During the first week of the campaign, I made a number of preliminary predictions
. Back then I wasn't counting on two things: 1) Stephen Harper's surprising ability to keep his team and tongue in check; 2) the RCMP to break with normal practice and announce the investigation of the income trusts during the no-news period over Christmas. I was counting on Paul Martin to self-immolate. Other big surprises over the past few weeks have been the steady rise of Conservative support in Quebec (not all surprising given the party's stance on federalism), the notwithstanding clause debacle, and the remarkable amount of media attention given to Buzz Hargrove.
I guess I'm going to have to recant on many of my initial predictions. To be honest, I thought about pulling out of my election pool, given the volatility of the electorate. It's one thing to have a basic idea of what configuration might emerge from the election, it's another to call each of the 308 seats correctly. As things stand right now (I have six more hours to tweak this), my seat totals run: C-113, L-111, B-55, N-29. Those numbers are likely low for the Conservatives, but I'm not willing to risk calling which seat in some swinging regions will flip, and lose two points rather than just the one. Realistically, I think the Liberals will probably be 5-10 seats lower, to the benefit of the Conservatives. But for the purposes of my pool, I'm playing it safe.
Let's go back to my original predictions, shall we?Atlantic Canada
: Still the least volatile of the regions. I stand by my specific predictions here for the individual ridings. But I hadn't counted on some of the mixed numbers coming out of New Brunswick (unfortunately, in parts where I don't live). I think that 2 or 3 Liberals go down to defeat here in Western NB, but I'm not sure if it will be to the Conservatives or the New Democrats. Newfoundland is the other region for a Conservative pick-up or two (I'm betting on Efford's riding for sure).Quebec
: Who knew that the Conservatives would be in play here? At least they feed into my prediction of the Bloc not breaking 60. I'm betting they take 55. Garneau will not win, and neither will Pettigrew. Not sure yet about Frulla. I still think that Lapierre is safe, but it's not going to be him there for long - he won't have the balls for a stint in Liberal opposition. Which is nice for Martin Cauchon, who can have his old riding back for his run at the leadership. At least 3 Conservative seats - in the regions everyone is predicting: Outaouais, Beauce, Quebec City. I don't think they'll get many more - this time. But if there is another election a year from now, bet on more gains.Ontario
: Still hard to call. I think the NDP will be the most disappointed on election day, but more because their gains were held back by swing voters. I still think they could pick up a seat or two in Hamilton and London. But I think that Jack will be heading back alone from Toronto as the lone NDPer in a sea of red. The Conservatives will make substantial gains in the 519 and 613 area codes, and a bit in 905, but not as much as they were hoping. They'll probably win 35-40 seats total. I suspect that Belinda might be headed for defeat.SK/MB
: Not a lot of national coverage from this region. I still think the NDP will win up to two seats in Saskatchewan, but otherwise there won't be much movement here.Alberta
: Will Landslide Annie win her seat again? Only time will tell, and this is the race where nobody in my pool is being honest about their predictions.B.C.
: I'm going to be up until the early morning watching what goes on here, which still seems volatile. I still think that the NDP has the most to gain here, particularly on Vancouver Island. I no longer think Svend will be elected, but I think Nina Grewal might hold her seat. It's hard to predict from across a whole continent.The North
: I neglected these three seats last time. I think that Blondin-Andrew will lose to the NDP, and the other two Liberals will hold their seats.
Will I feel depressed tomorrow night? Most likely. My predictions are a realistic best-case scenario for me. The Conservatives might take far more seats than I'm currently predicting, and while some of their MPs seem reasonable, there are still a lot of wingnuts around. I'm not comforted by Stephen Harper's comments about the Liberal Senate and Supreme Court acting as a check on his government - it makes me wonder what will need checking. But I lived through two Harris governments, and think I'll make it through a Harper one too.