I've previously pointed out that others were far too quick to write off the NDP in Canada's federal election. But it's safe to say by now that it will be a surprise for the NDP to reach the heights it achieved earlier - even if that leaves plenty of room for both upside and downside when the results come in tomorrow.
The missing piece for an NDP majority or strong minority was always to be found in Ontario, where the polls have taken a distinct turn for the worse. And the path to get there looked to involve assembling overwhelming leads in votes and seats in B.C. and Quebec, then seeking to win over undecided voters looking for change in whatever form it might present itself.
As I've noted before, the NDP's "Change That's
Ready" theme always relied on two factors: a desire for change from the
Harper Cons, and a perception that Justin Trudeau would fall short of
being seen as ready. But the NDP seems to have spent relatively few
resources building its own case on the latter point to supplement the
Cons' messaging - and for reasons I'll expand on in my later analysis of
the Libs, that looks to have been a crucial mistake.
With the NDP sitting at third place across Canada, and despite the fact that Mulcair and the NDP's policies remain well-regarded by Canadians, the strategic argument isn't going to get far except in narrow pockets of Ontario. And so the main question for the NDP will involve its ability to firm up the foundation which made that argument a possibility in the first place.
Both Quebec and B.C. still look like areas of significant strength, with some help from a tailor-made set of last-minute issues including the TPP and the Libs' lobbying scandal. And it shouldn't come as a surprise to see the NDP end up at or close to triple digits in seats as a result of the seemingly favourable vote splits noted by Alice Funke.
But particularly given the unprecedented nature of the 2011 Orange Wave, it's hard to know in advance where those vote splits start to turn from narrow wins across a large number of seats, to close losses across that same group of seemingly-safe seats. And while B.C. has been fairly well polled to determine which ridings are up for grabs, Quebec looks to be a massive guessing game in which subtle shifts in support could make the difference in dozens of constituencies.
That's certainly not the result the NDP reasonably hoped for. But it still leaves ample motivation to close the campaign on a high note and work for every available vote - and anything short of the worst-case scenario should still leave the NDP in a strong position both within the next Parliament and in contending for power.