Saturday October 10, 2015

Battleground - Trans Pacific Partnership

Demonstrators rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment agreement outside the U.S. Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23, 2015.

Demonstrators rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment agreement outside the U.S. Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It's a massive trade deal, touted by Stephen Harper as "the largest economic partnership in history" — but is the Trans-Pacific Partnership having an equally massive impact on the polls?

How is the public responding to the TPP?

EG: They're generally in favour of it, but it's been interesting to see there's a large portion of Canadians who say it's too early to know what to make of the deal, who say it won't have much of an impact on their vote.

Are there regional differences?

EG: It's a more important issue in British Columbia because they're on the Pacific coast, but it's really nation-wide. A free trade deal like this is not registering with the majority of Canadians.

How does support split among the parties?

EG: It's more or less what you'd expect. Conservative supporters are much happier about this, Liberal supporters are also supportive of the TPP and the Liberals' middle-ground position on it. People who are core NDP supporters are not as in favour of it as other Canadians.

What's interesting is how it breaks down in terms of those swing voters between the Liberals and the New Democrats, who are the voters who might, in the end, decide the outcome of this election. They generally agree more with where the Liberals are on this than where the NDP is.

It's been a long campaign. What are the trend lines that have emerged?

EG: Now it's a clear two-way race between the Conservatives and Liberals with maybe the edge, at least in the vote count, for the Liberals. The New Democrats don't seem to be sliding too much anymore, but they have fallen out of that three-way race they were in back in September.

Where are the parties at in relation to their historic positions?

EG: The New Democrats would still have their second best result in their history if there was an election today. For the Liberals and Conservatives, we're back in 2004, 2005, 2006 where it's those two parties fighting for that top spot but neither of them able to cobble together that majority government.

Has it been a steady increase in Liberal support?

EG: It has been mostly steady, but very modest, very slow. There isn't a clear spike in what we've seen in Liberal support. For the New Democrats, it's more or less the opposite. They had a bit of a decline, and we've seen that accelerate over the last few weeks.

How does support translate to the number of seats each party might expect to win?

EG: It really is a toss-up between the Liberals and Conservatives at this point. It's hard to know exactly how that will play out — the Conservatives traditionally have a better vote efficiency. They win a lot more seats in the West, and the Liberals don't have that same regional concentration. They do in Atlantic Canada, but there's not many seats in Atlantic Canada.

We're looking at a Liberal Party that's gaining, say, 15 or 16 points since the last election, and maybe their support isn't going to play out in the same way it has in the past. Strategic voting could be an issue as well. So while the conventional wisdom would be that the Conservatives can probably pull out more seats in a close race, maybe we'll be surprised and the Liberals will end up winning more seats than they would be expected to.

Listen to Éric Grenier's full interview with Chris Hall in the player above. 

Haven't got enough numbers? Éric Grenier joins The House over the campaign for a deep dive into the polls and the data surrounding various battleground ridings across Canada.

Follow parties' gains and losses here with the CBC's Poll Tracker.

Previously: