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:

CANADA

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.

QUEBEC

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.

43 comments:

  1. Eric

    What happens if we take the most recent results from all the polls and create an average?

    Does that do anything to get us closer to the real results?

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  2. But, isn't EKOS run by Liberals? :)

    As we move along it is looking more and more like the CPC will pull off a majority with a very low percentage due to Liberal support collapsing. How low can they go? 25% is now a reality, could 20% be reached? The NDP isn't growing, Greens are stuck at 10-12% (with many feeling 5 points of that will swing away on election day), the Bloc is strong but can't really grow more than 1 or 2 more points.

    As time goes by a Liberal-NDP merger or agreement of some kind is making more sense. Agree not to run against each other in ridings with under 50% CPC support and see what happens. It would cost them big time in dollars per vote, but if they win they can shift the rules to be more favorable to themselves (allow corporate and union donations again, reduce tax benefit for individual donations thus cutting out some of the CPC support, remove $ per vote support to seriously hurt the Greens and Bloc, increase percentage to get 60% refund for ridings to 15% thus hurting Greens further).

    If the NDP/Liberals work together they could pull it off. They need to find a firestorm issue to pull all non-far right voters together and push Harper into a corner (abortion is a good start).

    Should be an interesting election whenever it happens.

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  3. Hi Eric:

    Can you pull off a seat projection for this analysis?

    Thanks,

    Earl

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  4. No, I would need regional numbers.

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  5. Doing a simple check I get 31 ridings that went CPC last time that the combined Liberal/NDP vote would've shifted away from the CPC. One case was by less than 100 votes, 4 by under 1000, with the remaining 26 by over 1000. I suspect an agreement between Liberals and NDP would lose a few but probably less than 1000 in most ridings thus putting 26 seats in danger (pre 'natural' changes via polls).

    That would be enough to make it so the CPC would not have 'moral authority' and should get the Bloc onside to give the 3 power without the mess that happened last time as we'd all know what they were doing ahead of time.

    Still, who knows how Joe Voter would react and how the CPC would spin it and how effective that spin would be.

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  6. John,

    That's an interesting analysis, although it's somewhat telling how FEW seats a Liberal/NDP alliance would suck off of the Tories, even if everything worked perfectly. With almost 45% of the vote (their cumulative support from 2008), an NDP/Liberal coalition could only pick up 145 seats? (I.e, the seats they won in 2008 plus 31 from the Tories - would they take any from the Bloc?).

    To put that in context, that would be a far better performance, in terms of popular vote, than anything Jean Chretien pulled off in teh 1990s, and it still doesn't translate into a majority government - that's telling as to how much of Chretien's success in the 1990's was due to divided right. It's also suggestive of how localized Liberal/NDP support is (i.e., they'd win 80-90% of the support in a handful of Toronto/Montreal ridings).

    Mind you, that's the best case scenario, in practice no merger of parties is likely to hold onto 100% of the support of the predecessor parties, at least not immediately. In 2004, the Conservative vote was 30% compared to the combined PC/Alliance vote in 2000 of almost 38%, and those were parties which, at one point had previously been united (more or less) under the PC banner before 1993 (although, proponents of a merger might get some comfort from the fact that by 2008, the Conservative support was pretty close to the combined support of the PCs and the Alliance from a decade earlier.

    A merger between the NDP and the Liberals would likely be far messier, given their much longer history as mutually antagonistic parties and the very real ideological differences between their base of supporters (meaning that they'd risk losing supporters both on the right to the conservatives - a double blow, because it's both a loss to the merged party and a gain for the Tories) and on the left to either the Bloc or the Greens, or other left-wing splinter parties).

    So suppose, initially, at least, the united Liberal/NDP party loses 20% of its 2008 voters (i.e., roughly 10% of voters) to other parties (which would be consistent with the result for the PCs/Alliance in 2004) and that those voters split evenly on the right/left (so 5% go to the Bloc/Greens/inevitable new socialist party which would form in protest, 5% go to the Tories - neither of which is implausible given that for a not inconsiderable member of NDP/Liberal voters, the Tories/Green/Bloc are the 2nd choice ahead of the Liberals/NDP, respectively), you end up with a situation where the Tories end up with 42% of the vote and the Liberal/NDP party ends up 35%. My suspicion (based on nothing but instinct) is that might be enough to translate into a small Tory majority.

