Friday, February 26, 2010

New Environics Poll: 1-pt Conservative Lead

Environics has released a new poll, showing a closer race than the recent EKOS poll.The Conservatives hold a narrow one-point lead with 31%. The Liberals are at 30%, the NDP at 16%, and the Greens are at 13%.

UPDATE: Comparing this to Environic's February 4-9 poll, we actually see a lot of movement. The Liberals have lost seven points while the Tories are down two. Those go to the Greens (up four) and the NDP (up three). Rarely do we see so much movement between one poll and the next by one pollster, which leads one to believe that the results of one or the other (or both) were somewhere near the outside of the MOE.

In Ontario, the Liberals are well ahead with 38% (down six) to the Tories' 33% (down two). The NDP is doing alright at 16% (up four).

In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois has a good lead with 37% (up one) to the Liberals' 28% (down seven). The Conservatives are at a dismal 12% (down two), though that same number for the NDP is strong (and up four).

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are doing better with 37% (up four), while the NDP and Greens are tied at 21% (only a three point gain for the Greens) and the Liberals are at 19% (down nine). A little odd, but this is a relatively smaller poll.

The Alberta numbers show a little of the MOE as well, with the Liberals at 27%. To be fair, though, this is only up one from the month's earlier poll. What we do know is that they are doing well in the province anyway.

The Conservatives would win 121 seats with this poll, 73 of them out West. Only 36 come from Ontario, 3 from Quebec, and 9 from Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win 106 seats, 13 of them coming from the West, 56 in Ontario, 19 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada.

The NDP wins 29 seats, 8 out West, 14 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 5 in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc wins 51 seats, increasing their current caucus. The Greens also win one seat in British Columbia.

Another data-point, but this one shows a closer race. There is a lot of variation between this poll and the one by Environic's earlier this month, which leads one to believe that a lot of this movement is due to the MOE.

Note: like EKOS, Environics prompts the party names. Unlike EKOS, they don't prompt for "Other". This clearly makes a difference.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Ekos Poll: 3.1-pt Conservative Lead

The new EKOS poll shows that things aren't changing too much, as both major parties make modest gains. But the Tory lead is starting to strengthen.With a gain of 2.2 points since EKOS's last poll, the Conservatives are at 33.4%. The Liberals, gaining 1.3 points, are at 30.3%. The NDP has lost 0.7 points and stands at 15.8%, while the Greens (10.4%) are down 1.4 points.

So, a little life by both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

In Ontario, both the Liberals and Conservatives are up about a point, but the Liberals maintain the slimmest of leads (36.2% to 36.0%). The NDP is stable.

In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois drops three points to 33%. The Liberals gain two and are at 27.4%. The Conservatives also gain two, but are still low at 18.2%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives gain one but are still struggling at 31.3%. The Liberals lose three and the NDP gains two, putting them at a tie at 26.4%.

In the smaller regions, no real surprises. The Conservatives are up six in Alberta, the Liberals are up seven in the Prairies, and the NDP loses four points to the Conservatives in Atlantic Canada.

Toronto doesn't show much movement (Tories up two, Liberals down one, NDP down two), and neither does Montreal (Liberals up three, Conservatives and NDP down one, and Bloc down two).

The Conservatives would win 127 seats with this poll, 63 of them out West, 46 in Ontario, 9 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals would win 106 seats, 19 of them in the West (note, for future reference, that the North is included in this "West), 48 in Ontario, 20 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada.

The NDP would win 29 seats, 13 of them out West, 12 in Ontario, and 4 in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc wins 46 seats, while the Greens are shut out again.

Nothing much new in this poll, though one thing it indicates is that the Conservative drop has likely ended, and we will probably see their numbers rebound a little. However, I don't think we will return to the double-digit leads.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010 Federal Budget

And you thought the nation's fiscal planning couldn't get any less exciting.

The Globe and Mail is reporting on the Conservative government's plans for the 2010 federal budget, and boy is it a bowl of oatmeal.

The Conservatives are going to focus on reducing the deficit and reigning in spending (you can almost hear that last one in Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin), while ensuring that health care, education, and public pensions are not affected. Even the military will see its proportion of the budget shrink in the coming years.

No new spending is planned, and a lot of the fun little incentives from last year's budget will not be extended. No more home renovation tax credit.

Clearly, the Conservatives are trying to repair some of the damage done to their assumed reputation of being good economic stewards. In part because of the economic crisis and in part because of their own decisions, the government's finances are in a lot of trouble. They believe it's time for some belt-tightening to get us back to surpluses.

Along with sincere hopes to rectify the situation, the Conservatives are hoping Canadians will be happy to see their party working on reducing the deficit. A responsible budget in shaky times.

It isn't a bad strategy. People like when parties act responsibly. It will certainly resonate with some Canadians who are very worried about the deficit. But it will not exactly attract a lot of voters to the Conservatives.

From the Opposition's perspective, this is actually a pretty easy budget to work with.

The NDP, who aren't exactly opposed to government spending, will not see much in this budget that they will like. They want spending on social issues. They want work to be done on the environmental file. They want to ensure those hard-working Canadians going through tough times that the government will have their back.

The Bloc Quebecois, also not exactly ideologically opposed to government spending, will not see much in this budget either. The federal debt is not much of a concern to the Bloc Quebecois when they see pressing Quebec needs that Ottawa is not addressing. Good fiscal management is more important in Quebec City than in Ottawa. Why would the Bloc support this?

For the Liberals, this budget only addresses the problem of the deficit. The deficit, they argue, is a structural one created by the Conservatives. Rather than addressing those structural problems, the Conservatives are going to cut spending. What's even better for the Liberals is that they don't have to offer much to Canadians to be offering much more than the Conservatives. Rather than having to out-spend a generous Conservative budget, the Liberals can propose modest measures which would demonstrate them to be responsible, but also offering something tangible to voters.

