If a federal election were held tomorrow, polls suggest that Justin Trudeau could restore Liberal fortunes in Quebec at the expense of the NDP and bring his party back to power nationally.
But if that is really the case someone forgot to tell the four people who are vying to run for the NDP in the federal riding of Bourassa.
Never have so many fought for the privilege of representing the party anywhere in Quebec, let alone in a riding that has deeper Liberal roots than average.
That is not to predict that the NDP will take Denis Coderre's former seat.
The Montreal riding - whose makeup parallels that of Trudeau's own neighbouring Papineau - is the Liberals' to lose.
But there are also parallels between Bourassa and Outremont, the riding where the NDP flag was first planted by Thomas Mulcair himself in what turned out to be a prelude to the 2011 orange wave.
Now, as then, the New Democrats had a lot of advance notice that a Liberal-held riding was going to open. Coderre's mayoral ambitions were one of the worst-kept secrets in town. While the Liberals were engaged in their lengthy leadership campaign, the New Democrats had plenty of time to ready themselves for battle in Bourassa.
In between elections, Quebecers have a tendency to be attracted to bright shiny objects. In their time, Kim Campbell, Paul Martin, Stéphane Dion and more recently Michael Ignatieff all caught the fancy of a decisive contingent of Quebec voters, only to have that support melt away on the way to the polling stations.
Trudeau's positive numbers may or may not fall in that category. On the basis of a lot of accumulated anecdotal evidence, most Quebec voters are primarily anti-Conservative these days and precious few talk of the NDP and the Liberals as an either/or proposition.
That reality is reflected in poll numbers that suggest Quebecers are not about to return to the fold of a permanent opposition party such as the Bloc Québécois. The combined NDP/Liberal score in voting intentions hovers around 70 per cent. Together the two main opposition parties would sweep the province. (Their combined forces would also carry Ontario). Divided, they are poised to inflict crippling injuries on each other between now and the 2015 election. To win back power in two years, the Liberals will need to improve their lot in Quebec; they can't do that without pushing back the New Democrats.
For their part, the New Democrats cannot move beyond second place without making significant gains in Ontario. There, their support is stagnant and the Liberals are in the lead.
The competitive NDP nomination battle for Bourassa is a clear signal that anyone who expects the party to lie down and play dead in Quebec while the Liberals make themselves comfortable in the province again is seriously deluded. As things stand today, the New Democrats are poised to fight the
Liberals every inch of the way, and vice versa.
That will be just as true in Toronto Centre, the seat left vacant by the interim Liberal leader Bob Rae and - should she run for mayor - in Olivia Chow's riding of Trinity-Spadina.
It is not necessary to wait for the writ to be dropped in any of those ridings to know who the real winner will be. Stephen Harper and the Conservative party have no dogs in any of those races.
Little could serve the governing party better than to have its main rivals spend the next political season tearing a strip off each other for marginal gains.
The NDP caucus is gathered in Saskatchewan this week to discuss the next steps in its long march to federal power.
One can only wonder where spending the better part of a year fighting Liberals fits in a coherent plan to oust the Conservatives from government.
If there is something familiar about the NDP setting out to drum into voters the notion that it is the only credible alternative to the Conservatives, it is because that approach is straight out of Michael Ignatieff's discarded campaign playbook.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.