Friday, October 29, 2010

I need your local knowledge!

I'm working on an analysis of the effect of local campaigns. I'm looking at how notable individuals help their party's standings, and whether we can draw any conclusions as to the probable effect of having a star candidate running for the first time in a given riding.

The results of my analysis will eventually be incorporated into the projection model.

I've made a list of these "star candidates" who stood for election in 2006 or 2008 for the first time in a particular riding. These are local notables, regional or national celebrities, former mayors, former provincial politicians or cabinet ministers, and formerly popular or influential federal politicians returning for another kick at the can.

But there are 308 ridings and over 2,500 candidates who ran in the 2006 and 2008 elections for the major parties. So I can't know whether every single person is or is not one of these "star candidates". Many of these individuals I've never heard of, and I'm sure I let a few slip through my fingers.

So, I'm asking for your help. Who were the star candidates in your regions in the 2006 and 2008 elections? They didn't have to be elected, and I can determine the extent to which I'll consider someone a star candidate. By-elections aren't included because they are beasts of their own. Please send me your suggestions, either as a comment in reply to this post or in an email sent to threehundredeight@gmail.com

Here are the people I've identified from the 2006 election: Fabian Manning, Maxime Bernier, Marc Garneau, Lawrence Cannon, Jim Flaherty, Jim Harris, Peter Kent, Michael Ignatieff, and Tony Clement.

For the 2008 election I have Jack Harris, Elizabeth May, Keith Ashfield, Andre Bachand, Justin Trudeau, Anne Legace-Dowson, Marc Garneau, Michael Fortier, David Pratt, Gerard Kennedy, Peter Kent, and Leona Aglukkaq.

I'm sure there are others. Thanks for your help!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stability in new EKOS poll, Tory advantage

While on the face of it the new EKOS poll shows relatively little change at the national level, what we really see is that the political voting intentions of Canadians have snapped back to what they were two weeks ago, after the race tightened in the interim.Take the Conservative lead, for example. Two weeks ago, EKOS reported the party's national support at 34.4%, and now it is at 33.9%. That's a drop of 0.5 points, relatively insignificant, but in between the Tories sank to 30.9%.

It's a similar situation for the Liberals, who are unchanged at 27.8%. But a week ago the Liberals had gained 1.6 points and stood at 29.4%, a mere 1.5 points behind the Conservatives.

The New Democrats, however, have not snapped back so violently. From 15.9% the party sank to 13.9% a week ago. Today, EKOS has them at 15.1%. While that is a gain of 1.2 points in the last week, the party is still 0.8 points behind their standing two weeks ago.

The Bloc Québécois is at 9.3% national support while the Greens are up to 11.6%, 1.2 points higher than they were two weeks ago.

The Conservatives are performing well in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, in addition to their western strongholds. In Alberta, the party leads with 60.3%. The Liberals are well behind at 17.6%, but are at 21.8% in Calgary. The Conservatives lead in that city with 65.2%.

The Tories are also well in front in the Prairies, with 42.4% support. The Liberals have gained six points from two weeks ago and trail with 26%. The NDP is down nine points to 12.4%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 37.3% but the Conservatives are up seven points to 34%. That gain seems to have come off the backs of the NDP, who are down 15 points to only 16.4%.

And in Ontario, the Conservatives have gained three points and lead with 40.9%. The Liberals are down one to 35.5% and the NDP is stable with 14.3%. The Greens have dropped one to 8.5%.

But before anyone gets too excited about the "Rob Ford Effect", it should be noted that the Liberals lead in Toronto with 48.4%. The Conservatives are running second with 35.7% in the city.

Conversely, the Conservatives are leading with 51.1% in Ottawa, where provincial Liberal Jim Watson was just elected mayor.

There are some trouble spots for the Tories, however. In British Columbia, the party has dropped 10 points and leads with only 31.3%, followed by the NDP at 26.6% (up three), the Greens at 20.1% (up five), and the Liberals at 19.2% (up three). The race is also tight in Vancouver, where the Conservatives have 30.5% support compared to 26% for the Liberals.

The Bloc Québécois is doing well in Quebec with 36.9% support, though that is down from the 45.3% support the party had a week ago. The Liberals have dropped two points and stand at 21.8%, well ahead of the Greens at 13%, the Conservatives at 12.3% (down two), and the NDP at 12.1% (up two). The Bloc leads comfortably in Montreal with 36.8%, followed by the Liberals at 22.7%.

With the results of this poll, the Conservatives would win 55 seats in Ontario, 27 in Alberta, 20 in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 17 in British Columbia, nine in Atlantic Canada, three in Quebec, and one in the North for a total of 132. That is a loss of two seats compared to EKOS's poll two weeks ago, but the gain of seven in Ontario is a good omen for the Tories.

The Liberals would win 41 seats in Ontario, 20 in Atlantic Canada, 17 in Quebec, seven in British Columbia, six in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, two in the North, and one in Alberta for a total of 94. That is a gain of two seats, but the loss of six in Ontario is bad news.

The Bloc would win 54 seats in Quebec, buoyed by the weakness of its opposition.

The New Democrats would win 11 seats in British Columbia, 10 in Ontario, three in Atlantic Canada, two in the Prairies, and one in Quebec for a total of 27. That is two seats less than two weeks ago. Their loss of three seats in Atlantic Canada hurts them.

The Greens would win one seat in British Columbia.

The Conservatives have begun to move away from the Liberals, after a few weeks of a closer race. But their gap is still tenuous, and the week-to-week results in Ontario and British Columbia indicate that an election campaign could be very volatile in these two battleground provinces. If the Conservatives want to make gains as compared to their current standing in the House of Commons, however, they need to rebuild some bridges in Quebec. The Liberals, meanwhile, need to desperately drag the Conservatives down from their summit in Ontario.

Voting intentions still seem to be pretty set, however, with no major trends or movements in any part of the country. It may take an election campaign or some unexpected event to make people budge.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Conservatives gain in new Angus-Reid poll, but NDP real winner

The latest poll from Angus-Reid shows the Conservatives have moved back to their 2008 levels and that the New Democrats have also improved their standing. The Liberals remain unmoved. All this at the expense of the Greens.Compared to Angus-Reid's last poll taken between September 27 and 28, the Conservatives have gained three points and now lead with 37%. The Liberals are unchanged at 26% while the NDP is up one point to 19%.

The Bloc Québécois is steady at 10% nationally while the Greens have dropped five points to only 6%.

There are some wild swings in this poll, however, which lead me to urge caution when looking at the regional results.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have gained five points and lead with 41%. The Liberals follow with 32%, down one. The NDP is steady at 19% while the Greens are down four to 7%.

The Bloc has gained one point in Quebec and leads with 39%, with the Liberals up two points to 24%. The Conservatives have dropped one and are now at 16%, while the NDP is down three to 14%.

The New Democrats are up 13 big points in British Columbia, and now lead with 37%. The Conservatives have dropped seven to 32%, while the Liberals are up four to 22%. The Greens are down nine points to 8%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have dropped five points but still lead with 43%. The Conservatives follow with 29% while the NDP is down nine points to 21%.

The Conservatives have gained 10 points in Alberta and lead with 60%, with the Liberals in second at 16%.

And in the Prairies, the Conservatives are up - 20 points!. The NDP dropped nine to 15% while the Liberals dropped the same amount down to 10%.

Based on what other polls have been saying, the Conservatives likely need to be pruned down in the Prairies and Ontario. The same goes for the NDP in British Columbia. The Liberals look about right, though.

All three main party leaders have improved their approval/disapproval ratings, as compared to a month ago. Stephen Harper has an approval/disapproval rating of 28% to 46%, which is actually an improvement of six points in his favour. Jack Layton, with a rating of 27% to 31%, has also improved by six net points.

Michael Ignatieff has improved by five net points, with a rating of 16% to 43%.

Angus-Reid also asks respondents about the leaders' personal attributes. Rather than go through them all, it's worth noting some of the major changes.

For Stephen Harper, 26% of Canadians believe him to be dishonest. That is, however, much better than the 36% last month. But 32%, up five points, believe him to be boring.

Ignatieff, on the other hand, seems less boring to Canadians. His score on that trait is down five points to 30%.

Layton is seen in touch by 21% of Canadians, up eight points. The same goes for Gilles Duceppe, up five points to 9%.