Would the Conservatives want to go to an election on a budget like this? Fiscal conservativism, moderation, and responsibility can be a good message, but will not make the top story for many of the 40 days of an election. It isn't a vote loser, but it also isn't exactly a vote winner. Going to an election on this budget will not be an easy thing for the Conservatives. The Liberals, NDP, and Bloc don't have to propose much to gain more attention.

But we probably won't be pushed to an election. Although reports so far are very basic, there is no notion of a poison pill, and with so little to offer the Conservatives are making a lot of room for compromise. They only need the support of one of the three opposition parties, and when they are planning to announce no new spending projects, it will be easy to find room in the budget for one or two new items of government spending that will gain them the support of the NDP, the Bloc, or the Liberals.

It's actually shaping up to be one of the least political budgets of the Harper government.

Now we have to wait and see what wrench is thrown into the works between now and next week.


(Amazingly, is on Twitter. Be there!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Projection Update: 129 CPC, 99 LPC, 51 BQ, 29 NDP

A new projection update puts the Conservatives down two seats, the Liberals up two, the Bloc up one, and the NDP down one. It also puts the Liberals in front of the Conservatives in Ontario.The Conservatives drop 0.4 points nationally, and are now at 33.8%. The Liberals gain 0.2 points and are now at 29.3%. The NDP gain 0.1 points, and are now at 16.2%. The Bloc and Greens are steady at 9.4% and 9.9%, respectively.

With one small exception, this was a uniformly bad 10 days for the Conservatives. They lost a seat in Alberta, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, though they did gain one in British Columbia. They lost 0.7 points in Quebec (down to 17.5%), 0.6 in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia, 0.4 points in Alberta, 0.3 points in the Prairies and Ontario, and 0.1 points in the North.

The Liberals, on the other hand, had a uniformly good, if modest, period. They gained a seat in Alberta and Atlantic Canada. They're up 0.4 points in Atlantic Canada, 0.3 points in British Columbia, 0.2 points in Alberta and Quebec, and 0.1 points in the Prairies, Ontario, and the North. That small gain in Ontario puts them at 36.2%, a tiny bit ahead of the Conservatives.

The NDP, as usual, are relatively stable. They did lose a seat, however, in British Columbia. They gained 0.1 points in Quebec (11.2%), the North, and BC, were stable in the Prairies and Ontario, lost 0.1 points in Alberta, and 0.2 points in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc lost 0.1 points in Quebec, but nevertheless gained a seat thanks to the large Tory drop. They now stand at 51 seats and 38%.

The Greens were stable in the West and North, but gained 0.4 points in Quebec, 0.3 points in Atlantic Canada, and 0.1 points in Ontario.

With 129 seats, the Conservatives would need the support of one of the other parties to get legislation passed. A combination of Liberal and NDP seats is still one short of a plurality, but that means if the trend continues the classification will fall to an Unstable Minority.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Léger Quebec Poll: 3-pt PQ Lead

Léger Marketing released a poll earlier this week on Quebec provincial politics.The Parti Québécois and Liberals remain neck-and-neck, but the PQ retains the edge. The ADQ is actually up a few points, but still at a very low 9%.

Among francophones, the PQ leads the PLQ 48% to 29%. Among non-francophones, the PLQ leads with 68%. The PQ and ADQ are tied at 9%.

In and around Montreal, the PLQ leads with 42% to the PQ's 37%. In and around Quebec City, the PLQ also leads with 38% to the PQ's 27%. The ADQ has a strong showing here, however, with 20%.

In the rest of Quebec, the PQ is well ahead with 46% to the PLQ's 31%.

Jean Charest is the favourite for premier with 28%, though Pauline Marois is not far behind with 24%. Amir Khadir (one of the leaders of Québec Solidaire) and Gérard Deltell (leader of the ADQ) are tied with 7%.

The provincial political landscape is still very tight, and the ADQ is still out of it. I project that with this poll the PQ would form a majority government of 66 seats. The PLQ would win 55 and the ADQ and QS would win two seats each.

Léger also has another poll concerning sovereignty and Lucien Bouchard's recent comments. While it isn't surprising that a majority are more concerned with the economy than sovereignty right now, the support for independence is actually quite high.

Though Léger lists support for independence at 42%, I believe the actual result is 44%. Everywhere in the report they list the OUI respondents as 231 out of 522 total respondents, which corresponds to 44%. I'm not sure why they have it at 42%.

For the federal scene, the only thing we can take from this is that the PQ and the BQ are running equal to one another, which has not always been the case. And compared to Léger's federal poll, we can extrapolate that the Bloc does still have some room for growth.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 2.2-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS has its weekly poll out, and the only thing remarkable about it is how weak all of the parties are.The Conservatives are at 31.2%, up 0.2 points from last week. The Liberals are steady at 29%, the NDP is up one point to 16.5%, the Greens are up 0.5 points to 11.8%, and the Bloc is down 1.5 points to 8.8%.

Those are pretty low levels for all the four major parties, though 16.5% is higher than usual for the NDP in an EKOS poll.

But in Ontario, the leading party - the Liberals - has only 35% (down one). The Conservatives are at 34.6% (up four). The NDP is at 15.4%, down two points.

In Quebec, the Bloc is at 35.9% (down six), the Liberals are at 24.9% (up two), and the Conservatives are steady at 15.5%.

British Columbia illustrates just how close the race is becoming. The Conservatives have dipped below the 30% mark, and are at 29.9%. The Liberals are up five points to 29% and the NDP is down three to 24%.

Nothing remarkable in the three smaller regions, but the Conservatives are not polling well in Alberta and the Prairies. The NDP posts a nine-point gain in the Prairies.

As you can see, I've added the results of Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal to the chart above. No surprises in that chart, really, but it will be interesting to watch how those numbers move.

With this poll, the Conservatives would still take the most seats, with 124. More than half, or 65 seats, comes from the West. The party also takes 45 in Ontario, six in Quebec, and eight in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals increase the size of their caucus by about half, taking 19 seats out West, 48 in Ontario, 17 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada.

