Ipsos Reid released another poll showing the Tories climbing to 36% today and the Liberals falling to 27%. This confirms previous polling from EKOS that shows the same numbers.
What can we see from these numbers from the pollsters thus far? Well it's showing us two things: the first is that the Tories are overtaking the Liberals in Ontario, and that the Liberal base of support in Quebec has collapsed. Also there might be some positive momentum for the Tories in the rest of Canada.
Inferring anything else from these polling numbers is nothing anyone should bet on. The 95% Confidence Intervals for these polls are in the 2 to 3% range and will balloon when you look at regional numbers. And in Canada, the land of 10 colonies masquerading as a nation, the regional numbers are all that count. In Canada's fragmented politics, the only way to get a real accurate look at the political landscape is to divide the numbers into Quebec, Ontario, the East, and the West. Because the fact is that the ballot question in Quebec has the seperatist element to it, and out East you're either Irish or unhappy, and out West you're either a wacko environmentalist or a died in the wool Tory. Canada is not a land of "two-solitudes." Canada is a land of 3 or 5 solitudes.
Some polls have shown the NDP overtaking the Tory stronghold of B.C., and the Liberals climbing in the Conservative prairies. Something doesn't fly with those numbers - as to be expected there are some uncertainties in polling. The first and foremost comes from the fact that a poll is merely a "snapshot" of the electorate's opinions. The second depends on how the question is asked of voters. One weird aspect of Canadian polls is that it matters by as much as 5 points if you ask the question "If a federal election were called today, would you vote for: The Liberal Party of Canada," etc. etc. or if you ask the question "...would you vote for: the Liberal Party lead by Paul Martin," etc. etc.
Either way the two constants, the way I see it, in all these polls is that the Tories are in the lead in Ontario, and the Liberals have been decimated in Quebec.
panic is the obvious thing I expect from the Liberals. Ontario contains over a third of the seats in Canada's parliament. I'm expecting the worst attacks yet from Liberals.
Coupled with the fact that the Liberal party is polling below 20% in Quebec it will most likely mean that the separatist Bloc Quebequois will sweep Quebec. The only hope I have is that part way through the campaign, federalists in the province start to see the hopelessness of supporting the Liberal party and jump ship to the Tories. Given a semi-bilingual Conservative leader and you have a shot at an electoral breakthrough.
I think the talk of referendum is premature though. A referendum will require the seperatists to be elected in the Quebec Provincial legislature (I refuse to call it by it's official separatist name) and that will only happen if Jean Charest and his Provincial Liberals are tarnished by the behaviour of his Federal cousins.