Monday, May 31, 2010

New AR Poll: 8-pt CPC Lead - and Mergers?

Angus-Reid has a new poll out, and it doesn't show much of a change. But it does ask some interesting questions.Compared to their last poll of late April, the Conservatives are steady at 35%. The Liberals have dropped one to 27% and the New Democrats are steady at 19%.

The Bloc Québécois is down two to 9% and the Greens are up one to 8%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have gained one point and the lead, with 35%. The Liberals have lost three and are down to 34% while the NDP is up three to 20%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down four to 37%, followed by the Liberals at 23% (down one), the Conservatives at 18% (up three), and the NDP at 16% (up one).

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are down eight to 43%. The NDP is down one to 29% and the Liberals are up two to 16%. The Greens are at 11%.

Elsewhere, the Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 40%, the Conservatives are down five to 61% in Alberta (the NDP is up five to 14%), and the Conservatives lead in the Prairies with 48%. The Liberals are up six to 25% and the NDP is down 12 to 19%.

A decent poll for the Tories, but a bad trend in BC and not-good-enough numbers in Ontario and Quebec.

The Conservatives win 70 seats in the West, 45 in Ontario, 7 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 130.

The Liberals win 10 seats in the West and North, 43 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 21 in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc wins 51 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 15 seats in the West and North, 18 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 38.

Now, on to the interesting part of this poll.

Angus-Reid asked how people would vote if the Liberals and NDP merged - a topic that has been in the news lately. They proposed three leaders for this coalition party: Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, and Jack Layton.

Led by Michael Ignatieff, this LPC/NDP would not do much better than the two parties do individually right now. Conservative support would be bumped up to 40% while Ignatieff's party would be at only 34%. The race would only be made closer in Ontario, where the Tories would still be ahead 42% to 41%. In Quebec, the Bloc would still dominate with 42%, followed by the LPC/NDP with 28%. The party would have a lot of success in Atlantic Canada, however, with 52% support.But in the end, it would only give the party 114 seats, pretty much what the two parties have right now. Stephen Harper would still be Prime Minister with 143 seats, while the Bloc would gain a couple to stand at 51 seats. So, from this perspective, an Ignatieff-led merger would accomplish nothing.

So, let's assume that the two parties agree to only work together under Bob Rae, who has a background in both parties. Maybe Ignatieff and Layton become deputy-leaders. Unlikely, but why not.

This scenario would turn out much better for the merged party. They would tie the Conservatives with 38% nationally. More importantly, British Columbia would be split 45/36 in the Tories' favour (still close) and Ontario would vote for Rae at a rate of 45% to 39%. The party would take 30% of the vote in Quebec (though the Bloc would still be in front with 45%), but oddly enough Rae would not be as successful as Ignatieff was in Atlantic Canada, with 48% to the Tories' 40%.With Rae as leader, the LPC/NDP party would squeak out a slim minority of 130 seats to 126. The Bloc would be at 52. So, this scenario would certainly change things but would be relatively unstable. Putting Peter Milliken back in the speaker's chair would reduce the plurality to three.

But what if Ignatieff stepped aside and allowed Jack Layton, who is more personally liked by Canadians, to become leader of this new party. Well, we would probably be calling Mr. Layton our next Prime Minister.

A Layton-led coalition would garner 43% support compared to 37% for Conservatives. This indicates that, whereas it seems many Liberals or NDP supporters would vote Tory, Green, or "Other" if a coalition was led by Ignatieff or Rae, virtually all Liberals and all NDP supporters would be comfortable voting for a party led by Jack Layton.

Still, they wouldn't lead in British Columbia, where the Tories would take 49% to the coalition's 36%. But they would have a shot in Alberta with 26% and the Prairies with 43% (to the Tories' 50%). They would dominate in Ontario with 47% support and actually win in Quebec with 44%. The Bloc would be reduced to 34% here, demonstrating how a good number of Bloc supporters are social democrats at the federal level first and foremost. Atlantic Canada would be easy-peasy, with 56% support.A LPC/NDP merger under Layton would win 145 seats, while the Conservatives would take 120. The Bloc would elect 43 MPs. Still, no majority, but a good sized caucus.

Obviously, only the first scenario is likely. I can't imagine that Michael Ignatieff would step down in order to merge the two parties under Bob Rae. That name was just plucked out of nowhere by Angus-Reid, as he has made no statements to indicate he is out for Ignatieff's head. And it would be highly unusual for the leader of the smaller party in the merger to emerge as overall leader. But, this poll does seem to show that Canadians aren't as afraid of the idea of a Prime Minister Jack Layton as the Conservatives pretend they are.

Food for thought. I was wondering how long it would take for a pollster to ask this very interesting question!

As a side note, here in southern Ottawa the air is smokey and it smells like barbecue. It is amazing that the smoke of forest fires north of La Tuque can drift all the way here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Harris-Decima Poll: 9-pt Conservative Lead

My apologies for not getting to this sooner - I was in Kingston attending a convocation ceremony at Queen's University, my alma mater. I mention this as former Prime Minister Paul Martin received an honourary degree at the ceremony. He gave a short speech, highlighting the importance of ethics in business, in being able to recognize "paradigm shifts", and the importance of public service. A few jokes were cracked, at each other's expense, between Martin and Chancellor David Dodge.

On Thursday, Harris-Decima released a new federal poll, showing the Conservatives up and the other parties down.Compared to their last poll (whose survey period staddled this one's a little), this is a four point gain for the Tories, who are now at 36%. The Liberals are down one to 27% and the New Democrats are down one to 16%.

The Greens are stable at 11% and the Bloc Québécois is down two to 8%. For the "other" parties in my chart, I merely gave them the leftovers as Harris-Decima doesn't report on voting intentions for "other".

This is a big poll for the Conservatives, but it is still not good enough to get them to a majority. A quick comparison with the 2008 election results shows that the Tories still aren't at that level, while the Liberals are doing slightly better. That equates to a smaller mandate than the one the Tories won in 2008.

In Ontario, the Conservatives steal four points from the Liberals and now lead with 39% to 34%. The NDP is stable at 14%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down five to 35% while the Liberals are up six to 26%. That is a huge result for them, as they have been struggling at around 20% for several weeks. The Conservatives are up one to 15% and the NDP is up two to 12%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up three to 39%. The NDP is down three to 27% and the Liberals are down three to 17%. So, the Tories seem to be pulling away again here. The Greens are up three to 15%.

The Conservatives have gained five points in Atlantic Canada and lead with 39%. They also lead in the Prairies with 47%, where the Liberals have dropped six to 17%. The Tories are also in front in Alberta, up eight to 59%.

The Conservatives win 70 seats in the West, 54 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 141. Note that if the Conservatives were doing as well in Quebec as they did in 2008, they would have surpassed that election's overall result.

The Liberals, taking advantage of the NDP being several points down (notably in Ontario), win 11 seats in the West and North, 41 in Ontario, 19 in Quebec, and 16 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 87.

The Bloc wins 49 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 14 seats in the West and North, 11 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 31.

Harris-Decima's last poll resulted in seat totals of 120 CPC, 101 LPC, 54 BQ, and 33 NDP. So, obviously the Conservatives have made gains at the expense of everyone else.

Despite the good tidings in this poll for Stephen Harper, this is still a worse result than in 2008 - so it does no good for him. It also doesn't change the situation enough for the other parties, as the Bloc looks to tread water and the NDP looks to suffer some modest losses. A gain of a few MPs is not reason enough for the Liberals to want an election, so it looks like the status quo for now.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 8.2-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS's weekly poll shows the Conservatives down and the Liberals and New Democrats up. But, overall, there has been little change.