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  7. Carl,

    Personally, I remain extremely dubious about any kind of a link-up, coalition, merger, whatever is in the works with the NDP.

    It will be a tall order to convince many of us but I'm not closing the door completely.

    To my mind, you win elections at the center -- not be consolidating the vote on the left. Quite frankly, IMHO, the left-wing vote is simply not enough to really get the job done.

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  8. John N and Carl:

    Carl a good analysis. I think the coalition experience of 2008 is even more instructive. While many were angry over the coalition it doesn't necessarily translate that those angry voters would vote for the CPC. Yet that's precisely what happened, if the polls taken at the time are to be believed. Some of that reaction was no doubt due to the inclusion of the Bloc in the agreement but not the coalition.

    If faced with a Liberal/NDP alliance Harper would no doubt seed doubt among voters as to what would happen if the new party was unable to obtain either a majority or the most seats. It's only conjecture on my part but I believe Harper would again put the Bloc in the picture, at least in minds of voters. While some voters in English Canada might be willing to give the Bloc a role in government, I believe that the prospect of such an occurrence would swing many voters in English Canada away the new party and to the CPC. If you look back at the polls released in the aftermath of the coalition in 2008 the CPC must have come close to or exceeded 60% in the ROC. They did exceed 50% overall in several polls.

    Further I think that many Canadians who vote Liberal would be hard put to vote for a party that would see Jack Layton and other prominent NDP MP's get prominent roles in cabinet. IMO there isn't a lot of difference between the Liberals of Jean Chretien and the Conservatives of Stephan Harper other than a majority. Yes the Tories are more social conservative at the margins. There are a bigger differences between the Liberals and NDP than between the Liberals and Conservatives. If my conjecture is right more Liberals would feel at home in the CPC than in new alliance.

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  9. Ronald,

    I agree with you. I think too many people let their dislike of the Tories over-shadow the reality that, historically at least, there's a far bigger gaps in terms of policies and ideology between the NDP and the Liberals than there is between the Tories and the Liberals (or equally, that in many parts of the country, there's a far smaller gap between the NDP and the Tories, then NDP supporters living in Toronto like to admit)

    Heck, even to this day, there aren't huge(real, as opposed to perceived) differences between the Tories and the Grits. (Which is probably why the various parties feel a need to emphasize their small differences and why we see the many antics in the House). I mean think about it, what's the huge wedge issue that the Liberals have been waving around as distinguishing them from the Tories? A $5 billion daycare program (which they've promised repeatedly over the past 20 years without implementing) and a delay to proposed tax cuts (which cuts they initiated)? You spend 4 and a half years ranting about how the government is destroying everything and that's all you'd change? I mean, on a whole host of issues there from the environment, to Afghanistan (heck, even to abortion) there isn't much to distinguish the substance (such as it is) of one party from that of the other (despite the rhetoric of their respective partisans).

    For that reason, I'd suspect that any merger between the NDP and the Grits would be stillborne. But, hey, far be it from me to discourage them from doing so. I'm a Tory, so would like nothing better than to have to compete with a "united" left-of-center party, instead of having to fight for elbow room with the Liberals in the center (or at-times, the center-right).

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  10. I would venture to say that over half of the Liberal supporters are more aligned with the core CPC policies than the NDP. This would include the banks and big business that seem to support the Liberals to even a greater degree than the CPC.

    Any merger or coalition with the NDP has to deal with the unrealistic NDP financial policies on taxing corporations to offshore situations - Canada Steam Ship and Power Corp for instance and turning off the flow of Oil money to the Federal coffers to pay for social spending.

    Stelmach got greedy in Alberta just following a bit of the NDP model and Alberta had immediate and significant consequences.

    Any real and open policy rationalization between the NDP and Liberals policies will leave the Liberal-Democrats being solidly supported by Public employee and trade Unions and no one else.

    There is also the core philosophical differences.... The NDP dare to dream about grand ideas, Universal Medicare at the expense of never being in power.

    The Liberals do not have any policies that they wouldn't abandon for a chance at power.

    Small "C" conservatives are more like NDP as they decided to have decade with no chance at power to stand up for and influence policy that that was good for the country.

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  11. Earl,

    I think the problem with the 2008 coalition experiment was that, having campaigned on the basis of not forming a coalition with the NDP, Dion lacked the democratic legitimacy to go ahead and then form a coalition with the NDP (and the Bloc to boot). I suspect it would have gone over much better had both the NDP and the Liberals campaigned on the basis that they might form a coalition with one another (but not the Bloc - you're right that the very idea is political suicide in English Canada) during the election campaign (as the British Tories and Liberals did in their last campaign).

