Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New CROP Quebec Poll: 7-pt Bloc Lead

CROP has released a new poll this morning, reported on by La Presse. We don't have all of the details of this poll yet, and in the past CROP has been extraordinarily slow in uploading their polling data, if they do it at all. But last time in August they released their polling data shortly after the articles in La Presse, so I remain hopeful we'll have all the details before the end of the week.

The poll was taken between September 17 and September 27 and involved 1,000 Quebecers. The result:

Bloc Quebecois - 33%
Liberals - 26%
Conservatives - 21%
New Democrats - 13%
Greens - unknown, but 7% remains

This is a good result for the Tories, putting them back in their 2008 election result. That got them 10 seats, which would be good for them. The 26% for the Liberals is low, especially considering this poll is from CROP. The 33% for the Bloc marks a 3-point gain from CROP's poll in August, while 13% for the NDP is decent.

As to who would make the best Prime Minister, 28% chose Michael Ignatieff while Jack Layton and Stephen Harper were tied at 23%. The results for Ignatieff and Harper are similar to their parties, while Layton's over-achievement likely comes from Bloc voters. With their social democratic policies and support for the extension of the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated organisations, the two parties are the most similar.

The francophone vote remains in the hands of the Bloc. They have 39% of that vote, compared to 22% for the Liberals and 20% for the Conservatives. In Quebec City, likely to be the most ferocious battle in the province, the Bloc and Liberals lead with 26% with the Conservatives behind by one point.

This poll confirms some trends we've seen in Quebec, namely that the Liberals have dropped below the 30% mark and that the Conservatives are back to relative respectability.

At the provincial level, the Liberals lead with 43% with the Parti Quebecois in second at 35%. The ADQ (7%), Quebec Solidaire (6%), and Greens (8%) are statistically tied. Support for sovereignty is at 37%, sovereignty-association at 42%.

When CROP releases the details of the poll, I'll update.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New IR Poll: 7-pt Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid has released a new poll, taken between September 22 and September 24 and involving 1,001 Canadians.

It further confirms the findings of the other polling houses. In fact, the polls that have been released since last Thursday have been remarkably consistent. Here are the national results:

Conservatives - 37%
Liberals - 30%
New Democrats - 14%
Bloc Quebecois - 9%
Greens - 9%

This really is what we've been seeing all week. The regional results also echo most of what the other polls have found.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 36% but the Liberals are doing very well at 32%. The NDP, at 22%, is falling behind. The Greens also struggled in this province with 9%.

Alberta has 61% for the Conservatives, 16% for the Liberals, 13% for the Greens, and 10% for the NDP.

The Prairies has a very good 53% for the Conservatives, followed by 23% for the Liberals and 15% for the NDP.

The Conservatives have again polled over 40% in Ontario, with 43%. The Liberals are 10-points behind at 33%. The NDP is at 14%. This has been a trend we've seen all week. The Conservative lead is anywhere from five to ten points over the Liberals in the most important province in the country.

In Quebec, the Bloc is back to where it usually is at 37%. The Liberals are at 28% and the Conservatives at 17%. The NDP is at 10%. These, too, are surprisingly consistent results.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are far ahead with 47%. This is something we've seen as well. Clearly, while the Liberals seem to be falling in Ontario and a little in Quebec, the political manoeuvres in Ottawa have pushed them well ahead in Atlantic Canada. This is confirmed by the leadership and "election yes-or-no" polls we've seen in the region. The Conservatives are at 33%, a good result, while the NDP is at 13%, disastrous.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 146
Liberals - 95
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 18

Again, the Tories still can't get to majority territory. They posted excellent numbers in Alberta, the Prairies, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. But as I've said on numerous occasions, you can't win a majority without Quebec.

This electoral result would also be very bad on Jack Layton's political career. One wonders if Michael Ignatieff would be safe as leader if he increased his caucus by 20 MPs.

The Liberals have put forward a short and sweet non-confidence motion, to be voted on at the end of the week. Gilles Duceppe has already committed his party to it, but Layton has decided to support the government. So, that pretty much bars an election this fall. The NDP will have to stick to this new principle of waiting for the EI-reform to become law, meaning the government is safe for at least a month. Then when November rolls around, the idea of sending people to the polls during the Christmas season will likely keep us out of an election as well. Then in January, an election would interfere with the Vancouver Olympics, which gives the government life until the end of February.

That means it is extremely unlikely that we would have an election until March. And, at that point, I'm sure someone will think of an excuse not to send people to the polls. "It's Spring! We can't ask people to vote when the flowers are blooming."

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Leger Poll: 6-pt Conservative Lead

Léger Marketing has released a new poll this morning, taken between September 22 and September 25 and involving 3,602 interviews. So, it's a pretty big poll, the biggest we've seen in a little while.

The national result:

Conservatives - 36%
Liberals - 30%
New Democrats - 17%
Bloc Quebecois - 8%
Greens - 8%

This just further confirms the findings of EKOS and Angus-Reid, though shows that the NDP are probably not in as bad a spot as EKOS had them.

In British Columbia, the Tories lead with 39% followed by the Liberals at 26% and the NDP at 21%. The Greens are at 13%. The Conservative result is slightly better than what we've been seeing lately, as is the Liberal result. At 21%, the NDP would be disappointed.

In Alberta, the Conservatives are way ahead at 68% with the Liberals at 14% and the NDP at 9%. The Prairies also show a big Tory lead, 51% to the Liberal 23% and NDP 17%. Nothing out of the ordinary, but the NDP needs to do better in the Prairies.

In Ontario, the lead isn't as massive as we've seen from Angus-Reid. The Conservatives lead with 40%. The Liberals are at 34% and the NDP at 17% - a good number for them, but a bad one for the Liberals. This is 2008 all over again.

In Quebec, the Bloc polled a weak 33%, while the Liberals were at 30% and the Conservatives at 17%. The NDP, at 14%, is doing well. The Bloc still takes the bulk of the seats, however, because of how the vote breaks down in the province.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 39% followed by the NDP at 27% and the Tories at 24%.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 139
Liberals - 96
Bloc Quebecois - 46
New Democrats - 27

Far from majority territory, but still outside of the combined totals of the Liberals and the NDP.

The poll also had some other topics. Stephen Harper is the best Prime Minister for 32%, while Michael Ignatieff is the choice of 21% and Jack Layton 18%. That bumps up this site's "Best PM" track by two points for Harper (now at 32%), one point for Ignatieff (now at 20%), and two points for Layton (now at 14%). In the battleground provinces, the result was 30-22-18 in British Columbia and 36-20-16 in Ontario. But in Quebec, Layton was first with 26%, followed by Ignatieff at 25% and Harper at 19%. But to paraphrase (and tweak) Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star today, just because Quebecers like Layton as Prime Minister doesn't mean they'll leave the Bloc.

As to who is most trusted, Harper is at 29%, Layton at 17%, and Ignatieff at a troubling 14%. For who would be best to lead the country through and out of the recession, Harper is at 36%, Ignatieff at 22%, and Layton at 13%. Harper and Layton tend to poll around their party's national numbers, but Ignatieff seems to be much less popular than the Liberal brand.

42% of Canadians think the government should change compared to 46% who think it should not. Minority governments are a net negative for 45% of Canadians, while 38% think they are positive.

On the Afghanistan mission, 12% want to stay and fight, 45% want to stay in a non-combat role (humanitarian and training), and 37% just want to leave entirely. Staying was the preferred option of 19% of Albertans while only 6% of Quebecers agreed. Staying in a non-combat role was the preferred choice of 53% of Atlantic Canadians, while 39% of Quebecers agreed. And 52% of Quebecers want to leave now, compared to only 26% of Albertans.

Some interesting polling data overall, but nothing surprising.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More on the AR Poll

Aside from giving the NDP three more points, this Angus-Reid poll is a virtual mirror of the EKOS poll released on Thursday. However, it also isn't much different from an Angus-Reid poll taken between September 11 and September 13. That poll had the Conservatives at 36%, the Liberals at 29%, and the NDP at 17%.

Regionally, there are a few interesting spots. British Columbia isn't one of them, as the results are within what we've seen lately. The Conservatives lead at 37%, which is weak for them, with the Liberals (26%) and NDP (23%) behind. The Greens posted 14%, a good result.

Alberta has the Liberals and NDP at strong 18% and 17% results, respectively. The Tories lead with 61%. The Prairies is another one within the norm, with the Conservatives at 47%, the Liberals at 22%, and the NDP at 18%.

Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada are of interest, however. In Ontario, the Conservatives have an amazing 14-point lead. They're at 44%, with the Liberals at 30%. This puts the Tories two points higher than the EKOS poll, not out of the ordinary, but the Liberals five points lower. The NDP are at 15% and the Greens 10%.

In Quebec, the Bloc leads with 35%, slightly down. The Liberals are at 26%, also slightly down. The Conservatives had 21%, one of their highest results since the election - and it actually matches their 2008 election result. The NDP are relatively strong as well at 12%.

