Thursday, April 21, 2011

Smattering of riding polls and a poll of some interest in Quebec

A bit of an odd day for polls. This morning I added an older Innovative Research poll to the model, today's Nanos, the eye-popping CROP, a partial EKOS, and five riding polls. In the end it caused little change.

Before we get into it, a word about the EKOS poll. It was a bit of a partial report, comprising two days of their full poll which was released today. Those results will be added tomorrow, replacing the national and Quebec numbers added to the projection this morning. At first I was quite confused, and understandably so. iPolitics listed the poll as being conducted from April 18-21, which was quite impossible as it was put up on their site at 12:03 AM on April 21. The EKOS graphic accompanying the article listed the dates as April 18-20, but even that was apparently inaccurate. Because of all this (which, after some inquiries, appears to be nothing but a series of typos and misunderstandings), I haven't included the EKOS poll in the graphic below. As it will be replaced tomorrow by the more recent report, I'll discuss it then.
First off, note that Innovative and Nanos conducted their polls on completely different days. So we shouldn't be comparing them. And secondly, Innovative and CROP are both online pollsters.

We'll start with the older Innovative poll, which has remarkably no change since the last IRG poll taken between April 8-11. All of the national numbers are the same, except the Greens lost one point. The same in Ontario, while in Quebec the Tories have picked up one and the Bloc has dropped one. So, Innovative sees no movement whatsoever.

Now Nanos's poll is a bit more interesting. If we compare it to their last three day poll (April 15-17), we see the Conservatives holding steady (-0.8). The Liberals, however, are down 3.1 points nationally while the NDP is up 4.7 points - in three days. That is a statistically significant shift in support for the NDP.

But it isn't happening in Ontario, where variations were all within 0.4 points. It is taking place in British Columbia, the Prairies, and Atlantic Canada. In Quebec, the NDP is up only 0.4 points and the Liberals 2.5, with the Bloc dropping 3.8 points.

And that poses a bit of a conundrum for the CROP poll. Both Innovative and Nanos were in the field on the same days as CROP, yet they averaged 35% for the Bloc and 20% for the NDP, instead of the 36% for the NDP and the 31% for the Bloc that CROP found. So there is some disagreement of where the NDP stands in Quebec.

On CROP's side of the ledger are two new polls from EKOS and Forum, both showing the NDP and Bloc at similar levels of support as in the CROP poll. So, in the end these three polls might be capturing something real that Nanos and Innovative have not.

But this isn't the first time CROP has come out with an eye-catching poll at odds with others. In mid-March, CROP pegged the Liberals at only 11% in the province. No one else put the party that low.

So, we will have to wait and see what other pollsters find, but three polls released on the same day putting the NDP in front is nothing to scoff at. This could be the new reality.

Now to the riding polls, conducted by Segma Recherche for Le Droit and La Tribune and by Telelink for NTV News. Some pieces of information were missing in the media reports for these polls, and in the Telelink polls I portioned out the undecideds.

We'll start in Sherbrooke, where the only remarkable thing is that Serge Cardin is as far ahead as he is. This was not a riding likely to switch over, and it appears it will stay that way.

In Gatineau, however, Segma has reversed a previous finding that put the NDP well behind the pack. Now Françoise Boivin leads the Bloc's Richard Nadeau 33% to 29%, a lead that ballooned over the last few days in response to reports from Le Devoir over why she left the Liberal Party a few years ago.

This shows that the NDP can win some seats, that province-wide support can be translated into individual victories. But the race is still very close, and technically with the margin of error it is still a three-way race.

The projection was very close to what Segma reported in Gatineau (32% NDP, 28% BQ, 21% LPC, 16% CPC), while in Sherbrooke I didn't have the Bloc that high, with quite a bit of reason. The polls have been added to the model, with this newer Segma replacing the one on the eve of the campaign.

Over in Newfoundland & Labrador, Jack Harris is quite safe in St. John's East with 69% support. The Conservatives are well behind. Some people felt that the NDP would have more of a race on their hands here, but this does not seem to be the case. Comparing it to the projection prior to the inclusion of this poll, I was quite close: within five points for both the NDP and Conservatives. I overestimated Liberal support by eight points, however.

St. John's South - Mount Pearl has been touted as a three-way race, and this poll confirms that it certainly is. The NDP are doing quite well here, but the Liberals still hold the advantage - though with the MOE it could go either way. Here again the projection was performing well, with the Liberal and Conservative numbers pegged within four points of the poll. The NDP was underestimated by seven points, however, though I did have it as a Liberal seat.

Finally, Avalon. This riding has caught some attention in my projection, as I was projecting a Conservative landslide. This is because of the way the model works. In Newfoundland, Tory support has shot up and as that growth is applied proportionately, an already strong performance by the Conservatives in 2008 was buoyed greatly, perhaps more than it should've been. But I was within four points for the Conservatives in the other two ridings, so it appears Avalon is an exception.

In any case, Telelink has the race very close: 48% for the Liberals and 44% for the Conservatives. This indicates that the Liberals are still a strong party in Newfoundland, but that the Conservative rebound in the province is real. The last 10 days of the campaign could send these numbers in any direction. And with things as close as they are to a majority, these two Newfoundland seats could be extremely important on election night.


  1. Harper made the mistake of returning to Newfoundland and Labrador today though and it could cost him his seats. It wasn't a smart move to return anyway but when you get here and announce you're in Saint John instead of St. John's, eventhough he was in Conception Bay South, and then call introduce your candidate by calling him the wrong name.

    The only reason the NDP are doing well in SJSMP is because PC voters still don't like Harper. I've been told that without Harper Loyola Sullivan would win a landslide over Siobhan Coady yet he's in third.

  2. Eric, do you ever do a dance in front of your desk every time these individual riding polls come out and your model came close to predicting the riding at an individual level? It is quite remarkable that you get within a few percentage all things considered. Congrats - I wouldn't worry about Avalon too much!

  3. Harper is doing his CBC interview from NL tonight. He wants Avalon and Mount Pearl real bad.

  4. How accurate are your individual riding polls? I'm in Durham, and it's mindboggling that Oda has that much of a lead over the others.

  5. My riding projections aren't polls, they are based on various factors, but mostly provincial trends.

    However, almost all of the riding polls that have appeared in this campaign have been close to my projections.

  6. As a provincial public servant have to stay anonymous, but was wonodering: Have any polls been conducted in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca (BC)? Your projection shows a Liberal win there, but the Liberals only did so well there in past elections because of the popularity of Dr. Keith Martin. With him not running, I expect this year it will go to the NDP candidate, Randall Garrison, who ran in 2006 and beat the Tory Candidate (who is now on his third attempt) by a margin of 31.3% to 27.5% (Martin won with 34.9% of the vote, just 3.6% ahead of Garrison). Similar results in 2004: Garrison came in 2nd with 30.6% (to Martin's 35.3% and 24.2% for the Cons). Granted, in the last election the NDP's candidate, Jennifer Burgis, only got 22.7% of the vote (Cons had 34.1%, Lib 34.2%), but with the popularity of the NDP generally, Garrison back as the NDP candidate, and a lesser-known Liberal candidate...

  7. No public riding polls that I know of have been done for Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca.

    However, considering his performance in the past and his being a municipal councilor, it might be worth assigning him the star candidate factor.

  8. Holy crap, can you believe how the NDP is doing in the new Ipsos poll?

    Hope this will be included in tomorrow's projection.

  9. Hi Eric,

    Durham back again. If it's not based on a poll, then what is it based on? And, then you state:

    "However, almost all of the riding polls that have appeared in this campaign have been close to my projections."

    Is there a way you can state whether your projections are based on poll results or not? It would be very helpful.

    Love the blog by the way, great news feed.

  10. Durham,

    Full methodology is here:

    That's the link provided in the right-hand column, under the LE DEVOIR image.

  11. Ipsos Reid on 21 April:
    Tories 43
    NDP 24
    Lib 21
    Bloc 6

    A closer look at the regions reveals that:

    * In Quebec, a four-way race is developing making it the most competitive province in the country, with many seats up for grabs for all the parties. The NDP (28%) leads narrowly over the Bloc Quebecois (27%), with the Conservatives (24%) and Liberals (20%) closely behind. Support for the Green Party has eroded (0% -- rounded down).
    * In Ontario, the Conservatives (41%) maintain a comfortable lead over the Liberals (27%), who are being challenged by the NDP (22%) who are not very far behind. The Green Party sits at 6% support.
    * In British Columbia, the Conservatives (46%) still have a healthy lead over the surging NDP (32%), but the Liberals (12%) are struggling to maintain levels of support higher than that of the Green Party (9%).

  12. In 2006, the pollsters all agreed that the Conservatives would get between 36.3%-37.1% of the vote.

    In 2008, the pollsters disagreed with each other more, predicting that the Conservatives would get 33%-37.7%.

    Now, in 2011, the pollsters seem to be polling people in different countries. EKOS has the Conservatives at 34.4%, on track to see a greatly reduced minority. Nanos has them at around 39%, where they've been more or less for the entire election campaign and which would give them a slightly strengthened minority. And Ipsos has them at 43%, which would seem to indicate a likely majority. (I'm not sure why you haven't mentioned this poll, btw, since it would seem to balance out EKOS, which has to be a major factor dragging the Tories down in the seat projection).

    Now, my question is this: Why are the ranges increasing in election after election? And why are the polls so far apart right now? Is EKOS just playing games trying to make the Conservatives look weak? Or conversely, is Ipsos just playing games to make them look strong? Will we see one of them make a major change in its final prediction right before the election, the one it knows people will judge their accuracy on?

