Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New IR Poll: 10-pt Conservative Lead

I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving long weekend. Feel free to share any of your stories in the comments section, particularly of the political nature. Here in Ottawa, Michael Ignatieff worked the soup line at the mission downtown so that got a little air time.

Anyway, schedules return to normal with an Ipsos-Reid poll to greet us. Taken between October 6 and October 8 and involving 1,000 Canadians, the poll found the following national support levels:

Conservatives - 39%
Liberals - 29%
New Democrats - 13%
Bloc Quebecois - 10%
Greens - 8%

This is the sort of lead we've been seeing recently, but at 29% the Liberals are actually back to where they were before the precipitous fall to 25%. The NDP, at 13%, are really floundering.

Not in British Columbia, though, where they stand at 28%. The Conservatives lead with a very good 47% (are they back?) while the Liberals are at 18%. With 6%, Elizabeth May can delay her plans to re-locate to Ottawa.

Alberta shows the Conservatives at 60%, the Liberals at 16%, and the NDP at a decent 14%. In the Prairies, the Conservatives have an incredible 67%, but the polling size is small enough to get one of the Ipsos-Reid asterisks. The Liberals are at 19% and the NDP at 10%.

In Ontario, the huge Tory lead seems to have disappeared, as the two parties are statistically tied. The Conservatives are at 40% (still excellent, by the by) but the Liberals are back in it at 36%. The Greens are at 12% and the NDP is in crisis mode at 11%.

The Bloc is well ahead in Quebec with 40%, while the Liberals are at 26%. The Conservatives are at 20%, seemingly confirming that the Tories are back in the game in the province. At 9%, the NDP is out of the game.

Atlantic Canada puts the Liberals back in front with 46%, followed by the Tories at 35% and the NDP at a worrying 15%.

The poll would give the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 146
Liberals - 91
Bloc Quebecois - 51
New Democrats - 20

This matches with the Ipsos-Reid explanation that the Tories are just outside of majority territory. With 91 seats, the Liberals would see a marked improvement over their current caucus while at 20 seats the NDP is on the brink of irrelevancy.

We're really into the fall now that Thanksgiving has passed, and if polls like this one continue we might start to see the stories about Liberal collapse pass as well. Obviously, they're not doing well in this poll. But they aren't at 25%, either. And while the Tories are certainly up in the polls, we're still seeing a likely repeat of the 2008 election with the Liberals improving on the backs of the NDP. That is not a situation Stephen Harper would like to see, as that is worse than what he currently has in front of him. If an election is going to have his party stagnate and the Liberals improve, he should (and would) avoid one.

32 comments:

  1. An interesting poll and maybe a little bit of relief for Liberals out there after that 25% poll a little while back. Liberals could probably put their number at 30% as I highly doubt the Conservatives are at 67% on the Prairies when in Alberta they aren't even at 67%.

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  2. I think we have discussed before that the Ipsos seems to consistently have the most whacko numbers around. I don't know why they even bother to publish results for Atlantic and Prairies when the samples sizes are so minuscule that it would be like conducting a poll at a Thanksgiving dinner for one extended family.

    I'm not sure what they do methodologically to get such consistently weird results. Th only thing i can imagine is that let's say someone does a survey of 1,000 people in - say - Manitoba. Chances are they will have all kinds of regional and age based quotas so you get representative numbers from north Winnipeg, south Winnipeg, northern Manitoba, southern Manitoba etc...I wonder whether in a national survey of 1,000 they where they get something like 50 decided voters in all of "Man/Sask", they don't bother with any quotas - they just know that they want 25 interviews in manitoba and 25 in Saskatchewan and no none really cares if of the 25 people they talked to in Manitoba, 23 were old men in the rural southwest - as opposed to be young women of aboriginal descent in north Winnipeg.

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  3. It would be interesting to know how all pollsters manage those small samples. I imagine it is closer to what you suggest than something more rigorous, but I doubt they'd admit it.

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  4. "In the Prairies, the Conservatives have an incredible 67%, but the polling size is small enough to get one of the Ipsos-Reid asterisks. The Liberals are at 19% and the NDP at 10%."

    I wonder if we can put that away in a special file alongside that notorious strategic counsel poll that had the Green party at 26% in Quebec?

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  5. No, they get a pass for it being a small region, and for having the order of the parties plausible (rather than Green, Liberal, and Bloc in Quebec).

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  6. Order of parties is one thing - but what would you say if someone had the BQ in first place in Quebec with 70% of the vote and all the other parties in single digits but in the right order!

    I've looked back at some old polls by Ipsos and typically the sample size in "Saskitoba" is about 50! There ought to be some standards as to what is a reportable sample size (ie: if there aren't at least 100 decided voters in a region, you have no business putting out any results for it)

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  7. Yeah, but its only about 15-points above reasonable. And it isn't as if it matters, they have a huge lead in the Prairies. Because of the ceilings I use, it didn't effect the seat projection for this poll (I gave them 23 seats in the two provinces).

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  8. DL,

    this poll seems to be in line with what other polls are saying regarding Tory support so its not completely off base. But it does seem to have different results than the last couple polls in that we're back to a scenario where the Conservatives gain only a few seats because of no vote splitting and the Liberals rebuild off the NDP.

    I'm a little puzzled at why we'd be back at this scenario considering there hasn't been a single positive story about the Liberals or Michael Ignatieff in the last couple weeks.

    So until I see more evidence i'm not going to buy into this NDP collapse, Liberals stabalize story line.

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  9. It could simply be that the Liberal drop was because of the negative stories, and that people have calmed down and are back to more normal voting habits.

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  10. I think you are overanalysing each individual poll. One thing about this Ipsos poll is that although it was released last night, I notice that it was in field Oct. 6-8 - partly overlapping with the Ekos poll last week. So this poll was entirely fielded when all we were hearing about was that Harper could sing and play the piano.

    I've noticed that often times we think there is a pattern in polls based on when they are released - then it turns out that the field dates tell a different story.

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  11. That 67% in the Prairies is either an outlier or a typo. If the Tories are not even at 67% in Alberta, then its unlikely they'll be at that level of support in MB and SK. More likely it's something like 47% or 57%.

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  12. Fortunately, unlike the national media networks and newspapers, we can rely on all polls rather than making sweeping generalizations based on one solitary poll.

    It always bothers me how the media does that.

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  13. Why are we all making the assumption that Tory support in Alberta MUST be higher than Tory support in Sask/Manitoba ??

    People often get confused about provincial/federal parties and Ed Stelmach isn't very popular these days, its possible that confusion is dragging Harper down in Alberta.

    Where as Sask is doing incredible, I don't even think they went into recession at all. There's a lot of positive feeling there that could be going to Harper.

    As for Manitoba, I don't know a lot about their situation, but could the Gary Doer appointment to US ambassador have had a positive impact on Harper? Or perhaps he's benefiting from a boredom with so many years of NDP rule.

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  14. Eric,

    the only story i've seen about Ignatieff today is the resignation of Garth Turner. Before that it was whether Bob Rae was egging on Liberal senators to block a crime bill in a bid to undermine Iggy's leadership.

    I'm not so sure the drip drip of negative stories has even stopped yet.

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  15. "As for Manitoba, I don't know a lot about their situation, but could the Gary Doer appointment to US ambassador have had a positive impact on Harper? Or perhaps he's benefiting from a boredom with so many years of NDP rule."

    I doubt that very much. There was just a poll of 1,000 people in Manitoba that has the provincial NDP with a big lead - despite being leaderless. Its not as if Doer had plumbed to Glen Clark-like levels of unpopularity and it was dragging the federal NDP down as well. I'm sure some people in Alberta are bored after almost 40 years of Tory rule - I don't see the Liberals and NDP suddenly being poised to carry Alberta federally!

    I think its just statistical noise.

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  16. A Sept. 30 Probe Research poll of 1,000 Manitoban's regarding their federal preferences:

    C - 47% (-2 points from election)
    L - 25% (+6 points)
    N - 21% (-1 point)

    http://www.probe-research.com/090930%20Federal%20Party%20Standings.pdf

    A much better indicator.

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  17. That's the poll I was referring to! Of course that was a few weeks ago when the Liberals seemed to be enjoying a bit of a "dead cat bounce" compared to what they got in the '08 election. That may have since dissipated...that being said, I think that when all is said and done, the Tories are unlikely to do BETTER in Man/Sask than they did in the last election when they were already at a bit of an all-time high for that region.

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  18. "...the Tories are unlikely to do BETTER in Man/Sask than they did in the last election when they were already at a bit of an all-time high for that region."

    An all time high is only an all time high until a party goes higher. I don't see anything that would slow their momentum or put a hard ceiling on where they could go as a party.

    They might do better, they might do worse. It just seems arbitrary and illogical to say they've approached some sort of limit though.

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  19. Of course theoreitically you're right no party is ever "maxxed out" anywhere until they are at 100% of the vote. But there are still some relative ceilings that parties seem to have in certain regions. If I saw a poll putting the BQ at 60% in Quebec, i would say that was well beyond what most people would consider their ceiling in Quebec. I don't think there has ever been an election where over half of people in Man/Sask. have voted Tory (except MAYBE 1958 - and that was when Tories were way "redder" than they are today). The only difference between now and a year ago is that we we went from a balanced budget to a $60 billion deficit. I wonder who there is in Saskatoon who stuck with the Liberals during the darkest days of Dion and the Green Shift - who is now all set to vote Tory.

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  20. Hey Eric:

    Mr. Bricker agrees with you that the CPC is not in majority territory yet, looks like I was wrong there. I too doubt 67% in SK/MB but expect that if an election were held today the CPC would pick up seats there. *** I want to see the next EKOS and SC poll before I'd say there is only a four point difference in ON between CPC and LPC. Any idea when SC comes out?***

    New poll out tonight that shows Stelmach only 8 points up on the Wildrose Alliance in AB. If the WA goes with the more moderate leader I can see them passing Stelmach and the PC's there. What a story that could be.

