Tonight we watch a tale of 4 ridings. Four different, and geographically distinct parts of Canada. One rural, Northern riding (DMCR), three urban. What occurs here, while not a "prediction" for the next general election, will be a pretty strong indicator of the types of fights we'll see in similar ridings, and among similar demographics. The Conservatives, while not having to win, need to have a strong showing in the urban centers. A government that claims to represent "the people" needs to show that it can pull substantial vote in the large urban centers OUTSIDE OF THE PRAIRIES. Failure by the HarperCons to do so will really be a boost to Liberal hopes.
I expect to see strong showings from the Liberal Party in Toronto Center, and Willowdale. If there are any surprises, DMCR in Northern Saskatchewan will be the battleground. The NDP have a strong campaign team, and judging by the way they have been going after us in Parliament, I wouldn't expect a break here either. This riding should be a tight 3-way race, with a long evening of counting and recounting... There will be strong NDP presence in two of the other ridings as well, but I expect Mr. Rae to have brought over enough of the team in Toronto Center to significantly hurt the dippers.
Vancouver Quadra is an interesting riding. It is one of the most affluent ridings in Canada. That would - you would expect - make it a more Conservative area. Being in Vancouver, however, allows for a little more moderation in the politics here, and people in Metro Vancouver tend to be a little more "small l" liberal. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Quadra last night, and was thinking of the variety of reasons for people there to vote anything but Conservative. If you add to that the sheer financial mismanagement by the federal Cons, and there isn't a whole lot to add with a Conservative vote.
A strong showing by the Conservatives in any riding may boost their (of late) low spirits. They've faced nothing but scandal for the past few weeks, and declining polling numbers. Where can they put up a good fight? DMCR in Sask. There is a strong, solid core of Conservative vote in that riding. The riding is also quite spread out, making campaigning quite a task. A candidate who can afford to make it to a lot of the outlying communities may have a better shot.
Generally in these ridings, there will either be a "vote of confidence" in Harp's gang, or a "hey wait a minute, this guy is starting to scare me" response. A "vote of confidence" for Harper, doesn't mean victories. It may simply be surpassing the NDP in votes. A governing party that wants to lead the nation NEEDS to have representation in key urban areas, and failure for the Cons to show growth in the urban areas will be a real confidence booster for Mr. Dion and company. It may also show that continual and growing evidence of Conservative scandal is finally starting to get "traction" with the voting populace.