The House

Battleground Watch - Toronto

In this edition of our Battleground Watch, the CBC's polls analyst Eric Grenier looks at Toronto ridings in the wake of Olivia Chow's NDP bid and Eve Adams' fall last week. We also look at the national picture, now that an early election call could happen this weekend.
(Susan Marjetti/CBC)

The first debate of the campaign season will happen in Toronto Aug. 6, but the election spotlight was already focused firmly on the 416 this past week.

One familiar name threw her hat back in the ring while another was told by members of her new party "thanks, but no thanks."

After leaving federal politics, forcing a by-election, then finishing third in Toronto's mayoral race, Olivia Chow is taking another stab at the House of Commons under the NDP banner in the new riding of Spadina—Fort York. 

The CBC's polls analyst Éric Grenier said based on current trends, Chow's gamble against Liberal candidate Adam Vaughan, the current MP for Trinity—Spadina, could pay off.

"She is in a good position to ride the NDP wave that's taken place in Ontario — not a tidal wave, but it is a bit of a ripple," Grenier told The House in our latest Battleground Watch instalment. 

"There was a poll a couple months ago when people were talking about the possibility of Olivia Chow coming back, and she did score well against Adam Vaughan so if that's still holding, she could be in a good spot to win that riding."

Then there's Eve Adams, who lost her nomination battle last week and won't be facing off against her former caucus colleague, Finance Minister Joe Oliver.

Instead, Oliver will be battling Liberal candidate Marco Mendicino.

​Grenier said in the past, it's traditionally been difficult unseating finance ministers.

"Joe Oliver has history on his side, but in terms of the numbers and the trends, he could be in for a pretty tough fight," he says.

For Oliver and his fellow Conservatives, the focus in Toronto will be holding onto the seats they won in the 2011 election, Grenier said.

"It's the Conservatives who could be in danger because they didn't win a lot of their seats in Toronto proper by very wide margins in 2011," he said. 

"They took eight seats in 2011, and they could maybe win three based on the trends now."

Liberals have edge in Toronto ridings

The forecast is looking brighter for the Liberals and NDP.

"The Liberals won the popular vote (in Toronto) in 2011," Grenier said. "They look like they could be in a good position to win at least half the seats in Toronto, but they used to sweep the city so this is still a bit of a change for them."

But the Liberals are close enough in the polls that they're still competitive, Grenier added.

"They're about six points behind the NDP and the Conservatives right now, so that puts them within spitting distance of the two parties," he said. "But their numbers have been heading downwards, they're trending negatively."

That might change once the election has officially started, he said.

"We're looking at summer polls so maybe...people will start paying attention a little more, and there will be a debate this week. We could see some more dramatic movement."

As for the NDP, they're likely to pick up seats in downtown Toronto and Scarborough, said Grenier.

For every party, though, Toronto remains "a very important electoral prize" — and all 25 of its new ridings are ripe for the picking.

Haven't got enough numbers? Éric Grenier joins The House over the summer 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.


This week's episode of the CBC Pollcast features guests David Akin and Susan Delacourt, as they join host Éric Grenier to discuss how journalists use polls. You can listen below or download the podcast here.