Friday, July 30, 2010

The NDP Resurgence in Quebec

From the depths of 1.5%, the New Democrats under Jack Layton have roared back to prominence in Quebec, earning 12.2% of the vote in the 2008 election and electing one MP in the riding of Outremont. But this is not a new phenomenon.

The party has three times gotten into the double digits in Quebec: in 1965 under Tommy Douglas (12.0%), in 1988 under Ed Broadbent (14.4%), and in 2008 under Layton. But while Layton's performance was part of a consistent growth in support for the party from 4.6% in 2004 and 7.5% in 2006, both Douglas and Broadbent presided over spikes of support after some middling, but consistent, performances.Douglas's average in four elections was 7.8%. Broadbent's was 9.4% in the same amount of elections, while Layton's has been 8.1% in three. So, we can argue that Jack Layton is performing as well in Quebec as his two illustrious predecessors have performed.

But things were bad under Lewis (6.7% average in two elections) and they got even worse under McLaughlin (1.5%) and McDonough (1.9% in two elections). Part of their sorry performances can be blamed on the emergence of the Bloc Québécois, but throughout the 1990s the NDP was virtually non-existent in Quebec, and even Layton's 4.6% in 2004 was nothing much.

So what has Layton done to bring his party back to a respectable position in Quebec? For one, out of all of the party's past leaders, he is probably the most comfortable in French. And he has done this in a much more difficult climate than either Douglas or Broadbent had to deal with. The Bloc Québécois shares a lot of the NDP's social democratic values, and eats up about 40% of the vote in the province. From what "second choice" polls have shown us, if the Bloc did not exist Jack Layton and the NDP would be competing for a leading place in the province.

But where has this growth come from? And how does it compare to previous elections?

It's plain from this chart below that the NDP has grown throughout the province since Jack Layton's first election in 2004. In no one region did the NDP lose support. In two regions, on the South Shore (west and southwest of Montreal) and in the Laurentides, the party's support increase four-fold. It increased by three times in Chaudière-Appalaches, the Cantons de l'Est, Mauricie-Laurentides, and Montérégie. So this is growth across the board.
The NDP took off in two places, in Montreal Centre and in the Outaouais, with 18.7% and 20.8%, respectively. This should come as no surprise, as Outremont is in the former region and Gatineau in the latter. Those are the two ridings the NDP has the most chance of winning in the next election.

I had originally thought that this investigation would reveal that much of the support has come from the Bloc. In a time where the National Question is on the backburner, it makes sense that many social democratic Quebecers would move over to the NDP to give another party a try. The truth of the matter, however, is that voting preference shifts have been relatively uniform throughout the province. The Liberals seem to have lost about 10 points and the Conservatives about the same amount, while NDP growth and Bloc losses are also in similar proportions. So what does that tell us? Perhaps Liberal voters are going over to the Conservatives and Bloc voters are going to the NDP. Or, more likely, it is much more complicated than that and all we can say is that the NDP and the Tories have benefited from the reduction in support for the Liberals and the Bloc.

If we compare the 2008 election to the last time the NDP has done well in Quebec, in 1988, we see that some ridings have always had good NDP support while others have either fallen out of the NDP fold or fallen into it.

During Jack Layton's tenure, the same few ridings have always been the best performers for the NDP. They are located primarily in the Outaouais and the centre and eastern portions of Montreal. The top riding for the last three elections has been Outremont, with 14% in 2004, 17% in 2006, and 40% in 2008. That is a good base for Thomas Mulcair.

Gatineau has recently become a good riding thanks to Francoise Boivin, as the party had 26% support there in 2008. But this is mostly the case of Boivin, as the party's support in 2006 was only 10% and 6% in 2004.

Two other Montreal ridings, Westmount-Ville-Marie and Laurier-Sainte-Marie, have also been good spots for the NDP. Support has gone from 12% to 15% to 23% in the first riding, while it has gone from 12% to 17% to 17% (again) in the latter riding. However, as LSM is Gilles Duceppe's riding, it is unlikely the NDP can take advantage of their strength.

Finally, Hull-Aylmer has been a strong place for the NDP, as they had 12% support there in 2004, 15% in 2006, and 20% in 2008. This was helped by a strong NDP candidate, who had previously run in Manicouagan on the Côte-Nord. While he was running there, the party's support was 10% in 2004 and 13% in 2006, making it the NDP's fifth-best riding in the province. When he left, Manicouagan dropped to 5% and became one of the NDP's worst ridings.

Interestingly, it seems that over the last 20 years NDP support has shifted. While it is now on the island of Montreal (primarily in the centre and east) and in the Outaouais, back in 1988 the areas of strength were in the north, in Montérégie, in Mauricie, around Quebec City, and, implausibly, in the Saguenay.

But compare their top ridings in 1988 to their top ridings in 2008. The NDP's top five back in 1988 were Témiscamingue with 38% (but they had 10% in Abitibi-Témiscamingue in 2008), Chambly in Montérégie with 32% (now 14%), St-Maurice in Mauricie with 30% (now 8%), Abitibi with 26% (now 8%), and Jonquière with 21% (now 5%).

Clearly the areas of greatest strength for the NDP back in 1988 are no longer areas of strength. But some things have not changed. The NDP had 22% support in Laurier-Sainte-Marie in 1988 and 20% support in Outremont. Hull-Aylmer was at 15% while Gatineau was also at 15%. Westmount-Ville-Marie was at 13%. So, the top ridings for the NDP today have not come out of the blue.

But while the party was getting 20% in today's Québec and Lévis-Bellechasse ridings in 1988, that support has halved twenty years later. The support they had in northern Quebec is gone, as it also is in the Mauricie region.

While the party has drifted away from some of its rural Quebec roots, it is still solidly founded in Montreal and the Outaouais. It bodes well for the NDP's future in Quebec.

Many thanks to the Pundits' Guide for the compilation of most of this data and its ease of access.

Note: I am going to be taking a break from blogging for about a week, so don't expect any posts for the next few days.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New HD Poll: 5-pt Conservative Lead (down two)

Yesterday, Harris-Decima released a new federal poll, showing a dip in support for both the Conservatives and the Liberals. Encompassing some of the brouhaha over the census, but not all of it (as it continues today!), this is a possible indication that the issue is beginning to cause some trouble for the government.Harris-Decima's last poll was taken between June 10 and June 20, so it has been about a month. Over that time period, the Conservatives have dropped three points to 31%. The Liberals are down one point to 26%. The gap has narrowed by two points.

The New Democrats are up one to 18%, while the Greens are up two to 12%. The Bloc Québécois is at 10%, down one.

The game is tied in Ontario, as both the Liberals and the Conservatives have 34%. That is a loss of six points for the Conservatives and a gain of two for the Liberals. The NDP is up three points to 18% in the province. Overall, this was a good poll for them.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down four points but still leads very comfortably with 41%. The Liberals are down three to 19% while the Conservatives are up two to 13%. The Greens are at 12% and the NDP is unchanged at 11%.

It's another close race in British Columbia, as the Conservatives have fallen back two points to 31%. The NDP is down two as well to 30%. The Liberals pick up three and stand at 22%, while the Greens are down one to 13%.

The Conservatives and Liberals are tied in Atlantic Canada with 34%, while the NDP is up five points to 22%.

The Tories lead with 55% in Alberta and 39% in the Prairies. The NDP is up 11 points to 34% in the latter region.

The Conservatives win 63 seats in the West and North, 43 in Ontario, 4 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 120. That is down 14 seats from Harris-Decima's last poll.

The Liberals win 14 seats in the West and North, 46 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 18 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 92, up nine.

The Bloc wins 55 seats in Quebec, unchanged from Harris-Decima's last poll.

The NDP wins 18 seats in the West, 17 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 4 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 41, up five from last time.

With this poll, the national projection is now:

Conservatives - 33.9%
Liberals - 28.2%
New Democrats - 16.4%
Bloc Québécois - 9.7%
Greens - 9.1%

While this poll puts the Liberals in a better position than they were in June, this is still not a good poll for them. They aren't doing well enough in British Columbia or Quebec, and need to pull away in Ontario. But the poll is even worse for the Conservatives, as they are only at 31% - way too low for a government. They are struggling in British Columbia and Quebec and need to be doing better in Ontario and the Prairies. With 120 seats, it would be a difficult government for Stephen Harper to run.

The Bloc and the NDP come out shining from this poll. The Bloc, though down slightly from HD's last poll, still make a gain over 2008's election and win a historic-best 55 seats. The NDP also do very well, picking up some seats and breaking the 40-seat barrier.

As the census issue drags on, and Michael Ignatieff continues his bus tour, it will be interesting to see how the numbers change (if they do) over the next few weeks. One wonders if we will end this summer the way we ended last summer, with a Liberal lead. One also wonders if we will enter the fall the same way we entered last fall, with that lead eradicated.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Success of the ABC Campaign in Newfoundland & Labrador

Premier Danny Williams is a popular guy in Newfoundland & Labrador. But his popularity transcends mere provincial politics, and he proved that during the last federal election.

Williams considered Prime Minister Stephen Harper to have broken his promises concerning equalization payments for Newfoundland & Labrador. As a result, he urged Newfoundlanders and Canadians to vote "Anything but Conservative", or ABC. This call had a limited appeal in the rest of Canada, but was certainly heard on the island. To aid matters, Williams made sure his Progressive Conservative Party did not work with their federal counterparts, crippling Harper's organization in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Because of Williams' ABC campaign, Newfoundland & Labrador bucked the trend that took place virtually everywhere else in the province, reducing the government's support significantly while, nationwide, the Conservatives took a larger share of the vote.

To get a real picture of the debacle, the best way to look at it is at the riding level.

We'll start with Labrador. Here, turnout dropped from 58% in 2006 to 38.6% in 2008, a loss of 3,680 votes. But while Todd Russell kept his seat, losing only 342 votes in all, and Phyliss Artiss of the NDP gained 341 votes for her party, Lacey Lewis earned 3,913 votes less than the Conservatives did in the 2006 election.

In Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte, turnout dropped by 6,250 voters, from 54.8% to 44.3%. But here again it was not just about Conservatives staying home. Gerry Byrne of the Liberals held on to his seat and picked up an extra 748 votes, while Mark Kennedy of the NDP lost 244 for his party. But Lorne Robinson had 7,338 votes fewer than his predecessor Conservative candidate in 2006.

In Random - Burin - St. George's, the Liberals kept their seat with newcomer Judy Foote, though she did lose 1,095 votes in a riding where 6,648 fewer people voted than in 2006. The NDP made a gain of 1,861 votes, but Herb Davis of the Conservatives dropped 7,441 votes.

Turnout dropped from 59.6% to 51.8% in Avalon, a total of 4,644 fewer voters. This meant a seat loss for the Conservatives, as Fabian Manning (now a Senator) lost 7,590 votes. That is almost 3,000 votes more than was lost to turnout. The Liberals elected Scott Andrews with 548 more votes than they had in 2006, while the NDP picked up 2,342 more votes in the riding.

The biggest drop in turnout, in real numbers, came in Bonavista - Gander - Grand Falls - Windsor, with 9,632 fewer voters. Nevertheless, Scott Simms of the Liberals increased his vote by 223, while the NDP picked up another 889 votes. Andrew House lost 11,022 votes for the Conservative Party.

The Conservatives lost another seat in St. John's South - Mount Pearl, where Merv Wiseman hoped to hold on to former cabinet minister Loyola Hearn's seat. While 2,840 fewer people voted here than in 2006, the Conservatives lost 12,320 votes - almost 10,000 more than might have been lost to the lower turnout. The Liberals benefited, electing Siobhan Coady (with a gain of 2,625 votes). The NDP also made a big gain of 5,898 votes.

Finally, in St. John's East, turnout actually INCREASED. An extra 402 voters went to the polls in this steadily growing riding. Conservative MP Norman Doyle was not running for re-election, and so Craig Westcott took his spot and lost fully 15,274 votes. This was also a bad riding for the Liberals, as they lost 9,134 votes. Jack Harris, former leader of the NL NDP and former NDP MP, came roaring back with a gain of 23,691 votes for his party.

In total, the Conservatives lost 64,898 real votes in Newfoundland & Labrador. To put that into perspective, the Conservatives lost 165,275 votes between 2006 and 2008 in the entire country. In other words, the ABC Campaign accounted for 39% of the Tories' losses in the 2008 election. Not bad for a province with less than 2% of Canada's population.

Both the Liberals and the New Democrats made gains at the expense of the Conservatives in this election. The Liberals bumped their popular support up to 46.8% from 42.8% in 2006. It was their fourth best result in the last nine elections, this despite having a historic low nationally.

The NDP increased their support from 13.6% to 33.7%. That was new ground for their party, as their previous best result recently was in 1997 when the party had 22% support.

There is some chance that the NDP can use 2008's success as a springboard to a seat gain. But that opportunity lies only in one riding: St. John's South - Mount Pearl. Winning two seats in Newfoundland & Labrador, after having never won a seat in a general election in the province prior to 2008, would be a big moral victory.

Regionally speaking, the Conservatives dropped everywhere in the province, while the Liberals made gains on the mainland of the island. The NDP's bump came on the Avalon Peninsula.To put the Conservatives' Newfoundland catastrophe into perspective, consider that the party's previous low (using Progressive Conservatives results prior to 1993 and PC + Reform/Canadian Alliance after 1993) since 1980 had been 32.3% in 2004. From 42.7% in 2006, the Conservatives dropped to a mere 16.6%. This after earning anywhere from 32% to 58% in the province over the last thirty years.

In an election that was a wide success, Newfoundland & Labrador was the party's black eye. In only three other provinces did the Tories drop in support from 2006: Nova Scotia (from 29.7% to 26.1%), Quebec (from 24.6% to 21.7%), and Alberta (from 65% to 64.7%). All of these losses were miniscule in comparison to the 26-point, 61% drop in support the party suffered in Newfoundland & Labrador.

But it's only seven seats, you say, and they've never won more than four of them in the last 30 years.

While this is true, the next election has three likely outcomes: a Liberal minority (either with a plurality of seats or as a coalition), a Conservative minority (most likely), and a Conservative majority. If there is to be a Conservative majority, it will be a very slim one. So slim, in fact, that those four seats may be the difference.

As the latest polls in Newfoundland & Labrador have shown, Danny Williams is as popular as ever. He may not run his ABC campaign again in the next election, but the rift between the provincial Progressive Conservatives and the federal Conservatives will not be an easy one to mend. The federal organization was ripped apart and humiliated in 2008. The party lost thousands of voters to the other parties and more to voter apathy. Can those bridges be re-built and those voters brought back into the fold?

Or will the Liberals and NDP sweep the province again?

Friday, July 23, 2010

One of us - Quebecers voting for Quebecers

Quebec has a great sense of its own identity. While people from Ontario might consider Stephen Harper a Westerner and people from the West might consider Michael Ignatieff an Ontarian, there is less of an "us vs. them" mentality. They're all Canadians.

But for Quebecers, both Harper and Ignatieff are outsiders. It's a much bigger distinction and Quebecers see these two leaders differently than they do someone like Gilles Duceppe or Stéphane Dion. If Harper or Ignatieff show a good understanding of Quebecers and their values, that will be respected. If they speak the French language well enough that will be appreciated. But for a leader like Duceppe or past party leaders who hailed from from Quebec, it is an entirely different kettle of fish.

But does this perception change how Quebecers vote for one party or another? That is what I've decided to look at today.

The following chart shows the popular vote that each of the two main national parties have received in Quebec since the Quiet Revolution (generally considered to have started in 1960). I've chosen that date for two reasons: firstly, it is the moment when Quebecers started to impose themselves more forcefully on the federal level and became more aware of their own identity. Secondly, the Progressive Conservatives under Diefenbaker worked with Maurice Duplessis's Union nationale prior to this date, which skews the numbers. Voters prior to 1962 might have been voting PC because Duplessis supported that party. It had nothing to do with the Conservative leader himself.

The pale red sections of the chart below show the periods when the Liberal Party leader was from Quebec. The first band, running from the 1968 election to the 1980 election, represents Pierre Trudeau's time as leader. The second band, running from the 1993 election to the 2000 election, represents Jean Chrétien's time as leader. The final band represents Stéphane Dion's brief tenure as leader.

You might be asking why I didn't include Paul Martin as a Quebecer. After all, his LaSalle-Émard riding is in Montreal. The reason is that Martin was born in Windsor and was raised in Ontario. His background is more Franco-Ontarian than Quebecer, and his command of the French language was not exactly perfect. I don't believe he was seen as a Quebecer in the same way that Chretien or Duceppe were seen as Quebecers.

The pale blue section of the chart represents the period when Brian Mulroney (who was born and raised in Baie-Comeau) was leader of the Progressive Conservatives. The purple band represents the time when Jean Charest led the Progressive Conservatives (and when Jean Chrétien was Liberal leader). For the elections running from 1993 to 2000, I've combined the total support level of the Reform, PC, and Canadian Alliance parties. I think this chart is a very solid argument in favour of having leaders from Quebec.

Looking at the Liberal Party, it is easier to see how Trudeau brought the party to its dizzying heights, earning as much as 68.2% support in 1980. The Progressive Conservatives under Stanfield and Clark could do nothing, and their party dropped to 12% support in 1980. But the Liberals' fortunes fell after Trudeau left and John Turner became leader. This coincided with Mulroney's arrival as head of the Progressive Conservatives. Under him, the PC earned 50.2% and 52.7% in the 1984 and 1988 elections, respectively, while Liberal support dipped to 35.4% and 30.3%. When Kim Campbell took over and Jean Chrétien became leader of the Liberals, the parties switched positions and the Liberals saw another peak.

Interestingly, the PCs also had a peak in the 1997 election when Jean Charest became leader. This dampened Liberal fortunes - fortunes that raised again when Clark led the PCs and his party's support dropped to 11.8% in the province. With Martin at the helm, the Liberals again fell, dropping from 44.2% support in 2000 under Chrétien to 33.9% support in 2004 under Martin, and then 20.7% support in 2006.

The Conservatives did not have a Quebecer as head of their party, and suffered because of it in 2004. But with Martin heading the Liberals, and Harper finding the key to Quebec support in his famous December 2005 "Quebec speech", he regained the support of Quebecers when Martin couldn't earn it.

Dion, a Quebecer, shifted the dynamic again, increasing his party's support to 23.7% while Harper fell to 21.7%.

So what does this tell us for the next election? It is likely that Gilles Duceppe will be the only party leader from Quebec, not counting Layton who was born in Quebec but has spent most of his life in Ontario.

As Harper has lost favour in the province and is having more trouble being seen as "getting" the Quebec mentality, there is an opportunity for Ignatieff. Michael Ignatieff's mission in Quebec is to find the key message that will resonate with Quebecers despite his "outsider" status. The party's support in the province is lower than it has ever been, so there's only one direction to go from here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 5.8-pt CPC Lead (down 0.5)

EKOS is up with its bi-weekly poll. But they make us wait for two weeks for nothing much. However, the Conservatives are showing a lack of life, possibly due to the ridiculous situation with the census. We'll have to see how things progress in the next few weeks. But first...Compared to EKOS's last two-week poll earlier this month, the Conservatives are virtually unchanged. They've gained 0.1 points to reach 32.2%. The Liberals are up 0.6 points to 26.4%, while the New Democrats are down 1.1 points to 16.4%.

The Greens are down 0.2 to 11.9% and the Bloc Québécois is up 0.4 to 10.1%.

At the national level, the Conservatives dominate among men with 36.8% to the Liberals' 24.4%. But among females the Liberals are actually ahead with 28.4% to the Conservatives' 27.7%. The Liberals are also showing life among those under the age of 45, as they lead that group. The Conservatives lead among those over the age of 45.

EKOS also broke down their two-week poll by those two weeks. From July 7 to 13 the Conservatives led with 31.6% to the Liberals' 27.5%, followed by the NDP at 14.7%. In the week of July 14 to 20, however, the Conservatives increased their support slightly to 32.4% while the Liberals dropped to 25.5%. The NDP jumped up to 18.4%.

For the entire two week period, the Conservatives lead in Ontario with 34.9%, unchanged from EKOS's last poll. The Liberals are up one to 32.6% while the NDP is down two to 16.4%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 39.5% (compared to 31.1% for the Tories) while the Conservatives lead in Ottawa with 37.6% (compared to 33.7% for the Liberals).

In Quebec, the Bloc is up one to 39.5%, followed by the Liberals at 22.3% (up one) and the Conservatives at 15.9% (also up one). The NDP is down two to 11.4%. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 40.6%, followed by the Liberals at 21.8%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are down five points to 30.4%. The NDP is up five to 28.7% and the Liberals are up four to 23.5%. The Greens are down four to 13.3%. The Conservatives lead in Vancouver with 39.4%, followed by the Liberals at 25.4%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 36.9% while the Conservatives lead in Alberta with 55.9%. There's been some movement in the Prairies, with the Conservatives up 12 to 49.3% and the Liberals down seven to 16.2%.

The Conservatives win 65 seats in the West and North, 48 seats in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 128.

The Liberals win 15 seats in the West and North, 43 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 21 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 94.

The Bloc wins 52 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 15 seats in the West, 15 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 34.

Things are pretty much stuck. Overall the Liberals did see a gain but their lower number was in the most recent week. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next two weeks as the Liberal Express bus tour continues and the census issue becomes more embarrassing for the Conservatives.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Left vs. Right since 1867

Since the days of the French Revolution, politics has been a conflict between left and right. While that might be a bit of a generalization, it is nevertheless true that over the years of our Canadian democracy politics has usually been divided into two general world views, one that is called the left and one that is called the right. These can be most easily summed up by the names of the two main Canadian parties: liberal for the left and conservative for the right.

Obviously, since 1867 the parties have changed and re-branded themselves. But, nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to look at the voting behaviour of Canadians since 1867 as regards to those two poles of the political spectrum.

For this exercise, the left has included parties like the Liberals, Labour, CCF, NDP, Greens, and Bloc Québécois while the right has included parties like the Conservatives, Progressive Conservatives, Reform, Canadian Alliance, and Social Credit.

What we get is a picture of how left or right Canada has been since it's inception (which, by the way, is an awesome movie I saw last night).

Looking at the chart below, we see that Canada has, for the most part, voted left-wing with brief interludes to the right.From 1867 to 1930 it was a close-run contest, with either the left (at the time epitomized by the Liberals) or the right (epitomized by the Conservatives or Liberal-Conservatives) garnering the most electoral support. Until 1917 we can even say that the right had the advantage.

But things turned to the left's advantage in the 1920s and 1930s, with increased awareness about labour issues and the impact of the Great Depression. Mackenzie King's Liberals dominated during the 1930s and 1940s, with the left (now included the CCF) topping 60% until 1957.

From then until 1962 it was the right that held the advantage, but from that point until 1984 the left was in clear control, garnering anywhere from 55% to 65% support. Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives changed things in 1984, but since then the right has been in steady decline as more varied options appear on the left. Left-wing parties have earned more than 52% support since 1988, and have not been below 60% since 1993. Their vote, however, is declining a little, from a high of 69% in 2004 to 61% in 2008. The Conservatives, now alone on the right, have not had more than 38% support since 1988.

If we wanted to average things out in terms of epoch, it breaks down as follows:

From 1867 to 1882, when (at least Wikipedia's knowledge of) full results were spotty, the right averaged 37% compared to the left's 33%. This was the time of John A. MacDonald.

From 1887 to 1911, our pre-First World War period, the right still led with 48% support to the left's had 47% support. Our minds weren't made up at this time.

From 1917 to 1926, the post-war (yes, I know the war ended in 1918) and pre-depression period, the left dominated with 52% support to the right's 45%.

From 1930 to 1940, the depression era, not surprisingly the left increased it's lead to 55%, while the right garnered only 41%.

From 1945 to 1965, which I'll call the "good old days", the left held firm with 55% to the right's 42%.

From 1968 to 1980, the Trudeau years, the left absolutely dominated with 60% to the right's woeful 39%.

From 1984 to 1988, the Mulroney years, the gap narrowed to 50% for the left compared to 48% for the right.

From 1993 to 2000, the era of the split right, things got better for the left, with 61% to the right's 37%.

And from 2004 to 2008, our current time period, voters have sided with the left to the tune of 64% to Stephen Harper's average of 35%.

Food for thought. Obviously, in our system of first-past-the-post and multiple parties, this is really only academic. The right has formed government for a greater period of time than they have led public opinion. And, of course, the Liberals are more of a centrist party than a left-wing party. But, if Canadians are divided into two poles, it is interesting to see how they fall.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Projection: CPC 132, LPC 92, BQ 52, NDP 32

With the tweaks I've done to reflect voting day behaviour (which, as some of you have argued, also takes into account organizational strength), I thought I'd do a quick projection update.

I'm not going to compare it to the last projection in detail, as some of the changes are due to the tweaks I've done, rather than polling performance.

But, with the tweaks and the two most recent polls the Conservatives gain three seats and now have 132. Their seat gains come in British Columbia (where they now have 20), Ontario (where they now have 46) and the North (where they now have one).

The seats come from the Liberals in British Columbia and Ontario (where they now have seven and 45, respectively) and the New Democrats in the North (where they now have none).

With a combined 124 seats, that puts the Liberals and NDP out of the running for any sort of coalition.

As for the top line national numbers, the Conservatives are up a full point to 34.1% followed by the Liberals, who are up 0.7 points to 28.4%.

The NDP drops 0.5 points to 16.4% while the Greens drop from 10.5% to 8.9%.

At this point, the Conservatives look set to re-elect another minority government, though it will be weaker than the one they won in 2008. The Liberals gain 15 MPs and the Bloc gains four, so they also have something to play for in the next election, though obviously this result could be seen as a Liberal defeat. The NDP stands to lose the most among the opposition parties, but they would still be at a respectable 32 MPs, which would tie their current third-best result in their history.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ballot Box Factor

Polling voting intentions is not the same as polling actual voting behaviour. Answering a poll is very different from voting, something that you do only 10 or 20 times in your life. While that last news clip might have convinced you not to vote for that guy, when election day comes you may decide that you actually prefer that guy's party to the other guy's (or gal's).

I've been thinking about how to reflect this factor in the projection model. Originally, I had thought that my inclusion of the last three election results would act as a bit of a guide wire for my projection. But seeing the Green Party at over 10% leads me to believe that I may need to look into other methods of predicting voting behaviour based solely on polls.

So, I took a look at the last three elections, and how the polling compared to the actual results. I did something like this back in October 2009, and the conclusion I drew was that there wasn't enough data. While I'm still not happy with the amount of data I have to use, I've reversed my decision not to include some method to reflect this in the projection model.

The following chart was done-up for that post, and it is still relevant.This shows how things generally even out for the Liberals and Conservatives, but also that the NDP and Greens tend to over-perform in polls.

First, I looked at the last week of polling in the three last elections. In 2008, the average result of that last week was 34.2% for the Conservatives, 26.6% for the Liberals, 19.5% for the NDP, 9.6% for the Bloc Québécois, and 9.6% for the Greens. The actual election results were 37.7%, 26.3%, 18.2%, 10.0%, and 6.8%, respectively.

In other words, on election day the Tories had 110% of their average polling result, compared to 104% for the Bloc, 99% for the Liberals, 93% for the NDP, and 71% for the Greens.

But, you say, people change their minds in a week. How about three days? The difference is negligible: 110% for the Conservatives, 101% for the Bloc, 99% for the Liberals, 94% for the NDP, and 72% for the Greens. However, we can reasonably assume those last three days to be more accurate, so these are the numbers I will be using. Nevertheless, I think it interesting that the average polling results over the last seven days is more or less the same as the results over the last three days. It makes you wonder when is the point that voters make up their minds.

In the last three days of the 2006 election, the polling average for the Conservatives was 37.1%. It was 27.5% for the Liberals, 18.5% for the NDP, 11.3% for the Bloc, and 5.5% for the Greens. The actual result was 36.3% for the Conservatives, 30.2% for the Liberals, 17.5% for the NDP, 10.5% for the Bloc, and 4.5% for the Greens.

So now the Liberals performed best on voting day, with 110% of their polling average. The Conservatives had 98% of their polling average, the NDP 95%, the Bloc 93%, and the Greens 82%. You might be noticing a trend.

In 2004 there were fewer polls, but nevertheless the result was 111% for the Liberals, 103% for the Bloc, 97% for the Conservatives, 86% for the Greens, and 85% for the NDP.

After weighting the three elections (2008 being worth three times as much as 2004, for example) the average I worked out was to increase the Liberal vote by 1.046 times and the Conservative vote by 1.037 times. I also needed to decrease the Bloc vote by a factor of 0.987, the NDP by 0.928, and the Greens by 0.778.

But why punish these parties for what the pollsters have done in the past, much of it explained by the margin of error? After all, the next election might be completely different. Polling methods could change or the pollsters could simply be luckier. So, I've halved those factors to come up with a number that I am comfortable with.

The popular vote projection, then, will now include this voting-day factor (though I haven't added it yet to the charts at the top of the page yet).

Note, this factor will not be added to the regional results, as the margins of error are much larger and the inclusion of past electoral results minimizes the importance of this voting day effect.

With this new factor weighed into the projections, the popular vote you currently see at the top of the page turns into:

Conservatives - 33.7%
Liberals - 28.3%
New Democrats - 16.3%
Bloc Québécois - 9.6%
Greens - 9.3%

I am far happier with those numbers, but I am open to suggestions as to how I can best deal with this issue.

BC NDP leads by 23 points

A new British Columbia poll by Angus-Reid gives the New Democrats a huge lead over Premier Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals.The BC NDP under Carole James are at 46%, unchanged from Angus-Reid's last poll at the beginning of June. But the BC Liberals have lost three points and are down to a meager 23%.

The BC Greens are stable at 14%, as are the BC Conservatives at 8%.

The NDP is doing best on Vancouver Island, where they lead with 67% (up 13 points). The Greens are in second there, with 12% (down four), followed by the BC Liberals at 9% (down nine).

The NDP leads everywhere else, with 41% in Vancouver (down five), 43% in the BC Interior (stable), and 36% in the north (up two). In Vancouver, the BC Liberals followed with 28% (up one) and the Greens are at 16% (up one). In the Interior, the BC Liberals are down nine to 21%, followed by the Greens at 13% (up six) and the BC Conservatives at 11% (down five). The North is the closest race, with the BC Liberals down nine to 26%, followed by the Greens at 13% (down five) and the BC Conservatives at 12% (up five).

The HST is the huge problem, as most British Columbians are opposed to it and would even sign petitions to recall their Liberal MLAs. People in Ontario are a little more level headed. It's just a few points on a few things, and British Columbians still pay less than we do here in Ontario. Meanwhile, all of our provincial governments are aching for funds.

Anywho, I put together a projection model for British Columbia. It is a little difficult, as the parties have changed a lot over the years and the seats have gone from 75 to 79 and then to 85 in the last election. There are also a lot of extremes, with the NDP being reduced from government to two seats back when Gordon Campbell first came in.

Nevertheless, with this poll I project 72 seats for the New Democrats and 13 for the BC Liberals.

One wonders if Carole James will beat Pauline Marois to be the first elected female premier of a major Canadian province. As elections in both provinces aren't supposed to happen before 2013, the race is on!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Environics Poll: 3-pt Conservative Lead

Environics has a new poll out, showing a much closer race between the Conservatives and the Liberals than other pollsters are showing.Comapred to Environics' last poll at the end of May, the Conservatives have dropped one point and are now at 35%. The Liberals are up two and are at 32%.

The New Democrats are steady at 15%, followed by the Bloc Québécois at 9% (down one) and the Greens at 6% (down one).

Note that Environics does not prompt party names in their telephone polling.

The Liberals lead in Ontario with 38%, up three points. The Conservatives are down four to 36%, while the NDP is up one to 15%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down four points to 37%. The Liberals are up two to 26% while the Conservatives and NDP are steady at 19% and 12%, respectively.

The Conservatives drop one in British Columbia but lead with 38%. The Liberals (up two) and NDP (up three) are tied at 27%, while the Greens are down four to 7%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 40% (down six), while the Conservatives lead in Alberta (59%) and the Prairies (43%). The Liberals and NDP have swapped eight points, to the Liberals' benefit, in the Prairies.

The Conservatives win 64 seats in the West, 43 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 123.

The Liberals win 19 seats in the West and North, 51 in Ontario, 17 in Quebec, and 21 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 108.

The Bloc wins 49 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 12 seats in the West and North, 12 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 28.

It is always interesting to see polls that are out of step with others, but then it makes it difficult to figure out what is exactly going on. That Environics doesn't prompt is a factor, and the 31% undecided number also plays a role. But there is nothing in this poll that is spectacularly wrong. Perhaps the only big difference is that Environics has the Liberals doing well in Ontario.

In any case, polls like this show that things aren't all death and darkness for the Liberals.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New AR Poll: 9-pt Conservative Lead

Angus-Reid released a new poll yesterday. While it shows a bigger gap than most of the polls we've seen lately, it also shows very little movement from Angus-Reid's last poll at the end of May.At 36%, the Conservatives are up one point over that last poll. The Liberals are steady at 27% and the New Democrats are up one to 20%.

The Bloc Québécois is up one to 10% and the Greens are down one to 7%.

This is a very good poll for the NDP. They're up four points to 33% in British Columbia, only two points behind the Conservatives at 35% (down eight). The Liberals are steady at 16% while the Greens are up two to 13%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives take three points from the Liberals and lead with 38%. The Liberals are lagging behind with 31%. The NDP is steady at 20%.

The Bloc leads in Quebec with 39% (up two), well ahead of the Liberals at 24% (up one) and the Conservatives at 19% (up one). The NDP is down one to 15%.

The Liberals are up 10 points in Atlantic Canada and lead with 50%. The NDP is down six points there to 16%. The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 62% and the Prairies with 55% (up seven).

The Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 54 in Ontario, 7 in Quebec, and 7 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 134.

The Liberals win 9 seats in the West, 34 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 25 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 83.

The Bloc wins 51 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 20 seats in the West, 18 in Ontario, and 2 in Quebec for a total of 40.

The poll also looked at some personal opinions people had of the leaders. The most important result was the approval/disapproval rating. Jack Layton's is the best, with a split of 31% to 32%. Stephen Harper's spread is 31% to 48%, and Michael Ignatieff's is a woeful 14% to 53%.

This poll confirms a few other things we've been seeing lately, namely that the G20 did not hurt the Conservatives and that they've moved ahead in Ontario. It also serves to confirm Bloc strength in Quebec.

These results are very similar to the 2008 election. If things continue like this through the summer, I don't see how we would have an election in the fall. It would be a waste of time and money for all involved.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Projection: 129 CPC, 94 LPC, 52 BQ, 33 NDP's new projection shows the Conservatives up, the Liberals down, and the others relatively stable, with seat changes in Ontario and Quebec.The Conservatives have picked up another seat and now stand at 129, still a loss of 15 MPs from their current standing in the House of Commons. The Liberals are down one seat to 94, nevertheless still a gain of 17 seats.

The Bloc Québécois is steady at 52 seats while the New Democrats are steady at 33. This represents a gain of four for the Bloc and a loss of three for the NDP.

In terms of popular vote, the Conservatives are unchanged at 33.1% while the Liberals are down 0.2 points to 27.7%. The gap is now 5.4 points, still narrower than the two elections that have put Stephen Harper in power.

The NDP, Bloc, and Greens all gain 0.1 points nationally, putting them at 16.9%, 9.7%, and 10.5%, respectively.

The Conservatives have regained the lead in Ontario, thanks to a 0.1 point gain. They are now at 35.4%, slightly ahead of the Liberals at 35.2% (down 0.3). The Liberals have also lost a seat in the province, and are now at 46. It is the NDP, who is up 0.2 points to 17.1%, that has gained the seat from them. They are now at 15 seats in Ontario. The Greens are steady at 10.6%.

In Quebec, the Bloc jumps 0.3 points and is now at 39.2%. The Liberals are down 0.1 to 22.8% and the Conservatives are up 0.1 to 16.8%. The NDP is down 0.2 to 12.2% and the Greens are down 0.1 to 7.2%. The NDP lose a seat and are now down to one in the province, while the Conservatives gain a seat and are now at seven. That isn't to say that the Conservatives take a seat away from the NDP, just that the net result is a Tory gain.

The Conservatives are up 0.6 points in British Columbia and lead with 36.7%. The NDP is down 0.1 to 26.5% and the Liberals are steady at 22.6%. The Greens are at 12.1%, down 0.4 points.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 37.1% (up 0.2), while the Conservatives and NDP are unchanged at 32.4% and 22.7%, respectively. The Greens are down 0.1 points to 6.1%.

In Alberta, the Conservatives have gained 0.9 points and lead with 59.8%. The Liberals are at 16.2% (down 0.4), followed by the NDP at 11.3% (unchanged) and the Greens at 9.7% (down 0.4).

The Conservatives lead in the Prairies with 46.2% (down 0.1) while the NDP has gained 0.2 points to 23.0%. The Liberals are unchanged at 21.9% while the Greens are steady at 7.3%.

Finally, in the North, the Liberals lead with 32.9% (down 0.1), followed by the Conservatives (30.0%, unchanged), the NDP (27.3%, unchanged), and the Greens (8.6%, down 0.1).

The winner of this projection update is the Conservative Party, as they have a net gain in the seven regions of 1.6 points. They made small gains in Ontario and Quebec, but big gains in British Columbia and Alberta.

The projection was next best for the Bloc Québécois, as they have gained 0.3 points and have a solid, big lead in Quebec. At 52 seats, this would be their best electoral result since 2004.

The NDP is the last party to have a positive projection update, as they have a net gain of 0.1 points. Their 0.2-point gain in Ontario is big, as is a gain of the same amount in the Prairies. But they are down in British Columbia and Quebec.

The Liberals had a net loss of 0.7 points, with significant drops in Alberta and Ontario. But the party was steady in British Columbia and made a tidy gain in Atlantic Canada.

Finally, the Greens had the worst projection update, as they have had a net loss of 0.9 points. Worst for them is their 0.4-point drop in British Columbia.

With 129 seats, the Conservatives have a two-seat plurality over the combined totals of the Liberals and New Democrats - so it looks like another Conservative minority as in 2006.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New IR Poll: 6-pt Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid has a new poll out, showing that the gap between the Liberals and the Conservatives is far narrower than this past week of EKOS polling.Compared to Ipsos-Reid's last poll at the beginning of June, the Conservatives are unchanged at 35%. The Liberals, however, are up two points and are at 29%.

Odd that Liberal supporters will find solace in an Ipsos-Reid poll.

The New Democrats are down one point to 15%, while the Bloc Québécois is up one to 11% and the Greens are down one to 10%.

In Ontario, Ipsos-Reid confirms that the G20 Summit hasn't hurt the Tories. They are up three points to 36%, while the Liberals are down three to 35%. The NDP is doing well, up one to 19%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is well ahead with 45%, unchanged from the June poll. The Liberals are up one to 22% and the Conservatives are up three to 15%. The NDP is steady at 11%.

In British Columbia, the Tories are down eight but still lead with 38% (Ipsos's June result was a little high). The Liberals are up nine to 26% and the New Democrats are up four to 24%. The Greens are at 11%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 42%, up 15 points from June. The Conservatives are down 14 points there. This big change is due to the small sample size and unlikely numbers from the last poll.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 66%, up six, while the NDP is down nine to 6%. The Tories are also in front in the Prairies, with 51%. The NDP is down six here to 11%, behind the Greens.

The Conservatives win 70 seats in the West, 46 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 8 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 129.

The Liberals win 16 seats in the West and North, 44 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 23 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 97.

The Bloc wins 54 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 9 seats in the West and North, 16 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 1 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 28.

Not a bad poll for the two major parties, as the Conservatives want to be at 35% or over. The Liberals can also be a little happy with this poll, as 29% is at the higher end of their recent scale.

This is a great poll for the Bloc, but a bad one for the NDP. Their only positive result is in Ontario - 19% there would be a big victory for them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

June Best Case Scenarios

Time for June's "Best Case Scenarios". Not a huge change from May's best case scenarios, though the Conservatives are now on the brink of a majority. How do I come to these numbers?

What I've done is taken each party's best projection result in each region (West, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada), and taken these best results to get a national, best case projection based on polls from last month.

For example, if the Conservatives had their best result in the West in an Angus-Reid poll, their best result in Ontario in a Nanos poll, their best result in Quebec in a Léger poll, and their best result in Atlantic Canada in an EKOS poll, I've taken each of these bests and combined them.

In other words, these projections are the best possible result each party could've gotten had an election taken place in the month of June.

The New Democrats have been hovering around the 40-50 level since I've started doing these in March. That month, their best case scenario was 43 seats. That increased to 50 in April, went down to 41 in May, and is now at 44.They get 44 seats with 18.7% of the Canadian vote. This puts them only seven seats behind the Bloc Québécois for third party status, and with the Liberals gives them 143 seats, while the Conservatives are held to 114 seats.

Their best vote haul comes in British Columbia, with 30%. Next is Atlantic Canada, with 26%, the Prairies and Ontario with 18%, Quebec with 15%, and Alberta with 13%. Their biggest regional bloc is in the West, where they have 20 MPs.

The Liberals have also been rising and falling within 10 seats over the last four months, but this month's best case scenario is their worst so far. From 121 in March they sank to 113 in April, and then rose slightly to 116. But this month their best case scenario is only 111 seats, one fewer than the Conservatives.The Liberals take 30.4% of the vote, but cannot form government on their own. Even working with the NDP is not a slam-dunk, as the two parties would have 144 seats (145 if they included the Greens). Obviously, a Conservative government would be nearly unworkable, but it would be difficult to call this result a real success for the Liberals.

Their regional results are 29% in British Columbia, 18% in Alberta, 23% in the Prairies, 38% in Ontario, 25% in Quebec, and 40% in Atlantic Canada. Their biggest bloc comes in Ontario, where they elect 55 MPs. Their 20 MPs in the West, 16 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada give them good regional distribution.

Perhaps indicating that polling has not changed much over the last four months, the Conservatives, too, have been varying only within 10 seats in their best vcase scenarios. Their best result was in April, when they took 159 seats and their only majority result. They had 148 in March and May, and have now moved back into near-majority territory with 154 seats. So, a split right down the middle of the House of Commons.These 154 seats come with 39.3% of the vote, which would be their best result ever. This would be as good as a majority for them, though it would require some careful management of numbers in Parliament. Most of these seats come from the NDP, who are reduced by 10 MPs.

Their regional results for this are 46% in British Columbia, 60% in Alberta, 48% in the Prairies, 43% in Ontario, 19% in Quebec, and 44% in Atlantic Canada. Their biggest block of MPs are in the West, where they have 75. They also have 59 in Ontario, 8 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada.

This shows how problematic it is for the Conservatives to ignore Quebec, as some have suggested. Even if all goes well for them, they are still looking at a minority.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 6.3-pt Conservative Lead

Did anyone else go through poll withdrawal? Well, thank the good Graves because EKOS is here to give us a sweet, sweet hit. And it has a few surprises.This poll was taken over two weeks, rather than over one week as is usually the case. However, EKOS is providing the details of the weekly results, along with the full two-week results. As those latter results are given in more detail, those are the ones I will be using for the projection.

Compared to EKOS's last poll two weeks ago, 32.1% is a modest 1.1 gain for the Conservatives. The Liberals have dropped 1.9 points to 25.8%, while the New Democrats are up a full point to 17.5%.

That Liberal result is below their 2008 electoral result.

The Greens are down 0.8 points to 12.2% and the Bloc Québécois is up 0.4 points to 9.7%.

But this poll is far more interesting when we look at the weekly results. In the first week of polling, right in the middle of the G20 summit, the Conservatives were down to 30.6%, compared to 26.2% for the Liberals. But in the second week of polling, the Conservatives jumped to 34.4% and the Liberals sank to a woeful 23.9%. This is a bit of a surprise, as I frankly expected the Liberals to close the gap in the wake of the summit.

Back to the two-week results, the Conservatives are up three points in Ontario, of all places, and lead with 34.6%. The Liberals are down three to 32%, while the NDP is steady at 18.1%. The Tories lead in Toronto (!) with 40% (up six), while the Liberals are down three to 34.3%. However, the Liberals are ahead in Ottawa with 36.7%.

