Wednesday, October 19, 2011

September federal polling averages

With the provincial elections having taken up so much time, I'm a little late with the federal polling averages from September. But here they are.

Three national polls were released during the month of September, with another being released for Ontario only and another for Quebec only. In all, 7,337 people were surveyed in the September polls.
The Conservatives averaged 39.1% nationally last month, with the New Democrats second at 31.5% and the Liberals third with 19.5%.

The Greens averaged 4.6% while the Bloc Québécois averaged 4.4%.

This is a 3.2 point gain for the Conservatives since August. The New Democrats have picked up 0.5 points while the Liberals are down 2.1 points. The Greens are also down 1.1 points.

This is a very similar result to the May 2 election, but there are some variations at the regional level.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are up 3.9 points and led in September with 39%. The New Democrats dropped 2.9 points and trailed with 33.8%, while the Liberals stood at 18.9% and the Greens at 7.3%. The race in B.C. remains relatively close between the Tories and the NDP.

The Conservatives held a solid lead in Alberta with 63.8% and the Prairies with 56.5%. In both cases the New Democrats were running second, at 17.6% and 26.5%, respectively.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are up 1.4 points and led with 39.3%. The New Democrats are up only 0.3 points, and stood at 28.4% in September. The Liberals slipped 2.5 points to 25.6%.

The New Democrats gained 5.5 points in Quebec and led with 44.7%, above their election tally. The Conservatives are now second, though they dropped one point to 19.6%. The Bloc is running third after a 3.4 point drop to 17.8%, while the Liberals are down 0.4 points to 13.8% in Quebec.

Finally, in Atlantic Canada the Conservatives are up 4.1 points and the NDP 3.7 points. The Tories led with 37.7% and the NDP trailed with 35.5%, while the Liberals were far in the rear with 24.5% support.

If an election had been held in September, the Conservatives would have won a slim majority government with 157 seats. That is a gain of 18 since the August projection. The New Democrats would have won 110 seats, a gain of one since August, while the Liberals would have dropped 17 seats and taken 39.

The Conservatives would have won 18 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 23 in the Prairies, 61 in Ontario, nine in Quebec, 18 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The New Democrats would have won 12 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in the Prairies, 25 in Ontario, 61 in Quebec, eight in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The Liberals would have won five seats in British Columbia, three in the Prairies, 20 in Ontario, four in Quebec, six in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The Greens would have won one seat in British Columbia and the Bloc Québécois would have won one seat in Quebec.

Before the 2015 election, however, the electoral map will be re-drawn. Since we do not know the boundaries yet, I cannot project for those extra seats. But assuming that the next House of Commons will have 334 seats, based on reports that have come out this week, and that Ontario will have 13 more seats, Alberta six, British Columbia five, and Quebec two, and assuming that those seats are won in a similar proportion to how the seats went provincially as a whole, the Conservatives would win 174 seats, the New Democrats 117, and the Liberals 41 in this 334-seat House of Commons, based on September support levels.

And before you ask, ThreeHundredEight will not be changing its name to ThreeFortyFour. By the time the seat changes are actually official, ThreeHundredEight will have existed for four or five years. Having it named after the number of seats in the House of Commons when it was launched is good enough for me.
Aside from a blip in August, you can see that the parties have been generally stable since the May election at the national level. The same goes for Alberta, the Prairies, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. But in Ontario and British Columbia, things have not been so steady.

In British Columbia the Tories have dropped quite a bit, much of that support seemingly having gone to the Liberals. This has put the NDP and Conservatives in a close race for the last two months. And in Ontario, the Conservatives have dropped from around 44% to between 38% and 39%. While neither the Liberals nor the NDP have really taken advantage, being below 40% in Ontario is problematic for the Conservatives. They can still win a majority government with that level of support, but it becomes one that is won on a knife's edge.

Unless the New Democrats take a tumble in Quebec, the next election will likely be focused on what happens in British Columbia and Ontario. But until the New Democrats are in a position to win 35 or more seats in Ontario, I cannot see how they can form the next government. Holding Quebec and conquering Ontario will be the challenge for the party's next leader.


  1. Ontario is always going to be a problem for the NDP unless they throw a very large kitchen sink at the remaining Liberal organization in the provice - and I mean VERY large. The provincial organization by itself is impressive, but even the federal organization has enough shine on it. And given the tying together of links between the OLP and LPC (or at least the attempt at it), it'll be interesting to see what happens. I think its going to be a continued roadblock for the Dippers, and a continued lifeline for the Liberals. And guess who benefits, right?

