Yesterday, we were treated to two new polls, one from Angus-Reid and the other from EKOS Research. They told somewhat different stories, as Angus-Reid pegs the gap between the Conservatives and Liberals at 16 points, while EKOS has it at around seven.
How do we reconcile these two polls? We don't!
I'm not going to compare the two polls as they aren't comparable. Angus-Reid uses an online panel, while EKOS uses a telephone system. Angus-Reid polled on two days (March 8 and 9), while EKOS polled on nine days (February 24 to March 8, excluding weekends). Finally, Angus-Reid polled 1,021 people, while EKOS polled 2,892 people. The two polls aren't at all the same.
But what the two polls do have in common is that neither shows a significant shift in support for any of the parties since the last time these pollsters were in the field.
We'll start with Angus-Reid, as it is the most recent poll of the two.
last poll (February 11 to 18), the Conservatives have remained unchanged at 39% support. The Liberals are down three points to 23%, while the New Democrats are down one to 17%.
The Bloc Québécois is steady at 9% nationally, while the Greens are up three points to 9%.
Angus-Reid reports a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. They should be reporting that the sampling margin of error of a random sample of similar size is +/- 3.1%, or not reporting an MOE at all.
But if we take this as a random sample, we can say that both the Liberal and NDP drops are not statistically significant. The Green jump is, but just barely.
In Ontario, the Conservatives are down two points to 41%, followed by the Liberals at 29% (-1). The NDP is steady at 19%. These are horrid numbers for the Liberals.
The Bloc has dropped five points in Quebec, and now leads with only 34%. The Liberals are up two to 23%, the Conservatives are up two to 22%, and the NDP is up one to 15%. Generally steady-as-she-goes here.
In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up five points and now lead with 45%, while the NDP (-10) and Liberals (-4) are tied at 18%, very low results. The Greens are up five to 13%.
In Alberta, the Conservatives are up nine points to 69%, while the Liberals are down 12 to 9%, joining the NDP. And in the Prairies, the Tories are up two points to 57%, the NDP is steady at 22%, and the Liberals are down four to only 15%.
This is wasted support for the Conservatives. They can't make any major gains in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, so all they are really doing is winning the seats they already have by a lot more.
Atlantic Canada is a write-off in this poll. The Conservatives are down 12 points to 27%, the Liberals are down 14 to 26%, and the NDP is up four to 21%. The Others are up 19 points to 20%, which is of course ridiculous. This isn't the first time that Angus-Reid has had the Others up to an implausible level of support in Atlantic Canada, which tells me they may have a few Maritime jokers on their panel.
This doesn't break the poll, though, as that 20% only accounts for about 1.4 points nationally. But Angus-Reid probably should have extended their polling period out East to try to correct the error.
The Liberals win four seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, two in the Prairies, 32 in Ontario, 17 in Quebec, and 14 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 70 seats. That's a disaster.
The Bloc Québécois wins 44 seats in Quebec, quite a bit of a drop for them.
The New Democrats win six seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, four in the Prairies, 17 in Ontario, two in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada for a total of 34.
André Arthur manages to barely hold on to his riding of Portneuf - Jacques-Cartier.
Angus-Reid also looked at how Canadians see the major party leaders. Stephen Harper has an approval rating of 32% and a disapproval rating of 45%. Compared to Angus-Reid's last poll which involved that question, the approval/disapproval spread has improved by 11 points.
For Michael Ignatieff, he has an approval rating of 14% and a disapproval rating of 55%, a spread that has gotten worse by eight points.
And for Jack Layton, his approval rating is 34%, compared to a disapproval rating of 30%. That's a spread that has improved by 13 points.
Angus-Reid also looked into how Canadians viewed their qualities and flaws. Looking at only the characteristics that have seen major shifts since Angus-Reid's last similar poll, fewer people (+4% each) think Harper is secretive, efficient, and out of touch.
More people think Ignatieff is arrogant (+6), uncaring (+5), and dishonest (+11). Ouch. But fewer people think he is boring (-5).
And for Layton, fewer people (-4 each) think he is compassionate, exciting, and intelligent. Not exactly terrific.
Alright, on to EKOS.
Compared to their last poll (February 10 to 22), the Conservatives are up 2.8 points to 35.2%. The Liberals are up 0.5 points to 27.8%, while the NDP is up 0.1 points to 14.9%.
The Greens are down 1.8 points to 10.1% and the Bloc Québécois is down 1.7 points to 8.8%.
This poll has a sampling margin of error of +/- 1.8%, 19 times out of 20. About 14% of Canadians are undecided (a drop of about three points). And none of these national shifts in voting intentions are statistically significant.
The Conservatives are up 5.1 points in Ontario and now lead with 41%, a very good number for them, but not unusual of late. The Liberals are down 2.4 points to 34%, while the NDP is up 0.2 points to 14.4%. The Conservatives are leading in Toronto and Ottawa with 41.1% and 44.8%, while the Liberals are running second with 38.8% and 36.6%, respectively.
In Quebec, the Bloc is down four points to 35.9%. The Liberals are up 2.9 points to 21.7%, while the Conservatives are down 0.8 points to 15.4%. The NDP is up 1.1 points to 12.5%. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 38.5%, followed by the Liberals at 26%. The 10.1% score for the Conservatives is not good for their West Island hopes.
The Conservatives are up 3.3 points in British Columbia and now lead with 36.2%. The Liberals follow with 24.1% (+3.1), while the NDP is down 3.3 points to 21.9%. The Greens are also down, dropping 5.2 points to 14.2%. The Conservatives are leading in Vancouver with 39.2%, followed by the Liberals at 26.6%.
In Alberta, the Conservatives are up 5.2 points to 57.3%, and are trailed by the Liberals at 17.2% (-7.2) and the Greens at 11.3%. The Conservatives are leading in Calgary with 60.7%, with the Liberals at 17.4%.
In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are up 9.8 points to 40% and lead once again in the region. The Conservatives are down 5.9 points to 30.9%, while the NDP is up 3.1 points to 17.4%.
And in the Prairies, the Conservatives are up 3.4 points to 45.7%, followed by the Liberals at 22.5% (+0.9) and the NDP at 21.1% (-6.7).
The Liberals win seven seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, three in the Prairies, 35 in Ontario, 17 in Quebec, and 20 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 83.
The Bloc Québécois wins 49 seats in Quebec.
The New Democrats win seven seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, four in the Prairies, 15 in Ontario, one in Quebec, and four in Atlantic Canada for a total of 31.
The Greens manage to get Elizabeth May elected in Saanich - Gulf Islands.
EKOS also took a look at second choice, which hasn't changed much from their other polls. But they also looked at how people's vote has shifted since 2008, which is very interesting.
The Conservatives are the best at keeping their vote, as about 77% of their supporters in 2008 are still intending to vote for them. Another 12%, however, have went over to the Liberals.
The Bloc is the next best at keeping their vote, with 74%. About 8% has gone to the Greens and another 7% has gone to the NDP.
The Liberals are maintaining 64% of their vote, but have lost 18% to the Conservatives.
And the New Democrats have kept 62% of their vote, with 13% going over to the Liberals and 12% going over to the Conservatives.
This tends to show that anywhere from 20% to 40% of a party's supporters are liable to head elsewhere from one election to the next. That's a lot of movement, and not a lot of it is homogenous. You have voters going every which way.
Both of these polls are good for the Conservatives. Angus-Reid shows them with a huge lead, but more importantly both Angus-Reid and EKOS have the Conservatives at 41% in Ontario. This is where the Conservatives intend to win their majority. If they can maintain this sort of support in Ontario, and bring back their voters in British Columbia and Quebec, they will be in a very strong position come election day.