Monday, December 6, 2010

Tories edge back ahead of combined Liberal-NDP forces in seat projection

Fresh off two by-election wins a week ago, Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party have also made some gains in the polls and are now projected to win more seats than the combined total of the Liberal and New Democratic parties. But the Prime Minister would still likely see more than a dozen of his current MPs defeated were an election held today.

The rest of the article can be read on The Globe and Mail website.

But as my spidey senses are telling me this will be a busy week for polls, I'm going to update the projection here on the site as well.As a somewhat more lyrical pose can be found in my G&M article, you'll get just the facts here.

Nationally, the Conservatives have gained 0.8 points and three seats and now lead with 34.6% and 130 seats. The Liberals are up 0.2 points but down two seats, and are projected to take 29.4% of the vote and 96 seats. The New Democrats are up 0.3 points but down one seat, and are projected to win 16.4% of the vote and 29 seats.

The Bloc Québécois is up 0.2 points to 9.9% nationally, while the Greens are down 0.1 points to 8.5%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have gained 0.4 points and one seat, and are projected to take 37.4% of the vote and 48 seats. The Liberals are at 36.7% (+0.7) and 46 seats (unchanged), while the NDP is at 16.2% (-0.1) and 12 seats (-1). The Greens have dropped 0.4 points to 8.6%.

The Bloc is at 38.7% in Quebec, up 0.7 points, and is unchanged at 53 seats. The Liberals are at 24.2% (+0.7) and 15 seats, the Conservatives are at 16.3% (-0.4) and six seats, and the New Democrats are at 13.0% (-0.2) and one seat. The seat projections here have not changed since the last update. The Greens, however, are up 0.5 points to 6.6%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives have gained 1.8 points and lead with 35.7%. The NDP is up 0.6 points to 26.1%, while the Liberals and Greens are down 1.2 points and 0.1 points, respectively, to 24% and 11.9%. The Conservatives are projected to win 19 seats (+2) while the Liberals and New Democrats each lose one and are projected to win eight and nine seats, respectively.

The Liberals are at 37.4% (-1.0) in Atlantic Canada, followed by the Conservatives at 33.3% (+2.1), the New Democrats at 20.5% (-1.7), and the Greens at 6.4% (-0.1). The Conservatives take one seat from the Liberals, and are projected to win nine to the Liberals' 19 and the NDP's four.

The Conservatives have gained a full point in Alberta and lead with 60.5%. The Liberals are down 0.6 to 18.8% while the NDP is up 0.3 points to 10.2%. The Greens are at 8%, down 0.5 points. The Conservatives are projected to win 27 seats and the Liberals one, unchanged from the last update.

Finally, in the Prairies the Conservatives are down 1.6 points to 44.4%. The Liberals follow with 23.3% (+0.5) and the NDP is at 22.4% (+0.6). The Greens are at 7.5%, up 0.5 points. The Liberals gain a seat from the Conservatives, and are projected to win five seats. The Conservatives would take 20 and the NDP three.

In terms of net gains and losses over the six regions, the Conservatives come out on top with a net gain of 3.3 points. Increases of about two points in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada are good bits of news, but the drop in Quebec is not.

The Bloc comes out in second with a gain of 0.7 points in Quebec.

The Greens had a net loss of 0.1 points, but more importantly dropped in British Columbia and Ontario.

The NDP had a net loss of 0.5 points, but gains out West were good.

The Liberals had the worst two weeks, with a net loss of 0.9 points. They gained in Ontario, Quebec, and the Prairies but lost more in British Columbia, Alberta, and Atlantic Canada.


  1. Unless the Liberals figure out how to win support from the NDP in BC and Saskatoba then they will continue to be screwed.

  2. Not so, PT. The Liberals just need to grab back all that support they lost in Ontario and Quebec to the NDP, and they're going to be in a strong position. The West matters, and an increase in support there is good, but increases in Central Canada for any party is worth a lot more.

  3. "Unless the Liberals figure out how to win support from the NDP in BC and Saskatoba then they will continue to be screwed. "
    The result in the Winnipeg North by-election says that Liberals are working on that one!

  4. I'm expecting the CPC to widen the gap between it and the Liberals by two to three points this week. That could include a rise in CPC support and a drop in LPOC support.

