Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Democrats and PCs tied in Manitoba, advantage NDP

A new poll by Probe Research shows that the governing New Democrats in Manitoba have closed the gap on their Progressive Conservative rivals in the province, and could squeeze another majority mandate out of the numbers.

Compared to Probe's last poll conducted in March, just before the start of the federal election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives have dropped three points and now stand at 44%, tied with the New Democrats.

Premier Greg Selinger's party has gained nine points since then, much of it on the backs of the provincial Liberals who have sunk five points to only 9% support.

Selinger's handling of the flooding in the province and perhaps even the acquisition of the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, may have played a role in his change of fortunes. The success of the federal NDP is undoubtedly another probable factor.

The New Democrats have made big gains both in the capital and in the rest of Manitoba.

In Winnipeg, the New Democrats are up eight points and lead with 50%, well ahead of the Progressive Conservatives, who are unchanged at 37%. The Liberals are down five points to 11% in the province's main city.

Outside of it, the Progressive Conservatives still lead but have dropped seven points to 55%. The NDP is up 12 points to 36%, while the Liberals are down six points to 5%.

It is a very good poll for the NDP and a very disastrous one for the Liberals. They have lost roughly one-third of their support since March, and most of it to the New Democrats.

But the PCs still do have an ace up their sleeve. Of their voters, 68% are "very certain" in their choice. That is up eight points since March and well ahead of the New Democrats, 52% of whose voters are certain to vote for them. It is even worse for the Liberals. Only 26% of their voters are certain in their choice.

If that kind of turnout occurred on election day, this 44-44-9 split would be transformed into a PC victory with 54% of the vote, with the New Democrats at 41% and the Liberals at 4%.

But with the results of the voting intentions poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects a slim New Democratic majority government of 30 seats. The Progressive Conservatives form the Official Opposition with 26 seats, while the Liberals retain one seat.

That's a drop of six seats for the NDP compared to their current standing and a gain of seven for the PCs, but compared to the projection done for the last Probe poll this is an increase of eight seats for the NDP and a loss of eight for the PCs.

Manitoba is setting up to be the most closely contested of the five provincial elections scheduled for the fall. Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan should see landslides by their respective incumbent governments. The Liberals are behind the eight ball in Ontario, though the outcome is still up in the air, but in Manitoba it is looking like anyone's game. How Selinger handles his party in his first campaign as leader could be a major factor in deciding whether he gets to win a mandate for himself or not.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PCs stable, Liberals drop in Ontario

Reported by The Toronto Star on Sunday, a new Forum Research poll for Ontario shows that the Progressive Conservatives hold a massive 15-point lead over the governing Liberals. And with the New Democrats looking good in the province, the result could be quite a drubbing for Dalton McGuinty.

According to Forum's large poll conducted over IVR, the Progressive Conservatives lead with 41%, generally where the other pollsters have pegged the party.

The difference in this Forum poll, however, is how low the Liberals have sunk. They stand at 26%, eight points lower than the recent Ipsos-Reid poll. Whether June has worsened the situation for the Liberals or whether Forum has under-shot the Liberals by a little will have to be proven in subsequent polls.

The New Democrats stand at 22%, slightly higher than others have put the party, while the Greens are at 8%.

Long-time readers will note that I usually don't compare one poll from one firm to another by a different firm, but in this case we don't have anything else with which to compare this Forum poll.

Regionally, the Progressive Conservatives hold an impressive lead throughout the province. They are at 50% in eastern Ontario and hovering around 40% in the GTA, the southwest, and the north.

The Liberals are trailing in second in eastern Ontario (25%) and the GTA (28%), but are much closer in the downtown 416 area code. They still trail the PCs there, however. They are also tied with the NDP in southwestern Ontario and are running third in the north.

At 24%, the NDP is second in the north and tied with the Liberals at 25% in southwestern Ontario. They stand at 22% in the GTA and 16% in the east.

With this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects a Progressive Conservative majority government with 67 seats.

The New Democrats form the Official Opposition with 23 seats, while the Liberals are reduced to third-party status with only 17 seats.

These results looked odd to me as well, considering that the NDP ends up ahead of the Liberals with less of the vote. I am still using the older abstract model for Ontario, so I headed over to the UBC's election forecaster for a little confirmation. I got something even wonkier there: only five seats for the Liberals.

Clearly, the New Democrats should be more efficient in turning votes into seats than the Liberals. Though the NDP isn't exactly riding high, they are riding close enough to the Liberals to be a real problem for Dalton McGuinty.

Speaking of the premier, he is considered the best person for the job by 30% of the province, behind Tim Hudak at 38% but ahead of Andrea Horwath of the NDP, who is at 22%.

There is a little bit of a silver lining here for McGuinty. He is slightly more popular than his own party, indicating that his experience is a strength. Hudak, on the other hand, is less popular than his own party, indicating that his inexperience and novelty could be a weakness. But Hudak would still gladly take a 38% to 30% spread at the polls.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Poll finds Canadians prefer William over Charles

Canadians overwhelmingly prefer Prince William to his father, Prince Charles, as the next King of Canada, according to a new Huffington Post Canada poll released on the eve of William’s visit here with Kate.

But the poll also found the royal couple’s April wedding — a global spectacle viewed by more than 12 million Canadians — has done nothing to boost public support for the monarchy in Canada. 

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website.

From a political perspective, it is interesting how little Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats differ on the issue of the monarchy. In fact, I was very surprised that more New Democrats did not oppose the institution. On the other hand, it was not so surprising that Bloc voters and Quebecers in general are more opposed but that is hardly enough to get the ball rolling on any change.

And if the Winnipeg Jets put up the portrait of the Queen in the MTS Centre, well I think the monarchy will be around for awhile.

An administrative note, you'll see at the very bottom of this page that I have put up a tracking chart of provincial polls for the five provinces slated to have elections in the fall. The chart only goes back to November 2010 when I began keeping an 'official' record of polls, but I will keep adding to it and updating the chart as time goes on. I intend to keep track of all of the elections scheduled to take place within the next 12 months in this way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How the parties stack up on experience

After their stunning electoral breakthrough, the New Democrats now have four years to prove to Canadians they are a legitimate government-in-waiting. But an analysis of the governmental experience of the NDP caucus shows they lag well behind their two main rivals in the House of Commons.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here. There is also an excerpt and infographic in the print edition this morning.

With the filibuster that ended late on Saturday, the parliamentary experience of the parties has certainly gone up a notch. But what I think this piece highlights is how the Liberals have been reduced to mainly their core MPs. Whenever you see a shot of the party in the House of Commons, you usually see Ralph Goodale, Stéphane Dion, Scott Brison, Carolyn Bennett, etc. all in the same frame. If they are to rebuild the party, they do have a foundation of experience.

As the New Democrats have never formed government at the federal level before, they will always be an inexperienced governmental party until they do form government. While this will be new to Canada, which has been governed by Liberals or Conservatives since Confederation, every country has gone through this at some point or another. Labour formed government in the United Kingdon for many decades of the 20th century, but that first Labour government after World War I was a shock to the system.

I also have an article in The Hill Times this morning. Though you need a subscription, you can read it here or buy it on the newsstands in Ottawa. It focuses on the NDP in Quebec, comparing the recent Léger poll to the unreleased regional and demographic breakdowns of the last Léger poll conducted in Quebec just days before the last election.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NDP's Quebec support grows

It’s Quebec’s Fête nationale today, and the province will be decked out in white and blue. But the colours of the Fleur-de-lis may have to compete with a little orange, according to a new poll from CROP.

The New Democrats’ electoral victory in Quebec in the last federal election came as a surprise, and many have called their success a flash in the pan. But more than one month after the campaign has ended, the NDP now enjoys the support of a majority of Quebecers.

The poll, reported by La Presse on Thursday, was conducted online by CROP from June 15 to 20 and surveyed 1,000 people in the province. 

Since the election, the New Democrats have picked up ten points in Quebec and now lead with a massive 53 per cent. With this level of support, especially considering how the NDP’s voters are evenly spread across regional and demographic lines in the province, the New Democrats would have a good shot at winning up to 70 seats in Quebec.

You can read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post Canada  website.

I encourage you to check out the article for the details, but meanwhile here is how this CROP poll translates into seats.

At the provincial level, Jean Charest's Liberals would win a minority government with 61 seats, two short of a majority. The Parti Québécois wins 49 seats, the ADQ 13 seats, and Québec Solidaire two.

As the ADQ has far more in common with the Liberals than they do the PQ, this minority government would likely have no problem surviving for quite some time. It is quite a bit of a shift, as it has been months (years?) since the Liberals were the favourites to win the next election in Quebec.

At the federal level, this poll would hand 69 seats to the New Democrats and the remaining six to the Conservatives. The Liberals and Bloc would be kaput.

Now, some caveats. The provincial projection is based on a simple swing model. I'm in the process of updating the Quebec projection model to my current system, using the incumbent factors and other inputs. That should be done in the next few days.

Federally, I'm still using the model used to project the 2011 election. I am also in the process of updating that model. That one should be ready in the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Federal Liberals up in Ontario, Conservatives still at majority

Yesterday, The Globe and Mail reported on a new poll from Nanos Research on federal voting intentions in Canada. The results are, for the most part, unremarkable. But a shift in Ontario does change things up a little.

The Conservatives still hold the lead with 41.8% of the vote, almost 14 points ahead of the New Democrats. That's an increase of 2.1 points for the Tories since Nanos's last poll at the end of May.

The NDP is down 1.9 points to 28%, while the Liberals are up 0.8 points to 22.3%.

The Greens are down 1.1 points to 3.7%, while the Bloc Québécois stands at 3.4% nationally.

None of these national shifts are statistically significant.

There have not been any major shifts at the regional level either, except in Ontario. There, the Conservatives are holding firm with 44.2% of the vote, but the Liberals are up 5.5 points to 31.8%. The New Democrats are falling back, and now have the support of 20.4% of Ontarians, down 3.9 points since the end of May.

That generally brings us back to where the parties stood before the election in this province. It would certainly mean fewer seats for the NDP, but with the Liberals more competitive in the province the Conservatives could not count on the kind of sweep they had on May 2nd.

Elsewhere, the New Democrats lead in Quebec with 40%, followed by the Conservatives at 24.3% and the Liberals at 19.1%. That differs greatly from the low levels of support CROP and Léger have found for the Liberals in Quebec. The Bloc is out of the running in this poll, with only 13.8% support.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 43.3%, followed by the NDP at 29.2% and the Liberals at 18.3%.

The Conservatives also lead in Atlantic Canada with 36.9%, and the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) with 59%. The NDP is running second in both regions with 30.4% and 23.3%, respectively. The Liberals, with 26.6% in Atlantic Canada, are still a factor out East.

Based on this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects the Conservatives win another majority government, but drop four seats to 162. The reason that the Conservatives win fewer seats with more votes is because of Ontario, where the dynamics are very different when the Liberals are at 32%.

The New Democrats form the Official Opposition with 88 seats, a drop of 15 from their current standing. The Liberals win 56 seats, up 22, while the Bloc Québécois is reduced to one seat and the Greens retain their toehold in British Columbia.

Breaking it down regionally, the Conservatives win 22 seats in British Columbia, 27 seats in Alberta, 21 in the Prairies, 57 in Ontario, 18 in Quebec, and 15 in Atlantic Canada.

The New Democrats win nine seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, five in the Prairies, 17 in Ontario, 47 in Quebec, and eight in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win four seats in British Columbia, two in the Prairies, 32 in Ontario, nine in Quebec, and nine in Atlantic Canada.

Note that I am still working on the new federal projection model. This projection is a mix of what I have already finished for 2015 and what I was using for the 2011 election.

Nanos also looked at the leaders' ratings on trust, competence, and their vision for Canada. Combining these gives the "Leadership Index Score". Stephen Harper tops the list with 104.5 points, down 1.4 from late May. Jack Layton is next with 81.9 points, down 15.5 points, while Bob Rae clocks in at 27.3 points in his debut.

Layton's fall might seem significant, but on the three scores he averages a drop of 5.2 points. That isn't a huge variation considering the poll's margin of error, but it does appear that some of the shine might be wearing off. The NDP leader's position on the Canada Post strike/lockout, when the vast majority of Canadians just want their mail, will likely not brighten his numbers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Race narrows in Alberta, provincial NDP makes gains

Last week, the Edmonton Journal reported on a provincial political poll conducted by Abingdon Research for the Wildrose Alliance. Obviously, polls paid for and provided by political parties need to be taken with a grain of salt. We do not know how the questions were worded, in what order they were placed, and whether the Wildrose Alliance has kept more negative polls under wraps. But the results jive generally with the last polls we've seen from the province, so I think we can proceed with only a little bit of caution.
The poll is now almost a month old, but it showed the Progressive Conservatives leading the pack with 33.5% support, ahead of the Wildrose Alliance at 28.6%.

The Liberals trailed with 15.1%, tied with the New Democrats at 14.7%. The Alberta Party stands at 5.2%.

We don't really have a previous poll to compare this to, but if take the two polls that were released in January by Environics and Trend Research and average them out, we can see that the PCs have dropped almost six points since the beginning of the year. The Wildrose Alliance is down one point while the Liberals are down five.

The New Democrats are the ones who have gained, up almost six points since January. It could be a coincidence, but the party's success at the federal level may be trickling down.

The Alberta Party and others are up four points since those January polls.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects a Progressive Conservative majority of 51 seats. The Wildrose Alliance forms the Official Opposition with 22 seats, while the Liberals and New Democrats take seven seats apiece.

This would be a bit of a breakthrough for the NDP, giving them their most seats since 1989 when they won 16 and formed the Official Opposition.

The Progressive Conservatives win 16 seats in Edmonton, with the NDP taking seven and the Liberals two. In Calgary, the Wildrose Alliance dominates with 15 seats, with nine going to the PCs and four to the Liberals.

In the rest of the province, the Wildrose Alliance wins seven seats, the Progressive Conservatives 26 seats, and the Liberals one.

The successor to Ed Stelmach, who should be officially gone in the fall, will hold the advantage against Danielle Smith. But with a very small gap between the two parties, the Wildrose Alliance is in a good position to make some serious gains. Swap the two parties and the Wildrose Alliance could form government. But being a relatively new phenomenom, the Wildrose Alliance would really need to pile up the votes in order to win a majority. The PCs should be more effective in turning votes into seats.

The next leader of the Progressive Conservatives will be faced with a serious challenge, and with the potential renewed strength of the New Democrats and the wildcard of the Alberta Party, the next election in this province should be exceedingly interesting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Uniting parties could mean another Conservative majority

To merge or not to merge, that is the question.

At first glance, a merger of the New Democratic and Liberal parties might seem like the only way to defeat a Conservative majority government, but things are rarely so simple.

If the past is any guide, an NDP/Liberal merger would likely lead to one more Tory term.

Over the weekend, delegates at the NDP’s convention in Vancouver voted against a proposal to ban any merger talks between their party and the Liberals. Though no such talks appear to be underway and both parties have publicly resolved to continue operating separately, the NDP has left the door open to a merger of the opposition.

A combination of Liberal and NDP votes in the past election would have delivered 186 seats to the merged parties, an easy majority. But it is extremely unlikely that the new party could retain every single NDP and Liberal voter.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

The UBC forecaster for 2015 is already up and running, and is a very useful tool for running these kinds of scenarios. It's a little more difficult to use for seat projections based on polls, but if you want to see what would happen if 50% of Liberal voters went to the Tories and 50% went to the NDP, this is the tool to use (the answer: 190 seats for the Conservatives, 116 for the NDP).

Speaking of mergers, I think it is interesting to look at how the combined vote share of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives in 2000 compares to the vote share of the Conservatives in 2011. Have all of those voters come back to the fold after more than ten years?

In some cases they have, and in other cases they haven't.

Out West, the current iteration of the Conservative Party has out-performed its successors in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Saskatchewan, the PC/CA combined for 53% of the vote in 2000, and 45% in Manitoba. In the 2011 election, the Conservatives took 56% in Saskatchewan and 54% in Manitoba.

But in British Columbia and Alberta, the Tories still have some way to go. In 2000, the two right-of-centre parties took 57% of the vote in British Columbia and 72% in Alberta. In 2011, the one right-of-centre party took 46% of the vote in British Columbia and 67% of the vote in Alberta.

In Ontario and Quebec the Conservatives have improved, with 44% and 17% respectively, against 38% and 12% in the two provinces in 2000.

But in Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives are still hitting below their weight. In 2000, the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives took 46% of the vote in New Brunswick, 39% in Nova Scotia, 43% in Prince Edward Island, and 38% in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2011, the Conservatives took 44% of the vote in New Brunswick, 37% in Nova Scotia, 41% in Prince Edward Island, and 28% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It seems that, based on these numbers, the Conservatives will be looking to make gains in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada in 2015. Of course, they can also sit on the seats they already have and win another majority as well.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Will PQ pattern of revolt prevent Pauline Marois from becoming premier?

Only a month ago, the Parti Québécois was comfortably leading the Liberals in the polls and was on track to take office in Quebec City in the province’s next general election. Now, the PQ’s numbers have dropped precipitously and the future of their leader is in question. But the troubles Pauline Marois faces are nothing new for the notoriously tumultuous party.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here.

I always enjoy a chance to combine history and politics, and this retrospective on the life and times of the Parti Québécois was fascinating, for several reasons.

These leadership challenges were almost unavoidable and often involved the same people. Pauline Marois is under some difficulty presently because of Jacques Parizeau, who was very involved in the fall of René Lévesque and replaced Pierre-Marc Johnson. André Boisclair came under fire from Bernard Landry, who in turn was under pressure from Pauline Marois and François Legault, the latter someone who is also hurting the PQ today!

In researching this article, I went through the polling archives going back to the 1980s. What was interesting to see was that in almost all public opinion polls on who should be the next PQ leader when Boisclair, Landry, Bouchard, Johnson, and Lévesque resigned, Pauline Marois was always in the race. Going back as far as the Lévesque days, Marois was a major part of the party. She was there in the leadership race to replace Lévesque, tried to get in when Bouchard resigned, was defeated after Landry, and finally took the helm after the departure of Boisclair.

Another interesting tidbit was the performance of the Quebec wing of the New Democrats in the mid-to-late 1980s. Yes, there was a time when a Quebec NDP existed and its descendants survive today. In the mid-to-late 1980s, during the heyday of Ed Broadbent and the unpopularity of the PQ, the Quebec NDP routinely polled about 20% in the province, tied with the PQ. In the end, the Quebec NDP never earned more than 2% of the vote in an election, but for a short period it was a real factor (or potentially so) in Quebec politics.

In the early 1990s the Quebec NDP endorsed the Bloc Québécois in a by-election, and was expelled from the national apparatus of the federal New Democrats. They changed their name to the Social Democratic Party of Quebec, eventually formed the Union des forces progressistes (UFP) (a union which incorporated the Communist Party of Quebec), and eventually merged with Françoise David's Option citoyenne to form Québec Solidaire.


On an unrelated note, I invite you all to read Frank Graves' analysis of what went wrong and what went right for EKOS in the last campaign. The analysis can be found here.

Generally speaking, the inclusion of cellphone users (who were less likely to vote) was a major contributor to the under-representation of Conservative support. Graves found that when using a "likely voter" screening process, he was far closer to the mark. Pollsters in the United States use methods like this, and one wonders why we don't use them more here.

Graves deserves some applause here for the honesty of this analysis. Most of the other pollsters wiped their hands of the 2011 federal election and consider it to have been a job well-done, blaming others like myself for false seat projections that raised false hopes (or fears).