The NDP take a few losses, with 11 seats out West, 13 in Ontario, two in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc increases its caucus to 50 seats, thanks to the weak Conservative results in the province.

Things are pretty steady, is about all that can be said. The main fight seems to be in Ontario and British Columbia - but for some reason in that latter province it is only about the Tories dropping.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Léger Poll: 38% BQ, 27% LPC

Léger Marketing has released a new Quebec poll, inquiring into federal and provincial voting intentions. I'll have a post up about the provincial results within the next few days.Not too many surprises, but these polls are fun because they have breakdowns for Montreal and Quebec City.

Compared to Léger's poll in mid-January, the Bloc is down two points to 38%. They are still well ahead of the Liberals, however, who are at 27% (a gain of four points). The Conservatives are down one point to 16%, while the NDP is down three to 12%.

The Bloc dominates francophone voters, with 46% support among this demographic. The Liberals come second, at 21%, while the Conservatives are third at 15%. Among non-francophones, the Liberals dominate with 53%. The Conservatives follow with 18% and the NDP is at 12%.

In and around Montreal, the Bloc leads with 36%. Most of that support comes from the eastern part of the island and north and south of it. The Liberals are at 31%, and the NDP is at 15%, demonstrating Thomas Mulcair does have a chance to keep his seat.

In Quebec City, the Conservatives poll surprisingly high, with 32%. That is a good result for them, meaning they could be able to keep all of their seats around the Vieille Capitale. The Bloc will make a fight of it, though, with 29%. Considering the MOE, the parties are neck-and-neck. The Liberals are at 19%.

The Bloc is well ahead in the "rest of Quebec", with 43%. The Liberals follow with 26%. The Conservatives are at 15%, low for them. This indicates that while their bridgehead around the capital is safe, the seats on the periphery and in the Outaouais may not be.

The Bloc would win 51 seats with this poll, taking advantage of the weakness of the Conservatives outside of Quebec City. The Liberals win 17 seats, taking a couple on the island and perhaps in the Outaouais or Montérégie. The Conservatives are reduced to six seats, while the NDP keeps Outremont.

This only serves to further confirm the new reality in Quebec: the Bloc is safe, the Liberals are strong, and the Tories are not.

New HD Poll: 2-pt Conservative Lead

A new Harris-Decima poll for your consumption.Of note, the Conservatives have maintained their national position of 32% since HD's end-of-January poll, while the Liberals have dropped two points to 30%. The NDP is up one, the Bloc is steady, and the Greens are up one.

The regionals don't have much of interest. Like all other polls that show a close race nationally, the Liberals are ahead in Ontario, 39% (down one) to 34% (down one). In Quebec, the Bloc is well ahead with 41% (up three), while the Liberals are at 23% (down five) and the Conservatives are at 15% (up two). In British Columbia, the Conservatives are at 34% (up two), the NDP is at 26% (up two), and the Liberals are at 23% (down seven).

The smaller regions don't hold any surprises.

This poll would give the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 118
Liberals - 107
Bloc Quebecois - 54
New Democrats - 29

That might not be enough for the Tories to form government for any long period of time. They take 68 seats in the West and North, 38 in Ontario, five in Quebec, and seven in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win 15 in the West and North, 56 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada.

The NDP win 12 in the West, 12 in Ontario, and five in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc dominates in Quebec with 54 seats.

A few words about the Olympics. The Conservatives have wagered that Canadians will come out of the Olympics glowing, and that some of that glow will rub off on the government. I've been watching a lot of the Olympics, and I don't feel more Tory.

But I don't think this theory will turn out to be true. In the anglophone media, there is a lot of talk about the failings of these games. The weather, the death of an athlete, and an Opening Ceremonies full of mistakes and odd-choices (let's have the torch-bearer in a pick-up truck!) has been getting a lot of coverage, especially since Canadians haven't been winning a lot of medals out of the gate.

In the francophone media, the focus has been the lack of French and the dismal representation of Quebecers during the Opening Ceremonies. You may not have noticed if you don't read or watch francophone media, but the coverage of this has been huge (and rightly so).

Canadian athletes are supposed to win most of their medals nearer to the end of the Games, so it is possible that a lot of these negatives vibes will have worn off by then. It is quite likely that in English Canada, Canadian gold will out-shine the failings of the Olympics thus far.

But in French Canada, opinion may have soured too much, and the Olympics will only push more voters towards the Bloc Quebecois and away from the government.

NON-POLITICAL! As some of you may know by now, I'm a big hockey fan. I've really been looking forward to the hockey tournament in Vancouver. I work from home, so I don't have to miss the afternoon games, and I can stay up to catch a little of the midnight (EST) game before going to bed.

The United States beat Switzerland 3-1 yesterday, a closer score than most people expected. The Americans came out of the gate a little confused, and the Swiss team (who have played together longer) started out well. I think the Swiss could be dangerous - I don't expect them to beat Canada but they will give them a challenge. Only Mark Streit and Jonas Hiller are regular NHLers, but Yannick Weber is a good Montreal prospect, and the Swiss league is no beer league. Andres Ambuhl plays in the AHL, and guys like Martin Pluss, Ivo Ruthemann, and Sandy Jeannin have been good players in the Swiss league. The US team is a little young. They have a few great players (Zach Parise and Patrick Kane, for example) but most of the line-up is made up of great second-line NHLers, and great second-or-third defensemen. Canada shouldn't have too much trouble with them.