Based on these polling results, the Conservatives would win 57 seats in Ontario, 27 in Alberta, 24 in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 14 in British Columbia, seven in Atlantic Canada, six in Quebec, and one in the North for a total of 136.

The Liberals would win 34 seats in Ontario, 22 in Atlantic Canada, 15 in Quebec, six in British Columbia, one in the Prairies, and two in the North for a total of 80.

The Bloc Québécois would win 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP would win 16 seats in British Columbia, 15 in Ontario, three in Atlantic Canada, three in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, one in Quebec, and one in Alberta for a total of 39.

Though the Conservatives are up three points nationally, this polling result gives them only one more seat than they would have won at the end of September. That is because a lot of the gains the party has made are wasted in the Prairies and Alberta, where the Conservatives are already maxed out. The party is not doing well enough in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and British Columbia to win as many seats as the Conservatives currently hold in these regions.

The Liberals, in their immobility, lose 11 seats as compared to Angus-Reid's last poll. The party is flat in British Columbia and Ontario, and is still struggling to improve its standing in Quebec.

The big gainer in this poll, then, has to be the New Democratic Party. The NDP would win nine more seats than Angus-Reid's last poll. They are doing very well in British Columbia and Ontario, the two provinces that are key to NDP gains in the next election.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Provincial change, federal stability in New Brunswick

Elections are few and far between, especially from my perspective. I write about polls almost every day, but each poll has as its subject an election that is often years away. I don't think it is possible to pour over provincial results too much, so it's time for one more look at the 2010 New Brunswick election. But this time, we're going to look at how the Progressive Conservatives won, and whether it means anything for the ten federal ridings within the province.

So how did David Alward cobble together his unexpected landslide? The secret appears to have been that he was able to tread water while his main rival, Shawn Graham's Liberal Party, sank.

The biggest seat swings came in Fredericton and the northeastern sector of the province. In the provincial capital, the Progressive Conservatives went from 42% in 2006 to 43% in 2010. But more importantly, they went from zero seats to all four. This was accomplished by the Liberal slide from 50% to only 34%. It was the NDP and the Greens who struck the nails in the Liberal coffin here and elsewhere.

In the Northeast, the Progressive Conservatives went from two of the region's 13 seats to seven. They did this, again, with only a modest increase in support: from 40% to 44%. The Liberals went from 54% to 41%, losing five of the 11 seats they had won in 2006. In this part of New Brunswick, it was primarily the New Democrats who caused the Liberal downfall.

Other PC gains were in Saint John and in central and western New Brunswick. In Saint John, Alward increased his party's support from 37% to 45%, winning all four of the city's seats, whereas the PCs had won only one in 2006. In the Southwest, the PCs went from 48% to 53% while the Liberals sank from 45% to 30%. Again, the NDP and Greens had a lot to do with Liberal defeats, but it was the Progressive Conservatives who saw their seat wins in the region go from four in 2006 to seven in 2010. It was the same story in the Northwest, where the PCs gained six points but the Liberals lost 13.

The Liberals did not manage to improve their share of the vote in any part of the province, though they did win more seats in 2010 than they did in 2006 in Moncton and the southeast, where the Progressive Conservatives also lost support to the Greens and NDP.

In short, David Alward won the 2010 election by maintaining his party's level of support while the Liberals fell by the wayside, making seat gains in rural and urban New Brunswick.

But can these regional changes tell us anything about what we can expect in the ten federal ridings in the province?

We'll start with the three urban centres.

Saint John, Fredericton, and Moncton have all seen close races in the last few federal elections. The Liberals had held onto Fredericton in 2004 and 2006, but lost it by 11 points in 2008. The Liberals have held onto Moncton over the last three elections, but only by three points in 2008. And Saint John has gone back and forth, with Conservative candidate Rodney Weston winning in 2008 by only 497 votes.

Provincial results bode well for the Conservatives in Saint John and Fredericton, two seats they already hold and in which their provincial counterparts improved their vote hauls from 2006 to 2010. But in Moncton, the PC vote fell from 55% to 48%. The Liberal vote also dropped, however, from 42% to 34%. It should be another close race in the next federal election.

In the northeast, Yvon Godin's riding of Acadie-Bathurst is very safe, considering he has held it since 1997 and that he won the last election with a 15,000-vote margin. Miramichi, on the other hand, was a close race in 2008, with the Conservatives edging out the Liberals by only five points. As the Progressive Conservatives managed to turn a 14-point Liberal lead into a three-point PC one bodes well for Tilly O'Neill-Gordon, the Conservative MP.

A Liberal and a Conservative hold the two federal seats in northwestern New Brunswick: Madawaska-Restigouche and Tobique-Mactaquac, respectively. Jean-Claude D'Amours won by a decent margin in Madawaska-Restigouche in 2008, but it was a much closer race in 2006. The Conservatives have held Tobique-Mactaquac since that election, with a big margin in 2008. As the Progressive Conservatives swept the region at the provincial level, D'Amours might have a tough fight on his hands again in the next federal tilt.

Liberal Dominic Leblanc is pretty untouchable in Beauséjour. The provincial Liberals performed decently in the region so that shouldn't change. Conservatives Rob Moore and Gregory Thompson have been pretty untouchable themselves in Fundy Royal and New Brunswick Southwest, so the provincial PC win should do nothing but help their electoral fortunes.

That is, of course, if the Progressive Conservatives don't scuttle their current level of popularity. We saw this happen in Nova Scotia. The federal NDP was performing well in Atlantic Canada after Darrell Dexter's provincial win, but as his government's support has dwindled we have seen Jack Layton's party sink below the 20% mark on more than one occasion.

As was the case at the provincial level, the most hotly contested ridings in New Brunswick in the next federal election will likely be in the province's three largest cities. But of the 10 MPs in New Brunswick, only three weren't elected with double-digit margins. So the possibility of a change in New Brunswick matching the sweeping result of the last provincial election is, it appears, remote.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Struggling B.C. Liberals face overwhelming rise in NDP tide

With almost three-quarters of British Columbians prepared to abolish the HST in next year’s referendum and Premier Gordon Campbell enjoying an approval rating of only 9 per cent, the B.C. Liberals would be soundly beaten and swept from office were an election held today, according to seat projections based on a recent poll from Angus-Reid.

You can read the rest of my article on The Globe & Mail website.

When British Columbians unelect a government, they tend to do it pretty dramatically. It will be very interesting to see how the BC Greens and BC Conservatives do in the next election, as a lot of disgruntled BC Liberal voters will have to go somewhere, unless they stay home.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bloc gains while NDP falters in new projection

It's been a month - way too long - but the projection has been updated. Remarkably, there are relatively few changes, at least at the national level. The Bloc Québécois has gained two seats while the New Democrats have lost two, and the Conservatives and Liberals have remained stable.The Conservatives are projected to win 33.8% of the vote and 129 seats, unchanged from the September 22 projection. The Liberals are up 0.5 points to 29.5%, but remain at 96 seats.

The Bloc is unchanged at 9.8% of the vote nationally, but has gained two seats and is projected to win 53.

The New Democrats are down 0.7 points to 15.3% and are projected to win 30 seats, two fewer than last month.

The Greens are down 0.2 points to 8.8% and are projected to win no seats.

This shows a little bit of life for the Liberals, who have closed the gap to 4.3 points. They are still mired at less than 100 seats, however. They seem to have been buoyed by the misstep of the NDP, who really have very little silver lining in this projection update.

We'll start with Ontario. The Conservatives and Liberals have both made gains here at the expense of the NDP. The Conservatives lead with 36.4% (up 0.9), followed closely by the Liberals at 36.1% (up 0.8). The Liberals have gained a seat at the expense of the NDP, which is down 0.9 points to 16%. The Greens are down 0.5 points to 10%. The Liberals are projected to win 47 seats, compared to 46 for the Conservatives and 13 for the New Democrats.

In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois is up 0.2 points to 39.3%, and leads over the Liberals who are at 23.7% (up 0.1). The Conservatives have dropped 0.3 points to 16.7%, and have lost a seat in the process. The New Democrats are unchanged at 11.9%, but are down one seat as well. The Greens are down 0.2 points to 6.8%. The Bloc is projected to win 53 seats, while the Liberals would win 15, the Conservatives six, and the NDP one.

The Conservatives have lost 0.7 points in British Columbia, but still lead with 35.8%. The NDP are second with 26.2% (up 0.1), while the Liberals have gained 0.3 points to reach 24%. The Greens are stable at 11.9%. The Conservatives are projected to win 19 seats, the New Democrats nine, and the Liberals eight.

Surprisingly, considering the small sample sizes, there is very little change in Atlantic Canada. The Liberals lead with 38.3% (down 0.1), followed by the Conservatives at 31.4% (up 0.1). The NDP is stable at 22.4% while the Greens are down 0.1 to 6.1%. The Liberals are projected to win 20 seats in Atlantic Canada, with eight being taken by the Conservatives and four by the NDP.

In Alberta, the Conservatives are once again projected to sweep all 28 seats. They have 60.2% support, up 0.3 points. The Liberals are down 0.4 points to 16.9% and have lost the seat that they were projected to win last month. The NDP is up 0.2 points to 11.1%, while the Greens are down 0.4 points to 8.8%.

Finally, in the Prairies, the Conservatives have gained 0.3 points and lead with 46.3%. The NDP is down 1.1 points (the only >1 loss in this projection) to 23%. The Liberals are up 0.5 points to 22.1% and the Greens are up 0.1 to 6.6%. As has been the case almost always, the Conservatives are projected to win 21 seats to the Liberals' four and the NDP's three.

In the North, I've weighted things a little differently so it isn't fair to compare any changes from last month. But the Liberals lead with 32.8%, followed by the Conservatives at 30.9% and the New Democrats at 26.3%. The Greens bring up the rear at 8.3%. The Liberals are projected to win two seats in the North, with the other going to the Conservatives.

In terms of net regional gains/losses (excluding the North), the Liberals come out on top with a net gain of 1.2 points. They made big strides forward in Ontario and the Prairies, and are going in the right direction in British Columbia and Quebec.

Next best would be the Conservatives, with a net gain of 0.6 points. They are up big in Ontario and are doing well in Alberta and the Prairies. However, losses in British Columbia and Quebec hurt them.

Then we have the Bloc, which has gained 0.2 points in Quebec. They now hold a 15.6-point lead over the Liberals.

The two net losers this month were the Greens (down 1.1) and the New Democrats (down 1.7). The NDP's losses in the Prairies and Ontario are horrific, though minute gains west of Saskatchewan are better than nothing.

Ontario is the obvious battleground. The Liberals and Conservatives are running neck-and-neck, and have been for some time. The Tories have the advantage of seats thanks to their performances in the West, which Liberal performances in the East can only off-set so much. If the Conservatives can pull away in Ontario, they have a strong minority in the bag. If the Liberals can pull away, they stand a chance to form the next government.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Steady as she goes in new Harris-Decima poll

Harris-Decima's new poll shows very little change from two weeks ago, with the race between the Conservatives and the Liberals as close as ever and within the margin of error.At 32%, the Conservatives have dropped one point from Harris-Decima's last poll. The Liberals are steady at 30%, as are the New Democrats at 14%.

The Greens are down one to 10% and the Bloc Québécois is steady at 10%.

One of the factors in this poll is the large (4%) result for "Others". As the largest regional results for this group is out West, we can probably assume that the Tories would pick up about two of the three points that the "Others" would give up on election day. It should help them in British Columbia but the party is already virtually maxed out in Alberta and the Prairies.

In Ontario, the Conservatives lead a very close race with 38%, up four points from two weeks ago. The Liberals are up one to 38%, while the NDP is down two to 12%. That is way too low for Jack Layton's party. The Greens are also down two, but to 10%.

The Bloc has picked up five points in Quebec and leads with 43%, followed by the Liberals at 23% (down two). The Conservatives are out of it with 13% (down one) and the NDP is up one to 10%.

British Columbia is a three-way race, with the main parties statistically tied. Even the Greens are in it. The Tories lead with 27% (down ten), followed by the NDP at 26% (up six) and the Liberals at 25% (down two). The Greens are up three to 17%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 40%, a gain of six points. The Conservatives follow with 34% and the NDP has dropped five to 18%.

The Conservatives have lost eight points in Alberta but lead with 53%. The Liberals are running second at a very good 19% and the NDP is up seven to 15%.

The Tories lead in the Prairies with 42%, followed by the NDP at 23%.

With this poll, the Conservatives would win 50 seats in Ontario, 26 in Alberta, 21 in the Prairies, 14 in British Columbia, nine in Atlantic Canada, four in Quebec, and one in the North for a total of 125.

The Liberals would win 49 in Ontario, 21 in Atlantic Canada, 15 in Quebec, 11 in British Columbia, four in the Prairies, two in the North, and one in Alberta for a total of 103.

The Bloc would win 55 seats in Quebec.

The New Democrats would win 11 seats in British Columbia, seven in Ontario, three in the Prairies, two in Atlantic Canada, and one each in Alberta and Quebec for a total of 25.

The Liberals and NDP would combine for 128 seats, making a minority government led by Stephen Harper and his party's 125 seats very precarious.

This poll doesn't tell us anything new, not that individual polls usually do. It does help to solidify what is the present polling narrative: close races nationally, in Ontario, and in British Columbia, but with the Conservatives holding the edge in all three.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tories down, Force Quebec up?

Léger Marketing's new poll on the political situation in Quebec at both the provincial and federal levels has a few interesting tidbits. Notably, the rise of the Others at the provincial level.

By my estimation, this has to be chalked up to the recent talk about "Force Québec", which I wrote about recently for The Globe & Mail. The "Others" are never this high in a Léger poll, and there's really no other way to explain it. Undoubtedly voters' distaste with both traditional options plays a role, but now that an "Other" has emerged as a potential option, it seems to be garnering much more support than a hypothetical party should.The Parti Québécois still leads, however, with 34%. That is down six points from Léger's last poll in mid-September, and almost all of those votes went over to the "Others". The Liberals are also down, dropping four points to 28%.

Québec Solidaire is down one to 10% and the ADQ is down two to 8%.

The gainers are the Greens, up one to 7%, and the Others, up 11 points to 13%.

Force Quebec, which I think we can consider the Other vote, is up almost everywhere. The option is up 15 points among francophones, and is in third place behind the PQ (40%) and Liberals (18%) in this demographic. FQ is up ten in Montreal to 12% and 14 in Quebec City to 15%. The potential party is also up 13 points in the Rest of Quebec to 14%.

The PQ, conversely, is down everywhere, dropping eight points among francophones. The party is also down six apiece in Quebec City (28%) and the rest of Quebec (38%), though the PQ does still lead in these regions. The party is also down four points to 33% in Montreal.

The Liberals are not spared either, dropping six points among francophones (18%), three in the rest of Quebec (25%), four in Montreal (32%), and five in Quebec City (20%).

Québec Solidaire is relatively stable, but is down two points in Montreal to 10%.

The ADQ is down a little everywhere, but particularly in Quebec City. The party has dropped six points to 22% there.

The Greens are up two points among allophones to 13%.

Pauline Marois, at 21%, leads among the options for "Best Premier", but that is her lowest result this year. Jean Charest, also at 2010's low, is at 15%. Amir Khadir (QS) and Gérard Deltell (ADQ) are at 9%.

Only 19% of Quebecers are satisfied with Charest's government.

And while it would appear that an avenue is opening up for a national-question-neutral party like Force Quebec, the numbers show that there is still a majority of Quebecers (58%) who believe that leaving aside the question of Quebec's place in Canada cannot be done.

With this poll, the Parti Québécois would win 71 seats and form a majority government.

The Liberals would win 44, Québec Solidaire three (all in Montreal), and the ADQ would win one. Force Quebec, or whatever the Other option is, would win six seats, all in the ADQ's traditional areas of strength.

Now on to the federal polling results.

Here, we see gains for the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals, all at the expense of the Conservatives.Compared to that mid-September poll, the Bloc has gain two points and now leads with 38%. The Liberals, also up two, are at 24%.

The New Democrats are steady at 17% while the Conservatives have lost five points. They are at 16%.

The Greens are at 3%.

Bloc gains came everywhere in the province, but particularly in Montreal and outside of the two main cities. The Bloc leads with 36% and 41% in these two regions, respectively. That is a gain of two points for each. The party is also up one in Quebec City, and is tied with the Tories at 29%.

The Liberals made gains in the "rest of Quebec", jumping seven points to 24%. They are down in Montreal and Quebec City, however.

The NDP is up seven in Quebec City to 22%. They are down six among allophones.

The Conservative losses came in their bread-and-butter regions: Quebec City and the "rest of Quebec". Down eight points to 29% in the capital and down nine to 15% in the RoQ, the Conservatives are at great risk of losing over half of their seats in the province.

But the Bloc would pick-up four new seats, and win 52 overall. The Liberals would win 15, the Conservatives six, and the NDP two.

At the federal level, this is the status quo. The Bloc leads, the Liberals are safely in second, and the Conservatives can't seem to get back to the 20% mark. At the provincial level, talk of this non-existent party is shaking things up, but the PQ still has the edge.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Conservatives and NDP up in latest EKOS

Thursday's EKOS poll shows an uptick in support for both the Conservatives and the New Democrats compared to two weeks ago, with the Liberals dropping more than two points.However, the picture is murkier when looking at the situation from week-to-week. Two weeks ago, the Conservatives were at 33.1%. That fell to 31.8% last week but rose to 34.4% this week. So, for the Tories at least, their numbers are just oscillating back and forth.

For the Liberals, they are down 2.1 points from two weeks ago, but are actually up 0.2 points from last week with 27.8%.

The New Democrats went from 13.5% two weeks ago to 16.5% last week and now 15.8%. However, those last two numbers are within the norm for the NDP, a good sign after their disastrous result two weeks ago.

The Greens stand at 10.4% (down 0.8 from last week) while the Bloc Québécois is at 9.3%.

The Conservatives hold the edge among men with 40% to the Liberals' 29%, but the Liberals lead among women with 30% to the Conservatives' 26%. A gender divide, to say the least.

The race is very close in Ontario, and this has been consistent over the last two weeks. The Conservatives lead with 37.8%, compared to 34.2% last week. The Liberals follow with 37.3%, as opposed to 35.1%. So the two parties are trading leads back and forth. The NDP is down to 14.3%, but was at 17% last week, while the Greens are at 9.5%. The Liberals lead in both Toronto and Ottawa with 44% and 38%, respectively. The Conservatives trail with 36% and 35%, respectively. This Liberal lead in the nation's capital has been pretty solid for the past few months.

In Quebec, the Bloc leads with 37%, down 1.8 points from last week. The Liberals follow with 24%, up two, and the Conservatives stand in third with only 13.7%. That is a drop of 1.3 points from last week, and well below where they need to be. The Greens stand at 12.7%, ahead of the NDP. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 39%, with the Liberals following at 27%.

The Conservatives are way ahead in British Columbia with 40.9%, up over 12 points from last week. The NDP trails with 23.5% (down 6.5) while the Liberals are struggling with 16.3%. The Greens stand at 15.2%. The Conservatives lead in Vancouver with 44%, with the NDP well behind at 20%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 37%, up about six points from last week. The NDP is second with 30.9%, up 10.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta and the Prairies with 61.8% and 45%, respectively. The Liberals are second in Alberta with 15% while the NDP trails in the Prairies with 21.1%.

With these poll results, the Conservatives would win 75 seats in the West and North, 48 in Ontario, seven in Atlantic Canada, and four in Quebec for a total of 134.

The Liberals would win 47 in Ontario, 19 in Atlantic Canada, 17 in Quebec, and nine in the West and North for a total of 92.

The Bloc would win 53 seats in Quebec.

The NDP would win 11 seats in the West, 11 in Ontario, six in Atlantic Canada, and one in Quebec for a total of 29.

It does seem that the Conservatives have managed to re-create a gap between themselves and the Liberals that is greater than the margin of error. But the race is still very close in Ontario, where the real electoral battle will be waged. Take away the big Conservative gain in British Columbia and this poll becomes very close indeed. But the Tories are where they need to be: a decent lead that can be built upon in an electoral campaign.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Harper holds ground against Ignatieff as Layton recovers from gun divisions

Despite recent concerns over the Harper government’s transparency and a new health care proposal from the opposition, the federal voting intentions of Canadians were unmoved over the last two weeks, according to an analysis of recent polling data. While the New Democrats have regained some of the support that was lost over their stand on the long-gun registry, the Conservatives have maintained their five-point lead over Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals.

You can read the rest of my latest piece on The Globe & Mail website.

I found it interesting that the top line numbers were so relatively stable. The NDP is back, it appears, and it is the Liberals who've suffered.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Conservatives gain in new Nanos poll

Nanos Research released the details to their latest poll yesterday, showing that the Conservatives have made gains while the other parties stand still.Compared to Nanos's last poll taken at the end of August and the beginning of September, this is a 3.3 point gain for the Conservatives, who now lead with 36.6%. The Liberals are down 0.4 points to 32.4%, while the New Democrats are up 0.7 points to 16.3%.

The Bloc Québécois has 9.8% national support while the Greens slip 1.3 points to 4.9%.

Nanos is always the downer when it comes to Green results, so it should come as no surprise to see Elizabeth May's party below 5%. But just like I doubt the 12% results we see for the Greens in some polls, I doubt this result as well. The truth is somewhere in the happy middle.

Nanos shows a lot of change in Ontario, where the Conservatives have gained almost six points and lead with 41.9%. The Liberals are down almost eight points, to 35.7%. The NDP is up about five to 18.1%, while the Greens are down three to 4.4%.

The Bloc leads in Quebec with 38.3%, down more than two points since the beginning of September. The Liberals are up 0.4 points to 27.7%, while the Conservatives are up more than four points to 19.8%. The NDP brings up the rear with 11.2%, up 0.4 points.

The Liberals have gained more than two points in British Columbia and lead with 31.7%, one point ahead of the Conservatives (who are up 1.3 points). The NDP is down 1.4 points to 24.2%, while the Greens are down more than two points to 13.4%. This is the only area of strength for the Green Party in this poll.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Conservatives lead with 53.4%. The Liberals follow with 29.8%, up almost six points, while the NDP is down eight to 14%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 41%, followed by the Conservatives at 39.1% (down six).

With the results of this poll, the Conservatives would win 65 seats in the West and North, 54 in Ontario, 10 in Atlantic Canada, and eight in Quebec for a total of 137.

The Liberals would win 41 seats in Ontario, 21 in Atlantic Canada, 19 in the West and North, and 17 in Quebec for a total of 98.

The Bloc would win 49 seats in Quebec.

The NDP would win 11 seats in the West, 11 in Ontario, and one each in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Compared to each party's current standing in the House of Commons, this would be a small reduction of the Conservative caucus and a significant culling of the NDP caucus, both to the benefit of the Liberals. But I don't think it would change the dynamics in the House very much.

It's been a busy week and the weekend should be even busier, so my report on EKOS will likely only be posted on Monday. I will also try to do a projection update next week.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How a new centre-right party would reshape Quebec

A new centre-right party led by former Parti Québécois cabinet minister François Legault would help oust the Liberal government of Jean Charest, destroy the Action Démocratique du Québec, and radically change the landscape of provincial politics, according to the findings of a new poll by Léger Marketing.

You can read the rest of my article on The Globe & Mail website.

For this piece, I developed a model for Quebec that looks at results for each individual riding. I plan to use the model as the foundation for models for the other provinces and federally. As time goes on, I hope to put more variables into the model to increase it's sophistication.

Federal vs. Provincial Results in New Brunswick, Part Deux

Yesterday, Alice Funke of the Pundits' Guide wrote an article pointing out a few of the concerns she had with my piece yesterday. In that piece, I compared the federal and provincial election results in New Brunswick since 1978, hoping to find some sort of trend that could tell us what to expect in the next federal election.

But before responding to her piece, I think it is necessary to talk a little bit about the philosophy behind each of our two sites. The Pundits' Guide is, bar none, the best political reference for Canadian politics available online. Alice does an incredible job compiling all of the data and her site makes it possible to analyze that data in any number of ways. She also posts on timely topics with great insight, and keeps us up-to-date with riding nominations, by-elections, and financial data for the political parties.

While The Pundits' Guide is about historical election results and the most current information about Canadian politics, ThreeHundredEight.com is about what's next. I cover polls and make projections, and now and then I look at tangential issues from a numbers point-of-view. When I look at those issues or reach back into history, as I did yesterday, it is usually as an attempt to find out what we can about what will happen in the future. ThreeHundredEight.com is about the hypothetical, but based on the best data available.

While our two sites are related by subject matter, our content is very different and our approach is, I'd say, different as well. That is reflected in what I focused on in my post about New Brunswick's electoral history and what Alice did in her critique of it.

So, now that the preamble is out of the way, here is my friendly rebuttal.

First, one of Alice's points of contention was that I used vote-share rather than actual votes. In other words, instead of focusing on how a party got 50 out of 100 votes in one election and 25 out of 50 votes in another, I've focused on the fact that in both cases the result is 50%.

It's a fair point. Using actual votes would have given me a more precise result in terms of comparison, especially when speaking about individual voting behaviour. But when I change the chart to reflect actual votes rather than vote share, it doesn't really tell a different story. Here are the two charts for comparison:
To my eyes, these charts are virtually the same, and in fact using actual votes makes the provincial and federal results mirror each other more closely. I will, however, admit that I should have gone this route as it is more indicative of what has happened in New Brunswick over the last 32 years.

Second, Alice did not think it was proper to combine the results of the Confederation of Regions with those of the Progressive Conservatives at the provincial level, and the results of the Canadian Alliance/Reform with those of the Progressive Conservatives at the federal level.

She's correct that combining the results of these parties simplifies matters and tells only half of the story. But that was my intent. My post was not meant as an appraisal of New Brunswick's voting history, it was meant as a means of looking into the future based on what has happened in the past. Does the performance of the Confederation of Regions or the Reform Party tell us anything today? It doesn't, other than that a populist party can gain votes in New Brunswick. Unless a new populist party appears at the federal level, there is nothing to gain from separating these results from those of the Conservatives.

They do, after all, draw from the same pool of voters. As Alice points out, the Confederation of Regions did take votes from both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in 1991, but that is more likely because the 1987 election was an aberration. In that election, New Brunswickers ousted a long-time PC premier who was mired in scandal. Those PC voters who voted in Liberal in 1987 are almost certainly the same voters who cast their ballots for the CoR in 1991. If anything, it is probably unwise to read too much into the Liberal performance in 1987, which actually works out fine as the federal performance in 1988 was unimpressive by comparison.

Third, Alice felt I was misguided to not include the Greens in my analysis. Again, this was because of the purpose of my article. I only wanted to look at the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP because they are the only parties in play in New Brunswick. And since there was no provincial Green Party before this 2010 election, there was nothing to compare the federal Green results to.

Fourth, and this is a minor one, was my use of the word "correlation". She interpreted it in the statistical sense, while I only meant it in the linguistic sense. The statistical definition of "correlation" is fair more restrictive than the English definition of the word.

Fifth, she took issue with my statement that the same people were voting either Liberal or Conservative (in all its forms) election after election. I'll submit that it was a simplification, but virtually every Liberal gain is matched by a Conservative loss, and vice versa. This is visible in both the vote share and raw vote charts. While a few voters are certainly switching their votes from NDP or Green to the Liberals or the Conservatives, these are undoubtedly a small minority.

Sixth, and this is perhaps the most important, is her disagreement with my conclusions. I concluded that, based on the trends visible in the charts, the Conservatives should gain in the next federal election while the Liberals should lose. Alice called these predictions but I didn't mean them as such. I was taking the next logical step from my original conclusion that provincial and federal voting behaviour in New Brunswick generally follow the same pattern. I was only forming a hypothesis based on what I saw as a trend in the chart.

The purpose of my post was to compare the voting behaviour of Liberals, Conservatives (all branches), and New Democrats at the provincial and federal levels. I've discovered in other provinces that these don't always match, and sometimes they differ by a significant amount. It doesn't seem to be that way in New Brunswick. It goes without saying, however, that I would not base my projections of future electoral results in New Brunswick on this little exercise.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Federal vs. Provincial Results in New Brunswick

Though it feels like an eternity has passed, it has actually been only a little more than two weeks since the New Brunswick provincial election.

I've compared provincial and federal results in the past, with various levels of correlation, so it is about time to take a look at how federal and provincial results compare in New Brunswick, and whether we can take anything from that for the next federal election.As you can see from this chart, the Liberal and Conservative/Progressive Conservative numbers have been relatively consistent. It is clearly the same people who are switching their votes between Team Red and Team Blue.

While it doesn't seem that there is a direct correlation between provincial and federal elections, they do seem to act as indicators.

We'll start with the Conservatives. For the period prior to 2004, I've combined the results of the Canadian Alliance/Reform with the Progressive Conservatives. I've also included the results of the Confederation of the Regions in the Progressive Conservative numbers at the provincial level.

Provincial and federal fortunes for the Conservatives seem to have a relatively similar narrative. We see Conservative success in the early 80s followed by trouble until the 1997 federal and 1999 provincial elections, when the Conservative vote increased. There was a drop in the 2003 and 2004 elections, but since then the Conservatives look to have made modest gains. If the trend continues, we can expect the Conservatives to increase their vote slightly from the 39.4% the party earned in 2008.

Liberals at the provincial and federal levels seem to mirror each other even more. After difficulties in the early 80s, the Liberals at both levels soared between the provincial elections of 1987 and 1995. They then swiftly tanked, and since then the provincial and federal parties have been running at almost the exact same level, though the federal version of the Liberal Party has been under-performing since 2006. If the trends continue, we can expect the Liberals to drop from their 32.5% they had in 2008.

Finally, the New Democrats. Their gains and losses do not seem to have mirrored each other very much, but they do seem to be drawing from the same pool of voters. The provincial NDP was remarkably consistent from 1982 to 2010, with only the disastrous 2006 election interrupting a generally straight line. The federal version of the party, however, had a bit more of a roller-coast ride, dropping from 16.2% in 1980 to only 4.9% in 1993. But since then the party has been doing very well, and has maintained about 21% support over the last three elections under Jack Layton. Since the provincial version of the NDP has also been relatively stable, we can probably expect the federal NDP to remain at about 1 in 5 support.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Federal NDP drops in Manitoba

A poll taken by Probe Research at the end of September shows that support for the New Democrats at the federal level has dropped significantly in Manitoba, to the benefit of the Liberals and Conservatives.Compared to Probe's last Manitoba federal poll taken in June, the NDP has lost six points and now stands at only 18%. The Conservatives lead with 47%, up three from June but still down two from the 2008 election. The Liberals have moved into second place with 25%, up four from June and up six from 2008.

The Greens are at 6%, down four from June and one from 2008.

The Conservatives lead both inside and outside of Winnipeg, but the race is much closer in the city than it is outside of it. With 32%, the Liberals are only eight points behind the Conservatives in Winnipeg, while the NDP is at 21%. Outside of Winnipeg, the Conservatives have a massive lead with 56% to the Liberals' 16% and the NDP's 15%.

Using a simple uniform swing method, the Conservatives would be projected to win 10 seats in the province, up one from 2008. The Liberals would also gain a seat and win two, while the NDP would be the loser of those two seats and be reduced to two seats themselves in Manitoba.

The Conservatives would gain the riding of Elmwood-Transcona, while the Liberals would win in Churchill. These are the ridings of Jim Maloway and Niki Ashton, respectively, two NDP MPs who voted to scrap the long-gun registry three weeks ago.

While it is impossible to predict what would happen at the local level, it appears possible that the NDP's perceived stance on the issue, rather than the voting history of individual members, will put several seats at risk of being taken over by the Liberals and Conservatives in the next federal election.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Polling House Effects Update

What better day to update the house effects chart than a slow and quiet Thanksgiving Monday. I've updated Ipsos-Reid and CROP, incorporating data from September 2010.

Ipsos-Reid is the most favourable pollster for the Conservatives, polling them at an average of 3.5 points higher than other pollsters. They are tied with Environics as the least favourable NDP pollster, polling them at an average of 2.2 points low than other pollsters. In Quebec, however, they are one of the pollsters with the least amount of variation from their competitors.

CROP is the best pollster for the Conservatives in Quebec, polling them at an average of 2.2 points higher than other pollsters. They are also the best for the NDP, putting them at an average of 3.9 points higher. They are the worst for the Bloc Québécois, polling them at an average of 4.2 points lower than others.

We'll use the new house effect numbers to "correct" the latest polls from Ipsos-Reid and CROP, taken at the end of September. First, Ipsos-Reid's national numbers:

Conservatives 35% = 31.5%
Liberals - 29% = 29.7%
New Democrats - 12% = 14.2%
Greens - 12% = 12.7%
Bloc Québécois - 11% = 11%

And now Quebec:

Bloc Québécois - 39% = 37.5%
Liberals - 22% = 22.3%
New Democrats - 16% = 16.4%
Conservatives - 17% = 15.8%
Greens - 6% = 6.1%

While this doesn't change the situation in Quebec very much, it does show a much closer race at the national level.

Now CROP in Quebec:

Bloc Québécois - 32% = 36.2%
Liberals - 23% = 23.8%
Conservatives - 23% = 20.8%
New Democrats - 18% = 14.1%
Greens - 4% = 6.7%

This still has the Conservatives at a much higher level than most other pollsters, but the Bloc numbers look a lot more realistic.

The chart below tracks how each pollster tends to lean when calculating support levels for the various parties, as compared to the average polling results from other pollsters each month. This does not necessarily equate to a deliberate bias, but instead is more reflective of the polling methods used - the "house effects". This is also not a scientific calculation of any kind, but it does give an indication of how each pollster tends to compare to others.

The following chart shows each pollster's average variation from other polling firms. The numbers are the amount of percentage points a particular pollster favours or disfavours that particular party compared to other pollsters over a similar period of time.

Friday, October 8, 2010

September Best and Worst Case Scenarios

It's that time of the month again - time to check in on the best (and now worst) case scenarios that could have taken place during the previous month. Here's the standard explanation of this exercise:

These best and worst case scenarios calculate each party's best and worst projection results last month in each region (West, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada).

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 would take each of these bests and combined them.

In other words, these projections are the best and worst possible results each party could've gotten had an election taken place last month, based on the available polling data.

We'll start with the New Democrats, who had a pretty bad month. But their best case scenario isn't so bad, with 42 seats and 20.2% of the vote. Their worst case scenario, however, is horrible, with only 14 seats and 12.5% support.Their BCS (best case scenario) puts them in a terrific position to form a governing coalition with the Liberals, as their combined seat total outnumbers that of the Conservatives. The NDP cobbles together this result with 18 seats in the West, 17 in Ontario, two in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada.

Their WCS (worst case scenario) still puts them in a position to work with the Liberals, but unlikely in any formal coalition. With only 14 seats, Jack Layton would lead his party back into the abyss of the 1990s, with only six seats in the West and eight in Ontario, with no seats in either Quebec or Atlantic Canada.

The NDP, probably more than either the Liberals or the Conservatives, would head into an election with a lot of risk. On the one hand, the party has the potential to marginally increase the size of its caucus. On the other hand, the party could be reduced to almost 1/3 of its current size, and be relegated to fringe party status. With only 14 seats, the NDP would even risk losing its standing as an official party if a few seats are picked off in by-elections.

Now, the Liberals. They've had a good month, and their BCS reflects that. The silver lining seems to be that even with their WCS, they can't do worse than they did in 2008.With 34.2% of the vote, the Liberals' BCS is a minority government with 129 seats, compared to 109 for the Conservatives. This would give them the kind of minority that Paul Martin had in 2004 and Stephen Harper had in 2006. They win 21 seats in the West and North, 62 in Ontario, 21 in Quebec, and 25 in Atlantic Canada in this BCS.

In their WCS, the Liberals are reduced to 25.5% support and are kept at 77 seats, while the Conservatives are boosted to 153 seats and a near majority. Arguably, a Conservative majority would be a worse scenario than this, but I'm looking at the situation merely in terms of seats. The Liberals would win 11 in the West and North, 35 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada in this WCS.

But, as I said, this shows that the only thing the Liberals risk by heading to an election is a Conservative majority. That might be very scary for them, but the Liberals seem to have hit their floor. They do have the potential to form a minority, something we couldn't say about them only a few months ago.

Now for the Conservatives. Like the NDP, they would head into an election with a lot of risk. They could form a slim majority, or they could be relegated to the opposition benches.With 40.2% support, the Conservative BCS from September is 158 seats and a majority government. The Liberals would increase their caucus to 85 seats. The Conservatives would win 74 seats in the West and North, 60 in Ontario, 12 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada. But this is a majority of only three - so it would be on a knife's edge. However, a Conservative majority government might have an easier time picking up seats in by-elections.

The Conservative WCS puts them at 29.0% support and 100 seats, or a repeat of the 2004 election. The Conservatives would form the Official Opposition, with 59 seats in the West and North, 32 in Ontario, two in Quebec, and seven in Atlantic Canada.

Interestingly, both the Conservatives and Liberals seem to have a ceiling/floor that is separated by about 55 seats. This indicates that most of the seats that would be won or lost by either party would be because of one-on-one contests between the Liberals and Conservatives. Part of the strategy for either party seems to involve crushing the NDP, as in both the Liberal and Conservative BCS the NDP is reduced to about 20 seats. In the Conservative BCS, those NDP seats propel the party to a majority. In the Liberal scenario, significant gains also have to come at the expense of the Conservatives.

In other words, the Conservatives need to employ an arguably easier strategy of keeping the Liberals where they are and stealing from the NDP, while the Liberals have the trickier task of coaxing votes out of both the NDP and Conservatives.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Parliament would look if only youth voted

Canada’s youth would elect a Liberal minority government, with a substantial increase in representation for the New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, and Greens, according to projections based on recent polls of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24. The Conservative Party would be severely reduced, virtually wiped out east of Manitoba.

Read the rest of my article on The Globe & Mail website.

September Monthly Averages

Time to look at September's polling. Ten national polls were released during this month (same as last month), totaling about 14,650 interviews. Here are the results we get at the national level, with the difference from last month's average in brackets (margin of error +/- 0.8).

Conservatives - 33.4 (+0.6)
Liberals - 29.6 (+1.1)
New Democrats - 15.2 (-1.2)
Greens - 10.2% (-0.3)
Bloc Québécois - 10.0% (+0.3)
Others - 1.6% (-0.5)

The Conservatives make a modest gain and are back over the 1 in 3 mark, but this change is within the margin of error. The Green loss and the Bloc's gain are also within the MOE, but the Liberals have moved up 1.1 points, representing a gain of 2.4 points in the last three months. That's huge, and definitely a trend. The NDP is down 1.2 points from last month, a total loss of 1.8 points in the last two months. It appears that the Liberals are making their gains at the expense of the NDP.

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

Conservatives - 129 (+4)
Liberals - 101 (unchanged)
Bloc Québécois - 52 (unchanged)
New Democrats - 26 (-4)
Greens - 0 (unchanged)

The Conservative gain is a reset of last month's drop, while the Liberals are unchanged after gaining six seats last month. The NDP is down seven seats in the last two months, while the Greens are still not performing strongly enough in any part of the country to elect a single MP.The regional results, with difference from last month in brackets:

BRITISH COLUMBIA (10 polls - about 1,710 people - MOE +/- 2.4)

Conservatives - 33.4% (-3.0)
Liberals - 25.9% (+2.4)
New Democrats - 24.5% (+0.1)
Greens - 14.4% (+0.8)
Others - 1.8%

The Conservatives take a big step backwards, but are still in the lead. The Liberals have moved into second place, and have gained 5.3 points in British Columbia over the last three months. The NDP is stable after a horrendous July, while the Greens are up 2.1 points since July. With these numbers, the Conservatives are projected to win 18 seats, while the Liberals would win 10 and the NDP eight.

ALBERTA (9 polls - about 1,400 people - MOE +/- 2.6)

Conservatives - 56.9% (-1.3)
Liberals - 20.3% (+2.3)
Greens - 9.7% (-1.6)
New Democrats - 9.5% (unchanged)
Others - 3.6%

Over the last two months, the Conservatives are down 2.3 points in Alberta, but they still dominate. The Liberals are up big and over the 20%, while the Greens take a step backwards. The NDP is stable, but still too low. The Conservatives would win 27 seats, with the Liberals winning one.

PRAIRIES (9 polls - about 1,010 people - MOE +/- 3.1)

Conservatives - 46.5% (+0.7)
Liberals - 21.8% (-2.2)
New Democrats - 21.2% (-0.8)
Greens - 8.9% (+2.5)
Others - 1.6%

A little oscillation all within the margin of error, but the Liberals manage to maintain their second-place position in the Prairies. The Conservatives would win 21 seats, the Liberals four, and the NDP three.

ONTARIO (10 polls - about 4,710 people - MOE +/- 1.4)

Liberals - 36.7% (+1.9)
Conservatives - 36.5% (+1.3)
New Democrats - 14.3% (-2.9)
Greens - 11.1% (+0.1)
Others - 1.4%

The Liberals have moved into the lead in Ontario, with a gain of 2.9 points over the last two months. The Conservatives are also up, but have been surpassed by the surging Grits. The NDP is down big, and has lost 3.5 points in the last two months here. The Conservatives would win 46 seats (unchanged), the Liberals would win 48 (+3 from last month), and the NDP would win 12 (-3).

QUEBEC (12 polls - about 5,480 people - MOE +/- 1.3)

Bloc Québécois - 38.3% (-0.7)
Liberals - 24.1% (+0.6)
Conservatives - 16.8% (+1.8)
New Democrats - 12.1% (+0.5)
Greens - 7.5% (-1.8)
Others - 1.2%

The Bloc is down for the third consecutive month, and has lost 1.9 points since July. The Liberals have gained 2.6 points since then, while the Conservatives and NDP take some much needed steps forward. With these results, the Bloc would win 52 seats (unchanged), the Liberals would win 15 (-1), the Conservatives would retain seven (+2), and the NDP would win one (-1).

ATLANTIC CANADA (10 polls - about 1,130 people - MOE +/- 2.9)

Liberals - 39.6% (-2.3)
Conservatives - 32.0% (+4.7)
New Democrats - 18.8% (-0.9)
Greens - 8.1% (unchanged)
Others - 1.5%

Both the Liberals and Conservatives have reset themselves since July, and the NDP is down again in this region. They just seem to be lost here. The Liberals would win 21 seats (-1), the Conservatives nine (+2), and the NDP two (-1) with these results.
September's loser has to be the New Democratic Party. Their net loss (combined gains and loss in all six regions) was four points, with important drops in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Their small gains in Quebec and British Columbia do not make up for the huge setback in Ontario. The party is also down four seats to 26, which would be a huge loss for Jack Layton.

Next would be the Bloc Québécois, down 0.7 points in Quebec and marking a third consecutive month of losses. However, their seats have not changed, and the party is still well ahead of the Liberals, so it isn't a terrible situation.

Then it would be the Green Party, which has a net loss/gain of 0.0. Ontario and British Columbia are the only two provinces really at play for the Greens, so posting (modest) gains in both those areas is a bit of good news for Elizabeth May.

In the winner's corner, we have the Liberals and Conservatives. The runner-up, however, is the Liberal Party. They had a net gain of 2.7 points, with gains outside of or equal to the regional MOE in Ontario and British Columbia. Being in front in Ontario is terrific news for the party, and with 101 seats the Liberals would be in the game in the House of Commons.

But September's winner, oddly enough, is the Conservative Party. Few would think so if you've been watching the news, but their net gain was 4.2 points and the party picked up four seats from last month. While they did lose some ground in the West, where they can stand to lose ground, they made gains in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. These areas are where the party needs to do well, as the West is more or less locked up.

In any case, it seems that as Parliament resumes and Canadians start thinking more about the next election, voters are returning to the two parties most likely to form the next government.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two polls show close race in Manitoba

Two polls were recently conducted for the Manitoba provincial election slated to take place in the fall of 2011. One is from Viewpoints Research and the other is from Probe Research. The Viewpoints poll was taken in the first half of September, while the Probe poll was taken in the second half. They both show similar results, but with vastly different consequences.In the Viewpoints poll, the New Democrats lead over the Progressive Conservatives, 39% to 38%. That is well within the margin of error. The Liberals follow with 15%, with the Greens holding at 8%.

Probe, on the other hand, shows a small lead for the Progressive Conservatives, with 42% to the NDP's 40%. Again, this is within the margin of error. These two polls show virtually the same results, especially when you consider that Probe has the Liberals at 12% and "Others" (Greens, mostly) at 6%. This is mostly unchanged from Probe's last poll in June. Probe provides a little more detail, showing that the Progressive Conservatives lead among men, people between the ages of 18 and 34, people over the age of 55, those with a high school education, and those who make more than $30,000 per year. The NDP leads or is tied with the PCs in all other categories.

The similarity in results continues at the regional level. Both Viewpoints and Probe have the NDP in front in Winnipeg with 46%, followed by the Progressive Conservatives at 32% and 35%, respectively. The Liberals are third with 15% and 14%, respectively.

Outside of Winnipeg there is a little more variation, but in either case we have a large lead for the Progressive Conservatives. They lead this region in the Viewpoints poll with 46%, compared to 53% in the Probe Research poll. The NDP is at 33% and 32%, respectively, with the Liberals at 12% and 8%, respectively. Compared to Probe's last poll in June, the Tories have made a big gain outside of Winnipeg, mostly at the expense of the Liberals.

The seat projection is where things are very different. With Viewpoints' results, the New Democrats would win a majority government with 30 seats, while the Progressive Conservatives would take 24. The Liberals would win three seats. It is a narrow majority, but a majority nevertheless. Greg Selinger, Gary Doer's replacement, would win his first election as leader of the Manitoba NDP.

In the Probe poll, however, we get 29 seats for the Progressive Conservatives, 27 for the New Democrats, and one for the Liberals. It's the slimmest of majorities, but the PCs would form government.

These two polls are very different from Angus-Reid's last poll in August, which had the Progressive Conservatives way ahead with 49% to the NDP's 34%. These two polls seem to show a much closer race, and with such a consensus opinion from two polling firms we can comfortably assume that this tight situation is the actual one in Manitoba right now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Three Wise Men

Yesterday, I attended an event organized by Canada 2020. Hosted by former CBC journalist Don Newman, the event featured Frank Graves of EKOS Research, Bruce Anderson of Harris-Decima, and Nik Nanos of Nanos Research. It was an extremely interesting 90 minute discussion, with presentations from the three pollsters preceding a panel discussion and a short question-and-answer period.

The first to present was Mr. Anderson. He brought a lot of numbers and many of them were very fascinating. He put up voting intention charts for Ontario, Quebec, and Canada as a whole, and from what I could see on the chart their last set of polling running up to October 3 or 4 put the Conservatives at 33% to the Liberals' 29%.

Mr. Anderson emphasised that urban and suburban women are the most politically significant demographic at the moment, as it is there that the Conservatives and Liberals have been fighting for support.

He also took a look at core vs. potential support. Harris-Decima's findings were that 18% of Canadians would only vote for the Conservatives. That represents their floor and their base. They also found that 50% of Canadians would consider voting Conservative. That would be their ceiling.

For the Liberals, the base or core support is made up of only 10% of Canadians, but 56% of Canadians would consider voting Liberal. While the Liberal floor is far lower than the Conservative floor, their ceiling is higher.

Harris-Decima also found that 11% of Canadians were on the fence between the Liberals and the Conservatives, the only two parties that they would consider supporting.

Mr. Anderson also hypothesized about a Canadian "Tea Party", finding that 19% of Canadians would consider joining such a party. While you might think that this group is made up entirely of the Conservative base, it isn't. The voting intention split of this group was more or less proportional to national voting intentions. I thought that to be incredibly interesting. He also found that on a divisive issue like the census, these "Tea Partiers" were split, indicating that it would be very difficult to form a Canadian Tea Party as its potential adherents aren't a monolithic block.

Next was Frank Graves, who embraced his new persona of a rabble-rouser, and was the comedian of the bunch. He also brought a lot of numbers, but most of them we've already seen in their weekly polls.

Mr. Graves was adamant that a majority government is not in the cards, but did say that he thought a Green Party seat could result from the next election.

With some numbers stretching back ten years, he argued that one of the most important changes in the Canadian political landscape of late has been that the concerns of Canadians have shifted strongly from social issues to economic ones. This seems to have happened primarily since the Liberals were defeated in 2006, and helps explain why the formerly "natural governing party" has been struggling.

Then it was Nik Nanos's turn. He didn't bring a Powerpoint slide but instead spoke about some of the new dynamics of Canadian politics. It was very interesting, and Susan Delacourt has a transcript of his remarks. Apparently I missed her, as I didn't see anyone I recognized in the crowd.

Mr. Nanos disagreed with Mr. Graves that a majority was impossible. He didn't argue that it was plausible, but just that it was still a possibility. He believes that the Conservatives are using a strategy of wedge politics to further their goals, focusing on pockets of voters rather than broad appeal. He said that the Conservative strategy seems to be as focused on getting their own supporters out to vote as urging the supporters of their opponents to stay home. Repelling voters in this way negatively effects how politics are done in the country.

While he has a point, this strategy can also backfire. I know several people who are so unhappy with this Conservative style of politics that they will be impelled to vote against the Conservatives, and for a Liberal Party that doesn't excite them whatsoever.

He spoke about how a Conservative majority without Quebec (which I believe to be virtually impossible) could radically change Canada's currently mild national unity debate. With the Parti Québécois poised to form the next government in Quebec beginning in 2012 or 2013, a Conservative majority elected in 2011 (and presumably surviving until 2015 or 2016) could mean dealing a strong hand to the sovereignty movement.

Mr. Nanos dismissed talk of a base or ceiling, such as the one featured in Mr. Anderson's presentation, as he said that a Gomery-type event can transform the political landscape. While I agree with him on that point, we really can only go on what is most likely to happen. We can't plan on such a thing happening, since you never know if it will or how it will benefit or punish a given party.

He spoke at length about how the internet has changed Canada's political discourse. Whereas before Canadians were more limited in how they got their information, and so were exposed to more differing views, the internet allows people to view only the kind of news or analysis that fits into their own worldview. What that does is group people together who share similar ideas but separates these groups from one another. It makes a more divided Canada.

All in all, it was a very interesting debate and set of presentations. Most of the time, you only get to see one pollster on TV for maybe eight minutes. But with three pollsters and 90 minutes, the audience was spoiled and, I think, better for the experience.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From the Globe & Mail: NDP pain means Liberal gain with Tories still on track for minority

Though Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal Party would make substantial gains at the expense of the Conservatives and faltering New Democrats, Stephen Harper would nevertheless win a third consecutive minority government if an election were held today, according to projections based on the most recent polling data.

Read the rest of my article at The Globe & Mail.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Federal and provincial results from CROP

So, La Presse ordered a new poll from CROP, the pollster we last heard from in January. As you may know, I really dislike CROP. They poll irregularly and never release the full results of their findings. They usually also come to conclusions very different from what other pollsters have found, particularly at the federal level.

But first, we'll look at their provincial results, which actually aren't too unusual.Since that January poll, the Parti Québécois has gained two points and leads with 40%, a number that we've been seeing for months now. The Liberals have dropped nine points, and are at 31%.

Interestingly, comparing this poll to the one nine months ago shows how the situation in Quebec has changed. The Action Démocratique du Québec, which was in the doldrums before the Liberals tanked, is up seven points to 13%. Québec Solidaire is up one to 9% and the Greens are down one to 7%.

With this poll, the PQ would win 70 seats and form a majority government. The Liberals would win 46 seats, while the ADQ would win seven and Québec Solidaire two.

How QS will perform in the next election, far away as it may be, will definitely be something I am going to watch closely. The party is polling at three times its support level in 2008, and recent by-elections have demonstrated that the party actually does have some legs. But in that last election, only two ridings had particularly strong QS performances: Mercier, where Amir Khadir was elected, and Gouin, where Françoise David finished in a strong second. If the party really is going to be supported by 1 in 10 Quebecers, we could see them in play in other parts of the province.

Now the federal poll, which is just a little odd.The poll has the Bloc Québécois at 32%, well below what we've seen elsewhere. But this isn't the first time that CROP has had the BQ so low. Oddly enough, though, is that the Liberals aren't performing very well. They're at 23%, which is just about where other pollsters have had them.

Instead, the Conservatives are riding high, with 23%. This is where the poll smells a little. Also, the New Democrats are at 18%, while the Greens are assumed to be at 4%. I don't know, though, since it wasn't reported.

With this poll, the Bloc Québécois would win 45 seats. The Liberals would win 16 and the Conservatives 12. The NDP would win two seats with this result.

At the provincial level, CROP shows the status quo. At the federal level, CROP shows the Bloc down very low and the Conservatives very high. It is very strange that CROP could come to such two very different results with the same 1,001 people.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big drop for NDP in latest EKOS poll

Yesterday's EKOS poll shows that the New Democrats have lost a significant amount of support over the last two weeks, with all other parties making gains at their expense.The Conservatives are still in the lead with 33.1% support, however, up 0.7 points from EKOS's last poll two weeks ago. The Liberals are up a full point to 29.9%, but the NDP has dropped 3.1 points to 13.5%. That is a huge drop, especially for an EKOS poll where changes are rarely this large at the national level.

The Greens are up 0.2 points to 10.9% while the Bloc Québécois is up 1.2 points to 10.1%.

Aside from the losses sustained by Jack Layton's party, the demographic breakdown paints an interesting picture of Conservative and Liberal support. The Tories still lead among men, with a 36.4% to 28.5% edge over the Liberals. But the Liberals are ahead 31.3% to 30.0% among women. When it comes to education, the Conservatives are ahead among high school graduates with 34.3% to the Liberals' 22.5%, but the Liberals are ahead among university graduates, 39.8% to 26.1%.

The Conservatives lead in Ontario with 37% support, up two points from two weeks ago. The Liberals are at 36.5%, up one point and very competitive. The NDP is unchanged at 13.8%, while the Greens are down two to 10.7%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 43.3% and Ottawa with 42.5%. The Conservatives trail in both cities with 34% and 39.8%, respectively.

The Bloc has gained five points and leads with 40.8% support in Quebec, followed by the Liberals at 24.4% (up one). The Tories are down seven big points to 14.1%, indicating that the effects of the arena funding in Quebec City may have gone up in smoke. The NDP is down three points to 8.7%, actually ranking behind the Greens who are at 8.9%. The Bloc leads with 38.3% in Montreal, followed by the Liberals at 25%.

The Conservatives are up eight points in British Columbia, and lead with 35.3%. The Liberals are up one to 27.6% while the NDP has dropped eight points to 23.2%. The Greens are also down, with a drop of four points to 10.9%. The Conservatives dominate in Vancouver with 47.4%, with the NDP at a distant second with 20.7%.

The Liberals are up eight points in Atlantic Canada, and lead with 41.1%. The Conservatives are down seven to 26.2% while the NDP is also down seven, to 14.8%. The Greens have moved into third here with 16.6%.

In Alberta, the Conservatives have gained five points and lead with 56.5%. The Liberals follow with 15.3%, down eight.

The Conservatives are up eight points in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and lead with 50.2%. The Liberals are second with 26.7% (up five) while the NDP is down 15 points to 9%, running fourth behind the Greens who are at 11.6%.

With this poll, the Conservatives would win 68 seats in the West and North, 48 in Ontario, seven in Atlantic Canada, and five in Quebec for a total of 128.

The Liberals would win 47 seats in Ontario, 23 in Atlantic Canada, 19 in the West and North, and 16 in Quebec for a total of 105.

The Bloc would win 54 seats in Quebec.

The NDP would win 11 seats in Ontario, eight in the West, and two in Atlantic Canada for a total of 21.

EKOS also took a look at support for a coalition between the Liberals and NDP, vis-a-vis the Conservatives. Interestingly, in such a situation the imagined Coalition would get 41% support, while the Conservatives would run a close second with 39%. Taking out the "don't knows" or "none of the aboves", that would be a 51% to 49% split in favour of the Coalition.

Again, taking out the non-committal respondents, the Coalition would win 55% support in British Columbia, 62% in Quebec, and 59% in Atlantic Canada. The Conservatives would win with 70% in Alberta, 60% in the Prairies, and 51% in Ontario in a face-to-face contest. Interesting stuff.

The poll also found that 26% of Canadians want a Conservative majority, 10% want a Conservative minority, 16% want a Liberal minority, and 22% want a Liberal majority. That means 38% want a Liberal government of some kind compared to 36% who want a Conservative government of some time. Extrapolating this to say that 48% want a majority government, however, misses the point as most of the support for a Liberal or Conservative majority comes only from within those parties. In other words, Conservatives don't want a Liberal majority and Liberals don't want a Conservative majority. So it isn't about the form of government but rather who is in it.

But to return to voting intentions, if this trouble for the NDP continue, it will really make things a bit more clear cut for the two main parties. The Liberals (and Bloc Québécois) really do seem to have made some gains at the expense of the NDP, which is generally the scenario the Conservatives are trying to avoid. But, as in all things political, it could change very quickly.