Thursday, September 30, 2010

Liberals drop in latest Angus-Reid poll

The latest poll from Angus-Reid, released yesterday, shows the Liberals and New Democrats down, with gains going to the Conservatives and Greens.Compared to Angus-Reid's last poll taken on August 10 and 11, the Conservatives have gained one point and stand at 34%. The Liberals are down three to 26%, while the NDP is down one to 18%.

The Greens have gained two points and stand at 11%, with the Bloc Québécois at 10%.

In Ontario, the race is still close with both the Conservatives and Liberals dropping one point to 36% and 33%, respectively. The NDP, contrary to some other polls, is at 19% here (up one). The Greens are unchanged at 11%.

The Bloc leads in Quebec with 38% (up one), followed by the Liberals at 22% (up two) and the Conservatives at 17% (up one). The NDP is down one to 17%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are steady at 39%, with the NDP falling three points to 24%. The Liberals are down seven to 18%, while the Greens are up nine to 17%. These are the types of changes chalked up to low sample size.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 48%, down 17 points from August's ridiculous 65%. The Conservatives follow with 31%, up 13.

The Conservatives are down nine points to 52% in Alberta, followed by the Liberals at 17%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives are up eight to 50%, followed by the NDP at 24% and the Liberals at 19% (down 13).

With this poll, the Conservatives would win 73 seats in the West and North, 48 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, and seven in Atlantic Canada for a total of 135.

The Liberals would win 41 seats in Ontario, 25 in Atlantic Canada, 14 in Quebec, and 11 in the West and North for a total of 91.

The Bloc would win 52 seats in Quebec.

The NDP would win 17 seats in Ontario, 11 in the West, and two in Quebec for a total of 30.

This poll looked at a few other subjects, including the approval and disapproval ratings of the three main party leaders. Stephen Harper's approval/disapproval rating was 25/49, a gap that has negatively grown by three points.

Jack Layton's split is 27% to 37%, a gap that has negatively grown by five points. That is no small amount, and perhaps an indication of how the long-gun registry has hurt him.

Michael Igantieff's split is 15% to 47% - very bad numbers, but the gap has actually grown in a positive way for the Liberal leader. It's only one point, but good news on this front is hard to come by for Ignatieff.

The poll also found that 34% of Canadians support having an election this fall, compared to 44% who oppose it. Interestingly, a small majority of opposition party supporters are in favour of an election this fall, while only 28% of Conservative supporters can say the same thing.

All in all, this is a good poll for the Conservatives. An eight-point gap is much wider than what we've seen in other polls. But they didn't get any stellar regional results - they could be doing better everywhere.

Relatively speaking, this is a good poll for the NDP. But with most other polls showing their support shrinking, this could be just an outlier.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Liberals slide as PQ opens up commanding lead

Angus-Reid's latest provincial poll in Quebec shows the Liberals have dropped significantly, opening up a 14-point gap between them and the Parti Québécois.Compared to Angus-Reid's last poll in August, the Liberals have lost five points and now stand at 26%. The PQ leads with 40%, up one.

The Action Démocratique du Québec is third with 11% (down one) while Québec Solidaire is up two points to 10%. The Greens are at 8%, unchanged, while "others" are up two points to 5%. I imagine that a lot of disgusted Liberal voters are parking their votes there.

With the results of this poll, the Parti Québécois would win 77 seats and form a solid majority government. The Liberals would be reduced to 40 seats, their lowest result since the 1976 election that first brought the PQ to power. The ADQ would win six seats and QS would win two.

There is a lot of bad news in this poll for Jean Charest. Only 17% of Quebecers believe him over Marc Bellemare, the former justice minister who is accusing the premier of meddling in the nomination of judges. A majority, 51%, believe Bellemare while 24% believe neither. And since more people are following the Bastarache inquiry than the Montreal Canadiens or the war in Afghanistan, it just stinks for Charest, no matter how you slice it.

But Quebecers seem to have a bad opinion of politicians in general. Fully 76% think that the performance of politicians has been bad.

Angus-Reid also asks who would be a good person to replace Jean Charest if he stepped down as leader of the Liberals. Opinion is split and "none of the above" or "don't know" are more popular options than any of the individuals listed by Angus-Reid, but Denis Coderre, current federal Liberal MP, is on top with 13%. He is followed by former federal minister and current TV pundit Jean Lapierre at 9% and current provincial minister Nathalie Normandeau with 7%.

Though Pauline Marois' leadership is in no way challenged, the same question was asked about the PQ. Gilles Duceppe finished on top with 19%, but considering his age it is unlikely he will ever become leader of the PQ. Lucien Bouchard, who is even older, garnered 11% support. François Legault, a former PQ MNA, was at 9%. It is interesting to note that both Bouchard and Legault are considered to be on the right-hand side of the political spectrum.

It just keeps getting worse and worse for Jean Charest, both in the inquiry and in the court of public opinion. Yet it needs to be repeated again and again: the next election is three years away.

Ontario Tories on track for best result since Mike Harris

My coverage of the latest poll from Angus-Reid is available on the Globe & Mail.

Please take a look at it there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 New Brunswick Election Results vs. Projection

Last night, New Brunswickers elected a Progressive Conservative majority government, defeating the Liberals and making them the first one-term government in the province's history.

When the ballots were all counted, the Progressive Conservatives won 48.9% of the vote and 42 seats, doubling the size of their caucus from when the writ was dropped. The Liberals held on to only 34.4% of the vote and 13 seats, being reduced to a small rump of an opposition.

No other parties elected an MLA. The New Democrats took 10.4% of the vote, with the Greens taking 4.5% and the People's Alliance 1.2%. Independents took the remaining 0.6%.

In the last week of the campaign, it appears that people turned hard against the Liberal government, with many of the undecideds casting their ballot for David Alward's party, in what was a decent turnout (72.8%, the highest since 1999 and the last PC landslide).

I'm generally pleased with my projection, though not completely content. I did project a solid Progressive Conservative majority, and I was within a whisker of getting all of the second tier party votes absolutely correct. However, I was incorrect in calling an NDP seat win and I over-estimated the strength of the Liberal vote. IBut the polls never had the Liberals as low as 34% and in the last set of polling it appeared that the gap between the two main parties was closing.

As you can see on the chart below, the PC vote actually rebounded very strongly, compared to the polls. I had their daily average at about 44% on the last day of polling, and they picked up five points from there.The Liberals were at about 37%, and they lost three points, though in the end their trend line looks relatively consistent. Remarkably, the NDP, Greens, and People's Alliance held on to their vote very well. They hardly lost any of the support that they had in the polls.

But my call on the seats was off. Instead of 31 seats, the Progressive Conservatives won 42. Instead of 23 seats, the Liberals only won 13. And instead of one seat, the NDP was shut-out. That was a bit of a surprise, as the NDP had run a good campaign and Roger Duguay looked like he had a lot of promise in Tracadie-Sheila. He put up a good fight and finished in second in the riding, but was still about 17 points behind.

However, I did choose the winner and the type of government, which I am happy about. Other projectors had the race much closer than I did, and with the Liberals bucking a trend of re-elected first-term governments, it was a bit of gamble to choose the PCs when it appeared that their support was slipping. Of course, it would have taken a lot of chutzpah to call a landslide of this magnitude.

I am very pleased at how the popular vote turned out - at least for the smaller parties.I was off by about five points for both the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, but it appears that this is how the undecideds split in the last week of the campaign.

I had the Progressive Conservatives at 43.6%, and they ended up with 48.9%, for a disparity of 5.3 points. I had the Liberals at 40.1% and they ended up with 34.4%, a disparity of 5.7 points. I am not happy with those results, but it would have been going out on a limb to have the Liberals at lower than they ever got during the campaign. I under-estimated the PC vote, but I think everyone was surprised at how it turned out.