They certainly didn't have much trouble with the Norwegians. Here again, the patched-together Canadian team was a little out-of-step in the first period, and the Norwegians played them to a 0-0 draw after the first 20 minutes. But, it took a lot out of the Norwegians to play at that tempo, and they lost a step or three for the rest of the game. Obviously, the NHLers had no trouble keeping up the high rate of play for the full 60 minutes. The Norwegian team is not as bad as the score would have you think. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen is a marginal NHL player, but Patrick Thoresen was a decent one and has been lighting up the KHL. Per-Age Skroder and Mats Zuccarello Aasen are very good players in the Swedish Elitserien, probably the third-best league in the world. Pal Grotnes played great, but it made sense to pull him after four goals and save him for the Swiss and American games, where they have a better chance of an upset. The Canadian team looked great, and shouldn't have any trouble topping the group. They won 8-0.

Finally, I caught the first period of the Russia-Latvia game. In the end, the Russians won 8-2. They look really good. They were buzzing around the net, and setting up some really good plays. The KHLers showed they are just as good as the NHLers, with Alexander Radulov and Danis Zaripov scoring early. But when you have Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin on your team, goals coming from other lines is just gravy. The Latvians were surprisingly spunky, though they only have a handful of NHLers and AHLers in the line-up. Most of the team, however, plays for Dinamo Riga in the KHL, so it gives them the intangible benefit of familiarity. They might have been good enough to surprise someone and advance, if they weren't in such a tough group with Russia, the Czechs, and the Slovaks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New AR Poll: 4-pt Conservative Lead

Angus-Reid has a new poll out, showing a little Conservative strength.However, it must be pointed out that compared to Angus-Reid's January 25-26 poll, not much has changed. Both the Conservatives and Liberals have gained one point, pushing each up to 34% and 30%, respectively. The NDP is down one point o 18%, and the Greens are up one point to 8%.

The regional results don't show much movement either. The Conservatives gain one point in Ontario and are at 37%. The Liberals remain stable at 35%, and the NDP drops two to 17%.

In Quebec, the Bloc drops seven points to 35%, but everyone else is within the MOE. The Conservatives gain three points and are at 14%, while the Liberals and NDP remain stable at 28% and 14%, respectively.

There is bigger movement in the smaller regions, but a lot of that can be chalked up to the small sample size. For example, the Conservatives are up eight points in Alberta and down 11 in the Prairies. The Liberals are up 10 points in the Prairies and 13 in Atlantic Canada. And the NDP is down 14 points in Atlantic Canada.

What those smaller regionals do show is that in Alberta, the Conservatives are (of course) safe but the Liberals are surprisingly strong. In the Prairies, the Conservatives are also well ahead but the Liberals and NDP have been fighting it out for second, with a slight edge to the NDP. And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have moved back in front by a wide margin.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 127
Liberals - 100
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 32

Conservative strength comes, as usual, out west, where they win 66 seats. But they also take 49 in Ontario. However, they are reduced to only five in Quebec.

The Liberals take 43 seats in Ontario, 23 in Atlantic Canada, and 19 in Quebec. Fifteen seats come in the west and north.

The NDP takes most of its seats in British Columbia (11) and Ontario (14).

The Bloc remains well ahead in Quebec, with 49 seats. They took full advantage of the Conservative drop.

This poll also asked people what kind of government they preferred. Putting the majority and minority results together, we get 38% of Canadians preferring a Liberal government and 35% of Canadians preferring a Conservative government. The Liberal result is split down the middle (19-19) between minority and majority, while 26% of Canadians want a Conservative majority to 9% who want a minority.

What this says is that Conservative supporters want their party to win a majority, while the Liberals have room to grow among non-supporters.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Leadership Poll from Nanos

Here's a new leadership poll from Nanos Research.

Nanos compares this poll to one taken in December (that I do not recall). On trust, Stephen Harper is first with 25%, followed by Jack Layton at 20.8%, and Michael Ignatieff at 10.4%. Worth noting is that Layton and Harper have swapped four points since that last poll, in December.

For competence, Harper has 33.6%, Layton has 14.2%, and Ignatieff has 13.9%. A gain of 3.4-points by Layton is the only one outside of the MOE.

As for who would be the best Prime Minister:

Stephen Harper - 32.0%
Jack Layton - 18.1%
Michael Ignatieff - 16.1%
Elizabeth May - 6.9%

The changes from December are all within the MOE, though Ignatieff and Harper are down and Layton is up.

Harper's best result came in the Prairies (48.4%), and his worst was in Quebec (22.2%). Layton's best was in British Columbia (23.8%) and his worst was in the Prairies (12.4%). Ignatieff's best was in Ontario (19.4%) and his worst was in British Columbia (8.7%).

That the Liberals are still polling so highly hints at a few things: people like their local Liberal candidate or the Liberal 'team' more than they do the leader, or people see the Liberals as the only real alternative to the Conservatives no matter who is the leader, or people don't personally like Ignatieff by will vote for him anyway. It is impossible to know what is the truth, but what we do know is that people aren't supporting the Liberals specifically because of Ignatieff.

The "Best PM" track has been updated. Harper and Layton are up two points. Ignatieff is stuck at 15%.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Environics Poll: 4-pt Liberal Lead

Environics conducted a poll for The Marshall Plan, and the full details have been made available through Scott's Diatribes.This result is quite different from the other polls we've seen. It doesn't help that Environics hasn't released a poll for quite some time, the last being from mid-October. That poll, however, showed a huge gap between the Tories and the Liberals: 38% to 26%. So, it is remarkable that Environics would find such a swing in support.

At 37%, this is the highest result we've seen for the Liberals for a very long time. The 33% Conservative result, however, is not out of the ordinary. The 13% for the NDP is a little low.

Regionally, the Liberals have a big 44% result in Ontario, though the Conservatives aren't doing horribly at 35%.

In Quebec, the Liberals are at 35% - huge - while the Bloc is at 36%. The Conservatives are struggling, as is the NDP.

The BC numbers align with what we've been seeing, with 33% for the Tories and 28% for the Liberals. At 18%, the Greens are riding high.

This poll would give the following seat totals:

Liberals - 130
Conservatives - 112
Bloc Quebecois - 48
New Democrats - 17
Greens - 1

So, a minority government for the Liberals, a strong opposition for the Conservatives, and disastrous showing for the NDP.