  13. Rick,

    The Ipsos poll was released at 17:30 this afternoon, so I'd have to go back in time to include it.

    It will be, of course, included in tomorrow's projection.

  14. Yeah it's been pointed out here already that this websites prediction for Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca is very off.

    I don't know a single political scientist from the area who is watching that race and believes the Liberals are in a good position to 'hold it'. It was never a Liberal riding to begin with.

    Keith Martin was elected as a reformer who turned Liberal during the Alliance merger. He survived because of his personal popularity and incumbency in addition to a small base of relatively healthy, but not strong, Liberal support that exists in the riding. Before Martin, this riding had a long history of going NDP and Conservative (via the Reform party).

    The safest projection for Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca is "Leaning Conservative". It is DEFINITELY NOT anywhere close to being 'Liberal-leaning.'

    If you take a look at the poll to poll results of Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca, you can see that Keith Martin only won by 80 votes last time. The votes where he was saved come from NDP polls where voters were voting to prevent Troy Desouza from winning. That effect definitely will not be happening this time now that Keith Martin is not running. In fact, the NDP have been targeting this riding aggressively, and for good reason: they arguably have a better shot than the Liberals do.

    The 'Keith Martin' vote doesn't breakdown to be much of a Liberal vote. Keith Martin picked up, to the frustration of the Conservative party, votes from Libetarian-ish conservative voters and others who liked his 'maverick' willingness to go into Parliament and 'tell it how it is'. He's arguably one of the most independent MP's sitting in Parliament right now, and this is reflected in his bold positions on issues like marijuana decriminalization and free speech (where to the pleasure of Conservatives he went farther than Harper on free speech issues with human rights tribunals).

    Layton wouldn't be announcing policies catering to the Navy base in Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca if the NDP didn't think they had a good chance here:

    In BC outside of Vancouver, despite what some national commenters say, Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca is one of the most likely pickups for the NDP. I would say even better than North Island, which I doubt the NDP can recapture.

    Locals see Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca as an NDP - Conserative race. However, there is no consensus anywhere on who to strategically vote for in this riding either. Martin was the clear strategic vote last time, and as we saw in the election results, just beat the Conservative because of it.

    Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca has been one of the most targeted Conservative pickups this election. This riding is well understood to be one of the key building blocks to attain a majority for Harper--just check annual Conservative EDA spending if you don't believe me. Troy Desouza's full time job here since last election has been campaigning on tory dime to pick this one up for Harper's majority.

  15. hosertohoosier21 April, 2011 19:32

    "Now, my question is this: Why are the ranges increasing in election after election?"

    This is a guess, but I think a key element is voter commitment. Pollsters know only about 60% of the electorate will come out and vote, and must make decisions about how to screen for likely voters. These decisions are going to have a big impact on Tory support, which is fairly intense.

    For instance, Ekos underestimated Tory support by 2.8% in 2008 - barely within the margin of error. However, if you only look at poll respondents that were "absolutely certain not to change their minds" (the impact of looking at those certain to vote also helped the Tories, but more modestly), they were within 0.1 of the Tory figures.

  16. The answer is different polling methodology's, we say this in the American elections and had a great analysis. Each polling firm will have a slight bias. Ekos polling seems to have a much more anti-tory bias then either Nanos or Ipsos. I won't comment on Forum since they are new. Iposos seems to have a slight pro-tory bias and Nanos seems to balance it out. I think we can all agree that the Conservatives are between 38% to 41% of the vote. Majority territory depending upon the various natures of vote splitting around the country.

    The Liberal and NDP numbers seem more unpredictable and more unstable. The lower the Liberal vote goes down the lower the threshold for a Conservative majority. The NDP vote increase seems to be basically only in Quebec and how this effects the results in each of its 75 riding's is debatable. Does the NDP take long held Liberal and BQ riding's in Montreal and allow Conservative to steal a number of suburban and rural ridings from the BQ?

    I don't know. But this election is turning out to be one for the history books ala 1993.

  17. Hi Eric,
    "Fair Vote Canada" wanted some ink and succeeded, I guess:

  18. Polls are basically irrelevant

    He who has the most seats, whether as a unit or as a group is what matters !!

  19. Shawn,

    Yes, their calculator is a little...odd. I've played around with it. The four seats for the Bloc at 27%, one point behind the NDP in Quebec, is not very likely.

  20. Ontario Dipper
    I wonder why Ontario is not following the national trend to the NDP, or at least hesitating to do so.I live in Beaches East York, a former NDP stronghold that the Liberals have held since 1993 (I believe). It seems that no one here even knows there's an election going on. I have never seen fewer lawn signs in my neighbourhood then presently.

    I imagine there will be some carryover effect here if the Layton surge holds, or grows.

  21. The "Fair Vote" projection is ABSURD in the EXTREME. Surprised/saddened the Gazette wrote an article around it.


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