Compared to last week's poll, 33.9% represents a drop of 0.5 points for the Conservatives. The Liberals are up 0.6 to 25.7% while the NDP is up 1.1 points to 16.4%.

The Greens are down 0.1 to 11.9% and the Bloc Québécois is down 1.2 points to 9.4%.

In Ontario, there is no change at all. The Conservatives still lead with 38.9%, the Liberals are still far behind at 31.1%. The NDP is at 16.1%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 39.4% while the Conservatives lead in Ottawa with 39.8% (down 10).

In Quebec, the Bloc drops five to 37.4% while the Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP each gain one point and are at 20.5%, 16.3%, and 12.7%, respectively. In Montreal, the Bloc is down 10 points to 38.2%. This is likely the reason for the party's drop in the province, as their 48% mark in Montreal last week was a little unrealistic.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are down seven to 31%. That's a big drop. The NDP is steady at 24.2% and the Liberals are up three to 23.0%. The Greens are up three to 17.3%. The Tories lead in Vancouver with 36.6%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have re-gained a lead with an eight-point bump to 38.7%. The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 57.1% and the Prairies with 42.7%. The NDP is up eight points in that region to 25.2%.

The Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 56 in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 137.

The Liberals win 15 seats in the West and North, 36 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 21 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 87.

The Bloc wins 52 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 14 seats in the West and North, 14 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 32.

Last week's poll resulted in seats of 140 CPC, 85 LPC, 55 BQ, and 29 NDP so this poll shows small gains for the Liberals and NDP and small losses for the Conservatives and Bloc.

The polls remain to be unhelpful for anyone. The low Liberal result and the big gap would seem to be good news for the Conservatives, but at less than 34% a majority is out of their reach and would be a moral loss. The Liberals look unable to go anywhere, while the NDP seems to have topped out in 2008 and appears to be set to lose some seats. The only party who might gain is the Bloc, who should be able to take advantage of low Liberal and Conservatives results in their province.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pollster House Effects - EKOS Update

I've updated the pollster house effects chart for EKOS in Canada and Quebec, incorporating the polling from the month of April 2010.

Nationally, the most favourable pollster for the Conservatives remains Ipsos-Reid, who has results for them 3.5 points higher than the average of the other pollsters. Their worst pollster is Harris-Decima, 2.4 points lower than the average.

For the Liberals, their best is Environics (+3.2) while their worst is Angus-Reid (-2.1).

The New Democrats' best pollster is Angus-Reid (+1.7) and their worst are Ipsos-Reid and Environics (-2.2).

The Greens' best pollster is Strategic Counsel (+2.3) while their worst is Angus-Reid (-2.2).

Speaking of Strategic Counsel, does anyone know if they have shut down for good?

In Quebec, the Bloc's best pollster is Harris-Decima (+2.8) while their worst is CROP (-3.7).

For EKOS, the pollster I've updated this month, they are the 6th best pollster for the Tories out of eight, the 4th best for the Liberals, 6th for the NDP, and the 3rd for the Greens.

In Quebec, they are the 4th best for the Tories (out of nine), worst for the Liberals, 4th best for the NDP, 5th best for the Bloc, and 2nd best for the Greens.

Just for fun, and as EKOS was the last poll released, let's tweak the national and Quebec numbers according to these latest findings:


Conservatives - 35.8%
Liberals - 24.2%
New Democrats - 16.4%
Bloc Québécois - 10.6%
Greens - 10.5%

This pushes the Conservatives up to potential majority territory due to the very low Liberal result.


Bloc Québécois - 41.7%
Liberals - 22.5%
Conservatives - 14.5%
New Democrats - 12.3%
Greens - 7.3%

This doesn't change the situation much in Quebec. The Bloc still has a dominant lead but the Conservatives are looking very weak and the Greens a little more realistic.

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 "house effects". This is also not a scientific calculation of any kind, but it does give an indication of how each pollster tends to compare to others.

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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NDP Still Lead in BC

I hope everyone had a wonderful Victoria Day/Journée nationale des patriotes long weekend!

On May 20, the Mustel Group released a new poll on the provincial voting intentions of British Columbians. It shows very little change.
Compared to Mustel's last poll in November 2009, the New Democrats have gained one point and now lead with 44%. The governing BC Liberals are 12 points behind with 32%, down three points.

The Greens are down two to 13% while the BC Conservatives are up five to 7%.

Not to compare apples to oranges, but the last BC poll (by Angus-Reid in April) had the NDP at 47%, the BC Liberals at 29%, the Greens at 14%, and the BC Conservatives at 5%. So, this Mustel poll seems to confirm the general situation in the province right now.

Premier Gordon Campbell's approval rating continues to slide to 28%, down from 34%. His disapproval rating has risen to 61% from 57%.

NDP leader Carole James, on the other hand, is showing modest improvement. Her approval/disapproval rating is now 40/35, compared to 39/37 in November.

As to the top issue in British Columbia, it should come as no surprise that it is taxes/HST, at 21%. This is the top issue for NDP supporters (22%) and Green supporters (23%), while it is the third issue (16%) for BC Liberal supporters.

The other top issues are the economy (18%), healthcare (13%), and education (9%). At 30%, the economy is the top issue for BC Liberal supporters, while education (15%) is the second issue for NDP supporters.

Things continue to look dire for Gordon Campbell, but he still has, oh, three years to turn things around.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Projection: 129 CPC, 96 LPC, 51 BQ, 32 NDP

After three weeks of polls, I have updated the projection. This update means good news for the Conservatives, decent news for the Bloc Québécois and New Democrats, and bad news for the Liberals.Nationally, the Conservatives are up 0.2 points to 33.2%, and have also re-captured three seats bringing their total back up to 129. The Liberals are down 0.5 points to 28.4%, and they have also lost three seats, bringing their total to 96.

The NDP is up 0.1 points to 16.6%, the Bloc is up 0.1 points to 9.5%, and the Greens are down 0.1 points to 10.3%. All of these parties show no overall change in seats.

The Conservatives had a generally good three-weeks, making their seats gains in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and British Columbia. Their biggest popular vote gain comes in Atlantic Canada, where they are up 0.7 points to 32.1%. They also gained 0.6 points in BC (35.8%), 0.3 points in Ontario (35.5%), and 0.1 points in the North (30.0%). They were stable in the Prairies and Quebec but lost 0.2 points in Alberta, where they lead with 58.5%.

Aside from a gain of 0.5 points in the Prairies, the Liberals had a bad few weeks. Their seat losses come in British Columbia, Atlantic Canada, and the North. They dropped 0.6 points in Quebec to 23.4%, 0.5 points in British Columbia to 23.9%, and 0.3 points in Alberta (16.7%) and Ontario (36.0%). They were also down 0.2 points in the North to 33.1% and 0.1 points in Atlantic Canada to 36.7%. Their gain in the Prairies brings them up to 22.3%, within striking distance of the NDP.

Speaking of which, they performed pretty well over the last three weeks. They did drop a seat in Ontario, but gained one in the North. Their biggest gain came in Quebec, where they are up 0.4 points to 12.1%. They also gained 0.1 points in British Columbia (26.3%) and Ontario (16.6%). They were stable in Alberta and the North, but lost 0.2 points in Atlantic Canada (23.2%) and 0.3 points in the Prairies (22.7%). So not all roses.

