Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Tale of Three Cities

EKOS is unique among pollsters in that they provide complete demographic and regional breakdowns on a weekly basis. They provide polling data on five cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

As Calgary is a foregone conclusion, and Ottawa doesn't have a lot of seats, I've instead focused on Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Each of these cities contain many seats and are battlegrounds.

EKOS uses the metropolitan regions of these cities for their polling, so that means the outskirts as well as downtown. The following charts show EKOS's polling results in these three cities so far in 2010.

As Canada's biggest city, Toronto also has the most seats. Much of the downtown core is solidly Liberal, with a few NDP enclaves won by Jack Layton and Olivia Chow. The Tories are strong on the outskirts of the city, making Toronto's electoral map very simple. But polls in Toronto can answer some questions: can the NDP maintain their bridgehead, will the Liberals re-gain some ground around the city, or will the Conservatives breakthrough downtown?This chart shows that Toronto is a Liberal domain, but it isn't a slam dunk. The Liberals have led in the city without trouble throughout January, February, and the beginning of March, but have since been in a tooth-and-nail battle with the Conservatives. However, it must be pointed out that only on a few rare occasions have the Tories out-polled the Liberals in Toronto. It also appears that the Liberals have re-gained the lead in the city in June.

The NDP is stuck in third, and has been pretty stable in that position, with a slight uptick over the last few months.

Montreal is also easily divided. The Liberals do well on the West Island and in downtown Montreal, while the Bloc dominates in eastern Montreal and around the island. The NDP, however, finally won a seat in Outremont, making the race in Quebec's biggest city a little more interesting. The Conservatives are not a factor in Montreal.Clearly, the Bloc Québécois has been comfortably ahead of the Liberals over the past six months. But from January to April, the race was much closer. In April, however, the Liberals started to fall away and the Bloc took off, and now the gap between the two parties is approaching 20 points.

The NDP and Conservatives, along with the Greens, have battled it out for third place in and around the city. However, as the NDP's support is more concentrated, they have the advantage.

Vancouver is an interesting city for elections, as all three parties are competitive and all three parties win seats. The Conservatives are mostly relegated to the suburbs, while downtown is the battleground for the Liberals and the NDP.This chart shows how confused Vancouver politics are. The Conservatives have had the lead for most of the past six months, with a huge bump in mid-May, but they have had their lead momentarily stolen from them by the Liberals (in early March, early April, and in the last poll) and the NDP (in late April and mid-June). Those two parties have swapped second place more or less every week. The Greens are not too far back, but are still out of the race.

These charts show that EKOS's city results aren't as unreliable as you might think. Their sample sizes are still relatively large (often larger than those in the Prairies or Atlantic Canada) and trends are pretty clear.

The next election will be fought, primarily, in the cities. The Conservatives have a lock on the rural vote, so the final result will come down to whether the Conservatives can start winning urban votes or if the Liberals and NDP can beat their back into the suburbs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Brunswick Projection Model

With the next provincial election set to take place in September of this year, it was about time I got to designing a projection model for New Brunswick.

While four "major" parties will be vying for the support of New Brunswick supporters, really only two are in the race: the Liberals under Premier Shawn Graham and the Progressive Conservatives under David Alward.

While the New Democrats are also in the race, they have never elected more than one MLA. And we must also beware of their polling results, as they have the tendency to shed much of their support on voting day.

Then, of course, there are the Greens, who will be participating in their first election in New Brunswick. It is unlikely they will play a big role in the coming election, but will undoubtedly benefit from their federal counterpart's renown.

The model is based on the same system used as in my federal model, using historical results to predict future results. However, I am also using a voting day modifier, which ups the Liberal and PC support slightly while reducing the NDP's polling support by about 20%.

I have not set-up a popular vote projector yet, but will once we get closer to the start of the election.

To show-off the model, let's use Corporate Research Associates' last New Brunswick poll, conducted in May.This poll had a five-point gap between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, while putting the NDP at 16%. That would be a historic result for the New Democrats in New Brunswick, as they haven't cracked double-digits in an election since 1991 and have never done better than 12%.

Dialing down NDP support, we get a projection of 33 Progressive Conservatives, 20 Liberals, and two New Democrats. Alward becomes the next Premier of New Brunswick.

At the beginning of August, when the election campaign should begin, I will change the site a little to give more space to the New Brunswick election. I will, of course, still cover federal politics while the provincial election is going on.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Projection: 128 CPC, 95 LPC, 52 BQ, 33 NDP

The updated projection shows losses by the Liberals and Conservatives, while the Bloc Québécois and Greens make some gains.The past 17 days of polling have not been good to either the Liberals or the Conservatives, the result being that the Tories are down 0.2 points to 33.1% and the Liberals are down 0.1 points to 27.9%. To add insult to injury, the Conservatives are also down one seat (in Quebec) and now stand at 128. The Liberals and New Democrats still have 95 and 33, respectively. More interestingly, their combined seats ties the Conservatives.

The Bloc made the seat gain in Quebec, and now stands at 52, along with a 0.1-point national gain to 9.6%. The NDP is stable at 16.8% and the Greens are up 0.2 to 10.4%.

In Ontario, the Liberals continue to lead with 35.5%, down 0.1. The Conservatives dropped 0.3 to 35.3% and the NDP gained 0.1 to 16.9%. The Greens are also up: 0.2 points to 10.6%. The narrowest of leads for the Liberals, but probably their most important.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up 0.4 points to 38.9% and stands at 52 seats. Their main competitors both take steps back, with the Liberals dropping 0.2 points to 22.9% and the Conservatives dropping fully half-a-point to 16.7% and six seats. The NDP, however, is up 0.3 points to 12.4%. The Greens are down 0.1 to 7.3%. The Bloc's lead is growing and growing, while both the Conservatives and Liberals are heading to new lows.

The Conservatives have dropped 0.2 points in British Columbia, but still lead with 36.1%. The NDP is stable at 26.6%, while the Liberals are down 0.3 points to 22.6%. The Greens are up 0.5 to 12.5%.

The race in Atlantic Canada is getting a little more interesting, as the Liberals drop 0.3 points to 36.9% and the Conservatives make a 0.3 point gain to 32.4%. The NDP is falling away, down 0.3 points to 22.7%. The Greens are up 0.1 to 6.2%.

The Conservative lead in Alberta continues, though the party is down 0.2 points to 58.9%. The Liberals are steady at 16.6%, while the NDP is down 0.1 to 11.3%. The Greens are up 0.2 to 10.1%.

All three main parties drop in the Prairies, with the Tories down 0.1 to 46.3%, the NDP down 0.3 to 22.8%, and the Liberals down 0.1 to 21.9%. The Greens take advantage, up 0.3 points to 7.3%.

Finally, there are no changes in the North.

The big winner of the last 17 days are the Greens, who have a net gain of 1.2 points in the seven regions. Their 0.5 point gain in British Columbia, where the party hopes to elect Elizabeth May, is especially good news. But they are still well away from entering the House of Commons.

Next in our cavalcade of winners is the Bloc Québécois, who made a big 0.4 point gain in Quebec and picked up a seat. It has actually been a few good weeks for them.

Aside from these two, all the parties have made losses. The NDP have lost the least, with a net loss of only 0.1 points. Gains of 0.1 in Ontario and 0.3 in Quebec are good things for Jack Layton, but losses of 0.3 in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies are not.

The Liberals had a net loss of 1.0 points, with painful losses in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. However, the bleeding was minimal in Ontario and Quebec, if there is a silver lining to be found.

Aside from a gain in Atlantic Canada, it is hard to find a silver lining for the Tories. They also had a net loss of 1.0 points, but these came primarily in Quebec and Ontario, two battleground provinces. The party even lost a seat, and is now tied with the Liberals and NDP.

The situation remains relatively stable, but we're looking at a very oddly balanced Parliament with these numbers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Polling Trends: Ontario and Quebec

On this muggy Friday morning, how about a quick look at the polling results in Ontario and Quebec over the last 12 months?

