Quick update to the projections after many new polls (Leger, Abacus, Mainstreet, Research Co.). We see a tightening of the race, although the PC is still virtually guaranteed to win the most seats. However, the chances of a majority are now down to 71%. Still good obviously but we are now getting to the point where a slight overperformance of the OLP in the GTA (or an underperformance of the PC) could cause a minority, in which case I suspect Del Duca would govern with the help of Horwath.

Polling average; Seats projections with 95% confidence intervals; Chances of winning the most seats

The North, which was once very promising for the PC has fully reverted back to the NDP. Toronto back to the Liberals and the NDP could well lose 2-3 of the DT seats very soon. The PC majority/minority will be decided in the GTA/905. As many as 12 close races where the PC is currently winning by less than 5%, most of them against the Liberals.

So, how could we end up with a minority? Well the OLP vote could just become very efficient and win those roughly 10 seats. The other solution would be for the OLP to 'brute force' it by simply getting closer to the PC province-wide. My estimates show that the PC majority is safe (i.e: over 50% chances of happening) as long as the PC keeps a lead of about 5.25 points over the OLP). It used to be that my estimates where that the PC could do it with a lead as small a 4-4.5. So we are definitely getting close to a too close to call territory. See below.

We'll see of the debate allowed Del Duca the pish he needs to bring Ford back below 62 seats. David Coletto from Abacus has hinted on Twitter that his early data was showing the opposite: Ford did well. So let's wait and see.

Finally, thanks to the lack of a Liberal candidate in the riding, the Green have a shot at winning Parry Sound - Muskoka. Still a long shot but not impossible.

Ontario Proj May 18 by bryanbreguet on Scribd

Here are my first projections for the Ontario election. Don't expect updates as regularly as during the federal election though. The reason being fewer polls being published. Also, Ontario has a tendency to have big fluctuations between polls (especially based on whether they are online or by phone). I therefore think there is a lot of noise in the data and updating too regularly amplifies this noise.

Anyway, here are the numbers, the map and the detailed projections. As usual, feel free to use the model and make your own projections.

Polling average, seat projections with 95% confidence intervals, chances of winning the most seats


Play with the map here (it's a little bit slow, give it a few seconds after zooming in or out). You can see that the extended GTA has most of the close races.

Riding by riding projections at the bottom of this post.

There is not much to say right now. Ford's PC has a huge lead and is almost guaranteed to win the most seats. The uncertainty is really only about getting a majority. See below for a deeper analysis on that front. The PC wins most rural seats except in the North where the NDP is down (quite significantly according to Mainstreet) but is resisting. There has been a trend going on in the North for years now where the NDP is seeing its support eroding and the Conservatives are rising. Will it be enough to flip many ridings? Right now, no, but it could certainly happen and that would be devastating for the NDP.

This is especially the case since the NDP isn't making up for the drop in the North by increasing in urban environments. It's the Liberals, Ontario's natural party for many, that is back ahead in Toronto. After a disastrous election in 2018, the Liberals have a new leader who has the charisma of a traffic cone but has been running an okay campaign so far (the few bad vetting of candidates notwithstanding). The Liberals being the main challenger to the PC has more to do with the NDP and Horwath being quite useless than the Liberals being that good though.

Will the progressive votes coalesce around one option, à la 2015 at the federal level? Maybe but the conditions are a lot less optimal. Del Duca isn't Trudeau, Ford isn't disliked like Harper (he was before Covid though). But there is certainly a chance where the PC falls short of 62 seats. It's currently unlikely but based on my analysis (see graph), we are only a few percentage points from such a situation. Indeed, if the PC's lead over the OLP falls to 4 points, then it's 50-50 for a majority. In that case, it would come down to the close races in the GTA.

Detailed projections (yes I know the Liberals are running only 122 candidates, I'll make the adjustments later).

Ontario Proj May 13 by bryanbreguet on Scribd

 Please participate if you watched the debate. Please answer both questions. If you don't see the polls, disable your ad blocker.