  5. How is it possible for the CPC, Liberals, NDP and BQ to ALL have gained ground and the only loser is the Green party which is only down 0.1%? Someone has to have lost support for everyone to have gained.

    The Liberals need to regain support from the Conservatives in Ontario. The NDP vote in Ontario has been about the same in 2004, 2006 and 2008 and that is about the traditional level of NDP support in Ontario since 1962! The Liberals losses have all been to the tories and by the looks of things in Vaughan - that trend continues to accelerate.

  6. You can't just expect the Liberals to be an entirely Eastern Canadian based party like they have been lately Volkov.

  7. PT/Sam I don't see the point of that.

    An NDP shift to the Liberals in BC/Manitoba (Other than Goodale Liberals are dead in Sask) would net them maybe 5 or 6 seats tops.

    DL is right its the loss of Ontario that's hurting the Liberals right now.

    Joe Volpe is as good as gone.

    Polls may show the Tories down slightly from '08 but because of microtargeting, candidate selection, pork politics, and superior fundraising they're actually knocking on the door step of a majority.

    Nick Nanos calls it "smash and grab".

    Instead of aiming for a massive sweep based on popular support like Mulroney or Chretien the Tories are going riding by riding to scrape out an ultra slim majority.

  8. "The Liberals just need to grab back all that support they lost in Ontario and Quebec to the NDP, and they're going to be in a strong position."

    The problem isn't the support the Liberals "lost" to the NDP in Ontario and Quebec. Indeed, the suggestion that it is indicative of the thinking that is so problematic for the Liberals.

    In Ontario, for example, the suggestion that the Liberals have "lost" votes the NDP only makes sense if you assume that the 10% or lower level of support of the NDP in the 1990's is the "norm" rather than an exception. In fact, though, the NDP has historically done quite well in Ontario (regularly posting above 20% in Ontario in the 70's and 80's). The relative strength of the Liberals in Ontario was an abbheration caused (on the right) by the division between the Tories and the Reform party and (on the left) by the extreme unpopularity of the NDP in Ontario after the Rae years and the weakness of NDP leadership federally. A strategy that tries to recreate that temporary dominance is doomed to failure.

    Similarly, the claim that the Liberals "lost" votes to the NDP in Quebec is simply ahistorical. The Liberals used to routinely run the floor in Quebec, but haven't done since 1984 as first the Tories, then the Bloc took over their traditional turf amongst francophone Quebecuers. That's the cause of the Liberal weakness in Quebec, not the NDP.

    The Liberals have to come to grips with the fact that their sucess in Ontario in the 1990s was a fluke, and that until they address their longer term weakness in the West (a Liberal wasteland since at least 1968 if not 1953) and/or Quebec (hard going for the Liberals since 1984) they're going to have a hard time forming a minority government, much less a majority.


    Nanos poll today. Tories extend their lead to 7% (up 1.4%) on strength in BC and Ontario. ... And now lead in every region. (50% in BC?? really?)

    And the greens lost 2% and sit (more realistically than the 10-15% in other polls) at 3.2% now.

  10. "Instead of aiming for a massive sweep based on popular support like ...Chretien the Tories are going riding by riding to

    I think you meant to say "instead of aiming for a massive sweep based on... a divided opposition like Jean Chretien". (Chretien never got much more than 41% of the popular vote - not much to distinguish that from the 37.6% the Tories got last time out). That seems to me to be exactly what the Tories are doing (though their life would be a lot easier if the Liberals would have the deceny to split up into two parties and spend the next decade fighting amongst themselves).

  11. Barcs here's the write up associated with the poll.

    I see in describing the strategy Jane Taber replaced "smash and grab" with the more elegant "cluster theory".

    Only question now is when Harper holds an election to scoop up his majority.

    Issues remaining on the table that require attention before an election is held:

    Healthcare, Newfoundland, Quebec QST retroactive compensation, Quebec/BC by-elections.

  12. PT,

    Oh, but I can, just as I can imagine the Conservatives being a mainly Western Canadian party. Canadian politics is highly regionalized, if you haven't noticed, and if it were not for the Bloc, Eastern Canadian-based governments, majority governments mind you, would be the norm, as they were before.