We'll start with the province where most is at stake in the eventual election: Ontario.A quick glance at this chart tells you all you need to know. The race is a very close one between the Liberals and the Conservatives, and the NDP is solidly in third.

But a closer look tells us a few interesting things. The race in Ontario has shifted and changed. From July 2009 to early September 2009, the Liberals and Conservatives were neck and neck, but the advantage was with the Liberals, who had an undisputed lead throughout July and August. Then Michael Ignatieff talked about forcing an election, and Liberal fortunes dropped. They dropped so far that the Tories were in front until mid-December and the prorogation.

At that point, the Liberals took a narrow lead and, aside from a few individual polls, held it until April 2010. Since then, the race has been very close, with a slight edge to the Tories.

The NDP looks to have been stable over this period, but a closer inspection shows that they are on a steady, if small, increase. While they were polling between 11% and 18% from July 2009 to December 2009, they've since risen, polling between 14% and 20%. Their gain seems to have come from the Liberals, as every NDP peak corresponds, it seems, with a Liberal valley.

With the up-and-down between the Tories and Liberals, it is impossible to predict exactly where each party would end up on election day. Perhaps that is why they are so close in my projection.

Now, Quebec, where there has been a definite shift of late.With five parties on the chart, it looks a little more confusing. But the order of the parties is clear: Bloc Québécois, Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and Greens. But things have been, and are starting to become, much more murky.

The Bloc has held the lead throughout the last year, and have been relatively stable. But they are polling consistently better of late, between 35% and 45% since mid-March 2010. Prior to that date they were polling more around 32% to 42%, and in the summer of 2009 they were polling between 30% and 38%. There has been no definitive break in their numbers like we saw for the Liberals in Ontario, but it is clear that over the last two months things are going well for them.

The Liberals, on the other hand, seem to be on a steady decline. From July 2009 to the end of September 2009, the Liberals were running well, within a few point of the Bloc. But at the beginning of October their numbers tanked, and aside from a brief rebound in January and February 2010, they have stayed there. Their numbers have even gotten worse recently, as from mid-March they've had trouble polling over 24% and have even been below 20% on several occasions.

The Conservatives have been struggling for the entirety of the last year. From July to October they were doing badly, but the Liberal drop in October coincided with a Conservative gain. From October to the prorogation the Tories were running neck and neck with the Liberals for second. Prorogation swatted them back down, and they have been stuck at the under-20% level since then. The NDP is even starting to compete with them for third place.

Like in Ontario, the NDP appears to be a on a slow increase in the province. Whereas they seemed to be averaging 10% until about March of this year, they now seem to be more at the 12% level, with a few polls putting them at 15% or higher. This is good news for the party - slow but solid increase is more sustainable.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 3.3-pt Conservative Lead

Hey, it's a new EKOS poll. Surprise! And it's a yawner. Surprise!The Conservatives have gained 0.5 points and are now at 31% (oddly enough, The Economist quoted the Conservatives as being at 31% this week. Do they have an inside scoop?) The Liberals have gained more: 1.4 points to 27.7%. The New Democrats dropped 0.9 points to 16.5%.

The Greens are at 13%, up 0.7 points. The Bloc Québécois is down 1.2 points to 9.3%, while "Other" is at 2.5%.

The Liberals lead in Ontario with 35.3%, unchanged from last week. The Conservatives are at 32.3%, up one, while the NDP is at 18.2%, up two. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 36.6%. The Tories are in front in Ottawa with 38.1%.

The Bloc is down three points to 38.9% in Quebec, while the Liberals are down one to a woeful 18.8%. The Conservatives are steady at 14.6%, as are the NDP at 13.1%. The Bloc has 39.8% in Montreal.

The Liberals, gaining ten points, lead all of a sudden in British Columbia, with 29.1%. The Conservatives are down three to 27.1% and the NDP is down eight to 22.3%. The Greens are up two to 19.2%. The Liberals lead in Vancouver with 35.8%.

The Conservatives jump nine points in Atlantic Canada and lead with 37.8%. They also lead in Alberta with 54.9% and the Prairies with 45.1%. The Liberals are up five in Alberta.

The Conservatives win 63 seats in the West, 36 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 116 - a loss of 28 MPs.

The Liberals would win 20 in the West and North, 52 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 103 - a gain of 26.

The Bloc wins 54 seats in Quebec, a gain of seven.

The NDP wins 11 seats in the West and North, 18 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 34, a loss of two.

The Greens win one seat in British Columbia.

A few other things: the NDP is the favourite "second choice", with 21%. The Liberals are next with 16%, but of course "no second choice" leads with 37%.

An interesting question was whether Canadians would prefer a Conservative government under Stephen Harper or a coalition government under Michael Ignatieff. With these seat totals, it is a good question to ask.

The country is split, with 39% preferring either the Conservatives or a coalition. Interestingly, this gives the Tories a bump of eight points, but a loss of five points for the combined Liberals and NDP.

Support for a Conservative government greatly outnumbers the party's support in British Columbia (40%) and Alberta (66%). In Ontario, it bumps up the party's support to 39%, in Quebec to 23%. In Atlantic Canada, it only gives them an extra point.

Support for a coalition only outnumbers the combined parties' support in Quebec, where 45% would prefer a coalition government (the two parties have 32% support in the province). Coalition support outnumbers Conservative support in Ontario (41%) and Quebec only. It is very close in British Columbia (38%) and Atlantic Canada (38%).

Interestingly, while 66% of Liberals would support the coalition over a Conservative government (18%), only 57% of NDP supporters would be happier with the coalition, versus 19% with the Conservatives.

Those are dangerous numbers, since it appears 1 in 5 Liberal or NDP supporters would consider jumping to the Tories if a coalition was explicitly pursued by the Liberals and NDP.

Overall, this poll has a few odd results (especially at the two extreme ends of the country), but is generally bad news for the Tories, who are behind in the three battleground provinces. It isn't great for the Liberals, as they are doing badly in Quebec and are not very strong in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

However, the combined seat totals of the Liberals and NDP puts them at 137 - pretty much the same as today's Conservative minority. Perhaps that is the most important number.

Bonne St-Jean-Baptiste!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Harris-Decima Poll: 7-pt Conservative Lead

Harris-Decima has a new poll out today, showing that the Conservatives are down a little nationally but up in Ontario.Harris-Decima's last poll taken in mid-May had the Conservatives at 36%, so this is a drop of two points. The Liberals are steady at 27%, while the New Democrats are up one to 17%.

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

In Ontario, the Conservatives have defied Fake Lake and the G20, and are up one point to 40%. The Liberals are down two to 32%. The NDP is up one to 15%.

In Quebec, the Bloc soars ten points to 45%. While such a jump would be strange, the Bloc has actually been polling very well lately. The Liberals are down four to 22%, as are the Conservatives to a woeful 11%. The NDP is down one to 11%. The Bloc is in full control.

In British Columbia, control is being hotly debated. The Conservatives are down six points to 33%, only one up on the NDP, who are up five to 32%. The Liberals are also up: two points to 19%. The Greens are down one to 14%.

The Conservatives lead in Atlantic Canada with 38%. The NDP has dropped seven points there. The Tories also lead in Alberta with 55%, and in the Prairies with 39%, though that is a drop of eight points. The Liberals are up six in the Prairies.

The Conservatives win 62 seats in the West, 58 in Ontario, 3 in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 134 - a drop of 11 from their current caucus.

The Liberals win 14 seats in the North and West, 36 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 83, a gain of six.

The Bloc wins 55 seats in Quebec, a gain of seven.

The NDP wins 19 seats in the West and North, 12 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada.

While the gap is certainly good news for the Conservatives compared to some other polls we've seen, 34% is still low - and 11% in Quebec is catastrophic. However, the lead in Ontario is something they'd like to see.

We're heading into the summer without much of a story line. The Conservatives are down and the Liberals are stuck. Maybe the only big piece of news is that the Bloc is back. On the 20th anniversary of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, perhaps that is fitting.