Polls PollMaker

 Please give your opinion below.

If you only want to see the results, click on the link and you'll have the option.

Poll Creator

While I offered a first look a few weeks ago, I hadn't made any projections until now. The reason being that we simply didn't have good enough data to even try. But this changed yesterday with the release by Elections Canada of the fundraising numbers from the first quarter.

Fundraising is by far the best indicator of where a leadership race stands. It isn't perfect and surprises can still happen but it beats polls and other measures. And despite what some like to pretend, it is absolutely possible to project leadership races -- it's just that there is more uncertainty. I have been quite successful with the last two CPC races (although I did have Bernier winning in 2017, mostly because Scheer ended up winning more points than expected in Quebec) as well as some of the PQ races.

So I took the data and did the following. I calculated the percentages per province (or regions for the Atlantic and the Territories) of the total donations (amounts) and the number of donors. The latter is usually a better predictor (it's one member, one vote ultimately, which means that it doesn't matter if a member gave $100 or $1,000, it's still only one vote at the end. And yes I'm aware of the electoral system but that's another story, see below). I then did a weighted average of the two with a 75% weight attributed to the number of donors and 25% to the amounts. While not simply use the number of donors only? Because having big donors, like Charest, can be a sign of a strong organization and it can help. So I want to use both. Ultimately I'd like to also mix in some polls but we haven't had good enough ones so far. Once I had the percentages per province/region, I assigned the number of points (so if you are at 50% in Quebec, you get 3900 points).

Here are the results for the first round:

Poilievre is easily ahead. Which isn't surprising, whether you use the fundraising data, endorsement, the polls or Google Trends, Poilievre is always ahead and close or above of a first-round win. If the election was tomorrow, there is little doubt Poilievre would win. His position also appears (at least to me) more solid than Bernier's or MacKay's. What I mean by that is that Poilievre is liked (loved) by many in the CPC. He's not leading because nobody better is running. He's leading because that's the leader most want, period. The one province where he likely needs to work harder (and organize better) is Quebec. If he could do this, he'd win in the first round easily.

Yes we should include some margins of error. I'll do so by looking at the accuracy of the projections with the results in 2017 and 2020. But I didn't have time today to do so (I was in an economic articulation meeting all day).

Charest is doing quite well if we only look at the overall amounts collected ($488k to 545k for Poilievre). But Charest achieves this only thanks to a lot of large donations. While Poilievre averages $163 per donation and has 3,336 of those, Charest is at $855 in average but only has 571 donations (note: those are donations, not single donors. There as well I'll need to clean the data in the next few days). Moreover, Charest is really only competitive thanks to Quebec where he represents 60% of the donors and 90% of the amounts collected! Outside of Quebec, Charest is more often than not a distant third, including in Ontario where he only has 7% of the donors. It gets worse as we move West.

Lewis is exactly where we expected her to be. As the only SoCons candidate, she is pretty much guaranteed 15-25% of the votes. Unfortunately for her, there isn't a Sloan candidate whose voters could then help her climb higher this time around. I suspect Baber's voters might prefer Poilievre or Lewis over the other two but it's still wouldn't be enough for Lewis to win. However, it is absolutely possible that Lewis would make it to the last round versus Poilievre. In which case I really wonder what would happen with the second-choices of Charest's voters. I suspect many wouldn't have ranked Poilievre and even less Lewis, so many votes would likely be dropped.

Aitchison is doing what we would expect (he had a hard time raising the 300k necessary to qualify) while Baber is doing better than I thought, but I guess he has a certain strong following and fundraising could overestimates him.

