Monday, October 5, 2009

New SC Poll: 13-pt Conservative Lead

CTV is reporting on a new Strategic Counsel taken between October 2 and October 4 and involving 1,000 Canadians. The national result:

Conservatives - 41%
Liberals - 28%
New Democrats - 14%
Bloc Quebecois - 9%
Greens - 9%

A huge result for the Tories, while the other parties are at about what we've seen over the last few weeks.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have a terrific 46%, followed by the Liberals at 30% and the NDP at 16%. Half-decent result for the NDP, bad for the Liberals. But 46% for the Conservatives seems unbelievable.

In Quebec, the Bloc is still comfortably ahead at 40% with the Liberals at a very strong 33%. The Conservatives are at 15%, the Greens at 8%, and the NDP at 4%. The NDP result is too low, but if the Liberal result is true that is a very good showing. That the Conservatives can reach 41% support nationally with only 15% in Quebec is more than a little unbalanced.

Strategic Counsel, for some reason, lumps BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba into "the West", making the result there useless. But they are at 58% there, for what its worth. The Liberals are at 18% and the NDP is at 15%. The Liberals have lost eight points and the NDP seven, all going to the Tories. They don't provide results for Atlantic Canada.

I can't do a seat projection because of the incomplete information. But using the current projection for the West and Atlantic Canada and then using the results from SC for Ontario and Quebec, we get:

Conservatives - 146 seats
Liberals - 87 seats
Bloc Quebecois - 51 seats
New Democrats - 24 seats

With strong results in the West and probably out east, though, it isn't unlikely that the Conservatives have picked up a few seats in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, swept Alberta, and maybe took one or two from the opposition in the Prairies. I'm not sure if that's enough for a majority, though.


  1. I doubt doubt the general pattern of Tory support going up and Liberal support going down but there is lot in that poll that just doesn't pass the "smell test". It seems weird in view of the events of the past week to have Liberal support collapse in English Canada and surge 10 points in Quebec - ground zero for all the negative publicity of the past while. That flies in the face of all other polls and makes no sense at all. The Ontario numbers are pretty close to what Angus Reid says so I believe it - though 46% for the Tories does seem high. The numbers from the west seem totally whacky as well. Nonetheless it will be interesting to see if the Liberals continue to be so inexplicably enthusiastic about bringing down the government and forcing an election in the face of numbers like this!

  2. The reason for the Liberal bump is that SC had the Bloc artificially high at 49%. They "dropped" 9 points, but are actually doing very well at 40%. The Liberals didn't "gain" 10 points, they were probably at 30% at the time the original poll was taken.

    Again, SC. They seem to be horrible at polling in Quebec. 4% for the NDP?

  3. BC Voice of Reason05 October, 2009 17:40


    46% CPC in Ontario to 30 and 16 for the Liberals and NDP would give them how many seats in Ontario.

    I think you have gone in Global warming defense mode on your mantra "No majority without Quebec" in that there is a definite possiblity of the CPC majority with minimalo support from Quebec.

    This will never happen as Quebec will fall in line with ROC to have a voice at the table with the likely Harper majority and make it a landslide.

    You also might say that Danny Williams ability to deliver 6-7 seats from NFLD is keeping Harper from majority :)

  4. I'm not so sure that Quebec would fall in line to have a voice at the table. Where is the evidence of that? If that theory were true - Quebec would have voted Tory last year. Also, if that theory were true why didn't Alberta vote Liberals thorugh the Chretien years in order to have a "seat at the table"?

  5. Yeah, Quebec isn't all of a sudden going to start voting Conservative. It might help them keep their 10 MPs, but western and central Montreal will still vote Liberal and the rest of Quebec will still vote Bloc.

    As to how many seats in Ontario, the Conservatives would win 65, which is my ceiling for them. Super majorities in rural Ontario won't win them seats in downtown Toronto.

  6. "Super majorities in rural Ontario won't win them seats in downtown Toronto."

    Tom Clark asked about this specific issue, whether Harper was just piling on to his existing support in rural Ontario or making inroads into Toronto.

    Peter Donolo indicated that based on the gains he's seeing in demographics like woman voters the Conservatives new support isn't piling on to existing support but making gains in the suburban areas of Toronto.

    Nobody is saying Harper is going to win Trinity—Spadina or anything but there's still a lot of liberal seats that could potentially be vulnerable if the right sort of candidates can be found.