I nailed the small parties, though. I had the NDP at 10.4%, and they got 10.4%. I had the Greens at 4.3%, and they ended up with 4.5%. And I had the People's Alliance and independents at 1.5%, and they ended up with 1.8%. I am extremely happy with these results, as it is actually a bit more difficult to gauge the support of these smaller parties properly. The model correctly estimated the ability of these parties to keep their vote.

So, what went wrong? Clearly, my estimation of the popular support of the PCs and Liberals was off. I can lay some of the blame on the pollsters, as no one had this result, but a lot of it also has to go on me. I believe I put a bit too much importance on older polls - but it was difficult to base the projection on new ones when so few new ones were available. The last bit of polling from the Corporate Research Associates, the poll that was done for the Telegraph-Journal ending on September 19, was actually not too far off: 46% for the PCs, 36% for the Liberals, 11% for the NDP, 6% for the Greens, and 1% for the People's Alliance. But their larger sample which was given to me personally, and which also ended on September 19, turned out to be far more inaccurate and, in the end, it was a mistake for me to include it.

The seat projection, though, was not the problem.Had my popular vote projection been dead-on, I would have projected 44 seats for the Progressive Conservatives, 10 for the Liberals, and one for the NDP. People would have called me mad, but in the end that would have been remarkably close to the 42/13 split that was the result between the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. I would've gotten the NDP seat wrong, but it was a very tough call considering I had to estimate the NDP's chances of winning one individual riding based on nothing but province-wide numbers.

Now that the results are in, I have to say that I am generally happy with how the projection model operated. The seat projection model was good, but the popular vote model was not. Part of the problem was the lack of polls and the lack of polling in the last week, but for next time I will have to work on a method to estimate support when there are no polls available. But I got the vote right for the small parties, and called a sizable PC majority, so all in all I think my projecting of the 2010 New Brunswick campaign was a qualified success.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NDP plummets in latest Ipsos-Reid poll

In the latest poll from Ipsos-Reid, the New Democrats have shed four points and have sunk to 12%, lower than they've ever been in the last seven months. But it is the Greens who take advantage of the NDP fall.Compared to Ipsos-Reid's last poll, taken between September 8-12, the Conservatives have gained one point and now have 35% support. The Liberals have dropped two to 29%.

The NDP drop has put them in a tie at 12% with the Greens, who have gained three points. The Bloc Québécois is up one point to 11% nationally.

This is a horrendous number for the NDP - but it is impossible to say whether this is a product of the recent long-gun registry issue or simply a matter of the margin of error. Considering that Harris-Decima has also shown NDP weakness of late, perhaps it does have more to do with the LGR.

The Liberals and Conservatives are tied in Ontario with 37%, as the Liberals lose four points and the Conservatives gain as much. The Greens have gained five points and stand at 15%, while the NDP is down four to 11%.

The Bloc is up five points in Quebec and dominates with 44%, followed by the Liberals at 22% (unchanged) and the Conservatives at 16% (down one). The Greens have claimed fourth spot with 11%, while the NDP is down nine (!) to 7%. The Bloc seems to have been boosted by the NDP's slip.

The Conservatives lead in British Columbia but have dropped eight points, standing at 33%. The Liberals are up one to 26% and the NDP is up four to 25%, one of the only good bit of news in this poll for Jack Layton. The Greens are up two to 15% here.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 38%, down ten points. That drop is almost certainly due to the unreasonable 48% Ipsos-Reid had the party at in this region a few weeks ago. The Conservatives follow with 34%.

They lead in Alberta with 57%, while the Liberals are up eight to 25%. This is not the first time we've seen the Liberals riding high in Alberta.

The Tories are up nine to 63% in the Prairies, followed by the NDP at 15% (down eight) and the Liberals at 14% (down six).

With this poll, the Conservatives would win 69 seats in the West and North, 48 in Ontario, nine in Atlantic Canada, and six in Quebec for a total of 132.

The Liberals would win 48 in Ontario, 21 in Atlantic Canada, 15 in the West and North, and 14 in Quebec for a total of 98.

The Bloc would win 55 seats in Quebec, an all-time best for them.

The NDP would be reduced to 11 seats in the West, nine in Ontario, and two in Atlantic Canada for a total of 22. Their relatively strong showing in British Columbia saves the party from eradication.

The Greens win one seat in Ontario.

This is a good poll for the Conservatives, undoubtedly. At 35%, the party is within striking distance (and the MOE) of their 2008 electoral result. They have good numbers in Alberta, the Prairies, and Atlantic Canada, and would probably gladly take this result in Ontario.

It isn't bad for the Liberals either, who are doing well in British Columbia and Alberta, as well as in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

It's a great poll for the Greens and also very good for the Bloc, but it is a disastrous one for the NDP. They would lose their seat in Quebec, many of their seats in Ontario, and be reduced to a rump caucus with extremely little influence. They wouldn't even have enough MPs to help the Conservatives pass legislation, if they were so inclined.

It's too early to panic for the NDP, but a few more polls like this and Mr. Layton will have to start working hard to regain the support of the old CCF base and the new urban social democrats.

308 in the Globe & Mail

I've written a piece for the Globe & Mail, which can be accessed here. It's generally about my projection for the election. Please visit the G&M, read what I have written, and leave your comments there!

Voting Day: Assigned Readings

Today's the day. And the CBC has some profiles on a few ridings to watch tonight.

The Times & Transcript also has a run down of the campaign and things to look for tonight.

For francophone readers, Le Devoir has a summary of the campaign.

But if you live in New Brunswick, the most important thing for you to read is the information on the NB elections site. There, you can find out all you need to know in order to exercise your right to vote today.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mind the Gap

As I've pointed out on several occasions, a full week has passed since the last days of polling. Tomorrow is voting day in New Brunswick - so how can we make an attempt at estimating voting behaviour when almost the last 1/4th of the campaign has not had any polling?

This is not the first time something like this has happened in New Brunswick. Corporate Research Associates has a policy of not polling in the last week of a campaign, and that policy still existed in 2006.

The last CRA poll during the 2006 campaign was taken on September 10th, with the vote taking place on September 18th. It's an identical situation to this electoral campaign: the last day of polling was September 19th, while the vote will be taking place eight days later on September 27th (tomorrow).

In that last CRA poll during the 2006 campaign, the Progressive Conservatives were at 42%. The Liberals were at 44% and the New Democrats were at 10%.

Eight days later, the parties actually got 48%, 47%, and 5%, respectively.

That isn't exactly on the mark. In the end, the PC vote increased by a factor of 1.143 and the Liberal vote by a factor of 1.068. The NDP vote eroded by a factor of 0.5.

Was that a polling error, or the permutations of the final stages of a campaign? The likely answer is a bit of both.

To determine how people will vote tomorrow, based on the last available CRA poll, we could apply the same adjustment that took place during the 2006 campaign. Of course, that campaign had its own issues and flashpoints, and using the 2006 campaign as our only point of data limits the predictive capability of this exercise. In truth, I'd consider that capability to be almost zero. But it is a fun little exercise nevertheless, and gives us a little preview of what could happen tomorrow.The last CRA poll in this campaign (the one I reported on a few days ago encompassing data from both the TJ and CBC polls) had the Progressive Conservatives at 43%, the Liberals at 38%, and the New Democrats at 11%.

Applying the same level of adjustment that took place in 2006, we end up with 49% for the Progressive Conservatives, 41% for the Liberals, and 6% for the New Democrats. Those are convenient numbers, as they leave four percentage points that we can distribute comfortably to the Greens and People's Alliance.

With those levels of support, I project that David Alward's party would win 36 seats and form a majority government. The Liberals would win 19 seats and the New Democrats would win none.

But, again, I ask you to take these numbers with a massive grain of salt. It is much more likely than not that the changes in support in the last week of the campaign will come about differently than they did four years ago.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day Thirty-One: Assigned Readings

The campaign is in its last weekend, so why not some last minute promises? The Liberals will build a new YW-YMCA building in Saint John, while the Progressive Conservatives are pledging a new cruise ship berth in the city.

