Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conservatives back to minority territory

On Monday, Nanos Research released its latest federal poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV. Though the poll shows very little real change from their last set of numbers at the end of September and beginning of October, the Conservatives now seem to be in minority territory once again.
Nationally, the Conservatives are down 1.3 points to 37.7% and are trailed by the New Democrats, who are up one point to 30%.

The Liberals are down 1.1 points to 23.4%, while the Greens are up 0.9 points since the September 25-October 2 poll to 3.8%.

None of these shifts are statistically significant.

There has been little real change at the regional level. In Ontario, the Conservatives lead with 42.4%, while the Liberals stand at 30.5% and the NDP at 22.5%.

In Quebec, the New Democrats lead with 45.1%, with the Liberals at 18.2%, the Bloc Québécois at 15.2%, and the Conservatives down 5.1 points to 15.1%.

These two sets of numbers are actually quite good for the Liberals. Being over 30% in Ontario makes them competitive in a lot of ridings, while being at 18% in Quebec makes them the major opposition to the New Democrats, whose numbers in Ontario seem stuck.

In British Columbia, the Tories are down 7.7 points but they still lead with 38.4%, while the Liberals (26.2%) and New Democrats (26.1%) are virtually tied. That is great for the Liberals, but bad for the NDP.

In Alberta and the Prairies, the Conservatives lead with 55.9% to 26.5% for the NDP and 14.4% for the Liberals.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives are up 8.5 points to 39.6%. The New Democrats stand at 29.3% and the Liberals at 27.7%.

In our current 308-seat legislature, these numbers would result in a minority for the Conservatives with 145 seats, down 21 from their current standings in the House of Commons. The New Democrats would be unchanged at 102 seats, while the Liberals would be up 26 to 60 seats. The Greens would hold one seat.

The Conservatives would win 18 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 19 in the Prairies, 61 in Ontario, four in Quebec, 15 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north. In a 338-seat legislature, I estimate they would win three extra seats in British Columbia, six in Alberta, and nine in Ontario, giving them a total of 163. But, of course, with the new seats comes new boundaries, so it is impossible to forecast with any great confidence what would happen after re-distribution.

The New Democrats would win 10 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, six in the Prairies, 18 in Ontario, 60 in Quebec, six in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north. With the extra seats, I estimate them at 109 seats, with two each in BC and Ontario and three extra seats in Quebec.

And the Liberals would win seven seats in British Columbia, three in the Prairies, 27 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, 11 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north. I estimate them at 65 seats in the 338-legislature, with one more win in British Columbia and four more in Ontario.

So, the re-jigging of the House will make things more comfortable for the Conservatives. Instead of being 10 seats short of a majority, they would be six. At least in this poll, the Liberals are a real factor. The NDP would be unable to form a government without them and if the parties co-operated the Liberals would hold 37% of the seats in the 174-seat government in the 338-seat legislature. That's enough to give them real clout, and maybe nine or ten ministers in cabinet.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. Four years and a seat re-distribution will change things. But it is interesting that the Conservatives appear to have gotten their majority at exactly the right time.


  1. Eric,

    You've been talking about the Conservatives 'peaking' and 'getting their majority' at the right time for quite a while now. I agree that they definitely had an extremely favourable blink in time to hold an election, but I have a question for you. If the Conservative have 'peaked' at this particular moment, are they now destined to go downhill from here until they eventually lose power? Or are you saying that the numbers are still volatile and they could have another peak, possibly four years from now?

    Thanks for your input,

  2. I suspect getting their majority "at exactly the right time" was by design, Éric. The Conservatives have no reason, right now, to be interested in political considerations.

    They have years to repair any damage done to their popularity.

  3. Robert, I don't think there is any reason to think they can only go downhill. There will undoubtedly be many peaks and valleys over the course of the next four years.

    Ira, no doubt. But I think they would have happily taken 40% before the May 2011 election. In the minority parliament that existed before, they didn't have the luxury of "planning" to peak in May 2011. They only had a faint idea that they might actually get the election in May 2011, and they were ready to go on numerous other occasions before. Remember that throughout 2010 their high-watermark was only 35%.

    If the election had taken place last fall, would they have shot up from 33-34% to 40%? I'd say it is unlikely.

    If you look at my monthly averages chart, there definitely is a "peak" around May 2011. Obviously, the election campaign helped engineer that peak but I think that if we look at the trends before the election and in previous years, we can say that the May 2011 election fell in a bit of a sweet-spot for the Tories.

  4. elections are all about 'peak-management.'

    most Canadians aren't paying attention to politics at all between elections and it's that 1 month window that allows you to manage the public's perception of your party.

    The Conservatives would love to be consistently at 40-43%, but know that it's not reasonable to expect. They also didn't want too many polls showing 40% during the election because it could scare off soft support. Peak-management is an art that the Conservatives have gotten better at over the years. There's really very little chance involved in the result. They read trends and didn't mind the opposition toppling them, as they knew a solidly run campaign would net this result.

  5. One wonders also how much this and other polls are affected by both the war with the provinces and to a certain extent the war with the media ??

    The provinces up in arms over the costs of the crime bills for instance and the media in large part not impressed with the entire Govt. agenda.

  6. The problem with this poll presupposes that it is meaningful to compare the actual election result with this poll.

    But Nanos' last poll before the election showed:
    CPC: 37.1%
    NDP: 31.6%
    -- a smaller gap than is shown in this new poll.

    If we compare Nanos-poll-to-Nanos poll, the Tories are doing better now than just before the election.

  7. So this poll would have the Bloc win not a single seat?

  8. Hey Eric, are you gonna take a look at the new BC poll by Angus Reid?

  9. My point there was that since the election the Conservatives have no real incentive to go hat-in-hand looking for votes.


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