  7. I think women live in rural areas too.

    The analysis of the pollsters is always a little suspect, from what I've seen. They're good analysts, but along with politics they poll things for businesses. So it isn't as if these guys are political analysts. Plus, they want to say something interesting so that they continue getting work. They don't want to say that this big change in the polls means very little.

    Anyway, some of the Liberal seats in Ontario will be in danger. But even at 65 that is a gain of 14 seats from 2008. That is a lot of seats.

  8. You are doing God's work Sir. Keep it up!

  9. "The analysis of the pollsters is always a little suspect, from what I've seen. They're good analysts, but along with politics they poll things for businesses. So it isn't as if these guys are political analysts."

    Peter Donolo not a good analyst? Well, I'd have to agree with that, but it's not because he does work for businesses too ... that guy can barely contain himself from spinning for the Liberals. And he doesn't know the country outside Ontario at all.

    This poll is obviously wrong. First of all, it was taken from Friday to Sunday. Only polling on the weekend is bound to skew samples. Secondly, I don't trust anglo pollsters to poll Québec at the best of times, but there's a 6.3% MOE and a 9 point counterintuitive swing.

    I think it was quite irresponsible of the Strategic Counsel and the Globe to publish this poll, and honestly I think the quality of the research from this firm has gone way down-hill since Allan Gregg left.

  10. Yeah Peter Donolo used to do communications for the Liberals under Chretien and almost always seems eager to spin things their way.

    As for women, maybe he meant single women ? They'd be far more represented in the city. Young people, minorities, I dunno. I'd actually have to see the demographics he was talking about.

    But yeah, the useless "west", the small sample size, the big swings in Quebec - this poll kinda is a let down from a nuts and bolts perspective.

  11. "I think women live in rural areas too."


    Great blog Eric.

  12. Put this poll together with the CROP poll out of Quebec and the EKOS poll out last week and you have a a nice CPC majority in the range of 165 to 175 seats. CROP did Quebec before the dust up. Before the dust up Harper was at 20% in PQ.

    Both EKOS and SCm show CPC well in front in ON. IF an election were to produce these results the Harperites would be mighty pleased. However we can now rest assured that there will be no election for the next few months unless Harper takes Spector's advice and tries to push through the HST funding or does some other stupid thing.

    All in all the Conservatives, if they have it in them, can be statesmen and wait for next spring or fall to provoke ever so sublelly, the election that will produce their majority.

  13. If I pick and choose polling results, I can probably come up with a Liberal minority.

  14. Eric, I didn't pick and choose pools though did I? I took the two most recent national polls and the most recent PQ poll. We have seen a trend and like it or not that trend is moving towards the CPC.

    At this point though it is nothing more than a trend and the polls are just snapshots in time. Unless the CPC can sustain things that's all this will be.

    As I said though based on these two polls and CROP the movement is gaining momentum and I stand by my analysis. Please tell how you'd come up with your Liberal minority.

    The CROP results are really quite bad for Iggy though:

    A CROP poll that came out last week, but was conducted before the Coderre-Cauchon controversy spelled bad news for the party in Quebec. Support for the Liberals stands at 26 per cent, four points lower than in August, and nine points lower than in June, the lowest levels since Mr. Ignatieff became leader. The Bloc Québécois still leads at 33 per cent, while the fortunes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) Tories are gradually rising. Conservative support, which collapsed during the last election, is at 21 per cent, up four points since last month, and eight points since June. The NDP is down five points to 13 per cent.

  15. I agree that the Conservatives will not do anything to blatantly provoke and election right now, but I think that by next February they may regret not having had an election now. Six more months means six more months for the Liberals and NDP to raise more money, nominate more candidates and get organized and also gives Ignatieff time to figure what (if anything) he stands for. I think it will be very difficult for the Tories to bring in a budget that isn't loaded with contriversial and unpopular cuts in transfer payments and program spending etc...

  16. You did pick and choose, since you chose the one poll, the CROP poll, that has the Conservatives over 20%. If you want to use results from SC, use all of them. They had 15% in Quebec in the SC poll, which is more recent and taken even after the Coderre affair.

    As for a Liberal minority, just for the sake of argument, take the 32% from the last Ipsos-Reid in British Columbia, 18% from last week's Angus-Reid in Alberta, 26.2% from the last EKOS poll in the Prairies, the 35.7% in Ontario in the last EKOS, the 33% in the CROP, and the 57% in the last Angus-Reid poll, and we get the Liberals to over 110 seats and, potentially, a minority.

  17. DL I agree that an election right now would be ideal for the CPC. And you are right time gives the opposition times to repair the damage and just as importantly time for the CPC to make a big mistake. Time also can be the CPC's friend if the economy recovers and they play their cards right. Up to half of the deficit will disappear because there are many one time items in the $56B like the auto bailout and infrastructure spending. Once more they will look like good economic managers even if they are not.

    BTW interesting ideas from the BLOC today on addressing the deficit. They'd work too!

  18. BC Voice of Reason05 October, 2009 22:12

    The CPC is understating the recovery. The budget that we are operating undr called for $60 oil. At the time it was in the 45-50 range. Now it is in the $65-72 range. I could only imagine the hed lines if the auto revenues were under estimated by 10-15%.

    Oil is by far the largest segment of the Canadian economy.

    Majority right now, landslide in May.

  19. It is a double-edged sword, since if the Conservatives can maintain this high-30s support level until the spring, it will be very hard to move them from it during an election campaign. On the other hand, being this high, they have no where to go but down.

  20. Eric everyone knows that CROP and Leger tell the story in PQ. They both poll in numbers to be quite accurate. I'm quite content to go with CPC at 16% in PQ though as I believe that history has shown that Quebec voters do want to be represented at the cabinet table.

    You take the LPC numbers in the abstract without showing the corresponding CPC and NDP numbers. The Liberals will not elect a single member in Alberta and you know that. They are damaged in BC because of Campbell. Good luck with a minority of 110. What are the rest of your numbers? Or are you banking on a coalition?

  21. BC Voice of Reason05 October, 2009 22:22

    I pity the poor people on the Island of Montreal who are federalists and aware of the huge benefits they are getting from confederation. Eric and DL have opioned that they will not jump aboard the CPC express and as a reult will not be a large enough tail to wag the dog.

    If they do not have any representation in a Majority government they will learn alienation as us westerners have.

    Quebec needs to get on side as they become more and more irrelavent, both economically and politically in Canada and the modern world.

  22. Eric you might be right about no where to go but down for CPC. On the other hand I think Canadians want a majority government. I can see CPC support having more room to grow.

    Thanks for blog and the debate. Enjoy it and the ideas.


  23. Earl,

    CROP has been very unreliable in Quebec lately, consistently polling the Bloc well below the others. They were way off in the 2008 provincial election as well. Leger has been pretty good, though.

    --- "You take the LPC numbers in the abstract without showing the corresponding CPC and NDP numbers."

    They're in the chart at the bottom of the page if you want to find them. I did take them into account and I get the Liberals with over 110 seats. I don't believe that is plausible, I'm just showing that you can pick-and-choose polls to get what you want.

    --- "The Liberals will not elect a single member in Alberta and you know that."

    I don't. The Liberals have almost doubled their support level, according to some polls. No one expected the NDP to elect anyone either.

    --- "They are damaged in BC because of Campbell."

    BCers don't seem to equate BC Liberals with the federal Liberals.

    --- "Good luck with a minority of 110."

    Indeed, but I'm just showing you what can be done with polls.

  24. Eric lets see what the next few polls coming out say. I do think the CPC can win a majority without PQ although I don't think that will happen. We now have two polls that put the CPC way ahead in ON and if you see the EKOS breakdowns at Kady O'Malley's blog:

    for the urban areas you begins to realize that there is a fundamental shift going on. Perhaps it is a mirage. Time will tell and never underestimate the CPC's ability to snatch near defeat from victory.

    I forgot about Angus Reid so that's three polls in a row that show a definite trend towards the CPC. Do you think Iggy is in trouble? I see the Hill-Times is speculating on the younger Trudeau as a possible leader in the future.

    Thanks again.

  25. I don't know if Ignatieff is in trouble, but he certainly isn't in a good spot.

    I think Liberals would be crazy to think about replacing their leader again, and I think they're smart enough to know that Ignatieff deserves a chance to at least lose an election before they bail on him.

    The younger Trudeau would be, I think, a disaster. Quebecers outside of west Montreal really don't like him, and it isn't as if Westerners are attracted to the Trudeau name. He espouses his father's politics which have become a little out of date.

  26. Let's suppose the next election ends up much the same way the last one did. I'd say Harper and Iggy are gone for sure. Who do you see as replacements? I think we see surprises on both counts.

  27. I couldn't even begin to speculate.

  28. I get the feeling this is a push poll. Clearly, the Tories have a lead but not that much given it has been some time for any major changes.

