|The Two Ballot Box Questions|
Coletto suggests there are actually two separate elections taking place. One includes the 40 per cent or so of voters who say they'll at least consider voting to keep Stephen Harper's Conservatives in office; the other is taking place among the 60 per cent of respondents who say they absolutely want a change of government.
The volatility stems from the large pool of voters who say they're open to voting either NDP or Liberal, depending on who they perceive to be most likely to defeat a Conservative, says pollster Nic Nanos of Nanos Research, which currently has the NDP (30.8 per cent) fractionally ahead of the Liberals (29.7) and Conservatives (28.8).
Any sense of momentum in the campaign's final days could be self-fulfilling.
"That's the wild card in this election," said Nanos.
There are two questions on the ballot box for the majority of voters.
The first, and major one, is easy for most Canadians to answer, and is this:
Do you want Stephen Harper to continue as prime minister after October 19?
So far the polls have been remarkably consistent on this, for several years now. A huge majority of Canadians want the answer to this question to be No.
And a resounding No, at that.
Around 2 out of 3 Canadians do not want Harper to be PM after October 19. The very latest poll shows that this might have increased to 3 out of 4.
And most Canadians will enter the voting booths determined to vote to make this happen.
And that is where the rub is. And this is the second ballot box question facing voters:
How do I vote today to make sure that Stephen Harper is not going to be prime minister after October 19?
And that is what voters are wrestling with in around 200 or so ridings over the next six weeks, and will be wrestling with on October 19 as they enter the booth to draw their X.
And that that means is that each voter will be making up his or her mind whether to vote NDP or LPC based not on their general support of a party, but on which candidate from either of those two parties stands the best chance to oust a sitting Conservative MP.
And hundreds of thousands of voters will only make that decision at the very moment that they pick up the pencil to mark their X.
Nanos calls them last-minute shoppers:
If Liberal-Conservative cross-pollination is in the wind, pollsters aren't yet picking it up. Call them promiscuous progressives, hardcore Harper haters or simply party shoppers worn out by seven years of economic malaise, but surveys keep pointing to a big pool of disgruntled Anybody-But-Conservative tire-kickers. How that pool splits will decide the makeup of the next Parliament.
"It would not surprise me if we see a lot more last-minute shoppers," this election, said Nanos.
One thing for sure: Stephen Harper will be stepping down as prime minister on the night of October 19, as he told the National he would do if his party gained fewer seats than any other party did.