Both Ontario Liberals and PC drop, McGuinty still leads

On Saturday, Ipsos-Reid released a new Ontario provincial poll, and it doesn't show major movement. However, the Liberals under Dalton McGuinty still lead.Compared to Ipsos-Reid's last Ontario poll in October 2009, the Liberals have dropped two points to 37%. However, the Progressive Conservatives are down four points to 32%, widening a still narrow gap between the two parties.

The New Democrats are up four points to 20%, while the Greens are up two to 11%.

The major source of Liberal strength comes in the Greater Toronto Area, where they lead with 43% (up one). The PCs trail with 26%, down a staggering 10 points since October. The NDP is up seven here to 20%.

The Liberals also lead in Eastern Ontario - with 42% (up four). The Progressive Conservatives follow with 33% (down nine) and the NDP is at 16% (up seven) - and Northern Ontario, with 34% (down three). The NDP is second here, with 27% (up seven). The PCs have dropped 14 points to 25% in this region.

The Progressive Conservative areas of strength are in Central Ontario and Southwestern Ontario. In Central Ontario, they lead with 42%, up five points. The Liberals and NDP have dropped one each to 29% and 17%, respectively. In Southwestern Ontario, they PCs lead with 43% (up 15), while the Liberals follow with 26% (down 15) and the NDP with 22% (down four).

The area of greatest Green strength comes in Northern Ontario, where they have 14% support.

Considering the discontent with the HST and the generally lukewarm attitude Ontarians have towards Dalton McGuinty, who has been in power since 2003 and leader of the Ontario Liberals since 1996, the Progressive Conservatives under their new leader Tim Hudak are really struggling. There is some parallel with the federal situation: a weakly supported government faced with an even weaker opposition.

Monday, June 21, 2010

PQ widens lead

On June 11, Léger Marketing released its poll looking into the provincial voting intentions of Quebecers. While there hasn't been much change since their last poll at the beginning of May, the Parti Québécois has widened its lead to 11 points.The PQ has gained one point and is now at 41%. The Parti libéral du Québec, on the other hand, has dropped one point to 30%.

The Action démocratique du Québec seems to be finally recovering from the fallout after Mario Dumont's resignation. They've gained one point and now have 13% support, generally what Dumont used to have.

Québec solidaire is steady at 8% and the Parti vert is down two to 5%.

The PQ gain comes primarily in Montreal, where the party is up six points to 40%. They lead there. They've also gained one point among francophones (49%) and lead in the "rest of Quebec" with 44%. Those are strong numbers. The only bad point for them in this poll is that they are down eight points to 31% in the Quebec region. They also have only 9% support among non-francophones.

The PLQ is down four points in and around Montreal to 36%, and down one point in the Quebec region to 18%. However, they are up one to 23% among francophones, and have 26% in the "rest of Quebec". They dominant among non-francophones with 64%.

The ADQ is up four points in the Quebec region and are now tied with 31%. It seems they have a very good chance of keeping what they currently have around the capital. At 14% in the RoQ, however, it is unlikely they have a chance outside of their 'fortress'.

The PQ would win 72 seats with this poll, while the PLQ would win 44, the ADQ 7, and QS 2.

Only 20% of Quebecers are satisfied with Jean Charest's government. A staggering 76% are dissatisfied.

Pauline Marois, at 25%, is still the favourite person to be Premier, but that is down one point. Charest is steady at a woeful 18%. Amir Khadir, of QS, is the only leader to out-perform his party with 10%. Gérard Deltell of the ADQ is up two points to 8%.

This poll also looked into whether Quebecers had a good or bad opinion of certain political leaders.

The man who came on top was Pierre Curzi, a PQ MNA who used to be an actor. Fifty-two percent of Quebecers have a good opinion of him, up five points from December 2009. Next was Khadir, who had 50% (up eight). Those were the only ones with 50% or more.

Rounding out the top five are Claude Béchard (PLQ minister who recently returned from cancer treatments) at 42%, Marois at 42%, and Marguerite Blais, a PLQ MNA who used to be a radio host, at 41%.

Other notables: Deltell at 35% (up seven), Bernard Drainville at 34% (up five), and Charest at 24% (down 16!).

Among PLQ voters, Charest's good/bad opinion split is 68-24. But he is the only politician that PLQ voters seem to like, as the next best is Blais (43/9) and Béchard (43/6).

Among PQ voters, the top three were Curzi (82/4), Marois (81/13), and Khadir (71/9). That is a good number for Marois, comparing favourably to Charest.

Interestingly, only one of PLQ voters' top 10 people has over 50%. For the PQ, there are eight figures with over 50%.

This seems to indicate that a lot of PLQ voters aren't enamoured with their party, but feel they have no other options, while PQ voters seem to like their leading lights very much.

While the Liberals should be in government until 2013, it looks like it will be a grim few years for them. But their majority is relatively slim - they need to hope they aren't out-voted by mistake or that a number of MNAs resign.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Léger Poll: 14-pt Bloc Lead

Léger Marketing released a new poll earlier this week, on the voting intentions of Quebecers. The result is no surprise, but further confirms that the Bloc Québécois is on the up-swing.Léger's last poll, at the beginning of May, had the Bloc at 35%, so this 39% is a gain of four points. The Liberals are also doing better, up one point to 25%.

The Conservatives are sinking, down one to 16%. The New Democrats are also pulling back from Léger's high 18% in May, and now stand at 15%. The Greens are down one to 3%.

The major sources of this Bloc gain are among non-francophones, where the Bloc is up nine points to 13%, and more importantly in the Montreal region. There, the Bloc is also up nine to 41%. They lead the Liberals by 12 points there, as they are at 29% (down two).

The Bloc is also up to 45% (two points) among francophones, and holding steady at 39% in the 'rest of Quebec'. They dropped one point in the Quebec region to 32%, but they still lead.

The Liberals did see some gains in the 'rest of Quebec', up five points to 23%. They gained three points among francophones (21%), but lost four among non-francophones (44%).

The Conservatives were relatively steady, dropping or gaining no more than three points in any region or demographic. The gain of two points in the Quebec region puts them at 28%. However, they dropped three points in the 'rest of Quebec' and currently stand at 18%. This potentially puts their seats in the Outaouais, Saguenay and Bas-St-Laurent in danger. Overall, they dropped two points among francophones.

The source of the NDP drop seems to be in Montreal, where the party is down four points to 14%. That certainly isn't news that will make Thomas Mulcair smile. The NDP didn't gain among any demographic or region, and even dropped five points to 14% among non-francophones. They are surprisingly competitive in the Quebec region, however, at 18%.

The Bloc would win 51 seats with this poll, a gain of three on their current crop of 48 MPs. The Liberals would win 16 and the Conservatives would be reduced to six seats. They currently have 11. The NDP would win two.

The moral of the story: the Bloc is doing well. The Liberals are stuck in the low-to-mid-20s, the Conservatives are under-performing, and the NDP look to be competitive in a handful of ridings.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 4.2-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS's newest poll shows the Conservatives at a historic low - but still the Liberals are stagnant. Compared to EKOS's poll last week, 30.5% marks a drop of 0.9 points for the Tories. This is the lowest EKOS has ever had the Conservatives since they've formed government. But the Liberals are still down: 0.5 points to 26.3%. Despite the government's weakness, the Liberals still are unable to make any gains.

The New Democrats, however, are up 0.8 points to 17.4%. That's a good result for them, particularly in an EKOS poll.

The Greens are down 0.3 to 12.3% and the Bloc Québécois is up 1.6 points to 10.5%. "Other" is at 3.0%.

In Ontario, the Liberals have the lead with 35.4% (down one). The Conservatives are also down one, to 31.2%. The NDP is down one to 16.1%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 40.7%, while the Conservatives lead in Ottawa with 45.9%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up six points to 41.9%. The Liberals are up one to 20.3%, while the Conservatives are down two to 14.6%. The NDP is up one to 12.9%. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 38.6%.

