Fournier: Party leaders are putting the focus on the volatile Quebec voters

There's been a lot of polling since the writ dropped last Wednesday, kicking off the election – and political analyst Philippe J. Fournier has been tracking it all on his website 338Canada.com

With a meta-analysis of the polls, Fournier says there's not much discrepancy among the two frontrunners – the Liberals and the Conservatives.

"It's all between 34 and 37 per cent of national support, which is totally normal if you look at the averages of the last few weeks," he said.

It's a different story for the NDP, however.

"The average is 13 per cent, but we have polls that show the NDP as low as 8 per cent nationally and as high as 18 per cent nationally, so there's a huge discrepancy in those polls of where the NDP really stands," he said. 

That discrepancy stands to have an impact of the frontrunners' numbers.

"If the NDP, for instance, if they are really at 8 or 9 per cent nationally, it's a huge boost to the Liberals, but if the NDP is at 17 or 18 per cent, it could be really hard for Justin Trudeau to reach the majority threshold or even win the election, if the NDP is that strong," he said.

 

Focus on Quebec

Last Wednesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer launched his campaign in Trois-Rivières. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visited Sherbrooke and St-Hyacinthe this weekend and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was in Lanaudière and Mauricie in the past few days. Party leaders are giving Quebec a lot of attention.

"It shows how important Quebec will be for the federal campaign," said Fournier. "(There are) 78 seats in Quebec, many of them are in play and of course, when you look at just the last few elections that we have in Canada, Quebecers have been the most volatile voters in the country – switching from the Bloc, to the NDP, to the Liberals. So we will have visits from the party leaders before the debates in early October and up until Election Day, because they know that many seats can be won in the province."
 

The Bloc Quebecois

The Bloc might be picking up some seats in Quebec ridings outside of Montreal, said Fournier.

"We saw last spring, the Bloc was at 10 or 12 per cent in the average. When what Yves-François Blanchet became leader, they picked up support all the way to its 2015 levels, so around 18 to 19 to 20 per cent and this number hasn't moved much lately," he said.

The support comes from areas just outside of Montreal, said Fournier.

"They could be very competitive in places like St-Hyacinthe, in places like Chambly and Longueuil and all these very important ridings surrounding Montreal, so we'll have to wait and see if those numbers pick up at some point," he said.

 

The Maxime Bernier effect

Big news for Maxime Bernier and his People's Party of Canada Monday, when he was invited to participate in the commission debates: Oct. 7 in English and Oct. 10 in French. 

This could pose an issue for the Conservatives, said Fournier. 

"Andrew Scheer and his team cannot be happy about this, because there's a risk that if Maxime Bernier does well at the debate, he could split the right-wing vote," he said.

 

Island of Montreal

Will all of Montreal go Liberal?

"Historically, we know that the Liberals do very well in Montreal. In 2015, Liberals won 13 seats out of the 18 seats on the Island of Montreal and right now, if we look at the numbers, they could win as many as 17," he said. "There's one in the east, La Pointe-de-l'Ile where BQ former leader Mario Beaulieu is still running. He should be considered the favourite – but all other seats right now, even Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, could go to the Liberals."