The fact of the matter is that all pollsters under-estimated the Conservative Party. They all put the Tories in a minority government, and it cannot be chalked up to mere coincidence that no polling firm was on the mark or over-estimated Conservative support. There was a problem there, and at least Frank Graves appears to have recognized it and intends to fix it.

Considering that the Conservatives won a minority government in 2008 with 37.7% and a very weak opposition, it was not the fault of seat projectors that Canadians expected a minority government on May 2nd when the polls put the Tories around 36% to 38% against a stronger opposition. If the pollsters had under-shot and over-shot the Conservative result in relatively equal numbers, it would not have been an issue. But they all under-shot their support. The odds of that happening naturally are slim to none, and that means they were inaccurately recording Conservative support.

Hopefully others will take Frank Graves' lead and take a second look at the 2011 campaign. And if they already have done so, they should present their findings publicly. A little self-reflection goes a long way.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Does thirst for change mean their time is up?

Change is in the air, as voters in Ontario and Quebec seem keen on exchanging their political leaders for something a little different.

So strong is the desire to the change status quo that there may be another wave coming that could potentially sweep out the Liberals in both provinces, and in one case, usher a non-existing party into power.

Quebecers demonstrated this appetite for change most dramatically in the last federal election. From nowhere, the New Democrats stormed to first place in the province and grabbed 43 per cent of the vote, winning 59 seats and taking votes primarily from the Bloc Québécois, but also the Conservatives and Liberals.

The Bloc Québécois had been the dominant party in the province for two decades, winning the majority of seats in Quebec in every election since 1993. Gilles Duceppe had been the province’s voice in the House of Commons as leader for 15 years.

Jack Layton offered a fresh face and only marginally different policy positions. Voters flocked to the NDP, with 28 per cent of Canadians throughout the country recently saying they cast their ballot for the New Democrats because the wanted change. Fully 45 per cent of NDP voters in Quebec mentioned a desire for change as their top motivation on Election Day, with another large portion saying they had simply had enough of the Bloc.

This disillusionment has transferred over to the provincial side.

You can read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

But this thirst for change is not ubiquitous or homogeneous throughout the country.

A few governments have been in power for many years, but now have some fresh faces at the helm. That is the case with British Columbia, which has been governed by the Liberals for ten years now. But Christy Clark is the new leader, and is (barely) leading the NDP in the polls.

The Progressive Conservatives have governed Alberta since 1971, and are still the leading party in the polls. But Ed Stelmach is resigning as leader and the Wildrose Alliance will give the PCs a run for their money.

The New Democrats have governed Manitoba since 1999, but Greg Selinger took over from Gary Doer in 2009. Though a few months ago it looked like the PCs would come back to power in the province, the fall election should be closely contested.

And in Newfoundland & Labrador, the PC government has been in power as long as the Liberal ones in Ontario and Quebec. Kathy Dunderdale is a change of pace for the province, but it seems Danny Williams would have had an easier time winning his third majority mandate than Dunderdale will have winning her first.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

PQ minority, NDP dominance

On Saturday, Le Devoir released the results of a new Léger Marketing poll looking at the federal and provincial voting intentions of Quebecers. At the federal level, it shows the New Democrats at an all-time high. At the provincial level, it indicates that the Parti Québécois could form an extremely wobbly minority government.

We'll start at the provincial level, where the Parti Québécois has dropped four points to 30% since early May. They are now tied with the Liberals (PLQ), who are unchanged at 30%.

The ADQ is in third, down one point to 17%, while Québec Solidaire is up two points to 11%.

The Greens are up two to 6% and "Others" are at an unlikely 6% as well.

The PQ still holds an important lead among francophones, though they have dropped four points to 37%. The PLQ is up one to 21%, while the ADQ is down one to 18%.

Among non-francophones, the PLQ dominates with 61%, down four. The ADQ is next with 15% (+3), while the PQ (+1) and QS (+3) are at 6%.

In the Montreal region, the Liberals are steady at 36% and have a decent lead over the PQ, which is down three points to 29%. The ADQ is down two to 13% in the region.

Around Quebec City the ADQ has gained 11 points and now leads with 32%, followed closely by the Parti Québécois at 25% (-8) and the Liberals with 23% (+3). It would appear that Pauline Marois's position on the arena has not helped her party in the city.

In the rest of Quebec, the PQ is down five to 32%, ahead of the Liberals and ADQ who are unchanged at 25% and 18%, respectively.

With this poll, ThreeHundredEight projects a very difficult National Assembly. The Parti Québécois wins 56 seats, a minority. The Liberals win 50 while the ADQ wins 15 and Québec Solidaire four.

How this would work in practice is hard to figure. The PQ would need the support of either the Liberals or the ADQ to govern, while the Liberals would be barely over the threshold of a majority with the support of the ADQ. I imagine this minority assembly would not last very long.

In terms of who would make the best premier, Jean Charest is back on top with 36% support of those who expressed an opinion. That is, amazingly, more than his party's level of support. Marois is next with 27%, while Amir Khadir of QS is third with 20%. Gérard Deltell, leader of the ADQ, only stands at 16%.

But what if we inject François Legault's CAQ into the mix? This political action group which will probably become a party at some point in the next year would garner the support of 33% of Quebecers, ahead of the PQ at 21% and the PLQ at 20%. If he joins with the ADQ, something which both the CAQ and the ADQ have said they would not do, the merged party would have the support of 41% of Quebecers and easily sweep the province.

But even a Legault-ADQ party does not have the level of support of the New Democrats.

The New Democrats have the support of 46% of Quebecers, three points more than they had on election night. In fact, this 46% is the highest the NDP has ever polled in Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois is second with 22%, followed by the Conservatives at 15% and the Liberals at 14%.

This is generally what the election result was, but with the extra support the NDP has it could win a few more seats from their rivals in the province, particularly the Bloc and the Liberals.

The NDP's support is homogenous across the province and the linguistic divide. The NDP has the support of 45% of francophones, 47% of non-francophones, 47% of those in the Montreal region, 41% of those around Quebec City, and 45% of those in the rest of Quebec.

The Bloc is well behind in every part of the province. They have the support of 25% of francophones, and are running second behind the NDP in Montreal and the rest of Quebec.

The Conservatives still have their base of support around Quebec City, at 27%. The Liberals, meanwhile, are only at 13% in Montreal and, more shockingly, are in third place at 17% among non-francophones. They would be hard pressed to hold on to their seats on the island of Montreal with these numbers.

Politics certainly are interesting in Quebec at the moment. But, then again, when have they ever not been?

A few administrative notes. I have completed my study of how the projection model worked in the 2011 federal election, and I will be presenting the results soon. Specifically, I looked at how the various "factors" applied to each riding worked out when using the actual provincial-level results. As this is now complete, I am working on detailed riding-by-riding projections for the provinces, starting with Quebec. I will then move on to Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, in that order.

Secondly, earlier this week ThreeHundredEight surpassed two million views since July 2010, when the traffic counter I am using began recording. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PCs on track for slim majority in Ontario

On Sunday, The National Post reported on a new poll from Ipsos-Reid on the voting intentions of Ontarians. Though it doesn't show much change from Ipsos's last poll in January, or much variation from Nanos's last poll in May, it does show a widening lead for Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives.

The Progressive Conservatives are up a statistically insignificant two points in Ontario, and now lead with 40%. The Liberals are down one point to 34%, while the New Democrats are up three points to 20%.

Even that gain isn't much to write home about, considering the sample of 802 Ontarians.

A six-point lead would be the slimmest since Mike Harris's last election in 1999, and would result in a similar outcome.

The Progressive Conservatives are up in places where they are usually weak, however. They have gained six points in the GTA and 17 points in northern Ontario, putting them neck-and-neck with the Liberals in both regions.

They have dropped a little in southwest (-2) and central (-3) Ontario, and are down 10 points in eastern Ontario. However, they still lead the Liberals by 16 points in that region.

For the Liberals, they have made modest gains in eastern (+6) and southwest (+5) Ontario, but are down six points in the GTA and four points in the north.

The New Democrats, meanwhile, are relatively stable in the GTA and southwest and central Ontario, but are up 11 points in the eastern part of the province. They are down seven in the north.

The Progressive Conservatives are in a good position, leading as they do in their traditional regions but also putting up a good fight in the GTA and northern Ontario. This should be of great concern to the Liberals.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects a slim majority government for the Progressive Conservatives, with 57 of the province's 107 seats. The Liberals win 35 seats and the New Democrats 15.

Compared to their current standings in the Legislative Assembly, that's a 32-seat gain for the PCs, a 36-seat loss for the Liberals, and a five-seat pick-up for the NDP.

This is not much different from the projection for Nanos's last poll, which had 58 seats for the Progressive Conservatives and 34 for the Liberals.

Considering Dalton McGuinty's personal unpopularity, the PCs could be doing better than this. They are still well below the electoral outcome of the federal Conservatives in the province, and the provincial Liberals don't seem to have been hurt by their federal counterpart's drubbing at the polls.

Hudak will be running his first campaign as leader, McGuinty his fourth. Will Dalton McGuinty's experience win out, or will voters want change for change's sake?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

McGuinty stands alone as peers soar in polls

The three most popular premiers in the country also happen to be heading into an election this fall. Their timing could not be better.

But another election in October could mean the end for one of Canada’s most consistently unpopular provincial leaders, Dalton McGuinty.

A poll conducted by Angus-Reid last month found that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale had the highest approval ratings in Canada.

While Wall was the only premier to score over 50 per cent, both Selinger and Dunderdale attained 65 per cent approval among those who expressed an opinion. Wall tops out at 71 per cent among decided voters.

This should come as no surprise for Wall and Dunderdale, who both lead their rivals in the polls by virtually insurmountable margins and are on track to win majority governments in the fall. But this is a shift for Manitoba’s premier.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website.

These premier polls come out every few months, and last time Kathy Dunderdale was on top. Her numbers have dropped, however.

After removing the "not sures", we get a clean approval/disapproval rating which is far easier to compare across the nine provinces included.

Note: Prince Edward Island is not included in this survey. As someone at Angus-Reid told me, even in these massive 6,500-respondents surveys, PEI is still too small to get anything reliable. Consider that even with a sample of 6,500 Canadians, PEI's proportion should be around 30 people, a sample that would normally have an MOE of about 18%.

Back to the results - Brad Wall of Saskatchewan is now ranked first, with an approval rating of 71%. That is down four points from February, however.

Greg Selinger has moved from fourth to second and now has an approval rating of 65%, up 18 points. He is tied with Dunderdale, who drops 20 points to 65%, and from first place to third.

David Alward of New Brunswick is fourth, down one spot, but has improved his rating eight points to 63%.

Christy Clark debuts in fifth with 54%, far greater than the 19% Gordon Campbell had in February.

Ed Stelmach of Alberta remains in sixth, but his approval rating is up seven points to 33%. Darrell Dexter has dropped two spots to seventh, but is only down one point to 32%.

Dalton McGuinty is up two points but down one spot to eighth and 24%, while Jean Charest remains dead last. His approval is up six points to 22%, however.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How much will killing per-vote subsidy stack odds in Tory favour?

Though an election campaign can turn on a dime, they are not won in a day. Years and years of work is put in by every party, and the stellar breakthrough of the NDP in Quebec was due, according to the party itself, to their years of hard work in the province since Jack Layton became leader. But laying the groundwork for a future election win costs money, and the abolition of the per-vote subsidy is likely to put the Conservatives in a tremendously advantageous position.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here. A condensed version with infographic is also featured in today's print edition of the Globe.

This is a little bit of a thought exercise that translates the difference in funding into seats. Obviously, the Conservatives have a major advantage.

What is really something is the number of individual contributions the Conservatives received in 2010, EDIT: when adding the four quarterly returns together (in that way, contributors who donate multiple times per year could be counted more than once). See below for more clarification.

In 2010, the Conservatives had 145,410 contributions to their national fundraising when combining their quarterly returns. That is more than the other four parties combined. The Liberals had 69,055 total individual contributions in their four quarters, the New Democrats 52,208, the Greens 13,583, and the Bloc Québécois 6,807. (Note that with the Bloc, they make more of an effort to raise funds at the riding level.)

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments section below, this should not be taken as a total number of contributors. Nor was it meant to be taken as such - but it is an indication of how the parties compare to one another in terms of individual contributors. When their annual reports are filed we will have a better idea of how the parties compare. The Bloc, which has already filed their annual report, had 5,855 contributors in 2010 to their national headquarters.

In fact, a better way to look at this until all of the annual reports are filed would be the average number of contributors per quarter: 36,352 for the Conservatives, 17,264 for the Liberals, 13,052 for the New Democrats, 3,396 for the Greens, and 1,702 for the Bloc. 

So for the opposition parties it isn't about getting people to pony up more cash - it is about finding more people willing to part with their hard-earned dollars.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tories are happy, others not so much

Last week, Environics released the results of their post-election survey. The findings are very interesting, and I encourage you to check them out. The poll itself has to be considered quite accurate, as when they asked respondents how they voted the result was almost identical to the election night's results. They were even close on the turnout, which is a rarity indeed. However, they still under-estimate the Conservatives by two points, indicating that there has to be some sort of "shy Tory" factor at play. It is puzzling.

But two results of the poll especially grabbed my attention.