In British Columbia, the NDP is up four points to 30.2%, and leads. The Conservatives are down one to 29.9%, while the Liberals are steady at 18.9%. The Greens are down three points to 16.7%. The NDP leads in Vancouver with 33.0%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 37.1%, the Conservatives in the Prairies with 49.2%, and also in Alberta with 57% (up five). The Liberals are down 10 to 13.4% in Alberta.

The Conservatives win 64 seats in West, 33 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 110.

The Liberals win 11 seats in the West and North, 55 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 100.

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

The NDP make a best-ever result, with 20 seats in the West and North, 18 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 44.

In such a situation, it is impossible to imagine that the Conservatives would be able to form a viable government.

But if the opposition wants to form the next government, they have to do more than count on Conservative weakness. No matter how low the Tories are, the Liberals can't be happy with 26.3%. But this poll shows that the G8/20 spending could be taking its toll, as the Conservatives are down to 29.2% in Toronto and are slipping in Ontario as a whole.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NHL Gate Revenues

The National Hockey League is a gate-driven sport. That is, most of its revenue comes from ticket sales and whatever they can sell you inside the arena. Other sports, like the National Football League, rely more heavily on broadcasting fees and the like. Though, of course, they still make a good chunk of change on tickets.

Attendance figures are often used to compare how much local support a team has. But is this an accurate assessment? According to this site, the average ticket for a Toronto Maple Leafs game is $117.49, compared to $35.66 for a ticket in Dallas. Toronto sells out the Air Canada Centre, while the Dallas Stars have averaged 17,215 in attendance, according to the Globe & Mail.

So what does all this mean? The Montreal Canadiens have the biggest arena in the NHL, but their ticket prices average $72.18. How does their revenue compare to Toronto? And the poor Phoenix Coyotes averaged 11,989 people per game, at an average price of $37.45 per ticket.

What I've done is, based on these figures, estimated the total gate revenue for each team in the NHL over 41 home games. In other words, the chart below shows how much money each team made from ticket sales alone. It paints a picture that attendance figures cannot.The Toronto Maple Leafs made an estimated $92.8 million in ticket sales over the regular season, almost $30 million more than the second-best Montreal Canadiens. Incredibly, that is more than five times as much revenue as the Phoenix Coyotes earned.

The Montreal Canadiens made $63.0 million, still about $15 million more than the Stanley Cup finalist, Philadelphia Flyers. And all six Canadian franchises find themselves in the top ten, the Ottawa Senators finishing with $39.5 million in ticket sales.

Edmonton and Calgary, both relatively small markets, had $41.2 million and $47.2 million in ticket sales, respectively.

That compares pretty favourably to $38.9 million in Pittsburgh, where Sidney Crosby plays. Or $33.5 million in Alex Ovechkin's Washington. Or the $33.5 million in the huge Los Angeles market.

You look at the bottom of the list, and see the usual suspects: Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Dallas, the New York Islanders, Atlanta. It's no wonder that these teams are often discussed as potential relocation candidates, and it is a strong condemnation of Gary Bettman's Sun Belt strategy.

It is interesting to note that of all the teams that have been added to the league since 1991, only Ottawa and Minnesota are in the top 15 in ticket sales.

A lot of teams break even by making the playoffs. The amount of money the Montreal Canadians must have made in their three-round run is mind-boggling. Philadelphia and Chicago, too, must have made a lot.

But not every team makes the playoffs. Toronto missed out, but still made $92.8 million in ticket sales - likely more than any other team made in both the regular season and playoffs, with the exception of Montreal.

But Phoenix, with only $18.4 in gate revenue, only played three games in Phoenix. Tampa Bay, Carolina, Dallas, the Islanders, Atlanta, Anaheim, and St. Louis, all teams that made less than $30 million in ticket sales during the regular season, missed out on the playoffs. That means a lot of red ink.

Consider that the salary cap for next season is projected to be about $59 million. That means that every team except Montreal and Toronto needs to earn money through concessions, merchandising, and broadcasting in order to make up the difference.

Now, a lot of money is made inside the arena - as attested by the fact that the $59 million salary cap represents a little more than half of the average team revenue. But we can safely assume that the amount of non-ticket earnings of each team is roughly proportional to ticket sales.

What does this mean for the possible return of hockey to Winnipeg and Quebec? Both of those cities are smaller markets than Edmonton, Calgary, or Ottawa. But let's assume their ticket prices are just a little lower than Ottawa's, the cheapest NHL ticket in Canada.

If Winnipeg manages to sell-out its 15,015-seat MTS Centre, that means $32.0 million in revenue, or 16th in the league. That puts them ahead of franchises like San Jose, New Jersey, St. Louis, and Buffalo.

In Quebec, where the main group pushing for the building of a new arena estimates it will seat 20,014 people, that would equate to gate revenues of $42.7 million, or 8th in the league, putting them ahead of franchises like Edmonton, Chicago, Ottawa, Boston, and Detroit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ipsos-Reid Poll: 8-pt Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid released a new poll on the weekend, and it shows relative stability - though also a small drop for the Liberals.Compared to their last poll at the beginning of May, the Conservatives remain steady at 35%. The Liberals have dropped two to 27% while the New Democrats are stable at 16%.

The Greens are up two to 11% and the Bloc Québécois is holding at 10%.

Of note is that the Liberals lead among women, with 30% to the Tories' 27%. The Conservatives dominate among men, however, 42% to 24%.

In Ontario, the Liberals have taken the lead (38%) with a two point gain. The Conservatives drop three (33%) and the NDP is up two to 18%. Fake Lake?

In Quebec, the Bloc is up six points to 45%, followed by the Liberals at 21% (down two). The Conservatives fall away to 12%, down seven points. The NDP is down two to 11%. While this is a big number for the Bloc, they have been trending upwards across the board.

In British Columbia, the Tories are up four to 46%. The NDP is down four to 20%, the Liberals down five to 17%, and the Greens up five to 14%.

Then we get into very small sample sizes, demonstrated by the Tories' 11-point gain in Atlantic Canada, where they lead with an improbable 44%. The Liberals drop eight to 27% and the NDP drops ten to 15%.

In Alberta, the Tories are up six to 60%, followed by the Liberals (down 12) and the NDP (up seven), who are tied at 15%.

The Conservatives lead in the Prairies with 48%. The NDP is down six to 17% here.

The Conservatives win 75 seats in the West, 35 in Ontario, 3 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada (they smack hard up against the ceiling here) for a total of 126.

The Liberals win 11 in the West and North, 55 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 97.

The Bloc wins 56 seats in Quebec, their best ever.

The NDP wins 8 seats in the West and North, 16 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 29.

Significantly, the Liberal-NDP total is 126 seats - tied with the Conservatives.

But then this brings up the topic of a merger, which Ipsos-Reid has kindly investigated.

According to their findings, it isn't such a hot idea. While only 30% of Canadians nationally think it is a good idea (and 56% think it is a bad idea), the problem is among Liberal and NDP supporters. Liberals don't seem to like the idea: only 37% of them think it is a good idea, while 55% think it is not. NDP supporters like it a little more (44%), but are still, overall, against it (49%).

But we seriously need to question whether any of this merger talk is anything more than that - talk. The Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives were different sides of the same coin, and it made sense for them to merge. The Liberals and NDP are very different. One is, well, a liberal party and the other a social democratic party. Those are not different sides of the same coin.

Of course, it is possible that a merged Liberal Democrat Party would have the same kind of success that the Conservatives did: a significant drop in combined support in their first election, and electoral wins afterwards. But the difference is that, unlike in 2004, a merged Liberal Democratic Party would not be able to depend on vote-splitting and a multitude of parties to keep the main opposition to a minority. There would be a serious risk that the merged party's first election would end in a Conservative majority - which would sort of defeat the point.

