Many factors could impact federal election outcome, says London prof

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A London political scientist says the pending federal election has the potential to be polarizing, tight or predictable.

In other words, Huron University College Professor Paul Nesbitt-Larking says there’s still a lot of play as we head towards the vote.

Speaking with CTV News a day before the expected election call, Nesbitt-Larking concurs the public mood and polling shows a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives.

However, he cautions that factors including the potential rise of the Green Party, and whether or not NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh endears himself to Canadians, could change the landscape.

Another unpredictable impact will come from whether or not voters disseminate political information posted on social media.

“We can anticipate that there will be campaigns of misinformation. I think it is likely there will be the bots and the trolls.”

Nesbitt-Larking says it’s important for Canadians to question what they read online, especially once the writ is dropped, suggesting people check the sources of the material they read.

In the U.S., polarization is a national trend, but in Canada, Nesbitt-Larking believes the emotions of Canadians are not, yet, at that level, suggesting most voters remains focused on the key issues.

However, “Campaigns can change everything, quickly,” he cautions.

Locally, Nesbit-Larking says most London-area ridings are likely to come down to a two-horse race between the Conservatives and Liberals, with the three London in-city ridings being the exception.

The key race, as it has been in the past several elections, will be London–Fanshawe where incumbent NDP MP Irene Mathyssen is not running again.

“It’s quite possible there could be, if you like, a three-horse race. There are three candidates contending, who seem to have a good shot at taking the riding.”

Nesbitt-Larking says voter turnout, at a record high in the 2015 vote, will also play a factor in who forms the next government.

That’s especially true, if the youth vote turns up at the polls, he adds.