Friday, April 8, 2011

More unrelenting stability in three new polls

It's a bit late on a Friday to get into details, but the three polls out today by Nanos, EKOS, and Forum Research generally continue the trend of topline stability. The campaign, from a polling perspective and perhaps even from a policy perspective, has been a snorer so far. The leaders need to spice it up at the debate. I'm thinking we release bees on them as they explain their foreign policy objectives.
But until then, let's take a look at these three polls. EKOS and Nanos took them over similar days (EKOS going back one more than Nanos), while Forum conducted its poll over two days, overlapping with both EKOS and Nanos. So these are generally similar polling dates.

What is interesting is that the two polls that agree with one another the most were both conducted with an IVR system - EKOS and Forum. The real point of contention between the two seems to be the NDP, which has been difficult to peg in this campaign. We've seen them oscillate between 14% and 21% from the beginning.

The biggest difference in the Nanos poll is the Green result, which influences the other results by quite a bit considering five points are up for grabs that aren't in the Forum and EKOS polls. The reason for this is simple: Nanos doesn't prompt the Green Party (or any party, for that matter) while the other two do. But will the Greens end up closer to 3% or 9%? The answer, I believe, is somewhere in between.

In British Columbia, both Forum and EKOS find the Conservatives to be somewhat weak, a trend we have seen more and more lately. On the other hand, Nanos has the Conservatives up in the province to 43.3%. But all three polls have the Liberals either tied with or ahead of the NDP in British Columbia, which is where I have them in the projection.

What is most remarkable to me in the Ontario results is the weakness of the NDP. They were at 18% in 2008 in the province, but in these polls (and in most polls so far in this campaign) that looks like a dream. Have the New Democrats actually sunk so low in Ontario?

And for those keeping score, EKOS still has the Liberals ahead of the Tories in and around Toronto (42.6% to 37.6%) and Ottawa (49% to 37.3%). Interestingly, the Conservatives are down to 10.3% in Montreal. The Larry Smith experiment, it seems, might not be working.

Forum's Bloc result in Quebec is an odd one, similar to the result EKOS had earlier this week. Undoubtedly, the Bloc's vote isn't as solid as one might have thought coming into the campaign, but I still doubt that the Bloc could sink below 30%. They've never been that low before, and the provincial Parti Québécois has only twice been below 30%: in 1970 (their first election) and in 2007, when André Boisclair and the nationalist ADQ of Mario Dumont disrupted the generally reliable sovereigntist vote. Even then, the party still managed 28%.

What is consistent in all three of these polls, however, is the Liberal Party at around 22%. Gone are the days of the low-teens we saw at the beginning of the campaign.

In Atlantic Canada, the two main parties are jockeying for top spot. That has been a constant for some time. The NDP is still looking weak, and Nanos has had them sinking for five consecutive days.

Next week should be a big one, as I expect the debates will shake things up a little bit. Which way it goes is up in the air. What we do know, though, is that I'll be posting the Week 2 ceilings for the Conservatives and Liberals at some point during the weekend.

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). No details on the question asked by Forum Research are available at time of posting.


  1. What do you think the strategies will be of the various leaders at the debate (i.e. who will they attack the most?)

    The Liberal choice seems obvious - attack the Conservatives since they're leading and they don't want to admit the NDP exist.

    The Bloc is maybe almost as clear - clearly a combo of Conservatives and Liberals, but it seems the ridings are closer that Liberals are projected to get, so I imagine that'd be their target.

    For the Conservatives and NDP, I don't have an idea what their strategies should be.

    Should the NDP attack the Liberals and try to get some of their more left-leaning votes? Or do they get a better response if they look like a true alternative to the main party?

    Should the Conservatives attack the NDP in hopes that implies they are a more legitimate choice for some Liberal voters? Should they target Liberals to increase their spread?

  2. Tories by 15 in new IR poll:

  3. I think most of them have a simple enough job. The NDP however, do not. I would suggest two things. 1) The lower the CPC goes, the more likely the NDP are to have influence regardless of whether the NDP loses seats. 2) The NDP seems to be the second choice of a lot of Bloc voters and may have room to increase influence there without aiding the CPC.

    The NDP may be in competition with the Liberals, but they're essentially looking to piggy back on them if they get into power. (First place seems unlikely) Layton should keep that in mind.

