NOTEBOOK: Heading towards the outcome neither Liberals nor Tories want — a Liberal minority

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I run my own seat model and, as of Monday morning, it had collected data from seven different polluters who, cumulatively, had asked more than 13,000 Canadians over the past week how they would vote.

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Incorporating that aggregated data into my model, it seems likely that the country’s 44th general election will be repeated in many ways to the 43rd general election: Liberals will win the most seats but lose the popular vote to the Conservatives.

Here’s my model’s prediction of the seat at this point: Liberals (LPC) 146, a loss of nine seats versus disintegration; Conservatives (CPC) 122, a gain of three seats; NDP 43, a gain of 19 seats; Block Québécois (BQ) 26, a loss of six seats; Greens (GPC) One, one drop of one.

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A party needs 170 seats to have a majority in Canada’s 338-seat House of Commons.

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The total popular vote in my model right now – again, the vote intent of 13,527 certain or inclined voters in the model – is the CPC 32 percent, the LPC 31 percent and the NDP 21 percent.

It is much like 2019 when the Conservatives won the popular vote, but did not win the most seats. In 2019, the popular vote was CPC 34 per cent, LPC 33 per cent and NDP 16 per cent.

Closest race in my model? Right now, it’s the PEI ride of Egmont, where incumbent Liberal candidate Bobby Morrissey will lose to Conservative challenger Barry Balsom by just six votes!

But my model has very close race. I have 47 castes in which the difference between the first and second is less than five per cent of the total votes and there are another 39 castes where the difference is between five and 10 per cent.

You can bet that each campaign has identified those tight contests and this week will zero in on their close race with additional campaign crews and perhaps a leader’s visit.

For what it’s worth, senior Conservative campaign officials were telling their partisans on Monday that their own internal party’s prediction of seats has won them between 135 and 145 seats. Does that mean they will win? Well, if the Conservative War Room thinks it can win 145 seats, it is definitely in (weak) minority territory. But if the CPC War Room thinks there are 135 seats on the low end, it’s hard to see a scenario right now where just 135 seats puts you on the government side of the House.

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I think even 135 seats for Tory are a bit optimistic right now, but that’s the message the Conservative War Room is sending as the week begins for Tory candidates and volunteers.

More interestingly, messages from campaigners from senior Conservative War Room officials say some public voting is too high to show the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) in double digits. According to a Conservative Party source, PPC turnout at the national level is around 5 percent of the CPC internal poll.

The CPC War Room Pollster is also finding that about 25 percent of those who tell pollsters will vote for Maxim Bernier’s PPC Vote Green in 2019! Again this is from a source who is aware of what senior CPC war room officials are telling their preachers.

In any event, a liberal minority is not what either liberals or conservatives wanted, although a minority of any stripe is what New Democrats or Bloquists want. Liberals wanted a majority; Conservatives wanted at least a minority.

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A Liberal minority can push for leadership discussion at the grassroots level in both the Liberal and Conservative parties. Liberals will be unhappy with Justin Trudeau’s inner circle for taking a major lead and again winning only a minority before the election, while conservatives will be upset that his man is not prime minister.

There are many interesting stories in this campaign, but one of the biggest stories for me is the return of Jagmeet Singh and the NDP. Can they really add 19 seats to the vault on the BQ to become the third party in the House of Commons? And can his popular vote increase from 16 per cent to 21 per cent in 2019?

This may be important in a minority liberal parliament, where the liberal leadership can resolve some of the issues. The NDP may end up with a stronger hand when it comes to negotiating its way to support the budget or other confidence measures.

All that said, there’s still a long way to go. Campaign matters. And the big wildcard will be voting.

After all, this is a pandemic election. And we’ll be watching to see if one party or the other has more or less trouble getting its vote.

David Akin is the Chief Political Correspondent for Granthshala News.

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