Saturday, March 26, 2011

Three polls, best Liberal and Tory outcomes

There has been a flurry of polls over the last two days, with new releases by EKOS, Léger Marketing, Angus-Reid, CROP, and Probe Research. I will cover them all in detail in Monday's poll summary, but for now I'd like to look at the best seat outcomes the Liberals and Conservatives could draw from the results of the three national polls.

Similar to my monthly best and worst case scenarios, this exercise takes the best regional results for each party in each of these three polls, and mashes them together. Doing so results in the Conservatives taking in about 42% of the vote in their best case scenario, while the Liberals take about 29% in theirs.

Clearly, these three polls were not particularly good for the Liberals when they cannot top 30% in a best-case-scenario. I haven't plugged the numbers into the projection model yet, but we can probably expect them to be down on Monday morning.

In any case, when we put the best results of these two parties together, we get the following seat projections:

It becomes quickly apparent that none of these three polls, even when we take the best results from each of them, are as good for the Tories as this week's individual Ipsos Reid poll. Nevertheless, the Conservatives still have the potential to win 160 seats, with 70 of them coming in the four western provinces, 61 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada.

This actually serves to caution the Conservatives a little. This is a best-case-scenario result, and included a 15-point lead for the party in Ontario and a 16-point lead in Atlantic Canada. And yet they are only five seats over the majority-mark, and both the Bloc and NDP remain strong.

When we look at the Liberals, they do not fare nearly as well. With all of the best regional results of these three polls, the Liberals still only win 87 seats (16 in the West, 37 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada). While that is a gain of 10 over their standing at dissolution, it would change very little.

But none of these polls were very good for the Liberals. This scenario has the party with a tiny lead in Atlantic Canada, tied with the NDP in Quebec, and trailing the Conservatives in Ontario. It includes the unlikely mark of 32% in Alberta, better than either their results in British Columbia or the Prairies.

Obviously, the Liberals are gunning for a government in this election. But it will be considered an especially catastrophic failure if the Conservatives win a majority for themselves. At this point, it appears that the Liberals do have it in their power to prevent that from happening, which is as much of a silver lining as the last days of pre-campaign polling will allow.


  1. YOu should do a best and worst for the NDP as well - I think if they got the best in each region from any poll this week it would be something like Atlantic 25%, Quebec 20%, Ontario 23%, Man/Sask 21%, Alberta 17% and BC (29%). This would yield 45-50 seats! Of course no one ever actually gets their best case in every region...

  2. Eric,

    Will it necessarily be a disaster for the Liberals if the Conservatives win a majority government? I would think that it would be almost disastrous for the Conservatives to only win a minority.

    With a Conservative majority, the Liberals will have 4 years to perform a proper leadership race. They will have 4 years to properly set their policies and outline strategies. They (like all other parties) can disband their respective war rooms for a couple years which helps them financially. Finally, it will give the Liberals the chance to support or vote against any or all legislation, giving them some distance between the previous policy of sitting on their hands or having an epidemic of "spine flu" and their next electoral campaign.

    A Conservative minority, on the other hand, forces them to stay with Mr. Ignatieff, forces them to remain on election readiness (forcing them to spend more money), forces them to maintain the policy arc that they are currently on, and essentially destroying the party as a whole through bad choices.

    Personally, if I'm a Liberal, I'm hoping for a majority government regardless of it it's our brand. Mr. Harper can do more damage to himself if he has enough rope to hang himself.

  3. If anyone has the results of the Probe and CROP polls would they please post them.


  4. It might in some ways be better for the Liberal Party if the Tories won a majority and gave the Liberals four years to re-group. It might even be good for the NDP to have a four year window. But my concern is what's good for Canada. The amount of damage a Harper majority could do is vast - would there even be anything left to govern at the end of it???

    Also, if Harper finds a way to stay in power with a minority - he would probably have to ditch his plan to bankrupt the opposition parties. With a majority - he would tilt the playing field so heavily in favour of the Tories and against the opposition parties that the Liberals in particular might have to declare bankruptcy and pay their suppliers 10 cents on the dollar!

  5. Grits at 32% in Alberta. Tee Hee.

  6. "DL: The amount of damage a Harper majority could do is vast - would there even be anything left to govern at the end of it?"

