Friday, April 30, 2010

Projection: 126 CPC, 99 LPC, 51 BQ, 32 NDP

A new projection update demonstrates that the Conservatives are holding steady and the New Democrats are making strides forward.Nationally, the Conservatives have dropped 0.2 points to 33.0%, while the Liberals are down 0.3 points and two seats to 28.9% and 99 MPs. That is a bit of a change, as the Liberals have been on an upward trend for a long time now.

The NDP is the week's winner, gaining two seats and 0.1 points, to reach 16.5% and 32 MPs. The Bloc Québécois is up 0.1 points nationally to 9.4% and the Greens are up 0.2 to 10.4%.

In Ontario, the Liberals lead with 36.3% but have dropped 0.1 points and one seat. The Conservatives are also down, however, losing 0.3 points. They are now at 35.2%. The NDP is up 0.2 points to 16.5% and gains a seat, while the Greens are up 0.1 to 10.4%.

In Quebec, the Bloc gains 0.2 points and stands at 38.2%. The Liberals and Conservatives are down 0.3 points to 24.0% and 17.1%, respectively. The NDP is steady at 11.7% and the Greens gain 0.3 points to reach 7.8%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are down big: 0.6 points to 35.2%. They also lose a seat. The NDP gains 0.4 points and one seat, and now stand at 26.2%. The Liberals are down 0.2 points to 24.4% and the Greens are down three to 12.1%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 36.8%, down 0.1 points. The Conservatives follow with 31.4%, up 0.1. The NDP is down 0.5 points to 23.4% and the Greens are up 0.5 to 6.7%.

The Conservatives are at 58.7% in Alberta, down 0.1 points. But, they gain a seat and are back to a sweep. The Liberals are down 0.2 points to 17.0% and lose their seat. The NDP is up 0.1 to 10.9% and the Greens are down 0.1 points to 10.3%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives are down 0.6 points to 46.2%, the NDP is up 0.2 points to 23.0%, and the Liberals are up 0.1 to 21.8%. The Greens are up 0.3 points to 7.5%.

Finally, in the North the Liberals are down 0.1 to 33.3%, the Conservatives are down 0.1 to 29.9%, and the NDP is up 0.1 to 27.2%.

Overall, the NDP has performed best in the last 11 days, gaining ground in 5 out of 7 regions and holding steady in Quebec. Their seat gains in British Columbia and Ontario are hugely important, as are their support gains in those provinces. The big drop in Atlantic Canada, however, is worrisome.

The Bloc had a good 11 days, gaining a little and expanding their lead over the Liberals to 14.2 points.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives had a rough time. The Tories lost a seat, and a lot of ground, in British Columbia, but made it up with a seat gain in Alberta. They lost quite a bit in the Prairies, Ontario, and Quebec, the last two areas hurting them most. The Liberals did not see any huge losses, but had their support nibbled away in all regions but the Prairies. The seat loss in Ontario does not bode well for the future.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Playoff Predictions from First Round Winner + Economics

As the winner of the prediction contest for the first round of the playoffs, AJR79 gets to write up his predictions for the second round and post a little about a political issue that interests him. So, here are his thoughts.

Remember, get your predictions in before 9 PM eastern time to be eligible for the same prize after the second round. I need winners, and the amount of games. Post your predictions as a response to this post or the one before it.

While there was lots of exciting hockey in round one, it should be noted that the Washington/Montreal series was the most exciting, and watchable. Jaroslav Halak deserves his props for being outstanding in the last three games, but the Habs as a whole played extremely gritty (over 40 blocked shots in Game Seven!), and are playing better defensively then I’ve seen in Montreal for over a decade. If they could keep playing this way, they would be serious contenders for Lord Stanley’s Mug…

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadians

Unfortunately I don’t believe they can keep playing that way. While they no doubt got a boost from winning the series, it probably took a lot out of them emotionally and physically to face three elimination games in a row. They are facing a much more proven team, and will not have the luxury of firing pucks at Semyon Varlamov.

Pittsburgh Penguins in six.

Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Picking Philly is probably the reason I won the pool. I’ll be sticking with them this round. They are big, physical, and skilled. They’ve been playing to their potential these past couple of weeks, and will be too much for the Bruins. Brian Boucher is making great strides towards being considered a legitimate #1 NHL goaltender. Looks good on him.

Philadelphia Flyers in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings

I have to believe that the “choking dogs” will be showing up in San Jose this round. It’s just a hunch. I am assuming that Detroit’s goalie Jimmy Howard is the real deal, and I have no reason to think he isn’t.

Detroit Red Wings in six.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

I think this will be the most entertaining hockey of the round. There is some serious bad blood here, and my Canucks are out for revenge. With Vancouver’s offence being more high-powered this year then last, I don’t think they’ll have the same trouble putting pucks in the net. Unless catastrophe strikes the Canucks’ blueline (possible), I think this will come down to the goalies, and special teams. Getting centre Ryan Johnson back will be huge plus for Vancouver’s penalty kill.

Vancouver Canucks in seven.

I’m sure all the hockey talk has half the people reading this bored, so I’ll do my best to bore the other half with my political topic: financial reform in the U.S. I’m interested what different commentators think about the causes of the economic collapse, and what can be done to fix it.

Conservative types usually like to point to the government, and the Federal Reserve as the problem.

My view is that there is more then enough blame to go around in the Private banking sector. Just in case your eyes aren’t properly glazed over yet here is an esoteric but informative article about how private banks manipulate interest rates and monetary supply through the derivatives market.

The “money shot” (pun intended): “We have taken future tax streams similar to "receivables" and turned them into securitization products. The government gets upfront cash today along with tax streams going to cover needed principle/interest payments. They face balloon payments in the future. The real benefit to the banks is they get the full value of the asset today which they can use as capital ratios along with ability to fractional lend out 10 times the value of the deposit streams. The deposit streams would be similar to the deposits you make from your payroll and then spend. The banks float is increased and thereby its lending facility is increased. PRESTO - Money is created into existence!”

Reading this has given me a better understanding of how the derivatives market went from 273 trillion in 2004 to over 600 trillion today, and the looming economic disaster towards which we are headed.

Thanks for your thoughts AJR79! Everyone else, get your predictions in!

2010 NHL Playoffs - Round Two

If you're looking for information on this morning's EKOS poll, scroll down.

The first round was definitely exciting, with upsets galore. While everyone who was expected to win did in the Western Conference, Nashville, Phoenix, and Los Angeles all gave the eventual winners good scares. And in the East, only Pittsburgh remains as one of the top-four in the second round.

My Montreal Canadiens went and upset the Washington Capitals last night, and I couldn't be happier. I didn't believe it would happen, but after two wins in a row and Jaroslav Halak showing why he is the goaltender of the future, it was bound to happen.

My predictions for the first round were a little off. I only got five out of eight correct. I incorrectly thought Buffalo, New Jersey, and Washington would advance. As noted in an earlier post, commenter AJR79 was the most accurate predictor, and I invite everyone to post their predictions for the second round in the comments here. All comments received before 21h00 eastern tonight, before the puck is dropped in San Jose, will be eligible to win the prize for the closest guess for the second round - a blog post with your predictions for the third round and a paragraph or two to share your political thoughts.

So, here are my predictions for the second round.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens

No one thought Montreal would beat Washington. But they did. Now, Pittsburgh is a very different team than the Capitals. They are more structural sound, have a solid goaltender, and play tight defense. But I wasn't all that impressed with them against the Ottawa Senators, who were not playing their best. While Sidney Crosby has been on a tear with 14 points in six games, I'm starting (or wanting) to believe that these Montreal Canadiens could be like the Edmonton Oilers of a few years back. Mike Cammalleri has 10 points in seven games, and Jaroslav Halak has a .939 save percentage. I think they could pull out another upset. So rather than go with my head, like I did in the Washington series, I'm going with my heart.

Prediction: Montreal Canadiens win in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

This will be a rough series. The Bruins will be bolstered by the return of Marc Savard, and they will need him because their top scorer is Mark Recchi (five points). Tuukka Rask has been playing very well, but Buffalo was severely hamstrung by the loss of Tomas Vanek. Philadelphia took down a very good team in New Jersey and Mike Richards has been playing great, with eight points in five games. Brian Boucher out-dueled Martin Brodeur in the first round, so there's no reason to think he can't do it again the green Rask.

Prediction: Philadelphia Flyers in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings

Phoenix gave Detroit a run for their money, but that is what they need to be ready for San Jose. The Sharks are a good team, but they are the same team that has choked in the playoffs every year. Joe Pavelski and Ryan Clowe aren't supposed to be their top scorers, while Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are doing great for Detroit. The saying goes that, to win, you need your best players to be your best players. And that is what is happening for Detroit.

Prediction: Detroit Red Wings in six.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

This will be a fun series to watch. These two teams met in the second round last year, and Chicago got the best of the Canucks. But the Blackhawks still have a question mark in net in Antti Niemi and while they've added Marian Hossa, the Canucks have added Mikael Samuelsson, who has 11 points in six games. Roberto Luongo won't let this opportunity slide, and the Canucks just seem to be on a roll.

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in six.

So, that would set up Detroit-Vancouver and Montreal-Philadelphia as the conference finals. What fun!

Get your predictions in before the puck drops in the San Jose-Detroit game at 21h00 tonight.

New EKOS Poll: 5.3-pt Conservative Lead

A new biased EKOS poll shows the Conservatives up and the Liberals down to disastrous lows. Money well spent, Liberals!Compared to EKOS's poll last week, the Conservatives have gained 0.2 points and now stand at 31.9%. The Liberals are down 0.5 to 26.6%, while the New Democrats are up 1.3 points to 17.6%.

Many of the results of this poll echo that of Harris-Decima, indicating that perhaps the NDP has indeed gotten a boost.

The Greens are down 1.7 points to 10.9%, the Bloc Québécois is up 0.2 to 9.7% at the national level, and "Other" is up 0.6 points. You'll see below some interesting information about the "Other" category.

And while I still have your attention, commenter AJR79 don't skip over last night's blog post.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are up three points to 36.0%, and now hold the lead. The Liberals are down one point to 34.2% and the NDP is up one to 17.7%. That is a good number for them. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 40.2% and also in Ottawa with 43.1%. They've seen a 15 point bump in the capital, though.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up one to 38.5%, while the Liberals are down big, dropping four points to 19.3%. The Conservatives are up two to 16% and the NDP is up three to 12.6%. In Montreal, the Bloc leads with 36.0%.

In British Columbia, the NDP is up one and leads with 28.6% (much like the HD poll). The Conservatives are down seven points to 28.4%, while the Liberals are up one to 22.7%. The Greens are up three to 16.1%. The NDP has moved into the lead in Vancouver with 32.5%, as the Tories are down nine points there.

Elsewhere, the Conservatives have a narrow lead with 34.9% in Atlantic Canada and a not-so-narrow lead in Alberta with 54.4%. There was a lot of movement in the Prairies, where the Conservatives drop six to 38.2%, the Liberals are up five to 27.5%, and the NDP is up six to 23.8%.

The Conservatives would win 60 seats in the West, 47 in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 125.

The Liberals would win 18 seats in the West, 44 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 94.

The Bloc wins 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 17 seats in the West, 15 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 36.

EKOS also looked into 'second choice', which I absolutely love.

For Conservatives, their second choice is no choice at all: 44% said none. Next was the Liberals with 25.3% and then the NDP with 12.9%. For many Conservatives, there really isn't an alternative.

The NDP is the Liberals' second choice, at 36.3%. Next was none (24.8%) and then the Conservatives (20.2%). This is an indication that the party's supporters are leaning more towards the left.

For New Democrats, the Liberals are the second choice (35.3%), followed by none (24.4%) and the Greens (21.2%).

For Greens, it is 33.1% none, 23.5% Liberals, and 19.9% NDP. This sort of goes against the notion that a lot of conservatives make-up the Green Party.

For the Bloc, it is 37.6% none, 23.1% NDP, and 14.1% Greens. The traditional federalist parties simply don't factor into a Bloc supporter's mind.

Now, the Other. This is the interesting thing. For these supporters, 43.3% have no second choice and 23.4% choose the Greens. This is a big indication that 'Other' support is, indeed, "none of the above". You would expect CHP supporters to go Conservative, and Communist/Marxist supporters to go to the NDP, etc. But instead, these respondents simply don't want to support the major parties.

This doesn't necessarily mean the "Other" result is false. Perhaps these people will actually vote for some other party come election time. More likely, though, is that they will not vote at all or will make a decision come election time.

If we took the extra 2.3 points (as the other parties usually get around 1%) and treated them as people who won't vote, the national support level moves to 32.6% for the Conservatives, 27.2% for the Liberals, 18.0% for the NDP, and 11.2% for the Greens.

The poll also looked at the approval ratings for the leaders of the three major parties, and also the American President. Let's start with him. Fully 70% of Canadians approve of Barack Obama's performance, compared to only 12% who disapprove. Move to Canada, Barack!

For Stephen Harper, the split is 33% to 49%. So, a negative result. His worst approval rating came in Quebec (23%) and his best was in Alberta (52%).

For Michael Ignatieff, the split was 20% to 51%, an even more negative result. His worst came in Alberta (16%) and his best came in Atlantic Canada (25%). Can you see the bias inherent in the system?

For Jack Layton, 43% of Canadians approve versus 26% who don't. So, a positive rating for the NDP leader. His worst came in Alberta (33%) and his best in Quebec (50%).

They also broke it down by party support. Harper is safe, with 79% of Conservatives approving and only 9% disapproving. Layton is also safe, with 69% of New Democrats approving and 11% disapproving of his performance.

Ignatieff still has a lot to do to demonstrate to his own supporters that he is the leader for them. While 45% approve of his performance, 30% don't.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs - First Round Results

Regardless of whether Montreal wins tonight or not (and, believe me, I'll be watching), the winner of the first round mini-contest is already known.

UPDATE: In the end, the good guys won. Hooray!

For my part, if Washington wins I will have been 6 for 8 (choosing New Jersey and Buffalo were my errors). If Montreal wins I will be, obviously, 5 for 8. In either case, I only correctly guessed the amount of games it would take for my pick to win once (Pittsburgh over Ottawa in six).

For the mini-contest among commenters, it was incredibly close.

AJR79 and Goaltender Interference were tied at 7 out of 8 (if Washington wins) or 6 out of 8 (if Montreal wins). They were also tied in the tie-breaker, with each correctly guessing the amount of games in each series twice.

So, I had to take it to the next step. Adding up the difference between the predicted amount of games per series and the correct amount, the result is that AJR79 came out the winner with a +/- of 7, two better than Goaltender Interference's 9.

Congratulations AJR79!

Your prize, if you choose to accept it, is to write up your predictions for the second round, with a short explanation of why you are going that way. You can also write up a short paragraph or two about your thoughts on the current political situation or any political issue that interests you.

AJR79, email me that write-up (and confirm it was sent in the comments), and it will be hosted here as a blog post.

For the rest of you, get your second round predictions ready! They will need to be posted in response to my second round predictions, which I will have up on the site soon. They need to be received before the puck drops on the second round, and your prize will be the same as AJR79's.

Harper Still Ahead of Ignatieff on Economic Issues

Well, that was a little exciting yesterday, wasn't it? All of the drama will apparently play out over the next two weeks while the government and the opposition try to find common ground on how to deal with these Afghan detainee documents. It's possible that after months of stonewalling the government will not give an inch, but it is more likely that some accommodation will be found in order to avoid an election. We will have to wait and see. For now, it appears the government seems open to compromise, while only Jack Layton of the New Democrats has talked openly of going to an election on this.

If we do go into an election, the economy will, as always, be an important issue. So how do Canadians feel about the abilities of the two men leading the two parties that will form the next government?

Angus-Reid looked into this, along with a slew of other questions concerning Canadians' confidence in the economy. First, let's look at who Canadians trust to "do the right thing for the economy."At 41%, Stephen Harper seems to have retained most of Canadians' trust. However, more than half (51%) do not trust the Prime Minister. This compares to the 56% who don't trust Michael Ignatieff, but the 26% who do is alarmingly low. These are not good numbers for the Liberal leader, but it appears that, for once, he isn't significantly lower than the support level of his own party.

How about some more specific issues? Here, the gap is much smaller and the Liberals perform better. However, the Conservatives still have the lead on all of these issues.The closest comes under the rubric of creating jobs. While 35% believe the Conservatives would be best able to do this, 30% believe the Liberals are. That is a positive sign for Ignatieff, but in the other categories it isn't as nice.

Thirty-seven percent of Canadians believe the Conservatives are best able to rein in the national debt, 36% believe they are best able to end the recession, and 37% believe they are best able to control inflation. Coming out of a recession, inflation is a risk. It seems that the same 35% to 37% of people chose the Conservatives for all of these questions.

At 21% to 30%, the range of people choosing the Liberals was more varied. The party did worst on the "end recession" and "control inflation" questions, with 21%, and slightly better on the "rein in national debt" question.

The Conservatives still have an important edge on this important voting factor. It is remarkable that despite all of the problems the Tories have been having the Liberals haven't been able to move at all. It really is an indication that the drop the Conservatives have seen (ranging from two to eight points since the 2008 election, depending on the poll) has nothing to do with the performance of the Liberals or the willingness of Canadians to vote for them.

After more than four years in power and seven with the same leader, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Conservative support has stagnated or even sagged. But the Liberals should be flying higher as the governing alternative with a new leader. They need to do something to get Canadians interested again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New HD Poll: 2-pt Conservative Lead

Harris-Decima, who now seems to be the pollster with the largest sample sizes, has a new poll out. To my knowledge, I don't think the Liberals and Conservatives have ever been both below 30% since the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance merged back in 2003. But considering I went out to get the mail in a T-shirt yesterday and it is currently snowing in the capital, weirder things have happened.Compared to Harris-Decima's last poll earlier this month, 29% represents a drop of three points for the Conservatives. The Liberals are also down two points to 27%. This seems to give some credence to the low-scoring EKOS polling we've been seeing this year.

The New Democrats appear to be the beneficiaries, with a gain of three points. They currently stand at 20%. The Bloc Québécois is also up, two points nationally to 11%, and the Greens are up one to 12%.

Complete disillusionment with the two main parties seems to characterize this poll. But, there are some things the Liberals can take from this poll with a smile.

The main one is in Ontario, where the Liberals are up two points and lead with 36%. The Conservatives have dropped one to 31% while the NDP is up two to 19%. Decent number for the Liberals, excellent for the NDP.

Quebec, however, is a wasteland for the two major federalist parties. The Bloc is up six points to 45%, one of the higher results we've seen for them. The Liberals are down two to a pitiful 21%, while the NDP is up one to 12%. The Conservatives have dropped big here, six points to 10%.

In British Columbia, while the numbers might look strange on the face of it, there has been very little movement. The NDP is up two and now has the lead with 31%. The Conservatives are down three to 30% and the Liberals are down one to 21%. The Greens make an important jump of three points, rising to 18%.

Elsewhere, the Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 39%, the Conservatives lead in Alberta with 56%, and there has been some movement in the Prairies. There, the Conservatives have dropped ten points but still lead with 39%. The NDP is up nine to 31%.

Brace yourselves.

The Conservatives win 63 seats in the West, 31 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 104.

The Liberals win 11 seats in the West, 55 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 101.

The Bloc wins 56 seats in Quebec against extremely weak opposition.

The NDP sets records, winning 20 seats in the West, 20 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 46.

The Greens win one seat in British Columbia (guess who).

An incredible seat result. Both major parties are reduced to around 100 seats, and the NDP and Bloc win massively, setting records for their best performances. Even the Greens get in. With this sort of result, you have to think the Liberals and NDP would work together to form a government. The Conservatives simply can't be expected to continue governing with only 104 seats and a plurality of three, and the NDP can't be expected to be kept out of government with a caucus half as large as the Liberals, and a popular vote only seven points behind them.

Oddly enough, this sort of result resembles the sort of three-way electoral race we're seeing in Great Britain. Are Anglo-Saxons (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) sick of the traditional parties?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next Leader of the Conservative Party

In the wake of Maxime Bernier's tour of Canada, in which he has lambasted Quebec to receptive Canadian audiences, Léger Marketing conducted a poll asking Canadians who they favoured as Stephen Harper's successor as leader of the Conservative Party. Bernier didn't appear on the list of favourites.

Like it or not, Stephen Harper will eventually step down as leader of the Conservatives. The Prime Minister is still relatively young for a politician at the age of 50, but has spent 17 years of his life involved in politics, when he was first elected to the House of Commons under the banner of Reform. He's been leader of the Canadian Alliance and Conservatives for eight years, and has been Prime Minister for more than four. General opinion is that he will step down if he loses the next election or wins a small minority. We can even say that he would likely step down at the end of a majority government, if he won one. The man can't do the job forever.

So who could replace him? Featured on this list are six men currently sitting as Conservative MPs in the House of Commons, one former Premier, and one current Premier. Only two of the eight have a background in the Reform or Canadian Alliance parties, three have a background in the federal Progressive Conservative Party, two have their backgrounds in various provincial Progressive Conservative parties, and one has a background in the federal and Quebec provincial Liberals. Peter McKay, current Minister of National Defense and Nova Scotia MP, is the favourite of 17% of Canadians and 28% of 'decided' Canadians. At 44, he is one of the younger people on this list. He led the Progressive Conservatives in 2003 and undertook the merger between the PCs and the Canadian Alliance. Some would say that his "Orchard deal" has soured his chances as leader of the Conservatives, but Canadians seem to like him. He's been an adequate minister over the years and hasn't ruffled too many feathers.

Next on the list (13% and 19% of decideds) is Jean Charest, current Liberal Premier of Quebec and aged 51. Charest has always been assumed to have ambitions of being the Canadian Prime Minister. He was one of only two surviving PC MPs in the disastrous 1993 election, and took over as leader of the party until 1998. During that time, he increased the party's representation to 20 MPs and garnered 18.8% of the vote in 1997. He took over the Quebec Liberals in 1998 and became Premier in 2003, winning subsequent elections in 2007 and 2008. Some would say his premiership has been difficult, and he has certainly been a lightning rod of controversy, but his tenure as Premier does give him a record to stand on.

While he is currently despised in Quebec (this poll shows that only 22% of Quebecers have a good opinion of him), he is a cat with nine lives and seems to be popular in the rest of the country. Fifty-two percent of Atlantic Canadians have a good opinion of him (compared to 15% who don't) and 50% of Ontarians have a good opinion of him as well. He also has a more positive than negative rating in the Prairies and British Columbia, but is relatively unpopular in Alberta. With his perfect bilingualism, a record, and some support throughout the country, he could be a shrewd choice.

Next on the list (8% and 12% of decideds) is Stockwell Day, 59. Leader of the Canadian Alliance from 2000 to 2001, he came out of the 2000 election with 66 MPs and 25.5% of the vote, an improvement over Preston Manning's 60 MPs and 19.4% of the vote in the 1997 election with Reform. He faced some ridicule as leader but has emerged as an effective minister and now holds the Treasury Board portfolio. He is unlikely to be the next leader of the party, however, due to the baggage that helped sink him in 2000.

Also with 8% is current Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, 60. The oldest among the top candidates, Flaherty first became an MPP in Ontario under the Progressive Conservatives in 1995. He lost leadership bids in 2002 and 2004 for the provincial party, so he certainly has exhibited ambition. But after 15 years in politics, he may be at the tail end of his career and he doesn't seem to have had any sort of personal popularity in the country. For my part, I haven't heard any whispers about him as a possible successor, unlike for McKay, Charest, and the next person on this list.

Rounding out the top five with 6% is Bernard Lord. At 44, he is young and, unlike McKay or Jason Kenney, has a record as a leader. Lord was Premier of New Brunswick from 1999 to 2006, and during that time never lost the popular vote (he lost the election in 2006 but had more votes). He is bilingual and is likable.

Jim Prentice only garnered 3%, but he has been rumoured to be one of the likely heirs. He doesn't have the kind of national profile he would need for a run against someone like Charest, Lord, or McKay, and while he has been a good "fireman" minister, he hasn't exactly done anything spectacular. Lawrence Cannon, also on the list, is highly unlikely as a candidate. Kenney, though rumoured to be a possible candidate, is likely too divisive and right-wing to be a probable winner.

Not on this list, but who could be if Harper's departure becomes a reality, are Bernier, Tony Clement, Christian Paradis, John Baird, James Moore, etc.