I want to talk about Brown and the really weird campaign he's running. We know, from how he won the Ontario PC leadership, that he's supposedly good at signing up members, especially from ethnic and religious minorities. But so far, we have no evidence that he's successful. At some point, if he's really signing up a ton of members, we should see some evidence! Polling numbers, fundraising, etc. So far, Brown is a complete failure. Also, it's worth pointing out that his campaign is super weird, to the point that it feels phony at times. His Twitter accounts has over 60k followers but his tweets usually get 20-50 likes. He has not given a single interview to traditional media. And the one interview we have is full of red flags. He shows clear contempt for the current CPC base and is openly talking of a takeover. Many of his oppositions, including on Israel, are completely incompatible with the CPC. His average donation is close to $1,600, by far the highest among the six candidates. This doesn't really scream grassroot support among ethnic and religious minorities to me. I honestly don't know what he's doing. All I know is that so far, based on every metric we have, he's below 5%. I originally thought he'd be the main challenger to Poilievre but I have fully changed my mind on this. I also maintain what I said: if Brown were somehow successful, the caucus wouldn't accept him. They'd likely find a way to get rid of him.

Finally, yes the CPC uses a weird electoral system where each riding is worth 100 points (unless that riding doesn't even have 100 votes, in which case the total number of points is equal to the number of votes; This is a situation that could mean a few ridings in Quebec). So projections like these ones aren't able to capture the possible impact of where the votes are. We know, for instance, that the Bernier vote was more efficient than Scheer's as Bernier was popular with urban voters (it was in 2017), so winning ridings with fewer members. We saw the same phenomenon with MacKay. So Charest might be slightly higher than what you see here but he's still closer to Lewis and fighting for second than of first place.

Alright, that's all for this very early and rough projections.

Ce dimanche, les électeurs Français se rendent aux urnes pour le premier tour de l'élection présidentielle. Il y a 12 candidats en lice, allant de l'extrême droite à l'extreme gauche. Les deux candidats qui arriveront en tête seront qualifiés pour le 2e tour, deux semaines plus tard. Il n'y a pas actuellement de grand suspense quant à ce top 2, le président sortant Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen, chef du Rassemblement National (anciennement le Front National) devraient normalement terminer en tête. Il y a une petite chance que le chef de la France Insoumise (très à gauche), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, crée la surprise mais les probabilités sont relativement faibles. On est loin de l'incertitude de 2017 où 4 candidats avaient de vraies chances de se qualifier.

Par contre, la grande différence concerne le 2e tour. Alors que 2017 avait vu Macron facilement remporter l'élection avec plus de 66% des voix, les sondages montrent que Marine Le Pen se rapproche du président sortant, elle est parfois aussi élevée que 48.5%!

Dans ce court billet, je présente mes projections actuelles pour le premier tour ainsi que le modèle utilisé. Ensuite, je m'essaie à projeter le 2e tour, une pratique plus incertaine car il y aura deux semaines de campagne et un "Front Républicain" (où tout le monde fait barrage à l'extrême droite) pourrait apparaître. Ce barrage est moins probable qu'en 2017 (ou 2002) en particulier car Le Pen a réussit à adoucir son image. Elle a aussi fait une campagne beaucoup plus centrée sur le pouvoir d'achat au lieu de parler de la sécurité et de l'immigration (Zémmour l'a remplacé sur ce créneau et lui a permis d'apparaître moins extrême). On voit aussi que Le Pen peut maintenant espérer aller chercher un nombre significatif de votes chez Pécresse et même Mélenchon. Cela peut sembler un peu bizarre que la droite dure partage des électeurs avec la gauche dure, mais les deux sont populistes et séduisent les jeunes. Aussi, Le Pen n'est pas vraiment de droite économiquement.

Le 1er tour

Mes projections, basées sur 50,000 simulations:

L'évolution des sondages:

Source: Wikipédia

L'avance de Macron est relativement significative et il devrait terminer en tête malgré une tendance à la baisse depuis quelques semaines (l'effet Ukraine s'estompant). Il faut savoir que les sondages Français sont particulièrement précis, bien davantage que les sondages Canadiens. La moyenne des sondages n'est en général pas éloignée des résultats par davantage que 1-2 points. La plus grande erreur observée était en 2007 avec une sur-estimation de Jean-Marie Le Pen de 3.5 points (probablement une surcorrection des sondages qui avaient sous-estimé Le Pen en 2002 par 3.5 points, ce qui avait permi à ce dernier de terminer 2e juste devant Jospin qui avait été, lui, surestimé de 1.8 points). En 2017, les sondages avaient eu tous les candidats dans une marge de 1 point, ce qui est extraordinaire. Tout cela pour dire qu'une avance de 3-4 points dans les sondages devraient normalement se réaliser.

Le modèle inclut de l'incertitude de plusieurs manières. Tout d'abord, il y a naturellement la marge d'erreur des sondages. En utlisant les sondages de 2002 à 2017, j'ai calculé une erreur moyenne de 1.3 points de pourcentage pour les candidats principaux (top 5). Cela correspondait à une marge d'erreur effective de 3.4% 95% du temps. Je fais ainsi mes simulations avec une taille d'échantillon de 545 afin d'avoir les bonnes marges d'erreur.

Il y a aussi la possibilité que les électeurs changent d'opinion. Pratiquement tous les sondages incluent une question sur la sûreté du vote. À ce jeu-là, Macron et Le Pen font en général le mieux avec plus de 80% de certitude, alors que Jadot ou Pécresse traînent derrière. Je pars du principe que la moitié des indécis votera finalement pour leur candidat favori mais l'autre moitié est redistribuée selon les 2e choix. J'ajoute un peu d'incertitude en faisant une distribution du nombre d'indécis. Par exemple, si (disons) 12 % des électeurs de Mélenchon sont incertains, il y a des simulations où c'est en fait 16% et d'autres où c'est seulement 8%. Inclure cette incertitude a un effet important sur mes intervalles de confiance. D'un côté on pourrait argumenter que cela ajoute trop d'incertitude compte tenue de la fiabilité des sondages Français, mais mes intervalles ressemblent assez à ceux publiés dans certains sondages (comme ici, page 34). Au final, je préfère inclure un peu trop d'incertitude que pas assez.

Le 2e tour

Gardez en tête que projeter le 2e tour avant même le 1er comporte beaucoup d'incertitude. Pour mes simulations, j'utilise les résultats simulés du premier tour et je redistribue les votes selon les reports indiqués dans les sondages. On y voit par exemple qu'une large majorité des électeurs de Jadot iront vers Macron alors qu'une majorité des électeurs Zémmour se rapporteront sur Le Pen. Cela devient plus intéressant lorsque l'on regarde Pécresse où ses électeurs semblent favoriser Macron mais une fraction non négligeable pourrait aller vers Le Pen (actuellement j'ai 45% qui iraient chez Macron et 27% chez Le Pen). Quant aux électeurs de Mélenchon, ils se diviseraient 33-27 en faveur de Macron! Pour Le Pen, si elle veut remporter le 2e tour, il lui faudra aller chercher un peu davantage d'électeurs chez Pécresse et Mélenchon. Je suis vraiment intéressé de voir si ce dernier donnera une consigne de vote!

À noter que je ne fais les simulations que dans le cas où Macron affronte Le Pen. S'il devait affronter Mélenchon, il gagnerait beaucoup plus facilement selon les sondages.

Au final, j'ai Macron toujours favori mais c'est bien plus serré qu'en 2017. Nous verrons si Le Pen continue sa bonne campagne ou s'effondre comme elle l'avait fait en 2017 (elle avait eu, en particulier, un très mauvais débat télévisé). À remarquer que les chances de gagner ici sont pas mal les mêmes que les prédictions des marchés de paris.

Je posterai une mise à jour final vendredi ou samedi.

Alright, it's already time for a new CPC leadership race! I had a lot of fun covering the 2017 and 2020 ones so I'm pretty excited. Especially because this one looks to attract more high profile candidates -- more likely because everybody in 2017 thought (wrongly) that Trudeau was unbeatable in 2019. As for 2020, MacKay had such a large initial lead that many got scared (wrongly again).