    I knew Iggy has been bluffing all along. He took the hard stance knowing the NDP would rather deal with Tories than go bankrupt and irrelevant with another election while Harper would gain nothing but campaign expenses from another election. People were upset about talk of another election so Harper wouldn't trade places with Ignatieff. But, this sentiment will wear off and come next spring when election talk resumes and given nothing else develops, I see the Liberals with a slight lead from NDP voters upset with deals with the Tories and of course, as time goes on, most governments lose popularity.

  29. Chris this poll might have problems but its hardly a "push poll".

    A push poll is when you call somebody up and tell them all sorts of bad information about your opponent in a campaign while pretending to be a pollster.

    And the NDP support of the government will end soon.

    The NDP is going to do to Ignatieff what he did to them. Now that they have the upper hand they are going to make him support the government in order to avoid an election.

    Just watch. Harper will announce a vote on the HST, Layton and Duceppe will run out and say they'll vote NO and then Ignatieff will have no choice but to abstain or vote yes.

  30. Chris three polls have now shown LPC support in free fall while CPC support is firming. This was not a push poll.

    Jesse were I in opposition and Haper attempted to push through the HST funding I'd do two things. Oppose it and suggest Harper was trying to provoke an election.

    People in BC and ON are very unhappy at the prospect of paying HST. Iggy has a possible issue there. If he were to do another about face and indicate he would not support the HST extension he might gain some badly needed traction and hold the CPC to a minority. The issue might even be big enough to get him his minority. The HST is just as deadly as the GST was.

  31. BC Voice of Reason06 October, 2009 11:39


    I find it interesting that you have pinned the CPC top end at 40%. I think that you are giving too much weight to recent history where Chretien could go no higher as he wrote off the West.

    Right now it seems that Harper is taking it to the next level in Ontario. He has saved the auto industry and is basically funnelling Western resource money to Ontario rather than straight to Quebec. Ontario is becoming part of the West.

    This is the first time in Canadian history where Ontario is a have-not province. We should expect that such a massively different circumstance should generate huge changes in voting patterns.

    The environment was set for a NDP break through, but Harper's steady government and solid mangement of the economy AND move to the centre on social policy (Not nearly as scary as being broke and unemployed) has taken advantage of the turbulence.

    Majority now.... Landslide in May.

    Right now the Harper Majority is as fragile as the economic recovery. Harper forcing an election would ruin his majority chances. After the Olympics he will be so far ahead he will get majority even if he just openly calls for an election.

  32. I cannot see the HST becoming an issue at the federal level.

    At its core, the HST is about two provinces deciding to make a change as to how sales taxes are carried out in their provinces.

    The federal government is certainly encouraging a certain direction and even offering a bit of a carrot. But it is really a provincial decision about provincial public policy.

    I really cannot see it gaining much traction for the federal opposition here.

  33. BC Voice of Reason06 October, 2009 11:51

    The HST is simply another form of equalization (bribery) for Ontario and BC.

    The people of Ontario and BC have a choice .... accept the billions of federal$ along with the GST from the feds and have the GST or look for the provinces to increase the PST or personal income taxes to pay for the higher Health care costs and CUPE wage settlements.

    Like the people of the proud nation of Quebec they will have little difficulty taking these handouts from the ROC once it is explained.

  34. BC Voice of Reason06 October, 2009 11:54

    Sorry...... and edit function would be nice :)

    The HST is simply another form of equalization (bribery) for Ontario and BC.

    The people of Ontario and BC have a choice .... accept the billions of federal $ along with the HST or look for the provinces to increase the PST or personal income taxes to pay for the higher Health care costs and CUPE wage settlements.

    Like the people of the proud nation of Quebec they will have little difficulty taking these handouts from the ROC once it is explained.

    As well having the NDP arguing against a tax increase also makes it look like a proper fiscal idea.

  35. HST will turn out to be a non-issue federally. First, it's hard to pin on the feds (all their doing is providing billions of dollars to smooth harmonization, it's the provinces - and their Liberal governments - who are actually choosing to harmonize).

    Second, it's hard for the Liberals to make hay out of it, since it's been their policy for years (the Provincial Tories in Ontario are having the same problem - when you actually look at their statements on the HST, they're pretty mealy-mouthed, i.e., "its not the right time"). Plus, the Liberals would have the particular problem (at least in Ontario) that they'd be campaigning not only against the Federal conservatives but also against their, far stronger, provincial cousins. When McGuinty leaked his conversation with Iggy about the HST to the media, that was the provincial grits firing a warning shot over the bow of the Liberals - mess with the HST and we'll hurt you (I'd imagine the same is true of Gordon Campbell). Iggy promtly backed down because he knows he needs to be able to access McGuinty's party machinery in Ontario if he wants to win.

