Thursday, October 22, 2009

New EKOS Poll: 11.2-pt Conservative Lead

The new EKOS poll this week (thanks to DL for the sneak-peek) shows the Conservative lead narrowing a little. But just a little.

Taken between October 14 and October 20, and involving 3,270 Canadians, these were the national results:

Conservatives - 38.3%
Liberals - 27.1%
New Democrats - 14.5%
Greens - 11.0%
Bloc Quebecois - 9.0%

Certainly, still a good result for the Conservatives. But they want to be much closer to 40%, if not above it. This sort of result would give them more or less what they had in the 2008 election. The Liberal result is certainly bad, but it is better, which is a good sign for them. The NDP needs to be worried about their falling to the wayside.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives seem to be back down and are at 37.5%. The Liberals are at 25.4% and the NDP is at 24.9%. At 12.1%, the Greens aren't electing Elizabeth May.

In Alberta, the Conservatives are good at 59.5% and the Liberals are very competitive at 21.7%. The NDP is in trouble in Edmonton-Strathcona with 8.3%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives lead with 54.1%, the NDP follows at 22.6%, and the Liberals are struggling at 16.7%.

The Conservatives have a 10.2-point lead in Ontario over the Liberals, 41.8% to 31.6%. A very good number for the Tories. The NDP is at 14.1%.

The Bloc Quebecois leads Quebec with 35.8%. The Liberals and Conservatives are tied for second at 23.1%. A good result for the Conservatives, a bad result for the Liberals. The NDP is at 8.0% and in fifth, behind the Greens at 10.0%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have their only lead, 36.6% to the Conservative 32.0%. The NDP is at 22.4%.

As has been the case for awhile now, the Conservatives lead in almost every demographic. Only the less-than-25-year-olds have withstood their charms. The Conservatives also lead in the major cities, including Toronto, while the Liberals have moved back into first, ahead of the Bloc, in Montreal.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 152
Liberals - 84
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 23

So the Conservatives are back into minority territory, but only just. No one else stands to improve much at all.

The question of what electoral result would be best was also asked. The options were Liberal minority/majority, Conservative minority/majority, or none of these.

The favourite option is a Conservative majority, with 30.1%. Interestingly, that is well below national Conservative support. The next favourite option is a Liberal majority, with 21.3%. Then it is a Liberal minority at 13.5% and then a Conservative minority with 9.3%. The "none of these" option was almost as high as a Conservative majority, with 25.9%.

This also means that 39.4% chose a Conservative government of some kind while 34.8% chose a Liberal government. For the Tories, that is only 3% higher than their national support. For the Liberals, that is 28% higher.

As to how the supporters of the various parties answered, less than 10% of Conservatives and Liberals wanted their opponent in government. But for the three perennial opposition parties, a Liberal minority is the clear favourite. In fact, for all three parties, a minority of some kind is preferred to a majority. Which shows sense.

Almost half of NDP supporters (49.6%) believe that an NDP government is best. Those understanding that this would be impossible chose the Liberals (31.6%) over the Conservatives (18.5%) as the government.

Green supporters also chose "none of these" above all (49.6%), but the Liberals (33.8%) were favoured over the Conservatives (16.6%).

Bloc supporters are slightly more sensible, with 46.7% saying "none of these". The Liberals were next with 30.3% and the Conservatives last with 22.9%.

As usual, this shows that the Liberals have more potential for growth by picking at the supporters of the smaller parties. How to do that is another matter entirely.


  1. What I find remarkable is that one half of NDP and Green supporters insisted on answering "none of the above" when the question tried to force them to choose between the two evils of a Liberal or a Conservative government. That's actually a very high proportion of people rejecting the answer categories presented to them and it actually tells me that the number of people supporting the smaller parties who buy into the "Liberals as the lesser of two evils" is actually a lot smaller than the Liberals would probably like it to be. In any case, I could easily say that under torture as needles are about to be inserted into my eyeballs I'd "prefer" a Liberal government over a Tory government - but that still doesn't mean that there is any chance whatsoever that I would vote Liberal to make it happen.

  2. They shouldn't have given them the option, since they don't actually have the option. It will be one or the other.

    For my part, I've come to the conclusion that I don't care who is in government, as long as it is a minority. Both major parties have positions that I disagree with, so a minority keeps them in line.

  3. Interesting poll, although the Greens seem a little high. I would have Expected the Liberals to have slightly higher numbers considering all this cheque business, but maybe it's just taking some time to sink in, if it does at all. Also since they announced their universal childcare plan, but that didn't get much play.

    Does anyone know if EKOS will continue to pump out these polls for CBC even though an election will not happen now till sometime next year in all likelihood?

  4. I had asked them something to that effect awhile ago, and they didn't want to give an answer. I suppose they don't want their competitors to know when they won't be active anymore.

  5. If you don't have specific riding by riding polls how do you make those statements about the NDP seats?

    How do you decide how the votes are distributed?

  6. I do my own polling in those ridings.

  7. Last week the Tories lead by 16 points and now its 11 points. I think if i was the opposition I would be very satisfied to have narrowed the gap by 5 points and stopped Tory momentum in its tracks.

    btw: The Liberals promise on child care is a total joke. Ignatieff said a Liberal government would fund child care "once the budget has been rebalanced and we can afford it" - in other words NEVER.

  8. NANOS:

    Nanos: Con 39.8% Lib 30% Ndp 16.6% Bq 8.9% Grn 4.6%

  9. There you have it. Ekos and most of the others read people a list of parties to choose from and they include the Green party - subliminally sending the message to people that this is a party that is just as serious a player and the "big three". Nanos is the only pollster as far as I know who does not read out ANY of the party names he just asks the respondent to name which party they would vote for WITHOUT any prompting. Bingo, the Green vote collapses from 11% (which everyone knows is absurd) to a more realistic 4.6% - and not surprisingly the Liberals and NDP are the main beneficiaries.

    My hunch is that there is a large pool of people who know they don't like the Tories but they are undecided as to which opposition party to support - if you offer then "green" they will park their vote there for the moment - but its really just another way of saying "tossup between Liberal and NDP"

  10. DL to suggest one poll means more than the next is disingenous.

    MOE was 2.8 and latest is 1.7.

    Whether the lead is 10-14 pts the direction of the trend has been the important fact.

    The pollsters note the Sudbury meltdown forced voters again to examine the leader and his party.

    They are clearly unimpressed with empty rhetoric and 100% negative attacks on logos, wafers, novelty cheques.

    Every single "file/issue" and demographic the Liberals are falling behind.

    Those are the RED flags.

  11. DL:

    We have discussed this issue about prompting vis-a-vis the Greens before.

    What makes you so sure that Nanos' method is superior?

    After all, when a voter gets his/her ballot, the candidate names will all be listed along with party affiliation.

    One could argue that prompting with party names more closely replicates the voting experience.

  12. I disagree, as most people don't make up their minds in the polling booth.

  13. I never said that one poll was more "valid" than the other - just that its an interesting difference. Last election, Ekos and Decima etc...who insist on maingtaining the fiction that the Greens are a serious party by including them in the rotation, consistently had them at 10, 11 sometimes even 12% in the polls during the campaign. What did the Greens get in the election? 6.7% - and that was in an election where the environment was a very high profile issue and when the media was giving Elizabeth may saturation publicity. Now, she is widely viewed as a has-been, there has not been a single solitary media story about anything to do with the Green party in months and the environment has fallen off the map as an issue. Its hard to see them going anywhere but DOWN compared to last time.

  14. DL,

    I will not attack the Green Party simply because the first past the post system will be harm them from winning any seats.

    Voters have left the Liberals and NDP and have moved those votes to another option.

    The suggestion by the Liberals, Bloc that voters should not support the Green or NDP platform to stop the CPC is faulty.

    Strategic voting does not work.

    The CPC merged to resolve their vote splitting and the left are free to follow or twist in the wind to divide the left.

    Leadership and tough decisions are required by the leaders of the left if they want their agenda and control.

  15. The question is has anyone actually moved their vote as you say? or do we have a phenomenon of a party that is really just a figment of a change in polling methodology.