The Bloc is on an up-tick of late, gaining another 0.2 points. They currently lead with 38.4% in Quebec. With the Liberal loss, the gap has now opened up to 15 points.

The Greens did not have a lot of luck, losing 0.4 points in Atlantic Canada, 0.3 in Quebec and British Columbia (especially troublesome), and 0.1 points in the Prairies. They were stable in the North, gained 0.1 in Ontario, and 0.2 in Alberta. They are currently polling highest in BC with 11.8%.

Everyone had mixed results this month. The Tories made important gains in British Columbia, Atlantic Canada, and Ontario, but look stagnant in Quebec and are not doing well (for them) in Alberta and the Prairies.

The Liberals had big drops in British Columbia and Quebec, and also lost ground in every other part of the country except the Prairies. That gain was good for them, but overall they are on the downswing.

The NDP had modest gains and modest losses, but can be pleased that their gains came in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

The Bloc is doing well in Quebec while their main opponents appear to be unable to do anything about it.

With 129 seats, the Conservatives outnumber the Liberals and NDP, who can only muster 128. And with 129 seats, the Conservatives can get legislation passed with the help of any one of the three parties. So, they are being upgraded to a stable minority.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 9.3-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS has its weekly poll, and it shows a big drop for the Liberals and New Democrats, with gains coming to the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois.Compared to EKOS's last poll, the Conservatives have gained 0.8 points to 34.4%. The Liberals are down two points to 25.1%, and the NDP is down 1.6 points to 15.3%.

The Greens are up 1.4 points to 12.0%, while the Bloc is up 1.3 points to 10.6%. The other parties are stable at 2.5%.

This is a horrid number for the Liberals. Just terrible. And the NDP number is very bad as well. The Conservative lead is excellent, but they still aren't strong enough to eke out a majority.

In Ontario, the Conservatives lead with 38.5% (up three). The Liberals follow with 31.4% (down four) and the NDP with 15.5% (stable). The Liberals lead in Toronto with 38.4%, while the Conservatives lead in Ottawa with 50% (up 13). It is very difficult to figure out what is going on in Ontario, as the recent Harris-Decima poll gave the Liberals a narrow lead, while EKOS here has a definitive Conservative lead. We've also seen closer races in other polls.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up four points to 41.9%, a very good number for them. The Liberals are stable with 19.9%, but to be below 20% is a very bad omen for them. The Conservatives are down one to 14.7% and the NDP is down two to 11.7%. In Montreal, the Bloc is up 12 points to 47.9%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up four to 38.1%, while the NDP is down two to 23.7%. The Liberals are down four to 20.1% and the Greens are down one to 14.0%.

The Conservatives lead in Atlantic Canada with 36%, the Prairies with 43.4%, and Alberta with 56.9%.

This is a very good poll for the Tories - except they are still not doing well enough in Quebec.

The Conservatives win 68 seats in the West, 55 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 140.

The Liberals win 17 seats in the West, 37 in Ontario, 13 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 84.

The Bloc wins 55 seats, their best ever.

The NDP wins 10 seats in the West, 14 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada.

In last week's EKOS poll, the Conservatives had 131 seats, the Liberals 93, the Bloc 52, and the NDP 32. So, the Conservatives and Bloc make gains at the expense of both the Liberals and the NDP.

This would be an odd result for everyone. The Conservatives actually lose seats and a good chunk of popular support, but still form a comparable government to the one they have today. The Liberals make a few gains with less support, but are still very far from where they need to be. The NDP takes a big hit in support and MPs, while the Bloc stands to be the only party to make significant gains.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conservative Maternal Health Plan and Abortion

Earlier this week, Harris-Decima released a poll asking Canadians how they felt about the government's maternal health plan for the developing world, which does not include funding for agencies that provide abortions. This initiative was supposed to be one of the Conservatives' attempt to woo women voters, the demographic in which they most need to gain traction. It was also supposed to be one of their planks at the upcoming G8 and G20 meetings.

Instead, this has backfired. Rather than focusing on what the plan does include, people are focusing on what it doesn't, and the wider implications of that position for the Conservative Party.

Yesterday, Le Devoir published an article in which students invited to ask questions to the Prime Minister in a run-up to the G8 and G20 meetings alleged that their questions, some of which included the topic of abortion, were re-written by the PMO's staff. This event was closely controlled and moderated by Senator Mike Duffy. The article's title, "Flagrant Case of Message Control in Ottawa", sums it up. The Conservatives seem to be losing control of the narrative, and this poll by Harris-Decima demonstrates why their position is problematic.

The question asked was "Do you strongly support, support, oppose, or strongly oppose a policy that would see Canada NOT fund agencies that provide abortion procedures in the developing world?"

The national result was that 58% of Canadians OPPOSED the government's current plan, compared to only 30% who support it. Only 9% "strongly support" it, compared to 29% who "strongly oppose" it.

Highest levels of support came in Alberta (33%), while the lowest results came in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, and the Prairies (26%).

Highest levels of opposition came in British Columbia (67%) and Atlantic Canada (65%).

This 30% is below the Tories' current support level, which means it could act as a dead-weight for them, dragging them down. That highest levels of opposition came in British Columbia, a definite electoral battleground, should be especially problematic.

By party, we find that not even within their own ranks do Conservatives have majority support on the issue.While 40% of Conservative voters support the government's plan not to include this funding, 48% oppose it. For all of the other parties, a strong majority of voters oppose this plan.

The highest level of opposition comes from New Democratic supporters, where only 23% are in favour of this plan and fully 70% are against it. If opposition is highest in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, this bodes well for the party, as these are two of the regions in which they need to do well.

Liberal supporters are less strongly against the plan, but still oppose it by a rate of 63%. Support is at 31%, while Bloc Québécois voters have a similar opinion, 29% in favour and 63% against.

Green voters, at 26% in favour and 67% against, are at a similar level as the NDP.

With this topic surely to be brought up at the G8 and G20 meetings, this issue will not go away any time soon. While I don't expect this to be a major factor in dragging down Conservative support in the near future, it is just one of many reasons why the Tories have been unable to move conclusively beyond 1 in 3 support in Canada.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Harris-Decima Poll: 4-pt Conservative Lead

Harris-Decima has a new poll out, and it shows some growth for both the Liberals and the Conservatives at the expense of the New Democrats.Compared to Harris-Decima's last poll, taken between April 15 and April 25, this is a three point gain for the Conservatives, who now lead with 32%. The Liberals are up one to 28%, while the NDP is down three to 17%.

The Greens are down one to 11% and the Bloc Québécois is down one to 10%.

In Ontario, the Liberals have gained two points and lead with 38%. The Conservatives are also up, four points to 35%. The NDP is down five to 14% here.

In Quebec, the Bloc leads with 40% (down five), followed by the Liberals at 20% (down one) and the Conservatives at 14% (up four). The Greens are at 13% and the NDP is at 10%, down two.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives have re-gained the lead with a six point bump to 36%. The NDP is down one to 30% and the Liberals are down one to 20%. The Greens are down six to 12%.

Elsewhere, the Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 36%, the Conservatives are at 51% in Alberta (down five), and they also lead in the Prairies with 47% (down eight). The Liberals are up seven to 23% there and the NDP is down 11 to 20%.

The Conservatives win 64 seats in the West, 42 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 120.

The Liberals win 15 seats in the West, 53 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 101.

The Bloc wins 54 seats in Quebec, matching their record.

The NDP wins 16 seats in the West, 11 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 33.