    C'mon DL be realistic. If Canada could survive 16 years Trudeau and the gross economic mismanagement he put the nation through I'm sure it could survive whatever horrible things Harper could manage in four years. Heavens, Canada could even survive four years of Jack Layton.

    You have convinced yourself of your own rhetoric. Harper is hardly a bogeymen, although you wouldn't know it, listening to you Liberal and NDP types. Tell me what Harper could do in four years that couldn't be undone by a subsequent government assuming Canadians were unhappy enough to throw the rascal out.

  7. I agree with both oxygentax and DL: a Con majority could actually benefit the Liberals in terms of regrouping and voting against everything the government proposes, as futile as that is in a majority government. Under Mulroney, with even less seats, the Liberals had a good long time-out and rebounded quite well with Chrétien. However, I do worry what the Conservatives would do with that majority. Yes, they would ditch party funding. Under a focused Liberal party, that could actually be a rallying point for fundraising akin to the Cons use of the long-gun registry. Likewise, four years of majority rule after 5 years of minority governing would leave the Cons tired and the electorate quite sick of them. And, as oxygentax, a majority would give the Cons plenty of opportunity to go too far.

    But what will that leave us with? Four years of bad and unaccountable government. No, I'm hoping for a reduced Con minority. If Ignatieff manages to increase Liberal seats, he will probably get a second chance. But with a reduced minority Harper will be quietly retired over the course of a year. In this scenario, look for Jim Prentice to reemerge.

  8. Here is the Probe Research release showing the latest numbers from Manitoba:

  9. What are the chances the Liberals could be reduced to third-party status? I wonder how long Ignatieff would stay around knowing he would have to move out of Stornoway to an apartment, not 24 Sussex...

  10. "With a majority - he would tilt the playing field so heavily in favour of the Tories and against the opposition parties that the Liberals in particular might have to declare bankruptcy and pay their suppliers 10 cents on the dollar!"

    Unlikely, election expenses are reimbursed at 50 cents on the dollar, so the Liberals will be getting that back for sure. And, of course,the NDP, which raises slightly less money than the Grits, outspent them in 2008 and still manages to repay their loans. Ending the party finance regime would be a kick in butt to the grits, but they'd survive.

    Query, though, if the Tories will be quite as keen to get rid of it if they win a majority. In a minority government, you can see why they hate it, because it means that the opposition parties are better situated to fight a new election (since they can repay their campaign debts faster). On the other hand, the party finance regime inherently favours the party who gets the most votes (i.e., the Tories). If the Tories lay a beating on the Liberals and win a majority, they might not be quite so keen to get rid of a finance regime that heavily favours them (you might see them modify though, to only finance parties who run in, say, 75% of Canada's ridings - sticking it to the Bloc).

  11. The problem with the Liberals is that they still think of themselves as the 'natural governing party of Canada'. It is this attitude of arrogance that will bankrupt them, not Harper.

  12. CROP Poll in Quebec: BQ - 38%, Cons - 23%, NDP - 20%, Lib - 11%, Grn - 8%

    I think BC VoR has a link up.

    As for Probe.. I can't seem to find more than just a Manitoba poll that they published yesterday.

    51-26-18-3 static from the last poll... (Dec) except the tories up 3 mostly from the greens.

    Looks like a tory (near) sweep of the rurals again,... but Winnipeg may be more of a battleground this time around.

    The report includes results for rural, winnipeg, and a few regions of Winnipeg.

  13. BCVoR and Éric:

    CROP should be more forthcoming when it comes to releasing crosstabs. Léger, Ekos and many other firms do so on a regular basis.

    As Yvon Deschamps once famously said:
    On veut pas l'sawouère [...] on veut le wouère !

  14. Claude B.

    What would the cross tabs reveal on a 11% Liberal support in Quebec?

    As the CPC are up to 25% and NDP to 20% I can not see how any further break down would help.

    The separatists have not voted Liberal for years.

    from the article (translated):

    "Among francophones, which determine the outcome in the vast majority of the 75 Quebec ridings, the Liberal Party receives a meager 7% - far behind the Bloc Quebecois (44%), the Conservatives and the NDP (tied at 21 %)."

    The Liberals are in Green territory

    The BLOC still benefits from the Federalist vote being split.