    It means sweet fuck all for the Green party to occasionally get 11% of respondents to claim they would vote for them in a poll - if on election day over half of those people don't vote or vote for other parties.

    In Canada we measure the strength parties by what they get in terms of actual election results - not poll results.

  16. Eric wrote:

    "I disagree, as most people don't make up their minds in the polling booth."

    First of all, we're not talking about "most people". We're talking about a small percentage of the population who might be inclined to answer "Green" in some polls and who may or may not vote for a Green candidate in an actual election.

    People can and do sometimes make a final decision when behind the polling screen (I have sometimes done so myself).

    If DL is correct that much of the Green response in some polls is a protest vote against the main contenders, these would be exactly the kinds of people who might make their final decision when the ballot is in hand.

    Secondly, to the extent that people make up their minds during an election campaign but before voting day, much might depend on how much exposure the Greens get.

    Might the media give the Greens significantly less free exposure in the next election? Might they be excluded from the leaders' debates? Maybe, but I wouldn't count on it.

  17. DL ask Eric in the last 3 elections how each polling company were underpolling the CPC vote or over polling the Lib numbers.

    Nanos is late to see those CPC numbers and keep the Libs higher, Eric has his ideas of what polling companies favour what party.

    Do we agree campaigns matter?

    Organization, funding ability to get the vote out are very important in close races.

    In AB many people stay home because it is a "lost" cause?

    If you look at the polling companies and look at the confirmed voters for every pollster will show the CPC have the most loyal or least likely to bleed.

    The Liberal voter is also the most difficult to get out.

    The NDP and Bloc have a good ground game.

    If the Greens had a better team that could get their vote out they may increase their numbers.

    Look at the demographics of each party. What is the best, largest demographic that vote?

    Look up the anatomy of the Liberal defeat -McGill study. (It is not about simply changing leaders)

  18. The demographic "base' for the Green party (if it could be called a base0 seems to be people under 25 who pay little or no attention to politics. In other wordss the people who are typically the least committed and the least likely to actually vote.

  19. DL
    you are making my point why they are polling higher than results

  20. DL,

    Your comment about the Green demographic is a valid one.

    Given that the Greens' strongest age category is those 18-25 and those are also the least likely to vote, this presents a challenge for the Green Party.

    Don't get me wrong, I would be rather surprised to see the Greens get 10 per cent or more nationally in the next election.

    I just don't think that there are particularly strong reasons to expect the Greens to do worse in the next election than the 6.8% they received in 2008.

    In terms of tangible, non-poll indicators, financial contributions to their party have certainly held up well and, since last year's election, the Greens are eligible for the vote-per-subsidy scheme -- that means millions more dollars they can put towards an election campaign.

  21. Dl,

    Jack Layton is most trusted on the environment anyways. Instead of complaining about the greens why don't you suggest a merger the next time Elizabeth May loses ?

  22. There is nothing new about the Greens being eligible for the per-vote subsidy. They got that after the 2004 election and they got that after the 2006 election as well. That was Jim Harris's strategy right from the start - run candidates in every single riding, get over the 2% hurdle that gets you funding and then use the money to give jobs to a few otherwise unemployable friends of his.

    What they actually did with the money I cannot tell you. I suspect that most of it got wasted sending a few paid staffers rambling around Central Nova asking for directions.

  23. DL why are you angry a Green Party exists?

    Harper did try to end the political "welfare" but some of you guys let that get to your head you deserved the keys to the executive washrooms.

    Luckily the GG granted the Christmas break 5 days earlier to allow the effects of those funny mushrooms to wear off.

  24. As I've explained before, Harper is the biggest beneficiary of that "political welfare" - and he was going to continue to be even if he did succeed in removing the per-vote subsidy.

  25. Eric,

    you should know better than to say "Harper is the biggest beneficiary" of political subsidies.

    Yes, in absolute dollar terms he gets the most money because he gets the most votes.

    However, the proper metric is to look at what amount of a party's funding comes from the government versus donations.

    In this regard Harper benefits the LEAST from subsidies because he has lots of private donors.

  26. And as also explained, private donations rely primarily on subsidies as well.

  27. Eric,

    "private donations rely primarily on subsidies."

