Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have identified at least 190 ridings across the country – with roughly half of them in Ontario – in which they believe they will be “players” in an upcoming election.
Nearly 45 of those ridings are not currently held by the Conservatives. With 143 seats in the existing House of Commons, Mr. Harper would have a firm majority were he to secure his entire wish list when Canadians next go to the polls.
Taber goes on to list some of the ridings, but we're left to guess the complete list. So what ridings might be on it?
Well, I'm sure the Tories spent hundreds of hours pouring over polling data, local demographics and voter ID lists, and studying which candidates are and aren't running for each party. Me - I still have Christmas shopping to do, so I'm not going to spend more than 5 or 10 minutes on this, especially since I think Harper has a better shot at a record deal than a 190 seat majority.
So I took my last round of seat projections, and grabbed the top 45 ridings not currently held by the Tories - the model pegs the Tories with at least a 7% chance in each riding, so it's not unreasonable to target any of them. It probably doesn't match their list down to a T, but it should give a good sense of where team Tory is looking.
So what ridings might be on this top secret list?
Well, as Taber's article suggests, the bulk are in Ontario:
Atlantic Canada 8
Among those Ontario seats, 8 can be found in the GTA: Mississauga South, Ajax-Pickering, Brampton-Springdale, Brampton West, Mississauga-Streetsville, Mississauga East-Cooksville, Bramalea-Gore-Malton, and Eglinton-Lawrence.
The most interesting split, however, comes when you look at who currently holds those 45 target seats:
Yes, to reach that elusive majority, there are as many seats to be taken from the NDP, as from the Liberals. Which makes some sense, with the Dippers down from their 2008 election numbers everywhere in Canada except Quebec.
Which makes for an interesting dilemma. Traditionally, it's been in the Conservatives' best interest to have a strong NDP, since that drains the Liberal vote. But if there are Dipper seats to be won, the Tories may have to take a swing or two at Layton next election.