Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect my actual opinions.

June 28, 2004

Lies, damn lies, and polls

Yesterday was a whole lot of fun. About 11am I get a call about the job, to let me know I wasn't successful. Apparently it was very close, so close that she urged me to apply again next year. Then about an hour later I get an email from a guy I'm writing software for saying he's amending the completion date from mid-July to... tomorrow. I was not best pleased.

Anyhoo, that's all water under the bridge. It's election day! As expected from the get-go, Paul Martin's Liberals will sweep the nation, winning the largest majority since Mulroney. Er... Maybe not. A minority government is almost certain, the only question being: who's gonna lead it?

The polls offer little insight. Ipsos-Reid has the Liberals with 32% against the Tories at 31%, as does EKOS. Environics has them tied at 33%. All these results are a dead heat, with the one-point difference falling easily into the margin of error. (Notably, though, SES has the Liberals at 40% and the Tories at 27%, but most analysts agree the race is far tighter.)

Where the polls begin to diverge, though, is on seat allocation. The Ipsos-Read seat projection has the Liberals at 99-103, the Tories at 115-119, the NDP at 22-26 and the Bloc Quebecois at 64-68. On the other hand, the EKOS projection has the Liberals at 117, the Tories at 109, the NDP at 27 and the Bloc at 55. This proves nothing other than seat projections based upon poll data are unreliable to say the least.

But the most important question, at least for the Liberals, is how many seats the NDP will end up with. Jack Layton is confident they'll out-do their all-time record haul of 43 seats, but that smells like wishful thinking. If the NDP and Liberals combined have enough seats to form a majority coalition, the chances are Martin will stay on as PM regardless of whether or not his party gets the plurality of seats. But if together they fall short of the magic 155, they're going to have to rely on support from the Bloc or renegade Tories. The latter is unlikely, and the former very dangerous considering the noise both Grits and Dippers have made over Harper getting into bed with the BQ.

As James Travers points out in a very interesting article in today's Toronto Star, the real winners may well be those who end up forming the opposition, since the idea of a coalition with the Bloc is wildly unpopular amongst the public. While he makes valid points, I think his argument applies more to a Stephen Harper/Gilles Duceppe coalition than it does a Martin/Duceppe one. The Bloc, being left-leaning, would naturally support most of the Liberal platform anyway, and Martin has come out strongly against Quebec sovereignty. Harper, on the other hand, would have a very tough time persuading them to support most of his campaign promises, and more importantly has continually pledged greater provincial power. The obvious suspicion is that a Tory/Bloc government would boost the separatists' cause, a concern underlined by recent comments by Parti Quebecois leader Bernard Landry that a BQ victory in Quebec would result in another referendum in five years' time.

All things considered it's going to be a very interesting election...


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