Monday, April 4, 2011

Double-digit leads for everyone!

Along with the routine Nanos polls conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail released Saturday, Sunday, and this morning, the past few days have also seen reports from the likes of EKOS Research for iPolitics and Léger Marketing for the QMI Agency. Despite a few variations from one poll to the other, they are all relatively consistent throughout the country. And one thing they are all sure of is that the Conservatives currently hold an 11 to 14 point lead.
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All of the results of these polls are well within the statistical margin of error of one another (including the online poll conducted by Léger Marketing, which is not technically the kind of sample that can have an MOE applied to it), and we also see that they are all showing very little change from one poll to the next. Both EKOS and Nanos are recording a small Conservative creep upwards, while Léger sees a tiny Conservative slide. Taken together, what that likely means is that support is holding steady.
The polls are also pretty consistent for the Liberals, placing them between 26% and 30% support, while the NDP are somewhere between 16% and 18%. Voting intentions are, for all intents and purposes, stuck.

But that could change. It takes time for the effects of the campaign to sink in, particularly in the first week when a large part of the Canadian electorate is not paying attention. Once the "not again!" sentiment wears off, Canadians will start thinking about the decision they are going to make on May 2. That is not to say, of course, that their decision will be any different than what it is now.

In Ontario the lead is hard to pin down. Nanos and Léger are seeing a relatively close race between the Tories and the Liberals, while EKOS has a larger lead. This isn't anything to worry about, of course, as these pollsters all use different methods and sampled different numbers of people. But that the Conservatives are doing better in Ontario than they had been doing in the run up to the campaign is undeniable. These polls also indicate, or at least hint at, an improvement in Liberal numbers.

Over in Quebec, both the NDP and the Bloc are showing consistent numbers, though the Bloc seems to be on a very slow decline in the province. All of these polls also show that the Conservatives are either tied with or leading the Liberals in Quebec, which seems to be a bit of a change in the province in this campaign. We shall see whether it will hold. Another thing to watch is whether Jack Layton's generally good appearance last night on Tout le monde en parle, a show watched by roughly 1 in 7 Quebecers, will boost his numbers.

In British Columbia, the Conservative lead is undisputed (Nanos putting the party at 50% today) while the Liberals and NDP are neck-and-neck. That is bad news for the NDP but good news for the Liberals. And in Atlantic Canada, the race is very close between the two main parties, while the NDP seems to be doing somewhat better than they've been doing in the region for months.

Of note in the EKOS poll is the Conservative lead in Toronto: 40.9% to 34.8%. This is, of course, the all-important battleground. But the Liberals are leading in Ottawa with 43.8% to the Tories' 38.4%. It's unlikely, though, that it will result in any seat changes.

In the Léger poll, respondents were asked who would make the best Prime Minister. Stephen Harper was on top with 36% outside of Quebec, followed by Jack Layton at 20% and Michael Ignatieff at 14%. Inside Quebec, Gilles Duceppe is the most trusted leader at 30%. He's followed closely by Layton at 28%, and less closely by Harper (14%).

And according to Léger, 60% of Canadians think the next government will be a Conservative one, but only 21% think it will be a majority. That's a prospect that "scares" 44% of the country.

The questions asked by each of the pollsters are as follows: "For those parties you would consider voting federally, could you please rank your top two current local preferences?" (Nanos). "If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?" (EKOS). "If FEDERAL elections were held today, for which of the following parties would you be most likely to vote, would it be for...?"(Léger).