Harris-Decima's last poll resulted in seat totals of 104 Conservative, 101 Liberal, 56 Bloc, and 46 NDP. So, the Conservatives make most of their gains off of the NDP.

The poll also looked into favourable and negative opinions of the party leaders.

The most liked leader is Gilles Duceppe (at least based on his Quebec numbers). Fifty-two percent of Quebecers have a favourable opinion of him, compared to 32% negative (also a best).

For the rest, the favourable/negative splits are 46% to 36% for Jack Layton, 42% to 51% for Stephen Harper, 28% to 32% for Elizabeth May, and 26% to 52% for Michael Ignatieff.

Layton is well-liked, and Ignatieff can at least find solace in that he is disliked as much as Harper is. But he needs to do much better than 26% - that is below his party. Even Harper's rating is 131% of his party's support.

More PR Fun

The recent election in the United Kingdom has brought the concept of electoral reform back to the forefront. So, why not take another look at what proportional representation would mean for Canada?

This exercise uses this site's popular vote projections to determine the distribution of seats.

First, let's look at what would happen with the current projection in the current 308-seat House of Commons, with each region being given the amount of seats it currently has in Parliament. In other words, 106 Ontario seats, 75 Quebec seats, 36 British Columbia seats, 32 Atlantic Canada seats, 28 seats in Alberta and the Prairies each, and 3 seats in the North.The results is the slimmest of Conservative minorities. In fact, it is highly doubtful that with only 103 seats the Conservatives could form a government without the help of another party.

Far more likely would be some sort of rainbow coalition combining the Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens (totaling 169 seats). With 141 seats, the Liberals and NDP could try to go it alone.

The Conservatives win 43 of their seats in the West and North, 37 in Ontario, 13 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada. It would be a far more balanced caucus, and while the party would have earned 33% of the vote, it would have gotten 33.4% of the seats.

The Liberals would win 21 seats in the West and North, 38 in Ontario, 18 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada. With 28.9% of the vote, they would get 28.9% of the seats.

The NDP would finally get its fair share, with 19 seats in the West, 17 in Ontario, 9 in Quebec, and 7 in Atlantic Canada. That is 16.9% of the seats with 16.5% of the vote. They actually benefit!

The Bloc Québécois would be seriously reduced to 29 seats, but that is 9.4% of the seats in the House with 9.4% of the vote in the country as a whole.

The Greens would get a good sized caucus, with 9 seats in the West, 11 in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada: 9.0% of the seats with 10.4% of the vote. They still don't get their fair share, it seems.

I gave the other parties seven seats, leaving them the leftovers after making the calculations. I did this assuming that in a PR situation the other parties would be able to get more votes.

In my current projection, the Tories get 40.9% of the seats, the Liberals get 32.1%, the NDP gets 10.4%, the Bloc gets 16.6%, and the Greens get 0%. So, it is obvious how this PR calculation would be fairer.

But it could even be more fair. Some of the provinces are over-represented in the House of Commons, and others are under-represented. So what if we went for a more equitable house, with each seat representing about 100,000 people? I've increased the number of seats to 340, and gave Ontario 132 seats, Quebec 79, British Columbia 45, Alberta 37, the Prairies 23, Atlantic Canada 23, and the North 1.In this situation, the Conservatives get 116 seats, or 34.1%. The Liberals win 98, or 28.8%, and the NDP wins 57, or 16.7%. The Greens win 33 seats (9.7%), the Bloc wins 30 (8.8%), and the other parties take the remaining six.

Oddly enough, the Conservatives unfairly benefit in this calculation, while the NDP and the Greens are closer to their popular vote. But we're really talking about minuscule differences.

The Tories win 49 seats in the West, 46 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 7 in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win 23 seats in the West, 48 in Ontario, 19 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada.

The NDP wins 21 seats in the West, 22 in Ontario, 9 in Quebec, and 5 in Atlantic Canada.

The Greens win 11 in the West, 14 in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada.

Again, the Conservatives would be hard pressed to form a government with only 116 seats, when 170 are needed for a majority. The Liberals and NDP would total 155 together, so would require the Greens in order to get to a majority.

This kind of system would force coalitions and compromise. Arguably, that is a more democratic way to run a government and reduce the partisanship in the House. As it stands now, the parties just need to beat the other guy by a few votes in key ridings. Broad appeal is not as necessary.

And while we're thinking about the British election, if Canada had 650 seats like the House of Commons in London, a PR distribution based on my current projection would give 215 seats to the Conservatives, 188 to the Liberals, 107 to the NDP, 68 to the Greens, 61 to the Bloc, and 11 to the other parties.

Compare this to a British electoral result with PR: 235 Conservative, 189 Labour, 150 Liberal Democrat, 7 Green, 19 nationalist seats (Scottish Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, and Sinn Fein), and 50 "other".

Monday, May 17, 2010

Money and Canadian Votes

Elections are expensive things. Altogether, the five major parties in Canada spent over $58,000,000 on the 2008 election. But just how valuable was that spending? Which party got the most for every dollar spent, and what did they spend it on?

That's the topic for today's post. Below, you'll see a chart comparing the amount of money each party spent in order to receive one vote. While I do intend to look at the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party, their special circumstances make them less useful as a basis for comparison. The three major parties, however, are on the same playing field: they are well-known parties, have long standing organizations, and run in every part of the country.Clearly, from this it is obvious that the Greens have gotten the best bang for the buck. But as they start to spend more money ($498,000 in 2004, $911,000 in 2006, and $2,796,000 in 2008), the amount spent on each voter goes up. However, despite this, they are still the best performing party with only $2.98 spent per vote earned in the 2008 election.

The Bloc, historically, has been the second-best performing party. This should come as no surprise, as they run in one province and so everything they do is magnified and they are in the spotlight more often. They've become less efficient with their use of money, however, going from $2.68 per vote in 2004 to $3.53 per vote in 2008. The lower voter turnout, however, plays a role in this. They have spent the same amount of money in each of the elections: $4,502,000 in 2004, $4,544,000 in 2006, and $4,876,000 in 2008.

But what about the other parties? Aside from their electoral loss in 2004, the Conservatives have made the best use of their money in the 2006 and 2008 election - and this with only marginal increases in spending each year, going from $17.2 million in 2004 to $18.0 million in 2006 and $19.4 million in 2008. Their best result was in the 2006 election, when only $3.35 was spent per vote, compared to $4.30 per vote in 2004 and $3.73 per vote in 2008.

The Liberals have become steadily worse in their use of their own money, rising from $3.33 per vote in 2004 to $4.00 per vote in 2008. And that was with less money spent in 2008: $14.5 million as compared to $17.4 million in 2006 and $16.6 million in 2004.

Finally, the New Democrats have always spent more per vote than the other parties, with $6.66/vote being spent in 2008, compared to $5.22/vote in 2006 and $5.65/vote in 2004. They have also increased the amount of money they have spent, with $12 million in 2004 rising to $13.5 million in 2006 and $16.8 million in 2008. Yes, in the last election, the NDP out-spent the Liberals.

But what does this mean? Out of the three major parties, the Conservatives have gotten the best bang for their buck lately. In the last two elections when they have out-performed the Liberals and the NDP, they have spent less of their money on their leader's tour and party salaries than the other two. In 2006 and 2008, the percentage of total money spent on the leader's tour was 17% and 13%, respectively. The Liberal numbers for those two elections are 19% and 17% respectively, and the NDP's are 27% and 24%, respectively.