The solution is co-operation, like we're seeing in Great Britain. Talk of mergers is silly, the two parties are very different. A great number of Liberals will not vote for a party including the NDP, and a great number of Dippers will not vote for a party that includes the Liberals. We'd likely see a boost in support for the Tories on the one hand and the Greens on the other.

What Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton need to do is talk about possible future co-operation if the Conservatives can't form another viable minority. Perhaps even have an unofficial non-aggression pact, keeping the majority of their electoral attacks reserved for the Tories. Maybe the two parties could even agree not to run candidates in ridings where vote splitting is a real problem. That doesn't mean a riding like Gatineau, where the Liberals and NDP both had over 25%, but ridings like Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, where the Conservatives won with 45% to the NDP's 44%. The Liberals had only 4% support there. In situations like these, the Liberals or NDP could step aside and give the other party a better chance, without seriously hurting their own party's morale.

And a coalition is not the only outcome. If the Liberals and NDP both do well in an election, the Liberals could form a minority government that, with the support of the NDP on individual measures, can easily command a majority. In such a case, the Liberals and NDP would both benefit from the situation without the "spectre" of a coalition. The Liberals would form government and the NDP would be able to work with a party with which it has more in common. And then, when the NDP and Liberals don't see eye-to-eye, the government could look to the Bloc or Conservatives for support.

Co-operation needs to be the slogan of the NDP and Liberals in the next election. Canadians want co-operation. They don't want the kind of bickering, partisan parliament we currently have in Ottawa. And co-operation doesn't mean between the Liberals and NDP only. Just co-operation. Mature, sober decision-making between parties. Ignatieff and Layton just have to talk about co-operation and about improving the tone in Ottawa and the way politics are done. Canadians would be receptive to that, and it leaves the option of either collaboration or coalition on the table.

Monday, June 14, 2010

BC NDP strengthen lead

Angus-Reid recently released a new poll on provincial voting intentions in British Columbia. There isn't much change, but the trend is in the BC New Democrats' favour.Compared to Angus-Reid's last BC poll in mid-April, 46% is a gain of one point for the BC NDP. More importantly, the BC Liberals have dropped three points to 26%. That would be their lowest electoral result since 1986.

The BC Greens are steady at 14% while the BC Conservatives are up three points to 8%.

We can't compare apples to oranges, but the Mustel Group's May BC poll had the BC NDP at 44%, the BC Liberals at 32%, the BC Greens at 13%, and the BC Conservatives at 7%. While we can't compare the results, it does serve to help confirm Angus-Reid's findings.

In Vancouver, the BC NDP leads with 46%. The BC Liberals are at 27% and the Greens are at 15%.

On Vancouver Island, the BC NDP also leads, with 54%. This is their best regional result. The BC Liberals are way behind with 18% while the BC Greens are at 16% there.

In the Interior, the BC NDP leads with 43%, followed more closely by the BC Liberals at 30%. The BC Conservatives are in third here with 16%, their best regional result.

Finally, in the North the BC Liberals have their only lead with 35%. The BC NDP is at 34% here, and the Greens are at 18%.

Still another three years until the next BC election, but a steep hill for Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals to climb. The HST, which seems to be the driving issue against Gordon's government, might be forgotten by 2013.

(Ipsos-Reid's poll from Saturday will get a post either today or tomorrow, while Léger Marketing's Quebec poll released today will also get a look this week.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Projection: 129 CPC, 95 LPC, 51 BQ, 33 NDP

A new projection shows the Conservatives and New Democrats trending upwards, with the Liberals on the down-swing.While the Conservatives are stable at 129 seats, the Liberals have dropped one seat, in Ontario, to 95. The NDP has gained that seat, and they now stand at 33. The Bloc Québécois is steady at 51 seats.

The Conservatives are up 0.1 points to 33.3%, while the Liberals are down 0.4 to 28.0%. The NDP is up 0.2 to 16.8%, while the Greens are down 0.1 to 10.2%.

Starting with Ontario, the Conservatives and Liberals are now tied at 35.6%. The Tories gained 0.1 points to get there, while the Liberals have dropped 0.4. The NDP is up 0.2 to 16.8% and the Greens are down 0.1 to 10.4%.

In Quebec, the Bloc continues a slow crawl upwards, gaining 0.1 points. They now stand at 38.5%. The Liberals are down 0.3 points to 23.1%, while both the Conservatives and NDP are up 0.1 to 17.2% and 12.1%, respectively. The Greens are down 0.1 to 7.4%.

The Conservatives have solidified their lead in British Columbia, with a gain of 0.5 points. They now stand at 36.3%. The NDP is up 0.3 to 26.6%, while the Liberals are down a full point to 22.9%. The Greens are up 0.2 to 12.0%.

The Liberals' only lead (and gain) comes in Atlantic Canada, where they are up 0.5 points to 37.2%. The Conservatives are steady at 32.1% and the NDP is down 0.2 to 23.0%. The Greens are down 0.3 points to 6.1%.

The biggest gain comes in Alberta, where the Conservatives are up 0.6 points to 59.1%. The Liberals are down 0.1 to 16.6% and the NDP is up 0.3 to 11.2%. The Greens are down 0.6 points to 9.9%.

Finally, in the Prairies, the Conservatives are up 0.2 points to 46.4%. The NDP is up 0.4 to 23.1% while the Liberals are down 0.3 points to 22.0%. The Greens are down 0.4 points.

Adding up all of these regional gains and losses, we get gains of 1.5 for the Conservatives, 1.1 for the New Democrats, and 0.1 for the Bloc Québécois. The Greens are down 1.3 and the Liberals lose 1.7. In terms of numbers this doesn't mean anything, but it does give a good indication of who were this projection's winners and losers.

For the Tories, the gain in British Columbia is good news. But their big gain in Alberta is more or less wasted, and they made very little progress in Ontario and Quebec. So, while on the face of it, it looks good for the Conservatives, they aren't doing best where they need to.

For the NDP, they made good gains in the Prairies and British Columbia, important regions for them, as well as a gain in Ontario, where it is hard to gain some ground. But further losses in Atlantic Canada hurt them.

The Bloc is now punching above their 2008 electoral weight, so that is good news for them.

The Liberals, however, suffered important losses. A full point in British Columbia is huge, and 0.4 points in Ontario is also very bad. They are losing ground in Quebec as well, and the gap between them and the Bloc now stands at 15.4 points.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 4.6-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS's weekly poll shows some Conservative weakness and Liberal growth, but nothing spectacular in terms of movement.The Conservative lead has been shrunk to 4.6 points. They are at 31.4%, down 0.3 from last week. A statistically insignificant drop. The Liberals are up 0.6 points, slightly more significant, and stand at 26.8%. The New Democrats are down 0.8 points to 16.6%.

The Greens are up 1.1 to 12.6%, while the Bloc Québécois is at 8.9% and "Other" at a very high 3.8%.

In Ontario, the Liberals have re-taken the lead with a two point gain to 36.1%. The Conservatives drop two to 32.1%. That is a bad number for them. The NDP is stable at 17.1%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 42.9% while the Conservatives lead in Ottawa with 48.4%. The Liberals are down 11 points in the national capital.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down five to 35.8% but still has a dominant lead. The Liberals are down one to 18.9%, a very bad number for them. The Conservatives are up two to 17.2% and the NDP is up one to 12.0%. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 37.2%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives drop three to 30.8%. The NDP and Liberals are down one each, to 26.0% and 19.0%, respectively. The Greens have moved up into third place with a three point gain. They now stand at 20.2%, a terrific result for them. The Conservatives have a slim lead in Vancouver with 27.6%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 34.7% and the Conservatives lead in Alberta with 51.9%. In that province, the Liberals are up six to 22.7% while the NDP is down five to 8.7%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives are up 11 to 49.8%, while the NDP drops five to 22% and the Liberals drop nine to 15.1%.

The Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 34 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 118.

The Liberals win 12 seats in the West and North, 54 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 99.

The Bloc wins 51 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 16 seats in the West and North, 18 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 39.