    Subsidization is actually a pretty meaningless incentive when it comes to private donations.

    Usually incentives are formulated around price elasticity of demand. In products where the demand exhibits a high degree of elasticity you can get people over the hump of deciding to buy or not by incentivizing them to do so.

    But the cost of donating isn't fixed so if the government takes away this form of incentive people will respond by simply lowering the amount they donate.

    The idea that political donations will dry up if subsidization is removed seems silly, except maybe some cases around the margins. People who bother to donate are pretty active politically and place a very high value on doing so.

    So the system of private donations will continue but with less $ being given.

    So who are the winners and the losers in this scenario? That's easy to guess, assuming the impact is more or less even just take every party's revenue figures and give them a hair cut.

    The people with the highest revenue to begin with, the Conservatives, retain their comparative advantage over everyone else.

    Per vote subsidies give the Conservatives the LEAST comparative advantage and tax deductability for donations has no effect on comparative advantage except to dilute the benefit of per vote subsidies.

  28. Sorry I meant competitive advantage above, not comparative advantage.

  29. I have serious doubts that the subsidy isn't a real incentive in donating. Do you think a lot of people would be giving $400 donations if they didn't get $300 back? I've donated in the past, and it was a huge incentive in giving more than I'd normally be comfortable with. And the people asking for donations definitely play it up.

    Anyway, I favour only per-vote subsidies (and no subsidies on donations). And to address some of the fairness concerns, every party with 1% of the national vote would also get it and all elected independents.

  30. Eric,

    that was my point. The incentive increases the amount people donate but not whether they donate or not. So the party with the most private donors, the Conservatives, would still have the most private donors.

    Therefore, it is wrong to say they rely upon or benefit the most from subsidies.

    They may recieve the most money because they get the most votes but what matters is your position relative to the other parties and in that regard the BQ and Greens benefit most from the per vote subsidy as they have the lowest number of private donors.

  31. When we're talking about taxpayer dollars, the "relative" position doesn't matter. Most of our taxpayer dollars are going to the Conservatives, not any one of the other parties. And the subsidies given to people who donate is just as bad, if not worse, since it is not based on democracy, which is the best aspect of the per-vote subsidy.

  32. Think of it this way. Five people donate, each to one of the parties. The Conservatives receive a donation of $400. The Liberals receive a donation of $350. The Greens receive a donation of $100. The Bloc receives a donation of $150. And the NDP receives a donation of $40.

    If I were an NDP supporter, my tax dollars are subsidising the Conservative Party more than any other. But I didn't vote for them.

    With the per-vote subsidy, each party receives their $1.95 per person. No one benefits from having richer or more dedicated supporters.

  33. Eric wrote:

    "or more dedicated supporters"

    No one would benefit from having people who actually WANT to give them money.

    How is your government-monopoly-on-political-spending system even slightly even slightly in keeping with basic democratic freedoms?

    As I noted before, your system is like saying that people shouldn't be able to freely donate their money to the churches that they like -- after all it's not "fair" that churches with more dedicated adherents have more money.

    Instead, in Eric's world, all taxpayers should be forced to turn over money to churches that they don't necessarily support. Maybe the system would be based on attendance on an average Sunday.

    Freedom? Bah! We Canadians much prefer the government to control EVERYTHING.

  34. I wouldn't ban private donations, just the subsidies on those donations. And as for churches, we all pay for churches we don't support through their tax exemption. If they were all paying taxes, the government would have more money and need less from us.

  35. Eric wrote:

    "through their tax exemption"

    What tax exemption are you talking about?

    Churches don't pay income tax because they do not earn income.

    Which is incidentally the same for all manner of charities, non-profits and political organizations.

  36. Incidentally, I do at least agree that the current political tax credit is excessively generous.

    A credit comparable to the general charitable tax credit would be defensible within our overall system, but no more.

    And frankly, the reimbursement of election expenses is just ridiculous.

    But that gross perversion of our electoral system that is the subsidy-per-vote scheme must be eliminated.

  37. Martin,

    I'm pretty sure churches do not pay property taxes.

