Today is voting day in the great province of Nova Scotia, and if pollsters are to believed, its likely to be a rowdy one.
The governing New Democrats, led by Premier Darrell Dexter (running in Cole Harbour-Portland Valley), to date the only NDP provincial government in Atlantic Canada, is facing down some pretty terrible numbers. Pollsters have pegged Dexter among the most disliked premiers in Canada, and his party has definitely suffered as a result, trailing badly in every poll since months before the election call. Not being Nova Scotian, I'm a loss to explain exactly why, but a series of scandals have certainly not helped, and neither have rising electricity costs, an issue that seems to have been a cornerstone of the campaign, no matter how much the NDP tried to change the channel.
The main beneficiaries of the Dexter NDP's collapse has been the NS Liberal Party, led by Stephen McNeil (running in Annapolis), who barely formed the Official Opposition to the NDP in 2009's election. Previous to then, the Liberals had suffered in a weakened state as the province's third party during the era of the Progressive Conservative governments of John Hamm and Rodney MacDonald. The last time the Liberals held government was in 1999, and then only because they worked on a case-by-case basis with the PCs who had themselves at that period fallen into third. A decade and a half later, McNeil has led his Liberals to a healthy and consistent lead over the NDP, starting with a 10-point advantage at the beginning of the campaign, and ending it with a nearly 20-point advantage among most polls released.
Reaping less benefits are the third-place Progressive Conservatives, under leader Jamie Baillie (running in Cumberland South). This once-dominate party suffered greatly from the unpopularity of Rodney MacDonald's government from 2006 to 2009, and fell behind even the Liberals after a decade of controlling the province. This time out they may win a few ridings, but only because of a major drop in support for the NDP; even so, the PCs have consistently fallen behind their 2009 support level of just under 25%, meaning that they could actually lose seats, something that would be disastrous for this struggling party.
But lets not beat around the bush. To the right (or in the bar above) is a link to my final projection, which gives the Liberals between 31 to 36 seats, compared to 10 to 13 for the NDP and 5 to 8 for the Tories. If the polling bears out, that means the Liberals are assured of a majority, even at the lower end of the scale for them. The NDP are likely to form the Official Opposition, though the Progressive Conservatives have seen the most momentum in the last few polls, and could pull an upset - if not coming in second in terms of votes, they could come in second in terms of seats.
If the projection holds, its a disaster for the NDP in their strongest Atlantic Canadian province. Its far from a fatal blow for the party, though it would be for Dexter I think. In fact, he could even lose his own seat! The party would have to see where their government, who Nova Scotians pinned a lot of hopes on back in 2009, went so wrong.
For the Liberals, this projection would be the best case scenario. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that they could fall down into minority territory if its off even in a few seats, and I fully expect the model to have a few misses. Yet even in that case, its still a better position than they have been for ages. It wasn't so long ago that people were predicting eternal doom, a common refrain for Liberals these days.
We'll see what happens tonight, and see if I, or the polls, are close to the final result. I don't expect any surprises, a la BC or Alberta; there has been no major momentum for the NDP or PCs on the scale of what the BC Liberals or Alberta PCs had in the final stretch of the campaign. Yes, the numbers have shifted around a bit, and there does seemingly exist a large contingent of "don't knows" - but I'm just not seeing it happening at this point. It wold be a pretty amazing flip.
Anyways, polls close at 8:00pm Atlantic time, or 7:00pm Eastern. You can probably watch it online at CBC, which I shall be doing for the first while. If its what people - such as Eric at 308.com, or Earl at Canadian Election Atlas - expect, that being an easy Liberal majority, then I won't spend too much time on it. If we start to see some counter movement, though... well, I'll certainly be glued to my screen anyways.