Friday, June 24, 2016

The Pollcast: The Liberals and their digital revolution

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For years, the Conservatives beat their rivals at the ballot box thanks in part to their superior skills at slicing and dicing the electorate. They learned a lot about their potential supporters and appealed to them as consumers. Then they reaped the electoral rewards.

But their election-winning strategy hit a wall in 2015 when the Liberals finally caught up in the data wars and employed new and risky advertising strategies with success.

"Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them," originally published in 2013, delves into how politics and marketing have come together in Canada.

Susan Delacourt, columnist for the Toronto Star and iPolitics and author of the book, joins me to discuss the new chapters in her updated edition that look at how the Liberals won in 2015.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to hear future episodes here.

Uniting Wildrose and the PCs in Alberta no easy task for Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney might be planning to leave federal politics to enter the fray in Alberta, riding in as a white knight to unite the divided right and defeat Rachel Notley's governing New Democrats.

It may prove even more difficult than many think.

Kenney, a former high-profile cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government, has been widely seen as a likely front-runner in the race to replace the departed Conservative leader.

Instead, the job vacancy that Kenney might now be hoping to fill is the leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives — a position abandoned by Jim Prentice after the PCs, who had governed the province uninterrupted from 1971, were reduced to third-party status in the 2015 election.

The party that vaulted ahead and currently occupies the role of the Official Opposition is Wildrose, led by former Conservative MP Brian Jean. Kenney would need to absorb Wildrose into the PCs in order to unite the right and create a common front to fight the NDP.

Wildrose, however, is not much inclined to be absorbed. And Brian Jean doesn't want to go anywhere. With more seats (22 compared to nine for the PCs) and more money in the bank, he could easily make the argument that it is the PCs that need to sacrifice themselves.

You can read the rest of this article here.

British voters split on Brexit referendum vote, but Remain may have edge: polls

The tumultuous and divisive referendum campaign on the future of the United Kingdom's place in the European Union comes to a fittingly tense and uncertain end Thursday, as polls suggest it could be decided by the narrowest of margins.

But after some harrowing days on an increasingly negative campaign trail that seemed to be leaning towards Brexit — interrupted by the tragic and violent murder of Labour MP Jo Cox — the edge may be back with the Remain camp.

In the last six polls published by members of the British Polling Council before Wednesday, the Remain side has averaged 45.5 per cent support. The Leave campaign follows less than two points behind at 43.8 per cent. On average, 10 per cent of voters remain undecided.

You can read the rest of this Brexit analysis here.

Donald Trump slumps in polls after Orlando

If Donald Trump believed that the Orlando shooting and a renewed focus on terrorism would help boost his sagging presidential campaign, polls suggest it has had no such impact.

In fact, his reaction to the tragedy may be hurting him.

The presumptive Republican nominee is now trailing rival Hillary Clinton in CBC's weighted average of U.S. polls by a greater margin than two weeks ago. His support stands at 43.2 per cent among decided registered or likely voters, compared to 49.3 per cent for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

You can read the rest of this U.S. politics analysis here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Pollcast: The state of the Parti Québécois leadership race

The Parti Québécois last finished a leadership race in May, 2015. The next one, brought about by the sudden resignation of Pierre Karl Péladeau last month, will come to a close in October. Will the man who finished second last year come out on top this year?

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to the podcast here.

Alexandre Cloutier, MNA for the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean, took 29 per cent of the vote in his losing leadership bid in 2015. This time, he is widely seen as the campaign's front runner. A poll published last week by Léger gave him 37 per cent support among PQ voters, more than double the support of his nearest rival. About a dozen caucus members have endorsed him.

But the race is far from over and the debates over what strategy the Parti Québécois should adopt on the question of the next referendum still rage. 

Cloutier shares a similar position with Véronique Hivon, MNA for the riding of Joliette, in waiting for "winning conditions" before launching another referendum campaign on Quebec's independence.

