Friday, September 2, 2011

Tim Hudak's hope for majority slipping in new polls

Ontario’s election has become a three-way horse race in a matter of weeks, with frontrunner Tim Hudak’s hope for a majority government slipping away on the eve of the campaign’s official launch.

Two recently released polls show that, while the Progressive Conservative leader still holds a lead over the governing Liberals, the race is tightening.

You can read the rest of the article, including individual projections for both this week's Angus-Reid and Forum Research polls, at The Huffington Post Canada website here.

On an unrelated note, I promised a seat projection for the Harris-Decima federal poll released earlier this week. The result is pretty interesting. But first, the poll itself.
Harris-Decima has both the Conservatives and New Democrats tied at 33%, with the Liberals trailing at 21%.

I could be mistaken, but this is probably the first poll since the Ed Broadbent years that has the NDP tied for first.

While 33% is a few ticks up from the 2011 election result and is within the margin of error of other recent polls, that the NDP is in first has more to do with the Conservatives dropping. They stand seven points below their election result, which is quite an extraordinary drop.

Of course, this poll was taken during a pretty emotional time. Unless Harris-Decima polls over the weekend, it was only in the field for two days before Jack Layton's death. It was then in the field throughout the week following his death. Whether these numbers will hold will be something to look at when Harris-Decima next reports.

The NDP leads in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, in addition to Quebec. The most interesting race is in Ontario, where the three parties are within each other's margin of error.

The problem for the NDP in this poll is their weakness on the Prairies. We can excuse them for having trouble breaking through in Alberta, but the NDP can do better in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. If the party was up a little bit more, they would likely be able to win a plurality of seats, as more than a few ridings in Saskatchewan were relatively close Conservative-NDP races.

Also noteworthy is Quebec, where the Tories stand at 15%. Some other polls have put them comfortably in third or even in second, but it would appear the strength of the Conservatives in Quebec is still very fragile.

This would result in a very different House of Commons.

The Conservatives win 127 seats with this poll, the New Democrats 117, the Liberals 57, the Bloc Québécois four, and the Greens one.

Most significantly, the New Democrats and Liberals could combine for 174 seats - a majority larger even than Stephen Harper's current government.

But this sort of seat distribution would be quite unbalanced. While an NDP/Liberal government would hold 53% of the seats in British Columbia, 57% of the seats in Ontario, 63% of the seats in Atlantic Canada, and 89% of the seats in Quebec, it would hold only 9% of the seats in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

But, of course, the current Conservative government holds only 7% of the seats in Quebec.

The Conservatives win one seat in the North, 14 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 24 in the Prairies, 46 in Ontario, four in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada.

The New Democrats win one seat in the North, 16 in British Columbia, one in Alberta, three in the Prairies, 26 in Ontario, 60 in Quebec, and 12 in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals win one seat in the North, five in British Columbia, none in Alberta, one in the Prairies, 34 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, and nine in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc wins four seats in Quebec and the Greens win one in British Columbia.

An interesting counter-factual, but 2015 is a long ways away.


  1. Thanks a lot Eric for all your hard work. I really appreciate it.

    What is encouraging about the national poll is that the NDP is leading in BC by a full 6 points, in Atlantic Canada by 10 points although they get less seats. And they only trail in Ontario by 4 points although it is not translating to seats.

    The prairies are a lost cause for the NDP these days, I'm not sure why since they have a good history there.

  2. Look at that, I pretty much nailed it. :D

  3. The last time time the NDP was in first place nationally was in early 1991 after Broadbent had retired. The party was still in a honeymoon period after winning a majority in Ontario the previous September and was poised for big victories in BC and Saskatchewan, which came later that year.

  4. Wow, look at the 1-week numbers... NDP up by 6 nationally!

  5. Sorry, but it approaches crass sensationalism to poll during such an emotional time. Obviously Harris-Decima didn't intentionally do that as they were out in the field before Layton's death, but in truth they probably should have called off the polling and resumed after a week or two. A week when the NDP were on everybody's lips, and had the nation's sympathies, is not a week that's going to generate reliable information about people's genuine polling preferences. In fact, it's probably bad news for the NDP that on such a week they were *merely* tied for first and not a few points ahead; it probably means they'll drop back to second pretty quickly.

    Curious to see if anyone was out there polling this past week, though - that might give us slightly more practical numbers.

  6. i wouldn't get all in a tizzy over this poll...firstly it was conducted by harris decima-one of the least accurate firms(this looks a lot like the wishful thinking polls we witnessed during the april election campaign)...secondly,the majority tories haven't yet flexed their new found strength yet and lastly, the next election is 4 years away (oct 2015)...and a personal note-explain how the conservatives have droppeed over seven points during the summer recess...the answer - they haven't!!....

  7. Obviously still early days for the NDP in the post-Layton years, but considering how pundits were suggesting the party would implode without Layton it is interesting to see them holding (and even growing) their support.

  8. mahanna ali makes a good point.

    Rule of thumb for all HD polls:

    modify numbers by adding +3-4% CPC and subtract the same from the Greens.

    Basically the polls are showing what they always show. Harper sits at 37%, everyone gets their hopes up, and then on election day his superior fundraising and electoral machine brings outs the voters big time and his EC day result beats the polls.

  9. ..... For Christ's sake people, in Harris-Decima's world THEY HAVEN'T MOVED AT ALL. They were at 33% before, and there' at 33% now.

    Why does no one pay attention to that? Why!??

  10. I didn't point it out, but note that in the final week of the poll (1,000 people surveyed) the NDP stood at 36% and the Conservatives at 30%.

  11. Éric, I'm curious about something here. In a three-party system, usually 40% of the vote is enough to carry a party to a majority or very close to it. In the poll, the NDP is at 40% or higher in BC and the Atlantic; but according to the projection, it wins only a bare plurality of seats in both regions. Why is that?

  12. Just because of regional concentrations. In BC, the NDP is very strong in and around Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, but are less present outside of this region. Though, the projection does put them pretty close to the Tories in a lot of ridings.

    In Atlantic Canada, they are not very strong outside of Halifax in Nova Scotia, and outside of the cities in New Brunswick, while PEI has never warmed up to the party very much. And in Newfoundland, they aren't a factor outside of St. John's.

    So what this means is you have the NDP winning with large margins in places like Vancouver, Halifax, and St. John's but are being beat by the Conservatives outside of the main centres (or Liberals in parts of Atlantic Canada). The NDP is still a long way from having a broad base of support in every region.

  13. The NDP needs the Liberals to have some support in order to have any chance of forming government in 2015. There is a large chunk of the electorate (especially in Ontario) where voters would move between the Liberals and Tories and would never vote NDP. If the fiscal conservative/social liberal vote is split between the Liberals and Tories, then the NDP has a chance of coming through in certain ridings.

    A good example is in the riding Oshawa, where the Liberal fallout caused the Tories to win the riding by 13 points over the NDP. In 2004 and 2006, when the Liberals were still strong, the Tories barely managed to win the riding over the second place NDP.

    - Maple

  14. Four years is a long way off, of course, there are many variables, and who knows what can happen in between then and now. The difference from before May 2 and now is that Jack Layton no longer leads the NDP and the NDP is now the Official Opposition; far ahead of the Liberals, 52 seats short of forming majority government by itself, and as the latest poll suggests, pretty close to forming a minority government with the support of the Liberals. If the pole and poll positions remain somewhat as they are now, how will Canadians vote in 2015; or how would they have voted in May if the election were 1,2, or 3 weeks later. Where's that crystal ball!!

    South Parkdale Jack

  15. If this magically became the result of the May election then it's far likelier that the Liberals would still be a leaderless rump which will still posture against Harper but still support the government when push comes to shove. Make no mistake, the Liberals and NDP are just too far apart to support each other while remaining separate.

  16. Anonymous 08:46, that doesn't make any sense. The LPC and NDP have worked together without a formal coalition or a merger before, most recently in the Martin minority government, but also during the Trudeau and Pearson years. The difference now is that the Liberal Party would be the junior, rather than the senior, partner.

    The Liberal caucus that remains is primarily from Atlantic Canada, and the policy priorities of Atlantic Canada Liberals will tend to be closer to a hypothetical NDP government than the policies of, for example, Ontario Liberals.

  17. The next election will be won or lost (depends on your perspective) in Manitoba and the GTA suburbs.

  18. TS,

    Only 12 of the Party's 34 members are from Atlantic Canada; Central Canada still dominates with 18, and four from the West.

    And it's also incorrect to assume that somehow Ontario Liberals is this group of people that NDP can't work with. Highly incorrect, I might add. Are you even from Ontario?

  19. Volkov, yes I am from Ontario, and have lived here for all but three years of my life. And Ontario federal Liberals tend to be further to the right than federal Liberals from Atlantic Canada. I didn't claim that it wasn't possible for the NDP to work with Ontario Liberals, I claimed that the policy positions of Atlantic Liberals and the NDP tend to be closer than Ontario Liberals and the NDP. I think you are also making a mistake conflating Ontario and Quebec Liberal MPs under the heading "central Canada". The political cultures are very different.