  4. Mike,

    I think the NDP has to turn their guns on the Liberals, hard (and we've seen them do that already this week - they were the ones who outed that "white rights" Liberal candidate in Quebec).

    It'll be a variant of the "Liberal, Tory, same old story" style of attack that the NDP used to great effect back in the 1980s. Start off by saying hom horrible the Tories are, then quote the Liberals supporting those self-same policies (think Afghanistan, corporate tax cuts, war in Iraq). Certainly there's no shortage of juicy material from Iggy At the very least such ads might stem the flow of votes to the Liberals, and if done right can be an effective two-fer, slagging both Iggy and Harper.

  5. I think Harper's approach to the debate should be one of presenting cautious policy ideas and only addressing his opponents to correct them when they misrepresent his platform.

    The part of the debate I'm most looking forward to is the one-on-one between Ignatieff and Layton. That's Ignatieff's biggest minefield.

  6. Lightening doesn't often strike twice. In the last election, the Greens, NDP and BLOC were at record levels of support.

    Yeah the green vote will probably be between 3-9% but much closer to 3% back at its traditional 4.5%. The NDP will probably fall back to their traditional 14%. And hopefully the BLOC falls back to 8% as well.

    This means both main parties will increase their vote totals. What that also means is Conservative majority.

  7. Just when I was thinking to myself that Ipsos had been awfully quiet lately - here they are:
    CPC - 41%, Libs - 26%, NDP 19%. They also have the Greens withering on the vine with 4%.

  8. Why do I often see "Bloc" written as "BLOC" in comments? It isn't an abbreviation, there is no reason to capitalize all the letters in "Bloc".

  9. "The NDP will probably fall back to their traditional 14%."

    ummm...there is nothing "traditional" about 14% for the NDP. Their traditional level in just about every election since 1965 has been about 17-18% - with the exception of the anomaly of the 90s under the two AMs. Apart from the Nanos outlier - the polls this week have all had the NDP at 19 or 20%

  10. The biggest trend i have seen in this election is that the left vote is coalescing around the Liberals, the NDP seem to be dropping and Layton really hasn't been doing anything interesting.

    he came out with the rehashed I'm running to be prime minister routine and has since been largely ignored, which is good because he should go away.

  11. One poll has the Liberals gaining from the NDP and four or five others have the exact opposite happening...I guess its human nature to grasp at straws and cherry pick the one poll that we like and ignore all the others?

  12. Hmm. Good question Eric. I don't know why I capitalize all the letters in BLOC, but I'm sure I'm not the only one to do that. You're right though Bloc is probably more correct. Maybe they write it as BLOC on signs sometimes. I don't know.

  13. "In the 2004 election the NDP recorded its best vote count in over a decade (almost doubling its votes to 15.7%)"

    That's from the Canadian Encyclopedia.

  14. I don't know where all the parties are going to stand in this election at the end of the day, but the previous election had historically high levels of support for third parties that did not vanish on election day.

    I don't think that's happening again. The third party vote is already collapsing. We can see that in some polls, and I believe it will collapse further at the ballot box as it traditionally does in Canada, except for the last time.

  15. I tend to agree with Anon re NDP.

    It's interesting around Ottawa that rural riding's either don't have an NDP candidate at all or they are so submerged even lawn signs aren't out !!

    Doesn't bode well for the party !!

  16. The NDP has already nominated candidates in all 308 ridings (see The rural ridings around Ottawa have always been a very weak dead zone for that party - so it makes sense that you wouldn't see any signs. There would have been no serious ground campaign by the NDP in rural eastern Ontario in any election of the past...well not ever.

    YOu might as well say that the BQ is going to crushed across Quebec because they don't have much of a campaign in Westmount!

  17. PS: Interesting riding polls in La Presse that are the first riding polls of the whole campaign that actually name local candidates. Mulcair is demolishing Cauchon in Outremont 47% to 27% and it looks like Senator Larry Smith is crashing on the launch pad in Lac-St. Louis losing to the Liberal incumbent 46%-27%. I wonder if Harper will have the nerve to reappoint him to the Senate?

  18. If Nanos is right, the NDP could be on the verge of losing party status (the talk of a LPC-NDP merger might hit overdrive then)...the LPC would surely gain seats, the CPC probably at near-majority and the Bloc losing a few too.

