Thursday, March 31, 2011

Liberals and NDP trade support in new Nanos poll

Polling for the campaign is still a little slow off the mark, but Nanos Research has been wasting no time. Today we've been treated to the second report from their daily tracking, and it shows a shift in support that is verging on the statistically significant.

This tracking poll was in the field as recently as yesterday, a day that had the Liberals talking about giving Canadians the opportunity to top up their CPP contributions, the NDP about raising corporate tax rates, and the Conservatives... Why can't I ever remember what the Conservatives proposed?

You might think I'm trying to be funny, but I'm not. This is the second day in the row I've wracked my brain to come up with the previous day's Conservative campaign pledge, only to come up with nothing. And I watch CPAC, Newsnet, CBCNN, RDI, and read the news online throughout the day. Why isn't it sticking with me?

The Liberals have started the campaign strongly, coming out with big proposals that capture attention. The NDP, too, are very specific about what they want to do and have managed to hit a populist chord. But the Tories haven't been as clear. Often they are repeating the relatively uninspiring things that were in the budget, and until more recently Stephen Harper's campaign speeches were focusing more on the "coalition" than on what his party is proposing to Canadians.

Yesterday, the debate over the debate, an NDP candidate dropping out, and problems with Tory volunteers grabbed more headlines than anything Harper had to say. This is a problem.

A quick search tells me that the Conservatives promised to conclude free trade deals with the European Union by 2012 and India by 2013.

Could this be one of the reasons the Liberals are improving in the polls? Yesterday's numbers for the Liberals must have been very high to see such a huge change in support, or their numbers on Monday were very low.
But it isn't the Conservatives who are suffering. In fact, in this poll of 1,200 Canadians (21.7% of whom were undecided) conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail, the Tories have gained 0.7 points nationally.

The NDP is the party on the decline, at least in this poll. They've dropped 3.7 points to 15.9%, a significant number as with their levels of support the margin of error for the change in their results in these two polls is about 3.4%.

The Liberals have gained four points and now stand at 32.7% (their highest result in my model). However, the margin of error for the Liberal results in these two polls is about +/- 4.4%, so this gain is just inside the MOE.

Generally speaking, Conservative numbers are solid and consistent. But what is going on below them is far more noteworthy.

Regionally, the Liberals are doing very well in the West. They are up 4.1 points in BC and now trail the Conservatives by 32.3% to 42%. In Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Liberals are at 33.7%, a gain of 9.6 points since yesterday, only a few points behind the Conservatives (47.5%). Is this really happening? We need some more polling data to figure that out.

What is startling in this poll is the Conservative performance in Ontario: 47.5%. That is a gigantic number for the Tories. Here, the Liberals remained steady but the NDP dropped, while in Quebec the Liberals are up three points to 25.8%, a very high result for them. The NDP dropped 4.3 points to 13.5%.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are soaring at 47.9%, up 8.5 points. These are big swings that could, admittedly, be due to the sampling margins of error, but we are also in a campaign and things can change quickly.

I did not do a full seat projection for this one poll, as I can't use the Prairie numbers. But the Conservatives would win as many as 61 seats in Ontario with this poll, compared to 30 for the Liberals and 15 for the NDP. In Quebec and Atlantic Canada, however, the Liberals would make up for their Ontario weakness: 17 seats in Quebec and 22 in Atlantic Canada. The end result would probably find the parties generally where they were when the government fell, with fewer seats for the Bloc Québécois.

In addition to this national poll, I included the riding level polls from Segma Recherche into the model. The poll was conducted just before the campaign began. It had the Bloc ahead in Beauport - Limoilou, Louis-Hébert, Charlesbourg - Haute-Saint-Charles, and Québec. In all but Louis-Hébert the lead was 13 points over the Tories. The Conservatives lead in Louis-Saint-Laurent by nine points. Check out the PDF for more details.

Note: Nanos Research asked respondents "For those parties you would consider voting federally, could you please rank your top two current local preferences?"