In Atlantic Canada, the small sample size yielded a 57% result for the Liberals. The Tories are at 22% and the NDP at 21%, which isn't exactly out of the ordinary. The 1% result for the Greens, however, is. The Liberals are clearly ahead in Atlantic Canada, though, so we can just leave it at that.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 147
Liberals - 89
Bloc Quebecois - 47
New Democrats - 25

Suffice to say, 37% in British Columbia, 21% in Quebec, and 22% in Atlantic Canada is not enough to give the Tories a majority - but they're close.

The poll also had leadership questions. On who would make the best Prime Minister, Stephen Harper led with 27%, followed by Michael Ignatieff at 16% and Jack Layton at 12%. "None of these" got 22%. This pushes Harper's "Best PM" number on this site down one to 30%. Ignatieff is down three to 19% and Layton down one to 12%.

Harper got his best number in Alberta (38%) and his worst in Quebec (16%). Ignatieff's best came in Atlantic Canada (34%) and his worst in the Prairies (10%). Layton's best was 17% in British Columbia and Quebec, his worst was in Ontario (8%).

On the economy, Harper was considered best to manage it with 33%. Ignatieff was second with 23% and Layton third with 9%. Gilles Duceppe got 6%.

On the environment, Layton got 27% and Harper and Ignatieff got 16%. On health care, it was Harper at 23%, Layton at 22%, and Ignatieff at 16%. On crime, Harper was well ahead at 38% to Ignatieff's 12% and Layton's 10%.

Ignatieff, however, gets top marks for foreign affairs. This is perhaps a result of his advertisements talking about India and China and his recent foreign policy speech. He received 30% on this issue, compared to Harper at 28% and Layton at 6%.

So, all in all, nothing to make the Liberals want to go to the polls. But election campaigns can change everything, as we saw in 2005-2006.

New AR Poll: 8-pt Conservative Lead

Angus-Reid has released a new poll today, confirming the EKOS poll from Thursday. It was taken between September 23 and September 24 and involved 997 Canadians.

I only have time right now for a brief summary, but will return with a more detailed analysis later today.

The national result:

Conservatives - 37%
Liberals - 29%
New Democrats - 16%
Bloc Quebecois - 9%
Greens - 8%

So the Liberal and Conservative results are almost identical to EKOS's poll. The Ontario results of 44% for the Conservatives and 30% for the Liberals, however, is much worse for Michael Ignatieff.

The poll also had leadership questions and full regional breakdowns, which I will address later today. I'll also project the seat totals from this poll.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Projection Update - CPC 128, LPC 105

Only one poll was released over the last week, but there has been a seat change in the projection anyway.The Conservatives have gained one seat from the Liberals in Ontario, and now stand at 128. The Liberals have dropped to 105, while the NDP and Bloc Quebecois remain steady at 25 and 50 seats, respectively.

The Conservatives have also gained 0.2 points nationally, with the Liberals, NDP, and Greens all losing 0.1 points. The Tories now hold a two point advantage over the Liberals, but for now the Liberals and the NDP can still out vote the Conservatives. But if the Peter Milliken returned as Speaker of the House, it would only be a one-seat plurality for those two opposition parties.

In British Columbia the Greens have gained 0.2 points while the Conservatives have lost 0.1 and the Liberals 0.2. The Conservatives hold an 11-point lead in the province, and stand at 36.9% to the Liberals' 26.1%, NDP's 24.6%, and Greens' 11.5%.

In Ontario the Tories have gained 0.2 points and the Greens have gained 0.1 points, while the NDP and Liberals have each lost 0.1 points. The gap between Stephen Harper's and Michael Ignatieff's parties has been reduced to 1.6 points, but the Liberals still have the edge at 38.1% to 36.5%. The NDP is at 15% and the Greens 10%.

In Quebec the Conservatives have gained 0.1 points while the Liberals and NDP have each lost 0.1. The Bloc has maintained itself at 37%, but the Liberals have dropped below 30% and now stand at 29.9%. The Conservatives are at 16.1%, the NDP 10.7%, and the Greens 6%.

There were no major movements in the non-battleground regions, but the biggest was a 0.2 point drop for the NDP in Atlantic Canada.

Hopefully we'll have some more polls this week so that we can confirm or refute the findings of the EKOS poll, specifically that the Conservative lead is now 5+ points and that the NDP have dropped disastrously below 15%.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nanos Leadership Poll

A quick post about a Nanos leadership poll released today. It was taken between September 3 and September 11, so it is a little out of date.

Canadians were asked which leader was best suited to manage...


Stephen Harper - 41%
Michael Ignatieff - 27%
Jack Layton - 10%


Stephen Harper - 22%
Jack Layton - 21%
Elizabeth May - 18%
Michael Ignatieff - 17%

National Unity

Stephen Harper - 30%
Michael Ignatieff - 28%
Jack Layton - 15%


Stephen Harper - 40%
Michael Ignatieff - 24%
Jack Layton - 12%

Health Care

Stephen Harper - 29%
Michael Ignatieff - 22%
Jack Layton - 22%

These kinds of polls are difficult to figure out, though. Aside from the economy, which we can assume everyone wants to do better, the motivation behind people's choices are unknown. If you're not concerned with the state of the environment, your choice of who is best suited to manage it is motivated by different reasons than an environmentalist. If you want Quebec to leave the country (whether you're a Quebecer or not) or if you're upset with Canada's centralisation, that skews how you choose who is best to manage national unity. If you want taxes to go down, go up, or stay the same, that also influences who you would choose. And if you want privatised healthcare or not makes a difference as well.

So take these kinds of polls with a grain of salt.

New Ekos Poll: 7.1-pt Conservative Lead (Updated)

EKOS released its weekly poll today, taken between September 16 and September 22 and involving 2,706 Canadians.

The polling firm headlines the poll saying that the Tories have the most committed voters. On a scale of 0-6, the Conservatives average a 3.5 level of commitment, while the Liberals are at 3.2, NDP 3.0, and Greens 2.7.

The Bloc's level of commitment is 3.6, more than the Tories, but apparently they aren't real voters.

Anyway, here are the national results:

Conservatives - 37.0%
Liberals - 29.9%
New Democrats - 13.8%
Greens - 10.2%
Bloc Quebecois - 9.1%

A big result for the Conservatives. And with EKOS being normally so consistent and using such large samples, that is a huge result. The Tories have improved 1.9-points from last week's EKOS poll. Significant, though, is that the Liberals are unchanged. So it isn't that the Liberals are dropping in the polls, it's that the Conservatives are rising.

The NDP result is pretty horrible for them, and they posted the biggest loss with 2.7 points. The Greens seem to have benefited, rising 1.2 points.

The regionals are very good for the Conservatives, though they are still struggling in British Columbia. They lead, but with only 34.2%. The NDP and the Liberals are tied at 24.1% and the Greens posted an excellent 17.6% result.

Alberta is what you'd expect, but the Liberals had a good 19.1% result there. In the Prairies, the Tories lead at 41.8%, followed by the NDP at 23.8% and the Liberals at 20.7%. Below average results for the two major parties, and a decent result for the NDP.

Ontario is the biggest news from this poll, however. The Tories lead with 41.8% - a huge result. The Liberals follow at 35.1%, still better than 2008, and the NDP and Greens are in the basement at 11.9% and 11.2%, respectively. Something struck me as odd about the Ontario poll, however. The sample size in "Toronto" represents only 27% of the provincial sample, which puts them somewhere between the "City" and "Urban" population designation on Wikipedia. Fair enough, but Ottawa represents 15% of the provincial sample, or the equivalent of almost 2,000,000 people. Without Gatineau, Ottawa is only about 800,000 people. And the Tories polled at 55% to the Liberal 28% in the federal capital. This leads me to believe that the Conservative result in Ontario isn't as high as 41.8%. (No longer a concern, see below)

Quebec is run of the mill, with the Bloc leading at 36.4%, the Liberals following at 28.6%, and the Conservatives posting a decent result at 19.4%. The NDP, at 9.3%, are floundering.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have moved back into the driver's seat at 41.1%. The Conservatives are at 31.7% while the NDP has taken a big hit at 19.2%.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 142
Liberals - 96
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 21

Still no majority. The Conservatives can't win a majority with such weak (relatively speaking) results in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and especially British Columbia. The Liberals would, in this situation, rebuild their caucus at the expense of the NDP.

The Conservatives lead in all demographics except those under the age of 25 and among university graduates. The Bloc leads in Montreal.

The Conservatives will be very pleased with this poll, but it only gets them exactly where they are right now. The Liberals would be back to 2006 levels, but the NDP would take a huge hit. They've apparently been the ones who were hurt the most by the recent events in Ottawa, which isn't too surprising.

This doesn't make Jack Layton any more likely to support the Liberal non-confidence motion (which, La Presse reports, will be worded very simply - "We have no confidence in this government").

I'll have a projection update later today or tomorrow.

11:14 UPDATE - EKOS has kindly responded to my questions (and multiple follow-ups) concerning the Ottawa sample. While they have over-sampled the capital, it's weight is adjusted within the provincial and national contexts to give it the proper proportion. So all is well, and thanks to the people at EKOS for being so helpful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poll Position: New Democrats

I took a look at the Liberals back in September, so now it is time to look at the New Democrats.