Obviously, when we see a poll that is out of the ordinary, we can't help but be suspicious. However, there aren't any especially odd regional results, so we'll just have to see what other pollsters report.

Projection Update: 131 CPC, 97 LPC, 50 BQ, 30 NDP

A projection update has the Conservatives dropping five seats, all picked up by the Liberals.

However, at 131 seats, the Conservatives maintain a stable minority level of seats.

Nationally, the Conservatives have dropped 0.7 points to 34.2%, while the Liberals have gained 0.5 points and are at 29.1%. The NDP has dropped 0.1 points and stands at 16.1%, while the Greens and Bloc Quebecois remain stable at 9.9% and 9.4%, respectively.

The Conservatives had another bad two-week period. They've dropped in every part of the country, losing two seats in British Columbia and three in Ontario. Their biggest support drop was in Ontario, where they lost 0.9 points and are down to 36.4%. They also lost 0.8 points in the Prairies and 0.7 points in British Columbia. They lost 0.2 points in the North and 0.1 points in Alberta, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. The drops in BC and Ontario hurt them.

The Liberals show decent growth, but it isn't huge. They gain one seat in British Columbia, three in Ontario, and one in Atlantic Canada. Their biggest gain is in Ontario, with 0.7 points. They are now at 36.1%, only 0.3 points behind the Tories. They also gained 0.3 points in British Columbia and 0.2 points in the Prairies, Atlantic Canada, and the North. They are up 0.1 in Quebec and stable in Alberta.

The NDP was up and down, depending on the part of the country. They gained one seat in British Columbia but lost another in Atlantic Canada. They showed gains in the Prairies (0.5 points) and British Columbia (0.1 points), but losses in Alberta (0.1), the North (0.1), Quebec (0.3), and Atlantic Canada (0.4). They were stable in Ontario, which is actually good news for them. They need to keep up their support in that province.

The Bloc gained 0.1 points in Quebec, and are at 38.1%. The gap between them and the Liberals is 13.1 points.

The Greens showed gains of 0.2 points in Atlantic Canada and 0.1 points in the North and Quebec, and losses of 0.1 points in Ontario and 0.2 points in Alberta. They had no movement in British Columbia and the Prairies.

There is no silver lining in this projection update for the Conservatives. With the way the polls are going for them in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario, they stand to drop well below 130 seats in the coming weeks.

The NDP is going nowhere fast, and seems to be stuck. The Bloc is steady, which at their level of support is good.

The Liberals have a lot to be happy about, but they aren't gaining to the extent that the Conservatives are losing. That could be a problem, as the NDP, Bloc, and Greens take some of the spoils.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 2-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS has its weekly poll out, and it shows some movement.For one party, at least. The Conservatives stay put at 31%, but that is good enough to give them a two point lead, as the Liberals drop 2.9 points down to 29%.

The NDP only gain 0.1 points to reach 15.5%, while the Greens gain 0.4 points. The Bloc Quebecois jumps 2.1 points nationally, as they gain about seven points in Quebec.

Where is this Liberal drop coming from? Well, primarily in the three largest provinces. In Ontario, the Liberals drop about five points and are at 36.2%. That is still good enough to give them a 5.2-point lead over the Conservatives, who are at 31%. In Quebec, the Liberals drop four points, and are at 23.1%. And in British Columbia, the party dropped four points, but at 24.1% are still doing alright.

The Conservatives were stable in BC, which is bad news at 30.3%. They made gains in Alberta and the Prairies, but dropped one point in Ontario and two in Quebec, where they are down to 16%.

The NDP made two important gains: four points in BC (26.9%) and three points in Ontario (16.7%). However, they also dropped two points in Quebec (8.3%) and thirteen in the Prairies (17.6%). We'll chalk that last one up to the small sample size.

As said, the Bloc is up seven points to 41.7% - an almost 20-point gap between them and the Liberals.

This poll would give the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 110
Liberals - 108
Bloc Quebecois - 54
New Democrats - 36

So, that's pretty close. Weak results in BC, Ontario, and Quebec are to blame for the narrow gap despite the two-point national spread.

EKOS also asked when people want an election. They had the silly options of "as soon as possible", "within the next four months", "before the end of 2010", and "at the end of the four year term in 2012". Those are silly because the two first ones are almost the same, and the difference between a June election (four months from now) and a September election (seven months from now), is negligible.

To put it in better terms, 48% favour an election in 2010 while 42% favour an election in 2012. That is not a bad pro-election number, considering that only a few more people voted in 2008.

EKOS also had the "second choice" question, which I love.

Conservative supporters were the most dedicated (or most partisan, depending on how you want to look at it), with 51.6% saying they had no second choice. The next most popular option for them are the Liberals, with 21.1%.

Liberals are a bit more willing to consider other options, with 34.7% saying they'd vote NDP. But 26.1% said they would not vote for anyone else.

The NDP showed a similar spread, with 37.4% choosing the Liberals and 22.7% choosing no one.

30% of Bloc supporters (and Green supporters) have no second choice, while 23.1% of Bloc voters would choose the NDP. 26.1% of Green voters would choose the Liberals.

And, most interestingly, 30.8% of supporters of the "Other" parties have no second choice, while 22.6% choose the Greens. This indicates they are contrarians.

This poll is demonstrating that the Liberals might have swung a little above their weight, and are starting to fade again. But the Conservatives did not make any steps forward. They are still well behind in Ontario, polling badly in Quebec, and flooring in British Columbia.

Next week's EKOS poll will hopefully give us a good indication of what's going on.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

January 2010 Polling

Time to look at January's polling. Eleven national polls were taken during this month (seven more than last month), totalling about 20,310 interviews. Here are the results we get at the national level, with the difference from last month's average in brackets.

