The next federal election is on October 19th 2015. Based on the most recent polls, if the election was held tomorrow, Justin Trudeau would most likely become the next Prime Minister of this country. However, he’d likely only receive a minority.
Recent polls (over the last month) have pretty much all shown the same picture: The LPC is comfortably ahead, with the CPC second and the NDP at a distant third. There are naturally variations among these polls, especially at the provincial level (for instance, Ekos has the Liberals killing it in Ontario while Forum actually has the Tories slightly ahead). But overall, polls agree. If we look more long term, we see that the Liberals are mostly back at where they were after Justin Trudeau took over and the recent trend even shows an increase in the Liberal support (after months of slow decline since the leadership race). The story seems to be the constant decrease of the NDP who is now back in third place, relatively far from the top two. It wasn’t the case until recently. Is it a sign that the Grits are getting back their support lost to the NDP in 2011? Possibly, but it’s early to tell.
In general, keep in mind that anything written here should be interpreted as if the election was held tomorrow. A year is an eternity in politics and things can, and will likely change by then.
If we use a simple average of the polls over the last month, we get the following projections. You have, in order, the voting intentions, the seats projections (with the 95% confidence intervals) as well as the chances of winning. As usual, feel free to use the simulator to enter your own percentages (for instance if you don’t trust the polls)
As you can see, the Liberals would almost be guaranteed to win the election (defined as winning the most seats). It’s normal,being ahead by 7-8 points nationally will naturally translate into more seats. Moreover, the LPC maintains an incredible lead in Atlantic Canada where this party would almost win every single seat. Basically, Atlantic Canada is to the Grits what Alberta is to the Tories.
The race in Quebec is interesting because the Bloc would be projected with zero seat! At 16-17%, this party is even lower than in 2011 and the newly elected leader is definitely not helping this party (although, as I’ve said before, it’s at least ensuring the Bloc doesn’t fall further). The race for first place is heated between the Liberals and the New Democrats, with a slight advantage for the former (although, in term of seats, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NDP finishing first). As for the Conservatives, they have been stagnating around 15% for the longest time by now.
In Ontario, the current projections have the Liberals ahead but again, keep in mind that not all polls agree on what is really going on in this province. With the NDP outside of the race, it’d be very hard to predict who would finish first in Canada’s biggest province. The recent provincial election seems to indicate the Liberal brand is popular (and efficient) but Stephen Harper has proven he can win there (even in the GTA).
Finally, BC is a the only three way race in the country. If the situation gets closer in Ontario, we might have to wait until late during the night in order to call the next election.
The simulations (5000 of them, randomizing both the voting intentions as well as how the vote is distributed, therefore accounting for the two major sources of uncertainty: polls and the electoral system) show very little suspense. However, Justin Trudeau only has a 34% chances of getting a majority. I’d say that if I had to currently bet on anything for the next election, I would feel pretty confident in predicting a minority. I’d be a lot less confident in predicting the color of this minority. Sure, the current projections have the Liberal heavily favorites, but we are a long time away from the election. We also don’t have that many polls. Plus, campaigns matter and Stephen Harper has proven multiple times he’s good at that. The polls have also underestimated the support for the Tories in the last two elections. If you currently compare the numbers among eligible and likely voters from Angus-Reid for instance, you see the race is a lot closer among likely voters. Of course, likely voters models failed miserably last provincial election in Ontario…
In conclusion, we start the 1 year countdown with a situation where Justin Trudeau is the virtual next PM. Up to him to keep this lead. In particular, the recent gains made at the expense of the NDP aren’t necessarily that safe. The election might well be decided based on the performance of Thomas Mulcair.