Fifty-two ridings across Canada would have been won by a margin of five per cent or less in the last federal election under the new 338-seat electoral map. These vulnerable seats—the “first step” in drafting party target-riding lists—will see a lot of activity this campaign from party leaders and pollsters, say experts. “If you want to know if you’re a target riding, one of the easiest ways to tell is how often you get visited by a party leader,” said Alex Bushell, a former NDP staffer who’s now a consultant at Environics Communications. Residents in those ridings also get more calls from pollsters and from campaigns looking for money and volunteers, he said. “It’s the nature of the electoral system. High poll numbers can mask big provincial and regional differences. By picking out those target ridings—the ones where you have the capability on the ground, a candidate, or a small margin of difference—that can be the difference between winning and losing, or the difference between a majority or a minority,” he said. “It simply doesn’t make sense for parties to concentrate their efforts equally across 338 ridings,” said Mr. Bushell, adding that internal party pollig is typically focused largely on target seats. More than a month has passed since the 2015 federal election was called on Aug. 2, with another month more still to go, and campaign efforts are now in full gear. With a majority government in place and a fixed election law, this year’s electoral showdown has been on the horizon for years, with party’s prepping for it since shortly after the May 2011 vote. This time around, parties had to account for 30 new ridings, many of which were added to Canada’s fastest-growing urban areas in and around Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, which are set to be some of the hottest battlegrounds this fall. Southwestern Ontario and British Columbia ridings are also expected to be among the fiercest battles. “Past results are the single most important thing in identifying a seat as a target or a vulnerable seat,” said Greg Lyle, founder and president of Innovative Research Group. “It’s the first step.” Based on Elections Canada’s vote transposition, reflecting the results of the last federal election in 2011 on the country’s new, 338-seat electoral map, there are 52 ridings that would have been won by a margin of five per cent or less. Of those, 20 are in Ontario, 11 are in Quebec, 10 in B.C., three in Manitoba, two in Nova Scotia, two in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one each in Saskatchewan, P.E.I., Alberta and the Yukon. Some high-profile names are on some of those ballots. In Courtney-Alberni, B.C., Chief Government Whip John Duncan is seeking re-election, and the ridings currently held by Parliamentary secretaries Jacques Gourde, Susan Truppe, Roxanne James, Lois Brown and Peter Braid are also among the vulnerable ones. Ten former MPs—including one former Conservative minister—are running as candidates in these 52 ridings, including: Rob Oliphant (Liberal), Anthony Rota (Liberal), Olivia Chow (NDP), Yasmin Ratansi (Liberal), Peter Penashue (Conservative minister until 2012), Larry Bagnell (Liberal), Navdeep Bains (Liberal), Sukh Dhaliwal (Liberal), Borys Wreznewskyj (Liberal), and Alexandra Mendes (Liberal). “There’s a whole manner of history and data and anecdotal influence that shapes the way that people look at these things,” said Summa Strategies vice-chairman Tim Powers in an interview. Past election results aren’t the only grounds for determining where parties put their resources, said Mr. Bushell. They’re all conducting new polls and outreach, constantly re-crunching the numbers and assessing the playing field throughout a campaign, making the list of target ridings “more of a living document.” “It’s more an art than a science,” he said. Parties also judge the strength of local candidates, including whether the incumbent is running again, said Mr. Lyle. Most new candidates lack name recognition, whereas incumbents typically have a