Monday, June 1, 2009

Mega Poll Projection Change

You'll all remember where you were when you heard about the monster Ekos poll of 2009.

The combination of the largest poll in Canadian history, an Angus-Reid poll, and the end of the month, when all older polls are reduced in weight, has resulted in a significant change in the projection. This Ekos poll is massive - 10,896 interviews between May 7 and May 28. And it is broken down in so many ways that I will have to analyse it at greater length later this week. I outlined the national polling result in a post this morning, so for now let's look at the regional data.

In British Columbia, the Liberals are ahead with 32.3% to the Conservative 31.0%. The NDP is third with 23.0%. Now, this is a bit of an outlier result, despite the 1,254 respondents. The last Liberal lead in BC was in April in an Ekos poll. So, perhaps there is something in the Ekos methodology that favours the Liberals in BC. Or, perhaps respondents were confused by the BC provincial election taking place during this poll. In that election, only the provincial Liberals and NDP were in the race.

The Alberta, Prairie, and Atlantic numbers are nothing special, so you can check them out in the detailed tables at the bottom of the page. The Ontario result, 39.4% to 34.3% in favour of the Liberals, is also not much different from what we've been seeing.

In Quebec, however, the Conservatives pulled a - relatively - strong 16.3%. Most polls have had the Tories in the low teens here. It is possible that the Ignatieff attack ads have been received better by Quebecers. This wouldn't surprise me, because while they contain silly things like his accent, the French ads do contain some actual political topics. However, at 31.5% the Liberals haven't lost much support in Quebec. The Bloc, at 34.7%, is also only slightly lower than the norm.

I'll take a look at the specifics of the poll later in the week, as there is just too much to cover here.

This poll alone, and considering its size this is something significant, would result in the following seat totals:

Liberals - 124
Conservatives - 114
Bloc Quebecois - 47
New Democrats - 23

The short-term, five-poll projection has changed as well. However, since this projection doesn't take into account poll size, it hasn't changed as much. The change from the previous projection (before CROP, Angus-Reid, and Ekos) is in brackets:

Liberals - 33.7% (-1.1)
Conservatives - 31.5% (-0.5)
New Democrats - 15.4% (+0.8)
Greens - 9.5% (+0.5)
Bloc Quebecois - 8.9% (-0.1)

As for the seats:

Liberals - 120 (-7)
Conservatives - 118 (+5)
Bloc Quebecois - 49 (-1)
New Democrats - 21 (+3)

Now, the long-term projection. The Ekos poll has a huge weight and so the poll has swung pretty widely. The seat projection has now changed drastically. From 126 seats the Conservatives have dropped to 120. The Liberals have risen from 111 to 117, while the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats have remained steady at 50 and 21.

The Conservatives lost two seats each in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. The Liberals gained three in British Columbia and two in Alberta and Ontario. They lost one in Atlantic Canada to the NDP, who lost one of their own seats in British Columbia.

Popular vote swings were large in British Columbia, with support going from the Tories to the Liberals. In Quebec, the Bloc lost almost one point to the benefit of the Conservatives and the Greens. The Liberals almost lost a point as well, in Atlantic Canada to the Greens.

The projection has been classified as an "Unstable Co-Operative Government", because with such a small seat gap between the two major parties, either could govern, but only with the support of other parties or aisle-crossers. This would likely only result in a coalition government or a quick re-election.

This is a difficult poll for every party. Everyone has something to lose. The Bloc will lose some seats and clout. The NDP will lose a quarter or even a third of their seats, which would be disastrous for them. The Conservatives stand to lose power. And the Liberals could lose on the gamble, and end up just outside of power or with a small, unworkable minority.

Now that Jack Layton has said he won't side with the Liberals and force an election at the end of the month, the likelihood of an election is low. With a poll like this, the Liberals would be taking a huge risk by pushing the country into an election. I would imagine they're wise enough to realise this, so it looks like we'll have to wait and see where the chips fall in, well, the fall.

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