They call it the final blitz, the sprint, the race to the finish.
In the last few days leading up to the election, party leaders will take extra care in choosing the ridings in which to campaign. They won’t lose time in districts where they don’t stand a chance of winning, nor will they make many stops where their party is assured an easy win.
There’s much to be read in their choice of ridings.
Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois, for instance, made no less than three stops this week in the central Montreal riding of Sainte-Marie—Saint-Jacques. The incumbent is the PQ’s Daniel Breton and the party considers the district a stronghold.
In 2012, Breton beat his main competition, Québec Solidaire’s Manon Massé by nearly 3,000 votes. This time around, QS says its own polling puts Massé ahead of Breton. The PQ is feeling the heat.
Between Thursday and Friday, the PQ and the Liberals are both making stops in PQ-held Sainte-Rose and Argenteuil. Electoral logic would suggest the Liberals feel they can pick up both ridings, will the PQ worries it will lose them.
The roadmap set out by the PQ for the final days of the campaign tells a different story than week one.
Marois began with the wind in her sails — ahead in voter intention polls and aiming to form a majority government. Early on, her bus stopped almost exclusively in Liberal and CAQ-held ridings.
The Liberals have since taken the lead in the polls and Marois is spending more time in the ridings of PQ incumbents. On Friday, she visits five districts, three of which are held by the PQ.
Philippe Couillard, in comparison, is set to make stops in six ridings on Friday — and only one of them voted Liberal in 2012.
Couillard’s crew appears confident it will make gains on Monday, while Marois’s team gives the impression it’s trying to salvage its campaign.