David Alward has suggested that New Brunswick gain more control over immigration, in the same way that Quebec has. He argues that New Brunswick will be better able to attract and target people with the skill sets the province needs.

Shawn Graham flatters Moncton, but will he still be there in the morning?

Bernard Lord's assessment of Monday's vote. He thinks Team Blue will win.

The Telegraph-Journal summarizes the 2006 election campaign.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trends favour PC majority in New Brunswick

The last polls for the New Brunswick electoral campaign were taken on September 19th. The date of the vote is September 27th. That is a big gap. Things can change in one week of an electoral campaign, particularly if a debate is within that week. The last polls still show a little under 20% of the electorate undecided, so a lot of votes are at play.

I've done two exercises that try to bridge the gap between that last day of polling and the day of the vote. The first takes the trend from the beginning of the campaign to September 19th, and applies it to the last eight non-polled days of the campaign. The second takes the trend over the final week of polling and applies that to the last eight days.

Is this how the vote will turn out on September 27th? It's impossible to know. As far as I am concerned my popular vote projection will be the result on Monday. But this is an interesting look at how the campaign could turn out, based on what has already happened.

We'll start with the campaign-long trend. The Progressive Conservatives started the campaign at 42%, and was last polling at 44%. That is a level of growth of 0.08 points per day. For the Liberals, they started at 41% and ended at 37%, a loss of 0.16 points per day.

The New Democrats went from 10% to 11%, for a growth of 0.04 points per day. The Greens grew at a rate of 0.08 points per day, going from 4% to 6%, while the People's Alliance went from 1% to 1.5%, or an increase of 0.02 points per day.

Obviously, these changes are hardly outside of the margin of error, and most are actually within the margin of error. But this is all the data we have.Extrapolating these rates of growth and decline over the final eight days of the campaign, we end up with 44.6% for the Progressive Conservatives, 35.7% for the Liberals, 11.3% for the New Democrats, 6.6% for the Greens, and 1.7% for the People's Alliance and independents.

That is a wide lead for the PCs, and as you will see below it creates a large David Alward majority government.

The trends over the last seven days of polling, however, were quite different. On September 13th, the Progressive Conservatives were polling at 47.9%, the Liberals at 37.3%, the New Democrats at 9.7%, the Greens at 4.7%, and the People's Alliance at 0.4%. On September 19th, they were polling at 44%, 37%, 11%, 6%, and 1.5%, respectively. That is a rate of growth of 0.19 points per day for the NDP and the Greens and 0.16 points per day for the People's Alliance. The Liberals declined at a rate of 0.04 points per day and the Progressive Conservatives at a rate of 0.56 points per day.Continuing that trend over the final eight days of the campaign, the Progressive Conservatives still end up on top but with only 39.5% of the vote. The Liberals are reduced to 36.7%, while the New Democrats rise to 12.5%. The Greens take 7.5% and the People's Alliance and independents take the last 2.8%.

This demonstrates pretty well how the campaign has played out. Overall, it has been about PC growth and Liberal decline, but the second-half of the campaign has seen the Progressive Conservatives slipping. Which of these two narratives proves to be true will be discovered on September 27th.

In terms of seats, both scenarios end with a Progressive Conservative majority. Using the campaign-long trend, the PCs win 38 seats while the Liberals take only 16. The New Democrats would elect one MLA.

With the trend of the last week, the Progressive Conservatives would still win 31 seats and form a majority government. The Liberals would win 22 seats and the New Democrats would win two.

Either way you slice it, the trends are positive for David Alward. While his vote seems to have been dropping of late, Shawn Graham has not been able to capitalize, and has been slowing sinking since the start of the campaign. Unless something radical has happened in this last week, or if the polls have been completely wrong, we should see a Progressive Conservative majority government elected on Monday night.

Day Thirty: Assigned Readings

The last week day of the campaign. If the old adage is true, New Brunswickers will be sitting around their dinner tables this weekend making their final voting decisions. The vote is on Monday, so if you live in New Brunswick make sure you find out where you can vote.

The Telegraph-Journal summarizes last night's debate. I didn't get to see it, but at least from this report it seems to have been a little more substantive than the two earlier debates. Here's another report on the debate from the Times & Transcript.

The Progressive Conservatives are claiming that the Liberals are spending and promising beyond their platform, while the Liberals are charging that the Progressive Conservative platform is not costed.

Here's a neat analysis of the 2003 New Brunswick election.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will the long-gun registry cost a party seats?

As I'm sure everyone and their mother knows, the plan to scrap the long gun registry was defeated 153-151 last night in the House of Commons. In order for the opposition to get those numbers, however, eight Liberal MPs and six New Democratic MPs had to "flip-flop", voting to keep the registry when they had voted to scrap it in the past.

Every Conservative and their mother immediately threatened these Liberal and NDP MPs with the loss of their seats come election time. In fact, the Conservatives are pushing hard against the MPs in these ridings and plan to do so during the next electoral campaign.

Talk of whether the NDP and Liberals will rue the day they "flip-flopped" was rife in the Ottawa punditry. The Liberals whipped their vote, and rumour is that the NDP put a lot of pressure on some of their MPs to toe the party line, at least those that weren't at a great risk of losing their seats.

But what of the 143 Conservatives who were whipped by their own party to vote to kill the registry? Though the Conservatives do not hold many urban ridings, they do hold some. And if this issue really is about "urban elites" trying to treat hunters as farmers as criminals, than we can expect the Conservatives to take a hit in some of their urban ridings.

So, I decided to take a look at those "flip-flopping" Liberal and NDP seats, as well as a few Conservative urban seats. Are the MPs from these ridings really at risk because of the long-gun registry?

We'll start with the Liberals and their eight MPs who changed their votes.The chart above shows these ridings, in order of risk from low (top) to high (bottom).

Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, represented by long-time Liberal MP Scott Simms, is not at great risk. Simms was re-elected in 2008 with 70% of the vote, followed by the Conservatives at 15%. While the Liberal Party itself grew its vote by 9% between 2006 and 2008 in Newfoundland & Labrador (not points, but growth), Simms saw his support grow by 35%. Though the Conservatives did have strong showings in 2004 (42%) and 2006 (40%), they currently don't have a nominated candidate and it would take a lot of angry people to unseat Simms.

Labrador is also a safe riding. Todd Russell should not be worried - though any riding with such a low turnout is always at risk of a surprise. Here, Russell grew his vote between 2006 and 2008 by 37%, also outperforming the party as a whole in the province. The Conservatives don't have a candidate nominated here, and though they did have 40% support in 2006 in the riding, they were only at 8% (10 points behind the NDP) in 2008.

Madawaska-Restigouche in New Brunswick is another safe riding. Jean-Claude d'Amours, long-time MP for the riding, increased his vote by 1/4th from 2006 to 2008, this while the party as a whole dropped 17% in the province. D'Amours hasn't had a huge majority since 2004, but he is still safely ahead and with a uniform swing we can expect him to get 52% of the vote next time.

Nipissing-Timiskaming is not as safe as the ones above, but is still a good bet for the Liberals. Anthony Rota won the seat with 45% of the vote, holding steady in his riding while the Liberals saw 15% of their vote disappear in Ontario in 2008. With the way things are going in Ontario, I project he could take 47% of the vote with only 29% going to the Conservatives, so he is not at any real risk.

In Yukon, Larry Bagnell has a long history in the riding. And while the Liberals dropped 27% from 2006 to 2008 in the North, Bagnell only saw his vote drop by 6%. The Conservatives haven't been over 33% in the last three elections, and since Bagnell appears to have been able to resist wider change he also appears to be relatively safe.

