New seat projections show the Liberal Party has recovered slightly in the two weeks since photographs and video emerged of the party’s leader, Justin Trudeau, wearing brownface and blackface — but not enough to form a majority government if the 2019 federal election were held tomorrow.
The latest seat projections released Tuesday from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) suggest the Liberals are closer to a stronger minority government than they were late last week, thanks to a small boost in Ontario.
The LISPOP projections are based on a series of polls released between Sept. 26 and 30 from Ipsos, Nanos, Abacus, Leger, Innovative, Ekos and Campaign Research, drawing from a blended and weighted sample of more than 10,000 people.
Together, the poll results show the effects of Trudeau’s brown- and blackface scandal are dissipating, according to Barry Kay, an associate professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University.
If voters marched to the ballot box tomorrow, the Liberals would capture 158 seats, according to the LISPOP seat projections — up eight seats from LISPOP’s forecast last week.
The Conservative Party, meanwhile, would win 136 seats, down from 142 seats last week.
To form a majority government — which has the ability to pass bills without support from the other parties sitting in the House of Commons — a single party must win at least 170 seats on election day.
Immediately before the first photo of Trudeau wearing racist makeup was published, LISPOP had the Liberals pegged to win 165 seats.
While the scandal had an effect on the popular vote across the country, the effect on seat projections was “disproportionately” in Ontario because the vote-rich province has a high number of close seats, Kay said.
For example, the Liberals swung from 71 seats in Ontario to 60 seats after the blackface news, then back up to 67. The Tories, for their part, shifted from 39 seats in Ontario to 48 seats and down again to 43.
Apart from that, Kay emphasized he’s only tracked very marginal changes in public opinion regionally over the course of the campaign, which hit the halfway mark this week.
Kay said the overall seat projections for the New Democrats and Greens have hardly budged but noted the Bloc Québécois has had some movement in Quebec recently, jumping to 17 seats in LISPOP’s projections last week from 13 two weeks ago.
According to the results, 37 per cent of voters surveyed would vote Conservative if an election were held tomorrow.
Asked about how that result compares to the LISPOP seat projections, Kay explained that he doesn’t look at national numbers but, rather, at several polls in aggregate and breaks them down region by region.