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.


  1. I hope the Liberals aren't dumb enough to decide to merge with the NDP, I don't no what party I'd end up voting for.

    The Liberals problem is they have an unpopular leader and the NDP has a popular one, without Layton the NDP would probably lose a lot of support, it seems their support has been based more so on their leader.

  2. So someone please explain why Quebec currently consistently throws away its seat at the table by voting for the protest BLOC BUT won't vote in any protest NDP at all?

    This doesn't make any sense at all.

    It would also be interesting to have the poll again with the voters in Ontario knowing that a Liberal/NDP coalition would actually make Layton and/or Rae PM with a Quebec power base.

    While AR was at it would a BLOC/Liberal coalition led by Duceppe have swept Quebec?

    The solution seems simple. Simply draft Layton as the Liberal leader at the next Liberal Leadership convention.

    Buzz/ Bob Rae and Layton the new face of Liberals?

  3. Buried in all the what if polls is the best polling news that the Liberals have had in a couple of months.

    The most credible pollster has them at 27% and only 8% behind the CPC. This is almost the only recent poll that has them holding their own and only sliding 1%.

    Ignatieff is doing better than Dion after all.

  4. BC Voice of Reason - Iggy isn't outperforming Dion at all. You have to remember that Liberals tend to lose support during an election campaign.
    You can have a look at the opinion polls leading up to the last election, and you can see that, before the writs were dropped, Dion was usually polling in the low to mid thirties.

  5. I'm not at all surprised that Canadians prefer the idea of Prime Minister Jack Layton to Iggy or Rae. At least we know where Layton stands on issues.

  6. As someone who has taken part in several AR polls, it is impossible not to answer a question if there is no None of the above to answer. So, if one has to answer one of those questions re who would you vote for if x was to lead a coalition or however they worded it, a lot of us checked the box without any intention of voting for it.

  7. I would love to see other pollsters ask the merger question. Over the past several weeks, Angus Reid has been very friendly to the NDP. Dating back to January 13, AR has shown NDP support at 19, 18, 20, 20, 19, and 19 - well above the average from the other polls.

  8. Joffré said...
    BC Voice of Reason - Iggy isn't outperforming Dion at all. You have to remember that Liberals tend to lose support during an election campaign.
    You can have a look at the opinion polls leading up to the last election, and you can see that, before the writs were dropped, Dion was usually polling in the low to mid thirties.

    The reason the Liberals support when down so much over the course of the last election campaign was because of one bad policy, the Green Shift.

    Ignatieff still has a lot of room to grow, though his approval ratings may look extrtemly bad 25% of people are still undecided which is way higher then any other leader.

    Harper should be the one to worry about an election because he has very little to no room to grow and the public has a lot more things to judge him on now then they did in 2008. If Harper wasn't able to win a majority when he governed over a period of time where he was able to cut the GST by 2% because the economy was booming and Dion was leader of the Liberals then he has no chance of getting a majority under the current circumstances.

  9. PoscStudent,

    Yes, Dion's support went down over the course of the election campaign, because he ran an awful campaign. But what does that say about Iggy? He's STARTING at that awful level. I mean, it's not as if Canada was aflame with Dionmania in May 2008, but Dion was still polling ahead of where Iggy is now (despite Iggy's having dropped the Green Shift like a third-period french).

    Sure, he has "room for growth". But that's just another way of saying that his polling numbers suck. And while he has room for growth, it's not obvious how he's going to get it. He may run a brilliant campaign, but past experience has demonstrated that first time leaders often don't run brilliant campaigns, especially not when faced against hardened pros (Dion - 2008, Harper - 2004, Day - 2000, Campbell - 1993 (OK, Chretien was a first time leader too, but by that point he'd been around around for 30 years, usually in senior posts, and was infinitely more experienced that Campbell), McGuinty - 1999, Harris - 1990). Certainly, nothing about Iggy's leadership heretofore (which has been plagued with gaffes) gives us any reason to think that his first federal election campaign won't run into the same fate as all those other rookie politicians (many of whom turned out to be very succesful). And, not to be mean, all of the characters I listed above, had more political experience than Iggy does.

    As for Harper, he may have room for much growth (although, there's certainly enough polling data to suggest that his ceiling is in the low 40's rather than the mid-30's - if you look at approval ratings, and some of the peaks for Tory support over the past few years), but then he doesn't need much growth to get himself over the majority hump and he doesn't need any growth if he's content to continue on as the prime minister with a pretty strong minority government.