We've gotten used to a revolving leadership door for the Liberals, but the Bloc Québécois, Conservatives, and New Democrats have had the same leaders for so long it is difficult to imagine anyone else at the helms. But, it will happen, and the leadership changes for all of these parties will, more than anything, drive their political fortunes for the next decade.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Weights for Polling Firms

Just a short note to inform you that I've tweaked the reliability weighting of each polling firm. I've used the 2008 Canadian and Quebec and 2009 Nova Scotian and British Columbian elections in order to determine the ratings. Polling accuracy, with a small allowance for delay between the poll being completed and voting day, is used to calculate the polling firms' rating.

The 2008 federal election is weighted twice as heavily as each provincial election.

Corporate Research Associates - 1.21
Angus-Reid Strategies - 1.11
Léger Marketing - 0.84
Ipsos-Reid - 0.84
EKOS Research Associates - 0.79
Mustel Group - 0.72
Nanos Research - 0.70
Environics - 0.68
Harris-Decima - 0.67
Strategic Counsel - 0.52
Segma Unimarketing - 0.47
CROP - 0.12

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New IR Poll: 6-pt Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid has a new poll out, showing some small movement but nothing earth shattering.Compared to Ipsos-Reid's last poll taken in early April, the Conservatives have dropped two points to 35% while the Liberals are up two to 29%. The New Democrats are up one to 16% and the Greens are stable at 10%.

These are small movements, but seem to indicate that the recent scandals in the news with Jaffer and Guergis have only put a small dent in the party's standings.

Where it does seem to have hurt is in Ontario, where the Conservatives are down four points to 35%. The Liberals are up three to a very good 39%. The NDP is up one to 15%.

In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois is down seven points to 35%, but still well ahead of the Liberals at 24% (up one). The Conservatives are steady at 20% and the NDP is up four to 11%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives have dropped seven to 39% while the NDP is up seven to 27%. The Liberals are also up, five points to 24%. The Greens are down four to 10%.

In the other regions, the Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 34% while the NDP has dropped ten points there. The Conservatives are well ahead in Alberta with 61% and in the Prairies with 53%, though that latter result is a drop of six.

The Conservatives win 67 seats in the West, 40 seats in Ontario, 9 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 125.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West, 54 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 105.

The Bloc wins 48 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 12 seats in the West, 12 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 30 seats.

This is generally a repeat of the 2006 election.

A brief comment about Frank Graves and EKOS. While Graves' comments have been somewhat unfortunate, (and leaving aside the fact that virtually all pollsters give "advice" to the parties in their analyses) there is no reason to believe that their numbers and their methodology are suspect. Professionals are able to separate their work from their personal views, and there will be no change in how I see their numbers until something comes up which puts the work that EKOS does into question.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Opposition to Afghan War Hardening

On Wednesday, Angus-Reid released its latest poll on the war in Afghanistan. More and more people are beginning to oppose our role there.Whereas support of the war was at 47% in February, Angus-Reid has found that support for the "military operation involving Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan" has dropped to only 39%. Opposition is now at 56%.

Support comes mostly from Atlantic Canada (54%) and Alberta and the Prairies (50%). Opposition is strongest in British Columbia (56%) and Quebec, where fully 75% of people oppose our military operation in the Central Asian country.

Forty-two percent of Canadians now believe that sending troops to Afghanistan was a mistake (62% in Quebec) while only 36% believe it was the right thing to do (54% in Atlantic Canada). A good portion remains undecided, which is probably the safer place to be. How things will turn out in Afghanistan remains to be seen, though with the trouble that country has had for all of its history, it is hard to believe things will get much better.

Undoubtedly, the recent Afghan detainee issue and the government's refusal to release all documents about it has played a role in this souring of opinion.A majority of Canadians, or 53%, believe that the federal government has provided too little information about the war. Only 33% believe the government has provided too much or the right amount.

While the detainee issue is a factor that won't be going away any time soon, our role in the country is not going to be an electoral issue. All parties agree that our soldiers will be pulled out soon, so there is no ballot question where we must decide whether we want to stay or go.

It would be interesting if one of the pollsters would survey the public's perception of how the various parties stand on the issue. The Conservatives have committed to pulling out in 2011, but do many Canadians believe the Tories support extending the mission? Are they aware of the NDP and Bloc's adamant opposition? If the public is well-informed about each party's stance, then the Afghan War is removed as an electoral issue. But if they aren't...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 4.6-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS's weekly poll indicates that while the recent scandals and issues have weakened the Conservatives, it hasn't dragged them down.EKOS points out that in the wake of the Guergis scandal, the Liberals and Conservatives were polling at a tie. But over the last week, things have normalized and the Liberals have falled back 1.9 points to 27.1%. The Conservatives are up 0.3 points to 31.7%. That is still way too low for the governing party.

The New Democrats are down 0.1 points to 16.3%, while the Greens are up 1.5 to 12.6% and the Bloc Québécois is up 0.7 points to 9.5%. "Other" is down 0.6 points to 2.7%.

In Ontario, the Liberals and Conservatives have traded about two points, as the Liberals are down to 34.6% and the Conservatives are up to 33.1%. The Liberals can be happy with the lead, but they need to be doing better. The NDP is stable, with 17.0%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 40.8%, followed by the Conservatives at 30.6%. In Ottawa, the Tories lead with 41.7%, while the NDP seems to have taken their biggest hit (11 points) here.

In Quebec, the Bloc is up three points to 38.4%, dominating over the Liberals who are at 22.7% (down one). The Conservatives have fallen away steeply, down two points to 13.8%. The Greens are at 12.0%. In Montreal, the Bloc leads the Liberals 32.4% to 21.8%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are moving back into a comfortable lead, up two points to 34.7%. The NDP is up four to 28.1% and the Liberals are down four to a troublesome 21.6%. The Greens are steady at 13.3%. The Conservatives lead in Vancouver with 36.2%.

Elsewhere, the Tories lead in Atlantic Canada with 34.7% and the Prairies with 43.8%. The NDP is down six points there to 18.2%. In Alberta, the Conservatives are well ahead with 56.4%.

The Conservatives would win 66 seats in the West, 39 in Ontario, 4 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 121 seats. That dismal result in Quebec hurts.

The Liberals win 15 seats in the West, 49 in Ontario, 17 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 98.

The Bloc wins 54 seats, matching their all-time best. They really just have no competition.

The NDP wins 14 seats in the West, 18 in Ontario, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 35. Coupled with the Liberals, they outnumber the Tories 133 to 121.

The big thing to take away from this poll is that all of the brouhaha in Ottawa is not having much of an effect, other than to disillusion enough Canadians to make either one of the two major parties the choice of less than 1/3rd of Canadians. A governing mandate built on such a low level of support would be difficult to justify.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Issues Poll

EKOS recently released a set of poll results about various issues facing Canadians today. They say its intent is to provide a more formal assessment of these issues than the recent polls released by the Manning Centre.

Let's take a look at their results, with special attention paid to how supporters of the various parties see things.First, crime. This poll shows that prevention (36%) and punishment (30%) are what Canadians see most as the two main goals of the criminal justice system. Rehabilitation (18%) and deterrence (16%) are the main goals for fewer people.

Conservative supporters are most likely to see punishment (42%) as the main goal of the justice system, well ahead of prevention and deterrence (24% each). Only 11% see rehabilitation as the main goal of the system.

Liberals see things different, with 45% believing prevention is the main goal of the system, followed by rehabilitation (23%). Punishment is the main goal for only 20% of Liberal supporters.

This is a good demonstration of how the two parties view the issue of crime. Conservatives tend towards "tough on crime" measures, while Liberals are looking more towards "smart on crime" measures, as they like to say.

New Democrats are relatively split, with 33% believing it is prevention that is the main goal, 27% rehabilitation, and 26% punishment. This is likely a reflection of the different kind of NDP supporters that exist: urban voters on the one hand and Western CCF-style voters on the other.

Greens are also split, while Bloc Québécois supporters view prevention (45%) and punishment (32%) as the two main goals.

Related to this issue is that of capital punishment. Canada doesn't use this form of punishment, but several nations still do, including the United States. Canadians aren't in favour of bringing it back, however. Forty-six percent are against its re-introduction, while 40% are for it. Compared to ten years ago, the amount of people against capital punishment is growing.

As you'd think considering their views on the justice system, 53% of Conservatives support the re-introduction of capital punishment. Liberals are most against it, with 60% opposing its re-introduction. New Democrats aren't far behind with 52% against.

