Canada Update: Is There A Conservative Path Now?

Abacus And Leger Are Out - Now What?

After a week where many, many batshit crazy things were said, we now have some data which will tell us whether or not the Liberals actually could lose this election. Last week, I said they couldn’t, and for the rest of the week, I had panicking Liberals begging me to tell them again that I stand by it, and people trying to patiently explain to me why I was wrong, as if I needed an American conservative to explain to me that #actually there was a path through the GTA as if I didn’t explain why the path didn’t actually exist in the column (whatever, the reception to that piece was better than I expected, it’s fine). But in the week since, I’ve said I’m waiting for Abacus and Leger, because the entire narrative of a collapse came from EKOS and Mainstreet, and I would only really start to contemplate I was wrong if those two showed the same collapse.

Spoiler – they didn’t.

Abacus shows a fall in the Liberal vote in Quebec which Leger doesn’t, I’m not concerned, it’s one outlier Bloc lead as of now. What is interesting is EKOS is showing a sizeable Ontario lead for the LPC, per Frank Graves’ tweets, Abacus is showing a L+7 in Ontario, up a point since last week, and Leger has a C+1 – which, while closer to the panic polls than Abacus, is still not at the point at which the Tories could command government.

The other fun question has been BC, where Mainstreet and EKOS have shown substantial Tory strength in recent days, reaching near, and even occasionally breaching, 40% there. Today? Abacus has the Tories at 28% of the vote (7% behind the Liberals) and Leger 26% (6% behind the Liberals), which, if replicated at the election would be 6 to 8 Conservative losses. Fundamentally, the thing we didn’t know until this morning was whether Mainstreet was going to lead the online pollsters to the valley of projecting results that would be lineball in terms of seat totals, or whether Mainstreet would look more and more like an outlier. Right now? Mainstreet looks like the outlier.

I love Quito Maggi, and he’s always been very good to me, so I say this with no love, but his polls have not passed a very basic smell test. The notion the Liberals would suddenly tank to near-2011 levels in BC has never made any sense, and his polls have been the leading indicator for those trying to suggest the Liberals are going to lose. While it isn’t his fault, his polls were waiting, in a sense, for today’s sets of data to either confirm their position or confirm their status as outliers, and they confirmed the outlier status. Maybe their polling will make more sense moving forward, but if you built your analysis on the notion that Mainstreet would be validated when the weekly releases came through, your faith has been disproven by events. (Also, for those asking about Nanos but who haven’t paid for it - the narrative I’m suggesting, one of Liberal recovery and strength, is not disproven by his data.)

None of this, in a sense, is proof positive that the piece I wrote last week is right, but last week I said that the sorts of polling that could potentially get the Tories to 140 seats, and therefore deprive the Liberals and NDP a combined 170 seats, did not pass a basic smell test. I’m not really saying that Abacus and Leger’s rosy for the LPC BC data makes any more sense than those insane Mainstreet numbers, but here’s the thing: right now, BC looks like a three way tie, and if that’s the case, the Tories will lose seats, and that’s it.

The Tories need everything to go right for them to get to 140 seats – they need to gain a dozen seats in Ontario, hold everything in SaskyToba and Alberta, win tough, three way contests in Quebec, hold everything in BC, and makes gains in Atlantic Canada. That’s not happening. It was almost assuredly never going to happen, and just because a couple of days of tracking polls said wild, unbelievable shit doesn’t mean we had to take it seriously.

I wrote in that column that I could not find a path for the Conservatives, so let’s try and find it again: At most, the Conservatives get a half dozen gains in Ontario right now, so let’s do that. Three gains in Quebec are possible, so they get all three. Leger has them slightly ahead in Atlantic Canada but Abacus has the Liberals racing ahead of their 2019 result, so let’s say the Cons gain two seats, even if the status quo is more likely. That’s 132. They’re going to lose Charleswood to the Liberals, Saskatoon West to the NDP, so now they’re down to 130. Let’s be kind and say they hold all their Alberta seats. Kootenay’s gone to the NDP on all the polling, and an average of the four reputable pollsters would see the CPC lose Port Moody Coquitlam to the NDP. So, on a very charitable set of assumptions, the CPC get to … *drumroll* … 128 seats.

If I seem bored, it’s because I am. Nothing I said last week has turned out to be anything but true, and there still remains no path for the Conservatives to government. There wasn’t last week, there isn’t this week, and I’d bet a very large sum of money that there will be no path next week, the week after, or at any point before the September 20th election day. Love him or loathe him – and I absolutely loathe him – but there’s nothing to suggest Justin Trudeau will lose office, and the insane panic – and bad forecasts from a certain Quebec based seat aggregator – looks even worse than it did last week.