Conservatives - 32.4% (-4.4)
Liberals - 30.1% (+2.0)
New Democrats - 16.3% (-0.8)
Bloc Quebecois - 9.5% (unchanged)
Greens - 9.9%% (+1.8)

The Conservatives make a big 4.4-point drop, while the Liberals gain two points. That marks a four point gain for the Liberals over December and January. The NDP has dropped almost an entire point, while the Bloc Quebecois is unchanged. The Greens are up 1.8 points, almost exactly the amount they dropped in December.

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

Conservatives - 123 (-17)
Liberals - 103 (+17)
Bloc Quebecois - 51 (+1)
New Democrats - 31 (-1)
Greens - 0 (unchanged)

The Conservatives and Liberals swap 17 seats, a major shift. The Bloc gains one and the NDP loses one. This means the Liberals and the NDP would outnumber the Conservatives. It also means, however, that the Conservatives could pass legislation with the help of the Bloc Quebecois - but not the NDP.The regional results, with difference from last month in brackets:

BRITISH COLUMBIA (10 polls - about 2,240 people)

Conservatives - 33.5% (-5.3)
Liberals - 26.2% (+1.1)
New Democrats - 25.1% (-1.2)
Greens - 13.0% (+3.4)

This is a big drop for the Tories. The Liberals make a small gain, but more importantly move into second place in the province. The NDP drops a little. The Greens make a big jump, but it is actually equal to the losses the party sustained in December.

ALBERTA (9 polls - about 1,540 people)

Conservatives - 55.0% (-3.5)
Liberals - 18.5% (-1.1)
Greens - 11.3% (+0.2)
New Democrats - 10.9% (+0.1)

This is another month of losses for the Conservatives, though they are still very comfortably ahead. The Liberals falter a little, but at this level they are in play in Edmonton. The Greens manage to maintain their (artificially?) high level of support, while the NDP can't seem to gain any ground.

PRAIRIES (9 polls - about 1,130 people)

Conservatives - 47.4% (-5.0)
New Democrats - 23.6% (+2.2)
Liberals - 19.1% (+0.9)
Greens - 8.5% (+0.6)

The Conservatives are down big in the Prairies, dropping well below the 50% mark. The NDP benefit, moving solidly into second. The Liberals make a modest gain, as do the Greens.

ONTARIO (10 polls - about 7,100 people)

Liberals - 37.2% (+2.9)
Conservatives - 35.1% (-4.0)
New Democrats - 15.5% (-1.0)
Greens - 10.6% (+0.6)

The Liberals gain almost three points, marking gains of almost five points over the last two months. They've opened up a nice little lead over the Conservatives. Dropping four points in Ontario, both because of its importance and the large sample size, is disastrous for the Tories. The NDP also takes a step back, while the Greens make a small step forward.

QUEBEC (12 polls - about 6,570 people)

Bloc Quebecois - 37.8% (unchanged)
Liberals - 25.6% (+0.1)
Conservatives - 15.9% (-2.8)
New Democrats - 11.9% (+1.1)
Greens - 7.0% (+0.4)

The Bloc is as steady as can be, and has been for months now. The Liberals make a statistically insignificant gain, but being steady at better-than-Dion numbers is good enough. The Conservatives make a big drop, marking almost five points of losses over the last two months. They are in trouble. The NDP makes a nice little gain, but it more or less makes up for the losses in December.

ATLANTIC CANADA (9 polls - about 1,230 people)

Liberals - 35.8% (+4.1)
Conservatives - 30.0% (-5.7)
New Democrats - 26.3% (-2.5)
Greens - 6.5% (+2.5)

That is a big drop for the Conservatives, but they were flying a little high in Atlantic Canada anyway. The Liberals take advantage of it, gaining four points and the lead. The NDP take a step backwards, but the Greens take a small step forwards.This was a very, very bad month for the Conservatives. They dropped in every region and their smallest drop was still almost three points. They were down big in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia - places they need to be doing better.

By comparison, it was a good month for the Liberals. They are up in five of six regions, though for the most part their gains were relatively small. But being up almost three points in Ontario, four points in Atlantic Canada, and one point in British Columbia is good news.

It was a mixed month for the NDP, up in three regions and down in three. But the movement wasn't drastic, and gains were made in Quebec and the Prairies, which are good regions for the NDP. But losses in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and British Columbia are worrisome.

The Bloc is steady, which is good. The Conservatives are dropping, which means the Bloc stands a good chance of taking back a few seats around Quebec City and in the Saguenay.

There is some talk that the current trend is not exactly a reversal or a major shift, but that the wide gap that formed in the fall of 2009 was the anomaly. I'm starting to think that is true, as for most of 2009 we were looking at a close race. We got so used to double-digit gaps in September through to December that we forgot how close the race was for the rest of the year. Are things resetting?

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Nanos Poll: 1.7-pt Conservative Lead

Nanos Research has a new poll out.Nanos is an interesting pollster as they don't prompt the people they survey with party names. This tends to give lower results for the Greens. Whether this is more accurate or not is debatable, the likely truth being somewhere in between the pollsters that prompt and those that don't.

This contributes to very high totals for both the Conservatives and Liberals. Rather than being tired in the low-30s, Nanos has them tied in the mid-30s. At 35.6%, the Conservatives are not in crisis mode, as this was what got them into government in 2006. But at 33.9%, the Liberals are flying high, higher than they have since the heady days of August and September 2009.

What is probably most significant is that compared to Nanos's poll of mid-December, this marks a 3.9 point loss and 3.7 point gain for the Conservatives and Liberals, respectively.

The NDP drops 2.3 points and is at 16.4%. Normally this wouldn't be troublesome, except for the horrible regional results they got.

Let's get to those. In Ontario, the Liberals are very high at 42%, up 3.5 points from December. The Conservatives are still in it at 39.4%, up two points. But the NDP is hurting at 10.9%, down 5.7 points. That is massive, and positively disastrous. I estimate that would drop them to seven seats in the province.