Firstly, Environics asked respondents the main reasons why they voted for the party that they did. By choosing the top three responses by party, we get an indication of the motivations behind the average Conservative, New Democratic, and Liberal voter.

For the Conservatives, the main reason people voted for them was that they liked the party, its policies, and its promises. This was the motivation behind 54% of Conservative votes. Another 13% voted Tory because they disliked the other parties and/or their leaders, while 13% voted Conservative because they liked Stephen Harper. Only 3% voted Conservative to "stop the NDP", which seems to argue against one of the theories behind the difference between the polls and the election night results for the Tories.

The top response for the New Democrats was also that voters liked the party, but this was the main reason for only 34% of voters. A desire for change was second, at 28%, while 13% voted NDP to "stop" the Conservatives.

One-third of Liberal voters cast their ballot that way because they wanted to stop the Conservatives, a less-than positive reason for voting. Another 27% liked the party, while 20% liked the local candidate - the highest proportion of any of the parties.

Interestingly, 1% of respondents said they voted Liberal because they disliked Ignatieff. That'll show 'em!

The other question that interested me was how voters felt about the outcome. They could choose between feeling happy, relieved, sad, fearful, and indifferent.

If we consider feeling happy and relieved to be positive emotions, and feeling sad and fearful to be negative emotions, we can see how voters for each party felt about the election in general.
In the above chart, the gray represents those who did not vote.

At a glance, we can see that Conservative supporters felt very positively about the election result - and why not. Their party won a majority. Fully 82% are quite happy.

But New Democratic voters aren't as pleased as you might expect. Their party made a historic breakthrough in Quebec, won the most seats and votes in their history, and are now the Official Opposition. But only 27% of their voters are happy with the results.

Though it is somewhat surprising it is as high as it is, 13% of Liberal voters and 10% of Bloc voters feel positively about what happened on May 2nd. Thirty percent of non-voters are also pleased with the result.

As for having negative feelings about the election result, only 2% of Conservative voters have some regrets. That is miniscule. Surprisingly, only 21% of non-voters feel the same way (36% are, understandably, indifferent).

Despite their historic outcome, fully 42% of NDP voters feel sad or fearful about the election results. And despite being reduced to third party status, only 54% of Liberal voters feel negatively. It is a majority, but you'd expect Liberals to be a little more upset, along the lines of the 73% of Bloc voters.

For supporters of the Conservatives and Bloc, these results come as no surprise. The Tories are pleased as punch while Bloc supporters are concerned. But both Liberal and NDP supporters are surprisingly indifferent (25% and 23%, respectively). And a far smaller portion of NDP voters than I would have expected are happy with their party's accomplishments.

How these two voting blocks will act in the coming years will be an interesting thing to watch.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

PQ down, Liberals and Quebec Solidaire up in CROP poll

Yesterday, La Presse reported on a new poll from CROP, taken primarily on Monday but also on Tuesday, right smack dab in the middle of the resignations of the four MNAs from the caucus of the Parti Québécois. The result is not pretty for the PQ.

The Parti Québécois has dropped eight points since CROP's last poll taken May 11-16, and now trails the Liberals at 26%. The governing party is up four points to 27%.

For both the PQ and the Liberals to be below 30% is remarkable.

The beneficiary of the PQ's fall is primarily Québec Solidaire, which has gained five points and now stands in third at 17%. That is a huge result for them, but because of the turmoil in Quebec City it may be a stretch to claim this has anything to do with the NDP.

The Action Démocratique du Québec is down one point to 15%, while the Greens are down two to 9%.

Though this is an online poll and CROP does not report the margin of error, a random sample of 860 people would normally have an MOE of 3.3%.

But this poll was also taken on a rather momentous day, so the results might be much more of a snapshot than a serious indication of the changing mood of the Quebec electorate. Subsequent polls by CROP and the next Léger report should shed some light on what is going on.

The Parti Québécois's problems have been sparked by leader Pauline Marois's stance on the deal between the province and Quebecor to build a new arena in Quebec City. For those who don't follow Quebec politics, the legality of the deal between the province and Quebecor has been challenged, and the PQ was putting forward a motion that would have freed the deal from legal challenge. This was a bit too much for three particular MNAs of the PQ, Louise Beaudoin, Lisette Lapointe, and Pierre Curzi, and they resigned from caucus on Monday morning. Jean-Martin Aussant followed suit on Tuesday. They all criticized Marois's style of leadership as well, and the first three démissionaires are heavy weights in the party.

Though only a minority of PQ supporters think Pauline Marois should step down as leader, a majority of Quebecers think she should do so. Of course, a majority would also probably want Jean Charest to step down as well. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that of the potential successors to Marois, Gilles Duceppe is the most popular at 36%, followed by François Legault at 24%.

The arena funding is an issue dividing the province, as 50% support the funding of the construction by the province and the other 50% do not. It is a popular proposal in Quebec City, however, and the PQ's stance on the issue has propelled it to 36% (+5) in the region, ahead of the Liberals (22%) and the ADQ (20%, -5). Results for the Greens and other parties were not reported.

Whether Marois is the leader to give Quebec a country is another reason for these four MNAs to have stepped down, particularly for Aussant and Lapointe. However, fully 82% of Quebecers think the PQ should put sovereignty aside and focus on good government. Even 71% of PQ supporters say that, though this may be a realization that a province needs to be governed well before it can consider becoming a country.

With the results of this remarkable poll, ThreeHundredEight projects the Parti Québécois would nevertheless win the election and form a minority government. The PQ's vote is far more efficient than that of the Liberals, much of it wasted as it is in super-majorities on the island of Montreal.

The PQ wins 59 seats, three short of a majority. The Liberals win 43 and the ADQ 15, while Québec Solidaire takes eight seats. As both the PQ and QS are sovereigntist parties on the left of Quebec's political spectrum (though QS is much further left), I imagine the PQ could govern with the support of Québec Solidaire.

The next election in Quebec has to take place by 2013, but with all that is going on in Quebec City it should come as no surprise if Jean Charest pulls the plug earlier. His numbers will have to improve, however, as he is no place to win his fourth election with only 27% support.

Harper, Quebec, and Jean Charest

Jean Charest: the next thorn in Harper’s side?

Beginning today, the Conservatives will toast their election victory at their national convention, held a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill. 

But amid the celebration, storm clouds could be gathering on the opposite bank of the Ottawa River.

Despite having handily won his majority government without Quebec, Stephen Harper’s first mandate may be a turbulent one thanks to la belle province and its beleaguered Liberal premier.

A wily politician who rarely fails to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, Jean Charest is in an ideal position to rebuild his battered image at the expense of the Prime Minister.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website, here. 

