If a federal election was tomorrow, Liberals would likely be held to a minority

Polls haven't been good for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals. Tons of articles have surfaced online during the last week talking about it. So let's take a look at what the current polling average is telling us.

For this post, I used the most recent polls from Angus-Reid, Nanos, Ekos and Ipsos. All polls have been conducted in the last month. Both Nanos and Angus-Reid actually released more than one poll during that period but I only selected their most recent numbers. Why? The idea here is to get an average with a variety of firms as to avoid the possible bias of one individual firm. I could have included two Nanos (very good firm) but they do a rolling average anyway. I didn't include the most recent poll from Forum because it was over a month old (but notice that while Forum's numbers are still clear outliers, it remains that this firm was the first to really observe a decline in the Liberals' support. As I had said last month, dismissing Forum completely is ignorant). Also, the Nanos and Angus-Reid were published -and conducted entirely in the case of the latter- after the election of Jagmeet Singh at the head of the NDP. It's too few data points to draw any conclusion about the effect of his election (if you compare the last two Angus-Reid, the NDP is at +4 but it could very well be statistical noise and the objective of today's post isn't to assess the impact of the new NDP leader).

I don't weigh based on sample size or anything because those haven't proven to really improve polling average accuracy in Canada. Also, just to be clear, this is a very raw average of the numbers taken at face value. I didn't look into the number of undecided, incumbency, etc. We aren't in an election period, I really just want a rough idea of where each party stands.

The results? Here below.

Vote intentions; Seat projections with confidence intervals; Chances of winning the most seats

As mentioned in the title -no clickbait here!- the Liberals would still be favourite to win an election held tomorrow, but they wouldn't be guaranteed a majority. The actual odds for a majority are 34%. Just 2 months ago, it was difficult to imagine a scenario where Trudeau wouldn't win the most seats -along with a majority- we are now in a situation where Andrew Scheer has an actual path to have the most MPs at Ottawa (and a tiny chance, 2.5%, of a majority). What a dramatic change in a relatively short period of time. Why is that? As speculated before, I can only think of the tax reform proposal of the Liberals as angering some voters.

Now, make no mistake. Trudeau and his party are still in a great position and the next federal election is 2 years from now. Still, you can't deny that the numbers simply do not look as great as they used to for the Grits. They still have the Atlantic and Quebec as a source of as high number of seats while Ontario and BC are now true battlegrounds. If the election of Singh sinks the NDP even more in Quebec -a real possibility- then the Bloc could climb back to 25-30% in la Belle Province and become an actual threat again.

Andrew Scheer's chances, at around 25%, are quite close to the chances I was giving him to win the CPC leadership! If he can somehow win back some of the Blue Liberals who left Harper in 2015 while keeping Alberta and most of the Prairies, he'd then be in a position to become Prime Minister. The sore point for him is Quebec. In the latest Nanos, the CPC is at barely 8% there! I admit that I have a hard time seeing how Scheer could suddenly conquer the French province and he might need the Bloc to take seats away from the Liberals. The by-election next week in Lac-Saint-Jean will be interesting. If the Conservatives want to remain relevant in Quebec, they need a good showing there. The current projections give the Tories a 93% chance of winning the seat, but these numbers do not account for the loss of a popular candidate such as Denis Lebel (or the fact it's a by-election). I'll write a piece about the by-election later this week but for now, let's just say that a loss there would be bad news for Scheer.

For the NDP, there is no path to forming the next government, at least not currently. We'll see in the coming weeks if Singh can help his party climb back to at least 20% and above. For now, the silver lining is BC where the federal NDP is most likely helped by the provincial ones (new NDP government with a currently popular Premier).

In conclusion, there is no denying that the numbers have fallen for Justin Trudeau. To be fair, it might simply be a return a more normal situation after two years without any opposition - both the CPC and NDP were without a leader- and a very long honeymoon. I realize many have written this before but I believe the downward trend is more visible right now. Still, Trudeau remains the big favourite to win reelection in 2019 and even a majority is still perfectly reachable. Following polls and projections 2 years from an election is tricky. I don't think we should dismiss the numbers outright, but we also need to remain cautious not to see too much in them. I'll add this as a conclusion: I think it'll be very interesting to see if Singh can go and steal some of the progressive vote from Trudeau. If he can, then don't be surprised if the CPC start polling ahead next month.