The race in Toronto continues to favour the Liberals. The question is to what extent the surging national Conservative campaign can break into the stronghold.
Such numbers as have appeared from time to time have all put the Liberals, at the very least, in first place in Toronto. However, there are no large sample polls of what is happening. What I hear is that the NDP, like last time, seems headed for victory in Trinity Spadina and Parkdale High Park in addition to Toronto Danforth. I am guessing that the NDP will also pick up Beaches-East York. Former provincial MPP Marilyn Churley is running, and she is one of the most effective political figures in this city. The next riding to watch is Davenport, which has traditionally been safely Liberal. The race there looks very close this time. Liberal overall weakness and what appears to be a strong NDP campaign could tip it.
When I average a batch of recent polls and apply them to my seat model, I find the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals 53 – 41 with the NDP at 12 in Ontario as a whole. Of the 53 Conservatives, however, none are in the 416 area code. I noted in my earlier post that with unusual demographic shifts, the 2004 patterns may not apply. I think the Toronto seat most likely to fall to the Conservatives is Etobicoke-Lakeshore where Michael Ignatieff is running. It has nothing to do with the nomination controversy there. It is simply an area of relative Conservative strength. Given a spike upwards in the support of the affluent for the Conservatives the other ridings that could be in play are Don Valley East and Don Valley West, Pickering-Scarborough East, Etobicoke Centre, and possibly St. Paul’s. It also possible, given what appears to be renewed Conservative weakness in Ontario, that the Conservatives won’t win any seats in 416. They will pick up seats in 905 such as Oakville and Burlington, affluent lakeshore suburbs that have been Liberal since 1993 as well as others.
Liberal success in Toronto would appear to be essential to blocking a Conservative majority so the races here are all of considerable importance. And it does look like the Conservatives will need a better than 10 point lead in Ontario to break into Toronto in any significant way.