  15. Since the Liberals cannot hope to form the next government after Iggy abjured a coalition, it follows logically that the best case scenario for the Grits must be a Tory majority. Only this result will provide them with a desperately needed opportunity to rethink their identity and to rebuild their party.

  16. Apparently Iggy's statement only applies to what would happen should the Liberals win a minority government. He's still not saying what he'd do in the event a similar Parliament emerged to the last one - a Tory minority. Until he does he will be beset by the "Coalition Question".

  17. No, a coalition in such a case has also been ruled out by the Liberals.

  18. Eric I refer you to last paragraph of this article:

  19. Andrew Coyne was wondering the same thing, and called David McGuinty.

  20. I think you may be underestimating the impact of an ABC campaign in Quebec. Contrary to past elections, I believe that a dirty campaign by the Bloc against the Conservatives may take the PCC down in the province due to the flurry of strong feelings on a lot of issues. Liberals (like me) may decide to side with the Bloc to get Max and his companions out of the way.

  21. Ignatieff hasn't ruled anything out. Here is his statement:

    “We will not enter a coalition with other federalist parties. In our system, coalitions are a legitimate constitutional option. However, I believe that issue-by-issue collaboration with other parties is the best way for minority Parliaments to function.”


    1) No coalition!
    2) But coalitions are great
    3) We just don't want one right now

    Sorry but you could drive a truck through the amount of wiggle room he's left.

  22. Of course, it's fair to point put that Dion also ruled out a coalition with the NDP - three months before he tried to organize one with the NDP and the Bloc. Imagine that, politicians not keeping their word. And the fact that the Liberal's "hidden agenda" claim was nonsense (and was repeatedly refuted by the Harper Tories), didn't keep it from being effective for two elections. Here, the Liberals have actually tried to form a coalition with the Bloc and the NDP, so I wouldn't expect the Tories to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Moreover Iggy's comment goes to the heart of the Tory position, even without a formal coalition, unless the Tories form a majority, it will likely be replace by an Iggy led government that is wholly dependent on the NDP and the Bloc for its survival. Unless you think that the Liberals are keen on quick election, that means they'll be making concessions to the Bloc and the NDP. And its perfectly fair for the Tories to be asking Canadians whether that's the minority government they want.


  23. My question then is what happens if a strong CPC minority is returned in this election? Do the LPOC support the Throne Speech and subsequent budget? My guess is that they likely do because Iggy resigns as leader. I would be surprised if the LPOC went to the GG after helping to defeat the CPC on either the throne speech or the budget and with 77 or fewer seats claimed to be able to form a viable government. I think the GG would laugh them out of Rideau Hall.

  24. Dio,

    "Since the Liberals cannot hope to form the next government after Iggy abjured a coalition..."

    Be careful about interpreting what the Liberals have ruled out.

    A Coalition Government involves having multiple parties in Cabinet.

    Even IF we take Ignatieff's recent statements at face value (and ignore the imprecision and the Liberal about-face in 2008), all he has said is that a Liberal Cabinet will not include MPs from other parties.

    He has easily left the door open to taking over as PM, as leader of the party with the second-most number of seats, supported by the NDP and Bloc -- without those latter parties being represented in Cabinet.

  25. That is how a minority government works, and how the current government has managed to maintain power since 2006.

  26. Eric,

    "That is how a minority government works, and how the current government has managed to maintain power since 2006."

    I do appreciate the patronizing explanation, but I fully understand how our government works.

    I was simply correcting Dio's interpretation of recent events -- which I noticed that you did not.

    However, there is one salient difference between the possible Liberal second-place takeover (supported by the NDP and Bloc), compared with 'since 2006': The Conservatives have been in fact the largest party in the House of Commons.

    That doesn't make a Liberals-in-second-place-takeover illegal or unconstitutional but it is contrary to the expectation of Canadians.

    I'm not saying that expectation (that the largest party can be excluded from government) is correct. But it is a point of education worth emphasizing: That anything short a Tory majority is likely to see Michael Ignatieff as PM (supported by the NDP and Bloc).

  27. Thank you very much for that comment, Eric (at 16:35). You have just confirmed the reason why the ONLY choice in this election is between a Tory majority and a coalition led by Iggy. Let's hope that all loyal Canadians think good and hard about this choice before they enter the polling booth on May the 2nd.