Liberals see an uptick in vote, Bloc gains a seat

Nanos Research's daily tracking has already come up with its first little shift, putting the Liberals within seven points of the Conservatives. And when we add the riding polls recently released by Segma Recherche, the result is a better situation for both Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe.
Nationally, the Conservatives are unchanged at 38.6%, where they have been for a few days. However, they are down one seat and are now projected to win 150. The Liberals, meanwhile, are up again and now stand at 27.3%, up 0.4 points from yesterday. They are still projected to win 73 seats.

The New Democrats are down 0.3 points to 16.6%, but are unchanged at 33 seats. The Bloc Québécois is also stable at 9.6%, but has gained one seat and is now projected to win 52. The Greens are down 0.1 points to 6.6%.

I will be reserving most of my longer-view reflections on changes in the projection to my articles in Le Devoir and The Globe and Mail each weekend, which will be comparing week-to-week changes. But during the campaign, I will also take the time to look at campaign-wide trends once we are a few more weeks into the race.
Regionally, the Conservatives have moved very little. They are up a smidgen in British Columbia and Quebec, but also made a decent 0.3 point gain in Ontario. They now stand at 42.2% in that province.

The Liberals made small gains in Quebec and British Columbia, but also jumped 0.7 points in Atlantic Canada at the expense of the NDP. They are now only 1.2 points behind the Tories in the region.

The New Democrats dipped in Quebec and Ontario by 0.3 points, which is very problematic for them. They can't afford to drop that much when they are below 17% in those provinces.

The one seat change took place in Quebec. The Conservatives are now projected to lose Beauport - Limoilou, represented by Sylvie Boucher. Michel Létourneau, the Bloc candidate in this Quebec City riding, is now projected to be ahead.

A full report on the Nanos and Segma polls will be up later today.

Note that yesterday's Nanos poll is highlighted in blue in the charts at the bottom of this page, and has been given a weight of zero in the projection. That is because today's tracking poll incorporates two of the three days that yesterday's poll included. Once the Nanos tracking poll is reporting on three completely different days than their first poll, the older poll will be given its appropriate weight and returned to the model.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little change in new Nanos poll

Nanos Research is the first to report on the results of their daily tracking, and so far there has not been much change since the last time the polling firm was in the field.

Nanos will be reporting on a daily basis, with a rolling poll of 400 Canadians per night. This first telephone poll, taken between March 27 and March 29, thus includes 1,200 respondents. In addition to this Nanos poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail, I'm including the (unreported by myself) two-week regional results of the latest Harris-Decima poll conducted for the Canadian Press.

The campaign was slightly more interesting yesterday, with the Liberals unveiling their plan to fund post-secondary education to the tune of $1,000 to $1,500 per year. The NDP talked about capping credit card interest rates at 5% + prime, while the Bloc attacked some of the statements made by Conservative candidate Larry Smith about the protection of the French language.

It is too early, of course, for yesterday's promises to register in any polls. But tomorrow we should begin to find out whether the leaders' pledges and performances are beginning to bear any fruit. In the meantime, we have this Nanos poll tracking the first three days of the campaign.
Nationally, there has been very little change in the numbers and certainly none that are statistically significant. What we do have is a 0.5 point loss for the Tories and a 1.1 point gain for the Liberals. The gap is now 9.7 points, whereas it was 11.3 points when Nanos was last in the field in mid-March.

There has not been much statistically significant movement at the regional level either. In Ontario, the Conservatives are down only 0.2 points to 43%, while the Liberals are up two points to 32.9%. The New Democrats are down 2.4 points to 20.6%, a more realistic number for them anyway.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down 2.5 points to 36.8%, followed by the Liberals at 22.8% (-1.9). That is a higher number for the Liberals than we've seen in other recent polls. What is consistent, however, is that the NDP is up in the province: 3.9 points to 17.8%.

Elsewhere, we see an 8.2 point drop for the NDP in British Columbia, with gains of about four points for both the Tories and Liberals. In Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives are down 6.6 points to 35.4%, while the Liberals and NDP are both up 5.5 points to 41.4% and 23.2%, respectively.

Nanos combines the Prairie and Alberta results, and their total for the region was 53.5% for the Conservatives (-2), 24.1% for the Liberals (-0.9), 17.4% for the NDP (+0.5), and 5% for the Greens. The MOE for these three provinces was +/- 7.1%.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight.com projects 145 seats for the Conservatives, 83 for the Liberals, 45 for the Bloc Québécois, and 35 for the New Democrats. Surprisingly good results for the Liberals in Quebec and Atlantic Canada save them.