    Then again, there's a reason why the Liberals explicitly rejected a coalition in the 2008 election. From their perspective, the possibility of a coalition will tend to encourage left-wing swing voters to vote for the NDP rather than with the Liberals (on the theory that only the Liberals will actually be in a position to govern). The possibility of such a coalition might also tend to encourage right-wing swing voters (i.e., the people who used to vote for Jean Chretien and Mike Harris in Ontario in the 1990s) to vote for the Tories to stop such a coalition. It's a catch-22 for the Grits, they can't form a coalition if the explcitly reject such a coalition. But if they don't explicitly reject such a coalition, they might not be in a position to form one (or, if they are, its in a far weaker position vis-a-vis their coalition partner, which, in the long-run, may be far less desirable).

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  12. Eric

    Rather than compare to an average of the polls why not compare everyone else to Angus Reid.

    Angus Reid was the only pollster that was accurate in the 2008 election. Everyone else was outside the MOE in the 4 days prior to the last election.

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  13. Hi Ron:

    I agree with you. If Liberal voters didn't vote Conservative I think many would just stay home. Many assume that because the party carries the name Liberals that they are left wing. In fact as we saw under Chretien they can govern from the right of center better than the Conservatives. The federal NDP it seems never varies from its plot line of tax and spend.

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  14. http://threehundredeight.blogspot.com/2010/04/new-ekos-poll-53-pt-conservative-lead.html

    It wasn't that long ago that EKOs polled second choices, including Liberals. The NDP polled at about a third of Liberals and the CPC about one fifth, with none as one fourth. Presumably, a coalition would get even better results than a party just not existing.

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  15. The House Effects graphs for the country and Quebec look plausible individually, but set off little alarm bells in juxtaposition.

    The hypothesis is that the biggest factor in pollsters' different results is the methodologies each uses. On top of that, there's a small degree of natural polling variation. Assuming that (a) techniques used in Quebec are the same as those used elsewhere and (b) there are limits to the distinctiveness of a nation, the provincial and national biases for every pollster should be pretty close.

    They aren't. Not nearly.

    Éric, assuming that you have the data in an Excel spreadsheet, could you quantify this by calculating correl({federal}, {provincial}) for each pollster, or simply provide the house effect data in tabular form? For extra points, generate the house effects for the other regions and calculate their correlations. And for a gold star, compare current correlations (or even just the base house effects) to historical ones. If they hop around over time while techniques remain constant, that tells us a lot.

    My eyeball says that for most pollsters the house effect signal-to-noise ratio is not good. Statistical evidence either way would be nice.

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  16. Quebec being francophone, it is not entirely surprising that polling in Quebec and polling in Canada as a whole are different.

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  17. Kevin,

    I was looking at that 2nd choices Ekos poll earlier today, and I think it reinforces my point that the likely result of merged Liberal/NDP party would be a conservative government.

    I mean, for the NDP, only 1/3rd of their supporters list the Grits as their second choice. If a merger between the NDP and the Grits was seen as a Liberal takeover (which it surely would be, at least by the hardliners in the NDP, unless the Liberals really abandoned the mainstream of Canadian politics), you'd think a significant chunk of those voters 2/3rds would either migrate to other parties (including the Tories) or set up a New NDP-type party (albeit probably one that's more hardline socialist).

    That works for the Liberals as well. Right now, the Tories are the second choice of 1/4 of would-be Liberal voters. But if the Liberals tacked to the left as part of some compromise with the NDP, what are the odds that a good proportion of those voters might find that the new Liberal/NDP party is now their second choice?

    And I'm not sute that adding the option of a coalition neccesarily improves anything for the various parties. For example, it's entirely possible that, someone might vote for the Liberals, but not for the Liberals if they were part of a coalition with the NDP (or with the Conservatives or with the Bloc). Just as the possibilty of a Liberal/Tory coalition (an unlikely possibility) would probably serve as a wonderful rallying cry for the NDP to attract left-of-center voters, the possibility of an NDP/Liberal coalition would likely serve as a wonderful rallying cry for the Tories for right-of-center voters.

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  18. John Northey: Agree not to run against each other in ridings with under 50% CPC support and see what happens.