This is also the case for Scott Andrews in Avalon. This riding was won by the Conservatives in 2006, which makes it ripe for the picking. The Conservative vote did not erode here like it did in the rest of the province, but Andrews did increase his vote share at a higher rate than the party did in Newfoundland & Labrador. With a uniform swing based on the current projection, Andrews should win with 49% to the Conservatives' 37%, but that is not as much of a gap as the other ridings above have.

Malpeque, Wayne Easter's PEI riding, is at risk. The Liberal vote in PEI dropped 9% between 2006 and 2008, but Easter's dropped 12%, from 51% in 2006 to 44% in 2008. The Conservatives were within striking distance at 39%, and Tim Ogilvie is set to try to take the riding for the Tories during the next go. Though my projection would give Easter a 48% to 41% edge, it is still a close one and Malpeque will be a riding the Tories will target.

Finally, the only Liberal riding in serious danger is Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Keith Martin's riding. He only won by a few votes in 2008, after winning close races in 2006 and 2004. He did resist some of the Liberal change in British Columbia (losing 2% rather than the party's 30% vote decrease in the province), but Troy Desouza, who almost took the riding in 2008, will be the Conservative candidate next time. The uniform swing projection gives Martin an easy 42% to 28% win, so the trend is positive, but it is a riding that the Liberals will need to fight for if they want to hold on to it.

The NDP was specifically targeted on this issue as the party was officially allowing its members to vote their conscience. In the end, most of the NDP "flip-floppers" are safe, but two of them will have a big fight on their hands.Peter Stoffer made the news with his press conference, but he is probably the safest of the NDP members who changed their vote. He won with 61% in 2008, crushing the Conservative candidate who had 21%. His vote grew in his Nova Scotia riding while the party's diminished in the province as a whole. He has put together very big vote totals, has resisted outside change, and the projection gives him a 31-point lead. He's safe.

Claude Gravelle in Nickel Belt is also safe. Though his vote in 2008 grew at a lesser rate than the party's did in Ontario, he still had a 47% to 26% lead over the Liberal candidate. The Conservatives have not been a factor here in the last three elections, so there is no reason to think they suddenly will become a factor.

Timmins-James Bay is another safe NDP riding, represented by Charlie Angus. He won it with 57% in 2008, while the Liberals were at 22% and the Conservatives 18%. He has had more than 50% of the vote in the last two elections, while the Conservatives have not managed more than 20%. The projection would give him a 30-point lead, so he is in no danger.

It is a little less safe in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, where Carol Hughes faced stiff Liberal competition in 2008, winning with 46% and taking the riding from them. Her vote grew at a greater rate than the party's in Ontario, and the projection gives her a nine point edge. But, here again, the Conservatives have never been a factor. While this is a relatively safe riding for the NDP, it is at risk of being lost - but to the Liberals.

Sudbury, Glenn Thibeault's riding, is definitely at risk. The NDP vote here has held relatively steady over the last three elections, going from 30% in 2004 to 35% in 2008. It has generally been a Liberal-NDP contest, as it was a Liberal riding prior to 2008. But the Conservatives did put up a 26% number here in 2008, so the next election will definitely be a three-way race between Thibeault, Carol Hartman of the Liberals, and Fred Slade of the Conservatives. The LGR could be the kind of issue that decides such a close contest.

The riding most at risk for the NDP is Welland, represented by Malcolm Allen. It had been a Liberal riding before 2008, when Allen won with 33%. That was only one point ahead of the Conservatives at 32% and five points ahead of the Liberals. Leanna Villella will try to take the riding for the Tories in the next election, and the projection gives her a shot at it. With uniform swing, the NDP would take 31% of the vote, with the Tories and Liberals tied at 29% apiece. So this riding is definitely at play.

All of this hubbub over "flip-flopping" MPs has been about the possibility of Conservative growth. However, the Tories hold several urban ridings, many of which were won by small margins in 2008. That the MPs from these ridings were whipped into scrapping the registry could hurt them.

I've taken a look at a few ridings I believe could be at risk because of the LGR vote, especially if voter displeasure goes both ways.As you can see, at least eight ridings are at play. If the next election is about the LGR, then these ridings will certainly be at risk of going over to the Liberals, NDP, or Bloc Québécois.

Ottawa-Orleans, represented by Royal Galipeau, has seen close races since 2004. Galipeau won in 2008 with 45% to the Liberals' 39%, but his vote grew at a lower rate than the party's did in Ontario. I project a 41% tie here in this riding, which means it could go either way.

Edwin Holder's London West was won by the Conservatives for the first time by only four points in 2008. Doug Ferguson of the Liberals will try to take it back, and with a uniform swing in support he would take it back with 37% to 35%.

Surrey North, represented by Dona Marie Cadman, has been an NDP riding, won by them in 2006 with 46% of the vote. The NDP is projected to take it with 36% to the Conservatives' 32%, so if the LGR becomes an issue it could hurt the Tories here.

It could also hurt them in Kitchener Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo, represented by Stephen Woodworth and Peter Braid, respectively. These were extremely narrow wins in 2008, and both of these ridings have a long prior history of Liberal representation. In both ridings, the former Liberal MPs will be standing again for election, and a uniform vote swing gives them both over to Michael Ignatieff.

Mississauga-Erindale was another close riding, won by Robert Dechert for the Conservatives in 2008. Again, the former Liberal MP will be running in the next election, and with the vote going 43% to 42% in 2008, it will be a very close contest in this Toronto-area riding.

Beauport-Limoilou in Quebec City is one that is expected to fall to the Bloc due to the Conservative drop in support in the province. It was won by small margins in 2006 and 2008, and with the Bloc a champion of the LGR (and support for it higher here than anywhere else in Canada), there is a very big risk of this seat being lost.

Finally, North Vancouver. It is at a very big risk of being lost to the Liberals. It was a Liberal riding in 2006 and 2004, and the gap was only five points in 2008. The Conservative vote grew at a lower rate here than the party's did in the province as a whole, and a uniform swing would give the Liberals an 11-point gap over the Conservatives. So this one is definitely at play.

A political insider once told me that local factors don't account for more than five points. If that's true, my uniform swing projection for each of these ridings would make someone safe only if they hold a 10-point lead.

With this in mind, the only Liberal seat in danger would be Malpeque. The only NDP seats at risk of going over to the Conservatives would be Welland and Sudbury. Three seats in all.

All eight Conservative ridings I've selected would be at risk. In other words, the long-gun registry issue could end up costing the Conservatives five seats, but I wouldn't call it so cut-and-dry as that.

In general terms, every party has something to lose on this issue. Neither the NDP nor the Liberals want to lose their rural representation, as they have too little of it already. But the Conservatives also can't risk losing their urban representation, something they also have very little of.

If this issue divides along urban and rural lines, then the Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats all stand to lose ground in the regions of the country in which they desperately need to make gains.

Race in New Brunswick tightens

The Corporate Research Associates were kind enough to provide me with the results of their last days of polling, incorporating both the CBC/Acadie Nouvelle and Telegraph-Journal survey results from September 16th to September 19th. As it showed a much closer race than either the CBC or last TJ polls had shown, I decided that it must be included in the projection.

I went back and forth on this a little, as this data is not publicly available and requires me to discard the CBC poll and the last set of the TJ weekly tracking poll. As this data is from September 16th to 19th, however, it allows me to use the last full week of TJ polling (September 9th to 15th) and only lose one day of CBC polling. So, in the end, I think it gives me a better shot at an accurate projection for Monday's vote.

Because this data combines the CBC and TJ polls, we get the largest sample size of the electoral campaign - 1,250 people. The result shows that the latest data from Abacus appears to be accurate, as the Progressive Conservatives have taken a step back and lead with only five points over the Liberals.Compared to CRA's last TJ poll, 43% is a drop of three points for the Progressive Conservatives. It is a drop of four points from the CBC poll. The Liberals are up a little, from 36% in the TJ poll and 37% in the CBC poll to 38% in this last set of data. This tells me that in the last few days of polling the race has really gotten closer.