The last time the NDP was my focus was back in April. In those heady days of Spring, the projection was a little different. I had the Conservatives at 131 seats, the Liberals at 108, the Bloc at 50, and the NDP at a dismal 19. Over the past five months, the Tories have dropped four seats and the Liberals two. The NDP made up the difference, gaining six.

I think that is part of the story for the NDP this year. Things looked disastrous for them after the coalition deal fell through. The NDP looked to be going back to 2004 levels of support. But since then, and especially over the summer with the help of a convention in Halifax, the NDP has clawed their way back into respectability. Certainly dropping from 37 to 25 seats is no picnic, but it certainly isn't the 13 seats the party won back in 2000. With 25 seats, Jack Layton and the NDP would still hold a position of some influence in the House of Commons, especially if the Liberals get to within 25 seats of the Tories, as they are currently projected to do.

The NDP hasn't moved too much in the polls, they've been polling steadily for virtually the entire year. But it is helpful to look at the monthly averages. Back in April, they had averaged 14.9% in national polling. They moved steadily upwards throughout the Spring and Summer, and in August had an average support of 16.1%. Not a huge amount of movement, granted, but nevertheless a positive trend. But they are still far away from the 18% of the 2008 election, and in September they've taken a hit and are averaging 15.5% support. It is difficult to figure where they really are, however, since this month has had both their highest (19%) and lowest (12%) results of 2009.

Looking at the NDP's performance at the regional level, we see the same thing. In British Columbia they've polled between 14% and 33%, but have maintained themselves for the most part in the mid-20s. They're currently projected to win 24.6% of the vote and five seats, but they've only increased their vote total by 0.4 points since April.

In Alberta the NDP has been fighting with the Greens for third spot, as the Liberals have managed to move ahead, and stay ahead, of the NDP in the province. But they're still around the 11% they received last year, and they're currently projected to win 11.5% of the votes but no seats. That is an improvement of 0.7 points since April - again little movement.

In the Prairies, the NDP have been duking it out with the Liberals for second, and have been polling between 20% and 30%, with individual polls shooting them higher and lower of those extremes. If there was some movement, it was an increase in support from June to early September but since the beginning of this month the NDP has fallen pretty steeply. They're projected to get 22.9% and three seats, a decrease of only 0.3 points since the Spring.

Ontario has been even more painfully stable. In April, the NDP averaged 14.1% support. Their average in August was 14.2%, though they did reach 14.9% in July. In September so far, they're averaging 14.8% so they've seen some improvement. But we're still talking about their worst result since before 2004. Currently they're projected to have 15.1% support and 11 seats, an increase of 0.3 points and one seat since April.

The NDP broke into Quebec in the 2008 election, winning their first seat in a general election in the province for decades. They've managed to maintain their support from that election, but with the Liberals improving so much it puts Thomas Mulcair in Outremont in danger (though the recent squabble in the riding puts him back into safe territory, for now). In April they were averaging 10% support in Quebec polls, increased that support to 11.5% in August, but have so far dropped to 9.9% support in September. They're currently projected to take 10.5% of the vote and to keep Outremont - but just.

Atlantic Canada has been one of the bright spots for the NDP this year, and they've been on a slow but steady rise. They're currently competing with the Tories for second spot. The August convention in Halifax probably helped, and the election of a popular NDP provincial government in Nova Scotia definitely helped. They're polling anywhere from 25% to 35% support in the region, much better than the 18% to 30% they were receiving back around April and May. They've moved from a projected three seats and 23.4% support in April to five seats and 25.9% support.

One thing that remains to be seen is how NDP support will move as a consequence of the recent events in Ottawa. We haven't had a poll all week, and the polls released last week came before or just as the NDP's support for the Tory EI-reform bill started to be criticised. Will we see the NDP's support increase because they "made Parliament work"? Or, will we see their support decrease because they propped up Stephen Harper. And in either case, where will the support come from or go to?

The next couple of weeks of polling will give the NDP some food for thought. It is clear to most observers that the NDP decided to support the government primarily to avoid an election - not only because they feared losing some seats (as I project them to) but also because they didn't want to see a further dip in the polls for having caused an election. And with the Liberals appearing to be a better option than they were in 2008, it will be harder and harder for Jack Layton to improve on his 2008 performance.

Being a political leader is like being a shark - if you don't keep moving forward you die. Jack Layton can probably survive an electoral "defeat" like the one I'm projecting, but the question remains where the NDP would go from there. Layton has managed to get the party back to Ed Broadbent levels, but to ask him to get them over the hump of 43 seats and 20% might be too much to ask.

On a somewhat different note, thanks to former NDP campaign chair Brian Topp for the mention on the Globe and Mail website.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Regional Trends - Ontario

Back in August, I took a look at the polling trends in the Prairies. Now it's time to look at the province that occupies the most space in Canadian politics, Ontario.

Electoral Results since 2004

Ontario has seen a great swing in support over the last three elections. We all remember the 2000 election when the Liberals under Jean Chretien swept the province and took 100 out of the (then) 103 seats in the province. That kind of Liberal dominance is a thing of the past, and Ontario is now the political battleground in Canada.

Back in 2004, however, Ontario was still a deep Liberal red. Under Paul Martin the Grits took 75 seats and 44.7% of the vote, beating out Stephen Harper's new Conservative Party's result of 24 seats and 31.5%. The New Democrats took 18.1% of the vote and seven seats, while Green support was 4.4%.

In 2006 the Tories made a race out of the province, pushing their vote haul to 35.1%, good enough for 40 seats. The Liberals remained the favourite party, however, with 54 seats and 39.9% of the vote. The NDP improved with 12 seats and 19.4%, while the Greens took a slightly larger share with 4.7%.

In 2008 support flip-flopped, and the Conservatives pulled out in front with 39.2% and 51 seats. Stéphane Dion's Liberals faltered, winning only 38 seats and 33.8% of the vote. Jack Layton continued to improve his seat totals, with 17, but his support level dipped to 18.2%. The Greens did much better in this election, with 8%.

Ontario does have a regional political divide, with the Liberals winning in urban areas and the Conservatives in rural parts.

The Conservatives dominate in Eastern Ontario, where they've won six of the seven seats the last two elections, and five in 2004. The Liberals took the rest, with Peter Milliken of Kingston being the only hold-out. They also do well north of Toronto, where last year they swept all eleven seats in central Ontario. They took 10 in 2006 and seven in 2004, the Liberals getting the rest.

The Liberal stronghold is in and around Toronto. East of the city around Markham and Oshawa the contest is getting close, but in 2004 and 2006 the Liberals dominated. They took seven of the nine seats in 2006 and eight in 2004, with the Conservatives winning the rest. Last year, however, the Liberals took five of the seats and the Tories took four.

In Toronto itself and west of the city (Mississauga, Oakville region), the Liberals are the only party. In Toronto they've taken almost all of the seats - 20 in 2008, 19 in 2006, and 21 in 2004. The other seats went to the NDP - two in 2008, three in 2006, and one in 2004. Layton has held his seat in the city for the last three elections. West of Toronto, the Tories made their first breakthrough last year when they won two seats. The Liberals took the other seven and in the two previous elections they took all nine.

The rest of the province is a bit of a toss-up.

Ottawa has become a bit of a battleground of late, with the Tories winning four seats, the Liberals two, and the NDP one over the last two elections. In 2004 the Liberals took four to the Tory two. Paul Dewar, in Ottawa Centre, is the lone NDP MP.

The stretch of Ontario running from Hamilton to Niagara is another battlefield, though for the last two elections the Conservatives have held the advantage. They won six seats over those elections, but won only two in 2004. The Liberals took seven that year, dropped to one in 2006, and were shutout in 2004. The NDP wins seats in Hamilton, taking four last year, three in 2006, and one in 2004.

Southwestern Ontario is another battlefield. In 2004 the Liberals took twelve seats, the Tories took seven, and the NDP two in the Windsor area. In 2006 things became more heated, with the Tories taking eleven seats, the Liberals seven, and the NDP three. Last year, the Liberals were almost shut out with two seats, while the NDP took three and the Tories 16.

Finally, northern Ontario has gone from being a Liberal bastion to an NDP playground. In 2004, the Liberals took eight seats to the NDP two. In 2006 the Tories took one seat while the Liberals kept seven and the NDP their two. Then last year there was a change of fortunes, as the NDP won seven seats, the Tories took two, and the Liberals only one. This was one of the breakthrough regions for the NDP.

Ontario, with its regional variations and large population, is difficult to look at as a whole. But we can give it a shot.

Opinion Polling TrendsThanks to the large sample sizes in Ontario, the province provides the most consistent results in the country.

The race is clearly two-tiered. On the one hand we have the NDP and the Greens fighting it out for third place and on the other we have the Conservatives and the Liberals in a death grip for supremacy. The party that wins Ontario forms government, so this is an extraordinarily important battle.

The Liberals and the Conservatives have been in a tight race since January. From that month until the middle of March, it was a toss-up. The Liberals were polling between 35% and 43%, while the Conservatives were straddling the 34% to 42% spectrum.

