Conventional wisdom has assumed that we are heading for an election after the spring budget. The Liberals, particularly Dion, have mentioned an election as a near certainty. However, these latest batch of polls might pour water on the idea of a quick election.
Pouring through the numbers from the various polling, the only parties that might welcome an election sooner rather than later are the Liberals and the Greens. The Greens have no say, so the Liberals desire is pretty much irrelevant unless they get some help. The latest numbers are mostly devastating for Layton, and given his history of poll watching, I doubt he will be eager to go the electorate when offical party status may be on the line. How can Harper now orchestrate his own demise when he is looking at a Liberal Party that looks poised to wipe out his recent gains? A week ago, Duceppe might have appeared eager, but these surprising Quebec numbers will surely give the Bloc pause.
There are some dangers in these poll numbers. What will Layton do with the Clean Air Act? Will he accept a partial sellout now to argue relevance in the next election? There is no getting around the fact that the NDP is getting squeezed from all quarters and their support is on the wane. If Layton gets trounced in the next election his leadership is effectively over. Layton cornered is an unpredictable animal and I don't think we can assume his decisions will be based on the purity he claims. Layton may well look for a token concession in the budget to delay a non-confidence motion.
The real wildcard is Duceppe, but if you posed the question today, I would suspect the Bloc willing to hold off in the near term. The surprising mini-honeymoon of Dion in Quebec is clearly not encouraging and should make the Bloc cautious on bringing down the government.
Harper surely must be in a tizzy. Every policy voter driven, all the bullying about election calls, and he is now faced with the prospects of the impossible- a Liberal majority. I don't see a realistic scenario where Harper forces a losing confrontation with the Liberals ahead in the polls. The only caveat, the budget is really the only day on the calendar that Harper can control and manipulate, so it may still be his best opportunity to turn around the government fortunes.
A couple of weeks ago I was certain of a spring election, now not so much. The good news for the Liberals, they are now free of their restrictions and can act boldly in Parliament, letting others prop up the Conservatives if they wish.