  19. Questions that need a good clear answer. These should be asked by now but I will be very disappointed if they are not addressed in the debate. I can't see how there will not be a shift to a Harper majority if they are left hanging.

    All 3 opposition leaders have indicated that they would vote no confidence on the existing Budget if parliament were returned in roughly the same configuration. This would almost certainly require a long term coalition government to be put in power.... at least 2 years.

    Mr. Ignatieff:

    What NDP policies would you be comfortable implementing as PM for their support in a stable long term, dare I say, coalition government?

    What favourable concessions to Quebec have you offered the Bloc for their long term support?

    Mr. Layton:

    What is the minimum policies that would have to be implemented for you to support a Liberal Minority (coalition government)? Would you expect a cabinet post?

    Mr. Duceppe

    What have the other opposition leaders offered you and Quebec for your support in a minority situation in excess of what Mr. Harper would provide for Quebec?

  20. There would also have to be a question for Harper. If Canadians give a majority of seats and votes to the parties who voted down your budget then the verdict of the electorate will have been to "go back to the drawing board" with your budget. Will you be prepared to compromise and negotiate with any of the opposition parties to get a budget that they can accept - if the Canadian people reject your plea for a majority government?

  21. Iggy has flip-flopped and supported the Tory budgets that he really is going to be a sitting duck at the debates when it comes to defending his flip-flop approach to politics.

    Only last May he said liberals would support cutting corporation tax and now he said the exact opposite.

    How are we expected to have faith in him if he were ever to become PM?

  22. On people are talking about Esquimalt going Conservative or NDP, because retiring Keith Martin was a former Reform/Alliance (and is probably on the right of the Liberal party).

    Your model has Liberals winning that seat.

    I wonder if incorporating party-switching into the model would help? Or including people whose politics differ significantly from that of their party.

    I don't think Liberals tend to do well on Vancouver Island.

  23. BCVoR, same question to Harper: If he does not win a majority, what policies is he willing to compromise on in order to secure the confidence of the house. If he is not willing to say, or not willing to compromise, then how can he ask people to even consider voting for him?

  24. One for Mr Harper

    What have you done for average, young family, that has 2 kids in elementary school?

  25. How do you come up with your local projections? From what I can tell you are using data from the 2008 election. However, in the case of my riding, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca (and probably a lot of other ridings), the last election would not provide you with correct data.

    You see Keith Martin originally was a Reform member, but crossed over to Liberals. He was re-elected because he was very well respected, *not* because he was Liberal. In fact, the riding has shown a very traditional Conservative/NDP split, with Dave Barrett being the previous MP.

    Also of note, Randall Garrison is running as the NDP candidate. He has run before and came a close second to Keith Martin, and beat out the Conservative who is running this year, Troy DeSouza. This type of local research is critical to making accurate projections, especially when sites that encourage people to vote strategically are using your incorrect data.

    Please look into this and update your projection for this area, and possibly other areas. Thank you.


  26. From Ipsos Reid.

    "if vote certainty turnout holds: currently, 56% of Canadians say that they are ‘absolutely certain’ to go out and vote on Election Day and if this represented the actual vote turnout the adjusted polling numbers suggest Conservative support would rise to 44%(+3), support for the Liberals would be 26%, the NDP vote would yield 18% and the Green Party would receive 4%. The Bloc would receive 8% nationally."

  27. PETER I can't believe you're posting that bunk.

    The Liberals have $28 billion in uncosted promises right now.

    That's a heck of a lot less than $11 billion!

  28. First of all Mr. Harper is not running on a compromised platform. He does not think that the carbon cap and trade and raising corporate income taxes are good for Canada. It will not be done with CPC support and blessing in the HoC.

    What Mr. Harper has the moral ability to offer the opposition for their support is:

    1) Same HST deal for Quebec as BC and Ontario. The same deal will be difficult as the same deal for Quebec will result in less control for Quebec. Quebec wants the money... not the deal.

    2) Slower deficit reduction. Less reduction of government spending (civil service and pet programs) would seem what the Liberals & NDP are after.

    3) He definitely could offer to postpone any spending on the CF-35's until 2016 and limit Canada's expenditure to $18B plus ongoing maintenance. If the unit cost were to rise Canada would buy fewer planes.