In March, things shifted and the Liberals pulled ahead, a position they kept virtually unchallenged until the end of June. During this time the Liberals were comfortably over 40%, while the Tories had dropped to about 35%. You'll recall that it was during this period that I projected a Liberal minority, and you'll also recall that it was at the end of June that the Liberals first threatened an election.

That seems to have changed matters, and the Tories and Liberals were tied in the province until early July, when the Liberals pulled ahead by only a couple of points (39% to 36% or so). They kept that small lead consistently through to the first weeks of August, when the race again became tight between the two parties.

From the middle of August to today, the Liberals and Conservatives have been exchanging the lead in the province. But the trend appears to be downward for the Liberals while the Tories remain relatively stable with a slight uptick.

I currently project 38.2% and 51 seats for the Liberals compared to 36.3% and 44 seats for the Conservatives. But with the trends the way they are, the Tories look to be in a better position and could overtake the Liberals in the coming weeks.

As for the other race, it is more of a moral one. The NDP will still win at least 10 seats in the province while the Greens will almost certainly not win any. But while the NDP has kept the lead over the Greens for almost the entire year, there have been individual polls which put Elizabeth May's party ahead of Jack Layton.

There is little variation in the NDP results. They've consistently polled between 10% and 20%, and we can find both of those highs and lows during virtually any period of 2009.

The same goes for the Greens, who have been between 5% and 15%. They did seem to have some better results in July and especially August, but they've tailed off since.

I currently project 15.1% and 11 seats for the NDP, which would be quite a low for them. However, they've established enough roots in parts of the province to ensure they can maintain themselves in double-digits of seats despite a drop in popular support.

The Greens are projected at 9.9% but no seats. If the party reaches double-digits in this province, that would be a tremendous moral victory.

As for what to do in the province, every party has a lot of work. The Liberals have re-gained a lot of ground, but they need to do more. They will not win enough seats in the West to get them into government if they do not win more than 60 seats in Ontario. More than anywhere else, people in this province have a history of voting Liberal and so it is not unreasonable to expect them to do so again. Michael Ignatieff has to push the party out of the boundaries of Toronto and towards Windsor, Niagara, and North Bay. They could eke out a seat or two in Ottawa and win back Don Boudria's riding in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. But this is where the work needs to be done for the Grits.

The Tories need to hold what they have. It is extremely unlikely that the Tories will find themselves with a majority after the next election, but if they can win more than 135 seats it will be as good as having one, since it will buy them at least two years without an election. They thus need to hold on to what they have in the province, as they are likely to lose some ground in Quebec and British Columbia.

The NDP need to claw their back to credibility in the province, and maintain what they have in Windsor, Hamilton, and the North. The latter is especially important if Layton wants to demonstrate that 2008 was not a flash in the pan.

As always, Ontario will be the centre of attention on election night.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Break! (Updated)

So begins another week in Ottawa, and another season. It's autumn! Soon the leaves will be changing colours, the temperatures will be pleasantly dropping (I loathe the heat), and our government will get back to work. After all, nothing says fall like the sitting of Parliament.

Except this week, that is. Parliament is taking a brief week-long recess to recover from the huffing-and-puffing of last week. Actually, I'm not really sure why Parliament is on break this week. I'm thinking it has more to do with the G-20 meeting and less to do with Rosh Hashanah, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were either one. An internet search could not reveal the answer - if you know, please comment.

The Prime Minister will be using this week to strut his stuff at the G20. It certainly isn't as glamorous as the G8, but pretty good nevertheless. I just hope he makes it on time for the group photo. A few handshakes with President Barack Obama, a couple pats on the back from Silvio Berlusconi, and maybe some useful talks with India and China. A few good photo ops, a little less pressure from the situation in Ottawa. Could be a good week.

Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff will be taking the opportunity to expound on his economic plans for Canada. The Toronto Star has reported a little on the speech he is supposed to make today. Apparently he is giving some time to growing markets in India and China, something he touched upon in his foreign policy speech from last week and has mentioned in his TV ads. I'm guessing he won't go into specifics - it is a speech after all - but it should give us some indication as to what will be in the Liberal electoral platform.

Jack Layton will undoubtedly use this week to patch up some of the holes his plan to support the government has created. This about-face cannot have occurred without repercussions, and the week-off will give Layton and his caucus time to figure out what to do when Parliament resumes next week. Will the NDP support the government long enough to pass the EI-reform bill? Will they vote confidence or not on the Liberal motion? We're hearing things about how labour groups across the country are coming out against the proposed reforms, which will certainly make it more difficult for the NDP to continue supporting the government.

Gilles Duceppe will bide his time, as he is in the most comfortable position of all the leaders. His party is doing well (enough) in the polls and he is on solid footing evaluating each motion and bill one at a time. He doesn't have too much manoeuvering to do, except maybe to turn the screws on the NDP who is a competitor for a few votes in Montreal.

Speaking of which, there is a provincial by-election in Rousseau today, a Quebec riding northeast of Montreal. It has been held by François Legault since 1999, and has been held by the Parti Québécois since 1994. It's a sovereigntist region, having voting 63% in favour of independence in 1995, and as far as I can tell shares some of the same territory as the federal ridings of Rivière-du-Nord, Montcalm, Joliette, and Repentigny. Those are ridings all held by the Bloc Quebecois, though it would be too much to consider this election as a test or an indicator of Bloc support.

The race is between the PQ's Nicolas Marceau and the Liberal Michel Fafard. As the PQ got 57% of the vote in 2008 to the Liberals' 22%, a PQ victory is expected. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether the Liberals improve their total and how the ADQ does. Also worth watching is Guy Rainville, the leader of the Parti Vert.

23:21 UPDATE - The PQ held on to the seat, maintaining their support level. The PLQ picked up eight points while the ADQ lost 12, to end up at a dismal 4%. Quebec Solidaire and the PVQ both improved a tiny bit, but nothing significant.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nanos Leadership Poll

Nanos has the results of a leadership poll up on their site. It was taken between September 3 and September 11 and involved 1,002 Canadians.

When asked who would make the best Prime Minister, people said:

Stephen Harper - 36.9%
Michael Ignatieff - 23.9%
Jack Layton - 11.4%
Gilles Duceppe - 5.0%
Elizabeth May - 4.0%

That is a big spread between Harper and Ignatieff, and it really has only been created recently. Compared to the last Nanos poll in August, Harper has gained 7.4 points while Ignatieff has lost 2.3. Layton has also been hit hard, losing 3.8 points.

In British Columbia, Harper is the choice of 44.4% of respondents. Only 21.9% selected Ignatieff and a dismal 8.8% chose Layton.

In Ontario - and this is significant - Harper has jumped 6.6 points and stands at 36%. Ignatieff, who led Harper in the province in that previous poll, dropped 7.3 points and is the choice of 24.0% of Ontarians. Layton, at 8.5%, has also dropped.

In Quebec, Ignatieff has actually seen a gain of 4.6 points and is now the choice of 34.2%. Harper saw a small bump of 2.3 points, and is at 18.5%. Layton is at 18.8% while Duceppe is at 15.5%.

I've updated the "Best PM" track on the right. Ignatieff and Layton remain steady but Harper gains three points.

While Ignatieff seems to have been hit hard, Layton has seen the more uniform drop. Ignatieff is down big in Ontario and the Prairies, but he has gained some ground in British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. Layton is down in every region except Quebec, and there it was only by 0.4 points that he gained.

Ignatieff and Layton seem to be riding a tide of disfavour at the moment. While an election this fall is starting to seem unlikely, it could still happen. The wheels are in motion to put the EI reform bill through Parliament and even the Senate relatively quickly (according to Kady O'Malley) and it is possible that it will have become law before the Liberals put forward their motion of non-confidence.

So that gives the opposition about three weeks to rectify the souring of public opinion. To paraphrase the old adage, three weeks is an eternity in politics so we'll have to see where we stand in October.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Projection Update - Conservatives 127, Liberals 106

The Conservatives have gained two seats and the Liberals have dropped four from last week's projection. Nevertheless, the Conservatives remain in an unstable minority, as the NDP and Liberals alone are able to outvote them.The Conservatives have gained one seat in British Columbia, Ontario, and the North. However, they have lost one in Quebec and are now down to five seats in that province. The Liberals have lost a seat in British Columbia, Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and the North. The New Democrats have gained a seat in Atlantic Canada, and the Bloc Quebecois has gained one in Quebec.

In terms of national popular vote, the Tories and Liberals have traded 0.3 points while the NDP, Bloc, and Greens have remained steady.

In the battleground provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, there has been some movement. The Liberals have lost 0.3 points in BC, 0.2 of them being gobbled up by the Conservatives. The Conservatives stand at 37%, compared to the Liberal 26.3%, NDP 24.6%, and the Greens at 11.3%. This gives the Conservatives 21 seats in the province, the Liberals 10, and the NDP 5.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have gained 0.6 points (a big jump in this projection) at the expense of the Liberals. The NDP have gained 0.1 points, having taken that from the Greens. The Liberals still lead with 38.2% and 51 seats, but the Tories, at 36.3% and 44 seats, are catching up. The NDP stands at 15.1% and 11 seats, while the Greens hold 9.9% of the vote.

