I figured that I would wait until a few days of campaigning were underway before making my initial election predictions - my main credentials are that I did win my 2004 election pool, and I didn't have access to the internal NDP polling numbers like some of my opponents did!
I'm going to break these predictions down by region, as I believe that this election is really going to be battled out region-by-region. National polling numbers are pretty much useless, IMHO, except for how the Liberals will use their scare factor on the NDP - and look at this post
by Kelly Nestruck before you fall into that trap.Atlantic Canada:
My new region of residence, and likely to be a complete snore-fest in terms of competitive races. Even the most ambitious pundits think that maybe two or three seats are in play here, one of which is Halifax. Key observation #1: Universities will be in session during this election, which will concentrate NDP voters in individual ridings. Alexa McDonough is safe. Likewise, I suspect that Andy Scott isn't going anywhere. I don't understand why the Liberals are running a star Newfoundlander candidate like Deborah Coyne in Toronto, rather than in a St. John's seat to try to knock off a Conservative, or in Efford's old riding. My own riding, Beausejour, was used to give Chretien a seat when he won the Liberal leadership, and will be returning Liberal Domenic LeBlanc.Quebec:
I think that predictions of a massive Bloc sweep through the province are overrated. My call is that they will not break 60 seats. Jean Lapierre is safe (although I reserve the right to change my opinion on that after the provincial by-election in Outremont). I think that either Frulla or Pettigrew will be defeated, but not both. Garneau is in a winnable riding for the Liberals - it was shocking that they lost Vaudreuil last time around. The Liberals' polling numbers will creep up slowly in the province over the next 6 weeks, and probably win them back most of their existing seats - with the possibility of a few breakthroughs on Montreal's south shore and in the far North, to compensate for a few tenuous ridings on Montreal island.Ontario:
A pundit's nightmare in the real election battleground. So far, Ontario does not seem wooed over by Stephen Harper, and might decide to vote Liberal to ensure that the Conservatives give him the boot and replace him with Peter McKay (who I think would have a much better shot here). I don't predict any major changes in the Conservative seat total here - I suspect that we'll see some shifts in where those seats are from (Ottawa West-Nepean looks like a potential pick-up, Oshawa a loss), but not a major shift in overall numbers.
The NDP has some solid prospects here for seat gains, which they will need to compensate for the loss of Ottawa Centre. That's right, I think that without the "Ed" factor, the endlessly running Mahoney machine, which has basically been on election footing since Mac Harb was appointed to the Senate, will eke out a win here. Gains are possible in Oshawa (particularly with the recent lay-offs at GM), around Hamilton (where a Liberal is retiring), and in Beaches-Woodbine, where former NDP cabinet minister Marilyn Churley is up against former federal cabinet minister Maria Minna. Layton's seat is not going anywhere, despite a challenge from Deborah Coyne. I still don't think that Olivia Chow is going to be able to take Trinity-Spadina though.
The Liberals need to focus their efforts on the 519 and 905 belts. There were a lot of very close races in this region last time around, and their losses to the Conservatives could be overturned this time around. I figure that the Liberals will take back Carolyn Parrish and Dan O'Brien's seats - especially with Western in school in January. I think McGuinty is safe in Ottawa South. Overall, the Liberals could win back enough seats to compensate for a few losses to the NDP. Overall, I think that seats will be shuffled in Ontario, but that the big picture remains the same after January, with the NDP up 3 or 4 seats.Saskatchewan/Manitoba:
I loathe the polling designation of the "Prairies". There is a definite ideological split along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, which needs to be borne in mind. Manitoba will see a bit of movement in 2006 - Churchill is going to go back to the Liberals this time around, and the Grits might have a shot at retaking a couple of the Conservative seats in Winnipeg. I predict that the NDP will hold their remaining seats, and the rural Manitoba situation will stay the same. Saskatchewan, on the other hand, will be very interesting to watch. The 2004 elections shocked everyone in my election pool. The NDP is bound to make some breakthroughs here in what were very tight races last time, and I expect that discontent with the Liberals will push them over the edge. At least 2 or 3 Conservative seats in Regina and Saskatoon are turning orange this time around.Alberta:
Landslide Annie ekes out a narrow win again (I never bet against her). Every other seat, including Kilgour's, goes to the Conservatives.British Columbia:
The other big player in this election, along with Ontario. I'm going to be up until the wee-est hours of the morning here on the East coast watching those results come in. We've got a real three-way race here, and I predict the big loser will be the Conservatives, the moderate winner the NDP. I'm thinking that Vancouver Island will be sporting more orange by February, Svend will knock off Hedy Fry, and the Grewals' former ridings will be re-allocated. The Lower Mainland is ripe for the picking by both Liberal and NDP candidates.What does all this add up to?
A few Liberal losses in Quebec (to the Bloc) and Ontario (to the NDP and maybe the Conservatives), but probably an extra few seats in Manitoba and BC. Bloc gains, but moderate ones, in Quebec. Conservative losses in Saskatchewan and BC, with maybe a couple of additional seats in Ontario. NDP losses in Churchill and Ottawa, compensated for by gains in BC, SK and ON.
End result: Liberal minority with NDP holding the balance of power. Stephen Harper becomes an elder statesman of the Conservative party and Peter McKay marches through Ontario to victory in the next election against Paul Martin, who still hasn't realized that he has become a liability to his party.