The New Democrats stand at 11% while the Greens are at 6%. The People's Alliance is at 1%.

What's great about the data that CRA provided me is that I have a regional breakdown.

In northern New Brunswick, the Liberals have a slight lead with 44% to the Progressive Conservatives' 40%. Compared to the 2006 election, it appears that both the Liberals and PCs haven't moved too much relative to each other, though both main parties seem to be about five points down. Those 10 points or so are going to the New Democrats and Greens. The NDP is running at about twice as much as they were at in 2006, which bodes well for Roger Duguay in Tracadie-Sheila. The Greens, who were not an active party in 2006, also take their fair share.

Where the Progressive Conservatives seem to have cobbled together their lead is in southern New Brunswick. They appear to be running at about the same level as they were at in 2006, with 49%, while the Liberals are down well over 10 points to 30%. This region seems to be the kingmaker of the election, which explains why Shawn Graham and David Alward have been fighting over Saint John. The New Democrats are, again, running about twice as strongly as they did in 2006, making a seat win in Saint John a possibility. The Greens are also doing well here with 8% support.

Finally, the Liberals have a good lead in the Moncton region with 44%. The Progressive Conservatives are behind at 34%, while the New Democrats are performing well with 15%. This could be a problem for the Progressive Conservatives, as the region has historically been good to them. The Liberals seem to be maintaining their 2003 and 2006 levels of support here, while the NDP is running at about three-to-four times more strongly than they did in 2006. But, of course, the sample size here would be very small and have a large margin of error.

So, with this poll the projection has changed only slightly. The Progressive Conservatives are down to 43.6% but are projected to win a majority with 31 seats (down one seat). The Liberals are up to 40.1%, and are projected to win 23 seats. The New Democrats are at 10.4% and one seat, while the Greens should take 4.3% of the vote. The People's Alliance and independents will take the remaining 1.5%.

With the slight downturn we've seen in Progressive Conservative support of late, I'm a little more comfortable with this projection than the previous one. This election does pose several problems for me, however.

Firstly, there have only been two active pollsters, CRA and Abacus, and the latter only released one province-wide poll. While this has provided me with more data than one would expect for a province of less than one million people, it is still not nearly as much data as we can expect in a federal election.

Secondly, one whole week will pass between the last bit of polling data and election day. Worse still, a debate is scheduled for tonight and the campaign has become particularly nasty in the last few days. When we consider that in the 2008 election there were a lot of changes in the last week of polling (one week before election day, the Conservatives were polling at more than four points lower than their electoral result), it makes it all the more difficult to be confident that the polls will hold steady. That is why I have included some older polls and past elections (though they are not given much weight) to act as a bit of a guide rail.

Hopefully this strategy will prove to be the right one.

Day Twenty-Nine: Assigned Readings

Only four full days before voting day. My sources tell me that we shouldn't expect any more polls, which is unfortunate as it appeared that the gap was starting to close. But I'm comfortable with the projection as it currently stands, so I feel ready for Monday.

In the run up to that day, CBC reports that Saint-John is becoming a key battleground between the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives - but don't forget the New Democrats.

Alward is reckless while Graham is a liar. Stay classy, New Brunswick!

The last debate, a round table featuring Shawn Graham, David Alward, and Roger Duguay, will be broadcast tonight on CTV. With only a few days to go and fewer than 20% of New Brunswickers undecided, this could be a key moment in the campaign.

L'Étoile provides a very good summary of the campaign so far, and what's at stake for Monday (in French).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Liberals gain in new projection

ThreeHundredEight's new projection shows modest gains for the Liberals, mostly at the expense of the New Democrats and Bloc Québécois.It has been a little over a month since my last projection update, and accordingly a lot of new polls have been added. Despite that, the Conservatives remain unchanged with 129 seats and 33.8% of the vote. But while they are standing still, the Liberals are moving forward.

They have gained 0.7 points and now have 29% at the national level. They've picked up two seats and are up to 96.

The Bloc has dropped a seat and 0.1 points, and now stand at 9.8% of the vote and 51 seats.

The New Democrats have dropped 0.3 points to 16% and have lost one seat, dropping to 32.

The Greens are down 0.2 points to 9%.

Now while it appears that only two seats have changed hands, the fact is that there have been seats changes in almost every part of the country.

The two exceptions are in the North and British Columbia. In the North, the Liberals have picked up 0.2 points and are at 33.3%. The Conservatives are steady at 30.2% while the NDP is down 0.2 points to 26.9%. The Greens are down 0.1 to 8%. The Liberals are still projected to win two seats here, while the Conservatives win one.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 36.5% (down 0.4), followed by the NDP at 26.1% (down 0.4) and the Liberals at 23.7% (up 1.1). That is a big gain for Michael Ignatieff, the largest in any region in this projection. Elizabeth May's Greens are holding steady at 11.9%. The Conservatives are projected to win 19 seats here, while the NDP would win nine and the Liberals eight.

In Alberta, the Conservatives have picked up 0.1 points and now lead with 59.9%, but have lost one seat to the Liberals, who are up 0.8 points to 17.3%. Though it will be a surprise for the Liberals to elect someone in Alberta, it cannot be ignored that the Liberals have increased their support here by 50%, and are higher than they were in either the 2006 or 2008 elections. As regular readers of this blog know, I do not make projections at the riding level (yet). But this Liberal win could come in Edmonton Centre, where the party was only 14 points behind the Conservative candidate in 2008, and where a uniform swing makes a seat gain plausible. The NDP is down 0.5 points to 10.9% and the Greens are down 0.6 points to 9.2%. That is the Green Party's biggest regional loss in this update.

On to the Prairies, where the Conservatives have picked up a seat from the NDP, and are now projected to win 21 seats. However, they have also lost 0.4 points and now lead with 46%. The NDP is up 0.8 points to 24.1% (three seats), while the Liberals are down 0.2 to 21.6% (four seats). The reason for the NDP seat loss despite having a gain in support is because of a small change I've made to the projection model. The Greens are down 0.2 to 6.5%.

The Conservatives have gained 0.3 points in Ontario and lead with 35.5%. They're projected to win 46 seats, unchanged from the last projection update. The Liberals are up even more, gaining 0.8 points. They are now at 35.3%, only a little behind the Tories. They are projected to win 46 seats, one more than in August. The NDP is down 0.5 points to 16.9% and is slated to win 14 seats, down one. The Greens are down 0.3 points to 10.5%.

The Bloc has dropped a seat and 0.2 points in Quebec, and now stand at 51 seats and 39.1% of the vote. The Conservatives have taken advantage of the drop, jumping 0.4 points to 17% and one seat to seven. The Liberals are up 0.5 points to 23.6% and remain unchanged at 15 seats. The NDP is stable at 11.9% and two seats, while the Greens are down 0.2 to 7%.

Finally, in Atlantic Canada the Liberals are up 0.1 points to 38.4%, and are projected to win 20 seats. The Conservatives have dropped 0.6 points and one seat, and are now projected to win eight seats and 31.3% of the vote. The NDP has picked up the seat and now looks to elect four MPs, while taking 22.4% of the vote (up 0.4). The Greens are unchanged at 6.2%.

Clearly, the Liberals are the winners of this update. They're up two seats and almost a full percentage point. Their net gain in the seven regions is 3.3 points, a very good sign of improvement in virtually every part of the country.

The Conservatives can be content that they have remained stable, but their net loss of 0.6 points is a problem. They've lost ground in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, though they have gained in Ontario and Quebec. In short, it's a mixed bag for the government, but their position has become worse relative to the Liberals.

The Bloc lost one seat and 0.2 points, both bad bits of news, but they are still well ahead of the Liberals and Conservatives in Quebec.

The NDP has lost a seat and are down a net 0.4 points, which is a problem. They are down in British Columbia and Ontario, two regions that are extremely important for their electoral future. However, they seem to be on the upswing in Atlantic Canada after some very bad months of polling.

