Ridings to Watch - Alberta
Luckily, you don't need a complex simulation model to figure out how Alberta will vote, so let's start there.
This is the main event in Alberta - all eyes are on this riding due to Linda Duncan's victory over Rahim Jaffer here in 2008. With Jaffer persona non grata these days, the Conservatives have countered with Ryan Hastman, a young entrepreneur. While it's unclear how a national NDP surge would impact Alberta, I had this one pegged as an NDP hold before the campaign began, so I'll stand by that prediction, even though the Tories have unleashed much of their Alberta organization against Duncan.
Edmonton Sherwood Park
Before the Ford revolution took Toronto by storm, it nearly hit Alberta last election. Conservative independent James Ford came within 2,000 votes of defeating Tim Uppal last election, and he's running again this time. I haven't heard much about this seat, so I'm going to keep it in the too close to call column for the time being.
As Anne McLellan's old seat, this remains the great Liberal hope for Alberta. The Grits are running Mary McDonald up against incumbent Laurie Hawn (shown below, in one of the most bizarre photo ops of the campaign). Hawn won handily in 2008, and there's no reason to believe this time will be any different.
Other NDP Hopes?
The orange-crush doesn't seem to have hit Alberta as hard as elsewhere, but Layton has made two trips to Edmonton, and the party is hopeful of gaining new seats there. Former provincial NDP leader Ray Martin seems like the best bet in Edmonton East, but he still lost to Peter Goldring by 20 points last election. Still, my projection model gives him a 9% chance of taking the seat, so he can't be ignored.
The Liberals haven't won a seat in Calgary since 1968, and that seems unlikely to change this time. Nevertheless, there are a few ridings worth paying attention to. With Jim Prentice's departure, the race in Centre North should be a lot closer than it has been in recent years, with Stephen Randall running a strong campaign for the Liberals.
Josipa Petrunic has generated a lot of media buzz in Calgary East, thanks to her local issues campaign and could surprise.
Jennifer Pollock got the most votes of any Liberal last election, and has switched ridings from Calgary West to Calgary Centre, traditionally seen as the seat with the most potential for the Liberals in Calgary.