Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quebec results pulling NDP along in ROC

Four national polls are surprisingly consistent on the situation in Quebec while disagreeing with one another greatly on what is happening in Ontario. But what seems to be clear in these polls from Innovative, EKOS, Nanos, and Angus-Reid is that the rest of Canada is starting to jump on the NDP's Quebec bandwagon.
Whether that bandwagon leads us to a Conservative majority or minority government, however, appears to be within the margin of error.

With the Conservatives around 38% and the Liberals and New Democrats spliting the vote relatively evenly between them, as Innovative and Nanos show, we can expect the Tories to pull a majority government out of the mess. But if the Conservatives are instead at 34-35% with the NDP nipping at their heels, as EKOS and Angus-Reid indicate, then we can expect a re-run of the 2006 election with the New Democrats taking the place of Paul Martin's Liberals.

What is fascinating about these two scenarios is that they have extremely diverging consequences but are both drawn from polls that are not inconsistent, considering their margins of error. We're in such unknown territory that the election result is still very much in the air.

But what's happening to the Conservatives? Even in Nanos's polling the Tories have dropped. Ipsos-Reid might come along this week pegging the Conservatives at 40% or more, but every recent poll points to a drop for the Conservatives. Whether this is being caused by centrist Tories moving over to the Liberals to stop the orange tide or populist Conservatives jumping in with the New Democrats is impossible to say. But the Conservatives are starting to see a strong mandate slip away. They may still win a majority, but it could conceivably come with a smaller share of the vote than in 2008.

Across the polls, not all taken on the same dates but all overlapping, we can see some consistencies. In British Columbia, the New Democrats are clearly back in second and above their 2008 performance. They're currently around 28-30%, whereas they have also grabbed the runner-up position in Alberta as well.

In Quebec, all of the polls are remarkably similar on the NDP's score. These four polls put the party between 36% and 38%, an incredibly consistent result considering the margin of error in Quebec can be as high as six points. The Bloc's support level varies more (24% to 29%), as do that of the Liberals (14% to 20%) and the Conservatives (14% to 18%). They do seem to be indicating that the Tories are stumbling in the province.

But Ontario and Atlantic Canada appear to be toss-ups. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise in Atlantic Canada as the sample sizes are small, but even that region is starting to look erratic by its standards.

Ontario is all over the map. The Conservatives might have a huge lead, the Liberals might be hanging tough, or the NDP might be on track to historic levels of support. We may have to wait a few more days for Ontario to straighten up, or this might be a hint of some new volatility in the province.

A few riding polls from yesterday also caught my attention. There was a poll done by Oracle for the Green Party in the riding of Saanich - Gulf Islands. Polls conducted for parties, and especially those made public by parties, should be treated with suspicion. I do still add them to the model, though at a reduced 10% weighting, compared to 25% for media-funded riding polls.

This particular poll puts Elizabeth May ahead of Gary Lunn at 45% to 38%, with the Liberals and New Democrats out of the race at 9% apiece. The poll was taken on April 18-19 and surveyed 389 people. It has a margin of error of 4.9%, 19 times out of 20. It means the two main parties are statistically tied.

Of course, political parties don't release their privately funded polls without reason. For all we know, the Greens have been polling constantly and this is the first poll to put them in front.

The other riding poll that was brought to my attention was apparently conducted by Léger Marketing in the riding of Lac-Saint-Louis for the Conservative Party. The only information we have is via Ian MacDonald, a columnist. It was taken "after the debates" and included 500 people. Presumeably provided to Mr. MacDonald by Larry Smith's campaign, it puts the Liberals ahead 36% to 30% in the riding, a much closer race than an earlier poll showed. It pegs the NDP at 17%, but the level of support that the Bloc and Green candidates have in the riding is unknown. For that reason it wasn't added to the projection model. Polls need more than a vague mention in a column, particularly when they are paid for and provided by a political party.

Nevertheless, if true these two polls indicate that Saanich - Gulf Islands and Lac-Saint-Louis could be close ridings on Monday night. They were already ones to watch, but now we have more reason to watch closely.

Tomorrow, it looks like we'll have polls from Nanos Research, EKOS Research, Forum Research, and Segma Recherche to add to the model. Hopefully more will pop up. From what I'm being told we can expect a lot of polls over the last four days of the campaign.


  1. Why do you give credence to the Saanich-Gulf Islands poll taken by an unknown polling firm and released by the Green Party and not give credence to a poll taken by Leger Marketing and released in a newspaper column?

