As most should be aware by now, our dear Prime Minister has called four by-elections for November 25th, just over a month away. Those ridings are Bourassa, Toronto Centre, Provencher, and Brandon-Souris (the latter two which I don't have a posts up for yet), vacated by two Liberals and two Conservatives respectively.
Forum Research has conducted the first polling among respondents in these ridings, and the news is great for Liberals, bad for the Conservatives, and bone-chillingly terrible for the New Democrats.
Both of the Liberal incumbent ridings are, according to this poll, theirs to lose right now. Chrystia Freeland in Toronto Centre hits 45% support, compared to just 30% for NDP candidate Linda McQuaig. It isn't a far cry from Rae's 2011 numbers overall, but Freeland starts off with an early advantage. Emmanuel Dubourg in Bourassa has a 19-point lead over his NDP opponent, Stéphane Moraille, a former member of a band I've never heard of. While Dubourg has seen a slight jump in support over what former Mp Denis Coderre managed in 2011, Moraille's party has seen its support collapse, just barely above the Bloc. A lot of that may have to do with the presence of Georges Laraque in the poll, whose candidacy for the Greens shot them up to 12% support, way above their usual level anywhere in Québec. Laraque is, of course, no longer on the ballot, so we'll see where his support moves to in future polls.
The big news to come out of this poll is what is happening in Brandon-Souris. There was some controversy there earlier this summer over the Conservative's nomination process which got a lot of local and national play. It seems to have turned the population against the government, as Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale, a former member of a band I have heard of , is ahead of former PC MLA Larry Maguire, 39% to 35%. The NDP and Green candidates sit at 12% each, though I'm not as surprised by the Green vote here, as Brandon-Souris has tended to be one of the Green's better rural ridings.
While we can't really say its been the nomination troubles that caused Maguire's deficit currently, it does seem a good bet. As we saw with Joan Crockett's troubles in Calgary Centre, these muckings about that Conservatives seem to be prone to with their nomination processes can have a severe impact among the electorate, demotivating their usual supporters while inspiring the opposition's voters with that glimmer of hope that the riding is in play. With Trudeau's appeal as a candidate certainly not harming the Liberals at this point, and no major support for the NDP or Greens a la the Greens in Calgary Centre, Dinsdale seems in a good position to become the first Liberal representative for Brandon-Souris in well over a decade.
Finally, the Conservatives retained a strong lead, though diminished, in Provencher, with their candidate Ted Falk registering 56%, but that was always expected. The surprise here is the Liberal's Terry Hayward taking 29% support in the poll, with the NDP back at 9%. That is a huge reversal of fortunes if true.
While riding polls should be taken with a grain of salt at best, the trends don't bode well for the Conservatives, and especially not the NDP. They are somewhat competitive in Toronto Centre, but they've dropped far behind in the other three ridings. Whatever they're currently doing is not grabbing the attention of voters, and if they want to have any chance of saving face they need to revamp their strategy now, before its too late.