The Bloc Quebecois has gained 0.2 points in Quebec to stand at 37% and 50 seats. The Liberals remain steady at 30% and 19 seats while the Conservatives and NDP have each lost 0.1 points. This puts the Tories at 5 seats and the NDP at one. The Greens are unchanged at 6%.

Other big movements include a 0.4 point Conservative gain in Alberta, a 0.3 point Green gain in the Prairies, and a trading of 0.3 points between the Liberals and the NDP in Atlantic Canada, giving the NDP an extra seat there.

Clearly, this past week has not been beneficial for the Liberals in the polls. But the Conservatives aren't the ones reaping all of the benefits, as both the NDP and Bloc see themselves gaining seats.

New Ekos Poll: 5.2-point Conservative Lead

EKOS has released its weekly poll, taken between September 9 and September 15 and involving 3,164 Canadians.

The result:

Conservatives - 35.1%
Liberals - 29.9%
New Democrats - 16.5%
Bloc Quebecois - 9.6%
Greens - 9.0%

With the consistency of EKOS polling over the summer, and the size of this poll, I think we can now definitively say that the Tories have opened up a substantial lead over the Liberals. The Liberals have been stuck at about 30% now for weeks, while the Conservatives are slowly inching upwards. They're still far out of majority territory, however. This NDP result is alright as well.

Regionally, the Tories are still struggling to pull away in British Columbia. They lead with 36%, but the NDP (26.7%) and Liberals (25.0%) are still punching above their weight.

The result in Alberta and the Prairies is what you'd expect, but in Ontario the Conservatives are leading with 40.1%. The Liberals aren't exactly out of it, however, with 35.5%. The NDP is not at disaster level with 15.4%.

In Quebec, EKOS confirms the rebound of the Bloc Quebecois, who stand at 38.9%. The Liberals have faltered a little, with 27.1%. The Conservative and NDP results of 16.0% and 10.5%, respectively, are serviceable.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are back in front with 37.5%, followed by the Conservatives (28.7%) and NDP (28.2%).

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 132
Liberals - 98
Bloc Quebecois - 51
New Democrats - 27

Still no majority, and actually quite far out of it. The Liberals and Bloc could outvote the Tories, which would change the dynamic of the House of Commons somewhat.

This version of the polling data has two new interesting demographic breakdowns. The first is between those born in Canada and those who were not. The Tories lead among pure laine Canadians, 35.6% to 27.8%. The Liberals lead among immigrants, 40.0% to 27.8%. The other breakdown is between English and French. The Conservatives lead among anglophones, 40.8% to 31.0%. The Bloc Quebecois leads among Canadian francophones with 40.8% to the Liberal 26.4%.

For the other demographic breakdowns, the Tories lead among males (40.4% to 29.7), 25-44 year olds (30.2% to 28.9%), 45-64 (38.5% to 29.5%), 65+ (45.5% to 34.5%), high school graduates (33.5% to 24.9%), college graduates (41.7% to 24.5%), in Vancouver (37.8% to 28.6%) and Calgary (59.9% to 23.3%).

The Liberals lead the Tories among females (30.1% to 29.7%), those aged 25 or younger (26.9% to 22.1%), university graduates (37.4% to 30.5%), and in Toronto (39.7% to 36.7%). The Conservatives and Liberals are tied in Ottawa with 42.9% apiece.

The Bloc leads the Liberals 38.1% to 31.0% in Montreal.

As to what factor determines how people vote, party platforms received 42%, the party leader 22.3%, and the local candidate 16.9%. New Democrats and people in Ontario were those who banked most on the party platform, Liberals and Quebecers gave the highest results for the party leader, and Liberals and Atlantic Canadians were those most likely to consider the local candidate the determining factor.

As to the preferred potential outcome, 39.4% of Canadians want a Liberal government (14% minority, 25.4% majority) while 35.9% want a Conservative government (8.1% minority and 27.8% majority).

Looking at the third parties, 35.6% of New Democrats want a Liberal government of some kind compared to 13.6% who wanted a Conservative government. The breakdown is 33.6% to 17.6% among Bloc supporters and 35.9% to 13.1% among Greens. So Michael Ignatieff does have some room for growth.

Significantly, undecideds are split down the middle on what they want - 21.7% choosing a Liberal government and 21.3% choosing a Conservative government.

A projection update will be coming later today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Details on AR Poll

The Angus-Reid details are now available. The poll was taken between September 11 and September 13, so it was a weekend poll when news came out that the government could fall on the next Friday.

This is a very good poll for the Conservatives, but another indication that a majority without Quebec is virtually impossible. They have solid leads in British Columbia (41% to 26% NDP and 22% Liberal), Alberta (64% to the Liberal 18%), the Prairies (47% to the 29% Liberal and 14% NDP), and Ontario (41% to the Liberal 29% and the NDP 18%). But they polled very badly in Quebec (13%) and so are projected to win only three seats there with this poll.

The Liberal result in Ontario is disastrous, and would get them only 29 seats. The NDP result of 18%, however, is quite good. The race in Atlantic Canada is heated, with the NDP leading with 34% and the Liberals and Tories tied at 31%.

In Quebec, the Bloc polled well with 40%, as did the Liberals with 36%. The NDP are competitive in Montreal with 10%.

So, we get the following seat totals with this poll:

Conservatives - 144
Liberals - 85
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 30

So this would give a very similar result to what we currently have, but as you can see the Tories are still not in majority territory. They simply can't win a majority without Quebec.

The poll asked whether Canadians support toppling the government. The result was 31% for (strong or moderately so) and 59% against. Interestingly, things were broken down by party as well. Conservative supporters are 6% for and 92% against the toppling of the government, unsurprisingly.

But Liberal supporters are for the toppling of the government, 49% to 44%. As are NDP supporters, 44% to 40%, and Bloc supporters 55% to 35%. While their supporters are divided (and we can't know why they might oppose the toppling of the government, it could be because they don't like their chances), there is definitely nothing here to argue against supporting the upcoming Liberal non-confidence motion. Except, of course, some of the regional polling results.

As to what kind of government Canadians want, the result is interesting. Given the choices of Conservative or Liberal majority or minority government, 46% chose a Conservative government of some kind to 54% who chose a Liberal government of some kind. 34% of Canadians would like a Tory majority compared to 31% who would like a Liberal majority. For minority government, however, Canadians choose Liberal - 23% to 12%.

What this tells me is that their own supporters want their party in power with a majority. But if it looks like a minority government is likely, more voters may choose to vote strategically for a Liberal minority government.

Canadians are more politically savvy than we think, though, as 77% expect a minority government. As to whether the next governing party will be Conservative or Liberal, 63% think it will be blue and 38% think it will be red. Contrary to the Liberal minority support numbers, this does not bode well.

Don't forget, tomorrow I'll be updating the projection.

New AR Poll: 7-point Conservative Lead

The Toronto Star is reporting on a new Angus-Reid poll. The paper is giving very few details, but what this article mentions is that the poll involved 1,002 people and completed polling on September 13.

The result:

Conservatives - 36%
Liberals - 29%
New Democrats - 17%
Bloc Quebecois - 10%
Greens - 7%

Angus-Reid has been pretty bang-on in the polls the last few elections, so their findings have to be given due respect. With a 3.1 margin of error, this puts the Ipsos-Reid poll from yesterday in a better light, though it still seems they under-polled the NDP at 12%.

The article also mentions that the Tories have a 12-point lead in Ontario. Massive.

I am curious to see what the EKOS poll will say tomorrow as well as polls next week. The polls we've been getting this week all took place in the context of a probable election. Polls that will be released at the end of this week and next week will be taken in the context of an election avoided. What we will have to watch is whether the NDP will benefit for trying to 'make Parliament work' or whether they will be punished for folding to the Conservatives. We will also have to watch whether the Liberals will be punished for their adamant opposition to the government, or whether they will be rewarded for growing a back-bone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No Election, This Week

The Bloc Quebecois has found enough good in the Conservative ways and means motion that will be introduced on Friday to support it. They particularly support the home renovation tax credit and the modest EI reforms.

So, now the NDP have an opportunity to not support the government here, which I wouldn't be surprised if they took. But it seems like there is enough in the EI reforms for them to support this motion on Friday as well.

That means the government will not fall on Friday, something that became clear yesterday when both the Bloc and NDP took on a relatively approving tone concerning the proposed EI reforms.

Since Parliament will not be sitting next week, it means the government will also remain in power through to September 28 at the earliest.

Sometime during that week or the following week (October 5 to 9), the Liberals are expected to bring forward a non-confidence motion. It seems likely that the Bloc Quebecois will support such a motion. The Bloc votes issue to issue, and so it is likely Gilles Duceppe will follow through on his statement yesterday that his party has no confidence in the Conservative government.

That leaves the NDP, and in three to four weeks time things can change radically. With the rhetoric flying in and outside the House of Commons, it would not surprise me one bit if the NDP supported the non-confidence motion in October.

Watch the polls over the following month, as they will probably have a big influence on whether the Bloc and NDP support the Liberals on that non-confidence motion.

Remember, the government falling on a non-confidence motion put forward by the Liberals at the end of September or beginning of October had been the original timeline for the downfall of this government ever since June.