    Interesting times. Again thanks for the blog!

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  21. No idea on SC, they don't seem to be on a schedule. But they tend to come out in the first or second weeks of a month. So we're done with SC until November.

    I wonder about the Wildrose Alliance. In a real election, where their platform and leader would come under scrutiny, would they really have that much of a chance?

    It's a sign of how strong conservatism is in Alberta that the Liberal didn't manage to gain from Stelmach's unpopularity.

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  22. Hi Eric:

    I have some family connections that know real Alberta oil money. That money will go to the WA and not the PC's IF they elect the women who is moderate as their leader. the PC's and Stelmach in particular are in trouble. This weel's EKOS should be interesting. Who are you favourite political columnists? I like C. Hebert, P.Wells, D. Martin and Lise Gagnon.

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  23. I like Chantal Hebert, and I'll read others if the topic interests me. I like Hebert because she is very "common-sense". Many of the others go on rumour and speculate a little too much.

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  24. DL,

    "I wonder who there is in Saskatoon who stuck with the Liberals during the darkest days of Dion and the Green Shift - who is now all set to vote Tory."

    There are other factors to consider though. The Tories don't even have to increase their votes to increase their percentage of the votes.

    Morale, energy, turnout are going to be big. If it looks like a Conservative majority is a sure thing then its possible opposition voters will stay home or want to cross over to the winning team.

    It could become something of a self fulfilling prophecy.

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  25. It's far more likely that if a Conservative majority seems a distinct possibility, it will push opposition voters to get out and vote, rather than accept it with resignation, or "join the winning team".

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  26. Eric I disagree with you as regards a possible CPC majority. I think Jesse is partially right in that there is a yearning for a stable government in Canada and that means a majority government. There is also a lingering fear of the "Coalition. Both of those factors indicate that soft right of centre LPC supporters and tardy Tories would both get out and vote and move to the CPC. Further Iggy's move to the left with his "green" announcement yesterday will once again raise the fears of job losses and "green taxes". It is as if Iggy can't get out of his own way.

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  27. Eric,

    "It's far more likely that if a Conservative majority seems a distinct possibility, it will push opposition voters to get out and vote"

    Sure, but that's not what I said. If its a possibility, if it looks close, then people will be energized and get out and vote.

    But if its a "sure thing" then some people will want a seat at government or others will get annoyed and give up on politics for a couple years.

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  28. Sure, but if it is a "sure thing" it will also be harder for the Conservatives to GOTV.

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  29. Eric wrote:

    "...the Liberals improving on the backs of the NDP. That is not a situation Stephen Harper would like to see, as that is worse than what he currently has in front of him."

    I don't know why you would say that.

    The projection based on this poll would leave the Liberals slightly stronger (and the NDP weaker) compared with now, but the situation does not seem tangibly different:

    - the Conservatives still have a huge lead over their main rivals
    - the Tory government would still be able to pass a Bill with the support any single one of the opposition parties.
    - the Liberals and NDP seat counts together are still well back of the Tories alone

    I don't see how this scenario can be categorized as particularly "worse" for the Conservatives than the situation the government faces right now.

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  30. Martin,

    Right now, the main opponent of the Conservative Party is weak - they don't have a lot of seats in Parliament. That means they don't have as many resources and people. The NDP, which is more generally seen to take votes away from the Liberals than the Conservatives, is strong. They have more resources and people.

    If an election took place and the result was as projected, Harper's main opponent would have had, instead, a relatively successful election. They would have made big gains in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. They'd have more MPs, more resources.

    Right now, the Liberals have to come a very long way to replace the Conservatives in government. After an election like the one projected, they would be in a much better position to win the next election.

    While, in terms of governing, it wouldn't change anything for Harper, it would put him in a worse position in terms of a subsequent election. Harper would prefer to have his main opponent down and out rather than coming off some positive improvement.

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  31. Eric,

    "big gains in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia"

    I don't know if an extra 14 seats nation-wide really qualifies as "big gains".

    "They'd have more MPs, more resources."

    Sure, the Liberals would have _slightly_ greater Parliamentary resources. But another party that opposes the Conservatives would have fewer. To a Conservative government, I don't see it making much difference.

    "they [the Liberals] would be in a much better position to win the next election"

    At best it might make a marginal difference; 91 is still a very weak total for the Liberal party. A dozen seats more or less does not particularly position a party to make the leap to a plurality.

    "Harper would prefer to have his main opponent down and out rather than coming off some positive improvement"

    Well, obviously Mr. Harper would rather like to see the Liberals reduced to less than 60 seats and himself with a majority government. But, given that the Liberals are very likely to at least improve their seat total by a little bit, I don't think there's a particularly good reason to see the projected results from this poll as decidedly worse for the Conservatives (especially since their seat total also increases by 3, thus giving them improvement and momentum as well).

    I suppose it's a matter of perspective to some extent, but I think that assuming the Conservatives would see these projected results as notably "worse" is, at best, an unwarranted assumption.

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  32. Sorry, when talking about big gains I was referring to the site's projection rather than this single poll.

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