The Election To Date
By David A. Tomlinson
A political party can win a majority government if it stands at 40 per cent in the polls on election day, but that seems to be the bottom standing for that level of success.
A "Party in power" commonly drops the writ when it stands at about 50 per cent in the polls, hoping not to slide to below 40 per cent.
The Liberals stood at 47 per cent when they dropped the writ. They have now dropped to 40 per cent OF DECIDED VOTERS, and it is still two weeks short of election day. They are unlikely to be able to reverse the slide.
Where the number of undecided voters is high, that is bad for the Party in power. The number of undecided voters is very high at this time.
Regional trends are more important than national trends, because they are more indicative of the NUMBER OF SEATS that a Party can expect to win.
In Quebec, the Liberals already have the smallest number of Quebec seats of any majority government in this century. Since the writ was dropped, the Liberals have slid downward by 10 per cent in Quebec polls. It appears that most Quebec seats will be split between the Bloc and the Conservatives.
In Ontario, the Liberals nearly swept the province in 93. Since the writ was dropped, the Liberals have slid downward by 7 per cent in Ontario polls, from 54 per cent to 47 per cent OF DECIDED VOTERS. The number of undecided votes is higher than a kite in Ontario, 41 per cent in the last figure I have seen. Many Ontarians are mulling over their options, and many, unwilling to give honest answers about the possibility that they may break with traditional Parties to vote Reform, are calling themselves "undecided.".
The Conservatives are only up by 2 per cent nationally, but they are up 26 per cent in Quebec, having stolen 16 per cent from the Bloc and 10 per cent from the Liberals. The likelihood of Conservative MPs being elected OUTSIDE Quebec is low, although they may make minor gains in the Atlantic provinces. This pattern is an advantage to Reform, because Conservative gains will be almost entirely lost seats for the Liberals or the Bloc -- and BOTH types of loss assist Reform toward forming a majority government.
The Conservatives have gone up by 11 per cent of decided voters in Atlantic Canada, but that was mostly at the expense of the Liberals. Lost Liberal seats in Atlantic Canada assist Reform toward majority government.
The Conservative creep upwards in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan has amounted to only 4 per cent. That is not enough to ELECT candidates, it is only enough to raise the hopes of foolish Conservatives, and it will bleed off votes from Liberal candidates as traditional believers in the antiquated "two natural governing Parties" theory waste their votes on Conservatives.
In Alberta and BC, the Conservatives have actually fallen in the polls, marginally in Alberta and off the face of the earth in BC. They will fall further as voters realize that they are no longer serious contenders.
The hopes of the Conservatives must be tempered by the knowledge that most Canadians are fully aware that the Conservatives stand NO chance of forming a majority government, and therefore will be UNABLE to enact any of the measures they have been promising. Realizing that is realizing that a vote for a Conservative candidate is a wasted vote.
Indeed, Conservative promises have seemed very rosy and not well attached to the real world. When a Party is certain that it will not form a majority government, that gives it the opening to promise the moon, the stars, and a lake of gold. It knows it will never have to deliver. Dishonest, but it works.
On that theme, the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP are all in that position. All know that, without majority government status, they cannot be called on to live up to their promises -- so they can safely promise ANYTHING that might bring in votes from voters sucker enough not to realize their real position.
The keys to federal Election 97 lie with the undecided vote, the last-minute vote and the firearms control vote. All three are likely to come to the conclusion -- many while standing in the voting booth -- that a vote for the NDP, Bloc or Conservative candidate is a wasted vote. A vote for a candidate who CANNOT form part of a majority government, and therefore cannot be a force in what legislation will be enacted by the new government, is demonstrably a wasted vote.
The ONLY two parties with a chance to form a majority government are Reform and the Liberals.
Which way the decide-in-the-booth voter will go will depend upon how much that voter has been alienated by the Liberals. Vicious campaign tactics by the Liberals in these final two weeks will help alienate them.
Votes going to the NDP, Bloc or Conservatives -- other than "Party loyalist" votes -- will probably help elect Reformers in most ridings. The NDP will peel off Liberal votes from the leftermost wing of the Liberals; the Bloc votes will have nearly no effect on the Liberal-Reform contest; and the Conservatives will peel off votes from the "traditionalist" wing of the Liberal Party, the voters who still subscribe to the obsolete "two natural governing Parties" theory.
While the Liberals have dropped by 7 per cent, Reform has risen by 8 per cent nationally -- the best NATIONAL performance of any party. The rising credibility of Reform may well start an avalanche TOWARD Reform. We are dealing with a VERY unstable electorate, very bitter and dissatisfied with BOTH the "two natural governing Parties." The likelihood of the voter looking at those two, and muttering "A plague on BOTH their houses!" has never been higher -- except possibly when Ontario elected Bob Rae's NDP.
The Liberal Party's own polls -- the largest and most accurate currently being done -- indicate that Reform will win even more western seats than in 93. They also show Reform equal to or beating the Liberals in 20 Ontario ridings, up from 12 before the national Leaders' debate. That is probably a severe underestimate, for reasons examined below.
On the basis of poll predictions, Reform would be a shoo-in to become the Opposition if federal Election 97 were held tomorrow. Reform would have about 95 seats, the Liberals about 160, and "others" about 65. That is quite unrealistic, though; it predicts that the heavy undecided vote will split along the same lines the decided vote is currently split, and that no changes will occur before 02 Jun 97. Both those predictions are unlikely to come true.
On the basis of my predictions, the continuing slide of the Liberals, failure to climb of the Conservatives, steadily rising fortunes of Reform, and inability of the "rump" Parties (Conservatives, Bloc and NDP) to win enough seats to form a majority government are moving federal Election 97 steadily toward a majority Reform government.
That analysis assumes that a good percentage of the undecided will go Reform as they realize the futility of voting for Conservatives who cannot form part of a majority government, Reform as they vote AGAINST the Liberals, Reform as they reject the idea of the nation being led through another Quebec referendum by another Prime Minister from Quebec, or Reform as they vote to make Reform the Opposition.
It follows that a concentrated effort by Reform and the firearms community can indeed put Reform over the top, elect a Reform majority government, and deep-six both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.
If federal Election 97 DOES elect a majority Reform government, that should come as no great surprise. Look at what happened in Ontario when there was a heavy protest vote AGAINST the "two natural governing Parties."
They wound up with an NDP government led by Bob Rae.
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