Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Northern Quebec riding polls bode well for NDP

The only national poll to report on this morning is from Nanos, and it shows very little real change. But far more interesting are two riding polls conducted by Léger Marketing for RNC Media in northern Quebec. While the polls show the Bloc Québécois is still on track to win its two northern and northwestern Quebec ridings, they also give us an indication of how the NDP is eating into the other parties' support in la Belle Province.
But before getting to the riding polls, let's take a look at this Nanos poll. If we compare it to Nanos's last complete three day poll (April 14-16), we see virtually no change at all. The Conservatives and Liberals are each 0.1 point higher today, a remarkable lack of change. The NDP is up 1.4 points to 19.8%, but even that is not statistically significant.

Quebec is interesting, however. Since that last three-day poll the Bloc has dropped 6.2 points and now leads with only 32.5% in the province. The NDP is up 5.9 points to 25.4%, while the Liberals are up 3.2 points to 20.9%. The Conservatives, for their part, are down 2.1 points to 16.6%. Even so, none of these changes are statistically significant, though they are part of a trend.

Note also that the race continues to be wider in Ontario than it was only a week ago, with the gap standing at eight points. The NDP have dropped 4.4 points since the April 14-16 poll in Ontario.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any link I can provide to the Léger poll conducted for Radio Nord. I have the details myself, so you'll have to take my word on them. UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Tony K, here is a link.

They were taken on April 14-17 in the ridings of Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou and Abitibi-Témiscamingue, two northern Quebec ridings held by the Bloc Québécois. Léger surveyed 400 eligible voters in each riding by telephone, meaning the results have a margin of error +/- 4.9%, 19 times out of 20.

One thing worth noting is that Léger did not list the names of the candidates. Instead, they listed the party names and the leaders: "Si des élections fédérales avaient lieu aujourd'hui, pour lequel des partis politiques suivants auriez-vous l'intention de voter, serait-ce pour le Bloc québécois de Gilles Duceppe, etc." Normally, riding polls include the name of the candidates.

Abitibi-Témiscamingue is not really a riding on anyone's radar. The Bloc won it handily in 2008, and this poll indicates that Marc Lemay will do the same on May 2.

What is interesting, however, is that the NDP is up 11 points in the riding since 2008. Oddly enough, that is roughly the amount the NDP is up in Quebec as a whole. Will they have a generally uniform increase in support?

All other parties have suffered in this riding at the hands of the NDP. The Liberals are down six, the Conservatives are down four, and the Bloc is down three. This indicates that, in this riding at least, the NDP is stealing from everyone. Perhaps Abitibi-Témiscamingue is exceptional, but as a francophone riding it may be an indication of how the votes will move in ridings outside of Montreal.

Marc Lemay is helped by the fact that roughly 75% of people in his riding have no idea who the other candidates are. Léger asked whether they had good or bad opinions on each of the candidates, naming them individually. Lemay scored 60% positive, while the others mostly came up blank in voters' minds. That is a very good sign that the Bloc will win Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Now, Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou is a far more interesting race. There were the unfortunate comments made by the Bloc incumbent Yvon Lévesque early on, the Conservatives have been targeting the riding, and the NDP has a "star" candidate in Roméo Saganash. This appears to have mixed things up.

Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou is a real four-way race in this poll, with all parties being within 10 points of each other. When you consider the margin of error, anything could happen on election night.

Compared to the 2008 election, the Bloc has dropped 10 points in the riding, while the Conservatives are down six. The Liberals are up two while the NDP is up a huge 14 points. Clearly in Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou the NDP is primarily taking support away from the Bloc, but they also appear to be drawing support from the Conservatives.

However, being northern the riding does not have a similar profile to the rest of Quebec, and since Saganash is a candidate that garners a lot of attention and has a base of support in the riding, it is tricky to use Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou as a model for how the vote might break in the rest of the province.