We are still far away, however, from the Liberals being at over 80 seats in ThreeHundredEight's campaign projection. But if they start getting some slightly more favourable polls this week, things could move in their direction. So far, though, it appears that the Conservatives are stuck.

You will note to the right that I have changed the federal opinion polling trends chart. I am now tracking the day-to-day campaign numbers. You can click on the chart to see a larger version, and to look at the regional tracking. I've also included the older trends chart that records polls taken before the campaign started.

The first three points on the chart are the monthly averages for January, February, and pre-campaign March. For each day of the campaign, the chart tracks the average result of all polls in the field on that particular day. I did something like this during the New Brunswick campaign, and it tends to give a more steady reflection of where the polls are going. It will change as the campaign progresses, and that includes retroactively to incorporate new polls that were in the field for several days. This chart will be updated every day shortly after my daily poll summaries.

Note: Nanos Research asked respondents "For those parties you would consider voting federally, could you please rank your top two current local preferences?" The wording of the Harris-Decima question was not included in their release.

Positive signs for the Liberals in new projection

Baby steps, but the Liberals have their first set of good news this morning. The party has made small but encouraging gains in most parts of the country.

The newest Nanos/CTV/Globe poll, while not spectacular for the Liberals, does put them in a better position than some of the other polls we have seen lately. This new poll has been added to the projection, as have the older regional results from the Harris-Decima poll released earlier this week. In anticipation of my full poll summary later today, I invite you to look at the findings of the polls at the links provided above.
The Conservatives remain firmly in control. They are unchanged from yesterday's projection of 38.6% support and 151 seats. The Liberals have picked up one seat from the New Democrats in the projection, as well as 0.2 points. They now stand at 26.9% and 73 seats.

The NDP, with a gain of 0.2 points, are almost at the 17% mark. They now stand at 16.9% in what has been a few days of gains, but are down one seat to 33.

The Bloc Québécois is down 0.2 points nationally to 9.6% and steady at 51 seats, while the Greens are down 0.3 points to 6.7%.
When we look at the projection breakdown regionally, we can see that today's projection is a much better one for the Liberals. They are up 0.4 points in British Columbia and Alberta, and have closed the gap by 1.3 points in Atlantic Canada. The gain in Quebec is also very important.

For the Conservatives, they did not have much change. They were down a little out west but did make a gain in Ontario. At 41.9%, they are certainly in a strong position in the most important of electoral battlegrounds.

For the New Democrats, they had the tiniest of growth but growth nevertheless in five of the six regions. Most promising is the gain in Ontario, where they stand at 16.7%. They also continue to grow relentlessly in Quebec, and are now at 14.8%.

The only seat to change hands in the projection is that of Vancouver - Kingsway. The Vancouver riding is an NDP seat represented by Don Davies. The seat is one of those that has gone back and forth in the projection, and now Liberal candidate Wendy Yuan is projected to have the lead once again.

On a personal note, my apologies for the lateness of today's update. When I went to bed last night there were no new polls on the horizon, so it did not seem necessary to wake up as early as I have been doing so far in the campaign. But now that we can be sure of a daily Nanos poll (as they are starting their daily tracking), I'll be up at the crack of dawn to try to get these projection updates up before 8am.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BC Liberals widen lead over BC NDP

After trailing the BC New Democrats for some time during and before their leadership race, the BC Liberals are now in front in provincial voting intentions in British Columbia, and more definitively than they were in February.

Note, if you didn't read this morning's new federal projection or the daily poll summary, please scroll down or read them by clicking here and here.

Yes, we're in the midst of a federal campaign, but provincial politics are still important. British Columbia's are especially important, as the province could be in its own election once the New Democrats choose their new leader. But in the meantime...

The BC Liberals under Christy Clark are now leading in British Columbia with 43%, trailed by the BC NDP at 38% in the latest Angus-Reid poll. It is still a very close race.

This is a two point gain for the BC Liberals since February. The BC NDP is holding steady. While this five point lead is just inside what would be considered statistically significant, we can confidently say that Ms. Clark is in front.

