Another week, another poll projection showing a CAQ landslide on Oct. 3
Landslide, rout, decimation, lopsided victory, evisceration -- pick your descriptor.
Polls as of Sunday show Francois Legault's CAQ party heading for a bigger majority than they won in 2018. The lowest potential seat count has the CAQ winning almost a dozen more seats than they did four years ago.
The day the writ dropped, poll aggregator Qc125.com (Canada338) had the CAQ winning between 82 and 106 seats, the Liberals between 10 and 24, Quebec Solidaire between five and 14, Parti Quebecois between one and six and the Conservative party between zero and four.
In 2018, the CAQ won 74, PLQ, 31; QS, 10; and PQ 10.
The CAQ is projected to take 42 per cent of the popular vote, followed by the PLQ (17 per cent), QS (15 per cent), Conservatives (13 per cent) and PQ (nine per cent).
On demographic that does not favour the CAQ is in the 18 to 34-year-old demographic.
Quebec Solidaire has made huge gains in that demographic with polls showing the party in front with 36 per cent of the vote, followed by the CAQ (26 per cent), PCQ (16 per cent), Liberals (12 per cent) and PQ (five per cent).
Philippe J. Fournier is the poll analyst that runs the site and said it's important to remember that polls are not predictions. They will change as the campaign progresses.
"These will change, and so let's say the Liberals gained 10 points during the election, people will take screengrabs of this and say, 'you see you were wrong!'" he said. "It's like saying it's sunny today and 30 days later, 'well, it's not sunny today, is it?' So these numbers will change."
The large differences within the brackets, Fournier said, relate to the voting system in Quebec, where proportional representation, particularly for the Liberals, could result in their Oct. 3 being catastrophic or only mildly bad.
"If really only single digit of francophones for the Liberals, and the Liberals cannot count on the anglophone community as much as they used to, they could lose potentially a lot of seats, so that's why the bracket is so much," said Fournier.
Fournier added that if the Liberals get 25 seats (six fewer than in 2018), that would be a major victory, but the party has all but lost any prospect of gaining one outside of the Montreal-Laval area and Pontiac (held by Andre Fortin).
MORE VOTERS, MORE CHANGE
The rule, in general, is that higher voter turnout means more appetite for change. For example, the dismally low turnout in the Ontario election (43 per cent) resulted in an easy win for Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government, whereas the high voter turnout in the 2015 federal election (68.5 per cent) resulted in a landslide win for Justin Trudeau's Liberals, then in opposition.
"So the CAQ could go on cruise control and win a massive majority, especially if the turnout was low," said Fournier.
2018 was a historic year. It was the first time in 44 years (12 election cycles) that neither the PQ or Liberals formed the government.
Senior vice-president of Ipsos Canada Sebastien Dallaire said that created major moves in polling numbers.
Four years on, the CAQ remains way ahead.
"Especially among French voters, which we know are key in ridings outside the Montreal region," said Dallaire. "It's going to be very hard to compete with the CAQ outside of a few ridings."
Dallaire said in some ridings, CAQ candidates are ahead of their second-place opponents by as many as 35 points.
Opposition leaders may have a glimmer of hope to improve their standing in the National Assembly, however. Dallaire said that after two-and-a-half years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaigns will be a chance for opposition leaders to finally be seen more regularly.
"It's been a really difficult period for opposition parties, not just here in Quebec, but anywhere around the world," he said. "Over the past two-and-a-half years, how can you be seen and heard in the context of this global pandemic? So it will finally be a chance for leaders other than Francois Legault to be more visible, to have a platform with which to communicate with voters."
VOTERS VERSUS SEATS
The two numbers to watch for are percentage of popular vote and seats.
On Oct. 3, this will have a particular significance for Eric Duhaime's Conservative Party, who may not win seats in ridings where they score high, but the CAQ leads.
"The uncertainty is high," said Fournier. "Basically, the Conservatives are strong where the CAQ is already stronger."
The exodus of Liberal voters from everywhere outside of the Montreal-area could hurt the Conservatives as well.
The Beauce and Quebec City are the regions where Duhaime's party is strongest, but the polls show that there is no vote splitting in those regions: the Liberals, PQ and QS have very little support.
For context, in Beauce-Nord, CAQ Luc Provençal won with 66.4 per cent of the vote and in Beauce-Sud Samuel Poulin won with 62.7 per cent of the vote.
In Duhaime's Chauveau riding, Sylvain Levesque took the seat for the CAQ with 47.1 per cent of the vote.
"Duhaime himself could have 43 per cent of the vote and still lose because there's no vote splitting; you need 45 or 46 to win," said Fournier.