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Trudeau Liberals 'under siege' across the country, with Conservatives cracking red 'fortresses' like Toronto and Vancouver: Nanos

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Hot on the heels of the Conservatives’ stunning byelection victory in the riding of Toronto—St. Paul’s, new seat projection data from Nanos Research show ridings considered previously safe for the Liberals are increasingly up for grabs.

On the latest episode of CTV News Trend Line, Nanos Research chair Nik Nanos said the latest numbers point to “difficult times if you’re a Liberal.”

“What we’re seeing is the Liberal fortress Toronto basically under siege,” Nanos said. “So maybe Toronto—St. Paul’s is the canary in the coal mine.”

On Monday, Conservative Don Stewart defied the odds to win the closely watched Toronto-area byelection, setting off political shockwaves by claiming victory in a longtime Liberal stronghold riding.

The byelection result, Nanos said, could in retrospect be considered “a referendum on the government and on Justin Trudeau.”

The loss for the Liberals also reinvigorated rumours party leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could step down before the next general election, currently slated for October 2025.

“We can’t project a byelection onto the general election,” Nanos warned, but added it’s noteworthy how much better the Conservatives did in Toronto—St. Paul’s compared to the last general election, and likewise how poorly the Liberals did compared to three years ago, which “speaks to where the momentum is.”

“But I think the Conservatives and (leader) Pierre Poilievre want to run against Justin Trudeau,” he also said. “They basically, by winning, created conditions that put pressure on Trudeau to step down or to be pushed out. And that kind of resets everything.”

Nanos said a Trudeau resignation would change the “political calculus” for all parties, but especially the Conservatives, who have largely framed their message around Poilievre against Trudeau.

Regional projections

In addition to the surprise win in Toronto—St. Paul’s, Nanos said, the new data shows the Conservatives “being much more competitive in Toronto.”

Latest Nanos seat projections for the Toronto area are on the left, while results from the 2021 election for the same seats are shown on the right (Nanos Research)

In comparing Nanos’s latest seat projections to the results of the 2021 general election, Ontario’s projections overall are “pretty blue,” despite “spots of red.”

The Conservatives are also challenging “very strongly in a number of Ottawa ridings outside the immediate downtown, which could prove to be races to watch whenever Canadians head to the polls.

Latest Nanos seat projections for ridings in parts of southern and eastern Ontario are on the left, while results from the 2021 election for the same seats are shown on the right (Nanos Research)

Nanos said the Liberals could also be in store for a setback in Atlantic Canada, with both Cape Breton and Halifax in play.

Regardless, the Conservatives are likely to pick up “a number of” seats out east.

Latest Nanos seat projections for ridings in Atlantic Canada are on the left, while results from the 2021 election for the same seats are shown on the right (Nanos Research)

The Prairies continue to be a lock for the Conservatives, while British Columbia is “one of the most complex kinds of environments,” because the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens are all extremely competitive there, said Nanos.

The riding of Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is the incumbent, is notably too close to call, according to Nanos’ latest seat projections.

“They're really, truly, multi-party races with vote splits,” Nanos said, adding B.C. can vary significantly from region to region within the province.

Latest Nanos seat projections for ridings in the Vancouver area are on the left, while results from the 2021 election for the same seats are shown on the right (Nanos Research)

“But zoom into Vancouver … you can see on the right-hand side, the previous election, very red, very Liberal,” he also said.

“Look how blue it is right now. And this speaks to the sea change that's happening right now.”

Nanos said several ridings that could see three-way splits are “really, really helping the Conservatives.”

More broadly, voter intention across the country continues to show the Conservatives well ahead of the other parties, a trend Nanos said has been consistent for nearly a year.

Ballot tracking

Nanos Research’s latest tracking shows the Conservatives at 41 per cent, with the Liberals at 27 per cent, the NDP at 14 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois at eight per cent and the Greens at four per cent.

(Nanos Research)

“It'll be interesting to see whether, through the summer, (the Conservatives) maintain that double-digit advantage,” Nanos said.

The pollster said while the Conservatives have stayed safely above 40 per cent for months, any change in the margin of their lead has been due to fluctuations with the Liberals and NDP.

“Think of Justin Trudeau as preferred prime minister. He's 12 points back,” Nanos also said. “There's no political coattails right now for the Liberals, either for their brand or for their party leader right now.”

NDP hits back with new ad

As more supposed Liberal strongholds potentially come up for grabs, the party’s confidence-and-supply-agreement partner, the NDP, has taken out its largest pre-election ad buy since 2015.

A new 30-second ad featuring Singh sets up what the party is calling the “change the rules tour,” and it takes aim at both the Conservatives and the Liberals.

According to NDP national director Anne McGrath, the Toronto—St. Paul’s byelection made it clear the next general election will “definitely” be a change election, and consequently the party will “absolutely” be devoting more resources to historically red ridings.

“Seats that might not have been up for grabs before are up for grabs,” McGrath said in an interview with CTV News.

“I think that it's very obvious that what everybody thought was a stronghold, one of the safest Liberal seats in the country, was not a safe seat,” she also said. “So that means that there are no safe seats.”

The Liberals’ loss has left many political watchers wondering whether the NDP will soon pull out of its confidence-and-supply pact, and Nanos said the time is coming for the party to make a decision on that front.

When asked, McGrath wouldn’t say whether the NDP is currently considering scrapping the deal, but did say the party is debt-free for the first time in nearly a decade, and building up a war chest to throw as many resources as possible at the next general election, whenever that may be.

Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Methodology

The Weekly Nanos Tracking is produced by the Nanos Research Corporation, headquartered in Canada, which operates in Canada and the United States. The data is based on random interviews with 1,000 Canadian consumers (recruited by RDD land- and cell-line sample), using a four-week rolling average of 250 respondents each week, 18 years of age and over. The random sample of 1,000 respondents may be weighted using the latest census information for Canada. The interviews are compiled into a four-week rolling average of 1,000 interviews where each week, the oldest group of 250 interviews is dropped and a new group of 250 interviews is added.

With files from CTV News’ Judy Trinh

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