The Greens win one seat in British Columbia.

A bad poll for the Tories, a relatively good one for the Liberals, NDP, and Greens. With a combined 139 seats, a rainbow coalition of Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens would be possible. With a loss of 25 seats for the Conservatives and gains by all three parties of this coalition, it would be difficult to argue that it would be a "coalition of the losers".

In such a scenario, the Bloc would be in a powerful position - or would they? The RC (rainbow coalition) would have to be smart enough to not invite the Bloc, but also not upset them. So, we'd likely see a budget without any poison pills, and maybe even one or two out-reaches, and the RC government would muddle about for a year or two.

And then it could go one of two ways. On the one hand, support for the government could tank, giving the Bloc reason to defeat it and make gains in Quebec. Perhaps a Conservative majority would be the result. While a government like that would be anathema to the Bloc's social democratic views, it would likely be a boon to sovereigntism in Quebec, just when the Parti Québécois would be set to replace the provincial Liberals.

On the other hand, my gut tells me that this kind of progressive coalition would find support in Quebec, dropping the Bloc to the low-30s in support. This would make the Bloc nervous, and push them towards supporting the government. The RC coalition, knowing that their support in Quebec is one of their lifelines, would not introduce any legislation that would raise the ire of Quebecers and put the Bloc back into a dominant position.

So, it would be a gamble. It could go either way, but what is not a certainty is that the Bloc would be given a "veto". Their relative power would depend entirely on the policies set forth by such a government, and they could turn out to be far more stable than the minorities we've seen under Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May Best Case Scenarios

A new feature of the site, if it can be called a feature, is that at the beginning of each month I look at the best case scenarios for each party. You can look at April's post here.

What I've done is taken each party's best projection result in each region (West, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada), and taken these best results to get a national, best case projection based on polls from last month.

For example, if the Conservatives had their best result in the West in an Angus-Reid poll, their best result in Ontario in a Nanos poll, their best result in Quebec in a Léger poll, and their best result in Atlantic Canada in an EKOS poll, I've taken each of these bests and combined them.

In other words, these projections are the best possible result each party could've gotten had an election taken place in the month of May.

We'll start with the New Democrats.
While 41 seats (and 20.3% of the vote) would be an excellent result for the NDP, this is actually quite a dip from April. Then, their best case scenario was 50 seats. The major benefactor from this NDP dip has been the Conservatives, who would win 125 seats in this scenario rather than 109.

This scenario sees the NDP with 30% support in British Columbia, 13% in Alberta, 20% in the Prairies, 20% in Ontario, 18% in Quebec, and 25% in Atlantic Canada. And, as mentioned, national support of 20.3%.

Despite this drop, this would give the NDP and Liberals 133 seats and gains of four and 15 seats, respectively, compared to a loss of 20 seats for the Conservatives. Coalition of the losers?

Next, the Liberals, who had a gain in seats but a worsening of situation.The Liberals win 116 seats in this best case scenario, three better than in April. But the Conservatives win 13 more seats for 118 in all. This gives them a slight edge over the Liberals.

The 25 seats won by the NDP (down from 35 in April) makes this a trickier situation, but nevertheless 116 seats is a step up.

This best-case-scenario gives the Liberals 32% in British Columbia, 25% in the Prairies and Alberta, 42% in Ontario, 26% in Quebec, and 46% in Atlantic Canada. Their national haul would be 33.8%.

They are still well away from forming a comfortable minority government, which is bad news for the party. Even if all their cards fall right, they still won't win more seats than the Tories.

The good news for them, though, is that the Conservatives have moved away from majority territory.The best case scenario for the Conservatives in May was 148 seats, down 11 from last month's majority result of 159. The NDP benefits most from this, going from 23 seats in the Conservatives' April best-case-scenario to 33.

This result comes from 43% in British Columbia, 61% in Alberta, 48% in the Prairies, 39% in Ontario, 24% in Quebec, and 39% in Atlantic Canada. Their national support would be 38.4% in such a scenario.

One thing this shows is that May was, actually, a bad month for everyone. The numbers worked their magic to steal seats from the Tories, despite having a decent month in terms of polling support. But, of course, a great result in a province is only great if a party's opponents do badly as well. Results need to be looked at as whole, not individually.

The Liberals actually gain a few more seats in this calculation, but the Tories gain more and the Liberals are bumped into second place. And the NDP go down from a historic best to a modest improvement over 2008.

The only positive is from an opposition perspective: the Tories do not look set to win a majority, or even have a chance at one.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Nanos Poll: 6.4-pt Conservative Lead

The new Nanos poll has more wild swings than a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man.Compared to their last poll at the beginning of May, the Conservatives have dropped 1.6 points to 35.6%, which is still not a bad number. The Liberals drop four points to 29.2%, while the New Democrats make a big 4.5-point jump to 20.7%. We rarely see such huge swings from poll to poll.

The Greens are up 1.3 points to 5.1% while the Bloc Québécois is at 9.4%.

In Ontario, the Conservative jump six points to an incredible 43.2%, taking the lead from the Liberals, who must've clubbed a seal as they've dropped eight points to 32.4%. The NDP is up two to 19.1%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up one to 38.6%, while the Liberals are down two to 24.6%. The Conservatives are down five big ones to 19.3% while the NDP is up two to 13.8%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 39.3%, up three. The NDP is up two to 27.6% and the Liberals are down nine to 21.3%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 39.7% (down four). The Conservatives are down four to 34.4% and the NDP is up eight to 25.9%.

In Saskialbertoba, the Conservatives are down 13 points to 41.7%, but lead. The NDP jumps 10 to 23.9%. Nanos continues to bunch Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba together, making it impossible to compare these numbers to any other poll or use them in my projection.

UPDATE: The undecided in this poll is 24.2%, two points up from last month. Not a huge shift, despite the variations in support.

For Alberta and the Prairies, I've used the seat projection at the top of this page.
The Conservatives win 68 seats in the West, 59 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 143.

The Liberals win 13 seats in the West and North, 33 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 82.

The Bloc wins 50 seats in Quebec.

The NDP win 14 seats in the West and North, 14 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 33. You may be wondering why they drop in seats despite being over 20%. But their result in BC is nothing spectacular, the Liberals and Bloc are too strong in Quebec to give them an inch, and gaining a point in Ontario does little when the Conservatives are so high.

An interesting poll with a lot of big numbers, but as usually Nanos stands out from the crowd. They, like Angus-Reid, do not prompt the party names in their questions. This seems to lower the Greens quite a bit, which then makes the other numbers look a little different from what we're used to seeing with EKOS and Harris-Decima. But are the Conservatives really at 43% in Ontario? Are the Greens at 0% in Atlantic Canada? There's nothing especially egregious in this poll, but some of these numbers need to be shaved down a little.

May Polling Averages

Time to look at May's polling. Ten national polls were taken during this month (one more than last month), totaling about 19,840 interviews. Here are the results we get at the national level, with the difference from last month's average in brackets.

Conservatives - 34.6% (+1.6)
Liberals - 27.8% (+0.4)
New Democrats - 16.4% (-0.7)
Greens - 9.6% (-1.2)
Bloc Québécois - 9.6% (+0.1)

The Tories made a decent gain in May, while the Liberals also take a (small) step forward. The NDP, however, after a few months of gains, fall back down below 17%. The Greens see their gains from April slip away, and more.

The seat projection for these results is as follows, with the difference from last month in brackets:

Conservatives - 134 (+7)
Liberals - 91 (-4)
Bloc Québécois - 52 (unchanged)
New Democrats - 31 (-3)
Greens - 0 (unchanged)

The Conservatives win seven more seats than they did last month, inching back up to their 2008 electoral result. The Liberals, on the other hand, have dropped 11 seats in two months. The NDP drops back three seats, but is still up one over their March level.The regional results, with difference from last month in brackets:

BRITISH COLUMBIA (10 polls - about 2,310 people)

Conservatives - 36.8% (+2.0)
New Democrats - 25.9% (-1.3)
Liberals - 22.4% (+0.2)
Greens - 12.6% (-1.3)

The Conservatives make a big, and important, gain in the province. The NDP is down quite a bit, but they are still higher than they were in March. The Liberals are up a bit, but they lost 2.2 points in April.