So let's look at who's running and where the race likely stands right. Fair warning, the latter part is heavily speculative at this point since we have very little data at this point. If you already know the candidates, skip to section 2.

1. The candidates

1) Pierre Poilievre.

He was first to announce, very early on. He actually said he was running for Prime Minister, not for CPC leader! The pedantic crowd (the same people who insist on calling a minority a hung Parliament) was quick to point out that in our system, nobody runs for PM (wow wow wow, if this PoliSci degree isn't proving useful!). Personally, I thought it was a fairly smart move as he's making clear that he'll use the same message during the leadership and during the general election (hopefully at least), unlike some former CPC leader...

Poilievre is known as the 'attack dog' of the CPC. He can attack Trudeau non-stop, so the base obviously loves him. His attacks sometimes land effectively but can also just make him look really partisan at times. Many will say he's like Trump but that's wrong. Stop thinking everybody on your right is 'like Trump'. Poilievre is more like Ted Cruz, hyper partisan. If you are terminally online, you either love him or hate him -- not unlike some Liberal leader currently PM!

His critics will argue that he's too caustic and would push away moderate voters, especially women. His partisans will say that the CPC tried the moderate route with O'Toole and literally lost seats in the GTA and GVA. Who is right? My personal opinion is that terminally online people need to stop assuming that everybody is like them and hasn't touched grass in a long time (if you don't get the reference, congrats, it means you are a normie). The polling numbers we got so far (see further below) have not indicated that Poilievre is 'unelectable'. And I maintain that his campaign so far (mostly composed of really polish videos) has been quite good with a positive messages aimed not only at the base (much Freedom! and F*ck Trudeau!) but also at immigrants and First Nations. I might be wrong here but I have so far seen someone with a wide range (something O'Toole definitely didn't have) and who knows what message he wants to sell. His main challenge is that he does appear off putting to many moderates, at least among the online crowd. It's not so much his policies (he isn't a SoCons for instance) but his style.

He is, without a doubt, the favorite at this point. He is also bilingual (not perfect but very good), a welcome change from Scheer and O'Toole.

2) Jean Charest

Wow, I didn't think I'd one day have to make projections again for that guy! Can't believe he's back. His name was thrown around in 2020 already but he opted to stay out. What changed his mind this time around? Maybe the fact that 2024 looks a lot more winnable for the CPC with the Trudeau fatigue? Maybe it's the fact many Tory MPs from Quebec went to beg him to run (I get the feeling many in the Quebec caucus don't like Poilievre).

Charest is a formidable politicians who has a history of successes. With that said, his tenure as Quebec Premier ended quite badly and many in the province still hate him. People also seem to have forgotten that while he won in 2003 and 2008, he suffered pretty bad losses or quasi losses in 2007 and 2012. So his record is far from perfect.

Charest, who is announcing his candidacy today in Calgary (hey, he ahs to convince the base he's not a Liberal!), will base his entire campaign on his winning record. He will need to convince the CPC membership (who is significantly more right wing than the country or even the CPC voters) that they need a moderate/centrist candidate to win those centrist voters. He's the favorite of many so-called Red Tories on Twitter. On paper he makes a lot of sense. He is indeed moderate (although he is definitely a conservative. Don't be an idiot thinking he's a Liberal because he was the leader of the Quebec Liberals. That party was quite right wing under his leadership, similarly to the BC Liberals) and he's from Quebec, so he could finally allow this party to get more than 10 seats potentially.

