The “Orange Crush” notwithstanding, I continue to believe Stephen Harper will emerge as prime minister after May 2 and will remain so for, at least, a couple of years. I’ll even go so far as to predict a slim majority for the Tories, though, I’m less confident in that happy eventuality than I was a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s how I see the race ending.
In the Atlantic provinces, Conservatives will hold their own and probably pick up a few seats. Tories are the frontrunners, and I think the NDP has peaked in that region.
Tories have not been a force in Quebec since Brian Mulroney was our leader, so an NDP resurgence has to be at the expense primarily of the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals. And, while the Bloc vote may continue to bleed away on the weekend, some of those voters will inevitably go to the Liberals and to the Conservatives, as saner heads take a more critical look at the socialists and their weak slate of candidates in Quebec.
In Ontario, memories still linger of an NDP government that was a disaster. Look for some NDP and Green support to float back to the Liberals, and for vote-splitting on the left to benefit the Conservatives.
Nanos Research has Tory support surging in the Prairies and NDP support falling—Grits are not a factor—and I believe this trend will continue through the weekend. Fortress West is rising up to show their true blue colours—they’ll have no truck or trade with the socialists.
The Conservatives are holding fast in British Columbia, frontrunners in a tight race. They stand at over 40 per cent in the Nanos poll and should also benefit from vote-splitting on the left. Liberals are bleeding to the left and right and the Orange Crush seems to have stalled.
So, on May 3, Canadians will awake to a slim Tory majority or a strong Tory minority. The surging Dippers and the crippled—probably leaderless, possibly mortally wounded—Grits will need support from the thoroughly mauled and battered Bloc Québécois to take and hold power, should “majority” elude PM Harper once more.
Will the Bloc support an NDP-led coalition of the losers, or will they hunker down with the Conservatives, the devils they know? Supporting the NDP may be bad for the Bloc’s political health as it may cause more of their base to use the orange door.
As to the Liberals, will they join the New Democrats to take power from a minority Conservative government so they can participate as the NDP’s junior partners? How would that be seen by the Liberal base, especially since that NDP-Liberal government will also need the support of the Bloc? Liberals are likely to be left with Toronto as their only stronghold, and the Toronto Liberal establishment remembers the havoc a neophyte New Democrat government can wreak. No, better to back off and try to retrench and rebuild under a new leader, than to completely destroy the Liberal brand.
The NDP could find itself without either a Bloc or a Liberal partner—or both—with which to form a governing coalition. And, assuming about 70 NDP seats, would the New Democrats have the moral authority to govern on a vote to vote basis? I’m not at all sure the governor general would turn power over to a party with less than 100 seats without that party being guaranteed a majority for, at least, 18 months.
I agree with David Frum, who today writes in the National Post, “The Liberal back bench will have to prefer a Conservative government supported by Liberal votes to a subordinated Liberal role in an NDP government.”
So here’s my prediction for seats (subject to change without notice): 150 Conservatives, 69 NDP, 62 Liberals, 25 BQ, 1 Green and 1 independent (small “c”conservative in Quebec).