Below the two main parties, the Greens stand at 10% while the BC Conservatives are at 5%.

The BC Liberals lead among their traditional base: men, those aged 35 or older, and those who earn $50,000 or more. The BC New Democrats lead among women, those aged 34 or young, and those who earn less than $50,000.

But regionally the race is very close. In Metro Vancouver, the BC Liberals hold a six point lead, 44% to 38%. On Vancouver Island, they are up 43% to 38%, while in the Interior the BC New Democrats are ahead 43% to 37%. The only part of the province with a safe lead for one of the parties is in the North, where the BC Liberals are ahead of the BC NDP 55% to 24%.

With this poll, ThreeHundredEight.com projects 50 seats for the BC Liberals and 34 for the BC New Democrats, with one seat remaining held by an independent.

A few months ago, I would have followed the above with a "but we're years away from an election". Now that the BC Liberals have chosen their leader and the BC New Democrats will choose theirs in April, we could see a new election campaign before the year is out. Now that the BC Liberals have edged ahead, there is all the more reason for Ms. Clark to pull the plug and win a mandate for herself.

But who will she have to run against? Among all British Columbians, 43% said that Mike Farnworth would be a good choice as leader of the BC New Democrats. Another 27% said the same for Adrian Dix while 15% thought John Horgan was a good choice.

Among those who voted for the BC New Democrats in 2009, the race between Farnworth and Dix is much closer. Farnworth clocks in at 54% saying he would be a good choice, compared to 41% who said Dix would be a good choice. Horgan falls away at 23%, indicating that it will be Farnworth or Dix vs. Clark.

In the context of the federal election, the buoyed fortunes of the BC Liberals are more helpful to the Conservatives. The two parties tend to share supporters. And if the Conservatives win the next federal election, you can expect supporters and volunteers of the BC Liberals to be fired up against their dispirited opponents in the BC New Democratic Party, whose supporters tend to vote either Liberal or NDP at the federal level.

But opposition to the HST is still widely felt in the province, as 54% said they would vote to abolish it. As the New Democrats are pushing the HST issue hard at the federal level, whether this will gain any traction among voters on the west coast could decide a few of the closest races in the province.

Liberals dropping, Conservatives gaining in Quebec in new polls

The polls that came out yesterday were not nearly as disatrous for the Liberals as those that had come out over the weekend and in the week prior. Nevertheless, in polls conducted by Harris-Decima, Abacus Data, and Forum Research, the Conservatives are holding a distinct, and in some cases definitive, advantage.
These polls were all conducted in part or wholly after the government fell on Friday, so these are truly the campaign's first opinion polls. Harris-Decima, Abacus Data, and Forum Research are the first in the field, or at least the first to report.

A few notes on these polls before we delve into what they say. Harris-Decima normally polls over two weeks, and so in this poll they reported both their two-week results and their results over the last week, but only nationally, in Ontario, and in Quebec. Only their two-week results in the West and Atlantic Canada were reported. So, in this post it is the last week of polling I am paying attention to. The two-week results for Canada, Ontario, and Quebec will not be added to the projection - only the one week results. And the two-week results for the other regions will be added to the projection, and reported on, tomorrow.

Abacus Data, of course, is an online pollster while Forum Research, a newcomer to federal polling, uses an IVR system similar to the one EKOS Research uses. They've been kind enough to provide me with their regional breakdowns and allow me to report on the results. Note, however, that they combine Alberta and the Prairies, so I won't be able to use those results in my projection.

Generally speaking, the New Democrats are doing very well in these polls. In the past, we have always seen them lower than 18% but it seems that since the campaign has started they are much closer to the 20% mark.

Harris-Decima and Abacus Data are also reporting a closer race in Ontario than some of the other recent polls, though Forum Research sees the Tories with a significant lead.

Another new trend is in Quebec, where the Conservatives are doing much better than their federalist counterparts. The Tories were running second in the polls reported on yesterday, and are second in most of these polls as well. The Liberals are at or below 18% in all of them. Worrying news for Michael Ignatieff if that is truly the case.

Now, the Harris-Decima poll does show some relatively significant movement: a drop of four points by the Liberals and a gain of four by the Conservatives. But this isn't stark enough to truly be statistically significant, and in fact what Harris-Decima is reporting is that the Conservatives and Liberals have returned to the levels of support the polling firm recorded in and prior to early February.

As for Abacus, no national variations have been larger than two points (-2 for the Tories, +2 for the Liberals and NDP), meaning there isn't much change going on. What is interesting is that Abacus broke the vote down by several different factors, including immigrants. Among immigrants, the Liberals lead with 38% to the Tories' 32%. If I can paraphrase that infamous report on Conservative strategy mistakenly handed to the NDP correctly, the Tories seem to still be losing, but are not losing as badly as they used to.

Broken down by likely voters, the Liberal total actually improves to 29%. But the Conservatives stand at 37% and the NDP at 20% among likely voters.

Forum Research's regional results did not differ much from the other pollsters, though the NDP at 22% in Quebec is unusual. The polling firm also reported on GTA numbers, and found that the Conservatives are leading with 40%, compared to 32% for the Liberals and 22% for the NDP.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Tories are well ahead with 63%. The Liberals (15%) and NDP (14%) are far behind.

Forum Research included the "Best PM" question, and found that Stephen Harper is tops with 38%. Jack Layton followed with 18% while Michael Ignatieff stood at 14%. That is, generally speaking, what other firms have found to be the case.

On a few issues, Forum Research asked whether respondents approved or disapproved. Only 37% of Canadians approved of reducing federal taxes for corporations, while 40% approved of spending $9 billion (?) on F-35 fighter jets. This generally aligns with Conservative levels of support.

Perhaps most interestingly, Forum asked whether the economy and job creation was more important than ethics in government. Only 38% disagreed.

NDP on the rise in new projection

The campaign continues, and yesterday we were treated to three new polls. Two of them, those by Abacus Data and Forum Research, were added in full to the projection model. Harris-Decima, however, has not yet put the full details of their poll on their site, so for the time being I am using the media reports on Harris-Decima's findings at the national level, in Ontario, and in Quebec. I will likely add the other regional data for tomorrow's projection. Note, too, that all of these polls were conducted in part or completely following the dissolution of the House.

Yesterday seemed to be a relatively quiet day on the campaign trail, the Conservatives making a promise that will not be implemented until 2015-2016. While their plan to allow families with children to do income splitting is apparently significant in terms of cost, it really isn't significant until it is implemented. As the promise depends on the paying off of the deficit, it is really more of a pledge than a promise. Unless the Conservatives win a majority, in all likelihood they are not going to get the opportunity to go through with their plan before the next election.

Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff was in Toronto to talk about Conservative "waste", while Jack Layton was in Saskatchewan. Considering that his party has now dropped to less than 20% in my projection in the Prairie provinces, it is a region of the country that needs a Layton boost.
This morning's projection shows that the Conservatives are continuing to widen the gap between themselves and the Liberals. It is now 0.5 points wider, and stands at 11.9 points. This is because the Conservatives have gained 0.2 points and now lead with 38.6%, while the Liberals are down 0.3 points to 26.7%. I can't remember the last time I had the Liberals at less than 27% in the projection.

The New Democrats, meanwhile, have another day of gains. They are now at 16.7%, well ahead of the Bloc Québécois at 9.8% (unchanged) and the Greens at 7% (down 0.2).
This all adds up to a seat gain for the New Democrats (now at 34) and a seat loss for the Conservatives (now at 151). But both go through the Liberals (still at 72).

In British Columbia, where there has been little change in the vote projection, the New Democrats have taken Vancouver - Kingsway back from the Liberals. This is an NDP seat, and Don Davies is now back in front.

In New Brunswick, the Conservatives have lost Moncton - Riverview - Dieppe back to Liberal MP Brian Murphy. This should come as no surprise, as the Conservatives have dropped 0.8 points in Atlantic Canada. That's the biggest drop by any party in any region today, but it was the NDP who benefitted with a gain of 0.7 points in the region.

In the all important Ontario battleground, both the Conservatives and Liberals have lost a little at the expense of the NDP, while in Quebec the Conservatives have taken second place from the Liberals, who have lost 0.5 points. The NDP is now at 14.7% in the province, one of the highest, if not THE highest, levels of support I have ever had the party at in Quebec.

Full summaries of the Abacus and Forum polls will follow later this morning. In the meantime, the details of the new polls added to the projection can be found at the very bottom of this page (new polls highlighted in yellow).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Conservatives trail in Quebec City region

On Saturday, Le Soleil reported on a new Segma poll, conducted from March 21 to March 24 (the day before the budget to the day before the government fell). Unfortunately the details on riding results were scant, but what the poll does show is that the Conservatives have given up the lead in the Quebec City region to the Bloc Québécois.
Though showing little change from Segma's last poll conducted in January, this poll puts the Bloc at 37% in the region, up four points from their 2008 level of support (according to the accompanying article). The Conservatives, meanwhile, have dropped six points and now trail with 30%.

The Liberals and New Democrats follow with 14% and 9% support, respectively. They aren't in the race.

Revealingly, Segma asked respondents which leader they felt could best move forward issues pertaining to Quebec City. It was Gilles Duceppe who came out on top with 39%, followed by Stephen Harper with 24%. Jack Layton was at 10%, while Michael Ignatieff was only at 8%.

But it is remarkable that residents of Quebec City seem to be turning away from Harper after five years. Though 45% of respondents said that the Conservatives had delivered for the region, it appears that not one in four believe that Harper is willing to continue favouring the city in the future. It does not bode well for the fortunes of the Conservative MPs in the region, and in Quebec as a whole.

And this poll reflects that, as it only puts Josée Verner in Louis-Saint-Laurent ahead of the Bloc, with 38% to 29%. Both Sylvie Boucher in Beauport - Limoilou and Daniel Petit in Charlesbourg - Haute-Saint-Charles trail their Bloc opponents in this poll, though caution is needed. While the MOE is 6.7% in Louis-Saint-Laurent, it is almost 10% in the other two ridings.

Nevertheless, this is a very troubling poll for the Conservatives. Recent results from CROP have also shown that the Tories are trailing in their one area of strength in Quebec. Though Tory growth in other parts of the country could compensate for the loss of a few seats in and around Quebec City, it really isn't anything the Conservatives can afford at this point.

If you missed them earlier, you can scroll down to read today's poll summary and projection update details, or read them here and here.

Little relative change in weekend's polls

During these first few days of the campaign, we were treated to a flurry of polls. Most of them were conducted before the fall of the government on Friday, but did include some or all of the post-budget period. So they act as a good starting point for the campaign that has now begun.
These polls by Probe Research, EKOS, Léger Marketing, CROP, and Angus-Reid are all relatively consistent with one another, as well as the polls previously conducted by these firms.

Please note that Probe and EKOS are telephone surveys, while Léger, CROP, and Angus-Reid use online panels. As the campaign goes on and more polls become available, I will track the difference between these methodologies.

For the three national polls, all of the changes from their previous polls conducted earlier in March are within the sampling margins of error, so we can't really say if there has been a national trend. The situation in Ontario is similar.

What we can take from the national results is that it is obvious the Conservatives are in the high-30s, while the Liberals are somewhere around the mid-20s. And aside from the EKOS poll, the New Democrats seem to have jumped quite a bit.

Delving deeper into the regional results, we can see that the Conservatives appear to be on the rise in Quebec. Angus-Reid does have them down four points, but EKOS, CROP, and Léger Marketing all have the party up, and in three of the four polls the Conservatives are running second in the province.

Another consistent trend in this set of polls is that the Conservatives are down in British Columbia in all of them, while they are up in Atlantic Canada. This could be a coincidence, but it will be something to watch for. A Tory drop in British Columbia would put more than a few seats in play.

But generally speaking, most of the national and regional results in this weekend's set of polls were remarkably consistent. Most striking is the result in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the region that usually has the lowest sample sizes.

Note that there is a report on a Forum Research poll out there, but I won't be including polls where the only information available can be found in incomplete media reports. An email has been sent to the firm, and if I receive the full details of the poll I will include it in my model.

Let's look into these polls individually. The Probe poll is limited to Manitoba, but voting intentions in the Prairies are generally consistent. While the poll has been added to the Prairie projection, it is given a weighting of 54% to represent that it is a Manitoba poll only.

