Rise and fall has created a centre-left dilemma

Progressive contenders in this riding are right to pursue a win, but what are their chances?

sundhu-powrieIt seems like there are only two kinds of people who don’t put any stock in the polls: party or candi­date loyalists and the candidates themselves. I understand why anyone would hesitate to believe them – there’s been more than a few instances where they’ve been completely wrong. But they’ve been right plenty of times, too. Point is, they’re the only indica­tion we’ve got as to how a party is doing.

Me? I’ve been glued to sites like ThreeHundredEight.com and various other news organizations’ poll trackers. With constantly updated polls from Nanos, EKOS, Forum, Angus Reid, Mainstreet, Léger, Ipsos Reid, Innovative, Abacus and probably more, an aggregated result makes a lot of sense. You can easily spot the outliers and get a pretty good idea of what the situation looks like.

Federally, as of the Monday, Oct. 12 figures on CBC’s Poll Tracker, the Liberal party leads with 34.2 per cent, with the Conservatives trailing closely with 31.7 per cent and the NDP continuing to fall at 23.4 per cent. It would appear that the Canadi­an hive mind is slowly making a decision.

But while the Liberals emerge as the progressive choice federal­ly, the situation here in Kamloops is more complicated. Riding high on federal support, local Liberal candidate Steve Powrie is still campaigning hard and hoping for a win, despite his party’s dismal 5.3 per cent showing in 2011 and not-much-better showing of 9.8 per cent in 2008. Powrie is banking on federal support to transfer over to local support. By one indication, it might.

Along with federal poll aggregation, Éric Grenier’s ThreeHun­dredEight.com also makes riding projections for every riding in Canada. (For the curious and skeptical, Grenier provides his methodology and a history of how accurate his projections have been on his website.)

In the Kamloops–Thompson– Cariboo, Powrie is projected to pull in 13.9 per cent of the vote and Cathy McLeod is projected to have a 63 per cent chance of winning the riding with a vote share of 41.7 per cent (as of Monday, Oct. 12).

Before the Liberals surged, NDP candidate Bill Sundhu and Conservative Cathy McLeod were tied around 40 per cent. Sundhu’s lead has since evaporated and he’s now projected to bring in 35.7 per cent, largely due to rising Liberal support. For progressive voters, this has created a dilemma that is likely to worsen.

Sundhu feels bolstered by the polls and the riding’s history of moderate NDP support, while Powrie feels bolstered by Trudeau’s success at the federal level. In reality, however, they may both be disappointed and the victims of each other’s success.

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that Powrie can overcome the rid­ing’s history of not voting Liberal and gain enough support to beat Sundhu, let alone McLeod. Instead, what seems likely is that progressive support will be further divided in the final days of the election, leading to another victory for McLeod.

Strategic voters have pointed to the NDP as the “Anything But Conservative” vote of choice for the riding. Judging by this riding’s projections, that’s still the “ABC” party of choice.

Of course, trying to predict the results of an election is a fool’s game – but really, I’m okay with looking foolish in this case.