ALBERTA (9 polls - about 1,790 people)

Conservatives - 55.7% (-1.6)
Liberals - 18.8% (+2.9)
Greens - 10.9% (-1.2)
New Democrats - 10.9% (-0.8)

The Tories take a step backwards, but are still well ahead. The Liberals make a big leap after dropping last month. The NDP also seems to be losing ground, but at least they are now tied with the Greens for third.

PRAIRIES (9 polls - about 1,270 people)

Conservatives - 46.5% (+2.0)
Liberals - 22.1% (-1.0)
New Democrats - 21.4% (+0.1)
Greens - 8.2% (-1.8)

The Conservatives erase their losses from the previous month, while the Liberals lose after a month of good gains. The NDP is stable, but considering they gained 1.1 points last month, that is good news.

The Conservatives take 67 in the West (unchanged since April), while the Liberals win 15 in the West and North (unchanged) and the NDP wins 13 (unchanged).

ONTARIO (10 polls - about 5,920 people)

Conservatives - 37.2% (+2.1)
Liberals - 34.9% (-0.2)
New Democrats - 15.8% (-1.2)
Greens - 10.8% (-0.3)

The Conservatives make a big jump in this battleground province, taking back the lead. After losing 1.4 points, losing only 0.2 this month is better news for the Liberals, but overall it has been a bad 60 days. The NDP is also down.

The Conservatives win 50 seats (up five), the Liberals win 43 (down three, down 10 in the last three months), and the NDP wins 13 (down two).

QUEBEC (10 polls - about 4,440 people)

Bloc Québécois - 38.7% (+0.1)
Liberals - 22.4% (+0.1)
Conservatives - 17.3% (+0.8)
New Democrats - 12.2% (+0.1)
Greens - 7.3% (-1.6)

After a big gain last month, the Bloc consolidated it with a tiny gain in May. The Liberals are up a teeny bit, but are still too low overall. After a loss of 0.6 points last month, the Tories are up 0.8 this month. The NDP are also up a little.

The Bloc takes 52 seats (unchanged), the Liberals take 14 (down one), the Conservatives take 7 (up one) and the NDP win 2 (unchanged).

ATLANTIC CANADA (10 polls - about 1,490 people)

Liberals - 36.9% (+1.0)
Conservatives - 34.7% (+2.4)
New Democrats - 21.4% (-1.1)
Greens - 5.8% (-2.5)

The Liberals gain a point after some modest gains last month. The Conservatives are up big, marking almost five points of gains in two months. The NDP has dropped more than three points in the same time span.

The Liberals win 19 seats (unchanged), the Conservatives win 10 (up one), and the NDP wins 3 (down one).May's big winners are the Conservatives, who saw gains in five regions and had a big bumps in seats. Their only drop was in Alberta, where they can afford it. They had gains of two or more points in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, the Prairies, and British Columbia - all good news.

Next would be the Liberals, who despite everything saw gains in four regions. Their gains in Quebec and British Columbia were insignificant, but so was their drop in Ontario. Their gains in Atlantic Canada and Alberta were of a good size.

The NDP only gain in two regions: Quebec and the Prairies. And both of these were of 0.1 points. Their losses in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and British Columbia (all over 1.0) hurt.

The Bloc only gain 0.1 points, but their lead over the Liberals is huge and they are above their 2008 level. So, good news for them to be treading water.

The Greens had a very bad month. Ironically, it was the month of May. Except in Ontario, all of their losses were greater than 1.2 points.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A CRA-load of polls - two interesting races

Corporate Research Associates, a polling firm in Atlantic Canada, has released a slew of provincial polls for all four Atlantic provinces. Unsurprisingly, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador are dominated by their respective governing parties. But there are some interesting races starting in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

But first, Prince Edward Island, the fiefdom of Robert Ghiz and his Liberal Party.Compared to CRA's last set of polls in February, the Liberals have lost three points but are still way ahead with 61% support. The leaderless Progressive Conservatives are at 27%, up one. The Island New Democrats have gained two points to 8% and the Greens are down one to 3%.

A majority, or 64%, of Prince Edward Islanders are satisfied with the governing of the island, though that is down three from February. Ghiz is the best man to be premier for 47% (down one), compared to 16% for the next leader of the PC Party (down one).

Not much of a race here. The same goes for Newfoundland & Labrador, the domain of Danny Williams and his Progressive Conservatives.Here, the Progressive Conservatives are down five points but still lead with a staggering 75%. The Liberals have gained one but are, oh, still 59 points behind the PCs. The NDP is up three to 8%.

Fully 87% of Newfoundlanders are satisfied with the government. Incredibly, that is down six points! And this isn't a case, as in PEI, where the leader is less popular than the ruling party. Williams is the best man for his job for 79% of Newfoundlanders (down two), while Yvonne Jones of the Liberals is at 11% (up three).

But while the island kingdoms are tranquil, there is more trouble on the mainland. First, New Brunswick, where Liberal leader Shawn Graham is struggling.But he's actually doing better than in February. Perhaps his back-pedaling on the NB Power deal has helped. His party has gained one point and stands at 37%, still five points behind the Progressive Conservatives, who are steady at 42%. The NDP is down two to 16% and the Greens are up one to 5%.

The best news for Graham is that satisfaction is up seven points to 41%. His personal popularity is also up: three points to 28%. More importantly, that pushes him past PC leader David Alward, who is steady at 27%. Roger Duguay of the NDP is at 10%, down one.

Will Graham be able to right the ship before the next election, likely in September of this year? I'm going to have to get cracking on a projection system for the province...

But the most interesting development in this set of CRA polls is from Nova Scotia. There, Darrell Dexter's NDP government has plunged in popular support.The party is down fully nine points to 37%, while the Liberals have gained that much and are now only two points behind the NDP, with 35%. The odd-party out is the Progressive Conservative Party, which is up two points but lagging behind with only 24%. The Greens are down one to 4%.

Satisfaction with the government is down six to 43%, while Dexter's popularity has plummeted by 11 points to 24%. Stephen McNeil of the Liberals is up three to 29%.

The good news for the NDP is that the next election is three or four years away, but could the Liberals return to power in Nova Scotia, which they haven't held since 1999?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 5.5-pt Conservative Lead

Like the cleaning of a house, it never ends: EKOS has its new poll out for this week. The biggest change is a drop for the Conservatives.Compared to last week, the Conservatives are down 2.2 points to 31.7%. The Liberals were not the biggest beneficiary, though they did gain 0.5 points to 26.2%. It was the New Democrats who saw the biggest gain, 0.9 points to 17.4% - a high result for them with EKOS.

The Greens are down 0.4 points to 11.5% and the Bloc Québécois is up 0.9 to 10.3%.

In Ontario, the Tories dropped five points to 34.3%. The Liberals gained three points to 34.2%, while the NDP gained one point to reach 16.8%. Ontario seems to be the major source of the Liberal and Conservative shifts. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 35.6% while the Conservatives are ahead in Ottawa with 39.1%.

In Quebec, the Bloc has gained four points and leads with 40.7%. The Liberals are way behind with 19.6%, down one point. The Conservatives follow with 15.3%, also down one, and the NDP is at 11%, down two. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 42.6%.

In British Columbia, the Tories are up three to 33.6%. The NDP has also gained three points and has 26.9%. The Liberals are down three to 19.8%, while the Greens are stable at 16.8%. The Conservatives lead in Vancouver with 33.9%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 33.6%, down five. The NDP is up seven to 23.4%. The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 54.6% and in the Prairies with 39.4%.