  13. Carl the Liberals consistently won 50% of the vote in seat rich Ontario.

    That along with their Montreal seats and strong Atlantic Canada showing was enough for a majority every time.

    Vote splitting wasn't as huge an issue as its made out to be.

    Reform was strong in the west, PC was strong in the east.

    Combining them doesn't do much for seats.

  14. If the Tories couldn't win a majority when they were 11% ahead of the Liberals in 2008 - they won't if they are only 7% ahead.

  15. DL, my thoughts exactly. Will show that in tomorrow's post.

  16. Eric

    Your model has a major Flaw - GIGO.

    The polls are incredibly off.

    In a presidential race Harper would be out-polling Ignatieff 2-1.

    The Canadian people realize that the PM has even more power over the government than the President does in the States.

    When the Election happens the main question to the vast majority of independent/undecided voters always has been do you want Chretien to be PM or Stockwell Day? Trudeau or Joe Clark? Mulroney or Turner?

    Harper or Dion?

    Now it come down to Harper - Ignatieff.

    Harper will win the undecided voters 2-1.

    That is why the pollsters all missed the last election.

  17. It will be interesting to see if there will be movement in Ontario if the Ontario PC's implode. Right now the Ontario Landowner guys are going all Tea Party on the Red Tories calling them traitors. Also one of the party executives had to retroactive resign to a date before his recent online racist rant.

  18. Ah my mistake. The racist rant is a couple of years old.

  19. "In a presidential race Harper would be out-polling Ignatieff 2-1."

    ...and if Stephen Harper had webbed feet he'd be a duck. We don't have a presidential system of government - we have a parliamentary system. Whihc leader you prefer is only one of many considerations. In 1979, Trudeau routinely led Joe Clark by 3-1 margins for best PM - but the Tories won the election. In 2008 Dion was even more unpopular than Ignatieff and yet Harper failed to get a majority. People just don't trust him.

    If you seriously think that people vote 100% on the basis of who they want as PM - Ed Broadbent would have been elected PM in 1988 and Jack layton would be about to become opposition leader hands down.

  20. Shadow said:

    "Carl the Liberals consistently won 50% of the vote in seat rich Ontario.

    That along with their Montreal seats and strong Atlantic Canada showing was enough for a majority every time."

    That was enough for a majoirty, only because the right was split and the NDP was crippled. But that's a historical anomaly, that's the point. The Liberals never did that well in Ontario (or in the Atlantic provinces) against a united and capable opposition, even at the height of Trudeau-mania and the Saint-Laurent landslide of 1953. A divided right an a crippled NDP isn't a "strategy" that the Liberals can reproduce or replicate.

    As for the claim that vote splitting didn't cost the right seats in the 1990's, that's simply nonsense. I'd suggest you look at what happened when a strong Liberal party beat the snot out of a weakened (but united) Conservative party in Ontario, namely the beatings that the McGuinty Liberals laid on the Ontario Tories in 2003 and 2007 . That was every bit as thorough a beating as that inflicted by the Federal Liberals in 1997 and 2000, but the Provincial Liberals "only" managed to get 72 and 71 seats (as opposed to 101 and 100 for their federal cousins). 30 fewer seats in Ontario in the 1990's would have meant that Chretien wouldn't have won a single majority government.

    Similarly, the statement that the PCs were strong in the east and the reform was strong out west is wrong (there's this thing called Google...). In 1993, the PC/Reform vote split in Ontario was 17%/20%; in 1997 it was 19/19; in 2000 it was 14/24. The problem (for the right, at least, it worked out fine for the Grits) in Ontario was that the two conservative parties split their vote nearly equally.

  21. "If the Tories couldn't win a majority when they were 11% ahead of the Liberals in 2008 - they won't if they are only 7% ahead."

    But if you went by the polls before the 2008 election was called, the Tories weren't 11 points ahead.

    Tory lead over Liberals in August 2008 polls

    HD Aug 7-10: -1
    IR Aug 12-14: +6
    HD Aug 21-24: -1
    Nanos Aug 20-27: -2
    AR Aug 27-28: +8
    IR Aug 26-29: -2
    SC Aug 25-31: +10

    Canadian pre-election polls have never been accurate, particularly with respect to Conservative/PC/Reform support (heck, even a week before an election they are usually off by more than the margin of error). Whatever cross-section of voters our pollsters pick up, it ain't the cross-section of people that actually vote.