Another crime issue looked into by EKOS is whether possession of small amounts of marijuana should be a crime or not. While 30% believe it should be a crime, 50% believe it shouldn't. This is a growing proportion of Canadians.

Conservatives are most likely to still see this as a crime, with 41%. New Democrats are most for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, at 63%. Green (59%) and Bloc (58%) supporters agree.

Now, on to two other issues.Canada has come a long way, and now only 28% of Canadians oppose same-sex marriage. Those who support it now number 53%. Decideds on the issue split 65-to-35 in support of same-sex marriage.

Not surprisingly, 40% of Conservatives are against SSM, the highest among the parties. It finds most support among Bloc and Green voters (66%), as well as New Democrats (63%) and Liberals (60%). It seems that the issue is, for all intents and purposes, off the radar. Not even a majority of Conservatives are against it.

Finally, abortion. The Manning Centre made political hay out of this issue, but EKOS finds that the Manning Centre's results were a little skewed. It's all in the question, and EKOS asked their's bluntly.Only 27% of Canadians consider themselves "pro-life", while 52% consider themselves pro-choice. If we wanted to take it to the level of people who are decided on the issue, 68% are pro-choice.

Conservatives have the most pro-lifers, but still only 37%. Most New Democrats (62%), Bloc voters (61%) and Greens (59%) are pro-choice.

This EKOS poll clearly indicates that Canadians are not, as the Manning Centre argued, becoming more right-wing. That the Manning Centre's results were refuted should come as no surprise.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BC NDP Opens 18-Point Lead

Earlier this week, Angus-Reid released a new provincial poll for British Columbia. And it is bad news for Gordon Campbell of the BC Liberals.The BC NDP under Carole James pick up four points from Angus-Reid's March poll and now stand at a whopping 47% support. The BC Liberals are down six to 29%. The gap is now 18 points, whereas it was only eight points a month ago.

The BC Greens have gained one point (14%) while the BC Conservatives are down one (5%).

The BC NDP leads in all demographics except one: those who earn $100k or more. The BC Liberals lead that category.

The NDP made big gains in Vancouver Island, the Interior, and the North. They lead in all of those regions with 56%, 42%, and 48% respectively. The regional samples are smaller, however, so the extent of these gains (20 points in the North) may be exaggerated. The party leads in and around Vancouver, with 46%.

The BC Liberals are down everywhere, to 29% in Vancouver, 22% on the Island, 34% in the Interior, and 37% in the North. They've lost the lead in that last region.

The Greens are doing best in Vancouver where they have 15%. The BC Conservatives are doing best in the Interior, where they have 7% support.

The main issue seems to be the implementation of the harmonized sales tax (HST). Fully 82% disagree with its implementation. The BC Liberals are seen as arrogant (64%), dishonest (52%), and secretive (48%), while the BC NDP is seen as inefficient (40%), weak (37%), but also mindful of the province's needs (32%).

In an odd question, Angus-Reid has asked how voters would vote if there were a new party. The vagueness of this questions allows the phantom party to be whatever the person wants, so the significance of these questions is pretty low.

Nevertheless, if a new one existed, 34% would support a centre-left party, while 28% would still vote NDP and 23% would still vote Liberal. It appears that many British Columbians are reluctant NDP supporters.

If a new centre-right party existed, the NDP would garner 37% while the new party would take 30%. The Liberals would have 15% in this scenario, indicating that most British Columbians on the right want an alternative to the Liberals. But, it also indicates that British Columbians aren't enamored with centre-right policies as a whole.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Projection: 126 CPC, 101 LPC, 51 BQ, 30 NDP

The Conservatives have dropped two seats, with one each going to the Liberals and the New Democrats. Perhaps more importantly, the Liberals and NDP now have 131 seats to the Conservatives' 126.However, it isn't all roses for Michael Ignatieff's party. The Liberals have nevertheless dropped 0.2 points to 29.2%. The Conservatives are also down 0.2, to 33.2%.

The NDP are this update's winners, gaining 0.2 points nationally to reach 16.4%. The Greens are up 0.1 points to 10.2%.

The Conservatives have moved up and down depending on the region. Their seats losses come in Ontario and the North. In Ontario, the party is down one seat and 0.3 points to 35.5%. In the North, they are down 0.1 points to 30.0% and zero seats. Their biggest gain comes in Alberta, where that have gained 0.4 points to reach 58.8%. They are also up 0.2 points in Atlantic Canada (31.3%) and 0.1 points in British Columbia (35.8%). They are down 0.1 points in the Prairies (46.8%).

The Liberals were also up and down. They gained 0.4 points in the Prairies (21.7%) but were steady or down everywhere else. They were stable (36.4%) in Ontario, where they picked up a seat, and in Atlantic Canada (36.9%). They dropped 0.1 points in the North (33.4%) but nevertheless gained a seat. They were down 0.3 points in British Columbia (24.6%), 0.5 points and one seat in Quebec (24.3%), and 0.7 points (17.2%) in Alberta.

The NDP gained 0.4 points in Quebec (11.7%) as well as a seat. They were up 0.4 points in British Columbia (25.8%) and 0.3 points in Ontario (16.3%). They gained 0.1 points in the North (27.1%) and were stable in Alberta (10.8%) and Atlantic Canada (23.9%). They dropped 0.3 points in the Prairies (22.8%).

The Bloc Québécois made a small 0.1 point gain in Quebec, where they have a large lead at 38.0%.

The Greens were up 0.2 points in Alberta (10.2%) and 0.1 points in the North (8.5%). They were stable in Ontario (10.3%) and dropped 0.1 points in the Prairies (7.2%) and Quebec (7.5%). They dropped 0.2 points in Atlantic Canada (6.2%) and British Columbia (11.8%).

The New Democrats should be all smiles with this update, as they have picked up a seat and made important gains in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. Their only worry should be in the Prairies, where they could be doing much better.

The Bloc can also be happy with their steady-as-she-goes performance, and the Greens were relatively stable.

It's more of a mixed result for the Liberals. Yes, they gained a seat in the North and in Ontario, but lost one in Quebec. They made a gain in the Prairies and are stable, and leading, in Ontario, but the drops in British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec are significant.

For the Conservatives, this was not a good 24 days. Their only large gain was in Alberta, where they are completely safe anyway. The loss in Ontario, and the inability to claw back up in Quebec, are troublesome. And the loss of two seats is certainly bad news.

There are two major stories in Canadian politics today. The first involves the problems the Conservatives are having with their ousted cabinet minister and the turmoil over Afghan detainees. The other involves Jean Charest and allegations of corruption in Quebec. The former has the potential to drag the Conservatives down nationally, while the latter has the potential to boost the Bloc and hurt both the federal Liberals and the Conservatives.

But whether this potential turns into anything concrete remains to be seen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

PLQ Slips Away, PQ Dominates

Angus-Reid has a new Quebec provincial poll that has some very fascinating results.The Parti Québécois has gained seven points over Angus-Reid's last poll in February, and now stands at 41%. The Liberals have completely fallen apart, dropping 10 points to 23%. The Action Démocratique gains three points to 13%, while the Parti Vert gains four points to 10%. Québec Solidaire is down two to 9%.

These are absolutely disastrous numbers for the PLQ. But we can all remember how much of a lead the PQ had when André Boisclair came to the head of the party.

The high level of support for the PVQ is, in my view, an indication that a lot of anglophone voters are moving to their only other option. In the last election, the PVQ ran a distant second on the West Island, but a second nevertheless.

I'm not sure what their current leader's (Guy Rainville) position is, but their previous leader (Scott McKay) took no position on the National Question. He would've allowed his MNAs to vote freely on any sort of referendum legislation.

I project that with these numbers, the PQ would form a majority government with 81 seats. The PLQ would elect only 33 MNAs, while the ADQ would win 9 seats and QS would win 2.

Pauline Marois is the favourite to be Premier, with 25% (up six). Jean Charest is down six to 15%, while Gérard Deltell (ADQ) is up four to 8% and Amir Khadir (QS) is up three to 8%.

"None of these", however, has a whopping of 34%. One wonders when a leaderless party will be formed.

When it comes to the leaders' approval/disapproval rating, Charest has a woeful 16/70 spread. Marois's is better, 36/43. Deltell's is 25/28, while Khadir is the only one with positive support, 37/23.