New HD Poll: 4% Conservative Lead

Harris-Decima has released a new poll, and thanks to the Toronto Star for publishing the results in full.

The poll was taken between September 3 and September 13 and involved just over 2,000 respondents. This is part of a 'rolling poll', as the previous HD poll was taken between August 27 and September 6. For that reason, this poll will be reduced in weight by 36% since part of it has already been represented in the model.

The national results:

Conservatives - 34%
Liberals - 30%
New Democrats - 15%
Greens - 10%
Bloc Quebecois 9%

Once again, Harris-Decima provides us with a poll to counter a suspicious Ipsos-Reid poll. I wonder what kind of inter-pollster rivalries exist.

In British Columbia, the Tories have a solid lead with 36%. The Liberals and NDP are tied at 23% and the Greens have a strong 17%. Alberta is as you'd expect, but in the Prairies the Tories are at 45% and the NDP is second at 35%, with the Liberals in third at 18%. That is a very strong result for the NDP.

In Ontario, the Tories don't have the 10-point lead Ipsos-Reid gave them. Instead, the Liberals are ahead three points, 38% to 35%. The NDP is alright at 15%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is doing well with 39%. The Liberals are doing good too, with 30%. The Conservatives are at 16% but the NDP has fallen to 7%, just one point above the Greens. How much is Thomas Mulcair worth to the NDP?

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have dropped to 32% with the Tories at 30% and the NDP at 24%.

This poll would give the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 126
Liberals - 104
Bloc Quebecois - 51
New Democrats - 27

So, something similar to the 2006 result. Significantly, the Liberals and the NDP could out-vote the Tories.

Leadership Details from Harris-Decima

Last week, I reported on a Harris-Decima poll that had been released through the media. The details of that poll are now available. A disappointing change in these details is that the information on Alberta, Prairies, and Atlantic results has been left out.

What we do have is more information on people's opinion of Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff. This poll was taken between August 27 to September 6, so while it is one-to-two weeks old, it is still relatively recent.

The poll found that 45% of Canadians have a favourable opinion of Harper, while 47% have an unfavourable opinion. That split was 39% to 41% for Ignatieff. Harper's best number came in Alberta, with 65% of respondents having a favourable opinion. His worst was in Quebec, where 29% had a favourable opinion. Ignatieff's best result was in Atlantic Canada (43%), while his worst was in Alberta (21%).

More interesting is how supporters of other parties see Harper and Ignatieff. About 27% of Liberal supporters have a favourable opinion of the Prime Minister, as do 22% of NDP supporters, 23% of Green supporters, and 19% of Bloc supporters.

Ignatieff, however, has a much higher favourability among supporters of other parties: 47% of NDP supporters, 41% of Bloc supporters, 35% of Green supporters, and 20% of Conservative supporters. That tells me that Ignatieff has a much higher chance of attracting NDP, BQ, and Green voters than Harper does. However, Harper seems to have a slightly better chance of attracting Liberal supporters than Ignatieff does Conservative supporters. But in terms of the amount of supporters from other parties that have favourable opinions of Ignatieff or Harper, Ignatieff comes out on top. His potential growth is 21.1-points compared to Harper's 16. In simple terms, that means Ignatieff has the potential to reach out to about 53% of Canadians, compared to Harper's 49%.

Probably most interesting, however, is the question concerning coalitions. Harris-Decima asked whether, if a minority is re-elected, a coalition should be worked out with another party to lengthen the life of Parliament. 55% of Canadians agreed, while only 35% did not. Perhaps, then, the idea of one of the parties forming a coalition with another is not such a horrid proposition after all. All regions of the country had more people agreeing with a coalition than disagreeing, except in BC where the two opinions were tied. Quebecers (64%) and Atlantic Canadians (62%) find the idea most favourable.

More IR Details and Nanos Leadership Poll

Ipsos-Reid released the details of yesterday's poll.

Canwest mis-reported one of the numbers, that of the British Columbia result. The Tories have a significant lead there, 46% to 26%. The NDP is down to 14% and the Greens are at 13%.

In the Prairies, the NDP is at 21%, tied with the Liberals at 23%. In Ontario, Jack Layton's troops earned only 10% support, a disastrous result. In Quebec, the Conservatives are still way down at 14%, with the NDP at 12% and the Greens at 9%. In Atlantic Canada, the NDP is still in the game, but almost out, at 22%.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 147
Liberals - 95
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 17

That's right, this still isn't enough to get the Tories to a majority. The NDP is simply too weak to split the vote effectively, allowing the Liberals to grow their caucus and keep the Conservatives to a minority.

If Stephen Harper thinks he can win a majority without Quebec, he is gravely mistaken. With only five seats in the province, he is eight-away from a governing majority. And with Liberal support so solid in Toronto, the Conservatives hit a wall pretty quickly in Ontario.

Demographically, the Liberals lead among 18-34 year olds, 32% to the Conservative 26%. The Tories lead the Liberals in all other demographics: 35-54 (40% to 32%), 55+ (51% to 25%), males (44% to 26%) and females (35% to 34%).

Nanos Research released a leadership poll, with rough numbers for Ignatieff. However, compared to the Liberal leader's standing in April, there hasn't been much change. Virtually all of the movements for all of the leaders is within the 3.1-point margin of error. The one that is outside of the MOE is on the issue of trust, where Ignatieff has fallen five points from 19% to 14%. Harper improved from 28% to 31%. Ignatieff fell three points on competenece (23% to 20%) and on having a vision for Canada (23% to 20%). Harper gained two points on those issues.

It is worth noting that out of all the parties, Liberals were most likely to identify a different party's leader as more trustworthy, competent, or visionary.

I hope that political leaders don't take individual polls at face value. Polls are useful when taken as a whole, which is the point of this site. If they do, Layton will probably consider his decision to support the government as the right one. However, my own personal reaction is that if a party is perceived to be trying to save its own skin above all else, it does not help. NDP supporters were among those who most supported an election - so we won't see them thankful that their leader has avoided one. In fact, this electorate is least likely to see the propping up of the Harper government as a positive thing. The NDP's only hope is that centre-left voters who support the Liberals but do not want an election will move to Layton in gratitude.

Alienating your own committed supporters, those who work the phones and get out the vote, however, can be a disastrous electoral strategy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New IR Poll: 9% Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid released a new poll today, via Canwest. Hopefully the rest of the details will be released tomorrow on their website, as is usually the case.

The poll was taken between September 10 and September 13 and involved 1,001 Canadians. You may remember the last Ipsos-Reid poll, and why it was a little suspect. This one is pretty much a re-hash of the last one, and when you take into consideration my assessment of Ipsos-Reid this morning, you might want to take this result with a grain of salt, for two reasons:

Conservatives - 39%
Liberals - 30%
New Democrats - 12%
Bloc Quebecois - 9%
Greens - 8%

And those two reasons are that Ipsos-Reid polls best for the Conservatives and worst for the NDP. To have the Tories so high and the NDP so low makes this an outlier, unless we have some polls from other firms in the next few days to back this one up.

Anyway, let's go through the information that is currently available.

The race is nevertheless close in British Columbia, with the Tories at 39% and the Liberals at 30%. The race isn't so close in Alberta and the Prairies, with the Conservatives polling an incredible 72%, with the Liberals at 15%, in Alberta and the split 50-23 in the Prairies.

In Ontario, the Conservative lead has actually narrowed since the last Ipsos-Reid poll, but they still lead 46% to 36%. In Quebec, the Bloc is steady at 36% while the Liberals are up at 28%. In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead the Tories 39% to 31%.

I'll be able to project the seats for this individual poll once we have the rest of the regional details. I'm not even sure this would get Stephen Harper a majority, what with the results in British Columbia.

Parliament Opens (Updated)

It has been an eventful day so far, and we haven't even gotten to Question Period yet.

From the Conservatives, we had Diane Finley and Jean-Pierre Blackburn presenting their proposed changes to EI. I'm sure I have the details wrong, but it expands accessibility to EI benefits if you haven't used it a lot and have worked steadily for seven of the last ten years. Better than nothing, certainly, but a labour spokesperson on Radio-Canada lampooned the proposals, saying it leaves seasonal and contract workers in the lurch. He said that there are thousands of people in Blackburn's own riding who still wouldn't benefit from this EI change. To sum up his view, it smacks of the idea of a "deserving poor" versus the "undeserving poor", a view of poverty that was last en vogue in the 19th century.

For the Liberals, Michael Ignatieff spoke at the Canadian Club about his vision of Canada on the world stage. This is an indication that rather than shy away from his own history abroad, the Liberals are going to focus on Canadian foreign policy as one of their electoral planks. Ignatieff was basically saying Canada needs to return to a position of influence in world affairs, and he severely criticised Stephen Harper's performance in that theatre. He even praised Brian Mulroney and John Diefenbaker for their international accomplishments, contrasting that to Canada's current record. His speech was pretty forceful and specific (such as a G20 secretariat hosted in Canada), showing that we may start seeing more of these policy proposals rolled out as we run up to the campaign and when we enter it.