    The only ways it'll change is through merger, or if there's an absolute collapse of the Conservative vote.

  2. The NDP doesn't need to have the most seats to form the next government. All that's necessary is (a) the Conservatives don't get a majority and (b) the Liberals are willing to prop up the NDP or join a coalition with them. With the Bloc out of the picture, the dynamics are much more conducive to a coalition between the center-left NDP and the "neutral" Liberals.

  3. The real test is after the opposition parties choose their new leaders. The New Democrats don't seem to be coming up with replacements that would earn them any more support than they had with Layton (or maintain current levels). The Bloc will not likely make a return until the sovereignty movement rises. But the wild card would be who the Liberals choose as a leader as they might be able to recover enough support in Ontario to deny the Tories a majority in 2015.

    Time will tell the future for the opposition parties of Canada.


  4. I agree with AW. The NDP and Liberal leadership races will tell us a lot.

    If the Liberals have a stronger leader than the NDP, they can hold strong in Ontario and the Atlantic and win some seats elsewhere to ensure they are the major party in any progressive coalition or accord.

    Right now Dominic LeBlanc seems like the front runner to become the next Liberal leader, unless there is a strong challenger from outside the federal caucus. Maybe a former federal MP or provincial politician may pose a challenge.

    On the other hand, I do not know what the NDP establishment is doing. Why did Broadbent and Romanow endorse Topp before other candidates jumped into the race? When reporters asked Topp if he is the establishment candidate, he tries to slickly avoid the question. Why was Topp's leadership ambition known just days after Layton's death? Did the NDP not learn from the mistakes of the Liberals?

    Other than Mulcair, all other candidates are almost invisible. Dewar, Cullen and Saganash are quality candidates, but get little support from the media or the NDP.

    - Maple

  5. I don't think that the NDP needs to increase their seats for next election. This is like spreading too thin too early. I think consolidating their support for now would be the most reasonable way to form a government one day. As long as the conservatives don't form a majority, I will be content. This is very possible if the NDP win few more seats in BC and the liberals regain few seats in the GTA

  6. Something I find quite interesting is how elections tend to create a "new normal". Us longer-term followers will remember the miniscule changes in polling averages over the course of 2009-2011. Then in the last two weeks of the election campaign, everything changed -- the Liberals, Bloc and Greens plummeted while the Tories and NDP made sizeable gains. And now, we're back to the pre-election pattern of the parties fluctuating within the margin of error for the past 6 months.

  7. Sometimes campaigns don't change those normals, however. The 2008 election result wasn't much different from the two years that came before it. Aside from a few blips here and there, the polls were generally solid from January 2006 to March 2011.

  8. I agree that leadership for NDP and Liberals will have a very significant effect on the next election (and possibly the longer term prospects for both parties). Someone mentioned Broadbent and Romanow backing Brian Topp. Since we have heard both of these influential former leaders were involved in informal merger discussions with the Liberals, is it possible that Brian Topp is actually the "secret silent merger candidate - but nothing official"? It wouldn't surprise me.

    That said, I'm sure that neither Broadbent or Romanow are necessarily totally sold on the idea. They may be less enthusiastic now that the NDP has its Quebec breakthrough.

  9. If Adrian Dix and the BC NDP win the next BC election in 2013, then the federal election after that (2015) might see BC voters move their vote from the 12 current NDP MP's to another party to create a check on Premier Dix. This would be a setback for the Federal NDP, and they would have to keep their Quebec seats, increase their Ontario, Maritimes and Prairie seats to compensate. This is easier said than done. Perhaps Christy Clark should win the next BC election?

  10. It will be up to the NDP and the Liberals to provide a credible alternative. In the absence of a coherent plan or approach by them, I would say any federal poll is really an exercise in creating news out of a never possible what if.

    We have not seen a majority conservative government in a long time. Although their supporters are somewhat fierce in their defence of their team, the amount of gaffes and scandals will begin to take a toll. Remember, there was a time when Chretien was considered teflon man.

    The other factor nobody is discussing is Harper fatigue. He has made himself the focal point of his party and the government, in a way not seen since Mulroney and Trudeau, and many of us remember how those two times ended.

    In 2015, we will have had 9 years of him as PM. Even Tory supporters have to admit, he's not exactly loved and admired by Canadians; respected is the proper term. Respect can go a long way, and he could certainly do a McGuinty and get another term. But, given the volatility of voters, there is potential for people to say enough is enough.


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