Finally, the Greens seem to have had the worst time of it, as their net loss was of 1.4 points. They didn't make any headway anywhere, their best news being no change in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada.

Generally speaking, this electoral result would not change much in the House of Commons. The Conservatives would have a much reduced caucus, but would still have a plurality of seats and more seats than the combined totals of the Liberals and New Democrats. They are also in a sweet spot where they would need the support of only one opposition party to get legislation passed or to survive non-confidence motions. In other words, while the Liberals and Bloc would have been boosted from their present standing at the expense of the Conservatives (and NDP), the opposition would not be any nearer to toppling Stephen Harper's government.

Manitoba PCs set to win majority

As I've been informed that the Corporate Research Associates do not poll in the last week of an electoral campaign, it appears that our unexpected but welcome bounty of New Brunswick polling has come to an end. It remains to be seen whether Abacus's poll from yesterday (which was reported on in the Telegraph-Journal today) will be the last of the campaign.

So, instead we have a poll from Angus-Reid on the provincial political situation in Manitoba. It looks like there could be a change of government when the next election rolls around in October 2011.But compared to Angus-Reid's last poll in June, there hasn't been much of a change. The Progressive Conservatives under Hugh McFadyen have gained one point and stand at 49%. The New Democrats, under Premier Greg Selinger, have lost two points and are down to 34%. That is a large 15-point gap, far larger than the 10-point gap that re-elected the NDP under Gary Doer in 2007.

Jon Gerrard's Liberals are stuck at 12%, while the Greens are up one to 4%.

As is the case at the federal level with the Conservative Party, the Progressive Conservatives in Manitoba have a big lead among men (53% to 34%), but the race is much closer among women (45% to 35%).

The race is close in the provincial capital, with the Progressive Conservatives edging out the New Democrats 42% to 41%. The Liberals are well behind at 13%.

But in rural Manitoba, the Progressive Conservatives dominate. They lead with 59%, while the NDP lags behind with 26%.

With this poll, the Progressive Conservatives would win a majority government with 34 seats. The New Democrats would form the Official Opposition with 22 seats, while the Liberals would elect only one MLA.

While the Liberals have gained no ground since 2007, there has been a lot of movement at the top between the PCs and the NDP. The NDP has lost about 14 points, which is a serious personal indictment of Greg Selinger. Gary Doer was well liked in the province, but the NDP has tanked since he went off to become ambassador to the United States. The Progressive Conservatives are really flying high, especially when you consider that the party has never had this much support since the 1977 election.

With only a year to go, it appears that the New Democrats will not be re-elected to a fourth consecutive term. But, as always, things can change in a heartbeat in politics.

Day Twenty-Eight: Assigned Readings

Oddly enough, it appears that the Telegraph-Journal did not publish any polling data from the Corporate Research Associates today. They've done it throughout the campaign, but instead today are trumpeting the poll I told you about that was produced by Abacus Data.

They are, however, comparing the two polls in this article here. It seems relatively straight forward that since Abacus polled over a few days and CRA polled over seven days that the results would be different - along with the fact that two different polling firms will always come to different conclusions when the margin of error is about four points.

From the CBC, we have a piece by Donald Savoie, saying that New Brunswickers have some tough choices ahead of them but that the two main parties are not telling them the truth.

Instead, they appear to be hurling accusations and insults at one another over senior care.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Long-Gun Registry and Conservative Votes

So, tomorrow is the big day, and if the count is right the long-run registry will still be alive on Thursday - but it will come down to the wire and a handful of votes. The Conservatives are using the issue to hit the NDP over the head for their "flip-flopping" on the registry. It's considered to be a good financing tool and a way to rev-up the base, and some pundits have claimed that having the LGR still around is good for the Conservative Party's electoral chances, particularly as it appears to have weakened the NDP. But are there new votes to get on this issue?

Two polls have come out recently that look at how Canadians feel about the long-gun registry. One is by Angus-Reid and the other is by Harris-Decima. They have very come up with different results, as Angus-Reid has found that 46% of Canadians support scrapping the registry, compared to 40% who oppose scraping it. They also found that while urban Canadians are more likely to want to keep the registry around, still 36% of rural Canadians felt it shouldn't be scrapped.

But then Harris-Decima comes along today, finding that only 38% of Canadians think scrapping the registry is a good idea, compared to 48% who think it is a bad idea. Interestingly, Harris-Decima found that 58% of Conservatives supporters are against the long-gun registry. For the NDP, the party particularly targeted on the issue, only 29% of their supporters are in favour of abolishing the registry.

So it is pretty difficult to reconcile these two polls. They ask slightly different questions, so the difference might lie in there somewhere. But if we average these two out, we get 42% for scrapping and 44% against scrapping. In other words, the country is split.

And the Conservatives are trying to exploit that split. Is that a good idea? The following chart compares Conservative support in 2008 and in the current projection (not the one at the top of the page, the one in my own model with all the latest polls) with support for abolishing the registry in both the Harris-Decima and Angus-Reid polls.As you can see, if we listen to Angus-Reid there are a lot of votes the Conservatives can get on this issue. If we listen to Harris-Decima, there aren't as many.

Out West, this is definitely a vote getter, particularly in the Prairies where both the AR and HD polls show higher support for abolishing the registry than the Conservatives received votes in 2008. But, the party is already almost maxed out in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In British Columbia, where there is room for some growth, AR tells us that the Conservatives have much to gain - as much 10 points more than in 2008 and 17 points more than their current level of support in the province. But HD tells us that those people are are currently telling people they will support the Tories are almost equal in number to those who want the registry scrapped. This is the province with the most troublesome variance, and also the only real battleground west of Ontario.

In Alberta, the party is maxed out and won't lose any seats because of the registry, even if only 52% of Albertans want it scrapped (according to HD). If 69% of it want it scrapped, as AR argues, then the Conservatives have some room for growth but only one Edmonton seat out of their current clutches.

In Ontario, it appears that support for abolishing the registry could have only limited gains for the party. While 44% in the AR poll are for abolishing it, 36% in the HD poll feel the same way. While the former result is much more support than the party got in 2008 or is polling at currently, the latter result is lower than their 2008 electoral score. So there is a risk that the party is running in Ontario - their support for abolishing the registry could backfire on the Tories.

In Quebec, it seems clear that about 30% are for abolishing the registry, lower than anywhere else in the country. While that would be a stellar score for the Conservatives, it seems unlikely that, based on Quebec's electoral history, this will be a factor driving many Quebecers to the Tory blue.

It gets far more interesting for the Conservatives in Atlantic Canada, where about 44% are for abolishing the registry. That is far greater than the 29% the party had here in 2008 and the 31% they are currently getting in the polls. There is a chance that the party has some room for growth here because of the registry - but if a lot of this support is coming in the rural parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where the Conservatives are already strong, or in Newfoundland where the mood of Danny Williams can change an election, the prospects for Conservative growth become slim.

Clearly, while the registry can be a vote winner out West and potentially in Atlantic Canada, there isn't much room for Conservative growth. So the Tory pandering to their base on this issue will probably not provide many returns. Considering that the path to a Tory majority lies in the urban parts of the country (which AR found is split on the issue to a greater extent than rural Canadians), their hubbub over the long-gun registry is not going to do them many favours.

PQ and BQ comfortably ahead in Quebec

Léger Marketing (PDF), working with Le Devoir, recently released a new poll on federal and provincial voting intentions in Quebec. Both show the sovereigntist parties fully in control, but right-of-centre support growing in the Quebec City region.Compared to Léger's last poll taken in mid-August, the Bloc Québécois has lost one point but still leads with 36%. The Liberals are down two to 22% while the Conservatives are up two to 21%.

The New Democrats have gained four points and now stand at 17%, compared to 3% for the Greens (down four).