  10. Interesting that while 'conservative' Alberta would have the lowest level of support for a Layton-led coalition ...

    ... BC would have the 2nd lowest level of support for that same Layton-led coalition with a 13% spread in favour of the CPC.

    In that context and with 47% support for a Layton-led coalition in Ontario, does that make Ontario more 'liberal' or 'social democratic' than BC?

  11. I'm surprised that the BQ would still salvage 43 seats out of 75 if a Layton-led NDP/Liberal party was winning the popular vote in Quebec 44-34.

    By my calculation if a federalist party had a 10-point lead over the BQ - it would probably mean only about 30 BQ seats. In 2000 when the popular vote in Quebec was dead even between the BQ and the Liberals, the BQ only took 36 seats.

  12. Johnny - We need to learn not to try to understand voters in BC. BC voting patterns are basically just crazy.

    On a lighter note, I met Bill Vander Zalm yesterday. Man that guy has charisma.

  13. If the Liberals merged with the NDP, I'd really have to take a step back and review my allegiances. If the merged party came up with policies I like, then I'd probably fall back. But if they fall more towards the NDP's side of the spectrum, I'd have some serious qualms about the direction.

    And if Jack Layton were leader, I'd definitely review any allegiance I have.

    Iggy? Yes.

    Rae? Sure.

    Layton? Hell no.

  14. DL,
    A lot has changed in Quebec since 2000. At that time, the NDP and Alliance were nowhere in Quebec, both polling in single digits. The Liberals were the only competitive federalist party in most regions of Quebec; the Libs even won a seat in Lac-St-Jean in 2000.

    Since then, the Liberals have sharply declined everwhere in Qc except Montreal and the Ottawa Valley. The NDP has increased its popularity in Quebec a lot since 2000, but also mostly in Montreal and the Outaouais. The Conservatives are much stronger in regions such as Quebec City and the Beauce than in 2000 and the Bloc is way ahead in all other regions. So for the most part, a Lib-NDP merger would simply increase the margins of victory in areas where they were going to win anyway. The Liberals and NDP are currently both weak east of Repentigny, so the "NLP" wouldn't win a heck of a lot of new seats in Quebec.

  15. DL wrote:

    "In 2000 when the popular vote in Quebec was dead even between the BQ and the Liberals, the BQ only took 36 seats."

    Actually the BQ won 38 seats in that election; the LPC had a non-trivial _lead_ in popular vote in Quebec (44.2% to 39.9%)

  16. One thing I wish ARG would do in this poll is do a crosstabulation of support for the merged by led by the various people against original vote intention. In other words, if the Liberals and NDP merged and the new party was led by Layton - what percent of NDP voters in the initial standard question on vote intention stick with the party vs. what percent of Liberal voters - and ditto for the Iggy and Rae led hypotheses.

  17. I believe that the support for Layton and Rae is soft, as a result of the fact that neither has really ever been in the firing line. Moreover, a merged party would have a serious monetary disadvantage, relative to now, reducing the party's ability to play defence against attack ads.

    Yes, I said disadvantage. They could raise money just fine, but campaign spending in elections is capped at 20 million. Last election both the NDP and Liberals spent around the maximum. A merger would halve their campaign budget.

  18. Ira,

    Did you? Was he wearing a Willie Wonka hat? That's all I can think of when I hear his name.

  19. Eric, I'm not sure whether or not you saw this, but there was an Environics poll for the federal scene on May 28th that I can't seem to find on the blog. Here it is.

  20. Yes, saw it. But there are only so many hours in the day.

  21. "Yes, saw it. But there are only so many hours in the day."

    24 of them.... 24 beers in a case. But my brother drank the whole thing last time he was down. So I guess I will have to waste 8 hours and go to sleep instead. nite :)

  22. fascinting analysis there on scenarios if Lib/NDP merged. Am very glad someone took the trouble to put this together.

    Relying on the Bloc may be unfortunate but that seems to be the wish of the pan-canadian electorate.

  23. "Relying on the Bloc may be unfortunate but that seems to be the wish of the pan-canadian electorate."

    Huh? how does my voting tory, volkov voting liberal, dl voting NDP etc etc suggest that we want the bloc involved?

    It doesn't. We each want the party we voted for to be the one involved. None of us voted for the Bloc. 90% of canadians gave their mandate to parties other than the bloc.

    So how do you get from that that we wish to rely on the bloc?? We want our party of choice to win.


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