    He could also offer put out a Request for purchase with the vendor to bear the costs of a competitive prototype to be compete with the CF-35. ie a formality as no one is going spend the R&D billions for Canada's tiny purchase....


  29. Secondly it will not be a stable CPC minority government and hasn't been. The Liberals and NDP had 2 years work in a bi-partisan manner and came up with exactly zilch. They were working to defeat the government immediately after the 2008 votes were counted.

    The Liberals and Conservative worked together on a immigration plan and for absolute partisan political reasons.... to limit the accomplishments of the Minority Harper government ....they voted against the bill that Kenny and Bevilacqua put together.

    They didn't even stand and take credit together when they actually agreed with Harper writing a $10B cheque to save the auto industry. The CPC Minority government was sick and not good for Canada.

    Canada really needs a stable government. There are significant government spending cuts that obviously need to be made.

    The only sane choices are a Harper Majority OR a stable coalition.

    What are the policies of the coalition?? It is hard enough to believe the standard election promises of any party in a traditional election but what will a legitimate coalition look like on May 30?

    What will their priorities be? Will they be anywhere close to what the voters of Canada voted for on May 2?

    Please someone has to ask and force some answers before it is too late.

  30. Shadow:

    "From the Inkless emailbox, this missive from Ryan Sparrow at the Conservative war room:

    “It’s a bit rich for Michael Ignatieff to be talking about the credibility of election platforms. It has been 6 days since Michael Ignatieff released his election platform. Here are the major uncosted items:

    ” • HST funding for Quebec (Cost — $2.2 billion)

    “• New Champlain Bridge (Cost — $1 billion according to Ignatieff)

    “• Arenas for professional sports (Cost — unknown. The Quebec City arena is estimated at $400 million. How many more arenas is he planning to build/fund?"

    Next time try getting some proof from elsewhere than the CPC war room. They are NOT A CREDIBLE source !!

  31. Eric

    You realise that if Shadow insists that the CPC War Room is a "credible" source then by definition any parties "War Room" becomes credible?? He can't have it only one way !!

    In that case the other 3 or 4 parties are equally credible sources. Let's see him weasel around that ??

    If he doesn't agree he is, of course, consigning himself to a CPC camp follower status and as such more than suitable to be ignored?

  32. Peter stop being such a blind partisan, THIS IS CANADA!

    You posted a link to a media source that quoted Ignatieff. I linked to a media source that quoted the CPC. Same thing.

    The SOURCE in both these cases is the actual PLATFORMS !

    Go read them!

    $28 billion in uncosted promises.

    No details on the cap and tax plan.

    I'm just pointing out the EPIC hypocrisy of Ignatieff here.

    Don't choose to ignore it ! Think for yourself. Take off the blinders.

  33. Sorry Shadow but you are completely wrong !!

    I posted a link to a commercial media source. You posted a link to a Political Party source.

    There is an immense difference.

    If you can't see that I suggest you stop participating as you are doing nothing but painting yourself as an Uber partisan !!

  34. Peter I think your partisan LPC blinders are stopping your ability to read !

    I linked you to the blog run by respected journalist PAUL WELLS !

    Apparently he thought the CPC raised a good question or else he wouldn't have posted it.

    BTW - The CBC is not a COMMERCIAL media source.

    They're a state media organization.

    Opposite meaning !

    Unlike Rogers which runs Macleans which I linked to !

    Sorry Peter but you're just going to discredit yourself as an UBER UBER partisan!

  35. "Peter I think your partisan LPC blinders are stopping your ability to read !

    I linked you to the blog run by respected journalist PAUL WELLS ! "

    And I, Shadow, quoted the actual piece from that that Wells quoted, which turned out to be from the CPC War Room. Nice try, doesn't fly, your uber CPC linkage shows.

    "Apparently he thought the CPC raised a good question or else he wouldn't have posted it."

    No he thought just the opposite except you didn't quote that. He figured it was just more political flak flying. He was right.

    "BTW - The CBC is not a COMMERCIAL media source. " Sorry, again you are WRONG !!

    CBC is a commercial broadcaster as the majority of their revenues comes from advertising !! Just like CTV, Global etc !!

    Your uber CPC slant just prevents you from actually seeing reality. Time for you to be deprogrammed before you go totally demented !!


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