    Finally, at the end of the day, the HST is good policy. In both Quebec and the Maritimes, initial opposition blew over quickly once this point became obvious.

  36. Hey "BC Voice of Reason",

    why wouldn't Conservatives like the idea of an HST ? Its not "more taxes" like some people say, its actually fairer taxes.

    1) It eliminates a second layer of bureaucracy because now only the federal government collects and manages sales tax. This will save the provinces and taxpayers money in labour costs.

    2) It eliminates a second layer of paperwork for bussiness. This obviously increases competetiveness and helps the economy.

    3) It broadens the tax base and makes it fairer. Instead of politicially connected lobby groups being able to apply for PST exemptions its going to effect everyone. What used to happen is the regular guy got stiffed so that special interests groups could catch a break.

  37. Liberals MUST support the HST harmonization.

    They INVENTED the policy when in government. Would they really want a rupture with former finance minister Paul Martin ? A lot of their MPs have quotes floating about saying how good the HST is.

    Secondly, its the provincial Liberals in BC/Ontario proposing this thing. Do the Federal Liberals really want to annoy the people who they'll need help from in an election ?

    Thirdly, despite his back and forth yammering on the issue (he's held about three positions since its came up) Ignatieff finally said he will honour the agreement.

    I guess its a question of which will look worse:

    A) Flip flopping on position of always voting non-confidence.

    Pros - People across Canada finally stop hearing that Liberals want an election from their news anchors.

    Cons - Ignatieff looks weak.

    B) Flip flop on position of supporting the HST.

    Pros - Ignatieff can pretend he doesn't like high taxes.

    Cons - He might look desperate, shameless, inconsistent, and untrustworthy. Also it could trigger an election or dissent in his leadership.

  38. Also, both the Grits and the NDP are vulnerable when attacking the Tories on taxes. Iggy (or Layton) will say Harpervoted to implement the HST (which, in theory should be more or less revenue neutral and will save hundreds of millions in compliance costs). Harper will say, yes, I did so at the request of provincial Liberal governments, and saved hundreds of millions and increased the competitiveness of the Canadian manufacturing sector. And by the way I also voted to cut the GST by 2%, which you guys opposed. So who's the real deal on taxes?

    Plus, taxes are to the Tories what health care is the Grits. No matter what they do, there'll always be a public perception that the Tories are stronger on that front than the Grits or NDP are. So fighting a battel on HST for the Grits and the NDP is a suicide mission.

  39. I don't think you can assume that the Tories can never be attacked on any issue involving taxation. I seem to recall another Tory government that brought what was supposed to be a "revenue neutral" tax reform where by the manufacturers sales tax was eliminated and replaced by the GST. The Conservatives subsequently were reduced to two seats. Margaret Thatcher was also driven out of office when she tried to bring her highly unpopular "poll tax".

  40. wow...538 this is definitely not....

    let's see some cross-tab analysis...a little more than just aggregating publicly available polls with a dash of opinion please!

  41. Anon,

    you mean you want some partisan spin ?

    The "analysis" over at 538 has driven away most right leaning individuals who follow American politics.

    Also, it seems that polling in America is superior and more developed than polling in Canada in terms of what's available to work with.

  42. Indeed. Nate Silver had the benefit of multiple polls per day in all 50 states. He also had the benefit of a statistics background.

    I'm a history major, and have a half-dozen national polling firms who do less than one poll per week to work with. And many of the regional samples are lower than 200.

  43. Why do BC and ONT need so much money from cdn taxpayers to put the HST in place. Anything exempt from gst should just be exempt from the harmonized tax. Anything exempt from sales tax should be exempt from the harmonized tax.
    I can imagine the outrage in AB is Stelmach tried to put in a prov sales tax.

  44. DL, fair comment about Mulroney although the distinction here is that they're replacing one highly visible tax with another (as opposed to replacing one which was entirely hidden). Plus, since it's ultimately a provincial decision, the Tories have some convenient Liberal patsies to share responsibility.

    My only point was that taxes are seen as a "strong" area for the Tories (whether that perception is merited is open to debate) so they can get away with things the Grits can't (and vice-versa on things like health care).


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