I think the reality might be less rosy. First of all, I have been on record arguing that the obsession with the 'moderate voters' was unhealthy. I'm not convinced there are millions of 'Blue Liberals' voters who are waiting for a moderate CP leader to jump ship. I think 2021 showed that the suburban so-called moderates are quite satisfied with Trudeau. It is of course possible that O'Toole's strategy was well intentioned but badly executed (like having a ridiculous 'carbon rewards' that satisfied neither the pro carbon tax liberal swing voters or the anti tax conservatives) and the environment (Covid) was hostile. So a better leader with a better campaign could maybe pull it off and finally turn a lot of the GTA blue. I'm doubtful because the only time the GTA really went CPC was in 2011 under extraordinary circumstances that aren't likely to repeat any time soon. I also believe that the CPC has other paths to power, including winning more rural ridings in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Northern Ontario and Northern BC. Still, 2024 could be perfect for a moderate CPC leader to offer an option to dissatisfied Liberal voters. I'm not convinced Charest is the best for that role though. He has a lot of baggage (he literally worked for Huawei recently!) and is straight up hated by many in the CPC (including Stephen Harper who hasn't forgotten how antagonistic Charest was to him while he was Premier and blocked his candidacy in 2020). If you ask me, a Charest wins would lead to multiple MPs leaving the CPC. To be fair, a Poilievre wins would likely mean a few Quebec MPs would leave as well.

I'll, however, give Charest credit for his decisions so far. He has explicitly been friendly to the SoCons (Social Conservatives), a smart move compared to MacKay who went straight up against them in 2020 and paid the price (he got almost no second ballot support). 

3) Leslyn Lewis

She came out of nowhere in 2020 and almost won. Yes she really did. She finished 3rd in points (the CPC leadership awards 100 points to each riding no matter how many members vote in it, unless it's fewer than 100 votes in which case the number of points is equal to the number of votes. So it's possible to get more votes but fewer points if your vote is inefficient) but 1st in votes after the 2nd round. She wasn't far from qualifying for the final round and my calculations show that she likely would have beaten MacKay (it's less clear if she'd have beaten O'Toole as the MacKay voters would likely have switched to O'Toole according to the data and my calculations).

She is a social conservative and not ashamed of it at all. She didn't speak a word of French in 2020 and that ultimately cost her the leadership (she finished 4th in Quebec with only 10%). I'm not sure how much she has improved since. She is now a MP (from Ontario) but I get the feeling her rising star has somewhat faded. It's not clear if she can replicate the 'lighting in a bottle' of her 2020 campaign.

If she can though, she has legitimate chances. She will likely be the only SoCons and that represents a good 20-30% of the membership. If the other factions (like Blue Tories/Harper Conservatives and the pragmatic/moderate conservatives) are divided enough and she manages to be ahead of Poilievre after the 2nd or 3rd round, I could totally see her winning the whole thing.

Would the CPC have any chances with her as leader? Many people will say no. I honestly don't know. She'd be a very unique leader and I'm not sure what would happen. I'm not saying she would likely win, I'm just saying I can't exclude some surprises. She could maybe attract more of the socially conservative immigrants in the suburbs. She is such a wild card that it's hard to predict what would happen.

4) Patrick Brown

He hasn't announced yet but is supposed to do this Sunday. He's the mayor of Brampton and was the former Ontario PC leader (and cruising towards victory) in 2018 when he got (wrongly, seemingly) accused of sexual misconduct. He had to resign and Ford won the leadership and became Premier (the 2018 Ontario election was such that I believe literally any PC leader would have won it, although I have to give Ford credit for his unique appeal to the GTA voters). He is known to be a terrific organizer and can sign a ton of people (he did when he became the surprise PC leader in 2015). He is clearly a moderate (his haters will straight up say he's not conservative). He has been quite good the last few months on Twitter and in the media. He is very opposed to Bill 21 in Quebec and, if he were to become leader, I'm not sure how the Quebec caucus could remain as Brown would publicly oppose and fight Bill 21.

I personally think he's the best option for the moderate/Red Tories members, much better than Charest. Rumors of a deal between them are already out there, although they both denied it. If the CPC is looking for a fresh start with a moderate, he is likely their best guy. As mentioned before, Charest has problems and MacKay doesn't look like he's running. Short of someone like Rona Ambrose running, I see Brown as the frontrunners among the moderates. I know the poll below doesn't show this but it's early.