In Quebec, the Bloc is steady with 39.4%, followed by the Liberals at 20.9% (up two). The Conservatives and NDP are steady at 15.1% and 12.8%, respectively. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 37.8%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up eight to 34.6%. The NDP is up two to 23.7%, while the Liberals are down nine to 20.0%. The Greens are down two to 16.7%. The Conservatives lead in Vancouver with 35.3%.

The Liberals barely lead in Atlantic Canada with 35.2%, despite the wonky second-result giving the NDP 42%! The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 57% and also in the Prairies. They are at 37.4% there, but that is down eight points. The NDP picked up those points, and is at 25.5%.

Looking at the demographic breakdown, we see that the Conservatives lead among males, with a ten-point spread between them and the Liberals. But the spread is reduced to two points among females.

The Conservatives win 69 seats in the West, 47 in Ontario, 5 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 131.

The Liberals win 13 seats in the West and North, 41 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 87.

The Bloc wins 54 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 13 seats in the West and North, 18 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 3 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 36.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Worse-than-Dion and the Liberals make gains?! Well, yes. Compared to 2008, the Liberals are only down 0.4 points (or 2% of their 2008 result). But the NDP is down 0.7 points (or 4% of their support) and the Conservatives are down 5.5 points (or 15% of their support). Looking at it this way, this bad Liberal result is, comparatively, better than the results of their two main competitors.

But what if we take last week's polling results, where the Liberals were at only 23.9%?

In that case, the Conservatives (who are still down from 2008) win 143 seats, compared to 73 for the Liberals, 53 for the Bloc, and 39 for the NDP. The fact of the matter is that the spread between the Tories and Liberals in that poll is almost identical to the spread in the 2008 election. Simply put, you aren't winning a majority with 34%.

But that the Liberals polled so low in the more recent poll makes EKOS's next poll, which we can expect on the 22nd, will be eagerly awaited. Will the Liberals stay below 24% over the next two weeks?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gap closes between NDP and PC in Manitoba

Probe Research released a poll on the provincial situation in Manitoba. While there hasn't been a lot of movement since their last poll in March, the race is getting heated. Nevertheless, ThreeHundredEight's new projection model shows a majority government.Premier Greg Selinger's New Democrats stand at 41%, down one point from March. The Progressive Conservatives under leader Hugh McFayden are at 40%, up one from March. The gap has closed to a statistically insignificant margin.

The Liberals, under Jon Gerrard, are at 13%, up two points. The other parties, the Greens foremost among them, stand at 6% (down two).

The NDP nevertheless holds the lead in Winnipeg with 45%, compared to 36% for the Progressive Conservatives and 13% for the Liberals. But it is the PCs who lead in the rest of Manitoba, with 46% to the NDP's 34%. The Liberals, here, are also at 13%.

The NDP leads in most sectors of the provincial capital, though the Progressive Conservatives are ahead in northwest Winnipeg.

I've put together a projection model for Manitoba, and with this poll the New Democrats would be returned to government with 31 seats.

The Progressive Conservatives would win 25, while the Liberals would elect only one MLA.

Probe Research also looked into which issues were most important for NDP and PC supporters. The results read like a stereotype of right vs. left.

The top three issues for NDP supporters were health care (50%), infrastructure (48%), and the environment (47%).

The top three issues for PC supporters were taxes (47%), crime (42%), and jobs/economy (42%).

That probably indicates what the next election, to be held in 2011, will be about. It looks like it will be tough for Selinger to win his first general election, though he does currently hold the advantage.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

PQ increases support in Vachon

There was a provincial by-election in Quebec last night. It took place in the riding of Vachon, an electoral district in the Montérégie region, centred around St-Hubert (Longueuil).

To give you a little background on Vachon, it was created in 1980 and has elected the Parti Québécois seven out of nine times (the Liberals won two elections in the 1980s). The riding voted 56.8% in favour of the OUI in 1995, and has been represented by the PQ since 1994.

The PQ won the riding in 2008 with 48.6%, ahead of the PLQ who had 32.3%. The ADQ, which had almost won the riding in 2007 (34.9% PQ to 34.2% ADQ), saw its support drop to 13.7%.

So, the by-election (caused by the resignation of Camil Bouchard, who had represented the riding since 2003) wasn't expected to be won by anyone but the PQ. But the by-election is the first electoral test that the PLQ government of Jean Charest has had to under-go since it's support has plummeted.

The turnout was 29.3%, not a bad result considering it is the middle of the summer, just after the Canada Day long weekend.

The two main contenders for the election were Martine Ouellet (PQ), a former engineer for Hydro-Quebec, and Simon-Pierre Diamond (PLQ). Diamond, at the age of 22, was the youngest MNA in Quebec history when he was elected under the ADQ's banner in 2007. He's now 25, and as Ouellet is (I believe, a quick search hasn't helped) under 40, this was a race that would inject some young blood into the National Assembly.

The result was a resounding win for the Parti Québécois and Martine Ouellet, who increased her party's vote by 10.6 points (22%).With 59.2%, this is the biggest win any candidate has had in Vachon since its creation. The PLQ has to be disappointed with its 24.3% result, a drop of eight points or about 25%. They are back down to the result they had in 2007, when they finished third in the riding.

It was not a good by-election for the ADQ, which has tended to perform badly in by-elections since their 2007 surprise. Alain Dépatie, the ADQ's candidate, earned only 6.6%, a drop of 7.1 points from the 2008 election. However, this is not one of their traditional strongholds, so it isn't surprising to see them at such a low level. And it's likely that some ADQ supporters voted for Diamond, an ex-ADQ "star".

It was a decent by-election for Québec Solidaire, however, who went from 2.2% in 2008 to 5.5% in 2010. This indicates their higher support levels we've been seeing in polls is not an illusion.

The PVQ (Greens) did not increase its support, maintaining the 3.2% they earned in the 2008 election. But, even that is down from 2007 when the party had 4% support. This, perhaps, indicates that their higher support level in polls is an illusion.

Interestingly, if we take Léger Marketing's last poll (released on June 11, 2010) and apply the uniform swing method compared to the 2008 election, we get 57% for the PQ, 23% for the PLQ, 11% for the ADQ, 7% for the PVQ, and 5% for QS. Using a MOE of 3%, that puts us comfortably within the actual election results.

Arguably, we can use this uniform-swing model to say that the Vachon by-election confirms the province-wide polls we've been seeing. More specifically, it shows that the PQ's increased support is real, that the PLQ is in trouble, that the ADQ is going nowhere (fast), and that QS is actually becoming a bit more competitive.

(Note: Blogger seems to be having issues with comments at the moment, so if your comment doesn't show up it might have been lost. I am getting them in my inbox, but I can't get them posted to the site. Hopefully the problem will be resolved soon enough. In the meantime, why not comment on Twitter?)

Monday, July 5, 2010

June Averages

Time to look at June's polling. Seven national polls were taken during this month (three fewer than last month), totaling about 12,661 interviews. Here are the results we get at the national level, with the difference from last month's average in brackets.

Conservatives - 32.7% (-1.9)
Liberals - 27.2% (-0.6)
New Democrats - 17.4% (+1.0)
Greens - 10.8% (+1.2)
Bloc Québécois - 9.9% (+0.3)

After gaining 1.6 points in May, the Conservatives have dropped 1.9 points, back below 33%. But the Liberals also take a step backwards, though they did have a small gain last month. The NDP gains a full point, but they had lost 0.7 points last month so this is a bit of a reset. The Green gain is equal to May's losses.