This seems to indicate that flying your party leader around the country is not an efficient use of your money, as opposed to, say, advertising. Of the three parties, the NDP spends the least amount on advertising and has the worst results.

In the last two years, the Conservatives have spent about 4-5% of their total on salaries, compared to 10% for the Liberals and NDP. It seems that having a large group of paid employees does not help in getting votes.

When we take the last three elections and average them out, we get $3.79/vote spent for the Conservatives, $3.74/vote for the Liberals, $5.84/vote for the NDP, $3.05/vote for the Bloc, and $1.74/vote for the Greens.

From this, it seems to suggest that for the main, traditional parties, the amount of money spent can dictate the amount of votes earned. The Conservatives and Liberals have averaged about the same $/vote since the Conservatives were re-born in 2003. This means the Tories are at an advantage because they currently have more money.

The NDP has to spent a lot more to get votes, and it doesn't appear that spending more means getting more votes. Spending has out-paced vote growth for the NDP, indicating that the fact the NDP spent like the "big boys" in 2008 had less to do with their electoral success than the performance of the party itself.

Over the last three elections, the NDP has averaged 46% of its expenses spent on advertising. For the Conservatives, that number is 49% and for the Liberals it is 57%. Perhaps the NDP needs to spend more on advertising - their best electoral result, in 2008, was the time they spent the most on advertising.

The Bloc has averaged 54% over that period on advertising and the Greens 38%. That last number is misleading, as they spent 65% of their money on advertising in 2008 but only 15% in 2006. And 2008 was their best electoral result.

When it comes to party salaries, the NDP has spent 10% of their expenses on that, compared to 4% for the Conservatives and 8% for the Liberals. The Bloc has averaged 12% and the Greens 32% (again, misleading, as they spent 48% of their money on salaries in 2006 but only 4% in 2008).

It is difficult to come to some solid conclusions from these numbers. The Bloc and the Greens are better at using their money, but that may be caused more by their special circumstances. The Liberals have gotten worse, but on the whole are not too different from the Tories. The NDP spends way too much per voter.

In 2008, when of the three major parties the Tories performed best in $/vote, they spent the most on advertising (55%) and the least on the leader's tour (13%) and salaries (4%). The NDP performed worst, and spent the least on advertising (50%), the most on the tour (24%), and the most on salaries (10%).

In 2006, when the Tories again out-performed the other two parties, they spent the least on the leader's tour (17%) and salaries (5%), but were middle-of-the-pack on advertising (51%). The NDP performed worst again in this election, and spent the least on advertising (44%), the most on the tour (27%), and tied the Liberals with 10% spent on salaries.

Finally, in 2004, when the Liberals performed the best, they spent the most on advertising (61%), but were middle-of-the-pack on the leader's tour (17%) and salaries (6%). The Tories did worse than the Liberals in this election, and spent less on advertising (42%), more on the tour (22%), and less on salaries (3%). The NDP spent 45% on advertising, 3% on the tour, and 10% on salaries.

The 2004 result muddies the water a little, but it seems that when a party spends more money on advertising and less on an expensive tour and salaried employees, they perform better.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs - Round Three

And now we're down to four. While a San Jose - Chicago final is no surprise, no one would have ever predicted that the seventh place Flyers and the eighth place Canadiens would be the two Eastern Conference finalists. And yet, here we are.

So, here are my predictions for the third round. As with the previous two rounds, get your own predictions in and the winner gets bragging rights and a blog post for the final.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens

Montreal was the serious underdog against Washington, and they were again against Pittsburgh. Oddly enough, taking down those two teams may have made them the favourites against a team that was, at the beginning of the season, predicted to go all the way.

Montreal is actually less banged-up than Philadelphia at this point. Down for the Flyers are Jeff Carter, Ian Laperriere, Ray Emery and Brian Boucher. That hurts them - Michael Leighton has been playing well but to be without Carter and Laperriere robs them of a top scorer and a heart-and-soul player.

Montreal is without Andrei Markov (and Paul Mara), but there is word that Markov could be back before the end of the series. Montreal defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions without Markov, so maybe it doesn't hurt them as much as that.

Clearly, Jaroslav Halak > Michael Leighton. Halak is the reason that Montreal has gotten as far as they have. But Philadelphia's defense is bigger and stronger than Montreal's, and the Canadiens' small forwards could have some trouble with them. Some have commented, though, that Philadelphia is virtually playing with only four defensemen, with their top guys logging 30 minutes apiece. They can't do that forever.

And as for their offense, Montreal has Michael Cammalleri and his 12 goals. Philadelphia doesn't have anyone who is on a roll like that, and Montreal has been getting scoring from all its lines.

Montreal has overcome much more than Philadelphia has to get where they are, and after two long series they are the ones who got the extra day off. I think Halak will continue to play great, Cammalleri will continue to be opportunist, and the dream won't end here.

Montreal in seven.

San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

I haven't followed this series as closely, so I don't have as much to say about it. The Sharks are without injury, as are the Blackhawks. So these teams have full complements.

The Sharks' defense corps isn't playing very well, however, and Evgeni Nabokov has been struggling. But Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, and Joe Thornton are finally playing up to their abilities.

Chicago is playing much better at this point, with Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp on a roll. Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell, and Brent Seabrook are playing great. Antti Niemi has answered the questions about his play, and while a rookie can always fall apart in the playoffs, Nabokov isn't exactly money in the bank.

Despite how young Chicago is, they are actually the more experienced - they were here last year. San Jose has the pressure on them, we all expect them to choke sooner or later. Chicago is a better team than they were last year, and I hate San Jose.

Chicago in six.

That leaves us with a Montreal Canadiens vs. Chicago Blackhawks series. An Original Six Final!

Get your predictions in soon, because the San Jose vs. Chicago game starts at 3pm.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs - Second Round Results

Wow! So the Philadelphia Flyers were down in the series 3-0, and then scratched their way back, forcing a Game Seven. Then they fall behind Boston 3-0 in the first period, but scratch their way back to win the game 4-3 and the series 4-3!

In NHL history, only two other teams have accomplished what Philadelphia has: the 1942 Maple Leafs and the 1975 Islanders. No team has done it in the NBA, and only one team in the MLB. So, a historic night.

Of course, more important was the Montreal Canadiens beating the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, the first time they've done that since 1993. Do you remember what the Canadiens also did in 1993?

My predictions were hit and miss. Going with my heart, I chose the Canadiens in seven and I was amply rewarded. I also chose the Phildelphia Flyers over Boston in six instead of seven.

I was very wrong about the Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks. Instead, Chicago and San Jose will advance.

As for the contest, let's start from the bottom.

Commenter 49 Steps went 0 for 4 in his predictions.

Next was last round's winner, AJR79, who was 1/4.

Commenters p3 and Earl, along with yours truly, was 2/4.

Which means the winner was commenter Ira, who was 3 for 4 in his predictions. The only one he got wrong was that he chose Vancouver over Chicago, but since he's a Canadian we can forgive him for that.

I'll make my predictions for the third round on Sunday, and anyone who wants to make their own predictions for the third round can do so in response to this post or my post on Sunday.

Also, as the winner of the third round, commenter Ira gets to write up his predictions in a blog post of his own, with a small political commentary to go with it.

Ira, please email me your post at the address that can be found on the right of this page.

The Conference Finals will be between the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks in the West, and the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers in the East. Should be a blast!

Leadership and Issues Poll

Nanos Research recently released two polls, one on the top issue facing the country and the other on opinions of the party leaders.

