Ontario's volatility was illustrated neatly last week when Strategic Counsel produced an Ontario-only poll for the Globe and Mail and CTV showing the Tories 5 points ahead of the Grits. Wonderful! The next day they published their daily tracking poll; it showed the Grits ahead of the Tories by 6 points. The first poll had a much larger sample and was the more serious one, but it does illustrate what a roller coaster ride this has been. A column I read somewhere today recounted a day when one tracker had the Liberals ahead by 12 while another had the Conservatives ahead by 5.
One thing which must haunt the Tories (it sure haunts me) is that in the last 2 elections the latest polls overstated Conservative Ontario support by a considerable margin. My hypothesis is that this was due to the Tories being perceived as a risk, an alien party, a Western party, something they didn't feel comfortable with. People who were mad at the Liberals decided that they weren't mad enough to take this chance. If I am right the Ontario underperformance effect should not exist in this election. Love them or hate them, the Tories are now a known quantity; buyers know the product they will be getting. (Hence the Liberals' efforts to persuade people that the Tories have a "hidden agenda', a nightmare of depravity to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public as soon as they won a majority.)
The economic meltdown caused a drop in Tory support that probably put the Liberals ahead by 7 a week or so ago. There is no doubt they have recovered, the question is how much. There seems to be something of a late consensus; the Conservatives leading by 2. That is a 7 point swing from last time, and should produce a larger Tory seat margin than one would ordinarily expect because of the large number of wasted votes the Liberals amass piling up huge margins in metro Toronto. So I will go ahead and take the chance of overpredicting Ontario support for the third successive election. The distance between L and NDP support has dropped dramatically, allowing some Dipper pickups as well. The large-sample Strategic Counsel poll showed the NDP with a big lead over the Liberals in northern Ontario. If the tales of northern NDP gains are true, the Grits could be in for an unpleasant shock in Ontario.
C GAIN FROM LIB (11): BRANT, GUELPH, HALTON, HURON-BRUCE, LONDON WEST, MISSISSAUGA-ERINDALE, MISSISSAUGA SOUTH, NEWMARKET-AURORA, OAK RIDGES-MARKHAM, OAKVILLE , THORNHILL
L GAIN FROM C (1) MISSISSAUGA-STREETSVILLE (where Wajid Khan switched parties)
NDP GAIN FROM L (5): ALGOMA-MANITOULIN-KAPUSKASING, BEACHES-EAST YORK, KENORA, SUDBURY, THUNDER BAY-RAINY RIVER
NDP GAIN FROM C (1) THUNDER BAY-SUPERIOR NORTH
That all adds up to this;
%: C 36, L 34, NDP 22, G 9
SEATS: C 48, L 38, NDP 20
Adding up it comes to this:
% C 35, L 28, NDP 20, BQ 10, G 7
SEATS: C 133, L 82, BQ 51, NDP 40, IND 2
Let's hope I turn out to be a pessimist. By, say, 22 seats.