Monday, September 20, 2010

PCs stumble but Liberals stagnant

Today's TJ/CRA poll shows some significant movement going on in the New Brunswick electoral campaign, but oddly enough most that moment is taking place outside of the governing Liberals' base of support.

Before getting into today's numbers, however, a brief look at Sunday's numbers is in order. Those numbers (encompassing polling data from September 11th to the 17th) had the Progressive Conservatives at 49%, up one from the polling ending on September 16th. The Liberals were at 37%, down one, and the New Democrats were at 9% (unchanged). The Greens were down one to 4% and the People's Alliance was done one to less than 1%.

Now for today's numbers.As you can see, the Progressive Conservatives have seriously stumbled, dropping four points to 45%. They haven't been that low since September 9th. But the Liberals haven't taken advantage of David Alward's misfortune, as they are only up one point to 38%. Instead, the gains are spread out amongst all the other parties, with the New Democrats rising one point to 10% and the Greens rising two to 6% (their highest mark in the campaign so far). Even the People's Alliance is up: one point to 1%.

The gap between the two main parties, which has been as great as 13 points, is now shrunken down to seven.

This poll would still give the Progressive Conservatives a majority with 35 seats. The Liberals would win 19 and the NDP would win one. That is a small majority, however, than Sunday's numbers would have given: 40 PC seats, 14 Liberals, and one NDP.

But this wasn't the only poll released today. The CBC and L'Acadie Nouvelle commissioned a poll of their own. However, this poll was also conducted by the Corporate Research Associates from September 15th to September 18th. I have inquired as to whether this poll was completely different from their on-going polling for the Telegraph-Journal. As I don't know the circumstances of this poll, I've decided not to include it in the model until I find out more about it. Even if it was a separate poll, it still sounds rather redundant, as CRA uses a distinct methodology that won't differentiate this CBC/AN poll from their TJ poll. If it is a completely separate poll, all it means is that from September 15-18 more people were polled, reducing CRA's margin of error. But it is still, generally speaking, the same poll.

Nevertheless, the poll shows very similar numbers to the TJ daily poll: 47% for the Progressive Conservatives, 37% for the Liberals, 9% for the NDP, and 5% for the Greens among decided voters. Among decided and leaning voters, we get 44% for the PCs, 38% for the Liberals, 11% for the NDP, 6% for the Greens, and 1% for the People's Alliance.

The former group would give the Progressive Conservatives 37 seats to the Liberals' 17, while the latter group gives David Alward 33 seats to the Liberals' 21. In both cases the NDP elect one MLA.

In terms of leader preferences, David Alward has slipped in the TJ/CRA poll to 29%, down two points. Shawn Graham is steady at 26% and Roger Duguay is down one to 5%. Jack MacDougall is at 4% (up one) and Kris Austin is at 1% (unchanged).

The CBC/AN poll found 30% preferred Alward, 28% preferred Graham, 9% chose Duguay, 6% picked MacDougall, and 2% preferred Austin. So, really, nothing all that different there.

This set of polling shows that the race is getting closer - but Alward is still comfortably in majority territory. Only one week remains for the party leaders to convince voters to vote for them, and with 22% still undecided according to today's TJ/CRA poll, there is still some opportunity for change in these last seven days.