Nevertheless, it does show that the NDP is making real gains in ridings that they shouldn't (Abitibi-Témiscamingue) and ridings that they're targeting (Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou).

Things are tricky for Lévesque, as only 30% of respondents had a good opinion of him. Unlike in the other riding, respondents knew their other candidates a bit better: but still about 50% had no idea who they were. Contrary to what you might think, Saganash was not particularly better known than the Conservative and Liberal candidates, nor did he have a significantly better favourable opinion rate, so his drawing power could be limited.

In any case, Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou will be a riding to watch on May 2.

And in terms of how the poll compared to my projection, it was pretty close. In Abitibi-Témiscaminge the Bloc's vote was within 1.2 points of the poll result, while it was within 3.1 points for the Tories and the Liberals. It was off by 6.2 points for the NDP.

In Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou, the Bloc's support was pegged 7.4 points higher than it was in this poll, while the NDP's was 7.8 points lower. The Tory and Liberal projection was roughly four points off. With a 4.9% MOE in this poll, those are acceptable discrepancies.

These two riding polls have been added to the projection, and so will be reflected in tomorrow's update.


  1. Eric, I have a couple of observations/questions about the poll in Abitibi/Baie James. First of all, I'm surprised that Liberal support is holding up since the conventional wisdom is that the easiest votes for the NDP to pick up outside Montreal would be from people who used to vote Liberal. I also wonder who diligent Leger would have been about getting enough interviews among the 30% of that riding who are Cree. Those people tend to be hard to reach and mostly unilingual English speakers (if they are bilingual its that they also speak Cree).

  2. And kudos to you, Eric, for realizing well before the actual numbers had moved (in your last post on NDP and Quebec) that the NDP could all of the sudden come out of nowhere and be competitive in Abitibi - Baie-James - Nunavik - Eeyou. Brilliant.

    Doug Johnson Hatlem

  3. Polling in First Nation communities has historically been very weak for a host of reasons. I suspect the polls will have under represented the Cree.

    Due to my work, I have a lot of personal knowledge of First Nation voting patterns in Canada. This means I can never know a lot of the underlying issues that may be going on. As an example is the loss by Miles Richardson of the Haida in 2004 in Skeena Bulkley Valley. Many FN people did not vote for him.

    The issues for Romeo Saganash, running for the NDP, are:
    Can he get the Cree to vote? Turnout in Cree communities has been as low as 25%
    Can he convince the Inuit to vote for a Cree?
    Will the left wing nationalists vote for a Cree man?

  4. If the NDP actually made some serious seat gains in Quebec they may just be offset by their very poor performance in Ontario that Nanos is showing. If they did only get 12% in Ontario how many seats would they be expected to get, do they have a lot of safe seats there? Jack Layton's seat could actually be in jeopardy, though it's unlikely he'd lose it.

  5. Would the conventional wisdom indicate that the Quebec Liberals would be the easiest NDP pickups? I remember a poll showing the large number of bloc voters viewing the NDP as their second favorite earlier. Indeed, considering the constitutional talk and social democracy background of the NDP it makes sense. Liberals in Quebece were generally business class and immigrant and federalist. Not that they wouldn't possibly switch given the similarities between the parties; but they weren't generally the demographic of the NDP were they? (Someone set me straight?)

  6. Link to the Abitibi - Baie James - Nunavik - Eeyou poll from QMI:

  7. It sounds like the poll asked leading questions first, and certainly naming leaders skews the result, at this point in time in QC towards the NDP.

    Also what a couple of completely useless ridings to poll. What????? Why not a riding that could tell us something.

  8. To correct a comment above, the census puts it at 20% Cree and 12% Inuit. This places it at the seventh highest percentage indigenous population.

    Historically Inuit and Cree have strongly voted Liberal

  9. I suspect that the reason why these two ridings in Abitibi were polled is that some local media outlets commissioned it. Its true that naming the leaders might be a slight boost to the NDP, but NOT naming the local candidates might also take away some votes from people who would have voted for Saganash (esp. among the Cree etc...). The key thing for the NDP is that the poll clearly shows that they are in the running and as momentum builds and with the likely under-sampling of Cree/Inuit voters (who may turn out in much higher numbers if they have a major figure in their community running) - this will be a riding to watch!

  10. Yes, exactly, Radio-Nord commissioned the poll. Just like the newspaper in Sherbrooke commissioned a riding poll, even though the race is a foregone conclusion.

  11. WAs there a poll in Sherbrooke? I missed that

  12. People think the NDP and Liberals are natural ideological allies.

    But it betrays the interesting Demographics of the New Democrats: a coalition of the working class and progressive urbanites.

    Yes, there's the obvious movement between Liberals and New Democrats who aren't fond of Conservative policies.

    The thing is people ignore the sometimes huge shifts between NDP and Tories, and the type of riding that's a two-way race between the two of them (about 70+ of the races in the country, compared to only 30 Liberal-NDP races). The Conservatives really took a huge bite out of the NDP when they proposed cuts on the GST, which affects/angers working people. And while NDP can count on strong support from unions -- especially in areas that have been hard hit by foreign competition -- Conservatives can sometimes snatch these voters up by playing wedge issues like guns and immigration.

    The picture is especially fluid in Quebec. You have the same rural environment you see in Northern Manitoba and Quebec, where people are socially conservative but still want the state to do something about the economy. Plus you have the whole federalism issue: pissed off the most at the Liberals, very sympathetic to the Bloc, but open minded about both Conservatives and New Democrats who just promise a better deal for Quebec.

    What you learned about "left" and "right" only holds up in poly sci class.

  13. I predict a Tory Majority !!

  14. DL I still think that without a GOTV ground game, especially in rural and northern ridings, the vote just won't materialize. Did you know that the Liberal Party gives $10-20 in gas money to aboriginal communities per person to get out the vote and that it's legal, if the money is needed to get to the polls? The BLOQ pays their scrutineers in Quebec for every poll, not location, poll.

    So with the Liberals handing out gas money and the BLOQ paying people to scrutineer, it's really very difficult for the NDP to compete without an organization. These NDP numbers will not materialize on voting day. Yes they are popular. yes they are gaining momentum in Quebec, but it won't happen.

    Duplessi's organization used to tell people to vote or they'd vote for them for real. Quebec political organizations are fierce, and not beyond paying people to vote, and using a little fraud to help themselves along. It's been going on for decades and the NDP are not up to that challenge.

  15. My understanding is that the NDP is spending the maximum allowed in this campaign. If they choose to make a certain riding in Quebec a top target - they will match what the other parties spend in that riding. In 2007, the ADQ elected 48 MNAs in the provincial election and half of those people were just NOBs (names on the ballot) who had no active campaign of any kind. When you have a wave happening - anything is possible!

  16. Ok DL dream on. When Chantel Hebert tells people again on the At Issue panel on Thursday the NDP have no ground game in Que will you believe her this time?

    And the NDP won't spent the maximum per riding for every riding. Never have. Never Will. You need to review the spending per riding in the last election. Why do you think the Cons to ascribe $35,000 per riding to the national campaign in 2004, because that's how much room there is at the riding level for more spending even for the Conservatives, who are unmatched at raising funds.

  17. The NDP won't spend the maximum in every riding - not even close. But they are almost certainly targetting half a dozen (or more) ridings in Quebec where they will spend the maximum. BTW: Vincent Marissal of La Presse is tweeting that they will be putting out a CROP poll of Quebec tomorrow and to sit in a big chair with a strong espresso when you read it (pardon me for reading between the lines...but are you think what I'm thinking?)

  18. I certainly won't be surprised if said poll show the NDP ahead or close to.

    CPC in 2006, ADQ in 2007.. it's not the first time it happens, seeing a party go from 3rd party level support to being a major player.

    Many people are looking for an alternative to the traditional lib/pq battles.

    I'd be very worried right now if my name was Duceppe.

  19. I'm always impressed by your ability to find every single polls. No idea how you do that. Thanks for this interesting poll for the two ridings.

  20. Just for clarification, Radio Nord is now RNC Media. It owns two radio stations (GO radio and Planete) and three television stations (TVA TQS and SRC) in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region. A release on their TVA Abitibi-Temiscamingue site is at


  21. CROP poll coming tomorrow that will show the NDP in ... get ready ... 1st place in Quebec.

    I think we have the shake-up everyone was waiting for.

  22. CBC's the National was previewing a CROP poll they say is coming out tomorrow. Apparantly it shows the NDP now LEADING in Quebec, ahead of the Bloc. Sometimes voters in Quebec do these things (remember the ADQ coming out of nowhere to come within a whisker of winning, provincially). This could be a game changer, not only within Quebec, but would have a carryover effect elsewhere in the country.

  23. I think we'll see a lot of changes in your predictions tomorrow, Éric!

    Here's the link to the already infamous CROP poll :

  24. If this is indeed true that the NDP will lead in Quebec then that is fantastic news. They are a party that can take softer nationalist votes from the Bloc as well as hopefully consolidate the federalist vote in key ridings. What sets them apart from the other major parties will be their ability to cut into the center-left social democratic votes for the Bloc which is mostly concentrated in the cities but is present throughout the province. If the NDP make a breakthrough here it will further hinder the Bloc in Quebec and hopefully begin to squeeze them out of Western Quebec. The Conservatives have their foothold in the rural areas around Quebec as well as in the city, the Liberals have West Montreal and a few longtime Liberal ridings outside of Montreal, and if the NDP develop a similar hold over a few ridings in Western Quebec and Montreal/Laval then maybe the Bloc will become a bit more irrelevant as a federal force which is something the rest of Canada can get behind.

  25. Good heavens!

    If this holds up, how could it not have an effect on NDP support in Ontario, BC, even elsewhere?

    As a sidebar, great analyses--wondering if there is there a companion site in French.

  26. Éric, I have been puzzled by your projection for the Avalon seat in Eastern NL since I first found this site last week. A recent NTV/telelink poll conducted over the seat shows a much tighter race, one in which the Liberal incumbent Scott Andrews is actually leading.


  27. Anonymous 03:34,

    It isn't a companion site exactly, but I am writing French analysis for Le Devoir. Click on the Le Devoir image in the right-hand column.

  28. Wow, an Ekos poll is also showing the NDP in the lead in QC:

    Since it will probably take until May 2 for these polls to have the full effect on the model, could you maybe give us an idea of what this would mean seatwise? I assume it would be a total gamechanger and we would start to see oodles of seats going to the NDP and away from the Bloc, with the Libs and Cons perhaps picking up a few here and there where the NDP becomes spoilers.

  29. I'm feeling pretty confident, (and despondent) that we're heading towards a Conservative majority now.

    Since Layton's second half surge, the CPC hasn't moved, but likewise I'm not sure if there's any polls left that don't show the CPC still above 37% with a 10+ point (and growing) lead due to vote splitting.

    While there could be a truly perfect spread of those votes; I suspect the seat projection will start surging the Conservative party's way pretty soon. If it doesn't... I would be more inclined to belive the projection was then wrong than otherwise.

  30. I am a voter in abitibi-temisc. Lemay is a 'lock' because the conservative is a new face who has been, until recently, working with provincial liberals. The liberal is new and not even putting up signs anywhere, the ndp is the only one who has run before but is very young, a full-time nursing student so little time to campaign. Her popularity is growing however so next election might be her time if Layton is still around. In the other riding the ndp has a better shot but they need to get the Cree vote in early because it's goose break any day now so they will all be in the bush hunting by election day.


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