Jack Layton's much-hyped speech this morning was a mere run-of-the-mill opening-of-session motivational piece. He did emphasise his willingness to 'make Parliament work', and certainly had some conciliatory tones towards supporting Conservative policies if they are worth supporting, but he didn't make any specific requirements for his support. I don't think what the Conservatives have proposed will be enough for the NDP, even though Paul Dewar quickly followed Finley and Blackburn to say they would take into consideration what has been proposed and act accordingly.

I missed Gilles Duceppe on Radio-Canada this morning, but from what I can glean from media reports there isn't anything new in what he said, just simply that they'll see what the Tories propose and decide based on that. This position is the default position of the Bloc, so it doesn't change the generally accepted view that the Bloc is perfectly willing to topple the government.

Question Period is about to start. I'm looking forward to gauging the tone.

15:32 UPDATE - In all likelihood, the government will not fall on Friday. From what I've heard today, the NDP is likely to vote for the ways and means motion at the end of the week, and the Bloc could even vote for it too. But don't fret. Although the media has run the headline that the government could fall on Friday, that was never the most likely scenario. In a few weeks, the Liberals are expected to put forward a non-confidence motion, which the Bloc is almost certain to support. Duceppe himself said today that he has no confidence in this government. What will remain to be seen is what the NDP will do in such a situation. If they decide to support the government or abstain, no matter what reason they can come up with, they will have to eat their hats.

17:39 UPDATE - Listening to the coverage this afternoon, the election balloon is almost entirely deflated. An open question to you readers, how has this changed the original timeline, that the Liberals would introduce a non-confidence motion at the end of the month which the Bloc and NDP would support? The Liberals are committed to it, the Bloc is all but committed to it, and the NDP will have to do some real gymnastics to vote in favour of the government. I have great difficulty with the idea that over the next two-to-three weeks the Tories will not do something to turn the NDP away, or that the NDP will be able to maintain friendship with the Tories.

The Liberals and Bloc will gleefully put the NDP in the Dion position. If the NDP has to support the Tories until next spring, that means the Liberals will have an easy time pulling progressive voters away from the NDP. The Bloc and NDP same some of the same voters in Quebec, so that would completely destroy the NDP's chances of winning a seat in the province.

The Liberals will vote non-confidence. We're 99% sure the Bloc will vote non-confidence. Can anyone really see Jack Layton supporting Stephen Harper for more than a month?

As far as I'm concerned, we're as likely to have an election in 2009 as were a few days ago.

Polling Firm Leanings - IR Update

I've updated the pollster leanings chart for Ipsos-Reid, incorporating the last three months of polling.

Nationally, IR is the most favourable pollster for the Conservatives. On average, they poll more than 3-points higher than anyone else. They are the least favourable pollster for the NDP, polling them more than 2 points lower than the other pollsters. They're middle-of-the-road for the Liberals and Greens.

In Quebec, they are the most favourable pollster for the Conservatives, but still only giving them about 1.5 points more than everyone else.

For fun, here is the last Ipsos-Reid national poll, adjusting for the discrepancy:

Conservatives - 35.7%
Liberals - 28.4%
New Democrats - 16.5%
Greens - 10.7%

And Quebec:

Bloc Quebecois - 33.6%
Liberals - 28.6%
Conservatives - 18.5%
New Democrats - 9.4%
Greens - 8.8%

The chart below tracks how each pollster tends to lean when calculating support levels for the various parties, as compared to the average polling results from other pollsters each month. This does not necessarily equate to a deliberate bias, but instead is more reflective of the polling methods used.

The following chart shows each pollster's average variation from other polling firms. The numbers are the amount of percentage points a particular pollster favours or disfavours that particular party compared to other pollsters over a similar period of time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Best/Worst Case Scenarios

For a lark, let's look at the best and worst polling results each party has had across the country, and what that would mean for seats. In other words, based on recent polls (leaving their margins of error alone), what are the best and worst case scenarios for each party in this coming election?

Here are the high/lows for each party:


BC - 45% (June 4) and 26% (April 19)
AB - 66% (July 28) and 49% (September 2)
PR - 59% (June 29) and 32% (April 13)
ON - 43% (August 20) and 31% (June 8)
QC - 20% (August 20) and 8% (June 4)
AT - 42% (September 2) and 19% (June 21)

In all regions but Quebec, these results would be their worst or their best in the last three elections. The 20% in Quebec would be worse than the 2006 and 2008 results but would be better than the 8.8% in 2004. This shows how much ground the party has lost in the province.

These best case scenarios translate into 157 seats. This, and the projections below, need to be taken with a grain of salt as the projection works best when the party totals interact with one another. This is based on only plugging the one party's numbers into the projection. Nevertheless, 157 is a majority - but a slim one. This shows the Tories don't have too much room to work with if they want a majority.

Their worst case scenario would be a dismal 69 seats. Still enough, however, to form the official opposition.


BC - 36% (June 21) and 19% (August 26)
AB - 26% (June 18) and 12% (June 18)
PR - 39% (April 13) and 9% (August 20)
ON - 45% (April 5) and 31% (August 20)
QC - 38% (June 1) and 23% (September 6)
AT - 48% (April 22) and 23% (July 17)

These would represent best and worst performances since 2004 except in Alberta, where the 2008 result was worse, and Quebec, where the 2006 result was worse. This shows the Liberals have gained some ground in Alberta and Quebec.

Their best case scenario gives them 148 seats, so no majority. Their worst case scenario gives them 58 seats. An opportunity for the Bloc to lead the opposition like in 1993?


BC - 33% (September 2) and 14% (July 3)
AB - 19% (June 18) and 6% (April 13)
PR - 35% (September 2) and 11% (June 4)
ON - 20% (June 18) and 10% (June 7)
QC - 18% (August 23) and 6% (September 6)
AT - 35% (July 17) and 17% (March 8)

These would all be worst and best results since 2004, except in Quebec where the 2004 result was worse than 6%. This shows the NDP has made itself into an option in Quebec.

Best case scenario gives the NDP 47 seats, still unlikely to lead the opposition but likely to take over the Bloc as third party in Parliament. The worst case scenario is 13 seats. Considering the NDP has recently spent some time with single-digit seat totals, that isn't a horrible result.


The Bloc's best polling result was 49% on September 6. Their worst was 30% on August 23. That gives them a best case scenario of 54 seats and a worst case scenario of 39.


I only looked at their best polling results, which were 24% in BC (August 23), 18% in AB (May 29), 16% in PR (May 3), 15% in ON (August 26), 11% in QC (June 7), and 14% in AT (May 29). That gives them two seats - one in British Columbia (Ms. May) and one in Ontario (Guelph).

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Economy Still the Issue

Here's an issue poll from Nanos, taken between August 28 and September 2. Given a choice, these were the top issues (with change from August results in brackets):

Jobs and/or the Economy - 31.3% (+1.0)
Healthcare - 23.6% (-2.5)
Environment - 8.7% (-0.7)
Education - 8.4% (+4.3)

With the margin of error at 3.1, only education can be said to have definitely become a more important issue for voters. That the poll was taken just as students were returning to school, however, might be the reason for the change.

Why Elections are Important

Readers may beginning to notice my own exasperation with the exasperation of others concerning this coming election. As a political observer, it's true that I enjoy elections in part because I find them fascinating and exciting. But as a democrat, I strongly believe in the importance of participating in our democratic system and giving every election the attention and self-reflection it deserves. An election is not a burden, it is an opportunity to tell those who represent us what we think of them, and what we want them to do. Being able to participate in our democracy, to re-evaluate the decisions we've made in the past, is a privilege and exceedingly important.

I run this site because I believe elections are important and it is even more important to be an informed voter. During the election campaign I hope to go beyond reporting on polls and spend some time on the various party platforms and how the campaign is unfolding.

We've been seeing a lot of "another election?!"-type editorials and comments in the media, but we're also starting to see some backlash. On Wednesday I posted an article from the Toronto Star highlighting the economic advantages of an election. Today, here are some excerpts from an article in The Globe and Mail which I think are spot on:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the first to moan in, right after Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced his intention to pull the plug on the Conservatives' minority government...The PM's response was that he hasn't met “a single Canadian” who wants an election, which may only reveal the limited range of his contacts.

Yet many in the news media echoed it. I think at random of Suhana Meharchand on CBC Radio's phone-in last Sunday, chortling over the silliness of another election. I may have gone humourless, but I don't really get it.

In a vital democracy, like ancient Athens or the Iroquois confederacy, people were involved in politics continually. Under our system, politics more or less equals elections, so you could call frequent elections our form of participatory democracy. It keeps citizens engaged and parties on their toes. Under a stable majority, everyone goes to sleep for four years...

But everything turns upside down if you treat politics as a shopping trip – I don't waaant an election – rather than the ongoing duty of each citizen. It's like newscasters saying, “Thanks for watching,” as if we tune in to do them a favour, rather than from our need as citizens to be informed. Citizenship isn't a consumer choice that you may or may not make. People can opt out of it, but then they lose the right to complain, and it's a mingy choice to make if you think of kids and others affected by actions taken in the name of us all.

