The latest seat projection, showing how the federal parties would fare in an election, show the Conservatives losing ground even before Prime Minister Stephen Harper was thrown onto the defensive by the latest revelations in the Senate expense affair.
The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy, a research center at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., released projection this morning, based on own blending polls, conducted between Oct. 10 and Oct. 29, by Ekos, Ipsos, Abacus, Forum Research and, in Quebec only, CROP. The institute runs the data through its own model to forecast what the polls mean for the parties’ standing in the House of Commons.
Based on those mid-October samples, it projects 136 seats in the House for the Liberals, compared to 119 for the Conservatives and 72 for the NDP. In its previous projection, based on polls conducted from Aug. 12 to Sept. 9, the institute had the Liberals at 125, Tories at 124, and NDP at 81. So the fall trend is obviously upbeat for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
Most of the opinion surveys relied on for today’s projection came before the Conservative leadership in the Senate moved to try to suspend embattled senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. That means the polling was done mainly before Duffy’s explosive Oct. 22 speech in the upper chamber focused renewed attention on the episode in which Nigel Wright, Harper’s then-chief of staff, wrote Duffy a $90,000 cheque to allow him to pay back disputed Senate housing allowance payments.
Since Duffy’s speech, Harper has been on the defensive, and Mulcair has been playing his often effective prosecutor’s role in Question Period. So it is possible that polls conducted in late October and into November will register further erosion for the Conservatives and, New Democrats hope, reflect approval for their leader’s performance.
But these numbers, at least, suggest where the parties stood when the latest, extraordinary phase of the Senate saga began to dominate the federal scene: