Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Liberals dropping, Conservatives gaining in Quebec in new polls

The polls that came out yesterday were not nearly as disatrous for the Liberals as those that had come out over the weekend and in the week prior. Nevertheless, in polls conducted by Harris-Decima, Abacus Data, and Forum Research, the Conservatives are holding a distinct, and in some cases definitive, advantage.
These polls were all conducted in part or wholly after the government fell on Friday, so these are truly the campaign's first opinion polls. Harris-Decima, Abacus Data, and Forum Research are the first in the field, or at least the first to report.

A few notes on these polls before we delve into what they say. Harris-Decima normally polls over two weeks, and so in this poll they reported both their two-week results and their results over the last week, but only nationally, in Ontario, and in Quebec. Only their two-week results in the West and Atlantic Canada were reported. So, in this post it is the last week of polling I am paying attention to. The two-week results for Canada, Ontario, and Quebec will not be added to the projection - only the one week results. And the two-week results for the other regions will be added to the projection, and reported on, tomorrow.

Abacus Data, of course, is an online pollster while Forum Research, a newcomer to federal polling, uses an IVR system similar to the one EKOS Research uses. They've been kind enough to provide me with their regional breakdowns and allow me to report on the results. Note, however, that they combine Alberta and the Prairies, so I won't be able to use those results in my projection.

Generally speaking, the New Democrats are doing very well in these polls. In the past, we have always seen them lower than 18% but it seems that since the campaign has started they are much closer to the 20% mark.

Harris-Decima and Abacus Data are also reporting a closer race in Ontario than some of the other recent polls, though Forum Research sees the Tories with a significant lead.

Another new trend is in Quebec, where the Conservatives are doing much better than their federalist counterparts. The Tories were running second in the polls reported on yesterday, and are second in most of these polls as well. The Liberals are at or below 18% in all of them. Worrying news for Michael Ignatieff if that is truly the case.

Now, the Harris-Decima poll does show some relatively significant movement: a drop of four points by the Liberals and a gain of four by the Conservatives. But this isn't stark enough to truly be statistically significant, and in fact what Harris-Decima is reporting is that the Conservatives and Liberals have returned to the levels of support the polling firm recorded in and prior to early February.

As for Abacus, no national variations have been larger than two points (-2 for the Tories, +2 for the Liberals and NDP), meaning there isn't much change going on. What is interesting is that Abacus broke the vote down by several different factors, including immigrants. Among immigrants, the Liberals lead with 38% to the Tories' 32%. If I can paraphrase that infamous report on Conservative strategy mistakenly handed to the NDP correctly, the Tories seem to still be losing, but are not losing as badly as they used to.

Broken down by likely voters, the Liberal total actually improves to 29%. But the Conservatives stand at 37% and the NDP at 20% among likely voters.

Forum Research's regional results did not differ much from the other pollsters, though the NDP at 22% in Quebec is unusual. The polling firm also reported on GTA numbers, and found that the Conservatives are leading with 40%, compared to 32% for the Liberals and 22% for the NDP.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Tories are well ahead with 63%. The Liberals (15%) and NDP (14%) are far behind.

Forum Research included the "Best PM" question, and found that Stephen Harper is tops with 38%. Jack Layton followed with 18% while Michael Ignatieff stood at 14%. That is, generally speaking, what other firms have found to be the case.

On a few issues, Forum Research asked whether respondents approved or disapproved. Only 37% of Canadians approved of reducing federal taxes for corporations, while 40% approved of spending $9 billion (?) on F-35 fighter jets. This generally aligns with Conservative levels of support.

Perhaps most interestingly, Forum asked whether the economy and job creation was more important than ethics in government. Only 38% disagreed.


  1. If Forum is using the IVR method - it will be interesting to see if their results foreshadow what Ekos will put out later this week when they (I assume) come out with numbers covering the first full week of the campaign.

  2. Eric does the renewed CPC strength in Quebec help Larry Smith at all? Does he have an outside chance or is he doomed to failure? Seems to me that if LPOC strength is really as bad as some of these polls suggest, that English Montreal might want to have someone in cabinet.

  3. I wonder what is the percentage in Quebec who will vote strategically for the Bloc - I am a conservative, federalist, Canadian, French quebecer, but will vote Bloc because of past two results in my riding.

  4. Earl,

    I think Larry Smith has a long road ahead of him. At current levels of support, he isn't yet within range of the Liberals. It's true, though, that if Liberal numbers keep dropping in the province that he will start to have a better chance.

    The gap between the two parties in the province is now less than one point. If it grows to, say, five points then things become possible, but I'd still say it is unlikely.

  5. Lucky bastard, you got the regional breakdown from Forum! ;-)

    I couldn't do anything with this poll on my blog.

  6. Its almost impossible to take any province wide Quebec numbers and project them onto what will happen in Lac St. Louis. That riding is overwhelmingly anglophone - while Quebec as a whole is overwhelmingly francophone - so any changes in voting patterns of anglo-Quebecers get totally diluted in any province-wide poll. The only way we would ever really know if the Tories (or the NDP) was going to make a serious breakthrough in those non-francophone ridings in Montreal that always vote Liberal would be some media outlet like the Montreal Gazette decided to commission a poll of 1,000 non-francophone Quebecers!

  7. Despite pulling ahead (in at least one poll) from the Liberals and NDP, hardly any good news in this for the conservatives. Worse still, they are doing horribly in the Quebec city region, their former fortress. At this rate, the BLOC may pull a clean sweep of the province and form the official opposition. This is going to get interesting.

  8. Bryan i'm sure you could e-mail as well.

    During an election all this information is supposed to be freely available:



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