  20. TS is so right, good point I don't know why Volkov is disputing it.

    You look at all those federal Liberals who used to be in seats just outside of Toronto. Very blue Liberal territory.

    No surprise so many of them cross over to CPC/PC over the past six years.

    That element of the party would definetly fold right into Flaherty's CPC machine.

    BC, Quebec, and Atlantic Liberals = much more left wing.

  21. TS,

    Different but they tend to work in tandem, and can easily outweigh Atlantic Canadian Liberals.

    Anyways, I really find it hard to believe someone is saying that the general lot of federal Liberals in Ontario are "further right" than the ones out in Atlantic Canada. You may have had an argument years ago under the Chretien and Martin years when rural, conservative Liberal MPs were a dime a dozen. Since 2006 however, I'd argue that it's pretty much on par.

    You could claim Ontario Liberals are more business friendly, however, that doesn't necessarily conflate with "further right."

  22. Its a Jack Layton sympathy poll which is totally irrelevant as there isn't going o be an election until 2015 The NDP will never ever top what they have right now and you are looking at having a Tory government for at lead the next 8-9 years as the Liberals are damaged goods.

  23. To Anon 22:41. What total arrogance. Explain why the NDP "will never ever top what they have right now". Anyone can rant; justify your statement!

  24. Harper and the Cons will never ever top what they have right now.

  25. Volkov,

    If you look at the Liberals defeated in the 905 belt in the last election, they were generally blue Liberals, and on the relative right wing of the Liberal Party of Canada, and that really applied to most Ontario Liberal MPs from outside of the city of Toronto.

    I'm also curious as to how "business friendly" doesn't equate with further right. "Business friendly" politicians tend to have policy priorities focused on reducing regulation and reducing taxation, both of which are centre-right to right-wing policy objectives. Could you clarify how you see "business friendly" Liberals as not further right than some others?

  26. TS,

    You can understand and appreciate the free market and still give a damn about poor people and health care.

  27. Ryan if you understand and appreciate the free market that means you want to allow greater private health care options !

    Oh and it means you want to reduce the tax burden on the rich so they will have more money to give to private charities, which are MORE effective at helping the poor.

    (Highest tax jurisdictions = lowest private charity donations. Lowest tax = highest donations.)

    If you thinking paying a government worked $30 an hour with benefits and gold plated pension to help out the poor is a good idea as opposed to a ZERO COST volunteer you need to have your head examined !

  28. Anonymous said...
    To Anon 22:41. What total arrogance. Explain why the NDP "will never ever top what they have right now". Anyone can rant; justify your statement!

    05 SEPTEMBER, 2011 00:27

    In answer to your remark. Jack Layton WAS the NDP and once Quebecers see what the party is like without him the Bloc will take back what they lost.

  29. TS,

    What Ryan said. People seem to think that just because you're friendly to business, you are somehow this massive right-winger with no social priorities. The fact is, many Liberals are pro-business while at the same time wanting to push forward with progressive social legislation. You can be both. Being a progressive does not have to equate being some union-licking leftie.

    Anyways, who among these folks do you mean? Mark Holland? Ruby Dhalla? Bonnie Crombie? Glen Pearson? Real right-wingers they are.

    The fact is the majority of the centre-right Liberals from the Chretien era were wiped out in 2004 and 2006.

    And how can you claim that Ontario Liberals are more right-wing, then claim that it's because most of the Liberals outside of Toronto are right-wing, when there were more Liberals inside the City of Toronto than outside of it, and this applies to 2008 and 2011.

    Anyways, there's plenty of centre-right Atlantic Canadian Liberals, both now and in the past. You couldn't hold many of those ridings without being slightly blue. Think Scott Brison, or Geoff Regan, or Robert Thibault, Andy Savoy, Jean-Claude D'Amours, Wayne Easter, etc.

    These people work well with Ontario Liberals, but they're just more regionally inclined than we are. That's a fact, and a role they fulfill well. We're all just a mish-mash of ideologies, really.

  30. Thanks for the simplistic binary there, Ryan. Considering that the NDP's policies are social democratic rather than socialist, no matter what the party's constitution may declare, there is no major party in Canada with any plan to abolish the free market, so try again.

  31. @ Anonymous 17:56, TS

    It's not necessarily Red Liberals in Toronto and Blue Liberals outside of Toronto. The Liberals most social conservative MPs Jim Karygiannis and John McKay are from the 416. Other former Toronto Blue Liberals include Martha Hall Findlay, Michael Ignatieff and Joe Volpe.

    Some of the 905 Liberals are more left leaning like former MPs Mark Holland and Navdeep Bains.

    - Maple


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