    A Grit-Dipper non-aggression pact would certainly help the Greens. We'd need a big net, though, to catch all the flying votes.

    Cooperation has to be pushed off until the ballots have been counted. Until then, the Liberals have to work on owning the framing, something the Conservatives have been much better at. "We are running to win a majority. If we don't obtain one we will work with the other parties for the good of the country to deliver effective, stable government. Canadians expect nothing less."

    Surely at least the second sentence should be the mantra of every party, Grit, Tory, Dipper, Green and Bloc.

    And if the media keeps harping on the C-word? "You mean like the Liberal-Conservative coalition in Britain? We can't rule that out; it would depend on the positions, strengths and goodwill of the other parties. Some may swear that they will never cooperate after the election, but Canadians expect more from their elected representatives."

    I don't see a lot to attack in that position. Own the framing, own the issue.

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  19. Éric: Quebec being francophone, it is not entirely surprising that polling in Quebec and polling in Canada as a whole are different.

    Quebec is more francophone than the other provinces and territories, but even so, that's an observation with no obvious connection to pollster house effects. Not unless the questions posed in English and French are dramatically different.

    To avoid that hypothetical problem, could you post correlations between current and historical pollster house effects at the national level? If one or two pollsters correlate badly we can postulate changes in their methodologies; if they all vary widely, we can speculate that "house effect" is just noise. If they all line up nicely, house effect corrections gain in authority.

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  20. From the second choices poll -

    "The NDP is the Liberals' second choice, at 36.3%. Next was none (24.8%) and then the Conservatives (20.2%). This is an indication that the party's supporters are leaning more toward the left."

    The Coalition would be a combination of the LEFT and basically an NDP dream. NDP have policies and the Liberals have none. Any coalition ends up being socialist focused.


    That would mean that the CPC would get 20% of the the Liberal 25% would go outright to the CPC. That is 5% and makes brings the CPC up to 39.5 %. The 36% of the Liberals 25% adds 9% points to the NDP for a total of 24%.


    so we have:
    CPC at 39.4%
    Socialist coalition 24.3%
    Bloc 11%
    Green 12%
    Undecided Liberals 11%
    Regular undecided 3.5


    It doesn't take a lot of ciphering to see a huge CPC majority.

    That is why The CPC will keep on attacking and hilighting the chance of a Liberal-NDP coalition - It is not close to being winnable

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  21. If the Conservatives thought it was their ticket to a majority, they wouldn't be attacking the coalition idea now.

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  22. If the Conservatives thought it was their ticket to a majority, they wouldn't be attacking the coalition idea now.

    Why does that seem so obvious, the Tories are really scared of a "coalition" for the simple reason the country, as a whole, is well left of the Tories.

    A coalition could well grab the majority of the votes and seats.

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  23. Eric

    The CPC are not attacking the coalition. They are attacking the Liberals and NDP running individual campaigns and ending up with more seats and then forming a coalition.

    If a coalition runs on its merits and a pre-determined policy it will be a legititmate governing alternative. However it will be an abject election failure.

    The CPC running against a clearly defined coalition will result in a CPC majority.

    The CPC running against a "hidden agenda" coalition will result in a CPC majority.

    The CPC is forcing the Liberals and NDP to denounce any coalition and will still hammer the hidden agenda and flip-flop potential of the Liberal and NDP leadership.

    This is a much scary hidden agenda than Harper had to overcome and I don't see the ability of Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Layton to overcome it in a one year time frame.

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  24. Eric,

    I think that might have bit a slip of the tongue (er...finger) on the part of BC. An NDP/Liberal merger would be a guarantee of a Tory majority, which was (I think) BC's point, as opposed to a coalition.

    Having sais that, I think the THREAT of an NDP/Liberal coalition would work wonders to mobilize the Tory (and potential Tory) vote (to say nothing if fundraising) which is probably why the Tories are going on about it (and why the Grits don't want to touch it). It that sense, to Tories see the possibility of a coalition as a possible angle to get a majority government.

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  25. Eric I disagree about why the CPC attacks the coalition. I would posit that at least in the short term they would be happy with a coalition. Eventually every party is defeated and the Liberal/NDP coalition would possibly bring that day closer.

    By attacking the idea of a coalition the CPC makes one more difficult while at the same time keeping the demon alive. What the CPC is doing is no different than what Chretien and Martin did to the Conservatives and Alliance with their secret agenda campaigns. The absence of a secret agenda couldn't be proven nor can coalition plans, even however much Iggy might deny them. Better yet for the CPC the opposition actually did form a coalition. The CPC's job is to keep front and center the idea that they can't be trusted not to do it again. As an election ploy it's perfect.