  28. The possible election results of the election are (barring Layton as PM and if we can take both Harper and Ignatieff at their word):

    - a Conservative majority
    - a Liberal majority
    - a Conservative minority propped up by the NDP, Bloc, and/or Liberals
    - a Liberal minority propped up by the NDP, Bloc, and/or Conservatives

    The last option is no more a coalition than the one before it.

    And I disagree that it is a Conservative majority or bust. If the Liberals are reduced to 80 or fewer seats, but the Tories still win a minority, I do not think the Liberals will form a government after toppling the Conservatives. Though it might still be possible, there is a degree of common sense in politics as well.

    If Ignatieff does worse than Dion, I don't expect him to stay as leader of the party. One would hope he has some self-respect.

  29. Eric let me correct your last option:

    - a Liberal minority propped up by the NDP + Bloc

    not and or. Both parties would likely be required for EVERY vote.

    As oppposed to the Tories who can pick and choose between 1 of 3 parties.

    And no, as official opposition and the party with the most seats in the house, the Liberals could expect ZERO support from Harper on ANYTHING.

    So you're glazed over a fundemental difference in configuration between a strong Tory minority governing how they like and a weak Liberal minority dependent on the BQ/NDP at all times.

    One is a de facto coalition.

    The other is Harper basically governing as if he had a majority already.

    Position of weakness vs. position of strength.

  30. You're assuming too much, and I think this is the big problem with the recent debate (along with all the misleading statements on both sides).

    Imagine the campaign turns, and on election night the Conservatives win 115 seats, the Liberals 105, the Bloc 50, and the NDP 35 (or some similar allotment).

    Would the Conservatives still truly be in a position of strength? What if they lose even more? Does Harper even stay on as leader?

    And the Liberals would only need to have the first throne speech and budget passed. It has not been unusual for the Conservatives to seek the support of the NDP or the Bloc to get a budget passed, so it is not difficult to imagine the Liberals doing the same without having to bend over backwards too much. They might even get one of the parties to abstain, after a weaker-than-expected election result. I have trouble believing that either the NDP or the Bloc would be bellicose enough to threaten another election.

    A year later, who knows? The Liberals could be back in a position of weakness, or they could be in a position of strength and the Tories will want to avoid an election, meaning the NDP and Bloc could corner them into supporting the Liberal government.

    Basically, what I am saying is that this is all speculation, and we cannot assume anything. Would Ignatieff try to become PM if he doesn't win the election no matter what the other parties demand? I think that is a very large leap, and rather ridiculous. Politics tend to be far more nuanced than that.

    Canadians should vote their conscience. Which party most closely aligns with your views? Which local candidate do you want representing you in the House of Commons? Naively, I hope this is what we focus on in the next five weeks.

  31. "Canadians should vote their conscience. Which party most closely aligns with your views? Which local candidate do you want representing you in the House of Commons?"

    That's a little presumptuous, isn't it? I don't know why we should arbitrarily restrict what Canadians have a right to be concerned with when they cast their ballot.

    Which party is likely to form the government during the 41st Parliament is a reasonable issue to focus on -- as is which individual will be Prime Minister.

  32. Iggy must be punished for his presumption upon our patience.


  33. "Imagine the campaign turns, and on election night the Conservatives win 115 seats, the Liberals 105, the Bloc 50, and the NDP 35 (or some similar allotment).

    Would the Conservatives still truly be in a position of strength? What if they lose even more? Does Harper even stay on as leader?"

    Agreed, that would be the nightmare scenario for all concerned. Happily, though, that seems an unlikely one (as some of your recent projections have suggested). The more problematic scenario is one where the Tories get 130 seats, the Liberals get 90, the NDP gets 40 and the Bloc ends up with 48 (which, is generally what you were predicting under your old model).

    That's the sort of outcome in which Iggy might be able to hold on to his party (and Harper might or might not), and in which it might be difficult for him to prop up the government (even if only by abstaining), but also one in which the Liberals would be heavily dependent on the NDP and Bloc to avoid another election. And while you're right that the NDP and the Bloc might not be too keen on another election (well, maybe the NDP, there's no real down side for the Bloc), the same would hold true for the Liberals. Who knows what sort of deals might be done? uncertainty is the problem.


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