Quebec is looking much more stable. The Bloc Quebecois gains 0.8 points and is at 33.2%, low for them but Nanos seems to have been polling low for them lately. The Liberals lose 0.2 points and are doing well at 29.3%, while the Conservatives are still showing some strength with 22.2% (down 1.6 points).

Nanos confirms Tory troubles in British Columbia, as they are down 6.1 points to 37.1%. The Liberals are up 3.6 points to 31.9%, very good for them, and the NDP is at 24.7%.

As Nanos lumps Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba together for their polling, I can't use those numbers. Suffice to say, the Conservatives drop 10 points in the super-region, but are still well ahead.

I also can't go a complete seat projection for this poll because of this. But, using the current projections for Alberta and the Prairies, this poll gives me:

Conservatives - 132
Liberals - 110
Bloc Quebecois - 45
New Democrats - 21

High Ontario numbers for the Conservatives and Liberals and low numbers for the Bloc Quebecois inflate the two major parties' totals.

I hope to have a projection update soon, with luck before EKOS's poll on Thursday. I will have a January-average update tomorrow or Wednesday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Everyone Knows Jack

Jack Layton, leader of the New Democrats, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He's got a good attitude about it and is optimistic. He's determined to beat it and I have no doubt that he will. I wish him all the best.

Jack Layton has been a very successful political leader, rescuing the NDP from its sorry days in the 1990s. I thought that now would be a good time to look at what Layton has accomplished in his seven years as leader of the NDP.When Ed Broadbent stepped down as leader of the NDP in 1989, he did so at the height of his party's influence. The party earned 20.4% of the vote the previous year, and won 43 seats. That record has yet to be surpassed.

From 1989 to 1995, Audrey McLaughlin was head of the party. The 1993 election was disastrous for the NDP. They won nine seats and 6.9% of the vote, the worst result in the NDP's history. Things picked up a little under Alexa McDonough, as the party went to 21 seats and 11% in 1997. They slipped in 2000, with only 13 seats and 8.5% of the vote.

When Layton took the helm in 2003, he did so amid a good deal of excitement and optimism for the party's future. He didn't disappoint. In the 2004 election, he earned 15.7% of the vote (the most since the 1988 election) and 19 seats, almost as good as McDonough's 1997 success. He was one of the first leaders to figure out how to work in a minority parliament, winning concessions from Prime Minister Paul Martin in order to gain his support.

In the 2006 election, Layton had more success. He took home 17.5% of the vote and 29 seats, the most since the 1988 election. Despite his role as fourth in parliament, Layton had far more influence as an opposition leader, especially after Martin stepped down and the Liberals began their leadership race.

When Stéphane Dion took the helm of the Liberals, Layton really stepped forward and gained a lot of the spotlight. During the election, when Liberal numbers tanked, talk began of Layton as head of the opposition. The electoral result wasn't anywhere near what would have been needed for him to gain that title, but at 18.2% and 37 seats, Layton had pushed his party to heights that had only been seen before at the end of Broadbent's reign. He won seats in Newfoundland and Quebec, areas where the NDP had always struggled.

In December 2008, he was an inch away from doing something no other NDP leader had done: gained cabinet seats for the social democratic party.

Today, the party is polling badly when it is at 15% - an electoral result neither McLaughlin nor McDonough ever approached. There is a real possibility that the NDP could break the 40-seat, 20% barrier in the next election, matching Broadbent's historical-best 1988 result. That would be no small feat.

While Tommy Douglas is seen as the spiritual father of the party, Ed Broadbent has always been considered its most successful leader. Layton has yet to reach this level of success, but he is very close. Broadbent fought four elections from 1979 to 1988. Layton has fought three from 2004 to 2008. Here are their best results in each province.Broadbent has had greater numbers in six provinces, while Layton has bested him in the other four. The margin between the two leaders in those provinces that Broadbent has done better, though, is small. While Broadbent has done better in the four western provinces, Layton has done better in the four eastern provinces. In Ontario and Quebec, they have done just about as well as each other.

I suspect that after Layton beats this cancer, as I'm sure he will, he will be back on the political scene in strength, ready to lead his party into his fourth election, something only Douglas and Broadbent have done.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 0.9-pt Liberal Lead

EKOS has their weekly poll out today. Nothing majorly different from last week's, but that alone is news.The Liberals gain 0.3 points from last week, and are within an inch of 32%. The Conservatives only lose 0.1 points and stand at 31%. Statistically insignificant gains and losses, yes, but with a sample of 3,406 it isn't as insignificant as it appears.

The NDP gains 0.8 points, but at 15.4% they are still struggling. The Greens only lose 0.1 points.

Let's start with Ontario, where things are stable. The Liberals make a small two point gain, while the Conservatives remain stable. But now that the gap is 40.6% to 32.4%, being stable is not good news for Stephen Harper.

In Quebec, the Tories are showing a little life with a two point gain. They are still only at 18%, however. The Liberals lose two points, as does the Bloc.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are really starting to sink, dropping two points to reach 30.4%. The Liberals and NDP make tiny gains, and stand at 27.6% and 23.0%, respectively. The Greens are at 16.4%, which means Elizabeth May could be in the race.

For the small-sample regions, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada are worth looking at. In the Prairies, the Conservatives have dropped four points to below 40%, at 39.9%. The NDP is up 11 points (!) to 31.2%. Likely an anomaly, but nevertheless. In Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives and Liberals swap five points, but the NDP is down two to 19.2%.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Liberals - 121
Conservatives - 110
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 28

The Liberals move into government with the help of 62 Ontario MPs. They also win 21 in Atlantic Canada, 19 in Quebec, and 12 in British Columbia. The Tories only elect 32 Ontario MPs, and their 16 in BC and 20 in the Prairies hurt them as well. Twenty of the NDP's MPs are from British Columbia and Ontario.