5) Roman Baber

An Ontario MPP who was kicked out of the PC caucus for his objection to the lockdown measures. I honestly don't know much about him. He seems to be a wild card and will likely try to get the vote from the anti lockdown/muh Freedom crowd. I don't see a scenario where he wins right now but it'll be interesting to see whether he causes Poilievre some troubles by stealing some of his target audience.

Sorry, I wish I could say more but I don't know the guy well enough.

2. The state of the race

As mentioned before, it's very early. But here's the data we have.

First, we got a new poll from Leger this morning. Polls will obviously be imprecise as they usually can't sample from the membership directly. Still, past leadership races have shown that general polling (among CPC voters) was still indicative of the general trend. I'll use better data (such as fundraising) when comes down the time to make projections, a technique that has proven quite successful in the past). Here's the main graph from this poll:

It's not even close as Poilievre is clearly ahead. Not very surprising. His announcement video got over 2 millions views. His lead here is very significant. We don't have the full pdf at the time of writing this post. The article of the Journal mentions that Poilievre leads everywhere west of Quebec while Charest is ahead in the Atlantic and Quebec.

I'm a little bit surprised by the numbers for Lewis here. It might be because the sample is CPC voters, not members. Also, the MacKay votes should likely be added to Charest and Brown. Notice as well the high number of "I don't know". All in all, not the most precise measure.

The voting intentions (very hypothetical) also show that Charest wouldn't be the slam dunk many thought. At the same time, I think that we are living in such a set, polarized political world (half of the Liberals voters are TruAnon who will support Trudeau no matter what while half of the CPC members suffer from Trudeau's derangement syndrome) that we shouldn't expect massive swing just because of the new leader.

The CPC under Poilievre is at 30% and at 28% under Charest.

Abacus has shown that many don't actually know either of Poilievre or Charest (again, not everybody is terminally online).

So, as it stands, Poilievre is the clear favorite. He is liked (loved!) by the base and has many supports among the caucus (including the recent endorsement of Scheer which is significant). If the vote was tomorrow, I'm sure Poilievre would win easily.

Can someone beat him? After all, both the 2017 and 2020 races ended up with the early favorite losing.

Okay let's run some scenarios. The first way Poilievre could lose is if Lewis wins. As I said previously, she was actually quite close in 2020. SoCons representing 20-30% of the vote (own calculations but in line with a poll by Mainstreet in 2020 among the members), she is guarantee a good showing in the first round. If Charest and Brown can split enough of the pragmatic/moderate voters (Mainstreet had them at 45% in 2020, I would personally put that number around 30% currently) away from Poilievre (leaving him with the Blue Tories/Harper Conservatives only (about 30% of the members), we could have her ahead of Poilievre after 2-3 rounds. For this to happen however, one of Charest/Brown would likely need to drop or finish further down (and therefore be eliminated already). If you want numbers, here's a scenario

1st round:

Poilievre 30%

Lewis 25%

Brown 20%

Charest 15%

Others 10%

Others mostly go to Lewis, Charest is dropped and his voters mostly go to Brown. After the 3rd round, the situation is the following:

Brown 34%

Lewis 34%

Poilievre 32%

Then Poilievre is out, his voters likely elect Lewis as leader.

The other scenario is where the moderate/centrist candidates sign a lot of new members and expand the base. Some articles have mentioned how Charest (or Brown) likely need to 'replace' the current CPC members by signing up 200-300k new members. This would be like a hostile takeover of the CPC by the former PC wing. Is it realistic? Well, the CPC had 259k members in 2017 and 270k in 2020. So one or two candidates literally doubling this? I have my doubts but everybody is telling me to watch out for Brown. What I agree with, however, is that a Brown/Charest win will come with signing many new members. The 2020 membership base of the party would just guarantee a Poilievre win. Basically I think Poilievre would take the O'Toole votes (True, true blue baby!) while Charest would replace MacKay but do worse (less goodwill with the CPC membership).

