A bevy of recent polls, including one done exclusively for Global News by Ipsos, show that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals enjoy the kind of support that would likely translate into a majority government if a Canadian election were held this month.
But a deeper dive into the numbers shows one regional shift that is perhaps startling — any general election this spring that would bring the Liberals back to a majority would be powered by gains in Western Canada.
Based on a Global News analysis of five polls released this month, Trudeau’s Liberals might pick up as many as 17 seats west of Ontario — including in Alberta and Saskatchewan — if an election were held this spring. All of those seats would come at the expense of Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives.
Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats also appear to be showing some strength in Western Canada and could pick up more seats in Alberta and B.C., also at the expense of the Conservatives.
The Global News analysis shows support for Yves-Francois Blanchet’s Bloc Québecois ebbing in Quebec versus the support it received in the 2019 election, a development that, if it held through to a general election, would see the BQ losing a handful of seats to the Liberals.
Mapping the combined results of those five polls against Canada’s 338 ridings, the analysis shows that the Liberals would comfortably eclipse the 168 seats needed for a majority. The Liberals hold 154 seats now and need the support of at least one MP from the Conservatives, BQ, or NDP to win any confidence vote.
Majority of Canadians say election during COVID-19 would be unsafe, unfair: poll
The Conservatives would be a significantly weakened official opposition, if current polling levels held in a general election, losing as many as 20 seats versus the 119 they hold now. The NDP would leapfrog the BQ to become the third party in the House of Commons.
In its poll released Tuesday, Ipsos found that among the 818 Canadians surveyed May 12-14 who said they were decided or leaning towards a particular party, 38 per cent would vote Liberal, 29 per cent would vote Conservative, 21 per cent would vote for the NDP and five per cent would choose the Greens. Ipsos found the BQ had 30 per cent of the support of decided or leaning Quebec voters — just slightly under the 31.8 per cent of support it received in the 2019 election.
Ipsos is the fifth pollster to release horse-race numbers this month and they are all broadly similar in their results so far as the national trend goes. Where Ipsos had a nine-point Liberal lead over the Tories, Innovative Research (May 5) was at the high end with a 13-point Liberal lead while Abacus Data (May 12) was at the low end with a two-point Liberal lead.
What you can do and when under Ontario’s new 3-phase COVID-19 reopening plan
New mortgage stress test rules are coming June 1
And the trend of Liberal dominance in the 107 public polls released since O’Toole became leader last August continues. Of all those polls, the Liberals led the Conservatives in all but two: On Sept. 25, Nanos found the Tories tied with the Liberals and on Sept. 1, Angus Reid Institute found the same — a tie.
A first look at Canada’s next federal election battlegrounds
And while the Conservatives continue to set record fundraising numbers that easily eclipse all other parties, the demonstration of loyalty and generosity by its base is not translating into broader support.
Many in the party had been hopeful that O’Toole, an Ontario MP, would help move his party’s numbers in that province — a province where the Conservatives must absolutely do better than 2019 to have any hope of winning government.
But there is little movement among all parties right now in Ontario. The Global News analysis of the five polls finds that of the 3,163 Ontarians surveyed by those five pollsters this month, just under 29 per cent would vote Conservative. That compares with 33 per cent who voted Tory in the 2019 general election. The Liberals won 41 per cent of the popular vote in 2019 while the Global News poll analysis puts them at 42 per cent right now. But those numbers translate neither into huge losses nor gains for any party. Of the 121 seats in Ontario, perhaps five would change hands if current polling levels matched a general election.
By contrast, Western Canada seems more politically volatile. Among the 104 seats in the four provinces west of Ontario, as many as 21 seats could move to another party.
Nowhere is that volatility more evident right now than in Alberta. In the 2019 election, a whopping 69 per cent of voters cast their ballots for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, translating into a win of 33 of 34 seats there. But O’Toole’s Conservatives have not been polling anywhere near that level for months. Again, aggregating the results of the five polls out this month, which surveyed a combined 1,031 Albertans, O’Toole’s Conservatives are at 45 per cent — a drop of more than 20 points versus the 2019 result under Scheer.
O’Toole talks a good game about change, but let’s see the follow-through
Meanwhile, Trudeau’s Liberals, who won 14 per cent of the vote in Alberta in 2019, are now polling at about 22 per cent. And Jagmeet Singh’s NDP is at 20 per cent now in Alberta versus 12 per cent in 2019. Net result: a very good chance that, in a general election this month, the Conservatives would lose five seats — two in Calgary and three in Edmonton — of which four would go Liberal and one would go NDP.
It’s not much better for the Tories in Saskatchewan, where Scheer’s Conservatives won 64 per cent in 2019 to sweep all 14 seats in the province, where support for O’Toole’s Conservatives is now at 41 per cent in the Global News model. Meanwhile, the Liberals are at 28 per cent versus 12 per cent in 2019 and the NDP is at 24 per cent now versus 20 per cent in 2019. The Conservatives would still dominate the Saskatchewan seat count but would likely lose two seats, one each to the Liberals and the NDP.
And in British Columbia, the Liberals could have their biggest gains of any province, knocking out as many as nine Conservatives, mostly in the lower mainland but also potentially in Kamloops and Kelowna.
David Akin is the chief political correspondent for Global News.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.