stronger “machine” behind them. There have been demographic changes since the last election in addition to the redistribution, and electoral preferences have shifted over the years, said Mr. Lyle. And the last federal election was a great example of how party standings can change drastically in the eleventh hour of a campaign, said Mr. Bushell. The Conservatives, NDP, and Liberals are in an extremely tight three-way race, with polls generally reflecting a statistical three-way tie. Innovative Research crunched numbers for The Hill Times, taking a look at how electoral support has changed within nine different clusters of riding races. For example, one cluster is the rural ridings where the Conservatives won by a “blowout” (a margin of more than 25 per cent of the vote). The analysis compares the 2011 results to polling numbers from July and August, dividing all 338 ridings into clusters and looking at average levels of support. “In the battleground seats, a lot of the races are looking pretty similar overall,” said Mr. Lyle. Generally speaking, he said, voter preference has “changed less in the swing seats than it’s changed in the stronger seats,” perhaps as a result of different levels of attention. Three-way races in the last election are likely three-way races this time around, he said. In Liberal two-way races, polling shows the party will do better in match-ups against the Conservatives but will “lose against the NDP.” “At this point, it’s probably sort of a break-even for them , whereas the NDP are clearly going to gain ground against the Tories in those NDP-CPC races, in close seats where the Bloc Québécois was competitive last time,” he said. It’s important to remember there’s still plenty of time for further change, and “the Tories’ worst weeks are probably behind them,” said Mr. Lyle, in reference to the Duffy Trial. Target ridings and their constituents can expect to feel the love from parties this election. “You can already see there’s some ridings that I know Thomas Mulcair has been to three times already,” said Mr. Bushell, referring to Mr. Mulcair’s multiple visits in recent weeks to both Perth-Wellington, Ont., where Conservative incumbent Garry Schellenberger isn’t seeking re-election, and to Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Ont., where the NDP has nominated longtime Perth mayor John Fenik as the candidate. The NDP would have finished second in these ridings under 2011 election results by a margin of 33 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively. Both ridings, however, would be within Innovative Research’s cluster of rural CPC “blowout” wins, where support for the Conservatives has dropped by roughly 23 points since 2011 while support for the NDP has increased by three points. The riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming, where Conservative incumbent Jay Aspin won in 2011 by 14 votes, has seen a lot of action, as has the nearby riding of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where incumbent Conservative Bryan Hayes is running. Both were visited by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week. A Sept. 2 piece by The Huffington Post found 16 ministers running for re-election are “in danger or special situations,” based on recent polls, and calculated that almost 20 per cent of the Conservative caucus from 2011 has already left politics or isn’t running for re-election. firstname.lastname@example.org The Hill Times Editor's note: This story incorrectly reported that Liberal MP Mark Eyking is a former MP. The story has been corrected and updated. Vulnerable Ridings Across Canada in 2015 Using Election’s Canada’s transposition of votes to the 2013 representation order, The Hill Times compiled a list of the most vulnerable ridings in Canada this election, focusing on ridings won by a margin of five per cent and less. The transposition of votes reflects the results of the last 2011 federal election onto the new federal riding map, finalized in 2013, meaning it reflects the results of the