Monday, December 20, 2010

Much ventured for only slight Conservative polling gain in 2010

As MPs head back to their ridings for a long winter’s nap, the Conservatives end the year on an upswing, extending their lead over the Liberals to almost six points as the party makes gains throughout the country at the expense of Michael Ignatieff, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats.

The rest of the article can be read on The Globe and Mail website. It will be my last article for The Globe and Mail until 2011. It includes a round-up of polling for all of 2010, and before the end of the year I will post a more detailed version of the chart here on ThreeHundredEight.

I also have a column in today's The Hill Times, which starts thusly:

After eight months of political monotony and a rock solid five-point Conservative lead, recently several polling firms have given us something completely different to consider over the holidays: have the Tories rebuilt the 11-point lead that almost won them a majority government in 2008?

If you have a subscription to the paper, you can read the article here. If you don't, you're in luck: The Hill Times is offering a free two-week trial. There's a picture of me both on the cover and with my column, if that sweetens the deal for you.

I'll take this opportunity to update the projection. It's the subject of the G&M article and you can look at the fancy graphics there. I'll provide the nitty-gritty numbers here.Nationally, the Conservatives have gained 0.2 points and six seats, and now stand at 34.8% and 136 seats. The Liberals are down 0.2 points to 29.2%, but remain at 96 seats.

The New Democrats are down 0.6 points to 15.8%, and have lost five seats. They're projected to win only 24 now. The Bloc Québécois is up 0.3 points to 10.2% nationally, while the Greens are up 0.2 points to 8.7%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 37% (+1.3), while the NDP is down 1.2 points to 24.9%. The Liberals are down 0.2 points to 23.8%, and the Greens are steady at 11.9%. The Conservatives are projected to win 21 seats in the province, up two, while the New Democrats are down two to seven. The Liberals are steady at eight seats.

The Conservatives have dropped 3.9 points in Alberta but still lead with 56.6% and 27 seats. The Liberals are up 2.4 points to 21.2%, and are projected to take one seat. The NDP is up 0.4 to 10.6%, while the Greens are up 1.1 points to 9.1%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives have gained 2.6 points and one seat and lead with 47%. The Liberals are down 0.1 to 23.2%, while the NDP is down 1.5 points to 20.9%. They've also lost one seat. The Greens are down 0.3 points to 7.2%. The Tories are projected to win 21 seats, the Liberals five, and the NDP two.

The Conservatives have extended their lead in Ontario, and are up 0.6 points to 38%. The Liberals are down one point to 35.7%. The NDP is also down, 0.5 points to 15.7%, while the Greens are up 0.9 points to 9.5%. The Conservatives have gained two seats from the Liberals, and are projected to win 50 to the Liberals' 44. The NDP is steady at 12 seats.

The Bloc Québécois is up 0.6 points in Quebec to 39.3%. The Liberals are down 1.5 points to 22.7%, while the Conservatives are up 0.9 points to 17.2%. The NDP is also up, with a gain of 0.2 points to 13.2%. The Bloc has dropped one seat and is now projected to win 52, while the Liberals would win 15 (unchanged), the Conservatives seven (+1), and the NDP one.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are up 3.5 points to 40.9%. The Conservatives are up 0.2 points to 33.5%, while the NDP is down 1.9 points to 18.6%. The Greens are also down, with a loss of 0.4 points to only 6%, their worst in the country. The Liberals are projected to win 21 seats here, two more than in the last projection. The NDP has dropped two seats to only two, and the Conservatives are steady at nine seats.

In terms of net gains and losses in the six regions, the Liberals come out on top with a net gain of 3.1 points. But all of the gains came in Atlantic Canada and Alberta. It's more important that they lost in the three battleground provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

The Conservatives had a net gain of 1.7 points, including gains in the three battlegrounds. The Greens had a net gain of 1.2 points, including gains in BC and Ontario. The Bloc gained 0.6 points in Quebec, while the NDP had a net loss of 4.5 points.

This certainly puts the Tories in a good position going into 2011. They aren't at their 2008 levels, but could easily springboard their way back to or past the 143 seats they won in that election. The Liberals and Bloc are also in a position to make gains, leaving the NDP in the most vulnerable position. But Michael Ignatieff might not survive a losing campaign, even if his party gains 19 seats.


  1. Two fascinating things your G&M charts show: (1) on your monthly projections, movement for the Conservatives, the NDP and the Greens seems more or less to approximate movement for the Liberals, in inverse. It seems like even at their low levels of current support, they're the tastemakers. Change happens more or less only when swing voters waver between the Liberals and the other three national parties. And (2) Liberal support is pretty much equal in BC, Alta, the Prairies and Québec. How interesting to be in a situation where as many Albertans and Québécois support the Liberals.

  2. It would be nice to have some margins of error here. Are the seat projections based on MC simulations, or just the most likely winner in each riding? If you have MC simulations, some useful probabilities would be:

    What are the chances of a Conservative majority?
    What are the chances of a Liberal minority?
    What are the chances of at least one Green seat?

    It's things like this that make 538 so great in the US... having similar statistics on 308 would make it a comparable resource for us.


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