As to the issue at hand, 58% of Quebecers believe Marc Bellemare has more credibility than the Charest government, which only 11% believe. However, 20% believe neither has credibility.

When it comes to the inquiry Charest has called to look into the allegations, 75% believe it falls short.

80% believe corruption is generalized in the government, not just in the construction industry.

61% of Quebecers believe that the PLQ's fundraisers impose decisions on the party.

These are wretched, horrible numbers for the government. But the PQ shouldn't jump for joy just yet. There seems to be an incredible lack of faith in the governing class, as 80% of Quebecers believe any party in power would be corrupt. Only 13% believe the corruption is specific to the Liberals.

This is not just a run-of-the-mill poll. These numbers are significant, both for the political support each party has and how Quebecers feel about the PLQ and politicians in general.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Ekos Poll: 2.4-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS's weekly poll shows a drop for the Conservatives in the wake of the Guergis affair, which seems to be becoming stranger by the day.Compared to last week's polling, the Conservatives have dropped 2.2 points to 31.4%. The Liberals took advantage, gaining 1.7 points. They now stand at 29.0%. The New Democrats also gained, 0.5 points to 16.4%. The Bloc Québécois is down 0.8 points nationally while the Greens are down 0.6 points to 11.1%. "Other" gained by 1.5 points to 3.3%.

In EKOS's analysis, they say that polling closed to a tie between the Liberals and Conservatives over the last few days. The scandal might be having an effect, and it will be interesting to see what the results will be next week. Of course, whether it will have any long-term effect is another question entirely. My gut says it won't, but also that it just makes it all the harder for the Tories to gain the votes they need to surpass their 2008 electoral result.

In Ontario, the Liberals have gained give points and stand at 36.6%, followed by the Conservatives at a very low 31.1% (down nine points). The NDP is up one point to 16.5%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 38.7%, followed by the Conservatives at 29.9% (down eight points). In Ottawa, the Conservatives have dropped 11 points to 41.0% but still lead. The NDP is up 15 points to 21.1%.

In Quebec, the Bloc drops four points but is still in front with 34.7%. The Liberals are steady with 24.1%, while the Conservatives are down one to 16.0%. The NDP gains two to 12.3%. In Montreal, the Bloc leads with 36.3%.

In British Columbia, the Tories have gained three points and re-gained the lead with 32.5%. The Liberals are up six to 25.7% and the NDP is down six to 24.3%. The Greens have dropped five to 12.9%. In Vancouver, the Conservatives lead a three-way race with 30.5%.

In the other regions, the Conservatives narrowly lead in Atlantic Canada with 37.2% and in Alberta with 59.5% (not so narrow there). A lot of movement in the Prairies, likely due to the sample size. The Conservatives are up nine to 41.6%, the Liberals are down 11 to 24.1%, and the NDP is up five to 23.8%.

The Conservatives would win 67 seats in the West with this poll. They'd also win 32 in Ontario, 7 in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 117.

The Liberals would win 18 seats in the West, 57 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 110.

The Bloc, though down in support but facing weaker opposition, wins 50 seats.

The NDP win 10 seats in the West, 17 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 31.

Could the Conservatives form a government with only 117 MPs? Unlikely. Rather, we'd probably be looking at an NDP-backed Ignatieff government with these sorts of numbers. And while the Liberals stand to pick up a lot of seats with a poll like this, they still can't be happy with 29% support.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PQ Leads by Ten

Léger Marketing released a new provincial poll earlier this week, showing the Parti Québécois well ahead of the provincial Liberals.This poll was taken in the wake of a very unpopular budget and rumours of corruption in Jean Charest's Liberal government. With the recent allegations by Marc Bellemare about the PLQ's fundraising, there is no doubt that these bad Liberal numbers will tank even further. At this point, with 77% dissatisfied with this government, it is hard to believe the party isn't at rock bottom.

Compared to Léger's last poll in early March, the PQ has gained two points to reach 40%. The PLQ is down two points to 30%, while the Action Démocratique remains stable at 10%.

Québec Solidaire is down one to 9% and the Greens are up one to 8%.

The PQ's gains have come primarily from the Quebec City region, where they are up 11 points to 39%, and among non-francophones. They've jumped seven points to 14% among this demographic. The PQ leads among francophones with 46% (up one), and is tied with the PLQ in the Montreal region at 35% (down three). They lead outside of these two cities with 46% (up one).

The Liberals have lost a lot of ground in Quebec City and even among non-francophones. They are down 10 points to 25% in the capital, and down six points to 61% among non-francophones. They are down two points to 23% among francophones, steady in Montreal at 35%, and up one in the rest of Quebec with 26%.

The ADQ has dropped six points in the capital to 18%. This is their one fortress, so that is bad news for them.

The PVQ has gained four points among non-francophones and stands at 12%. This may be the result of Liberal supporters having nowhere else to go.

Pauline Marois of the PQ is the preferred person to be premier, with 27% (up three points). Charest follows with 17%, while Amir Khadir of QS is at 8% and Gérard Deltell of the ADQ is at 7%.

One remarkable fact about these leader numbers is that the number of people who have no opinion or respond "none of them" has risen greatly over the last few years. None of the party leaders seem to be exciting anyone at the moment.

I project the PQ would win 72 seats with this poll, while the PLQ would win 46. The ADQ would win 5 and QS would win 2.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs - First Round

As you may or may not know, I am a hockey fan. While this blog is about Canadian politics, there is nothing more Canadian than hockey. And since I project electoral results, why not hockey results?

So, here are my predictions for the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. I invite you all to make your own predictions, and the winner will get bragging rights and a "guest post" of their predictions for the second round.

The last time I made predictions, I was 7 for 8 for series winners but only guessed the right amount of games once. Hopefully, this year I'll do better.

Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

The Capitals won 15 more games and scored 101 more goals than the Canadiens this year. However, they also allowed ten more goals. So what we have here is the best offense in the league against a relatively decent defensive squad.

Jaroslav Halak will be starting for the Canadiens, and he seems to flourish when he gets a lot of action in a game. While the Capitals like winning games 5-4 or 6-5, the Canadiens don't have the kind of offense to be able to keep up. What they will count on is sound play from Halak and the hopes that they can get to Jose Theodore or Semyon Varlamov enough to grab a lead.

The Canadiens have two decent lines in Cammalleri-Plekanec-Kostitsyn and Pouliot-Gomez-Gionta, but neither one of them can match the consistent offensive output of Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin. Try as they might, the Canadiens will be over-powered but may squeak out a win on home ice.

Prediction: Washington Capitals in five.

New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers made it into the playoffs in an emotional shoot-out win over the New York Rangers, but it is a lot to expect them to take that win and turn it into four over the Devils. Brian Boucher can run hot and cold, but he is not a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL, and Martin Brodeur is a hall-of-famer. The Flyers do have Jeff Carter back, and you can't discount an offense that boasts the likes of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, and Daniel Briere, but the Devils are solid defensively and now, with Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Travis Zajac, can score.

Though the Flyers put up a fight, New Jersey takes it.

Prediction: New Jersey Devils in six.

Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins

An old Adams Division match-up, pitting the league's worst offense (Boston) against its third-best defense (Buffalo). Boston can't manage to score for their lives, and Ryan Miller has put together a Vezina-worthy (Hart-worthy?) season. Really, that's all you need to know. If Marc Savard wasn't injured, maybe the Bruins will have a chance. But key Sabres like Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy are playing well, Tyler Ennis is a revelation, and Miller ensures they can stay in the game. Boston will win one at home, but that is all.

Prediction: Buffalo Sabres in five.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators

As a Habs fan, the Montreal-Washington series will get my attention. But as an Ottawa resident, I expect to watch a lot of Sens hockey as well.

This will be a really good series. The Penguins have played a lot of hockey over the last three years, and are not the same team that won the Stanley Cup. Of course, Sidney Crosby has been exceptional, and Evgeni Malkin plays well in the post-season. But after these two the team doesn't have much. Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin? That isn't much of a supporting cast. And the defense is missing Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi. But Marc-Andre Fleury is still between the pipes, so that gives them the advantage.

Why? Because the Senators will be playing Brian Elliot. He's a good goaltender, but has been forced into the No. 1 position by the mediocre play of Pascal Leclaire. Elliot can get the job done, as he showed in the Senators long winning streak earlier this year. But these will be his first playoff games, so how he will react no one knows.