The poll shows very little change from their last poll in December, with the Tories up three points. What is more interesting is the change since the 2008 election. The Conservatives are stable, but the Liberals have captured seven points, most of them (six) coming from the NDP. In Winnipeg alone, the Liberals are up nine points over their 2008 performance. They're running a close second to the Conservatives at 32% to the Tories' 41%.

Within Winnipeg, the Liberals are leading in the southwest, which includes part of Winnipeg South Centre, one of their ridings. The NDP is ahead in the core area, which includes parts of Winnipeg Centre and Winnipeg North. The Tories lead in the rest of the city.

For the EKOS poll, it is worth noting that the Liberals are leading in Toronto with 40.2%, while the Conservatives trail at 35%. The situation is reversed in Ottawa, where the Tories lead with 49% to 33.7% for the Liberals.

The result that stands out in this poll has to be Alberta, where the Liberals stand at 31.9%. EKOS must have thought the same thing, as they polled more people in the province than they normally would, likely trying to correct the result. The projection model awards five seats to the Liberals if the race was actually as close as this, but I imagine it is due to the sampling error. And nationally speaking, the Liberal gain in Alberta from EKOS's last poll is only worth 1.5 points.

EKOS assigned "ceilings" to the parties by combining their first and second choice results. The Conservatives end up with 45%, the Liberals 43%, the NDP 35%, the Greens 22%, and the Bloc 13%, good enough for roughly 50% in Quebec.

Léger Marketing had relatively consistent results in their poll as compared to their last one in early March, but also looked into whether support was "definitive". 89% of Conservative supporters said that it was, while 85% of the Bloc vote is definitive. That number drops to 79% for the Liberals, 74% for the NDP, and 70% for the Greens.

Léger also asked respondents to assign blame for the election. The result was split, with 39% blaming the government and 45% blaming the opposition.

In Quebec, Duceppe is the leader that respondents placed the most confidence in, at 32%. Layton followed with 26%, while Harper (15%) and Ignatieff (6%) were well behind. When it comes to who would make the best Prime Minister, Stephen Harper topped out at 38%, followed by Jack Layton at 21% and Michael Ignatieff at 13%. Angus-Reid asked the same question, and got 32% for Harper, 17% for Layton, and 11% for Ignatieff.

In the CROP poll, the most interesting result comes in the Quebec City region. CROP has the Bloc leading with 36%, up two points from their mid-February poll. The Conservatives are down four to 33%, while the NDP is up four to 22%. It does put a few more Conservative seats in the capital on the bubble.

Angus-Reid's national numbers have been remarkably stable since January. When the polling firm asked its respondents who was best suited to handle various issues, Stephen Harper led on the issues of crime (37%) and the economy (39%).

Jack Layton led on health care (28%) and ethics/accountability (21%), while Elizabeth May led on the environment (33%).

Significantly, Michael Ignatieff didn't lead in any of the categories. He scored best on the economy, though, at 17%.

Conservatives widen gap in new projection

The latest projection puts the four federal parties at the same level of seats nationally as they were Friday, but regionally seats have swapped hands throughout the country. In the end, the Conservatives are now in a better position than they were on Friday morning.
The Conservatives have gained 0.2 points nationally and now lead with 38.4%. The Liberals, meanwhile, have dropped 0.4 points to 27%, widening the gap between the two parties to 11.4 points. That is exactly where the gap stood on election night in October 2008.

The New Democrats have gained 0.3 points and now stand at 16.4%, while the Bloc Québécois is down 0.1 points to 9.8% and the Greens are up 0.1 points to 7.2%.

The parties are unchanged at 152 seats for the Conservatives, 72 for the Liberals, 51 for the Bloc Québécois, and 33 for the New Democrats.
Aside from holding steady in Alberta and dropping a tiny bit in British Columbia, the Conservatives have made gains in every party of the country. Most significant is the gain in Atlantic Canada: 1.5 points to 38.9%. But the 0.4 and 0.5 point gains in Ontario and Quebec probably mean more, with the Tories now within 0.2 points of the Liberals in Quebec.

The Liberals lost 0.6 points each in the two westernmost provinces, and were down more than a point in Quebec. The New Democrats, on the other hand, are up big in BC and Quebec.

