Saturday, April 16, 2011

On seats in play

After originally getting noticed mostly in Quebec, the success of the NDP's campaign (both there and elsewhere) is starting to win some attention in the national media. But the polls showing the NDP within striking distance of the Bloc are raising a noteworthy question: namely, what seats might be within the NDP's reach in Quebec?

Let's leave aside the obvious for the moment: Outremont which looks increasingly safe, Hull-Aylmer and Gatineau where the NDP has already ranked as a strong contender, and Abitibi Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou and Jonquiere-Alma, where star candidates (Romeo Saganash and Claude Patry) look to have put the NDP in the thick of the race.

Beyond that first set of targets, Les Perreaux has mentioned Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie as the party's next stated target. And Bryan Breguet has compiled a list of seats which are likely to be in play, which nicely picks up on the same ridings featured in the NDP's list of potential Quebec cabinet ministers.

But all of the lists so far have been limited to at most ten possible seats. And comparing the 2008 vote shares to those in recent polls, there's room for plenty more to end up in play.

After all, the best-case scenario based on recent polling would result in roughly a doubled NDP vote and a 25% drop in the Bloc vote - which if applied to 2008 results would flip Drummond into the NDP's column. (The NDP would also exceed the Bloc's vote in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, but would remain below the level of incumbent independent Andre Arthur.)

More importantly, though, that type of base vote switch would also make the NDP the top national challenger to the Bloc in a wide swath of additional ridings where there really hasn't been much serious competition in past election cycles - raising the possibility of attracting additional federalist votes to push the NDP over the top.

In some of those ridings (particularly in central Quebec), the Bloc would still have a fairly healthy lead. But ridings including Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Shefford, Chambly—Borduas, Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, Verchères—Les Patriotes, Hochelaga, Laurier—Sainte-Marie (yes, Gilles Duceppe's riding), and Rivière-des-Mille-Îles would all see the Bloc with a lead of around 5,000 votes or less over the NDP in 2nd place.

So combining that list with the ridings already mentioned as possible targets, there are at least 21 Quebec seats where the NDP looks to have the potential to contend seriously at support levels which have already been identified in recent polls.

Of course, it's difficult to tell which of those ridings are most likely to see the NDP assemble enough strength on the ground to emerge victorious on election day. And most of them would indeed be out of reach based on the high-teens polling numbers seen in some other surveys.

But there's nonetheless a significant chance of the NDP ending up on the winning side of the largest shift in Quebec federal politics since the Bloc first came into existence. And that prospect should serve as plenty of motivation for the NDP's new ground campaign as the campaign progresses.

No comments:

Post a Comment