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  26. Do any of you see the splendid irony in all this so-called coalition business?

    I've come full circle from a guy who backed the Dion coalition hook, line and sinker until all Hell broke loose.

    That brought me down to Earth and really hit me where I live. Since then you can put me down as wary.

    To see many of you strongly confident that it could lead to a Conservative majority government makes the hairs on my neck stand up. If we do this, I want to take it slow and easy. We had better really know what we're getting into before we do it.

    Peter is much more confident than I am. He may be right or wrong.

    But in the final analysis, we won't know either way until it really happens and that I find exceedingly dangerous for all the parties' future political fortunes.

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  27. Peter is much more confident than I am. He may be right or wrong.

    I'm quite confident the Liberal brand can be brought back to life. I'm quite confident that the majority of Canadians are not right wing. Equally I'm confident that they are not social conservatives.

    That said my biggest worry is the leadership problem within the Liberals. Because if that can't be fixed there is going to be at minimum another Tory minority and God help us if there is !

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  28. Peter,

    Like you, I don't think most Canadians are either right-wing or social conservatives.

    But I also think they are not left-wing either. They strike me as centrists instead and that is precisely what has me worried when we open this can of worms business otherwise known as a possible coalition...

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  29. Ron what has happened is the Liberals seem to have abandoned the centre, Harper has grabbed it and is in to process of moving the centre to the right.

    The Liberals need to grab the centre back, and they can !

    The Liberal brand for almost the last two decades has been fiscal conservatism and socially progressive.

    Harper wants to push both facets to the right. This is stoppable if the Libs will stop scandal searching and actually put together something which the public can recognise.

    On the order of attacking the deficit, ruling out clearly any moves on abortion and SSM and doing things that will make it easier for families to get along. Add a strong push on education and technology improvement and I feel that is a winner.

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  30. An NDP/Liberal merger would help the Greens quite a bit I suspect as the NDP tends to get a lot of 'none of the above' votes. If you are mad at the Liberals and PC (pre-1993) then the NDP was your safehouse. Reform showed up and took a lot of those votes away, and by the time the CPC emerged the Green Party grew drastically (from near 0% to 4% - not an easy move to make).

    So right now if you are mad at the Liberals and CPC (and we all, regardless of political stripe, can see how it happens) you have two choices (outside of Quebec). Remove one choice and the other gets a lot of those protest votes.

    Will it happen? Pre-Green Party it was a lot more likely to work. Now? I suspect the NDP and Liberals know that many of their voters will migrate to Green and if there is enough time pre-election yet another party could appear (a true socialist one). Thus an attempt to get Green support mixed in via folding the GPC would occur but if that happened I know I would not be voting for the merged party and would probably migrate to local independent candidates if any were there.

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  31. Ronald - Every population is centrist as a group, if you define the spectrum based on that electorate.

    What differs is what centrism actually means in each jurisdiction. Canadians, for example, think that Americans, as a group, a socially conservative (compared to our centrism), but they'd see us a extremely socially liberal compared to their centrism (which they'd insist was true based on the wide variety of positions held by Americans).

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  32. Éric - Wasn't Strategic Counsel the house set up by Allan Gregg during his exile from Harris-Decima? Since he's now back with Decima, I'm not confident Strategic Counsel still does any political polling.

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  33. Peter: "On the order of attacking the deficit, ruling out clearly any moves on abortion and SSM and doing things that will make it easier for families to get along. Add a strong push on education and technology improvement and I feel that is a winner."

    So basically, you're saying that in order to bring the Liberal brand back to life, they should run on the current platform of the Tories. After all, none of what you've set out above is inconsistent with any of the stated positions of the Conservatives (or anything that they've done over the past 4 years).

    The Tories have said they'll balance the budget (one might question the credibility of their commitment to do so, but it's no less credible than anything the Grits have said or will say). The Tories have long since abandoned the fight over SSM (they had their vote on the subject, lost, and promptly dropped it like a lead balloon). They have long since taken the position that they don't want to wade in into the abortion debate (true, some of their backbenchers want to wade back into that debate, but then so do a fair number of Liberal backbenchers - as Iggy recently learned). On education and technology, well, those are motherhood issues that every party is in favour of. Have you ever seen anyone say they're opposed to education or technology.