The Senators are well-coached and play with heart. Daniel Alfredsson is there to lead them, and he is backed-up ably by Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and Mike Fisher. Alex Kovalev, who shows up every two to three games, will be out with an injury and that hurts Ottawa. But Peter Regin has shown a lot of promise, and the Sens picked up veteran Matt Cullen to play a supporting role. The defense is good, with Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov the shut-down pairing. Erik Karlsson has been terrific, and Andy Sutton has proven to be a good partner for him. And the antics of Matt Cooke will not go unpunished with the likes of Sutton, Matt Carkner, and Chris Neil on the ice. And Jarkko Ruutu is a more effective pest.

Nevertheless, the Stanley Cup champions have the skill and experience. The series will be hard fought, but the Penguins will move on.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche

Finally, it looks like the Sharks will have an easy opponent they can dispatch quickly. Will they finally break their post-season jinx? I think they will, but only because Colorado has limped into the playoffs. They're a young squad, relying on the likes of Paul Stastny, Peter Mueller, and Matt Duchene for scoring. Craig Anderson has struggled of late, and I feel they just won't be able to over-come the powerful line-up in San Jose.

Prediction: San Jose Sharks in five.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators

Chicago is hungry, feisty, and young. But they have experienced veterans like Marian Hossa and John Madden mixed into the line-up. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are offensive dynamos, while Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are two of the best defensemen in the game. Nashville has a good defense, but not enough offense to take advantage of Chicago's Achilles' heel in nets. Whether it is Antti Niemi or Cristobal Huet doesn't matter if the Blackhawks can score 3+ goals per game.

Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks in four.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings

The Sedin twins had an outstanding year, with Henrik winning the Art Ross and Daniel on-pace for 111 points had he not been injured. Add Alexandre Burrows, Pavol Demitra, Ryan Kesler, and Mikael Samuelsson to the mix and you have a stellar offense. They more than compensate for Vancouver's injury-riddled defense and Roberto Luongo's unsteady play. Los Angeles is an up-and-coming franchise, but they will peak in a year or two. They'll gain some much-needed post-season experience, but won't be able to out-play the Canucks.

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in four.

Phoenix Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings

Poor Phoenix. Against all odds they had an outstanding season. They got good production out of second-line players, and a Vezina-worthy season from Ilya Brzygalov. But they've now run-up against the Detroit Red Wings, who would've undoubtedly been in the top-four in the conference had it not been for a spate of injuries. They're on the up-swing, and will continue their resurgence right through the first round. Phoenix's only hope is that rookie Jimmy Howard falters, but with the experienced line-up in front of him, it is hard to imagine even that could down the Wings.

Prediction: Detroit Red Wings in six.

So, I only have the Red Wings with the "upset", though they are the favourites going in. I just don't feel that any of the other bottom-four teams in each conference has what it takes to get past the first round. If any exist, look for surprises from Montreal, Ottawa, and Colorado.

Please, post your predictions in the same format. Ties between correct predictions will be resolved by correct series-length predictions.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Léger Poll: 17-pt BQ Lead

Léger Marketing has a new federal poll out for Quebec, and shows a little movement.The Bloc Québécois is well in front, gaining one point since Léger's March 8-11 poll. They have 38%. The Liberals have dropped four, however, and are at 21%. That is problematic for them.

The New Democrats gain three points and stand at 17%, while the Conservatives are stable at 17% as well.

The Greens drop one to 6%.

The Bloc is doing very well among francophones, with 45% support. The Conservatives are next, with 18%, up four points. Then it is the NDP with 17% (up three), and finally the Liberals at 16% (down five). That is a very worrisome place for the Liberals.

Among non-francophones, the Liberals have 43%, followed by the Conservatives and NDP at 16%. The Conservatives were at 28% among non-francophones in March, which appears to have been a glitch.

In and around Montreal, the Bloc is down four to 32%, followed by the Liberals at 29%. The NDP is up four to 18%, making Thomas Mulcair smile.

In and around Quebec City, the Bloc is ahead with 34%, followed by the Conservatives at 27%. It is still their base of support. The Liberals have dropped five points to 17% in the capital.

In the rest of Quebec, the Bloc dominates with 44% (up five). The Conservatives followed with 21%, while the Liberals are down six to 14%.

For some reason, the Liberals have lost a good chunk of support outside of Montreal. Nothing has really happened that would explain it, however, so it could be a statistical anomaly.

The Bloc would win 52 seats with this poll, while the Liberals would take 14 and the Conservatives would keep 7. The NDP would win 2.

Nothing much new here but some unhappy numbers for the Liberals and continuing trouble for the Conservatives. Things are fine, however, for the Bloc and NDP.

New IR Poll: 10-pt Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid has a new poll out, showing a big Tory lead but no changes outside of the margin of error of 3.1 points.Compared to Ipsos-Reid's March 16-18 poll, the Conservatives have gained three points and are at 37%, while the Liberals are down one to 27%. The New Democrats are also down, dropping three points to 15%. The Bloc Québécois is up one point nationally to 10% while the Greens are steady at 10%.

Note that this poll was taken between April 6 and April 8. While that straddles part of the Guergis affair, the real stuff happened on the 9th. We'll have to wait and see what other pollsters find this week.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are up six points to 39%, while the Liberals remain steady at 36%. Considering the low performance of the Liberals in this poll nationally, that is actually a surprisingly good result. The NDP drops five to 10%.

In Quebec, the Bloc gains seven points and is at 42%. The Liberals drop four to 23% while the Conservatives are steady at 20%. The NDP drops four to 7%, one below the Greens at 8%.

In British Columbia, the Tories gain three and have a commanding lead with 46%. The NDP drops two to 20% and the Liberals gain two and stand at 19%.

Elsewhere, the NDP and Liberals are tied in Atlantic Canada at 33% while the Conservatives have gained five points to reach 26% there. In Alberta, the Tories are down eight points but still lead with 58%. In the Prairies, the Conservatives are up 13 and lead with 59%, while the NDP is down 11 to 18%.

The Conservatives would dominate in the West, winning 80 seats (out of 95!). They also win 51 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 7 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 146. Close, but no cigar. Generally speaking, everyone holding a Tory seat now is re-elected.

The Liberals win 10 seats in the West, 45 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 87.

The Bloc wins 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP win 5 seats in the West, 10 in Ontario, and 7 in Atlantic Canada for a woeful 22 seats.

This poll is a little out of step with what we've been seeing lately, which isn't new for Ipsos-Reid. But, they have sometimes been vindicated before so we'll have to wait and see what the other pollsters come up with this week.


I've placed comments on moderation. I'm generally at the computer most of the day, so there should be little delay in approving your comments. I was already receiving all of your comments in my inbox, and reading through them, so this is actually no more work for me than having no moderation at all. Believe it or not, I do get quite a bit of spam (particularly on older posts) so this is an easy way to avoid that. It also allows me to halt any of the flame wars that spring up now and then. Rejection will be used sparingly, so don't hesitate to post.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Best Case Scenarios - March 2010

With the polling results from the month of March, what is the best electoral result each party could cobble together?

What I've done is taken the best polling results for each party in each of the six regions, and used those polling results to come up with a projection. In other words, these projections are the best possible result each party could've gotten had an election taken place in the month of March.

We'll start with the New Democrats.With an estimated national support of 21.3%, the NDP wins 43 seats, matching Ed Broadbent's record in seats and surpassing his record in popular support.

The NDP wins 16 seats in the West, thanks to high levels of support in British Columbia (28%), Alberta (14%), and the Prairies (27%). They win 18 seats in Ontario (22% support), 2 in Quebec (16%), and 7 in Atlantic Canada (32%). Nevertheless, the Conservatives win the most amount of seats though the Liberals and NDP outnumber the Tories, 130 to 126.

The NDP are pretty close to as good as they have ever been in their history. But a lot of things would need to go their way if Jack Layton hopes to match Ed Broadbent's results.

Now, the Liberals.In a close election where the Liberals win 33.1% of the vote, Michael Ignatieff becomes the new Prime Minister after putting together a slim minority.