  2. Your numbers are way off all the pollsters in the country. You are not reflecting at all the surge of the NDP.

  3. Éric, I took a look at that Green Party poll and found the age groups in the sample were quite inconsistent with the census age structure for the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding - the riding is quite grey (45% of the electorate is over age 55) but over 50% of those sampled were in the 35-54 age group. But I suspect with the uncritical reception that the poll has received, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy as SGI voters strategically switch to May.

  4. A recent (Apr 26) poll from Forum corroborates the NDP gain and Cons loss.

  5. Anonymous 16:08,

    Because the information in the newspaper column was incomplete.

    G. Perry,

    Yes, I've been talking about why that is the case for days.

  6. I just came here for the first time after listening to Gormley. Is there a readers digest version of why that is happening?

  7. Then welcome!

    This morning's post should explain. Here's a direct link:

  8. With the royal wedding dominating the news in English Canada, and huge UFC event in Toronto grabbing some attention there (not to mention the hockey playoffs - certainly that's the biggest topic here in Vancouver), I don't see any party being able to change the message over the weekend.

    As such, I expect the trends we're seeing to continue. Your conservative model (which I really like, Éric) already shows Liberal support at historically low numbers (even the Dion trainwreck got 26%), so I'd say that's the absolute ceiling for their performance on Monday. We all know your model is slow to acknowledge changes (I reiterate that this is a good thing), and I see now way the Liberals could capture enough attention this weekend to undo what's already happening.

    If we can sure of anything yet (and we can't be sure of much), we're looking at the worst ever electoral performance of the federal Liberal party.

  9. Todays Nanos Leadership. Harper is finished. LOL

    Layton 86.2 +13.0
    Harper 82.7 -23.0
    Ignatieff 40.1 -0.4
    May 12.0 +1.7
    Duceppe 10.6 +5.3

  10. Never mind. I took the time to read one of your links and that explains it. Thanks.

  11. Tomorrow's polls should provide some indication of whether Harper's chances of a majority are starting to slip. It looks like Ontario will be key. Election nights is going to be a nail-biter.

    I'm not expecting 100 seats for the NDP, although if they manage to stay in the high 20s/low 30s something around 70 seats is reasonable. The Liberals have the advantage over them in seats because Liberal support is highly concentrated (Toronto, Montreal) while NDP support tends to be very spread out.

    As for the NDP in Quebec, we'll see whether you're right on election day, but I do find your model fairly ridiculous for showing the NDP below the Bloc when every Quebec poll has them ahead.

  12. This election was slated to be a dozer, but I think it is turning out to be quite exciting. Your model doesn't reflect this amazing surge the NDP is currently enjoying and perhaps rightly so as who knows what box people will really check once in that booth.

    I would note however that here in Quebec, voters have historically swung abruptly in their intentions AND in their votes. You mentioned that the Jackmania presently happening in Quebec is not comparable to the the ADQ rise but I disagree.

    Quebeckers do not fear change (remember that 49% of Quebeckers were willing to risk losing Canada in 1995) and the NDP, albeit more centralist than most Quebeckers are comfortable with) fits beautifully with social libertarian Quebec. I think Quebeckers will give their NDP candidates ONE chance at representing them in Ottawa. If they mess up, the Bloc will be back stronger than ever the next election.

  13. The NDP will win less seats than the Bloc in Quebec. 100%

  14. Other than Layton, which leaders will survive this election with their party?
    Harper: If he doesnt win a majority which is at best a coinflip now he is done
    Ignatieff: If he is 3rd which seems most likely, he is done too.
    May: If she doesnt win her seat this time around, will she get another chance as leader?
    Duceppe: He is in the most trouble, but seriously who else could hold the federal party together? Even if the BQ are in 2nd behind the NDP in this election I could see him staying on unless Marois somehow wants to go federal.

  15. If there is a majority government, I don't know if Jack will be around next time. 64 is a lot older than 60 and the man has cancer. He is doing well, but I think this might be his last campaign for his own personal reasons. If it's minority Harper will stay, majority he may leave after year 2 1/2. He'll have won three elections and been PM for 7.5 years. Duceppe needs to go but he says he's staying, good bye Bloc. May is gone unless she wins her seat and she might. Iggy is gone no matter what. He's a dead man walking, and he may even lose his seat. if he loses his seat, he'll bein the South of France on Wed.

  16. Any chance Duceppe could lose his own riding (Laurier-Ste-Marie)? Now that would be news! His lead has been evaporating, and is now projected (on this site) at 39.2% Bloc vs. 33.7% NDP, a gap that has been narrowing daily. Any riding polls expected for his riding?

  17. Your Conservative approach (LOL) I think is justified. I have tracked Polling Companies where I can and found that EKOS has a history of underestimating Conservative support by a consistent 3% and both EKOS and Nanos tend to overestimate Liberal and NDP (by 1% or so)looking at past elections.

