Six Scenarios Could Unfold On Election Day
September 1st, 2021 | RR
Had it not been for Ontario, Conservatives would have won a majority under Andrew Scheer in 2019. It was a close race and the Conservatives won the popular vote, but Trudeau held enough seats to form a minority. As polls currently indicate, this race is shaping up in the very same way. Conservatives and Liberals are neck-and-neck, just like they were for the entirety of the 2019 campaign, before Conservatives smashed expectations on election day. A slight shift in the national mood could make or break this election for either party.
Conservative support has declined slightly in the West due to O'Toole's lies and weakness, but it could see an uptick in the GTA and parts of Southern Ontario. These two factors will either balance each other out, or the decline in the West will be smaller than expected due to some of O'Toole's better policies. If so, Conservatives could win a slim minority.
The big and most unpredictable factor in this election is Atlantic Canada. We all saw what happened in Nova Scotia, but whether that translates into anything more than a small, local change in sentiments is yet to be seen. Atlantic provinces have been going strong for the federal Liberals for a long time and most polls haven't shown much of a shift this time around. However, what made Nova Scotia such a surprise was how wrong the polls were.
Based on all of these factors, it's impossible to rule out a potential Conservative majority. Unlike for Liberals, though, the pieces need to fall perfectly into place for a Conservative majority. One wrong move in any particular region could blow up O'Toole's chances. At the moment, Conservatives aren't polling anywhere near majority territory. Even if polls are slightly off by two or three points, like they often are for Conservatives, they still wouldn't be in majority territory.
Based on where things stand as of the first week of September, this is a list of scenarios that could unfold, starting with the most likely. Voter turnout is a big factor in each scenario. A higher voter turnout from the previous election is a bad sign for the incumbent, as is the case 90% of the time.
Liberal Minority – Same Turnout
In 2019, voter turnout was higher than 2011. 2015 saw a huge spike in turnout, signalling a bad sign for Stephen Harper. In 2019, it dropped only slightly—leaving Trudeau with a strong minority. If turnout is similar or the same as 2019, Trudeau will probably hold onto a minority and fail to win a majority. Unless polls change dramatically between now and election day, Trudeau won't be able to win a majority. Only a significant decline in Conservative or NDP support could put Trudeau into a majority. In such a case, turnout would probably dip, with Tory or NDP voters choosing to abstain.
Conservatives could hold 35% of the vote again, especially if turnout remains similar to 2019. Any declines in the West could be made up in the GTA and Atlantic Canada. Some polls currently show the Conservatives gaining small ground in BC, but losing some in the GTA. If O'Toole can manage to mitigate the fallout from his betrayal of conservatives, he could neutralize some of the Maverick and PPC support in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
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If conservatives in BC and Ontario see O'Toole in a position to unseat Trudeau, they will abandon the alternatives to help push O'Toole across the finish line. This could be what helps produce a very slim Conservative minority.
Conservative Minority – Slightly Higher Turnout (2-3% increase)
If O'Toole is within sniping distance of Trudeau and looks capable of pulling off a win, many conservatives across the country will enthusiastically rally around him. Getting rid of Trudeau will take top priority in the last few days of the campaign. Many conservatives (not all) will abandon the PPC and Maverick Party if they see that O'Toole can win.
(This scenario could also unfold under a very low turnout if voters find themselves angry and unforgiving about Trudeau's selfish election call.)
Many part-time conservative voters who have felt disenfranchised by the CPC and the alternatives could also turn up on election day. Conservatives on the fence will feel motivated to finally end the Trudeau era, feeling more guilty and hesitant about sitting this one out. Knowing that it could finally mean the end of Justin Trudeau, many right-leaning and general non-voters who hate him will feel the need to vote. If O'Toole looks like the guy who can do it, he will get their votes.
It's possible that O'Toole could attract some moderate, part-time Liberal voters who feel uneasy about Trudeau's spending. The Liberals and centrist independents who might have chosen to sit this one out, could flip to O'Toole if they see he has a chance. His pro-climate and socially liberal positions could make them feel better about a Conservative vote.
Many Liberals who are sick of Trudeau might not feel motivated or frightened by the prospects of a Conservative government. The fear we saw under Harper and Scheer may have been neutralized by O'Toole's soft and centrist approach.