last election if it had been run under the new electoral map. By this measure, there are 52 vulnerable ridings overall across Canada. Of those, 20 are in Ontario, 11 are in Quebec, 10 in B.C., three in Manitoba, two in Nova Scotia, two in Newfoundland and Labrador, one in Saskatchewan, one in P.E.I., one in Alberta and the Yukon. Thirty new federal ridings are in play this election as a result of redistribution, bringing the total to 338 seats. The following information has been arranged from lowest to highest margin of difference between vote share percentages. The 52 Most Vulnerable Ridings in 2015 Election, Based on 2011 Election Riding Name First Place Party Second Place Party Margin of Difference (% of Vote) Parties with Nominated Candidates Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loop, Que. NDP Conservative 0.1 Marie-Josée Normand (Liberal), François Lapointe (NDP), Bernard Généreux (CPC), Louis Gagnon (BQ) Nipissing-Timiskaming, Ont. Liberal Conservative 0.1 Anthony Rota (Liberal), Kathleen Jodouin (NDP), Jay Aspin (CPC), Nicole Peltier (Green) Winnipeg North, Man. NDP Liberal 0.4 Kevin Lamoureux (Liberal), Levy Abad (NDP), Harpreet Turka (CPC), John Redekopp (Green) Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, B.C. NDP Conservative 0.5 Maria Manna (Liberal), Alistair MacGregor (NDP), Martin Barker (CPC), Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi (Green) Mississauga-Malton, Ont. Conservative Liberal 0.6 Navdeep Bains (Liberal), Dianne Douglas (NDP), Jagdish Grewal (CPC) Labrador, Nfld. Conservative Liberal 0.7 Yvonne Jones (Liberal), Edward Rudkowski (NDP) Mississauga-Thornhill, Ont. Liberal Conservative 0.7 John McCallum (Liberal), Senthi Chelliah (NDP), Jobson Easow (CPC), Josh Russell (Green) Yukon, Yukon Conservative Liberal 0.9 Larry Bagnell (Liberal), Melissa Atkinson (NDP), Ryan Leef (CPC), Frank De Jong (Green) Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont. Liberal Conservative 1.1 John McKay (Liberal), Laura Casselman (NDP), Kazmimierz Konkel (CPC) Surrey-Newton, B.C. NDP Liberal 1.2 Sukh Dhaliwal (Liberal), Jinny Sims (NDP), Harpreet Singh (CPC), Pamela Sangha (Green) Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que. Liberal NDP 1.2 Mélanie Joly (Liberal), Maria Mourani (NDP), William Moughrabi (CPC), Gilles Mercier (Green), Nicolas Bourdon (BQ) Richmond-Arthabaska, Ont. Bloc Québécois NDP 1.3 Marc Desmarais (Liberal), Myriam Beaulieu (NDP), Alain Rayes (CPC), Olivier Nolin (BQ) Etobicoke Centre, Ont. Conservative Liberal 1.3 Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Liberal), Tanya De Mello (NDP), Ted Opitz (CPC), Shawn Rizvi (Green) Regina-Lewvan, Sask. NDP Conservative 1.3 Louis Browne (Liberal), Erin Weir (NDP), Trent Fraser 9CPC), Tamela Friesen (Green) Lévis-Lotbinière, Que. Conservative NDP 1.4 Claude Boucher (Liberal), Hélène Bilodeau (NDP), Jacques Gourde (CPC), Steve Gagné (BQ) Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, Man. Conservative NDP 1.5 Lawrence Joseph (Liberal), Georgina Jolibois (NDP), Rob Clarke (CPC), Warren Koch (Green) Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, N.S. NDP Liberal 1.7 Darren Fisher (Liberal), Robert Chisholm (NDP), Jason Cole (CPC), Brynn Nheiley (Green) Honoré-Mercier, Que. NDP Liberal 1.7 Pablo Rodriquez (Liberal), Pauline Ayala (NDP), Guy Croteau (CPC), Yanick Lefebvre (BQ) Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, B.C. NDP Conservative 1.8 Shari Lukens (CPC), Randall Garrison (NDP), David Merner (Liberal), Frances Litman (Green) Don Valley East, Ont. Liberal Conservative 2 Yasmin Ratansi (Liberal), Khalid Ahmed (NDP), Maureen Harquail (CPC) Scarborough North, Ont. NDP Conservative 2 Shaun Chen (Liberal), Rathika Sitsabaiesan (NDP), Ravinder Malhi (CPC), Eleni MacDonald (Green) Sydney-Victoria, B.C. Liberal Conservative 2.1 Mark Eyking (Liberal), John Chiasson (CPC), Adrianna Mackinnon (Green) Elmwood-Transcona, Man. Conservative NDP 2.1 Andrea Richardson-Lipon (Liberal), Daniel Blaikie (NDP), Lawrence Toet (CPC), Kim Parke (Green) Louis-Saint-Laurent, Que. NDP Conservative 2.3 Youri Rousseau (Liberal), Daniel Caron (NDP), Gérard Deltell (CPC), Ronald Sirard (BQ) Willowdale, Ont. Conservative Liberal 2.3 Alie Ehsassi (Liberal), Pouyan Tabasinejad (NDP), Chungsen Leung (CPC) Don Valley West, Ont. Conservative Liberal 2.4 Rob Oliphant (Liberal), Syeda Riaz (NDP), John Carmichael (CPC) Bécancour-Nicolet-Saurel, Que. Bloc Québécois NDP 2.7 Claude Carpentier (Liberal), Nicolas Tabah (NDP), Claude Poudirer (Green), Louis Plamondon (BQ) London North Centre, Ont. Conservative Liberal 2.9 Peter Fragiskatos (Liebral), German Gutierrez-Sanin (NDP), Susan Truppe (CPC), Carol Dyck (Green) Kings-Hants, N.S. Liberal Conservative 3 Scott Brison (Liberal), David Morse (CPC), Will Cooper (Green) Don Valley North, Ont. Conservative Liberal 3 Geng Tan (Liberal), Akil Sadikali (NDP), Joe Daniel (CPC) Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Conservative NDP 3 Bryan Hayes (CPC) Skip Morrison (NDP) Terry Sheehan (Liberal) Kara Flannigan (Green) Scarborough Centre, Ont. Conservative Liberal 3 Salma Zahid (Liberal), Alexander Wilson (NDP), Roxanne James (CPC), Lindsay Thompson (Green) Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount, Que. Liberal NDP 3.1 Marc Garneau (Liberal), James Hughes (NDP), Richard Sagala (CPC), Melissa Wheeler (Green), Simon Quesnel (BQ) Waterloo, Ont. Conservative Liberal 3.1 Bardish Chagger (Liberal), Diane Freeman (NDP), Peter Braid (CPC), Richard Walsh (Green) Scarborough-Rouge Park, Ont. Liberal Conservative 3.2 Sathiyasangary Anandasangaree (Liberal), Kantharatnam Shanthikumar (NDP), Jagiri “Jerry” Bance (CPC) Scarborough Southwest, Ont. NDP Conservative 3.2 Bill Blair (Liberal), Dan Harris (NDP), Roshan Nallaratnam (CPC), Tommy Taylor (Green) Toronto Centre, Ont. Liberal NDP 3.2 Bill Morneau (Liberal), Linda McQuaig (NDP), Julian Di Battista (CPC), Colin Biggin (Green) Malpeque, P.E.I. Liberal Conservative 3.3 Wayne Easter (Liberal), Leah-Jane Hayward (NDP), Stephen Stewart (CPC), Lynne Lund (Green) Pierrefonds-Dollard, Que. NDP Liberal 3.6 Frank Baylis (Liberal), Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (NDP), Valérie Assouline (CPC) Avalon, Nfld. Conservative Liberal 3.9 Ken McDonald (Liberal), Jeannie Baldwin (NDP), Krista Byrne-Puumala (Green) Brossard-Saint-Lambert, Que. NDP Liberal 4 Alexandra Mendes (Liebral), Hoang Mai (NDP), Qais Hamidi (CPC), Suzanne Lachance (BQ) Lac-Saint-Louis, Que. Liberal NDP 4 Francis Scarpaleggia (Liberal), Ryan Young (NDP), Éric Girard (CPC), Bradford Dean (Green) Niagara Centre, Ont. NDP Conservative 4.1 Vance Badawey (Liberal), Malcolm Allen (NDP), Leanna Villella (CPC), David Clow (Green) Courtenay-Alberni, B.C. Conservative NDP 4.2 Carrie Powell-Davidson (Liberal), Gord Johns (NDP), John Duncan (CPC), Glenn Sollitt (Green) Surrey Centre, B.C. NDP Conservative 4.3 Randeep Sarai (Liberal), Jasbir Sandhu (NDP), Sucha Thind (CPC) North Island-Powell River, B.C. Conservative NDP 4.3 Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal), Rachel Blaney (NDP), Laura Smith (CPC), Brenda Sayers (Green) Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. Bloc Québécois NDP 4.3 Diane Lebouthillier (Liberal), Philip Toone (NDP), Jean-Pierre Pigeon (CPC), Nicolas Roussy (BQ) Burnaby South, B.C. NDP Conservative 4.4 Adam Pankratz (Libearl), Kennedy Stewart (NDP), Grace Seear (CPC), Wyatt Tessari (Green) Winnipeg South Centre, Man. Conservative Liberal 4.6 James Carr (Liberal), Matt Henderson (NDP), Joyce Bateman (CPC), Andrew Park (Green) Vancouver Centre, B.C. Liberal NDP 4.7 Hedy Fry (Liberal), Constance Barnes (NDP), Elaine Allan (CPC), Lisa Barrett (Green) Nanaimo-Ladysmith, B.C. NDP Conservative 4.9 Tim Tessier (Liberal), Sheila Malcolmson (NDP), Mark MacDonald (CPC), Paul Manly (Green) Mississauga Centre, Ont. Conservative Liberal 5 Omar Alghabra (Liberal), Farheen Khan (NDP), Julius Tiangson (CPC), Linh Nguyen (Green) —information from Elections Canada and candidate names from punditsguide.com, compiled by Laura Ryckewaert.