The Liberals win 24 seats in the West, with strong results in British Columbia (29.6%), Alberta (21.9%), the Prairies (29.2%), and the North, where they sweep. In Ontario, the Liberals take in 39% of the vote and 54 seats. In Quebec, they have 31% support and 21 seats, and in Atlantic Canada they take 42% of the vote and 22 of the seats. They're able to form government thanks to a weak performance by the Bloc Québécois in Quebec and the Conservatives, primarily in British Columbia.

This shows how fragile the Liberal position is. Even under ideal circumstances they can barely win a plurality of seats. For them to have success, the Bloc needs to stumble and the Conservatives need to perform badly out West. In this scenario, their results in Ontario and east of it aren't even that bad.

And now, the Conservatives.With 37.5% of the vote, the Conservatives win 148 seats and are kept at a minority for the third consecutive time.

Caucus is dominated by the West, where 79 seats are won thanks to the results in British Columbia (43%), Alberta (66%), and the Prairies (49.5%). The party wins 48 seats in Ontario with 37% support, and take 10 in Quebec (21.8%) and 11 in Atlantic Canada (35.9%). Despite a great loss of seats by the NDP and the Bloc, the Conservatives can't beat down the Liberals enough to form a majority.

Seven seats shy of 155, even if everything goes right. This, more than anything, shows why the Conservatives should not go to an election. It is unlikely that they can win a majority, even if the Bloc is reduced to 31.5% support and 42 seats. They simply can't put together the results they need in the East to go along with what they can win in the West. Would the Conservatives be happy with a small increase in their mandate? Maybe. They would be able to govern for a few more years, but the situation in the House of Commons would remain unchanged.

This is pretty much as good as it gets for the parties within the context of March polling. The best the NDP can hope for is five extra MPs. The Liberals can dream of a minority government, but even if everything goes right it would be won by the slimmest of margins. And the Conservatives, despite their best efforts, cannot get to a majority.

That's probably why we're not going to have an election before Parliament closes for the summer.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Support for Mission in Afghanistan Low

An EKOS poll indicates that support for the Canadian mission in Afghanistan is low, and that opposition to an extension of the mission is now a majority opinion.The Canadian Armed Forces have now been in Afghanistan for more than eight years, and have been in the wilder Kandahar region for four. That is a long deployment in a warzone for the 2,500 to 2,800 men and women in the country.

This EKOS poll shows that Canadians are feeling that war weariness. Only 28% would support an extension of the mission beyond July 2011, despite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's request that we stay. Fully 60% of Canadians oppose the idea.

Opposition is highest in Quebec, where 68% say they would oppose an extension. The lowest level of opposition can be found in Atlantic Canada and Alberta, but even there opposition is at 53%.

Support is highest in Alberta, at 37%, and lowest in Quebec, at 18%.

There is no significant difference of opinion among the different age groups and education levels, but there is a definite split along gender lines. While 54% of men oppose an extension, 66% of women feel the same way.

No matter how people vote, opposition is still a majority view. It's lowest among Conservatives (52%) and Liberals (57%), however, and highest among Bloc Québécois supporters (76%).

When it comes to the mission itself, let alone any extension, opposition is almost at the magical 50% mark, with 49% of Canadians say they oppose Canadian military participation in Afghanistan. Opposition is highest in Quebec, with 62%.

Support is only at 36%, and is highest in Alberta at 50%. Only 21% of Quebecers support the mission.

Again, there is not much variation when broken down by age and education level. But women split 55-28 against the mission, while men are more undecided (44% oppose, 45% support).

Support is highest among Conservative supporters, at 48%. However, 36% of Tories still oppose the mission.

The oppose/support split is 49-39 among Liberals, 62/25 among New Democrats, and 75/17 among Bloc supporters.

Most of the news concerning Afghanistan in this poll's field days were about the detainee issue and President Harmid Karzai's corruption. Canada's last combat death, that of Corporal Darren J. Fitzpatrick, was on March 20 and so far this year three Canadian soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan. While any loss is heart-wrenching, at this time last year ten Canadian soldiers had lost their lives.

One can be led to think that these high levels of opposition to the mission have less to do with the sacrifices that have been made and have to be made, and more with Canadians questioning why, indeed, we're there.


On a completely different note, Gilles Duceppe will be appearing on CBC's The Hour tonight (Thursday) at 23h00. Could be interesting television.

New Ekos Poll: 6.3-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS's weekly poll is out, and my apologies for the late post. As the Easter Weekend interrupted EKOS's polling, the sample size is much smaller than usual.Now, before you look at these numbers and say "huge MOE!", remember that most other pollsters survey about 1,000 people. Only EKOS, and recently Harris-Decima, go for 2,000+ people. So, though these numbers definitely look wonky, they shouldn't be any more wonky than results we see from Angus-Reid, Ipsos-Reid, or Nanos.

However, with such odd results from a pollster that is always consistent, one must come to the conclusion that EKOS's polling is consistent because of the sample size and not their method. For them to show such weird numbers in British Columbia and the Prairies leads me to believe that their method is actually a little worse than other pollsters. What they bring to the table is large sample sizes, which can overcome most methodological deficiencies.

Anyway, to the poll.

The Conservatives are up 1.4 points to 33.6%, a good result for them. The Liberals are up 0.3 points to 27.3%, while the New Democrats are down 0.1 points to 15.9%. The Greens are down one to 11.7%, and "Other" is down 1.3 points to 1.8%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are up five points to 39.5%, while the Liberals are down one to 31.8%. This is a huge spread, and very worrisome. But then again, Harris-Decima had things the other way around yesterday. The NDP is up one to 16%.

In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois is up three to 39.4% and the Liberals are up two to 23.6%. The Conservatives are steady at 17% and the NDP is down two to 9.6%. Good results for the Bloc, bad for everyone else.

In British Columbia, well, the NDP is up five to 29.5% and move into first. Oddly enough, the Conservatives are unchanged at 28.8%. The Liberals drop 10 to 19.6%, and the Greens are up five to 18.2%.

In the smaller regions, the Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 38.1% (up five), while the Conservatives are up eight to 36.1% and the NDP is down five to 20.3%. In Alberta, things are relatively unchanged with the Tories at 55.7%, but in the Prairies we get a throw-away result. The Liberals gain 14 points and are at 35.2%, while the Conservatives drop 16 points to 32.8%. The NDP is up five to 18.6%. What is going on on the plains?!?

The Conservatives win 59 seats in the West, 57 in Ontario (can you imagine the Conservative Ontario caucus being as large as the Western caucus?), 7 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 133.

The Liberals win 18 in the West (seven of them in the miracle Prairies), 36 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 89.

The Bloc wins 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 17 seats in the West, 13 in Ontario, and 2 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 32.

The Greens win 1 seat in the West (British Columbia).

At the very least, it's fun to see something different in an EKOS poll.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New HD Poll: 3-pt Conservative Lead

Harris-Decima has a new poll out, showing a closer race between the Conservatives and the Liberals than a month ago.The Conservatives have dropped one point to 32%, while the Liberals have remained steady at 29%. The New Democrats are up one point to 17%, while the Greens are steady and the Bloc Québécois has dropped one point at the national level.

Despite their weakness nationally, the Liberals are doing very well in the most important province: Ontario. They've dropped only one point to 38%, but the Conservatives are down three to 32%. That is a troublesome number for the Tories. A gain of three points for the NDP, now at 17%, is good news for them.

In Quebec, the Bloc drops five points but is still very strong at 39%. The Liberals are up one point but are only at 23%, well below where they need to be. The Conservatives and NDP have each gained one point to 16% and 11%, respectively.

In British Columbia, the Tories are down two to 33%, putting the NDP within range at 29%, up four points. The Liberals are up one to 22%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have gained five points and lead with 39%. In Alberta, the Conservatives lead with 53% while the NDP has dropped five points to 9%. In the Prairies, the Tories are solidly ahead with 49%. The Liberals have dropped five points here.

The Conservatives win 69 seats out West, 33 in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 116. Their weak Ontario numbers sink them.

The Liberals win 11 seats in the West, 57 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 103.

The Bloc, taking advantage of weak Conservative and Liberal numbers, wins 52 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 15 seats in the West, 16 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 37.

The Liberal and NDP numbers are significant, because together they hold 140 seats, much more than the Tories at 116. It is difficult to imagine the Conservatives governing with only 116 seats, and with the NDP outnumbering the Liberals in the West, the NDP would have a good argument for having an important role in an Ignatieff government.