Counting chickens

The Liberals may be celebrating polling success in the four byelections held Monday, but so many disparate factors were at play that it’s too soon to anoint Justin Trudeau as the party’s saviour.
Most importantly, byelections are notoriously poor predictors of what voters will actually do when it comes down to determining who will run the entire country.
While the Liberals increased their vote share dramatically in the two Manitoba byelections, some of the Tory vote clearly stayed home. Whether that was because of candidate selection, the Senate scandal or a homophobic gaffe, it’s not likely to happen in 2015. The Tories identify and mobilize their supporters on election day better than any other party and that’s not likely to change much.
Nor will their level of support. The same 37 per cent to 39 per cent of voters who saw Stéphane Dion as a green nerd were equally sure that Michael Ignatieff didn’t come back for them. If they don’t believe Justin Trudeau is a privileged pot-smoking dilettante with no economic policy now, they will by 2015.
What will determine whether the Conservatives will form a government is how the Liberals and the NDP carve up the rest of the vote.
The NDP may have had its vote halved and more in Manitoba on Monday, but in Toronto Centre it actually increased its share of the vote to a historic high of 36 per cent. So while Trudeau and his party will be pleased the Conservative vote dropped in Toronto from 23 per cent in 2011 to nine per cent, they know they must worry about beating the NDP decisively before they can beat the Conservatives.

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