The Bloc's losses came primarily among non-francophones and in the parts of Quebec outside of the two largest cities. They still lead among francophones with 43% (down one), in Montreal (34%), and in the rest of Quebec (39%, down four).

The Liberals were stagnant everywhere in the province, and are only supported by 17% of francophone Quebecers. They still have the support of 46% of non-francophones and are running second in Montreal (28%). They've lost three points in the rest of Quebec and stand at 17% there.

The Conservatives made gains, particularly among non-francophones, where they are up nine points to 29%. They also lead in Quebec City with 37% (up four) and have gained seven points in the rest of Quebec (24%). They are running second among francophones with 19% (up one).

The NDP is up three points among both francophones and non-francophones, with 17% and 14%, respectively. They've jumped five points in Montreal and are at 18%, but are well behind in Quebec City and the rest of the province.

In terms of in who Quebecers place their confidence, Gilles Duceppe leads with 27%. Jack Layton follows with 24%, while Stephen Harper (17%) and Michael Ignatieff (10%) are well behind. Out of those who did not respond with "none of the above" or "I don't know", Gilles Duceppe has the support 34% while Layton is at 30%. Harper (21%) and Ignatieff (13%) are not nearly as popular. This shows, however, that there is room for growth for the NDP and that Michael Ignatieff is still not nearly as popular as his own party in the province.

This poll would give the Bloc 50 seats in Quebec, compared to 14 for the Liberals, nine for the Conservatives, and two for the NDP. In other words, not all that different from what the situation is in Quebec right now.

As for the provincial poll, the gap between the Parti Québécois and the Liberals (PLQ) has shrunk to eight points, but the changes since August are well within the margin of error.The PQ still leads with 40%, down one from last month. The Liberals are up one to 32%.

In third place is Québec Solidaire with 11%, up two. That is a very high mark for the party, and it is interesting to note that 51% of Quebecers support sovereigntist parties, though of course QS is seen as more of a social democratic (veering towards socialist) party.

The Action Démocratique du Québec is up one to 10% while the Greens (PVQ) are down one to 6%. They currently don't have a leader as Guy Rainville has decided to step down.

The PQ's losses came primarily among francophones (down three to 48%) and in the rest of Quebec (down four to 44%), groups that overlap. They are leading in Montreal (37%) and Quebec City (34%), however, which is very good news for the party.

The PLQ is up and down throughout the province, gaining three points among francophones (24%) but losing three among non-francophones (63%). They are up in the rest of Quebec to 28% (up three) but down three in Quebec City (25%). They are close behind in Montreal with 36%.

QS is up four points each in Montreal (12%), Quebec City (11%), and the rest of Quebec (10%), but dropped eight points among non-francophones.

The ADQ was stable throughout the province except in Quebec City, where they are up five to 28% and within striking distance of the PQ. That is, really, the only good news for the party.

Pauline Marois is considered the best leader for premier, with 22% (up two). Jean Charest is up one to 19% while Amir Khadir (QS) and Gérard Deltell (ADQ) are down one each to 11% and 7%, respectively. Taking out the very large "none of the above" portion, Marois is bumped up to 36% while Charest would be at 31%.

This poll would give the PQ a majority with 70 seats, against a Liberal opposition of 48 seats. The ADQ would elect five MNAs while QS would elect two.

Anything to take from this poll? More or less it is the status quo in the province, though there is some good news for the Conservatives - relatively speaking. A couple polls have put them back up to their 2008 levels of support which, considering how the last two years have gone for the party in Quebec, is very good news for Stephen Harper.

HD poll shows leaders stable, NDP slips

Harris-Decima's latest poll shows no change for the Conservatives and Liberals since August, but a drop in support for the New Democrats. The pollster suggests that this is related to the long-gun registry and Jack Layton's reluctance to whip his caucus, and they have some proof to back that up.But first, the raw numbers. The Conservatives and Liberals are unchanged at 33% and 30%, respectively. It's a close race, made closer by the margin of error (though the gap is larger than the MOE). The New Democrats are down two points, however, to only 14% - a very low number for them.

The Greens are up one to 11%, while the Bloc Québécois is up one to 10%.

As to the long-gun registry, the NDP vote seems to have slipped mostly among women and urban voters, exactly who you would expect to be upset with the NDP's fence-sitting position on this issue. And to provide some context as to how bad this 14% is, this is the lowest national number the NDP currently has in my projection.

Speaking of which, with the New Brunswick election in full swing I haven't had the time to update the site's federal projection. I will try to do it this week, but it may wait until after the New Brunswick election takes place on September 27th.

The Liberals are leading in Ontario with 37%, up one from August. The Conservatives are unchanged at 35%, but the NDP is down four big points to 14%. The Greens are up two to 12%. The race is a close one in Ontario, but any lead for the Liberals is certainly good news. If we buy that the NDP is hurting because of the registry, we can expect the Liberals to be benefiting.

The Bloc is up one in Quebec and leads with 38%, followed by the Liberals at 25% (up three). The Conservatives are down one to 14%, indicating that perhaps the arena-funding in Quebec City is not all that it is cracked up to be in the polls. The NDP is unchanged at 9% in the province.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up five points to 37%, followed by the Liberals at 27% (up six). The NDP have taken a huge step backwards on the West Coast, dropping 10 points to 20%. In a smaller poll a drop like that might be suspicious, but recall that Harris-Decima polled more than 2,000 people nationally.

The Liberals are down 11 points in Atlantic Canada but still lead with 34%. The Conservatives are up five to 33%, while the NDP is up the same amount to 23%.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 61%, followed by the Liberals at a very good 21%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives lead with 42% while the Liberals and NDP are deadlocked with 24% and 23%, respectively.

With this poll, the Conservatives would win 68 seats in the West and North, 43 in Ontario, 10 in Atlantic Canada, and five in Quebec for a total of 126.

The Liberals would win 51 seats in Ontario, 21 in the West and North, 18 in Atlantic Canada, and 17 in Quebec for a total of 107.

The Bloc would win 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP is hit hard in this poll, and would win only 12 seats in Ontario, six in the West, and four in Atlantic Canada for a total of 22.

The result matches the 2006 election pretty closely.

If this poll is to be believed, the long-gun registry may be just the thing the Liberals need to separate themselves from the NDP as an alternative to the Conservative government. The Liberals are clearly benefiting in Ontario and British Columbia, two regions that are integral to their electoral hopes. The Conservatives don't seem to be the beneficiary directly, however, though they might certainly benefit from vote splitting at the riding level.

This new storyline in the polls needs to be borne out by a few others before we can definitively say that the optics have hurt the NDP. In all likelihood, Jack Layton's efforts will prove to be successful and the registry will survive for the time being. But being exposed as a social democratic party with some less than progressive policy positions will hurt the party no matter what happens at the vote tomorrow.

Two NB polls tell slightly different story

We are blessed today to have two New Brunswick polls from two different polling firms. We've heard of Abacus Data before when that poll of francophone New Brunswick was released, but this is the first province-wide poll we've seen from them. It adds another data point to the projection and gives us something that helps us to confirm, or refute, the daily polling of the Corporate Research Associates.

We'll start with the latter's poll, which shows a widening gap between the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals.The Progressive Conservatives have gained one point and now stand at 46%. The Liberals are down one point to 36%, their lowest number in the campaign so far. The New Democrats are up one to 11%, their highest number but one they've been at before.

The Greens and People's Alliance are unchanged at 6% and 1%, respectively.

The number of undecideds continues to reduce, and is now at 20% of the electorate.

David Alward has reached his own personal high, with 32% of New Brunswickers saying he is the best man for the premiership. That's up three points from yesterday, and represents about 47% of decideds. Shawn Graham, meanwhile, is down two points to 24%, or 35% of decideds.

Roger Duguay is at 6%, up one, while Jack MacDougall is at 5%, also up one. Kris Austin is unchanged at 1%.

