer seats as only in Rural Eastern Ontario (which has far fewer seats) do the Tories pile up similiarly large margins. 50 seats is easily doable, but I would say 60 seats is probably their maximum unless the Tories make a huge blunder. 70 seats is possible, but considering that people haven't reached the point of saying throw the bums out, I see this is unlikely never mind in 2004 the Liberals had the incumbent advantage in most ridings, whereas now the Tories have this in almost half. 905 belt is up for grabs and the vote is quite fluid here, but this is an absolute must win area if they want to form government. If they don't gain seats in Ontario, they will not form government, even if they make gains in Quebec and British Columbia. The 519 will probably be difficult to make many gains due to the rural-urban divide, but at least if the Liberals can get over 30% in most rural ridings, that would set them up nicely for future elections. Northern Ontario tends to lean Liberal, but rarely tosses incumbents so in some ways their chances are better now than they would be later as the 7 NDP incumbents out of 10 ridings still are new and haven't fully established themselves. Knocking them off later would be much harder than now.
NDP: The Tories may be closing to maxing out in Ontario, but the NDP have maxed out. Their goal will be to hold the ridings they already have. With the NDP down more than the Tories and their vote being softer, I think they are in even graver danger of losing seats than the Tories. Nonetheless, their vote is quite concentrated so I suspect they will still win some seats such as in places like Windsor or Hamilton. Outside of a few pockets, they tend to be quite weak in most parts of Ontario, while do really well in a few areas.Saskatchewan/Manitoba
The Tories have a solid lead here and considering few ridings were even close last time around, don't expect many changes here, barring some big surprises.
Conservatives: Winnipeg South Centre and Elmwood-Transcona are really the only ones they could potentially pick up although considering the history of these two ridings I think both are long-shots but at least plausible.
Liberals: Not a whole lot of potential gains and no likely gains but Saint Boniface and Winnipeg South are winneable if they run a strong campaign. Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River is also possible if there is a strong turnout amongst Aboriginals (they make up 60% of the riding, but traditionally have a low turnout) and provided they unite behind the Liberals rather than splitting their votes with the NDP. Any other pick-up would be a shocker to say the least
NDP: With Gary Doer no longer as premier, this was a missed opportunity for big gains in Manitoba as he was quite popular, yet this never spilled over to the federal NDP. The only potential pick-ups here are Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar and Palliser and neither are anywhere near guaranteed or even in their favour.Alberta
The question here is not whether the Tories will dominate the province, they will, the question is whether they will pull off a clean sweep or simply dominate. Also, this is the only province I can say with near certainty they will get over 50% and in fact probably over 60%, whereas there is 50/50 chance of crossing the 50% mark in Saskatchewan while possible in Manitoba but unlikely and not possible in any of the other provinces. The NDP will be fighting to hold Edmonton-Strathcona which is really a toss-up. The Tories have consistently gotten around 40% give or take a couple percentage points so they are competitive here. The NDP is strong in the western part where the U of A is and also Whyte Avenue which includes a lot of renters and young singles, but the Eastern part which is mostly middle class families tends to favour the Tories, thus a toss-up here. The Liberals will likely be shut out unless they can convince Anne McLellan to run in Edmonton Centre and even then it is far from a guarantee. Their goal should simply be to get over 20% province wide, forget about actually winning any seats, rather to make steady gains each election which in time will result in wins, but not right away.British Columbia
Almost all polls show the Tories polling the 30s and the Liberals up substantially, so bad news for the Tories and good news for the Liberals, but we have seen this story before many times only to see the Tories pull ahead on election day and the Liberals see an opportunity slip through their hands. This means the Liberals have potential to do really well, but they need to seize it, not ignore it as they have done in the past.
Conservatives: The odds are greater they will lose seats than gain, but I could see them getting as many as 25 seats under the best case scenario for them. They did come close in several ridings although in many ways 2008 was a high water mark for them in British Columbia. Although the Liberals and NDP may win more seats than the Tories do if you combine their seats, I still expect the Tories to win more than either of them on their own, thus at least win a plurality of seats if not a majority.
Liberals: They have a golden opportunity to do really well and possibly get as many as 10 seats if not more, but only if they seize the opportunity. Their vote is quite soft in BC and they don't have a solid base like they do in Ontario, Quebec, or Atlantic Canada so this could easily slip out of their hands if they are not careful here. Most gains would likely come from the Lower Mainland suburbs. Rural Vancouver Island and the BC Interior are really Liberal dead zones, so no potential gains here. If anything a lot will depend on whether they can swing the ethnic votes back in their favour or whether these will stick with the Tories. This group is crucial, not just in this election, but for their longer term health in British Columbia. Their strength amongst them has usually countered their weakness amongst the white Canadian born population in BC, but last election, much of the ethnic vote swung over to the Tories. Whether this is a one time phenomenon or part of a long-term trend, only time will tell.
NDP: Although not doing too well in BC, the unpopularity of the HST and declining popularity of the provincial government could play in their favour. I would say they will likely get between 7-12 seats, 15 seats being their maximum and 5 seats their minimum. One thing to remember in BC is the Tory and NDP vote is far more motivated to show up than the Liberal vote thus they don't have to work as hard to get their votes out as the Liberals do. North
No real polls here and usually people vote based on local issues anyways not national trends. If Larry Bagnell could hold the Yukon in the face of the unpopular carbon tax last time around, I suspect he should have little trouble this time around. The Northwest Territories will probably stay NDP although a Tory pickup is possible when one considers how close they came as well as their strong attention to the Arctic. Anything from an NDP landslide to a narrow Tory win is possible. The Liberals could come back to second place as the Tory vote is quite soft here, but winning seems highly unlikely. Nunavut was a three way race last time around but considering their MP is health minister and has a high profile, I suspect they will win by a larger margin, although a loss is at least a slight possibility here.
So in summary, the Liberals may not be off to the best start, but a 3-5 point lead is far from an insurmountable lead. The Tories without question have a better chance of winning than the Liberals, but I would say their chances of losing are still higher than winning a majority, although they will probably still get over 110 seats unless they mess up badly. Likewise I've heard from various sources most say 120 seats is the most optimistic scenario for the Liberals. A Tory majority is extremely unlikely, but there is a slim chance of it happening, while a Liberal majority is close to nil, although more likely than the NDP forming official opposition or beating the Liberals in terms of seats. As for the Green Party, they are largely irrelevant. I don't think Elizabeth May will win her seat, in fact I think her running in Saanich-Gulf Islands just increased the odds of Gary Lunn being re-elected as the centre-left vote is split amongst three not two parties now, so he just needs to get 1/3 of the vote which is not too difficult to do in this riding.
If I have time this weekend, I plan to focus on the policies and the potential issues and give my views on them before the parties release them in greater detail.