As families gather for Thanksgiving dinner, or to watch fall football and baseball games, we expect some of the conversation to touch on the election. Shared views of family and friends have played a role in past elections—particularly assisting undecided voters to make up their minds.

All policy is now released. Party operatives will be shifting their resources to the get-out-the-vote effort. Arguably the least visible aspect of campaigning, behind-the-scenes staff will be preparing to mobilize voters in key ridings. In the 2011 election, 22 ridings were decided by two percentage points or less—so a major push to deliver voters to the polls can be the difference between a win and a loss.

IT’S THE ECONOMY…OR IS IT?

With 12 countries on board and nearly 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, the signed TPP agreement was significant for a number of reasons beyond its international relations. At home, the agreement gave party leaders another point to further differentiate themselves from one another. It also addressed a key economic pillar on the government agenda with a fairly muted reaction from stated opponents (i.e. dairy farmers) who came on board after a manageable change and compensation program. But, by mid-week, Harper already shifted away from Monday’s landmark deal and returned to wedge issues that continue to be featured throughout the campaign. He floated a niqab ban for those in public service as a trial balloon—an unexpected turn for a campaign that was supposed to focus on the economy and foreign affairs.

Opposition parties, for the most part, have given the trade deal a fairly wide berth. Mulcair expressed his opposition, which returned him closer to his party’s roots—but, it might also have been responsible for levelling off the NDP numbers. Otherwise, he made announcements on arts and culture funding, universal drug coverage and defence policy.

Despite pressure from the media, Trudeau held fast on his ‘wait-and-see’ approach to the deal—instead he stuck to his party platform and trumpeting support for the middle class. The Liberals have also been stepping up their attacks on Mulcair, pointing out past statements on pipelines, trade and health care.

DON’T COUNT THE NDP OUT

Though the orange plunge has shelved the prospect of an NDP majority government, Mulcair and his team will play a major role in the outcome of this election. Poll numbers have steadied in the mid-20s and the NDP team will be hustling to solidify ridings in downtown Toronto, Montreal and Outaouais, Que. While they would much rather be working to break new ground in other parts of the country, these areas could prove pivotal and tip the balance of this election.

OCTOBER MEANS SWING SEASON

Much of the country will be focusing on the swings of Bautista, Donaldson and Encarnación in the Rogers Centre—but those aren’t the only swings we’re watching. In any election, there are those key areas that can shift outcomes from one party to another. And, much like past elections, the path to victory in 2015 will be paved through Quebec and the 905-region in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

In 2011, the NDP captured 59 of the 75 available seats in Quebec, but barring the remarkable, we’ll most likely see much different numbers this time around. If polls are reflective of voters’ actions, Liberals are riding higher in the province than at the beginning of the campaign—so expect to see the three other rivals continue their pointed attacks toward Trudeau. Meanwhile, he’ll be leveraging his endorsement from La Presse this week and will look to continue that momentum as he makes an important visit to the popular talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle this weekend. Quebec’s X-factor will be the Bloc’s performance. Duceppe has put the party in contention to win a handful of seats and, depending where those come from, the party could have a major impact on the splits in province.

Expect to see heavy campaigning in and around the Toronto area as the election draws to a close. With a heavy concentration of seats, leaders will be able to visit several ridings a day in this vote-rich area. The NDP has seen their support wane in Toronto, and if the Liberals are able to take advantage of their recent surge, they may be able to win over some Conservative ridings in the GTA.

FINAL DEBATE…WHICH DEBATE?

For the few of us who tuned in for the final debate hosted by Quebec network TVA, most don’t remember much about it. Like the other debates, no leader made any major missteps, nor did enough to impress or move public support significantly.

Political organizers had high hopes that this final debate would be a game changer for their respective leaders. Going in, Mulcair seemed to have the most to lose because with the drop in NDP support in Quebec polls. And certainly there was potential to shake things up by capitalizing on a few inflammatory topics. But in the end, one week later, no one is talking about this debate—or any of them for that matter. If we must pick a winner, it seems post-debate reports reluctantly deemed Bloc leader Duceppe winner. Though, in the end, Duceppe’s appearance won’t likely translate to many more seats.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Well, it’s now or never for the parties, so here is where they pull out all the stops. Leaders have been working on new ads—and soon, we’re going to see them everywhere. Campaigns will be ramping up appearances and micro-targeting on social media will be out in full force with tours reacting to perceived shifts in the campaign. Once again, the whereabouts for the federal leaders will tell us a great deal about where they think breakthroughs can be made, or where support needs to be shored up. We can also expect to see the leaders make this a family affair. Laureen Harper and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau were both active last week, and we expect Catherine Mulcair and family will be easy to spot.

One week to go…

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