While not as dramatic as yesterday's EKOS poll, today's Ipsos-Reid poll is no less traumatic for the Liberals, who find themselves reaching depths not plumbed since John Turner's hapless leadership:
An Ipsos-Reid survey, conducted last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, showed the Liberals with the support of 27 per cent of decided voters, down from 34 per cent in a poll completed earlier last week as explosive testimony from the Gomery inquiry was just beginning to emerge.
The Conservatives, who will most likely decide the timing of the minority government's fall, held steady at 30 per cent. Still, it's the first time since late in June of 2004, before Canada last went to the polls, that the Conservatives have tracked ahead of the Liberals.
See the rest in today's Globe and Mail .
The question on everyone's mind, of course, is how this translates into seats.
Taking the regional breakdowns and running them through UBC Professor Werner Antwiler's Election Forecaster , the numbers came out like this:
Bloc Quebecois 68
New Democratic 44
Atlantic: CPC 20, LIB 9, NDP 3
Quebec: BLQ 68, LIB 7
Ontario: LIB 46, CPC 43, NDP 17
Manitoba/Saskatchewan: CPC 11, LIB 8, NDP 7, OTH 2
Alberta: CPC 26, LIB 2
British Columbia: NDP 16, CPC 15, LIB 4, NDP 1
North: LIB 2, NDP 1
Bear in mind that these numbers have been generated from a very rough methodology which assumes that:
1) Everyone who voted for the party in 2004 which gains votes in 2005, continues to vote for that party.
2) Voting patterns do not change at the individual riding level, thus skewing the results where strong independent candidates ran in 2004, but are not likely to run this time.
3) Decided voters who did not express a preference for the four major parties would vote for another candidate, thus inflating the number of votes for other parties somewhat.
The regional breakdowns show that for the Tories, the price of seats in Ontario is losing them in the Prairies and British Columbia.
Many Reform/Alliance voters out West were former NDP voters who used to see the NDP as the voice of the common man speaking out against the powers that be in Central Canada. As the NDP moved away from its traditional farmer-labour base to upscale urban special interest groups, the populist vote went largely to Reform/Alliance. Not out of support for fiscal conservative policies so much as for the sense that Reform/Alliance fought for the West and the common man.
The Conservative Party has ditched much of the populist rhetoric and policy in a bid to win more seats in the East and Ontario. They have succeeded, essentially, in changing the perception of being Reform/Alliance under a new name, and in becoming a safe governing choice, but at the cost of some Western populist votes.
So we're back to where we were in 1984.
Except for the Bloc.
The federalist vote is splitting three, maybe even four ways in Quebec now. This split will not help elect Tories anywhere, but it will reduce the Liberals to a West Island rump and elect Bloc MP's where the Bloc had had no hope before.
Unless and until the federalist vote in Quebec coalesces around the Liberals or another party again, the Bloc will be able to deny anyone a majority government, and will frustrate parliaments to come as surely as the Irish Nationalists frustrated Westminster prior to Irish independence.
Quebec now has greater control over the federal government in parliament than at any time in its history.
The embers of secession are being re-lit.