Now the poll from Abacus, which shows the race as being far closer than what CRA has found recently.However, this poll still confirms some of what we've seen elsewhere, and with the margin of error we're talking about the same result. That's good, as we had no way of verifying CRA's polling.

Abacus has the Progressive Conservatives at 42%, four points ahead of the Liberals at 38%. The New Democrats are at 11%, while the Greens are at 6% and the People's Alliance is at 2%. Abacus found that 17% of the electorate is undecided.

This poll also looked at the opinions of New Brunswickers on Shawn Graham's now abandoned idea of selling NB Power. Fully 61% disagreed (either somewhat or strongly) with the decision, compared to only 28% who agreed. Abacus also looked at whether this was a factor in their decision on how they would vote, and it was for about a third of New Brunswickers. So, undoubtedly it is one of the things driving the Liberal struggle.

In terms of seats, the CRA poll would give the Progressive Conservatives 38, the Liberals 16, and the New Democrats one. A solid, comfortable majority - which is also the result that would come from the Abacus poll: 32 PC seats, 22 Liberal seats, and one New Democrat. Though Abacus has a closer race, in either case the Progressive Conservatives are still in a good spot.

As for the projection, I have given Abacus Data an accuracy weight of 0.50, as they are a new pollster (CRA has a weight of 1.21). After the New Brunswick election, I will be able to give them a rating based on how close they end up calling the vote.

With the addition of these two polls, the Progressive Conservatives gain a seat and are now at 32. The Liberals lose a seat and are down to 22, while the New Democrats remain at one MLA.

For the popular vote, the Progressive Conservatives are unchanged at 44.5%, but the Liberals are down 0.6 to 39.5%. The New Democrats are up 0.3 points to 10.0% and the Greens are up 0.1 to 4.3%. The People's Alliance and independents are up 0.1 to 1.6%.

Without another poll from Abacus to determine a trend, we can't say that the Abacus poll refutes the findings from CRA, who show a significant lead for the PCs and one that is relatively stable. Abacus shows a lead outside of the MOE for David Alward, but a closer race. What Abacus does confirm is the level of support for the second and third tier parties and that the Liberals are well below where they need to be to avoid being the province's first one-term government.

Day Twenty-Seven: Assigned Readings

According to a CBC/CRA poll, 57% of New Brunswickers support the idea of reforming municipal government, something David Alward has proposed but for which he has also been criticized.

However, not from this article in the Telegraph-Journal, which supports Alward's plan.

The New Democrats have presented their platform, and it is based around the idea of fiscal responsibility.

Meanwhile, Alward and Graham trade barbs.

The Times & Transcript reports that advanced voting is on the same track as the 2006 election, when turnout was about 68%.

Monday, September 20, 2010

August Best Case Scenarios

With the hubbub of the New Brunswick election, I didn't get a chance to calculate the best case scenarios for August. This month shows better best case scenarios for each party than what was possible in July.

These best case scenarios calculate each party's best projection result last month in each region (West, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada).

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 last month, based on the available polling data.

For the New Democrats, their best case scenario in August is better than that of July for two reasons: A) more seats, and B) more political clout.With 18.4% of the vote, the NDP would win 46 seats, a new record for the party. Almost half (20) of these seats came from Ontario, while 19 were won in West, two in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada.

While this is only two more seats than the party could have won in July, it is a much better situation as last month the combined totals of the Liberals and NDP did not outnumber the Conservatives. Now, with 140 seats between them, the Liberals and NDP would have the ability to cobble something together.

As for the Liberals, their best case scenario is the thing the party has been hoping for since being defeated in 2006: a return to government.With 35.1% of the vote, the Liberals would elect 127 MPs and form a minority government. The Conservatives would elect only 111 MPs while the NDP would be reduced to 19.

The Liberals win 59 seats in Ontario, 27 in Atlantic Canada, 22 in the West and North, and 19 in Quebec. This is 15 seats better than last month.

It's generally the same size of caucus that Paul Martin won in 2004, but the problem is that the Liberals would need to rely on the support of either the Bloc Quebecois or the Conservatives to get legislation passed - something Martin had to deal with as well.

For the Tories, their best case scenario is only marginally better than July's, but more importantly does not give Stephen Harper his sought after majority.Instead, with 38.2% of the vote, his caucus is increased to 148 seats (six more than July's best case). The Liberals would elect 87 MPs and the NDP would elect 23, while the Bloc would be at 50.

The Conservatives win 76 seats in the West and North, 55 in Ontario, nine in Atlantic Canada, and eight in Quebec. It ensures that their minority government survives for a few more sessions, but probably tests the patience of the Conservative Party for their three-time minority leader.

This month's best case scenarios show that there is still something for all of the parties to go for, but that the Conservatives are no longer dominant. An increased minority would not be a bad outcome for the Conservatives, but another minority government is not what the party is looking for. For the NDP, increasing to 46 MPs would be a great boon to the party, and being capable of forming a coalition with a plurality of seats would give them huge political clout. But as the scenarios for the other parties show, there is a risk that the NDP could be reduced to half of their current size.

Undoubtedly, this month's best case scenario is the best news for the Liberal Party. It shows that they are capable of winning a clear minority, and forming government. In prior months the Liberal best case scenario was always a tiny minority or a runner-up finish. Winning this amount of seats was good enough for Paul Martin in 2004 and Stephen Harper in 2006, so there's no reason to think it wouldn't be good enough for Michael Ignatieff in 2010 or 2011.

BC New Democrats still in front

Earlier this month, the Mustel Group released a new poll on the provincial situation in British Columbia. We haven't heard from them since May, but it appears that very little has changed over the summer on the West Coast.Compared to that May poll, the BC New Democrats have lost two points and now stand at 42%. The BC Liberals are up one to 33%. Of course, these small variations are well within the margin of error, so we might as well say that both parties held firm during the last four months.

The BC Greens have dropped one to 12% while the BC Conservatives are up four to 11%. They seem to have benefited from the lack of options among the two front-runners, as the BC NDP has not been entirely inspiring in the opposition.

Nevertheless, the New Democrats lead in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, but are running neck-and-neck with the BC Liberals in the Vancouver suburbs and the BC Interior.

The BC New Democrats would win 58 seats with this poll, while the BC Liberals would form the opposition with 27.

Generally speaking, the opinions British Columbians have of Gordon Campbell and Carole James have been improving. In May, 40% of British Columbians approved of Ms. James' performance as leader of the NDP, while 36% disapproved. Her disapproval rating is unchanged four months later, but her approval rating is up a little to 42%.

Campbell's approval rating was an abysmal 28% in May, while his disapproval rating was at 61%. The gap has narrowed, however, as he now has a 34% approval rating compared to a 57% disapproval rating. Those are still bad numbers, but whereas in May he was far less popular than his own party, he is now slightly more popular. James' rating is also similar to her party's standing. This indicates that neither Campbell nor James is acting as a boon or dead weight for their respective parties.

Unless something radical happens between now and then, the next election in British Columbia will not be held until the spring of 2013.

NB CBC poll added to projection

As Don Mills of the Corporate Research Associates has informed me that their poll conducted for the CBC and L'Acadie Nouvelle is, in fact, completely different from the daily polling conducted for the Telegraph-Journal, I have decided to add it to the projection model. It is a good poll to have in it because it is so large and concentrated on fewer days than the daily TJ poll. Accordingly, it has changed the projection significantly.Compared to where they were this morning, the Progressive Conservatives have picked up two seats and are now projected to win 31. The Liberals have been reduced by two to 23 seats, while the New Democrats remain at one.

In terms of the popular vote, the PCs are up one full point to 44.5% while the Liberals are done 1.2 points to 40.1%. The New Democrats are down 0.3 to 9.7% and the Greens are up 0.4 points to 4.2%. The People's Alliance and independents are up 0.2 points to 1.5%.