Monday, June 07, 2004

Conservatives Take the Lead

The latest SESresearch tracking poll now shows the Conservatives leading the Liberals in national voting preferences. The Conservatives are at 34% while the Liberals have fallen to 32%. Just as importantly, when asked who they think would make the best Prime Minister, Martin leads Harper by just four percentage points.

This is just more bad news for the Liberals. Traditionally, when a party gets on either a downhill or uphill trend, that trend rarely breaks through the campaign. The Liberals have been trending down for some weeks now and the freefall, especially in Ontario looks set to continue. In fact, it appears that Ontario is the key region because it's the only area where voter preferences are shifting and shifting quickly. Atlantic Canada looks like good ground for the Liberals, while Quebec looks set to return a significant number of Bloc Quebecois MPs to the House of Commons. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are likely to follow a fairly typical pattern with the Conservatives winning the rural seats while the New Democrats and Liberals fight it out for Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon. Alberta will once again go heavily Conservative, perhaps electing only two Liberals, if that, throughout the whole province. In British Columbia, there's a close threeway race with the Conservatives dominating the interior, the Conservatives and Liberals fighting for sururban Vancouver, and the city being a toss-up between the Liberals and New Democrats.

This leaves Ontario as the place to watch. Rural Ontario seems to be turning massively to Conservatives while northern Ontario will stay solidly Liberal with perhaps a New Democrat or two. The 905 metro belt is the place to watch along with a few affluent Toronto ridings. It's here the election will be determined. And personally, I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that when the votes are counted on the evening of June 28, the Conservatives will come out on top. I'm going to provide more exact numbers in the weeks to come, but at this point, I think the Conservatives will finish with at least 120 seats, ahead of the Liberals.

Tomorrow I'll look at some of the things that could derail the Conservative race to the finish.

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