In two days Ontarians will cast their ballots and elect 124 members of provincial parliament. Turnout will be a big decider. There is apparently a large number of undecided voters out there still trying to pick who they will vote for. Given how late in the game it is it is possible, perhaps likely, that those who cannot pick will not vote at all.
The position of the parties is quite strange. The Liberal vote is way, way down, the NDP vote is up and the Progressive Conservatives and NDP are virtually tied. As a result drawing clear conclusions about what will happen on Thursday is tricky. I sat down with a list of the 124 seats and made up a list of seats to watch during election night.
Brantford-Brant - An old industrial town with a growing student population and an indigenous community. Brantford has struggled for years economically. It is an urban centre in Southwestern Ontario and should be a battleground between the PCs and NDP.
Don Valley West - The riding of Kathleen Wynne, the incumbent premier. Some are predicting the Liberals will be virtually wiped out in this election and that Wynne will lose her seat. She has rebounded slightly after the debate and it will be interesting to see if the people of Don Valley West will stand behind the premier.
Durham - A 905 riding in the middle of the Durham Region that is largely rural, if memory serves. However, it seems to be a two-way race between the NDP and the PCs. The NDP need to win ridings like Durham and grow in the 905 if they want to form government.
Guelph - This is a seat that will get a lot of attention on election night as it is the only four-way race in the province. Mike Schreiner of the Green Party is running in Guelph and polls indicate that he has a strong chance of winning the seat. Any party could win the seat. I personally hope to see Schreiner at Queen's Park.
Mississauga Centre - Mississauga has been a bit of a mystery to me. Despite living in the neighbouring city I've had a hard time guessing where it would swing. I could imagine all three parties winning seats in this city. Mississauga Centre could be a bellwether for the rest of the city.
Mississauga-Malton - Part of this riding used to be in Jagmeet Singh's riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton. Given the composition it could be a tough fight between all three parties. This seat is precisely the kind that the NDP needs to grow into and the PCs need to win to form government.
Ottawa Centre - Ottawa Centre has flipped between the Liberals and NDP federally and provincially in the past. The local candidate for the Liberals is quite strong, but the rise of the NDP may have doomed Yasir Naqvi.
Ottawa South - This used to be Dalton McGuinty's riding. Despite polls showing a PC victory in a by-election after he retired the seat went back to the Liberals. If the Liberals come down to a handful of seats this may be among one of their final holdouts.
Sault Ste. Marie - In Northern Ontario the NDP has long been the dominant party. However, in Sault Ste. Marie the PCs have a real chance to take this riding. They have been working on inroads in the North up to this election.
Scarborough-Guildwood - This is another potential three-way race. If the Tories build a majority they need to win seats like this and establish a stronger foothold in Toronto. The NDP are looking for a breakthrough in Toronto themselves, while the Liberals just want to hold on. Seeing how this riding goes could be an indicator for others around it.
Overall thoughts and Prediction
So, despite the Progressive Conservative vote declining and the NDP vote rising it appears we are on the verge of a Progressive Conservative majority government. Polls could be wrong and the vote could shift, but at the moment that does not seem to be the case. The PC majority will be slimmer than they first thought.
Compared to projections and numbers put out from others mine differs in a few ways.
Progressive Conservatives - 72 seats
New Democrat - 43 seats
Liberal - 8 seats
Green - 1
I think some analysts are underestimating the Progressive Conservatives. I simply think that for many Ontarians they are used to voting red or blue and will default to that when their interest is kicking the Liberals out of office. I don't think the Liberals will be purged entirely. Pockets of support will save them a few seats. I am being an optimist and hoping that the Green Party enters the legislature in the next session.
Of course, things are not decided yet, so be sure to go out and vote and make your impact on the result.