If this happens, it will prove that O'Toole's shift to the middle worked. However, a Conservative minority is hardly anything to be proud of. It's highly likely that a Conservative minority would be quickly dismantled by a Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition. Jagmeet Singh has vowed never to work with Conservatives and the Bloc has been cutting deals with Trudeau since he won a minority. A Conservative minority simply wouldn't be functional.
The Conservatives need a majority for a win to matter. Under their current leadership, the chances are slim—but not impossible. The CPC still needs to attract a strong portion of grassroots conservatives, which is something O'Toole has lost. Harper was the only leader, so far, that could successfully balance the forces that make a Conservative majority possible.
Liberal Majority – Low Turnout
If turnout dips a lot from 2019, Trudeau will win a majority. This would happen due to conservatives and NDP voters staying at home, as well as many Liberals who are expecting a Trudeau win and choosing to opt out—but not in big enough numbers to hurt Trudeau. The pandemic has made things unpredictable, but we know that the Liberals who have approved of Trudeau's management will show up in droves to support him. If conservatives don't vote because they're angry at O'Toole and think Trudeau will inevitably win, Trudeau will win his coveted majority very easily.
The pandemic could cause a significant portion of the electorate to abstain, but mail-in voting could hold it steady. Many Liberal and NDP voters could still have fears about the pandemic, which could keep them from voting—if they don't register in time to receive a ballot by mail, or mail out their ballots in time. The same could be true for card-carrying Conservatives. Small C conservatives, being less afraid of the pandemic, will vote in person and in larger numbers if they're angry.
Parties like the PPC and Mavericks could see a good turnout, but the decline in normal voters across other parties would produce a lower overall turnout. This could also negatively impact the Conservative Party and result in more lost seats. If pandemic Liberals show up to support their man, some ridings could flip to Trudeau due to vote splitting.
"Getting rid of Trudeau will take top priority in the last few days of the campaign."
Angry small C conservatives are going to vote in this election, mostly in person. If turnout is low across the board, the Conservative Party will suffer significant damage. Any spike in small C votes for O'Toole could be balanced out by a dip in overall card-carrying support.
Conservative Majority – Average To High Turnout
If more recent polls are any indication, average Canadians are sick of Trudeau. The same notions of a Conservative surge backfiring, due to fear and strategic voting, don't seem to be a big factor like they were in 2015 and 2019. In 2019, as Conservative support surged in the West, leftist voters abandoned the NDP to support the Liberals—in a successful effort to stave off a Conservative government. In 2021, O'Toole's soft and centrist approach seems to have neutralized some of the fear and panic that would normally follow a surge in Conservative support.
Believing that ending Trudeau's career was a real possibility, many PPC and Maverick supporters could flip at the last minute—in large numbers. This would sink PPC support and likely end the party.
In a case where the electorate was sick of Trudeau and not scared of O'Toole, an average turnout could produce a Conservative majority. A high turnout (up from 5% or more from 2019) would most definitely be a bad sign for Trudeau—or would it be? Anything is possible and stranger things have happened.
Liberal Majority – Massive Turnout
In the event that the electorate truly became scared of a Conservative government, a massive rush to vote could be a sign of an impending Liberal majority. Despite (or because of) polls showing a dead heat, voters could be swayed to stop a potential O'Toole government by shifting support to Trudeau, away from Singh and other parties.
This scenario is the least likely, but must still be entertained as a possibility.
The pandemic and Trudeau's handling of it could, very well, pan out as a major motivation for Canadian voters. If a majority of Canadians have made mandatory vaccines and government handouts a top priority, they could rush to the polls on election day to give him a majority.
NDP Minority – Massive Turnout
A low turnout won't produce an NDP minority, but a massive turnout could be a sign of an NDP minority. At the moment, more Canadians are in love with Jagmeet Singh than any other party leader. With vote-splitting on the right and a general dissatisfaction with Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh could become the surprise winner on election night. In an effort to bring change without giving the Conservatives a chance to form government, voters might turn to him to punish Trudeau and to stop O'Toole.
At the end of the day, 60% of Canadians are left-wing voters.
Millennials and Gen Z will vote for the NDP. If they get really hyped up, they will turn out in big numbers. Teenagers and thirty-somethings will likely turn to Jagmeet before they turn to O'Toole. If they're really as sick of Trudeau as polls suggest, a massive shift in Millennial and Gen Z sentiments could produce Canada's first NDP government.
Pay attention to the opinion polls in the final week of the campaign. If NDP support starts to spike at the last minute, you will know it's coming.
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