I will post about yesterday's CROP poll here on the blog later today. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Provincial NDP makes gains in NB, NS, and NL

It might not be a tidal wave, but the tide is turning in the NDP’s favour in the four Atlantic provinces.

The latest opinion poll results from the Corporate Research Associates indicate that throughout Atlantic Canada the provincial wings of the New Democratic Party have made significant gains.

You can read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post website here.

Yesterday, the Corporate Research Associates released their Atlantic Quarterly with the voting intentions results for the four Atlantic provinces. Their website appears to be down as of this writing, but when it is up and running again you can find the press releases here.

Let's get right into it, starting with Prince Edward Island.
The Liberals under Robert Ghiz are still leading with 51%, but that is a drop of 11 points since February. Note that the margin of error is 5.7%, so these large variations are in fact within the MOE

The Progressive Conservatives are up 10 points to 35%, followed by the New Democrats at 13% (+2) and the Greens at 2%.

Undecideds number 40% of those polled, a very high result in province that is four months away from an election.

But Robert Ghiz has things well in hand, as 69% of the province is mostly or completely satisfied with his performance as leader. He is also the favourite person to be premier at 48%, followed by the PC's Olive Crane at 19% and the NDP's James Rodd at 5%.

With the results of this poll, ThreeHundredEight projects the Liberals would be re-elected to a majority government with 22 seats, down five from the last projection and down two from their current standing in the Legislative Assembly.

The Progressive Conservatives win three seats (up three from the last projection, up one from current standing), while the New Democrats win two seats (a gain of two).

Aside from the return of the NDP to Charlottetown, this is generally the same election result as the province's previous vote.

Now on to Newfoundland & Labrador, the other province with an election coming up in October.
Compared to CRA's last poll from February, the Progressive Conservatives are down a massive 16 points to 57%, though that is clearly still enough to win an equally massive majority. The Liberals are up four points to 22% while the New Democrats are up big: 12 points to 20%. Undecideds are 23%, a much lower figure than we see elsewhere.

Though Kathy Dunderdale seems to be on the downswing, she is still comfortably ahead. Fully 71% are satisfied with her performance (a drop of 11 points) while 51% think she is best suited to be premier (down 13 points). The trend is not in her favour but she is a long way away from having her premiership threatened.

Yvonne Jones of the Liberals is favoured for the premiership by 16% (-2), while Lorraine Michael of the NDP's personal numbers are up nine points to 14%. The NDP's two seats wins at the federal level in the province appear to be having an effect.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects another majority government for the Progressive Conservatives. They win 38 seats, down eight from the last projection and five from their current standing in the House of Assembly.

The New Democrats win six seats, up five, and form the Official Opposition. This would be a first in Newfoundland. The Liberals win five seats, up four from February.

A more spirited opposition, perhaps, but another four years of PC rule in Newfoundland and Labrador appears on the horizon.

The NDP wave has also strengthened Darrell Dexter's position in Nova Scotia.
The NDP in the province is up eight points since February, and now leads with a healthy 42%. The Progressive Conservatives have moved into second with a five point gain, and they now stand at 31%. The Liberals have dropped 13 points to only 22%, while the Greens are unchanged at 4%.

That is a huge shift for the Liberals, though Stephen McNeil's popularity hasn't been hurt as much. He is down six points to 20% for best premier, behind Darrell Dexter at 28% (+5) and Jamie Baillie at 21% (+8).

It isn't all roses for Dexter, however, as only 47% are satisfied with his performance as premier.

Again, with this poll only ThreeHundredEight projects that the New Democrats would be re-elected to a majority government with 29 seats. That is a big change from the split assembly I projected in February.

The Progressive Conservatives win 16 seats and form the Official Opposition, while the Liberals are reduced to seven seats.

However, Nova Scotia is not likely to have its next election until 2013. It could even be pushed to the spring of 2014.

New Brunswick is also three years away from the next election, but the province would give David Alward another majority if the vote had been held in May.
The Progressive Conservatives are down two points to 56%, well within the MOE. The Liberals are down seven points to 20%, while the New Democrats are up 12 points to tie the Liberals at 20%. The NDP's success at the federal level seems to be having its effect here as well.

The People's Alliance is at 3%, while the Greens are down to 1%.

Fully 68% of New Brunswickers are satisfied with David Alward's performance, and he is the favourite to be premier of 39%. Another 15% think the next Liberal leader would be the best premier, while 14% (+8) chose the new NDP leader, Dominic Cardy.

With this poll, ThreeHundredEight projects a massive majority for the Progressive Conservatives. Unchanged from February, they would win 53 seats.

The New Democrats win two seats and form the miniscule opposition, while the Liberals are shut out from the Legislative Assembly in Fredericton.

These four provinces show some significant trends. Though the gain in support in Prince Edward Island is insignificant, the New Democrats are up across the board. Their majority government in Nova Scotia looks safer, and the party could form the Official Opposition in Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. They might even win a couple seats in PEI. That is a big shift on the East Coast

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

May 2011 Federal Poll Averages

Though we won't have another federal election until the end of 2015, federal voting intention polls are still being conducted. Accordingly, ThreeHundredEight will continue with the monthly poll averages. This month, only two polls were publicly released with complete data: one by Abacus and the other by Nanos.

Two polls by Harris-Decima were also mentioned in the media, but details are sparse. Because of that, their results have not been added to the May 2011 averages.

Also note that I am changing the method in which the monthly averages are calculated. Rather than give every single poll equal standing, I will be weighing the polls by sample size and margin of error. Each polling firm will also be counted only once per month. If a firm releases two polls in a month, the average result for the polling firm over the multiple polls will be counted towards the monthly average.

Final note, I will not be updating the monthly tracking chart for May, as I will keep the election results in that slot.

Before we get into it, however, we should take a look at the two polls individually as I have not had the time to do so this month.

The Abacus poll was taken between May 18-19 and included 1,544 respondents. This was an online poll, but a similarly sized random sample would have had a margin of error of 2.5 points.

Abacus found the situation to be much like that on election night, with all of their national results within the margin of error. The Conservatives led with 40%, followed by the New Democrats at 33% and the Liberals at 16%. Regionally, the only notable result was in Ontario, where the Conservatives led with 45% with the NDP behind at 31%. But the Liberals were down to 20%.

The Nanos poll is more recent, having been taken between May 24-29. The total sample was 1,205 people and the margin of error was 2.8 points.

Nanos found the Conservatives to be leading with 39.7%, followed by the NDP at 29.9% and the Liberals at 21.5%. In this poll, however, the Liberals were running second in Ontario with 26.3%, behind the Tories at 44%. In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois was down to 10.9%, with the Conservatives and Liberals running second and third at 21.8% and 20.3%, respectively, behind the NDP (39.1%). If the Bloc has dropped that low, they may indeed be finished.