    Looking at your comparisons it also looks like online surveys tend to show more support for the NDP and less for the Conservtaives. I assume this might be a result of more 45 and unders on the online surveys.

    However, I believe the real trend to watch is the National Polling trends alluding to regional reults as a fuzzy way of trying to understand national changes. Only when something as stark as the NDP scores and well outside error levels do we have cause a regional explanation to National trend.

    With this is mind the story from your numbers seems to suggest a very consistent Conservative level of support 37-39% even this week and a noticeable bounce for the NDP Quebec which affects a national trend. But that is it. I see nothing yet to suggest given error levels that the virus has spread to ROC.

  18. The Nanos leadership numbers are supported by a different approach to the leadership index from Harris Decima. If these stick, the NDP may not have run out of room to increase vote share.

    Leadership scores typically increase ahead of party support. If tomorrow's numbers look like today's, we could be in for a serious barn-burner of a finish on Monday.

    I think Michael Ignatieff's leadership numbers speak to 2 things. The first is the effectiveness of attack ads that are not met head on with an effective strategy to counter their claims. The Liberals waited far too long to take on the claims of the Conservative war room and once the election was on, they were being led by a deeply damaged leader who had no time to change people's perceptions.

    The second is that the prospect for widespread strategic voting for the NDP and against the Liberals is very real. if these numbers hold up, people apparently do not have the same faith in Michael Ignatieff that they have in Jack Layton. It may well be the Liberal numbers that are overstated in these polls if that comes into play on election day.

  19. The Nanos numbers are interesting for another reason that hasn't been discussed much.

    As a number of comentators have started mentioning, in order for the big jump in today's NDP support to have happened, there had to have been a level of support equal to or greater than the Conservative numbers in their most recent polling day.

  20. Like someone pointed out above Nanos leadership index has Layton over Harper for the first time since I have been watching it. OH Boy

  21. Your numbers are seriously underestimating the NDP surge in Quebec. You give most ridinds around 20-25%... which is 15% lower than all the recent polls.

    I understand the reasons you bring forth for that but you are way too conservative on this one. There is no way that there could be a difference of 15% between recent polls and election day results for the NDP. At worst 5%.

  22. "I think Quebeckers will give their NDP candidates ONE chance at representing them in Ottawa. If they mess up, the Bloc will be back stronger than ever the next election." They will mess up, badly. Look at the field: an ex Communist Party candidate (poised to take down Lawrence Cannon), another one who never quit her day job three hours away from her riding and is now on vacation in Las Vegas, two others who are co-presidents of a university NDP club, another who is a 71 year old who journalists can't locate.

    The short-term outcome could seem good for the federalist camp, in that the Bloc will be blocked, but as you say once they prove themselves worthless, the NDP will be tossed the next time around and the Bloc will have a good shot of coming back. And in the meantime, a bunch of inept NDP MPs in Ottawa will end up encouraging québecois/es to vote PQ in the next provincial election. If Harper is still PM then, the federalist camp will be in massive disarray, creating the perfect conditions for a referendum.


  23. Amateur Psephologist27 April, 2011 19:45


    Bravo for your site - a godsend to someone like me, whether or not I agree with what you believe.

    Read your morning post, and understand your defence of small c conservatism.

    I am afraid that I don't agree, so permit me to try to persuade you.

    1) Your model reminds me of the risk models so many financial institutions relied on in September 2008: Great at understanding low impact risks with moderate to high probability of happening. Not good at understanding high impact risks with low probability of happening. Models rooted in recent experience are great until the day they stop working altogether.
    2) When big, honking swings occur, get out the vote machines do little to stem or intensify the tide. I remember E-day work when I was working with a massive swing; I had almost nothing to do. I remember E-day work when I was working against a massive swing. Not only did the other guys come out in droves, whether or not they were pushed, but my folks were so low in spirit, that only the most loyal among them could be persuaded to go. Its only when there is a moderate to small difference in energy between the different parties that a strong GOTV machine will swing the outcome to the degree you are predicting
    3) If the Forum poll now shows only a 3-point gap, can a tie by this Saturday, or even a small NDP overall lead be out of the question? In the Forum poll, they show Man-Sask moving from little change since 2008 to suddenly a cpc-ndp tie (small sample size and all). If that happens in BC or even Ontario, batten down the hatches!

    Anyway, Eric, keep up the good work!

  24. Just noticed that there is a 14-point gap in the poll taken April 21 to 25 by Innovative. The one done by Ispos-Reid on April 25 and 26 shows only a five-point gap between Conservatives and NDP. Could the tide be moving that quickly?


  25. I do not trust the "Riding Projections" chart listed here at all! I live in Brampton, and in the last election Brampton West went to the Liberals (Kania) over the Conservatives (Seeback) by 231 votes (or 40.3% vs 39.9%)

    The current Riding Projections chart shows the Liberals leading the Conservatives in Brampton West by an even greater margin of 41.6% to 39.5%, yet the Conservatives are polling 9 points higher than their 2008 score in Ontario, the Liberals 5 points lower than their own 2008 level....add in the "Ford Factor" and Obama's freefalling numbers in the US, and that all translates into the public's distaste for liberalism/ imo, there is NO WAY that Brampton West goes to the Liberals...the same can be said for the thin margin of victory in 2008 by Ruby Dhalla in Brampton-Springdale (add in Ruby's problems with "Nannygate" and the intense anger to her proposal to pay age old security to the parents of immigrants who have NEVER paid into the system), and her seat will also flip to the Conservatives (Parm Gill).

    I strongly believe I will be proven to be right on these two seat projections in Brampton, which leads me to wonder where else the Conservatives are being understated.

  26. @ Anonymous 20:35

    Every poll is different keep in mind.

  27. The current Riding Projections chart does not show one single seat changing hands in all of Ontario. Does anyone believe that??

  28. I guess we will see who is right on May 2. The predictions are very hard to make when change is coming. With all due respect, I do not expect you will have a good score at the end of the day.


  29. I feel for you as the current scenario does not fit into any past experience at the federal level where the variables are much larger in number then any provincial or municipal election.

    On a sunnier note, I did enjoy the one poll that came out today that was extrapolated to indicate people care more about the election then about the royal wedding. I wonder if a riding by riding breakdown would be possible for that.

  30. All of the partisans are starting to get agitated, and it's starting to spill over onto this forum. Charges of bad polling, poor weighting, biased results, and slanted reporting are enough to make a guy feel alive.

    How I love the last week of a campaign! Keep up the good work, Eric!

  31. Jack Layton scares people every time he says 'when I'm your Prime Minister. He's talking like he has it in the bag.This may resonate well in Quebec but i think it seals the deal for a lot of Conservative candidates in Ontario.

  32. Just to follow up on Anonymous 21:26, I think the projection is way understating Tory support in York Centre. This riding is the one that Jean Chretien spoke at last night, and is at least too close to call, if not with an outright Tory lead (I live there). You show the Liberals with about a 6-point lead.

    Let's see on Monday.

  33. [Popping in from the election trail...]

    Éric, thanks again for both your information and your entertainment. I'm especially entertained by the riding-level predictions.

    I don't have riding-level polling data but I do have a lot of face-to-face contact with voters. The unspun message comes at the door but the all candidates meetings send a strong signal too. I'm struck by the disconnect between the predictions for each party in my riding and what I'm hearing, loud and clear. Sometimes very loud, but always clear.

    According to history and the projections, this is a rock-solid Conservative seat. According to voters at the doorstep, support for the incumbent has crumbled. My riding has a high probability of flipping. Which way is still undecided; it depends on how many people drink the "strategic voting" Kool-Aid. But it's a three-way Green/Grit/Tory race. (The NDP candidate hasn't been seen since the writ was dropped.)

    The polls don't lie (although they can mislead) so presumably other ridings have more Conservative support than the provincial numbers would indicate. This could mean that it will all average out in the end. Or not. The NDP surge is meaningless here and even at this late date, the outcome won't be known until Monday.

    Now back to the hustings...

  34. in 2008 the 10 polls taken election 5 to 7 days (Oct 6-8) before Oct 14 election The same time before election as we are now -

    under estimated CPC by an average of 4.5 % points Ie they had CPC at 33.1 with a a low of 31 % and high of 35 %

    Liberals over by .9 points

    NDP Over by 1.3 points

    If the polls are under estimating CPC support at this point in the campaign at the same rate as 2008 it will be a comfortable CPC majority. It could explain the CPC lack of panic that confuses Robert Fife.

  35. The polls for the Progressive Conservative party in 1993 had them at 22 , 21 about a week before the election.... same as the Liberals are today.

    They started at 35% and were around 30% for most of the campaign kind of like the Liberals.

    Their campaign went off the rails and Kim Campbell turned out not so great a leader... sort of like the Liberals

    They got 16% and won 2 seats.

    The NDP's 7% got them 9 seats.

    Preston Manning's highly concentrated in the west 19% got the reform party 52 seats.

    The Liberals in 2011 in the high teens spread out across Canada could be looking at winning a dozen seats?