Other contestants for the PQ's leadership have different takes. Jean-François Lisée, MNA for Rosemont, thinks a referendum should not be held in a first mandate should the party form government. Martine Ouellet, the MNA for Vachon who took 13 per cent of the vote as a leadership contestant last year, thinks the party should hold a referendum as soon as possible.

Polls suggest support for sovereignty is still low and that there is little enthusiasm for another referendum in the short term. But the uncertainty over whether the party would hold a referendum if re-elected helped doom the PQ's campaign in 2014. Will the PQ's membership endorse Cloutier or Hivon's less well-defined position, or opt for the clarity offered by Lisée or Ouellet?

Joining me to discuss the race and Léger's latest poll numbers is Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Léger.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to the podcast here.

2015 federal election saw youth vote in unprecedented numbers

The 2015 federal election saw a huge increase in turnout among young Canadians — particularly young Canadian women — according to data released by Elections Canada.

While there was an increase among all age groups, the biggest occurred among eligible voters aged 18 to 24, the elections agency said. Turnout among this group increased 18.3 points, to 57.1 per cent compared to 38.8 per cent in 2011.

Elections Canada said Wednesday this is the biggest increase in turnout among this age group since it began making demographic turnout estimates in 2004.

You can read the rest of this article here.

It might be a long wait before Tory, NDP leadership contenders make the jump

And they're off! Eventually.

The Conservative and NDP leadership campaigns are taking some time to get going. In addition to being abnormally long, they both suffer from a lack of high-profile candidates officially in the running.

So when will the serious contenders step forward?

The Conservatives will choose their next leader on May 27, 2017, while the New Democrats will hold their leadership vote between Sept. 17 and Oct. 31, 2017. Three contestants have entered the Conservative race: Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch. No official candidates have yet emerged on the NDP side.

The conventional wisdom is that the higher profile candidates may wait a significant amount of time before taking the plunge — and with good reason, according to an analysis of how federal and provincial leadership races have played out over the last decade.

You can read the rest of this analysis on past leadership races here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Pollcast: NDP leadership up for grabs — who wants it?

Last week, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen ruled himself out for the leadership of the NDP. This week, Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo threw her hat into the ring — "unofficially."

The race to replace Tom Mulcair as leader of the New Democrats is off to a rough start. Where does it go from here?

Cullen, who was seen as a potential front runner, was not the only high-profile New Democrat to turn down the job. Former Nova Scotia MP Megan Leslie, who was also considered a potential future leader, said she wasn't interested in the position shortly after Tom Mulcair lost a leadership review vote at the NDP's convention in April.

So far, DiNovo is the only candidate to express an interest in the leadership. But despite her campaign launch earlier this week, DiNovo says she has no intention of paying the party's $30,000 entrance fee, and so is not an official candidate.

A lot of time remains before party members cast a ballot — the vote will only be held in September or October 2017. It could be some time before better known candidates decide to take the plunge. But who might they be?

Joining me to handicap the early days of the NDP leadership race are two party insiders, Robin MacLachlan, vice president at Summa Strategies, and Sally Housser, senior consultant at Navigator.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in the all-important electoral college, polls suggest

After finally securing a majority of pledged delegates in the Democratic presidential nomination last night — and a majority of all delegates, including superdelegates, on Monday — Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. Only Donald Trump now stands between her and the White House, and her chances still look good against the erratic and unpredictable Republican candidate.

After closing the gap on his Democratic rival, Trump has failed to maintain that forward momentum in recent polls. Though he still trails Clinton by a handful of points nationwide, the electoral map remains an imposing challenge for him.

You can read the rest of this article here. This article also represents the launching of a new U.S. projection model. The full methodology for the new model can be found here. Should be an interesting five months!

British voters leaning Leave as Brexit referendum approaches, polls suggest

After months of a "Brexit" looking like a long shot, the United Kingdom might be heading towards that option as the referendum on the country's membership in the European Union finally approaches.

This according to a slew of recent polls. But the margin between the two options on the June 23 referendum ballot — to "remain" a member of the EU or to "leave" it — is very close, and past experience in favour of the status quo suggests the betting odds might still be in favour of a vote to stay.

You can read the rest of this article here.