    I don't think we can accurately discuss projections from polls until the writ is dropped.

  22. DL: "If the Tories couldn't win a majority when they were 11% ahead of the Liberals in 2008 - they won't if they are only 7% ahead."

    Fair point, but subject to two caveats.

    First, it depends on where that vote is located. If the Tory (or Liberal) vote has shifted between ridings they could well win. It's worth nothing, for example, that many of the Liberal gains shown in the recent Nanos poll (vis-a-vis the 2008 election) are in the Prairie provinces where the Liberals were so far behind in 2008 that they're still not competitive. In contrast, the Tories have made gains in Ontario, BC and the Atlantic provinces where there are a number of competitive ridings.

    Second, it's worth comparing like with like. In the last Nanos poll before the 2008 election was called, the Tories were at 33 (vs. 38) and the Liberals at 35 (vs 31). Based on that, the Tories are in a much stronger position now than they were in 2008.

    Once you take into account those considerations, and assuming these polling numbers are accurate (though with those regional margin of errors its hard to tell), I'd say a majority is a possibility (though by no means a certainty).

  23. "DL, my thoughts exactly. Will show that in tomorrow's post."

    Except DL is completely wrong in his assumptions. A majority is 100% possible with these numbers.

    The main question is how efficient the vote is and where the shifts have come from.

    If Liberals have gained NDP votes in places like Winnipeg and Toronto then its irrelevant to the Tories chances of winning a majority.

    By-elections are informative.

    Liberals gain an NDP seat.
    Conservatives gain a Liberal seat.

    Say it happens 20 times.

    CPC has their majority.

  24. dream on shadow... the out of the blue liberal win in the peg shows that there is gonna be big bounces for the grits that pollsters and pundits aren't able to gauge right now..
    people have had longer to get to know ignatieff and he has now framed it as a 2way race which will alleviate the vote splitting... your posts are ridiculously predictable...

  25. All the parties pretty much suck at this point anyways. Time for new leaders, or a new party and it's nearly impossible for new parties to get support so time for Iggy Harpo and Layton to say goodbye.

  26. Carl get your facts right, its called google.

    30 seats from a Reform/PC merger in Ontario ??

    Ridiculous claim.

    In his absolute worst showing ('97), in which Liberals were pretty much tied with PC + Reform nationally, if you run the numbers they won 25 Ontario seats based on vote splitting.

    About a dozen were razor thin Liberal losses in such a scenario btw.

    Assuming zero leakage during a merger is very foolish indeed. Witness PC + Ref going from 37.8 in '00 down to 29.63% in '04.

    '97 should have been a Liberal minority government.

    1993 and 2000 would have been Liberal majorities either way in which they netted around 10-14 Ontario seats from vote splitting.

    Other than Ontario, the only convergence point between Reform (strong in the west) and PC (strong in the east) there wasn't much else gained.

    The verdict on your analysis, that Chretien got massive sweeps because of a divided opposition is horribly incorrect.

    You can't simply combine PC + Ref vote totals. And even when you do they still rack up big wins in Ontario + Montreal + Atlantic Canada in 1993 and 2000.

    Further, my original point you challenged is maintained.

    There is an objective difference in strategies, with Harper a far more national leader than Chretien who is microtargeting at a riding by riding level across the country as opposed to just running up big wins in Ontario.

  27. Carl,

    2008's results gave the Liberals almost 34% support in Ontario in 2008, not 31%. Thanks.

  28. Forget the last comment, I got confused.

    Though to point out, if you're still comparing this to 2008's election, where Nanos got it down pretty well at 26.7% nationally, then why claim that this poll will have the Liberals drop? What if Nanos is right, and the Cons are at 38%, and the Liberals 31%, for the next election? Even if Harper does get his majority, he'll have failed to do it by destroying the Liberal Party. In a case where the so-called "inevitable Harper majority" is to come true, then the fact is, Liberals will look more toward survival than to a victory. Going from 26% to 31% is survival at its best.

