The ground is shifting. Jeffrey Simpson writes that the Conservatives still have "yellow dog" ridings -- where they could run a yellow dog on the Conservative ticket and it would win. But across the country, momentum is shifting to the Liberals:
Apart from these kind of yellow dog seats, predominantly rural ridings, things are bordering on precarious for the Conservatives, to judge by recent by-elections. Yes, by-elections are uncertain weather vanes, since winds do change. Read too much into them at your peril. However, there are patterns.
In urban Canada, the Conservatives are in full-scale retreat. In Toronto, they went backward by 5 points in losing Scarborough-Agincourt and barely registered in Trinity-Spadina this week, echoing their results from Toronto Centre and Montreal’s Bourassa last year. Shockingly, they nearly lost Calgary Centre in 2012, when candidate and former media personality Joan Crockatt just squeezed in, winning 36.9 per cent of votes to beat a well-known Liberal challenger by just four percentage points.
And the New Democrtas are losing traction, too:
These by-elections have been almost as discouraging for the New Democrats. Despite presenting strong candidates, the NDP lost three inner-city ridings (Toronto Centre, Trinity Spadina and Bourassa) of the type the party needs to win.
But it was the Liberals who won them. The New Democrats did take Victoria in a 2012 by-election, but that’s been it. Overall, the NDP’s share of the popular vote declined by 10 points. A swing like that in a general election would drop them from the heady heights of Official Opposition to barren-lands third-party status.
Stephen Harper is supposed to be a sly political strategist. One wonders if he has been thinking strategically of late. Perhaps he is pondering if he will stay and face the music or get out before it stops.