EDIT: Because of an error on my part, reversing the numbers for Layton and Ignatieff, I've re-written part of this post.

We'll start with the issue poll, since it actually marks a big change in how Canadians are feeling right now. This was an unprompted question, so Canadians were free to respond however they liked.

Healthcare is now the biggest issue facing the country, at 22.8% (up about three points since Nanos last asked the question). Jobs and the economy is at 18.6%, down almost six points.This marks a big change, since in early 2009 "jobs/economy" peaked at well over 50%. But ever since then it has dropped and is now considered to be the second most-important issue facing the country.

It makes you wonder if the parties, and in particular the Conservatives, will change their tune.

Every other issue has been relatively stable over the past few years, though there was a brief surge in concern over the environment, which has since dropped to 10.8% (though that is up three). Healthcare was the dominant issue back in 2004, when it was at 45%.

Education is only the top issue of 5.4%, indicating that we're far more concerned with how we're going to die than how the country's future is going to look.

But what about who Canadians feel is best equipped to handle these issues? Well, there hasn't been much change, but for once Michael Ignatieff is on the up-swing.Stephen Harper is still considered the best man for the job he currently has, with 29.5% saying he is the best for Prime Minister. However, that is down from 32.0% in February.

Ignatieff is up to 17.3% from 16.1%, while Jack Layton has dropped from 18.1% to 15.6%. So, the Liberal leader can be pleased he has barely squeaked into second place again.

Gilles Duceppe, an odd choice for Prime Minister and a job he'd likely turn down, is the best man for 6.3%. Elizabeth May is down to 5.5%, and "screw 'em all" is at 11.3%.

Harper's best numbers came, unsurprisingly, in the Prairies, where he is the best for 46.5%. His worst numbers were, also unsurprisingly, in Quebec: 20.2%.

Ignatieff performed best in Ontario with 23.5%, but worst in the Prairies with 10.9%.

Layton's at 24.6% in Quebec for Best Prime Minister, but at 8.6% in the Prairies.

Duceppe got a 21.1% rating in his province.

As to the questions of trust, competence, and having a vision for Canada, Harper comes up aces - but significantly his scores for "trust" (23.9%) and "vision" (25.1%) were below his score for Best PM. Apparently, people think he is competent and a good administrator, but not exactly trustworthy or inspiring.

Ignatieff's scores on these questions were all below his PM score. Ignatieff had a 11.0% score on trust, 15.1% on competence, and 14.7% on vision.

Layton is not seen as competent (11.7%%) as much as he is trusted (16.8%).

Duceppe earned some praise in the ROC, with 9% trusting him most and 8.2% saying he is most competent. Strangely enough, only 3.9% consider him to have the best vision for Canada. The mind boggles.

May's best score came on trust (6.8%).

And, of course, the "none of them" out-scored everyone, at between 32.6% and 34.6% on each question.

So, what to take from these polls. Healthcare and the economy are still the major issues in this country, and our political leaders are generally unliked.

Things have not changed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 6.5-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS has its weekly poll out, and it shows gains for all three of the main national parties.The Conservatives have gained 0.5 points since last week, now at 33.6%. The Liberals are up one point to 27.1%, and the New Democrats are up 0.9 points to 16.9%.

The Greens are down 0.9 to 10.6% and the Bloc Québécois is down 0.9 points to 9.3%. "Other" is also down to 2.5%.

Like other polls have shown, Conservative strength is based on male support. Among males they are at 37.4%, compared to 29.7% among females. The Liberals split 29.7% to 28.2% among males and females.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are steady at 36.2%, while the Liberals are up two to 35.1%. The NDP is stable at 16.3%. The Liberals lead in Toronto (41.4%) and Ottawa (37.9%), where they are up about seven points.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down two points to 37.7% but still well ahead of the Liberals, who are down one to 20.4%. The Conservatives are down two to 16% and the NDP is up four to 13.6%. In Montreal, the Bloc leads with 35.6%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up four to 34.0%. The NDP is steady at 26.3%, the Liberals are down one to 23.5%, and the Greens are steady at 15.0%. In Vancouver, the Conservatives lead with 33.9%, followed by the Liberals at 26.7% (up eight) and the NDP at 22.7% (down eight).

The Conservatives lead in Atlantic Canada with 37.8% (which is actually where they were last week), Alberta with 55.4% (up five), and in the Prairies with 45.4%. The Liberals are down five points to 25.3% there.

Significantly, the Liberals do not lead in any region of the country.

The Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 47 in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 131.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West, 45 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 93.

The Bloc wins 52 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 13 seats in the West, 14 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 32.

A recent change in the poll projections is that the Liberals and NDP now no longer out-number the Conservatives. At this rate, though the Tories look to have some losses in both seats and support, they would still be safe as a minority government.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberals are starting to show some life, but they are still well below where they want to be.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PCs hold slender lead in Alberta

Environics released a new poll for the Calgary Herald on Monday, looking into the provincial voting intentions of Albertans. Compared to their last poll in late October 2009, there hasn't been much change.Both the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Alliance remain unchanged at 34% and 28%, respectively. The Liberals have gained three points to reach 23%, as have the New Democrats at 12%.

Recall that in 2008, the electoral results for these parties was 53% for the PCs, 7% for the WA, 26% for the Liberals, and 8% for the NDP.

In Calgary, the PCs are up two points to 32% while the Wildrose Alliance is down three points to 31%. The Liberals make it a close race at 26%.

In Edmonton, the PCs are stable at 34% but the Liberals are up four to 31%. The WA and NDP are tied at 16% in the provincial capital.

Finally, in the rest of Alberta the Wildrose Alliance has jumped five points to tie the Progressive Conservatives at 37%. The governing party is down one point here.

According to Janet Brown, a polling consultant interviewed by the Calgary Herald, this poll would give the Progressive Conservatives 45 seats, the Wildrose Alliance 18 (four of them in Calgary and the rest in southern Alberta), the Liberals 16, and the NDP 4.

Compared to the 2008 election, that would be a 27-seat drop for Ed Stelmach. It would also be a gain of seven seats for the Liberals, two seats for the NDP, and 18 for the Wildrose Alliance. For the two traditional opposition parties, this would be a return to their 2004 electoral results.

I plan to develop my own projection model for the province once we near the next election.

Stelmach has had some terrible polls recently, so it is certainly good news for him to have the lead. It could be that Environics has had different results than other pollsters, or it could be that between the two Environics polls in October and now May, the Wildrose Alliance saw a bump (39% in November and 42% in February, according to Angus-Reid) but they have since returned to earth. If that is the case, it is most definitely good news for the beleaguered premier.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New IR Poll: 6-pt Conservative Lead

On Saturday, Ipsos-Reid released a new poll, and my apologies for not posting about it sooner. One of my intrepid readers alerted me to it, and I thank her for that.Ipsos-Reid's last poll was taken between April 20-22, and compared to that one there has been very little change at the national level. The Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats remain unchanged at 35%, 29%, and 16%, respectively.

The Bloc Québécois has gained one point (10%) and the Greens are down one (9%).

In Ontario, the race has tightened as the Liberals have dropped three points to 36%. The Conservatives have gained one point and stand at 36% as well. The NDP is up one to 16%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up four points to 39%, followed by the Liberals at 23% (down one). The Conservatives are also down one to 19%, and the NDP makes a gain of two at 13%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are well ahead with 42% (up three). The NDP (24%) is down three and the Liberals (22%) are down two. The Greens are down a point there to 9%.