Besides, if these whiners really don't want an election and prefer Parliament “to work,” why did so many of them object to a coalition last winter? It was the very definition of making Parliament work in a minority situation. I don't think minority governments are inherently unstable; I'd call them inherently alert. The current one has indeed been unstable since it's so distant from the majority of members in the House and voters in the country. But, say, a Liberal minority could well find enough common ground with the Bloc and NDP to enact many things that most citizens would value.

It's the snickering and eye-rolling among media opiners that I find most offensive, as if their stance is so sophisticated...

If there is a problem with another election, it's that voting is all we're ever offered to satisfy our political impulses, and it is a repetitive and intrinsically shallow exercise. But this implies that we should vote for those ready to expand the arena of democratic participation so that we need not shoehorn the entire human political drive into the narrowness of elections.

If the United States can serve as an example for us, we have to be wary that our political discourse doesn't turn into divisive rhetoric. When I see the explosive and absolutely ridiculous debate on health care in the United States, I feel very thankful that in our country politics is at least usually rational. Let's try and keep it that way, and focus on issues and policy rather than who's to blame for an election, who's really an American in disguise, and who's a two-faced ideologue.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Pros and Cons of an Election

Watching several political panels today, I heard a few things which I tend to disagree with. Firstly, that none of the parties want an election. Secondly, that none of the parties look like they'll benefit from an election. And thirdly, we'll get the exact same thing as last time.

To explain why I disagree with all of these statements, here are what I see as the pros and cons of an election for each party.


Pros: If Canadians are truly exasperated with having to put up with an election once again, or if Michael Ignatieff turns out to be a horrible campaigner, the Conservatives could be returned to power with another strong minority (which would give them at least two more years of life) or even a majority. However, I think this is an unlikely scenario, unless, as a fellow blogger aptly put it, they find a brick of coke in Ignatieff's trunk.

Cons: If Ignatieff is a good campaigner or if the campaign goes badly for the Tories, the Conservatives would be returned to the opposition benches, and Stephen Harper would likely step down as leader.


Pros: They could form government. But even in a worst-case scenario, say winning 28% to 30% of the vote, would put the Liberals in a better position than they are currently in. A larger parliamentary caucus means more influence in governing the country in a minority situation.

Cons: They might not form government. Even with a larger caucus, the Liberals would be forced to maintain the Tories in power, or at least tolerate them there, for two years at the minimum.

New Democrats

Pros: It is unlikely that the NDP will do better than their near-historical-best result of 2008. But, even if they lose seats, they could find themselves in a position of greater influence, perhaps even in a coalition government - as long as the Liberals win enough seats to give them and the NDP more seats than the Conservatives. And if the Liberal/NDP combination forms a majority, that could change everything.

Cons: They could lose a large portion of their MPs, and lose the footholds they've made in provinces like Newfoundland & Labrador, Quebec, and Alberta.

Bloc Quebecois

Pros: The Bloc is unlikely to improve significantly over 49 seats, but with the Tories falling away in Quebec, the Bloc should be able to return to the Quebec City and Saguenay regions. These used to be their fortresses, and they definitely want to return to the region. In an excellent campaign for the Bloc they could even get back over the 50-seat mark.

Cons: The Bloc could find themselves with a smaller caucus than the one they currently have, and they probably will lose some of their seats in Montreal and the Outaouais.

The Canadian People

Pros: We are almost definitely going to have a minority government once again when this election is over. If that is the case, maybe parties will see that they need to co-operate more than they already do (the minority governments since 2004 have managed to pass legislation, and the parties often work well together in committee), and maybe they'll realise that Canadians actually want the parties to co-operate.

Cons: Voter turnout and interest could, and probably will, take a further hit. However, we should be facing this democratic problem head-on rather than giving in to the people who don't give a damn anyway.

So, clearly, some of the parties could benefit from an election (someone has to) and it would be false to say that all parties definitely do not want an election. And it is extremely unlikely that at the end of the campaign we will find ourselves with the exact same form of government.

If we get a Conservative majority, that will be a different situation. If we get a Conservative minority but with a larger Liberal caucus, that will be a different situation. If we get a Conservative minority where the Liberals and NDP have a majority, that will be a different situation. If we get a Liberal government of any kind, that will be a different situation.

People looking at the polls today should see that we are unlikely to get the same situation as we have currently. And as Chantal Hébert said so well on The National today, if pre-election polls were written in stone, Paul Martin would have won the 2006 election and Kim Campbell would have won in 1993. Elections change everything.

People still don't want an election? Too bad. This is our system of government, and we're damn lucky to have it. Billions of people on this planet aren't so lucky as to have a free, democratic, and peaceful system of government. So quit complaining, and do your civic duty, which is probably the least burdensome thing you'll have to do all year.

Weekly Projection Update - Conservatives by Fifteen

The projection has been updated to include the five national polls that were released this week, but the seat totals remain the same. There has, however, been a seat swap. The Liberals have taken one seat away from the Conservatives in British Columbia while the Conservatives have taken one seat away from the Liberals in Ontario.Nationally, the Conservatives have gained 0.2 points while the Greens have lost 0.1 points and the Liberals 0.2 points.

Regionally, changes were modest. The biggest change was in Alberta, where the Tories lost 0.6 points and the NDP gained 0.3. The NDP also gained 0.3 points in Quebec.

All other changes were equal to or less than 0.2 points. In the battleground regions, however, the Tories lost 0.2 points in British Columbia but gained 0.2 in Ontario and 0.1 in Quebec.

The Liberals gained 0.2 points in British Columbia, remained steady in Ontario, and lost 0.1 points in Quebec.

The NDP lost 0.1 points in British Columbia and 0.2 in Ontario.

The Greens gained 0.1 points in British Columbia, and lost 0.1 in Ontario and 0.2 in Quebec. The Bloc Quebecois remained unchanged in that province.

So, the status quo for this week, at least. The Liberals and NDP still outnumber the Tories, however, which would certainly change the dynamic of Parliament.

New Ekos Poll: 3.4% Conservative Lead

EKOS has released its weekly poll, taken between September 2 and September 8 and involving 2,825 Canadians. The national results:

Conservatives - 34.2%
Liberals - 30.8%
New Democrats - 14.8%
Greens - 10.1%
Bloc Quebecois - 10.0%

This is generally what we've been seeing lately, a 3-5 point spread between the Liberals and the Conservatives. While both would prefer better results, these are both good (or good enough) for both parties. The Tories are happy to go into an election with a lead, while the Liberals should be fine going into an election within reach of the Tories. Remember that in 2004 and 2006, where the minority governments were small, the spread was 6-7 points.

British Columbia has the Conservatives and the Liberals in a close race, 34.9% to 31.3%. The NDP is falling away and stands at 20.9%. The Greens, at 12.9%, are not strong enough to elect Elizabeth May.

Alberta is what you'd expect, but in the Prairies the NDP had a bad 16.2% result. The Liberals, at 25.9%, are doing better while the Tories are near 50%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have moved ahead and lead the Liberals 38.4% to 36.5%. The NDP is at a lowly 13.7% and is being nipped in the heels by the Greens (11.4%).

In Quebec, the Bloc is doing well at 39.8%. This gives an element of truth to the Strategic Counsel poll putting the Bloc at 49%. The truth isn't in the number, but in the fact that the Bloc is rebounding in the province. The Liberals are slightly lower than they'd like to be at 27.8%, the Conservatives risk losing many of their seats at 15.5%, and Thomas Mulcair could be looking for a new job with the NDP at 9.8%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives seem to have made a race of it, statistically tied with the Liberals at 31.0% to 32.2%. The NDP, at 26.5%, are in a decent position.

The demographic battle is between the Liberals and the Conservatives exclusively. Conservatives lead among males (38.4% to 31.1%), 45-64 year olds (35.4% to 32.0%), 65+ year olds (48.1% to 30.7%), high school graduates (37.3% to 23.1%), and college graduates (33.4% to 28.6%).

The Liberals have the edge among females (30.6% to 30.1%), <25 year olds (24.0% to 23.6%), 25-44 year olds (31.9% to 29.2%), and university graduates (38.5% to 32.8%).

The Tories lead in Calgary (60.8% to 19.7%) while the Liberals lead in Vancouver (34.2% to 31.9%), Toronto (45.1% to 34.8%), and Ottawa (44.3% to 39.1%). The Bloc leads in Montreal (36.3% to 27.4%). That is the largest gap we've seen in that city.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 128
Liberals - 104
Bloc Quebecois - 52
New Democrats - 24

Note that the NDP and Liberals would have as many seats as the Conservatives, making the choice of the Speaker very, very, important.

The poll also asked whether people wanted an election now, or later. Unsurprisingly, the result was 28% now and 72% later. That 28% is actually pretty high, but really, why do we ask this question? People never want an election. Poll after poll shows that Canadians don't like politicians in the first place.

There was no major variation in terms of regional preferences, though British Columbia and Quebec were at 32% and 30% for an election, respectively.

Young people seem to want an election, with 44% of those under the age of 25 wanting an election now.

Liberals and Greens want an election the most (41%), followed by NDP supporters (38%). Conservatives, at 8%, don't want an election at all.

The projection will be updated later today. I'm hoping I'll have the rest of the Harris-Decima poll before doing so.