Conservative Minority or a split-vote Majority?

Count this space as one of many that did not see coming, or believe, an NDP surge of this magnitude was probable, or possible. With five days remaining a lot can, and likely will happen. Gone are the days where new trends take months or at least weeks to form. Today, a 24 hour news-cycle is often enough.

Publicly at least both the Conservatives and Liberals appear to be playing-up the “careful what you ask for, you may get it” strategy. The strategy is designed to make new would-be NDP voters think twice before following through with what Conservatives, and certainly Liberals think is a bad decision.

At this late stage however, the likelihood of a complete NDP support recoil is rather slight. While some will rethink their new-found-love for Canada’s Leftist main party, an equal or greater number may get caught-up in the hype. Idealism resonates with especially younger voters who reportedly plan to vote in greater numbers this election. Keep in mind too, that polling results do in fact affect voting behaviour.

Privately however, it may be no coincidence if Mr. Harper appears slightly less bothered than Mr. Ignatieff by Mr. Layton’s sudden good polling fortune.

The media anointed pollster of record for this election is Nik Nanos and everyday pundits attempt to forecast how a proportionally representative research methodology translates into a first-past-the-post result.

True, significant changes national and provincial numbers can be representative of a general change in sentiment. However, on-the-ground mechanics of how changing sentiment shapes riding-by-riding results is not particularly well measured by media sponsored national polls. The former costs too much in a world where interest is satisfied by 30 second sound-bites that revolve solely around the latter.

National polls make for good discussion and on May 2 pollsters will vie for the prize of who was closest at predicting the popular vote.

However, traditional nightly tracking riding studies are what determines where battles are waged in the original 50 or so swing ridings, now more likely pegged at 100 ridings. The results of such studies are scarcely made public.

While for much of the next few days most of the predictions will centre around the likelihood of a Conservative minority, it greatly depends on voter turnout. If turnout is high, look for a Conservative minority. If turnout is low, don’t discount the possibility of an NDP led vote-splitting on the Left that results in a Conservative majority.

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