Elsewhere, the Liberals hold a narrow lead in Atlantic Canada over the Conservatives, 35% to 33%. The Conservatives are down seven points to 54% in Alberta, while the Liberals are up nine (27%) and the NDP is down five (8%). In the Prairies, the Conservatives have 50% and the undisputed lead.

Support seems to divide along gender lines, as the Conservatives lead among males with 41% to the Liberals' 30% and the NDP's 15%. Among females, the Tories and Liberals are tied at 29% while the NDP is at 18%. Liberal, and to a lesser extent NDP, support is uniform, while the Conservatives have constructed their lead on male voters.

The Conservatives win 70 seats in the West, 45 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 132.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West, 48 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 97.

The Bloc wins 51 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 9 seats in the West, 13 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, and 5 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 28.

The Conservatives still take a hit compared to their present caucus, but the Liberals and NDP only combine for 125 seats.

There's one thing odd I noticed about this pollster's questions. They prompt for parties, but use different wording. When they list the parties, the say "The Conservative Party", "The New Democratic Party", "The Green Party", and "The Bloc Quebecois".

For the Liberal Party, however, they say "The Liberals". That seems like an odd thing to do, and I'm not sure why they would make a difference for the Liberal Party.

Would using the term "The Liberals" rather than "The Liberal Party" change a way a person would respond? What about if they used "The Conservatives" rather than "The Conservative Party"?

PQ maintains lead, ADQ gets bump

Léger Marketing's latest provincial voting intentions poll in Quebec shows little change, but the Action Démocratique is up a little.The Parti Québécois leads with 40%, unchanged since Léger's poll at the beginning of April. The Liberals are up one to 31%.

The ADQ is up two points to 12%, more in line with where they were when Mario Dumont was leader prior to 2007. It isn't surprising to see the ADQ back up to this level, as the Liberals have removed themselves as an option in light of the recent scandals and corruption allegations.

Québec Solidaire is down one to 8% while the Greens (PVQ) are down one to 7%.

The PQ leads among francophones with 48%, up two points. The PLQ is next with 22% (down one) and the ADQ follows with 15% (up four).

Among non-francophones, the Liberals are at 65% (up four). Next is the PVQ at 13% (up one) and QS with 10%.

The PLQ's strength remains to be in Montreal, where the party leads with 40% (up five). The PQ is not far behind with 34%, down one. The PVQ follows with 10% (up one). We saw how the PVQ did better in the West Island in 2008.

In Quebec City, the PQ has a solid lead with 39%, unchanged since April. The ADQ is back up and competitive with 27% around the capital, up nine points. The PLQ follows with 19%, down six.

Finally, in the rest of Quebec the PQ dominates with 46% (unchanged). The PLQ is at 24% (down two) and the ADQ is at 16% (up four).

Pauline Marois of the PQ is the favourite for Premier with 26% (down one). Jean Charest, current Liberal premier, is next with 18% (up one). Amir Khadir (QS, up one) is at 9%, and Gérard Deltell (ADQ) follows with 6% (down one).

The Parti Québécois would win 71 seats, followed by the Liberals with 46, the ADQ with 6, and QS with 2.

The PLQ can be happy that the bleeding has stopped, at least for now. But losses among francophones and around the capital hurt the party.

This is a good poll for the PQ, as they have maintained their lead and have either made gains or stayed stable among francophones, in Quebec City, and in the "rest of Quebec". Those are the PQ's areas of strength.

It is also a relatively positive poll for the ADQ, as they back to being a factor around the capital and outside of Montreal.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Léger Poll: 11-pt Bloc Lead

Léger Marketing has released a new poll of the federal and provincial voting intentions of Quebecers. Today, let's look at the federal results.Compared to Léger's last large provincial poll, the Bloc Québécois has dropped three points to 35%. The Liberals are up three to 24% while the Conservatives are steady at 17%.

The New Democrats have picked up one point, standing at third place with 18%.

The Greens are at 4%, down two, and "Other" is at 1%.

The Bloc's losses seem to have come throughout the province, as they are down two points to 43% among francophones, down four points to 4% among non-francophones, down one point to 33% in the Québec City region, and down five points to 39% in rural Quebec. The party is steady around Montréal with 32%. These aren't completely worrisome figures, as the party is still well ahead and these losses should all be within the MOE.

In contrast, the Liberals seem to have made uniform gains. They are up two points among francophones to 18% (which is still too low), five points among non-francophones to 48%, two points around Montréal with 31%, and four points in rural Quebec to 18%. They've dropped one point in Québec City to 16%, however. They aren't in any of the races there, but look to be able to be very competitive in Montréal.

The NDP made good gains among non-francophones (three points), in Québec City (three points) and rural Quebec (two points).

The Conservatives were pretty steady, but dropped one point to 26% in the Québec City region. As that is their bread and butter, that is not good news for them.

The Bloc would win 50 seats with this poll, taking advantage of weaker Conservative numbers than in 2008.

The Liberals win 16 seats, while the Conservatives win 7 and the NDP wins 2.

The Conservatives continue to have trouble getting back to their 20+ levels of 2006 and 2008, while the Liberals look stagnant. In fact, all of the major parties appear to be stagnant, which is not exactly bad news for the Bloc. They have a lock on a majority of the seats as long as the Liberals and Conservatives can't make any moves. Their only worry would be the NDP, but the party's support is much more widespread than regional, so they aren't in a position to win anything but a couple seats in Montreal and the Outaouais if everything goes right for them.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Swing...

Do-wa, do-wa, do-wa, do-wa, do-wa, do-wa, do-wa....

The British election sure turned out to be a bit of a surprise. Everyone was expecting the Liberal Democrats to make massive gains. While a minority parliament, or, as they call it, a hung parliament was predicted, no one expected the Liberal Democrats to do so poorly and Labour to do so, relatively, well. predicted 312 seats for the Conservatives, 204 for Labour, and 103 for the Liberal Democrats. As of writing, with 23 seats left to call, the Conservatives have won 295 to Labour's 252 and the Liberal Democrats' 53.

The lesson is that we projectors can't limit ourselves only to what the polls say. We're only as good as the information provided. I'll have a little more on that next week, with a possible tweak to the model.

One of the words I heard a lot during the election and especially during last night's coverage on the BBC was "swing". So, using the UBC's election forecaster, I took a look at what kind of swing each party needs from the 2008 election to reach their goals. First, let's start with the Conservatives and their elusive goal of a majority government.What I did was see what kind of swing was needed to give the Conservatives 155 seats. First, I looked at an isolated swing from each opposition party to the Conservatives, and then I looked at a uniform swing from all of the opposition parties to the Tories.

The smallest swing needed is a 4% swing from all of the other parties to the Tories. This would bump the Conservatives up to 40.1% and their majority, reducing the Liberals to 25.2%, the New Democrats to 17.5%, and the Bloc Québécois to 9.6%.

Only a 7% swing is needed from the Liberals to the Conservatives to give the Tories 155 seats. They would have 39.5% of the vote to the Liberals' 24.4% and 63 seats.

A 12% swing from the NDP would bump the Conservatives up to 39.8%, reducing the NDP to 16% and 28 seats.

The Conservatives would need 23% of the Bloc vote in Quebec to be bumped up to 22 seats in the province, and 155 nationally. The Bloc would be reduced to 29.3% in the province and 32 seats.

Fifty-eight percent of the Green vote, dropping them to 2.8%, would bump the Conservatives up to 41.6%.