  38. Eric,

    It is true that most Canadian municipalities do not charge property tax on churches, but that is true generally for most types of property that are neither residential nor commercial.

    Whether it is the headquarters of Habitat for Humanity or the local Royal Canadian Legion, generally such places do not pay property tax.

    (There is logic behind this too -- most property-tax funded services don't incur an increased demand because of church attendance (etc.). If one family goes to church and another does not, the first family is not more expensive for the municipality to service with schools, sewage treatment, libraries, swimming pools, etc.)

    It is not some special dispensation to churches alone, nor is this one narrow area some sort of general "their tax exemption", as you implied.

    You cannot seriously compare the property tax issue with the multiple ways in which dumptrucks-full of taxpayer money are regularly delivered to political parties.

    But what about my idea of a subsidy-per-Sunday-attender? Shouldn't you support that too?

    Or maybe Canadians would react with outrage that they are being forced to support beliefs that they don't agree with -- kind of like with our current suite of political subsidies.

  39. --- "But what about my idea of a subsidy-per-Sunday-attender? Shouldn't you support that too?"

    No, political parties are important to the running of the country.

  40. How does $$ per vote make it more fair than donations?

    I agree that alot of the subsidy should be removed.

    But you have given an example of how the subsidy gives more of the peoples tax money to people who donate more.

    You are assuming we all pay taxes at the same rate. Across all demographics (or all demographics vote equally for each party)

    But income tax isn't equal.... And property tax sure isn't.

    For a quick example. My neighbour on welfare pays nearly nothing in the various taxes. Whereas my tax bill is somewhere around 20-25 thousand. (dad's is somewhere in the 50k range... gotta love property taxes)

    Why should my tax money go to my neighbors choice in his political vote instead of where I want it to go?

  41. Everyone pays some taxes, even those on welfare.

    The per-vote subsidy is based on the idea that political parties need to have the funds to be able to communicate to Canadians what they propose and support. It is important that Canadians are informed in their democratic choices, and money is needed to make that information available.

    The next assumption is that parties shouldn't have an overly unfair advantage in communicating to Canadians based solely on the commitment and wealth of their supporters. And when parties are completely dependent on donations from individuals, they become completely dependent on those individuals. And that is where corruption comes in.

    So that is where the idea of public funding comes in. But then it immediately comes to mind that parties that do not receive a lot of democratic support should not be given the same funding levels as parties that do have democratic support, i.e. the support of tax payers.

    Election results are thus the best way to gauge public support and so calculate how much each party should receive.

    And the line about the neighbour not paying taxes and you're supporting his choices is bull. You don't know what happens, and one day your neighbour might be wealthy and you'll be on welfare. I'm sure your tune would change then.

  42. Eric wrote:

    "political parties are important to the running of the country."

    You are free to that opinion and you should be free to offer your voluntary support to political parties.

    What of someone who doesn't agree that funnelling money to a handful of entrenched political parties is beneficial? (After all, it violates the basic democratic tenet of being able to CHOOSE.)

    Why should your opinion be forced on this other person?

    Donate money to political parties to your heart's content.

    Just don't force other people into your viewpoint.

    Yours is really no different from the medieval view of the church. After all, a strong church was obviously important, so clearly everyone should be taxed and that money be turned over to the church.

  43. We all pay taxes for things we don't use or support, so I'm afraid your line of argument doesn't hold water. We live in a democracy and subsidising political parties is the democratic choice we made as a country.

    Don't like it? Vote in people to over-turn it.

  44. Eric,

    you're at odds with yourself:

    "We all pay taxes for things we don't use or support"

    Wasn't your arguement about the tax deductability about NDP voter's tax payer money going towards the Conservatives and how unfair that is?

    Regardless, my arguement wasn't based around who's getting who's money.

    It was simply to refute the notion that the Conservatives benefit POLITICALLY the most from subsidization by making the point that with a finite number of seats politics is a zero sum game where your relative position to other vote getters is what matters and that political subsidization doesn't improve their relative position at all.

  45. Also, I should add to your discussions that there is something like a $2000 a year cap on donations.

    Nobody in politics is going to sell their soul for a lousy $2000 - not worth risking your pension over in the slightest.

