Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Slim McGuinty lead means slim McGuinty majority

When Harris-Decima came out last week with an 11-point gap between the Liberals and the Tories, people scoffed. Indeed, that size of margin was, perhaps, a little on the large side, but two new polls from Ipsos-Reid and Nanos Research show the Liberals ahead, though barely.

The Ipsos-Reid poll for Global TV, Newstalk 101, and The Ottawa Citizen gives the Liberals a virtually non-existent one-point lead, 38% to 37% for the Tories. Compared to Ipsos-Reid's "flash poll" conducted in early August, however, there has been virtually no change. The Liberals are up two points and the NDP one, while the Tories are down two points. All within the margin of error.

The Liberals lead primarily because of the GTA, where they have the edge 40% to 33%. They trail the Tories in most other parts of the province, except the north. There, with a small sample size, the Liberals lead the NDP by 44% to 30%.

Interestingly, Ipsos is tracking how likely people are to vote. About 59% are absolutely certain, which sounds like a plausible turnout rate. Unfortunately, they didn't report the voting intentions of these people specifically, though looking at the crosstabs it seems the Tories hold the edge among decided, absolutely certain voters.

Nanos, in its poll for CTV, CP24, and The Globe and Mail, is showing a lot more change. Compared to their poll from last week, the Liberals are up 6.2 points to 38.1%, ahead of the Tories at 34.7% and the NDP at 24.3%. That is a drop of only 0.7 points for the PCs and a gain of 1.5 points for the NDP. Again, within the margin of error.

But where are those 6.2 points coming from for the Liberals? Last week, Nanos had an extraordinarily high "Other" result of 5.8%. It is now down to 0.2%. What happened there? Are we seeing Liberal gain or was there something wrong with the last Nanos poll?

Understandably, these two polls (the first taken since the campaign has started) have swung the projection quite dramatically.

The Liberals have picked up four points and now lead with 36.2% of the vote, ahead of the Progressive Conservatives who stand at 36.1%. That is a drop of three points for the Tories, a gain of four for the Liberals, and a very significant seven-point swing since yesterday's projection.

The New Democrats are up 1.4 points to 23.3%, while the Greens are down 2.4 points to 3.1%.

This results in the Liberals picking up 18 seats. They are now projected to win 55, only one more than is needed for a majority government. The Progressive Conservatives have dropped 17 seats since yesterday and are now projected to win 32. The New Democrats have picked up one seat and are now projected to win 20.

Most of the changes have come in and around Toronto. In the GTA, the Tories have dropped nine seats, eight of which have gone to the Liberals and one to the NDP. The PCs have also lost four seats in Toronto, all of which have gone to the Liberals. The Liberals also picked up two seats from the PCs in Ottawa and eastern Ontario, two seats in southwestern Ontario, and one seat in the central part of the province.

This means that the Liberals are now projected to win the majority or half of the seats in every part of Ontario except the central and northern parts, as well as the Hamilton/Niagara region. What a difference a day makes.

As you can see, this is the most dramatic shift in the campaign so far. But it is part of a trend. The Tories have been losing support progressively over the last month, while both the Liberals and New Democrats have been on the upswing.

Because of such a dramatic swing, a lot of the seats that were close last time are no longer very close. The Liberals now lead in 11 close races and trail in four, while the Tories lead in three and trail in 12. The NDP leads two close races and trails in one.

This puts the Liberal range at between 44 and 59 seats, so for the first time a majority is more than possible. The Progressive Conservative range stands at between 29 and 44 seats, so at the very least they can still expect to do better than they did in 2007. The New Democrat range is still 18 to 21 seats.
As you can see from the above chart, there isn't much over-lap in the PC/Liberal ranges anymore. They could still tie at 44 seats apiece, but with the numbers we're seeing it doesn't seem likely.
The chart above shows the daily polling averages of the campaigns so far. I am presenting the chart here, but in the future it will be updated in the right-hand column only.

No polls for the other campaigns have been released so far, so for now there are only pre-campaign monthly averages on the chart.

But for Ontario, we have some numbers. Dotted lines on the chart indicates days in which no polls were taken, or at least results for those days have not been released.

This chart is the same as the one I did during the federal campaign, it averages all polls in the field on a specific day. Unlike last time, every polling firm will be getting only one entry per day if they release multiple polls taken on some of the same days.

And, of course, here are the riding-by-riding projections. Hopefully we'll have some numbers out of Manitoba soon, as the projection was last updated at the end of July!