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Crunching Numbers

Harper just shy of projected majority as momentum wanes after Week Two Add to ...

The Conservative Party's momentum is beginning to slow down - and at the worst possible time for Stephen Harper. Were an election held today, the Tories would win 153 seats in the House of Commons, two short of a majority, according to ThreeHundredEight.com's updated seat and vote projections for The Globe and Mail.

The Conservatives are three seats closer to their majority than they were one week ago in the projection but gains are becoming harder and harder to come by, and in most parts of the country the Tories are either stable or slipping.

At 38.8 per cent support, the Conservatives are unchanged from the last projection. The Liberals, on the other hand, have gained 0.6 points and now stand at 27.8 percent, 11 points behind the Tories. They are projected to win 72 seats - one fewer than last week and five fewer than when the government fell.

But in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, two parts of the country where Conservative support has held steady over the last seven days, the Liberals are on the upswing. In Ontario, the Conservatives lead with 42.1 per cent support. But the gap has narrowed, and the Liberals are up 1.2 points in the province to 34.7 per cent, better than their 2008 score. The Conservatives are projected to win 57 seats in the province, however, with 34 going to the Liberals and 15 to the NDP.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have gained 1.5 points and now lead with 37.6 per cent, just ahead of the Conservatives at 37.2 per cent. The NDP, down to 19 per cent in the region, appears to be losing out to the head-to-head battle between the two frontrunners. The Liberals are projected to win 15 seats in the four Atlantic provinces, with 13 being taken by the Conservatives and four by the NDP.

Nationally, the New Democrats are holding firm. They stand at 16.9 per cent support and 33 seats, one fewer than last week. And while the party is down in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and the Prairies, they are making headway in Quebec.

There, after a successful performance by their leader on Radio-Canada's popular talk show Tout le monde en parle, the New Democrats have picked up 1.5 points and are now projected to win 16.1 per cent of the vote, about four points better than their 2008 result. The party is still projected to win only one seat in Quebec, though a few others in the Outaouais are looking promising for the party.

The usually dominant Bloc Québécois, on the other hand, is looking soft. Their support has dropped to 37.4 per cent, below their 2008 level. Several polls have also come out putting the Bloc closer to 30 per cent than the 40 per cent they have hovered around since 2006. The Conservatives are not in a position to take advantage of the Bloc's weakness, as the party has dropped 0.4 points in Quebec to 20.2 per cent. The Liberals, however, are inching upwards: up 0.6 points to 20.6 per cent. Combined with the relative weakness of the Bloc, it puts a few seats in and around Montreal in range of Michael Ignatieff.

Nevertheless, the Bloc is still projected to take the lion's share of the seats in Quebec. Gilles Duceppe is projected to win 50 seats in the province, with the Liberals winning 13, the Conservatives 11, and the New Democrats one.

In the West, the Conservatives are still the party of choice. They are projected to win 49 of the 56 seats in the three Prairie provinces. The New Democrats are doing well enough in Alberta to hold on to their enclave in Edmonton, while Winnipeg is home to several Liberal-NDP, NDP-Conservative, and Conservative-Liberal battles.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up almost a point to 41 per cent, and are projected to win 22 seats in the province. The Liberals and New Democrats divide the remaining 14 between each other equally, with the Liberals dropping 0.6 points to 24 per cent and the New Democrats gaining 0.5 points. They now stand at 23.4 per cent, and are in a position to make some gains if their numbers continue to improve.

Conservative gains, however, look less likely. Unless the Tories can hold off the Liberals in Ontario and snatch a few more seats from them on the two coasts, Stephen Harper may not get his majority government on May 2.

ThreeHundredEight.com 's projection model aggregates all publicly released polls, weighing them by sample size, date, and record of polling firm accuracy. The tested seat projection model makes individual projections for all 308 ridings in the country, based on the provincial and regional shifts in support from the 2008 election and including the application of factors unique to each riding, such as the presence of well-known candidates and the effects of incumbency.

These projections are a reflection of the likely result of an election if an election were held today. They are subject to the margins of error of the opinion polls included in the model, as well as the unpredictable nature of politics at the riding level.

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