  46. Eric wrote:

    "We all pay taxes for things we don't use or support, so I'm afraid your line of argument doesn't hold water."

    I'm sorry Eric, but that doesn't make a bit of sense. Even the most big-government-friendly person cannot credibly claim that just because governments subsidize _some_ things that then, every time a government directs money to some purpose, that it is necessarily just or appropriate.

    So again, if some government chose to direct billions of tax dollars to a particular church, I guess you'd say: "oh well, we all pay taxes for things we don't use or support, so there is no valid case for making a complaint."


    "We live in a democracy and subsidising political parties is the democratic choice we made as a country."

    In the first place, one should qualify that. The people never got to vote on the vote-per-subsidy scheme and none of the political parties who rammed it through Parliament campaigned on that in the previous election.

    But, more importantly, what does that have to do with anything? I'm not disputing what the current state of the law is, I am merely arguing that it is not a good law.

    It almost sounds like you're arguing that people can never complain about an existing law just because it was democratically established. What kind of democracy is that? Some sort of temporal tyranny, where once a law is established it can never be challenged or criticized?

    "Don't like it? Vote in people to over-turn it."

    Of course. And presumably I can make arguments as to why we should overturn it ... and challenge poorly thought-out claims to the contrary.

  47. --- "Even the most big-government-friendly person cannot credibly claim that just because governments subsidize _some_ things that then, every time a government directs money to some purpose, that it is necessarily just or appropriate."

    Of course, I didn't say that. You were complaining about having your taxes subsidise parties you don't support. My reply is, really, TS. We all pay for things we don't support.

    --- "So again, if some government chose to direct billions of tax dollars to a particular church, I guess you'd say: "oh well, we all pay taxes for things we don't use or support, so there is no valid case for making a complaint." Absurd."

    No, I'm arguing that you need more of a reason to do away with the subsidy than simply not liking who is receiving it. You haven't given any argument other than you not having voted for the party receiving the subsidy.

    --- "And presumably I can make arguments as to why we should overturn it ... and challenge poorly thought-out claims to the contrary."

    Don't flatter yourself.

  48. Eric wrote:

    "You haven't given any argument other than you not having voted for the party receiving the subsidy"

    I am not unhappy because one particular point of view that I disagree with is among those being subsidized. I object to the premise underlying the subsidy-per-vote scheme. I don't want a party that I support to get the subsidy-per-vote.

    To return to the church funding example. Even if a subsidy-per-Sunday-attendance scheme were open to _all_ (big) churches it would still be wrong. And simply saying "TS" would not be a particularly well-thought-out defence.

    I have outlined many related reasons for my objections, from the screwing-over of independent candidates, to the arbitrary favouritism of large established parties, to the perverting of the basic purpose of conducting elections.

    "Don't flatter yourself."

    What's that about? You object to my referring to some claims as "poorly thought-out"?

    Yet you don't hesitate to refer to the arguments of others as "not holding water" and being "bull".

  49. It's 1:30 in the morning. I'm tired.

    I'm also tired of the kind of partisan talking points that started this whole debate (Canadian Sense calling it "political welfare").

    I'm also tired of having the same arguments over and over again with the same people who can never be anything but right.

    --- "I object to the premise underlying the subsidy-per-vote scheme."

    Considering that this is the basis of our disagreement, we might as well drop it.

  50. "I'm also tired of having the same arguments over and over again with the same people who can never be anything but right."

    You do realize though, that there is more than one side of this debate that can come across that way, right?

    "Considering that this is the basis of our disagreement, we might as well drop it."

    Fair enough. I'm not sure there's much further to be said anyway.

  51. You changed the channel eric.

    The subsidy through the tax system is unfair because money goes to the party from general revenue. From taxes of people who might not support it.

    I simply pointed out that the per vote subsidy is the same. That money goes from the general revenue to parties that people might not support.

    Further to taxes, I do know that people on welfare do pay taxes. I simply pointed out that in the per vote people who pay less tax seem to have their vote count the same money wise as people who pay more tax.

    I still do not understand how it is "more fair"... It is only "more fair" to certain groups.


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