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

Conservatives - 128 (-6)
Liberals - 91 (unchanged)
Bloc Québécois - 54 (+2)
New Democrats - 35 (+4)
Greens - 0 (unchanged)

The Conservatives fall back down six seats, matching's current projection. The Liberals are steady at 91 seats, while the Bloc is up two. The NDP makes the biggest gain, and now have 35 seats.The regional results, with difference from last month in brackets:

BRITISH COLUMBIA (7 polls - about 1,430 people)

Conservatives - 34.2% (-2.6)
New Democrats - 26.4% (+0.5)
Liberals - 20.6% (-1.8)
Greens - 16.1% (+3.5)

The Tories are down big in the province, but it certainly wasn't to the benefit of the Liberals, who are also down significantly. Instead, the NDP gained half-a-point while the Greens gained 3.5 points. They are now nipping at the Liberals' heels.

ALBERTA (6 polls - about 1,030 people)

Conservatives - 55.6% (-0.1)
Liberals - 18.1% (-0.7)
New Democrats - 11.5% (+0.6)
Greens - 11.1% (+0.2)

The Conservatives are stable, while the Liberals have lost a bit. However, they still doing relatively well in the province. The NDP and Greens swap positions, as the NDP makes a larger gain.

PRAIRIES (6 polls - about 690 people)

Conservatives - 45.1% (-1.4)
Liberals - 20.8% (-1.3)
New Democrats - 20.7% (-0.7)
Greens - 10.7% (+2.5)

The Conservatives drop, but drop less than they gained in May, so they are in a decent position. The Liberals are down, marking losses of over two points in the last two months. The NDP is also down, but are now much closer to second place in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Green gain is generally a reset of May's losses.

The Conservatives take 66 in the West (one fewer than in May), while the Liberals win 14 in the West and North (also down one) and the NDP wins 15 (up two).

ONTARIO (7 polls - about 4,030 people)

Conservatives - 35.2% (-2.0)
Liberals - 34.8% (-0.1)
New Democrats - 17.2% (+1.4)
Greens - 10.9% (+0.1)

The Conservatives drop two points, obliterating their good 2.1-point gain from May. The Liberals don't benefit, however, dropping 0.1 points. But they have been pretty stable, as this is only a loss of 0.3 points over the last two months. The NDP makes an important gain.

The Conservatives win 46 seats (down four), the Liberals win 45 (up two, after three months of losses), and the NDP wins 15 (up two).

QUEBEC (8 polls - about 3,820 people)

Bloc Québécois - 40.6% (+1.9)
Liberals - 21.2% (-1.2)
Conservatives - 15.0% (-2.3)
New Democrats - 12.5% (+0.3)
Greens - 8.4% (+1.1)

The Bloc is up almost two points, putting them at over 40%, the first time they've been at such a level since February 2009. The Liberals lose over a point, and are falling away. The Conservatives have dropped big, and are now in "trouble" territory. The NDP are stable, but at a very good level for them.

The Bloc takes 54 seats (up two, tying a historic best), the Liberals take 14 (unchanged), the Conservatives take 5 (down two) and the NDP win 2 (unchanged).

ATLANTIC CANADA (7 polls - about 910 people)

Conservatives - 35.4% (+0.7)
Liberals - 34.4% (-2.5)
New Democrats - 20.1% (-1.3)
Greens - 8.3% (+2.5)

The Conservatives are up again, almost six points in all over the last three months. They've taken the lead over the Liberals, who are down 2.5 points after gaining one point in May. The NDP is down, yet again. They've really been disappearing in Atlantic Canada. The Greens have re-gained their May losses.

The Liberals win 18 seats (down one), the Conservatives win 11 (up one), and the NDP wins 3 (unchanged).Of the five parties, the Liberals performed the worst in June. Their net loss in the six regions was 7.6 points, but more important they did not make a gain anywhere. Big losses in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, the Prairies, and British Columbia hurts. The only silver lining is that their loss in Ontario was marginal.

The Conservatives also had a very bad month. Their net loss was 7.7 points, but they did gain in Atlantic Canada. Their losses in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia - Canada's three battleground provinces - should be very worrisome for them.

We then transition into the winners, with the NDP having a net gain of 0.8 points. They were up in four regions and down in two. Their gain in Ontario was a good size and is good news, but the party should be concerned with their performance in Atlantic Canada.

Then it is the Bloc, who had a gain of 1.9 points in Quebec. They are in a very, very good position in the province. While 40.6% is good considering their electoral performance in 2008, their real strength is found in the weakness of their opponents.

Finally, the Greens have to be considered to have had the best month. Their net gain was 9.9 points, with significant increases in support in Atlantic Canada, the Prairies, and, most importantly, British Columbia. But they still aren't in a position to elect a single MP.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Views on Canada

In anticipation of Canada Day, Angus-Reid released a poll about how Canadians view certain "Canadian" symbols, and how they see their own province within the Canadian fold.

Rather than spend some time pontificating on how Canadians are proud of hockey, I thought it would be more interesting to look at something that immediately struck me when perusing the poll results, that being the difference between how Quebecers and other Canadians see the country they both find themselves in.

For starters, Angus-Reid asked whether certain Canadian symbols made respondents feel proud or not (with varying levels of pride being options). Some of them aren't really "Canadian" per se (like the justice system, our health care system, or economy) but rather more about how we govern ourselves. Few people consider, for example, Parliament to be a uniquely Canadian symbol.

So, instead I've focused on four symbols which are both "Canadian" and showed a striking difference of opinion.

(For the purposes of this article, I will refer to those who live in the "Rest of Canada" as Canadians - rather than ROCers or something longer.)

The Canadian flag, a Canadian symbol if ever there was one, makes 95% of Canadians feel proud, but only 69% of Quebecers. This is a pretty consensus opinion in the ROC, as the spread is only from 93% (Atlantic Canada) to 98% (the Prairies - which appear to be the most proudly Canadian part of the country, according to this poll).

(On the following chart, blue is used for Quebec and red for the rest of Canada.)What about multiculturalism? Canadians often compare this system of integration favourably to the "melting pot" of the United States. But still, only 70% of Canadians are proud of multiculturalism, compared to 56% of Quebecers. This latter number shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as Quebec uses a different system of integration.

How about the Canadian Armed Forces? With only a difference of opinion in British Columbia, 84% of Canadians are proud of them, compared to 63% of Quebecers.

And, finally, the monarchy. The Queen is in Canada, and she is getting a lot of press. But, even so, Canadians don't seem to care, as only 48% of them are proud of the monarchy. But even that is far greater than the proportion of Quebecers who are proud of the monarchy: a lowly 16%. God Save the Queen, because public opinion won't.

But how about how Canadians see their own province, as compared to others? To the question of whether their province had a culture different from the rest of the country, only 37% of Canadians said it did, compared to 79% of Quebecers. Not surprisingly, Atlantic Canada (and probably virtually everyone in Newfoundland) was the region with the most people saying that it did. But nevertheless, that is a huge difference.

And as to the question of how you would introduce yourself to a person you hadn't met before, 87% of Canadians said they would call themselves "Canadian" (including 95% of those in the Prairies and 97% of those in Ontario), while only 32% of Quebecers would do the same.

Only 13% of Canadians would introduce themselves as Ontarians, or Newfoundlanders, or Albertans, etc., compared to 68% of Quebecers who would introduce themselves as a Quebecer.

This is just a little reminder that, despite all the flags and red-and-white that will be plastering the country today, things still aren't close to perfect between Canada's various regions, as well as between its two solitudes.