    I hope the Grits can do better than that. I think the real problem is that trying to win voters by demonizing the Tories (rather than putting out coherent policies) is a loser strategy because it doesn't conform with the observed reality.

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  34. The Tories have said they'll balance the budget (one might question the credibility of their commitment to do so, but it's no less credible than anything the Grits have said or will say)

    Nice try but still a lie !! The Libs not only balanced the budget they got us repeatedly into surplus territory!! The first thing the Tories did on gaining power was to blow the surpluses out the window and drop us into deficit. Their track record stinks !

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  35. So basically, you're saying that in order to bring the Liberal brand back to life, they should run on the current platform of the Tories.

    But that is clearly not what the Tories are saying !!

    You may think it is but in that case you're wrong !!

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  36. Re Carl:

    I posted that to point out that more Liberals are not right wing than otherwise. I wouldn't disagree that it could potentially put the CPC in a majority position.

    While I don't know how the PCs and Reform felt about each other, I remember that there were polls showing the LPC at the time as being a more popular second choice for both of those parties for a while. In the end, though there was dead weight loss, a merged party exists which can garner the votes of almost all of those parties and be competitive. A Liberal/NDP party would eventually be the same.

    I certainly wouldn't assume that a merged party would be viewed as a takeover by both the Liberals and the NDP roots, so they could probably count on more than just those who selected the other as a second choice.

    I would agree that any success, whether in one party or two or coalition definately requires getting more votes. (Assuming no dead weight loss is possible anyway)

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  37. Peter,

    Where's the lie? The Tories are committing to balance the budget, so are the Liberals. Is either commitment credible? Maybe not, but neither is more or less credible than the other. Yes, the Liberals balanced the budget in the 1990s (though, they singularly failed to do so through the 70's and 80s), but in case you haven't noticed, the Liberals of 1995 or 2000 are a different collection of characters than the current crew. Yes, the Tories have run up a hefty deficit over the last year, but the Grits were there the whole time cheering them along. So where's the difference?

    And, before you accuse me of telling lies, you might want to get your facts straight, the Tories didn't start running deficits when they came to power. They ran surpluses from 2006 through to 2008. They ran a deficit (a huge deficit, to be sure) in 2009 - you may recall, there was this little recession thing - but the Grits would have too (and criticized the Tories for not spending enough).

    And how is my statement of the Tory position on the various issues wrong? The official position of the conservative party of Canada is that it won't introduce any legislation on abortion - that came out of their 2005 policy convention, go look it up. That's the exact same position (in effect) as that of the Liberal party. On same sex marriage, after they lost their last vote, Harper declared that he didn't "see reopening this question in the future." That's the self-same position as the Liberal party. I could go on. But, hey, why would I rely on what the Tories say to be indicative of what the Tories are saying, when I have people like you telling me what they're saying?

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  38. The Tories are committing to balance the budget,

    Rhetoric is great, performance is even greater and it's on the latter the Tories are complete failures !

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  39. Peter: "Rhetoric is great, performance is even greater and it's on the latter the Tories are complete failures !"

    That's your best response?

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  40. Carl:

    Right out of the PMO playbook, eh? Don't attack the message attack the messenger.

    The Tories are committing to balance the budget,

    In a pigs eye, they are like the Repigs in the US, spend, spend, spend and cut taxes.

    Handed a system that generated about a $12 billion surplus that could be used to pay down the debt the first thing they do is gut that system. Brilliant !!

    I could go on but since you won't listen anyway why bother ?

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  41. What message is there to attack?

    That the Tories are running deficit? Of course they are. The Liberals would be too (heck, they origially criticized the government for not injecting more stimulus funding into the economy), just like every other government in the western world. You know, traditionally, that's what governments are supposed to do in a recession.

    The question is, will they be able to return to a balanced budget within some reasonable time. The Tories have their plan, I don't fully buy it, but it's no less credible than the Liberal plan (though, for what it's worth, last year's deficit appears to have been smaller than expected thanks to higher than expected corporate tax revenue). In any event, only an ideological hack would disiss the Tory attempt as a failure before it's even had a chance to run its course.

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  42. The question is, will they be able to return to a balanced budget within some reasonable time.

    That's like asking "Have you stopped beating your wife yet"?

    You know damn well the Tories, particularly with Flaherty, will NEVER balance the budget let alone run surplus !!

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