Thursday, January 20, 2011

Federal Election this Spring?

I honestly do not expect to see a spring federal election, but I could very well be wrong.

If we look at the polling numbers in the months running up to the dissolution of parliament in early September 2008 there is little to show the Conservatives had strong lead over the Liberals.  The week before the election call showed some nice numbers for the Conservatives, but the week before certainly was not favourable.

Currently the polling numbers are not nearly strong enough that the government is likely to win a majority. Looking at all the polls, the Conservatives seem to have about a six point lead on the Liberals, that is about half of 11.4 point election win by the Conservatives in 2008.   If one looks at Eric Grenier's threehundredeight.com you can see that odds are an election at the moment would see a loss of around ten seats by the Conservatives.    The numbers do not look like a good risk to me at the moment.

In 2008 Stephen Harper benefited even if he did not win an majority because his minority was not strong.  He had gained a few seats from the election in 2006, but not enough to have a comfortable minority.   Gaining even 10 seats in 2008 would have given the government some breathing room.   In the end the Conservatives gained 16 seats in the 2008 election.

Going for an election now would not likely improve the government's numbers in the house of commons, so why attempt it?

An election makes sense if the government can find some issue that will resonate with the public, I do not see anything obvious on the horizon.   In 2008 there was the looming recession.  Holding an election in the middle of a downturn tends to work out badly for the government.

Waiting means the government can choose a better time to hold an election, when the numbers look better or a real issue comes about.   Waiting also means that the economy of Canada will be doing much better and the Conservatives will be able to make use of that for their benefit.

From my vantage point, a spring 2011 election looks risky with little hope of gain.   There seems to be no danger from waiting for another year especially given that there is a potential for the political landscape to change in favour of the government between now and May 2012.

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