So it’s the Thursday before election day and 3.6 million people have already gone to advanced polls with what looks like another 11 to 14 million headed there on Monday (given a 60 to 75% turnout). With four more days of campaigning ahead, it is time for people to start making their predictions for the final results of this long campaign. I see a few possible results based on the past few weeks of polling, and though I’m not quite ready to make a firm prediction yet (that will come on Sunday morning), I do have an interesting proposition I want to throw out there.
It is the slightly absurd but totally plausible outcome of Monday’s vote. One that would shake up Canada’s political landscape in a rather foundational way. And it’s based around this question: could Stephen Harper come in 3rd place on Monday?
Based on recent polls it seems an unlikely outcome for the election, but we only have to look to the Alberta provincial election earlier this year to see how this could shake out. Alberta currently has 5 political parties represented in their legislature, and the breakdown of the seat count and popular vote from election night is fascinating.
Aside from the usual FPTP nonsense of a party with 41% of the vote getting a majority government, what is particularly interesting about the 2015 Alberta election is the popular vote for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.
Despite receiving 53,000 more votes than the Wildrose party, the PCPA elected less than half the number of MPs that Wildrose did. In other words, despite wide support from roughly 1/3 of the population, the incumbents lost their vote concentration to the NDP and the Wildrose.
Does that sound at all familiar?
What I’m proposing as the wildcard result of Monday’s election, is that Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party could end up with more votes than the NDP, but fewer seats.
Here’s how it would break down.
First, the Alberta Party and Liberal Party of Alberta in the above example fit the place of the Green Party and Bloc Quebecois nationally. If they get between 8-12% of the vote between them, their best results in seats still tops out at 10 combined leaving 92-88% of the vote and at minimum 328 seats for the other three parties to squabble over. This is important especially for the Bloc because it is competing with the Conservatives for votes in Quebec thanks to the Niqab issue.
Based on recent polls, Election day could look like this in terms of the popular vote.
If you ask me that looks strikingly similar to the outcome of the Alberta election. However, what makes this election so contentious is the that the Conservatives are polling at 50-60% in Alberta and the Prairies, the Liberals are polling at 40-50% in Ontario and the Maritimes, and the NDP are polling at 25-35% in Quebec and BC. When you apply those numbers to the seats to be gained from those regions you get a peculiar picture.
The Conservatives can reliably expect 50-60 of those seats in Central Canada to be in their pocket on election night and the Liberals can reliably expect 90-120 of those seats to be in their pocket if the polls are right. This could be bad news for the Tories if their national support is too concentrated out west. Which is why New Democrat support in Quebec and British Columbia is so important right now. If the NDP can maintain leads in those two provinces, they could start seriously considering a three digit seat count on only 25% of the national vote.
This leaves roughly 12 seats in Central Canada, 55 in Ontario and the Maritimes, 20 in BC and 30 in Quebec (112 total) up for grabs. That seems like a lot, but for the Conservatives to pull ahead they will need to pull lots of seats from BC and Ontario or Monday night could look like this.
Or for more simple viewing…
The uneven distribution of the vote across the country could give us an upset for the NDP where Tom Mulcair gets to stay Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition against a Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a minority situation. The strength of Harper’s Tories out west puts them at a disadvantage in the rest of the country because their strong showing in the national polls could make their voters more complacent on election day. For the NDP though, their struggling will either turn more soft-Orange voters to the Liberals or increase the Get-Out-the-Vote strategy in swing ridings – both hurting the tories in the process.
With the second of those two possibilities, there is more than a faint chance that Mulcair’s proselytizing in Quebec and BC about the TPP isn’t just damage control. It could be his key to sticking around in Stornoway for a few more years.
I’m not necessarily sold that this is even likely, but it’s not inconceivable. I would give it a 10% likelihood right now with opportunity for growth if the NDP stays around 25% nationally and increases their leads in BC and Quebec, especially if the CPC loses any more ground in Ontario.