    Note there were only 295 seats in 1993

  36. Get over this fascination with the absurd people. Lizzie May ain't gonna win that seat. The only seat that Lizzie is going to occupy is on an American Airlines flight out of Vancouver back to the United States where this U.S. citizen belongs!!!

  37. I want to make a quite interesting point on the Nanos' polls. As every day a new set of respondents is added while the last one is discarded, by reading the averages for the last 3 days every time, over 4 days, we are able to determine the daily figures of the respondents' answers.

    In other words, if a party polls 20% for 3 days in a row (as a 3 day average) and then the forth day it is at 25% that means that the last day of the rolling poll, it has polled 35%.

    Arithmetically that would be: (20+20+20)/3 = 20 while (20+20+35)/3 = 25

    The point I want to make is that today's surge in NDP's numbers in Nano's polls (they went from 23.6 to 27.8, 4.2 full points ), means that the last day of polling (26th of April) they actually scored 36.2%; and we're talking about national numbers here. The previous days (21st and 23rd) they actually polled at 23.7 and 23.2 ( ) so overall my calculation makes sense. A 13% increase is a lot more than a possible statistical error. The same way, the drop of the Conservatives means that the last day (26th of April) they polled below 36%. In other words, NDP and the Cons are in a statistical tie....

    That sounds completely crazy but it is true...and just think that just a few days ago, we considered crazy that the NDP was second in Quebec...

    Using this logic, we can extrapolate the polling numbers for the regions even if accuracy drops a lot.
    In any case, if tomorrows percentages for the NDP are again a little bit higher then I would bet that the NDP can finish very very close to the Cons by election night...and believe me, I am the one who's usually called cautious and pessimistic.


  38. BC Voice....

    Late last night Robert Fyfe said that some CPC insiders are getting nervous, I think they were trying to look calm under pressure (or they were stupid). CBC said same.

    Too many indicators are going south for them and going North for the NDP. It is now a trend. If the Ontario numbers start moving at all before election day, for sure Harper is about to take a bath. Its too clse to election day to change it now. People just want the Libs and the CPC out.

  39. BCVoR:

    Its all about vote efficiency.

    The BQ (used to) win 45 seats with 10% of the vote because they are geographically concentrated. As the Liberals are reduced to a geographically concentrated (urban Canada) party, their vote efficiency rises and they can win 60-70 seats with about 20% of the vote. Its all about vote efficiency.

    Liberal vote is highly concentrated in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. As their base shrinks geographically, the efficiency of their vote increases dramatically. There a a tremendous amount of anti-Harper sentiment out there, and in Liberal seats, that vote falls to the Liberals by people trying to vote strategically to get Harper out. If they only get a few hundred votes from seats they don't already hold, they rise to astronomical levels of vote efficiency (nearly as good as the BQ) and can still hold many of their seats.
    Remember, the BQ wins 50 seats with 10% of the vote because they are geographically concentrated. As the Liberals are reduced to a geographically concentrated (urban Canada) party, their vote efficiency rises and they can win 60-70 seats with about 20% of the vote. Its all about vote efficiency.

  40. Earl

    Watch the polls, of course, but in all likelihood the people Layton's scaring were already going to vote Conservative. Will he help motivate them to turn out at the polls? Maybe. But I suspect he'll also motivate his own base to turn out (and has more room to grow there).

    Take a look at all the coalition sentiment in the polling, and it's most Conservative supporters who're against the idea anyhow. The rhetoric probably kept the Conservatives from bleeding support to the Liberals, but it didn't draw in anyone new.

  41. My two cents as a Montreal political insider:

    The Liberals are facing decimation in Montreal. They will only be able to hold a handful of seats in West and northwest Island. Even the centre of Montreal of traditional Liberal bastions are now NDP. What we are experiencing here is more than overwhelming. We have hundreds of youngsters signing up to volunteer in the NDP offices. It is hard for us to believe but it is happening in front of our eyes

  42. I'm sick and tired of the Conservative/Liberal spin about Bob Rae (though not so much from Liberals, lol!). Harris was the BAD one in Ontario, and his main players are now Harper's. Chretien and Martin did the downloading, made themselves look good but screwed the provinces and the municipalities. If you're going to talk about NDP governments, don't be selective, tell the whole story. It appears the NDP are leading in Nova Scotia according to regional polls. And how about Grant Devine in Saskatchewan where the Conservatives had to change their name to get elected. Layton is now leading in the leadership indicators, so maybe the average Canadian isn't afraid and drinking Conservative koolaid, witness the surge. Sorry Eric, this is a projection site not a political soap box ... me thinks they're getting hysterical.

    South Parkdale Jack


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