So! What does this poll say. Not too much, except that the close race between the Liberals and Conservatives is solidifying. And as the Conservatives have gained in only two regions, compared to three for the Liberals, the Grits have the advantage. The NDP is slowly being pushed aside as the Liberals have re-gained some anti-Tory credibility.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Two Ships Passing in the Night

Since the beginning of December 2009, the two major parties in Canada have seen a shift in the polls. The Conservatives have dropped from a ten-point lead to a tie, from 36% to about 31%. The Liberals have risen from around 26% to 31%. With such a drastic change, I thought it would be interesting to look at how the voting intentions have changed within demographic groups.

The following analysis is based on the EKOS polling done between November 25 and January 26. I've used EKOS as they have been the most frequently reporting pollster and always have a demographic breakdown. They also have the advantage of large sample sizes.

First, let's take a look at male and female voters.The solid line in this chart shows the two parties as they meet in a tie. The lines with dashes show the voting intentions of male and female voters.

It is plainly obvious that Conservative voters aren't evenly spread between the two genders. The gap between Conservative male and female voters is usually about six percentage points. You can see that the two genders have more or less run in parallel, with a slight divergence lately. Female voters seem to be turning away from the Conservatives, but this loss is being made up for by male voters.

Liberal supporters are more evenly divided between the two groups. Female voters have tended to be more Liberal than their male counterparts. The gap between the two, however, has not usually been more than four points. What is interesting is that the Liberals have recently made big gains among male voters. Female voters have stuck with the party in almost equal numbers throughout this time period. In fact, since mid-January, the Liberals can claim that their supporters have been divided almost completely equally between male and female. The gap between the two gender groups has been almost non-existent over the last two polls.

If we compare voting intentions within each gender, we see that the gap between Conservative and Liberal male voters was huge in December and early January - about 10 to 15 points. But since mid-January the Liberals have closed the gap to about three or four points. Nevertheless, male voters support the Conservatives in greater numbers.

The race has been much closer with female voters, the gap being much smaller even in early December. But by mid-December the Liberals had tied with the Conservatives, and they haven't looked back since.

From a gender standpoint, the major shift has been among male voters and towards the Liberals. Female voters have been much less likely to change their voting intentions, but the trend does align with the national one.

Now, voters by age. I neglected the 18-25 age group since the sample size was smaller and the variation was huge. Also, they vote less. Slackers.This chart is a bit more cluttered, so let me explain in detail (also, the 65+ line is not the solid line, but the solid line interspersed with dashes).

We'll start with the 25-44 year old Conservatives. They are the thickly-dashed line. As you can see, they support the Tories in numbers lower than the national average - about four or five points lower. But, their support has not varied greatly, or almost at all, from the national trend.

Meanwhile, 45-64 year old Conservatives have been very close to the national average, only about one to three points higher. They have also closely paralled the national trend, except for the January 4-5 poll result.

Finally, for the 65 and older group, it is clear that this is where the Conservatives find a large part of their support. The gap between the national average and these retired voters can be as great as 10 points. However, they also followed the national trend, for the most part.

Now, 25-44 year old Liberal voters. These are the thickly-dashed line. They have followed the national trend almost exactly, being at most one or two points lower than national support.

As for 45-64 year old Liberals, they follow the national trend so closely that they are obscured by it on the chart. So, 25-64 year old voters are trending in the same direction.

Finally, 65 and older voters. They have supported the Liberals in numbers slightly higher than the national average, about two to four points. But they have trended in the same direction as the others.

Comparing the voting habits within each age group, we find that 25-44 year-old voters have changed the most. They moved to the Liberals in early January. As for 45-64 year old voters, they used to vote Conservative. But starting in mid-January the gap narrowed, and in the last poll the Liberals were in the lead by a small amount. Finally, for 65+ voters, the gap has been huge, as much as 15 points. It has since narrowed, but retirees still vote Tory.

To sum up, the Liberals have made gains within all age groups. No one age-group can be given the credit for the change in Liberal fortunes. What can be said, however, is that younger and middle-aged voters are moving to the Liberals from the Conservatives.

Conservative strength can be found among male and older voters. Liberal strength is among female and younger voters. But the changes we've seen in voting intentions since November and December have been across the board. That is good news for the Liberals, and bad news for the Conservatives.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Harris-Decima Poll: Tie!

A new Harris-Decima poll is out, and it's tight.So, with a 2.2 margin-of-error, the Liberals and the Conservatives are tied at 32%. Compared to HD's January 7-10 poll, that is a two point swap between the Conservatives and Liberals to the benefit of the latter. The NDP drop one point to 15% while the Greens remain steady a 9%.

The most significant change in this poll is in Ontario, where the Liberals gain four points. They're up to 40%, while the Conservatives are down six points to 35%. The NDP gains one point to reach 14%, which is slightly problematic for them.

In Quebec, the Bloc is ensconced with 38%, up two points from the last poll. The Liberals are securely in second with 28% (up six) while the Conservatives are down two points to a woeful 13%. The NDP drops two to 11%. The Tories are now down to pre-2006 levels - troubling.

In British Columbia, the race is very close, with the Tories at 32% (up seven) and the Liberals at 30% (down four). The NDP, at 24%, is steady (down one).

Finally, in the Prairies, Alberta, and Atlantic Canada (the large MOE regions), nothing spectacular. Strong Conservative result in the Prairies, strong Liberal results in Alberta and Atlantic Canada.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 118
Liberals - 111
Bloc Quebecois - 51
New Democrats - 28

The reason for the Conservative lead is due to their strong results in the West (65 seats), particularly in the Prairies and Alberta, but also because they are still in the game in Ontario, where they take 40 seats. Their 12 seats in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, however, are a big reason why they have barely enough seats to eke out the Liberals - though, of course, this would be an almost impossible Parliament for Stephen Harper to run.

This poll, while confirming Conservative weakness in Ontario and Quebec, and to a lesser extent British Columbia, also shows that the Liberals are on their way up. They seem to be gaining ground, though much more slowly than the Conservatives have lost it. This could be a positive thing for them, as violent swings in support are more fickle than slow, progressive gains.