This shows that the Conservatives aren't too far from their majority, needing only a 4% uniform swing from the opposition or a 7% uniform swing from the Liberals. They can also get there with the NDP, but neither the Bloc nor the Greens are an efficient target.

Now, the Liberals and their goal of forming a minority government.The quickest route to power is an 11% swing from all of the other parties. This would increase the Liberal vote to 34.4% and give them 119 seats, compared to the Conservatives at 33.5%, the NDP at 16.2%, and the Bloc at 8.9%.

A 16% swing from the Conservatives would also give the Liberals their minority, with only 32.3% of the vote. The Conservatives would be bumped down to 31.6%. The NDP pick-up a few seats as well.

Then it gets much trickier. Fully 62% of the NDP vote would need to go the Liberals for them to form a minority. With the Conservatives at 37.7%, this transfer would give the Liberals 37.5% and a narrow, two-seat minority. The NDP, dropped to 6.9%, would not win a seat.

Neither the Bloc nor the Greens alone can give the Liberals the minority they want. If the Bloc died off and all of its support went to the Liberals, they would still only win 132 seats to the Conservatives' 139. The Liberals would be at 36.2% of the vote, 61.9% in Quebec (where they win 69 seats), but still not have enough. And if all Green support went to the Liberals, they would only have 33% of the vote and 97 seats to the Conservatives' 131. Neither the NDP nor the Bloc would be severely reduced by this.

This shows how tricky it will be for the Liberals to form the next government without support from another party. They need relatively significant swings from the other parties or the Conservatives, and even then it is a near-run thing. The NDP, while stealing some of their votes, should not be the target of the Liberals.

Now, the New Democrats, and their goal of becoming the alternative in Canada and the Official Opposition. This exercise is a demonstration in the absurdities of our system.They would need a 17% swing from all the other parties to the NDP for them to form the Official Opposition. In such a situation, the Tories would form government with only 31.3% of the vote. Indeed, with 32.1% of the vote (more than any other party), the NDP would still only win 68 seats. The Liberals would be reduced to 21.8% and 64 seats and the Bloc to 8.3% and 47 seats.

If the Liberals lost 23% of their vote to the NDP, the Conservatives would form a majority government. But, with 24.2% of the vote, the NDP would win 50 seats and tie with the Bloc. The Liberals would be reduced to 20.2% but still 47 seats.

With 33% of the Conservative vote going to the NDP, the Liberals win the most amount of seats with only 26.3% of the vote! The NDP, with 30.6%, win only 79 seats and form the Official Opposition. The Conservatives would be reduced to 25.2% and 73 seats.

A swing of 55% from the Bloc to the NDP would give the NDP 81 seats nationally, with 23.7% of the vote. The Liberals would be reduced to 80 seats with 26.3% of the vote.

Finally, if every single Green vote went NDP, the party would only win 48 seats with 25.0% of the vote. With only 26.3%, the Liberals would win 73.

This shows the limits of our first-past-the-post system. The Bloc Québécois has always been used as an example, but that is more easily explained away by the fact that the Bloc is a regional party that wins in most of the ridings in which it runs.

If the NDP ever succeeds in becoming a third party equal to the others, it would really throw Canadian politics out of whack. This little exercise has shown that even winning the national popular vote wouldn't be enough to give the NDP enough seats to form government. Our system is designed as a two-party system, something the Bloc has used to its advantage in Quebec. But if Canadian politics becomes a three-party affair, the system would fall apart and hardly resemble anything close to democratic.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Polls - 4 or 7 pt CPC Lead?

Two polls were released this morning, one from Nanos and one from EKOS. Lately, these two pollsters couldn't be any different. EKOS finds rock-bottom support for the Conservatives and Liberals, while Nanos usually has them both higher than everyone else. According to Nanos, 70.4% of Canadians support one of the two big parties. For EKOS, that number is 59.2%.

We'll start with Nanos, who last polled in early March.Compared to that poll, at 37.2% the Conservatives have gained 2.5 points. The Liberals have dropped 1.4 points to 33.2% and the New Democrats are down 1.6 points to 16.2%. The Greens are down 1.4% to 3.8 points.

It's difficult to reconcile these numbers with other polls - which I know can be a fool's errand. But no one has had the Liberals over 30% in a very long time, and the Conservative result will be one of the highest in my model. And the Greens below 4%? I suppose it could be true, but I doubt they will get 0.3% support in Quebec and 0 votes in Atlantic Canada.

Anyway, in Ontario the Liberals drop 0.1 points to 41.6%, while the Conservatives are down 2.1 points to 37.1%. The NDP is up 2.1 to 16.7%.

In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois jumps 6.4 points to 37.9%, while the Liberals are down 4.3 to 26.7%. The Conservatives are up 1.7 points to 23.5%, one of their best results ever. The NDP is down 0.1 points to 11.6%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives have lost 0.7 points but still lead with 36.1%. The Liberals are up 4 points to 32.2% and the NDP is up 2.5 to 25.6%.

In the "Prairies", which Nanos defines as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Conservatives are up 7.2 points to 54.7%. The Liberals are down 4.4 to 24.6% and the NDP is down six to 13.8%. In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 43.7%, followed by the Conservatives (up 13.4 to 38.4%) and the NDP (down 11.6 to 17.9%).

Using this site's current projection for Alberta and the Prairies, the Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 41 in Ontario, 10 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 126.

The Liberals win 19 seats in the West, 55 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, and 22 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 112. A good result for them.

The Bloc wins 49 seats.

The NDP wins 10 seats in the West, 10 in Ontario, and 1 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 21.

Now, EKOS.
Compared to last week's poll, the Conservatives are up 1.2 points to 33.1%. The Liberals drop again, 0.5 points to 26.1%. The NDP is down 1.6 to 16.0%.

Coupled with Nanos, this indicates the little bump the NDP had may have disappeared.

The Greens are up 0.6 points to 11.5% and "Other" is down 0.2 to 3.1%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are steady with 36.3%. The Liberals drop a point to 32.5% and the NDP is down two to 15.7%. The race is close in Toronto, with the Conservatives at 37.8%, two points ahead of the Liberals. In Ottawa, it isn't as close, with the Conservatives leading with 40.6%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up one point to 40.4%. The Liberals are up two to 20.9%, as are the Conservatives at 18.4%. The NDP is down three to 9.6%. In Montreal, the Bloc leads with 36.4%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up two points to 29.6%, followed closely by the NDP at 25.5% (up three) and the Liberals at 25.1% (up two). In Vancouver, the Conservatives have a narrow lead over the NDP, 32.7% to 31.2%.

Elsewhere, the Conservatives lead in Atlantic Canada with 38.6%, where the NDP has dropped seven points. The Tories also lead in Alberta with 49.8%, down five. In the Prairies, they lead with 48.4%, up 10, while the Liberals are down eight to 19.8%.

The Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 50 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 135.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West, 41 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 88.

The Bloc wins 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 13 seats in the West, 15 in Ontario, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 32.

So, two very different polls. The big culprit seems to be the Greens, as I think we can all agree it is unlikely the Greens would drop to 3.8%, losing almost half their support, or double their support to reach 11.5%. So, they are more likely somewhere in between, meaning there are four points to distribute elsewhere. That changes both polls quite a bit.

More importantly, though, is where the polls are similar. They both show the Conservatives making modest gains, and the Liberals losing ground. They both show the NDP down and the Bloc up. They both show a close race in Ontario and British Columbia. These are the things to take from these two polls.