  29. Volkov buying into the big lie where Nanos got it down pretty well at 26.7% nationally,

    Nanos had the Liberals at 28 and the CPC at 32 on Friday Oct 10. The campaign was over. The vote took place on Oct 14 after a long weekend.

    He had the CPC under by 5% pts and the Liberals over stated by 2% points. He called for a 4 pt CPC win rather than a 11 pt CPC win.

    If there actually was a move from 32 to 37% that last weekend then there would be many books written on it. A 15% increase in popularity for a party over a weekend??? What the heck happened that weekend.... Did Harper declare World Peace? Dion invade the USA?

    That did not happen Nanos was consistently wrong.

    The only thing that "saves" Nanos is that all the other polls (expect AR) were off by almost as much.

    They were not "biased" amongst themselves they just were "biased" against the facts.

  30. Shadow,

    You might want to read my post a bit more carefully. I said the Liberals won in Ontario in the 1990s of a divided right AND a crippled NDP. My statement that the Liberals wouldn't have won 30 seats doesn't mean that a united right would have won 30 seats. In fact, the comparison with the Ontario elections in 2003 and 2007 suggests that they'd win 24-26 (interestingly, not far off your 25 number) and that a semi-respestable NDP would have won a handful of seats (as they did in both 2003 adn 2007 in Ontario).

    Moreover, the statement that a united right would only have resulted in 10-15 seats is questionable - I don't have the 1993 numbers, but in 2000, the combined PC/Alliance vote outnumbered was more than the Liberal vote in 20-odd ridings. Finally, it's worth noting that in 2004, Paul Martin still dominated in Ontario (despite an NDP resurgence) and beat the Conservatives by a good 13%, but they still won 24 seats in the Province.

    As for the statement "other than Ontario" there was no convergence between the reform and the PCs, hey, I agree, but that isn't what you said originally. Moroever, saying "other than Ontario" is a pretty big caveat. Ontario does, after all, account for a third of the seats in the house of commons, and it did account for 60-66% of the seats that made up the Chretien majorites in the 1990s).

  31. Shadow said:
    "Assuming zero leakage during a merger is very foolish indeed. Witness PC + Ref going from 37.8 in '00 down to 29.63% in '04."

    But you're suggesting that the result in a transitional year by a new party (with no platform) would have been typical of the performance of a united right party had a split never happened in the first place. That's not a meaningful comparison. Indeed, it's interesting to note that the Tory support post-merger in Ontario has gradually reverted to the pre-merger aggregate level of support (and the level of support that the PC's generally received in Ontario in the 60's, 70's and 80's). Focusing on the 2004 level of support takes a one off event (the transition from two parties to one) and suggests that that would be the level of support in the absence of divided right in the 1990s. The Tory performance in Ontario both before 1993 and since 2006 that that isn't a meaningful comparison. Moreover, the performance of a united Conservative party provincially in Ontario during the 1990s (the Harris victories of 1995 and 1999) suggests that a united Conservative party probably could have captured a most of the votes of the PCs and the Reform party.

  32. Volkov: "Though to point out, if you're still comparing this to 2008's election, where Nanos got it down pretty well at 26.7% nationally, then why claim that this poll will have the Liberals drop?"

    I'm comparing pre-writ polls with pre-writ polls. Nanos got the ultimate Liberal vote spot on 3 days befor the election, but we aren't having an election in three days, so that isn't a meaningful comparison. The better comparison is between pre-writ polling, and the Nanos polls that came out before he 2008 eleciton had the Grits in the lead. Moreover, historically at least, Liberal support has tended to drop between the last pre-writ poll and the actual election date (I've posted the link before, but Lispop has a chart showing this trend). Past performance is no guarantee of future performance, of course, but it is suggestive.

    In any event, I think the Tories are going to be better positioned to make gains in an election than the Liberals because (a) they have more resources (both in terms of money and organization) and (b) this will be Iggy's first election as party leader and he'll be facing three VERY experienced campaigners. We've had this discussion before, but first time leaders have often had a rough time in their first election campaign, and nothing I've seen of Iggy so far suggests that he's some sort of campaigning prodigy.