Because of their larger sample size, Abacus was given a weighting of 52.8% in this average, with Nanos being weighted to the remaining 47.2%.

The Conservatives, New Democrats, and Liberals are virtually unchanged from their election night result, with the Conservatives averaging 39.9% support in May. The NDP is second with 31.5% and the Liberals third with 18.6%.

The Greens are up to 4.9% while the Bloc Québécois is down to 4.4%, nationally.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead the NDP 42.9% to 33.8%, while in Alberta and the Prairies (in this case only Abacus was used) the Conservatives have a good lead over the New Democrats.

In Ontario, the Conservatives stand at 44.5%, followed by the NDP at 27.8% and the Liberals at 23%.

The New Democrats are mostly unchanged in Quebec, leading with 41.2%. The Conservatives, however, are running second with 20.3%, a marked improvement over their election result. The Bloc is barely in third with 16.8%, while the Liberals stand at 16.4% in the province.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives lead with 38.5% to 28.7% for the Liberals, the only area where Bob Rae's party is in second place. The New Democrats stand at 26.9% here.

Using the seat projection model for the 2011 election, which had an average error of 2.4 seats per party and not greater than five seats for any one party when using the actual provincial vote totals, ThreeHundredEight projects the Conservatives win 167 seats with this month's poll average, one more than they currently hold.

The New Democrats and Liberals would also pick up one seat apiece, and win 104 and 35, respectively.

The Bloc Québécois is reduced to one seat in Quebec while the Greens hold on to their one seat in British Columbia.

Regionally, the Conservatives win 19 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 22 in the Prairies, 72 in Ontario, 10 in Quebec, and 15 in Atlantic Canada.

The New Democrats win 14 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, five in the Prairies, 22 in Ontario, 57 in Quebec, and four in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win two seats in British Columbia, none in Alberta, one in the Prairies, 12 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, and 13 in Atlantic Canada.

It should come as no surprise that so soon after the election there would be so few changes. But the poor showing of the Bloc seems to have had an effect, as Quebecers are turning to other parties. Whether this will hold will be something to watch over the next few months.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Demographic round-up

If you live in a Conservative riding, you are probably richer than the average Canadian and an anglophone. If a New Democrat is your MP, you are probably a francophone in Quebec. And if your riding voted Liberal on May 2nd, there is a good chance that you are a visible minority and/or university educated.

These are the results of an analysis of the average demographic profile of ridings held by the three main federal parties.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here. There is also a condensed version with the infographic in today's print edition of the newspaper.

This piece looks at the percentage of Canadians in each demographic group and region represented by each party. It closes the series of pieces I have done looking at the demographic profile of the ridings now represented by each party in the House of Commons.

One of the aspects I did not focus on in the piece is the disconnect between the number of votes each party earned and the percentage of Canadians they now represent.

Looking at the Conservative party, with 39.6% of the vote they now represent 56% of Canadians, 58% of immigrants, 66% of aboriginals, 54% of visible minorities, 54% of university graduates, 72% of anglophones, and 57% of Canadians whose first languages are neither English nor French. In part because of our electoral system and in part because of where the party won its seats, the Tories are over-represented by these groups compared to their vote share. They are under-represented among francophones. They only represent 15% of them.

The New Democrats, on the other hand, generally represent a proportion of the population similar to the proportion of votes earned. With 30.6% of the vote, the NDP now represents 32.5% of Canadians. They hit above their weight among francophones (75%) and university graduates (31%), but below their weight among anglophones (17%), allophones (27%), immigrants (26%), aboriginals (28%), and visible minorities (27%).

But the Liberals, Bloc Québécois, and Greens were greatly disadvantaged by our electoral system. With 18.9% of the vote, the Liberals only represent 9.9% of Canadians. The demographic group they most represent are visible minorities (18%). They least represent francophones (5%).

For the Bloc, despite garnering 6% national support they only represent 1.1% of the population, while the Greens represent 0.4% of the population though they had 3.9% of the vote. While that is an improvement for the Greens, who have never before elected an MP, it is a twist of fate for the Bloc Québécois, the party that has most benefited from our first-past-the-post system over the last two decades.

Friday, June 3, 2011

BC Conservatives in the race?

A mysterious poll from the Mustel Group, mentioned in several different news articles but the only proof of its existence is here in this political tracking chart produced by the polling firm, shows that the BC Liberals and BC New Democrats continue to run neck-and-neck in the province. But it also shows that the BC Conservatives under newly minted leader John Cummins, a former MP for the federal Tories, are riding high at 18% support - up from their 2% in the 2009 provincial election.

UPDATE: Mustel has informed me the poll was taken between May 4-15 and included 500 respondents, meaning a margin of error of 4.4%, 19 times out of 20.
What can we make of this rise of the BC Conservatives? Certainly Cummins gives the party a good degree of legitimacy, and the more centrist Christy Clark might be pushing some voters further to the right. That there might be some confusion between the provincial and federal parties, or an undeserved transfer of support from one to the other in the wake of Stephen Harper's victory, could also be a major factor.

Compared to Mustel's last poll, this is an 11-point jump for the BC Conservatives, so nothing to sneeze at. This has hurt the BC Liberals, who are down four points from that December poll to 37%. The BC New Democrats are only down one point to 35%, indicating that they may be skating above the fray between the two provincial parties on the right. The Greens muddy the water, though, as they are down six points. A lot of support swapping seems to be going on.

Do the BC Conservatives need to be taken seriously? We cannot know if they will even run a full slate in the next provincial election. They were far from doing so in 2009. This also makes it a bit trickier to make seat projections. Until we know differently, I can only assume that the BC Conservatives will run candidates in the same ridings they did in 2009, which makes their prospects for seat gains much lower (that 18% is spread across the province, including the 2/3rds of ridings in which they did not run a candidate last time).

Accordingly, with this poll ThreeHundredEight projects the BC Conservatives win only one seat, Boundary - Similkameen. Of course, we don't know if they will even have a candidate there in the next election, as that could be as far away as 2013. And if they run a full slate, it is very difficult to predict which ridings might turn blue, and which ridings might go with the NDP because of a split between the Conservatives and the Liberals.

In any case, with this poll the BC Liberals win 46 seats, the BC New Democrats 37, and one independent is elected. A majority for Ms. Clark.

Still, it is a majority won within the margin of error. A two-point lead in a poll with a 4.4 margin of error is no lead at all, and certainly not something Ms. Clark could risk her majority government on. With the BC Conservatives coming from the right and the BC New Democrats not going anywhere, the prospects for an election in British Columbia this year would appear slim. But people have a way of doing funny things.