The Conservatives win 62 seats in the West, 44 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 121 - a big drop from the 137 seats the Tories were projected to win in EKOS's poll last week.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West and North, 46 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 94, a gain of seven seats from last week.

The Bloc wins 54 seats in Quebec, thanks to the very low support for the Liberals and Conservatives in the province.

The NDP wins 17 seats in the West and North, 16 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 39, a gain of seven.

With a combined 133 seats, it is possible the Liberals and NDP would be able to form a government. While some might question the legitimacy of two smaller parties forming government, the legitimacy of a government with only 31.7% support is just as questionable, especially considering this would be a drop of six points from 2008.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Forget percentages - what about real votes?

As this blog concentrates on polls, we're always dealing with percentages. Sure, the parties that receive the highest percentage of votes cast wins, but it is those real votes that decide elections. And, they are probably the best barometer of a party's political support over the years.

Case in point. The Conservatives had 37.7% support in the 2008 election, an increase from their 36.3% result in 2006. That would seem to indicate that the Tories had more support in 2008 than they did in 2006.

But in reality, the Conservatives lost about 165,000 votes between 2006 and 2008, a reduction of 3.1%. In fact, all of the parties except the Greens lost actual, flesh and blood support between the 2006 and 2008 elections.

This chart shows the amount of actual votes each party received over the last three elections. As you can see, both the Conservatives and New Democrats saw gains between 2004 and 2006 but losses in 2008. The Liberals and Bloc Québécois lost votes in each election, while the Greens were the only party to show steady growth in the face of ever lower turnout.From 2004 to 2006, the Conservatives found 1.4 million new supporters. Although we can't know exactly how voters shifted from party to party, it appears that about 1/3 of them came from the Liberals, who lost about 500,000 votes. The New Democrats gained about 460,000 new voters, and the Greens about 80,000. The Bloc lost about 130,000 voters.

Those who gained also brought new voters to the fold, as the number of voters grew by 1.2 million between 2004 and 2006. Perhaps the thought of replacing the Liberal government brought people out of their homes on voting day.

However, about 1 million voters who voted in 2006 stayed home in 2008. This caused losses of 165,000 voters for the Conservatives, 845,000 voters for the Liberals, 75,000 for the NDP, and 175,000 for the Bloc. The Greens gained 275,000 new voters. The loss of support for the traditional parties is not completely due to the drop in turnout. Many of those voters actually went to the Greens.

The following chart shows how the growth or decline in support of each party compares to how their support should have changed due to the growth of the electorate.

For example, the Conservatives had 4 million voters in 2004. Based on the growth in the size of the electorate, the Conservatives should have had 4.1 million votes in 2006 if their growth was proportional to the growth in the electorate. Instead, they had 5.4 million votes. Based on the growth in the electorate from 2006 to 2008, the Conservatives should have had 5.5 million votes in 2008. Instead, they had 5.2 million. This demonstrates how the party's growth between 2004 and 2006 was due to voters changing their allegiance, rather than mere population increase. But their fall in 2008 was due to voters leaving the party.For the Liberals, it is easy to see that their drop in support has been far greater than what we could expect. They dropped from 2004 and 2006, and instead of keeping support and going from 4.5 million votes in 2006 to 4.6 million in 2008, they fell to only 3.6 million.

The NDP has been generally stable, growing more or less at the same rate as the population. However, in 2008 they had 144,000 fewer votes than their 2006 result would have predicted.

This also shows how the Greens have consistently out-performed normal growth, going from 664,000 votes in 2006 to 938,000 in 2008 - rather than the 682,000 normal population increase would have given them.

Getting a good portion of the vote is, of course, important. But being able to get 5.2 million Canadians to vote for you, as the Conservatives did in 2008, requires a bit more work. And when we see the Liberal vote drop from 5.0 million in 2004 to 3.6 in 2008, we can see how difficult of a task they have in front of them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Environics Poll: 6-pt CPC Lead - and the Effects of Prompting

Environics has a new poll, and it shows big change from their last poll at the end of February. Some of that can be chalked up to the time between polls - and some of it can be chalked up to a change in methodology. More on that later. But first...The Conservatives have gained five points and are now at 36%. The Liberals are steady at 30%, while the New Democrats are down one to 15%.

The Bloc Québécois is up one to 10% and the Greens are down six to 7%.

In Ontario, the Tories are up seven points and lead with 40%. The Liberals are up three and follow with 35%. The NDP is down two to 14%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up four to 41%, while the Liberals are down four to 24%. The Conservatives are up seven to 19% and the NDP is steady at 12%. The Greens fall away to 1%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 39%, up two. The Liberals follow with 25% (up six) and the NDP is at 24% (up three).

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 46% (up 10). The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 57% (also up 10) and in the Prairies with 47% (down six).

The Conservatives win 69 seats in the West, 54 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 6 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 137.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West and North, 42 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 23 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 96.

The Bloc wins 51 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 10 seats in the West and North, 10 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 24.

Obviously, bad news for the NDP but a significant gain for the Liberals and a relatively status quo situation for the Conservatives.

Now, about the methodology. When Environics last conducted a national poll in February, they prompted the party names when surveying voting intentions. In other words, they asked the survey-takers "If a federal election were held today, would you vote for the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, etc." The party names would be listed and rotated each time a new person was asked.

This time, Environics did not prompt. They simply asked respondents for whom they would vote, without listing party names.

The first method gives people their options, and it makes it easier to say for whom they would vote. The second method requires respondents to be more informed and have an actual idea for whom they want to vote. There is an argument for both sides as to which is more accurate, as the voting ballot itself also "prompts".

So, let's compare these two polls. They should give us an indication of how prompting changes a poll, because instead of comparing two different pollsters, we're comparing one pollster who should use the same methods to find their respondents. Thus, the only variable in this comparison is whether respondents were prompted or not.

First, let's look at the undecideds. In that February prompted poll, undecideds were 11% of the population - a rather low number. In this unprompted poll, undecideds are 27%. Now, perhaps the last three months has made it harder for people to decide. Or, prompting makes otherwise undecideds more decisive.

But what about how it affects each party? Well, we can compare that, too. Obviously, we can't compare the results of that February poll to this May poll without any filter. The change in political climate would have a greater role in any voting intention changes than mere methodology.

So, what I have done is estimate the kind of changes the Environics poll should've shown, assuming they had been consistent with their methodology. This estimate was calculated by taking the EKOS, Angus-Reid, and Harris-Decima polls of late February and comparing them to the EKOS, Angus-Reid, and Harris-Decima polls of late May. We're comparing polls taken at the same time as the two Environics polls, using the change between the average of the three February polls and the three May polls as our guide for estimating how much the Environics poll should have changed.

Between February and May, Conservative average growth was 2.7 points (32.3% to 35.0%), or 8.4%. The Liberals have dropped 3.4 points, or 11.3%. The NDP has hardly changed (17.3% to 17.0%), as has the Bloc (8.3% to 8.7%). The Greens also haven't changed (10.3% to 10.3%).

In other words, if prompting plays no role in polling, then we should see the Conservatives up a little, the Liberals down a little, and the NDP, Bloc, and Greens virtually unchanged. Instead, we see the Conservatives higher than they should be, the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc stable, and the Greens way down.

For the Conservatives, they should have gone from 31% in February to 34% in May. Instead, they are at 36%. The Liberals should have gone from 30% to 27%, but instead they are still at 30%.

And, significantly, the Greens should have remained at 13%. Instead, they've dropped to 7% - almost half of their support in February.

What this shows is that prompting gives a boost to the Green Party more than any other, in conjunction with a lower undecided result. The Liberals and Conservatives don't get more support, but they do get a higher proportion of decided support. This indicates that, in a prompted poll, many undecideds choose the Greens as their "parking spot".

The question remains: which is accurate? History argues that Green results in prompted polls are inflated, and inaccurate. On voting day, the Greens have always gotten fewer votes than the pollsters thought they would.

But the Greens have defied history before.

However, until we finally see a Green electoral result matching their polling results, we will have to side with the historical record.