UPDATED: EKOS Weekly – Well, it had to happen eventually: A perfect tie

Tories and Liberals are in a dead heat

Seriously — right down to the decimal point. The symmetry is almost beautiful, really, in a madness-inducing way:

Conservatives: 32.6 (-)
Liberals: 32.6 (+1.7)
NDP: 16.5 (+0.8)
Bloc Quebecois: 32.3*(-4.8)
Green: 9.9 (-1.4)
Undecided/Ineligible: 15.2 (+0.1)

… and just as ITQ was about to go off on a bitter tirade about mean-spirited, background-data-hording media companies and the polling firms that enable them, the full report popped up in her email, courtesy of EKOS. (Which still doesn’t get CBC off the hook, mind you. As far as ITQ is concerned, it’s just plain wrong to post the topline numbers without regional and demographic breakdowns. Wrong, and evil. ) (Especially the Bloc Quebecois numbers. Honestly, has anyone out there actually developed the ability to mentally convert a meaningless national number for the Bloc Quebecois into its actual standing in the only province in which it matters?)

So, EKOS President Frank Graves, what does it all mean?:

“As the last Parliament drew to a close, the public withdrew a slight but significant advantage that they had bestowed on the Liberals.”

“Irritated by the threat of another election, with little prospect of a qualitatively different parliamentary result, the public gave the Conservatives a slight but significant lead. This small lead persisted through most of the summer. Over the past few weeks the Liberals have drawn into a virtual dead heat, however. Notably the Liberals have also re-established an advantage in the crucial Ontario arena.”

“So as media interest begins to percolate, and the public inevitably and perhaps reluctantly return their attention again to politics, it appears that the race would now be handicapped as “pick ‘em” between the 2 main contenders.”

Hey, for this week — and possibly this week alone — we don’t have to call it a virtual dead heat anymore. It’s official! The heat, it could not possibly be — more deadly? That doesn’t sound right at all, although oddly appropriate, given the political climate at the moment. But if the public was “irritated by the threat of another election” over the summer, what does that auger for the Liberals as far as next week’s results? Or is the irritation meted out equally amongst all parties, on the logic that each and every party one bears some responsibility for the current state of multilaterally assured dysfunction?

Check back a little later for the full regional breakdowns — with +/- from last week, that little value-added mathematizing that ITQ throws in just for fun (“For kids!”), even though she’s well aware that the vast margins of error provide sufficient plausible deniability for any partisan looking to spin the numbers as a triple-cherry jackpot for their team.

In the meantime, though, the comment thread is open, so feel free to trade theories, observations and your surefire formulas to ensure victory and/or defeat.

UPDATE – As promised, the regional breakdowns!

British Columbia (MoE 6.7) (+0.3)

Conservatives: 35.3 (+3.7)
New Democrats: 25.5 (-1.8)
Liberals: 24.9 (-3.4)
Greens: 14.3 (+1.4)

Alberta (MoE 7.4) (-0.4)

Conservatives: 55.4 (-3.9)
Liberals: 25.7 (+7.2)
New Democrats: 10.8 (-0.3)
Greens: 8.1 (-2.9)

Saskatchewan/Manitoba (MoE 9.3) (-0.8)

Conservatives: 46.3 (+1.6)
New Democrats: 25.9 (+5.4)
Liberals: 18.6 (-4.9)
Greens: 9.1 (-2.9)

Ontario (MoE 3.7) (+0.1)
Liberals: 40.4 (+3.4)
Conservatives: 33.1 (-3.9)
New Democrats: 15.6 (+1.4)
Greens: 10.9 (-0.9)

Quebec (MoE 4.6) (-0.1)
Bloc Quebecois: 32.3 (-4.8)
Liberals: 30.9 (+4.7)
Conservatives: 19.4 (+4.4)
New Democrats: 9.8 (-1.3)
Greens: 7.6 (-1.2)

Atlantic Canada (MoE 9.5) (+0.7)
Liberals: 34.1 (-9.4)
New Democrats: 30.0 (+8.2)
Conservatives: 27.5 (+1.0)
Greens: 8.4 (+0.2)

So — the Liberals are surging — surging, you guys! — ahead in … Alberta? Really? Wow, that’s pretty much the definition of inefficient polling gains, given the likelihood that it will result in stealing even one seat away from the Tories (or the New Democrats) in the Big Blue Province. Meanwhile, they’re falling behind the NDP in both British Columbia and the Ekos-crated amalgam that ITQ likes to think of as Saskitoba, which is probably a bit of a downer, since that’s where they might be able to entertain wistful fantasies of winning back those fabled Liberal strongholds of yore in — wait, did the Liberals ever really have strongholds in Saskatchewan?

Moving onto Ontario, it’s the Conservatives’ turn to feel glum — that is, if they pay any attention to the polls; a charge that, like all respectable political parties, they will deny to the ends of the earth. Well, except for Ipsos-Reid, of course. (Oh, ITQ kids. Most Tories were just as sceptical as the rest of the world when that 11 pt boggler hit the floor.) Meanwhile, the Liberals are, once again, the first choice of the fickle denizens of the Place To Stand, the Place To Grow, although they’re not that far ahead, really, when you think about it. Not as far as they’d probably like to be, given their druthers.

Quebec — well, Quebec is Quebec. The Tories continue to creep ever so slowly upwards, although admittedly, it’s a steep climb, and this week’s numbers may be one of those occasional anomalies, since it’s hard to see how the Bloc Quebecois could have plunged by nearly five points in just a few days. (Yes, yes, margin of error. ITQ knows.)

Finally, the Liberal numbers experienced an even more precipitous drop in Atlantic Canada, sliding by nearly ten points, almost all of which was gobbled up by the still blissfully enDexterfied New Democrats.