  33. BC,

    In fairness to the pollsters, what happened in 2008 is that the Tories got their voters out and the Liberals didn't. The polls probably accurately reflected the intentions of the people they interviewed (i.e., likely voters), they just didn't measure the voting intention of the subset that mattered, namely ACTUAL voters. Unfortunately, identifying that subgroup is not easy.

  34. "Even if Harper does get his majority, he'll have failed to do it by destroying the Liberal Party. In a case where the so-called "inevitable Harper majority" is to come true, then the fact is, Liberals will look more toward survival than to a victory. Going from 26% to 31% is survival at its best."

    I think he'd probably be happy with the majority however he achieves it.

    Moreover, I'm not sure that Harper's goal is to destroy the Liberal party so much as to have the Conservative party replace it as the default governing party in Canada. When the Liberals are measuring success by getting more than 30% of the vote, or winning 100-odd seats, you know he's succeeded on that front.

  35. Carl so you're saying that the PC party could have won more seats in 1993 if reform hadn't split ?

    I really doubt that. Maybe in '97 or '00.

    But in '93 in the west a lot of that vote would have gone NDP, in the east would have stayed home.

    Any way you crack the nut the Liberals were in for a big win after so many years of PC gov't with the hated GST, mini-economic downtown, and high deficit.

    The idea that a united PC would have gotten anywhere near the vote totals of PC + Ref is kinda silly, especially since Ref was a negative reaction to PC.

    Remember the Ontario PC had a completely different legacy and was coming out of a period of opposition rule. Opposite dynamic.

  36. "Carl so you're saying that the PC party could have won more seats in 1993 if reform hadn't split ?"

    Well that's self-evident isn't it? Had the PC's managed to hold on to the reform vote, they would have done better. Sure, the Liberals would have won the most seats, but it's highly debatable whether they would have won a majority (not just because the PC rump would have held on to a number of seats in Ontario, but also because there were another 15-16 Liberal (and NDP) MPs who benefitted from vote splitting on the right out west wouldn't have gotten elected. Look at some of the close races in 1993 in Edmonton, Manitoba or BC, and tell me that the Liberals didn't benefit from vote splitting in the 1993 election).

    Of course the PC's didn't hold onto the reform (or Bloc) vote, so in some sense the exercise is academic (although it's worth noting that with the merger on the right in 2004, the Tories swept up all those ridings in Ontario and out West, despite doing worse than the sum of their two predecesor parties - - Martin's misfortune wasn't that he was incompetent, but that he faced the coherent opponents that Chretien never had). But the point is that the strength of the Liberals in Ontario in the 1990's was a function of fortuitous circumstances (the split on the right, and the Rae government provincially), not on something that the Liberals did that they can try to reproduce to regain that position of dominance.

    What crippled the Liberals (and continues to cripple them) is the failure to recognize that the temporary success of the 1990's masks a longer term decline in their fortunes. The suggestion of yours that they just need to grab back the support in Ontario and Quebec that they "lost" to the NDP reflects that thinking. They didn't "lose" that support to the NDP (at least in Ontario), the NDP returned to their "normal" level of support. Same with the Tories.

    What the Liberals did lose was Quebec to the Tories (in '84), then to the Bloc (in '93). What the Liberals have to do is: (a) to try to figure out how to win the 50-75 seats that they used to regularly win in Quebec which formed the base for their dominance of Canadian politics for the first 80 years of the last century (in the same way that the West forms the base for Tory dominance now), or (b) to try figure out a way to establish a competitive presence in Western Canada to offset the loss of Quebec. If they can't do either of those things, they're doomed to be the Tories of the 21st century.

  37. Carl the Liberals need to get back to at least the mid 40's in Ontario and they'll have a minority like in '04.

    The fact is that in the 90's they were in the low 50's and today they are in the low 30's.

    Vote splitting is completely irrelevant to that. At most it made the difference between a majority and minority in '97. But a minority is a heck of a lot better than permanent opposition.

    How about getting a Tim Hortons style leader ?

    How about putting forward pro-job policies ? Anti-crime initiatives ?

    How about re-connecting with immigrant and ethnic communities ?

    That's the sort of things the Liberals can do to get back into power and the way to do it is to replicate the 90's strategy of winning Ontario.


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