Speaking of which, surely he should be able to sweep Quebec and this province is really rich in points (although less so than in 2020 but the impact is exaggerated by many online). Well look at the Quebec numbers from Abacus:

That doesn't look good for Charest. Let's also remember that simply being from Quebec doesn't guarantee much. Bernier actually lost Quebec to Scheer! The points system can create weird results but the fact remains that many Conservative members in Quebec are likely closer to Eric Duhaime (ex radio pundit and leader of the new Conservative party provincially, a party that has risen in the last few months thanks to its strong opposition to the Covid measures) and the American right than to Charest. So while Charest should have the edge, I'm not sure it'll be the case in reality. Charest has also said he was opposed to Bill 21 so that's already a serious handicap in winning over Quebec conservative voters! Evan Scrimshaw said Charest was like Canada's Jeb Bush and I think he might be right.

Don't get me wrong, there is a path for Charest but it's a narrow one.

3. Who can beat Trudeau?

Isn't this ultimately the real question the CPC members should ask themselves? Sure, but the base can be dogmatic at times and the O'Toole experiment with his centrist approach (and lack of results) has left many dissatisfied and they would rather elect a 'true conservative' (even though O'Toole did improve things, just not enough to win seats). As Andrew Coyne said, you can betray the principles/dogma and win or lose while respecting them. What you can't do however is betray the base and lose, which is what O'Toole did.

If you spend all your time reading the opinion of professional pundits, you likely read that the CPC needs a centrist like Charest/Brown in order to win the GTA voters. As I've said previously, I see the logic on paper and 2024 might indeed be the right election, but I also think this is a strategy that the CPC has tried multiple times and failed. For them to win the GTA, they need the Liberals to be incredibly unpopular and the NDP to split the vote. The party of Jagmeet Singh is pretty useless at this right now. It's a woke urban party that somehow wins zero seats in Toronto (for 3 elections in a row!) and actually win seats in rural regions like Northern Ontario and BC.

We have observed a re-alignment worldwide where urban and suburban voters have moved left while rural voters have moved right. The NDP is only winning Norther Ontario because the NDP used to be the working class party (unions, etc). It's less and less the case. Similarly to what we saw in the US where Trump lost support for the GOP among the affluent suburbs but made massive gains with the non-college educated, working class rural voters, I believe the path to power for the CPC is more through a sweep of rural riding than through an unlikely GTA breakthrough. And to achieve this, a more populist approach is necessary. That's definitely not Charest.

Let's be clear here, my opinion on this issue is a little bit controversial. But 2021 changed my mind as the Liberal vote in urban and suburban ridings is just too efficient. I'm not saying the centrist/moderate approach can't work, I'm just saying the CPC should maybe make sure not to lose more voters to the PPC. Below is the map of the seats the CPC lost by a margin inferior to the PPC's share of votes (Credit to @CaelemSG).

Yes I know that it's incorrect to assume that 100% of the PPC voters would have voted CPC (many PPC voters were actually former Green voters!) but there is a pattern here. The split with the PPC is costing the CPC seats exactly where it should make gains. The rust bell in Ontario, Northern Ontario and BC. The CPC should logically win those seats in the future thanks to the re-alignment. Add those 21 to the 119 and the CPC is at 140. Then add some gains in Atlantic and rural Quebec and that could be enough for a minority without massive gains in the GTA or GVA! For those two regions, having a leader that go and speak with visible minorities and immigrants (something O'Toole didn't really do) could go a long way.

The Leger poll of this morning showed one clear difference in the voting intentions between Poilievre and Charest: the PPC is much lower if Poilievre is the leader. If the CPC wants to go with a more populist, anti-elite, working class approach (which I believe is the key to success), Poilievre makes a lot more sense. If they want to go with a centrist approach and try to finally win through the GTA, then Brown is likely your guy. Charest, in my opinion, fits neither option very well.

For another take on this race (and the difficult path for Charest) and the path to power for a candidate like Poilievre, read this piece from John Ivison this morning.