A lot of seats have changed hands. In Manitoba, Elmwood - Transcona has gone from the NDP to the Conservatives, who are now projected to win 23 seats in the two Prairie provinces. In Atlantic Canada, Moncton - Riverview - Dieppe has gone from the Liberals to the Conservatives, while the Tories have also picked up Montmagny - L'Islet - Kamouraska - Rivière-du-Loup from the Bloc Québécois. Gilles Duceppe has made up for that loss by taking Papineau from the Liberals.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have gained Kingston and the Islands from the Liberals, but have lost Sault Ste. Marie to the NDP and Brampton West, Brampton - Springdale, and Ajax - Pickering back to the Liberals. This results in 54 seats going Conservative in the province, compared to 36 going Liberal and 16 going NDP.

But those Toronto suburban seats are very likely to switch back over to the Conservatives, so the Tory gain in Kingston, Moncton, and Winnipeg become very important. However, no poll has yet been released that was taken since the campaign started, so expect things to change.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Three polls, best Liberal and Tory outcomes

There has been a flurry of polls over the last two days, with new releases by EKOS, Léger Marketing, Angus-Reid, CROP, and Probe Research. I will cover them all in detail in Monday's poll summary, but for now I'd like to look at the best seat outcomes the Liberals and Conservatives could draw from the results of the three national polls.

Similar to my monthly best and worst case scenarios, this exercise takes the best regional results for each party in each of these three polls, and mashes them together. Doing so results in the Conservatives taking in about 42% of the vote in their best case scenario, while the Liberals take about 29% in theirs.

Clearly, these three polls were not particularly good for the Liberals when they cannot top 30% in a best-case-scenario. I haven't plugged the numbers into the projection model yet, but we can probably expect them to be down on Monday morning.

In any case, when we put the best results of these two parties together, we get the following seat projections:

It becomes quickly apparent that none of these three polls, even when we take the best results from each of them, are as good for the Tories as this week's individual Ipsos Reid poll. Nevertheless, the Conservatives still have the potential to win 160 seats, with 70 of them coming in the four western provinces, 61 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada.

This actually serves to caution the Conservatives a little. This is a best-case-scenario result, and included a 15-point lead for the party in Ontario and a 16-point lead in Atlantic Canada. And yet they are only five seats over the majority-mark, and both the Bloc and NDP remain strong.

When we look at the Liberals, they do not fare nearly as well. With all of the best regional results of these three polls, the Liberals still only win 87 seats (16 in the West, 37 in Ontario, 14 in Quebec, and 19 in Atlantic Canada). While that is a gain of 10 over their standing at dissolution, it would change very little.

But none of these polls were very good for the Liberals. This scenario has the party with a tiny lead in Atlantic Canada, tied with the NDP in Quebec, and trailing the Conservatives in Ontario. It includes the unlikely mark of 32% in Alberta, better than either their results in British Columbia or the Prairies.

Obviously, the Liberals are gunning for a government in this election. But it will be considered an especially catastrophic failure if the Conservatives win a majority for themselves. At this point, it appears that the Liberals do have it in their power to prevent that from happening, which is as much of a silver lining as the last days of pre-campaign polling will allow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Big numbers, little real change in new Ipsos poll

A lot of ink was spilled over the newest Ipsos Reid poll released yesterday through Postmedia and Global Television, as it put the Conservatives ahead by, oh, 19 points. But, looking at it more closely, it isn't nearly as remarkable as it might appear at first glance.

Compared to Ipsos's last poll conducted in early March, the Conservatives have gained three points and now lead with 43%. The Liberals, meanwhile, are down three points to 24%.

Neither of these two shifts are statistically significant, though that doesn't necessarily mean they are false. But Ipsos had the Conservatives at 43% back in late February, and then dropping down to 40% in early March, so this isn't a breakthrough poll for the Conservatives or any sort of Ipsos-trend. Their numbers are just wobbling back and forth.

The New Democrats are unchanged at 16%, while the Bloc Québécois is down one to 10% and the Greens are up one to 6%.

Ipsos Reid also asked how likely people are to vote. About 54% said they were absolutely certain to vote, and I believe them. Another 19% said they were very likely to vote, but at least half were lying. And then you have 10% saying they were somewhat likely to vote, while 5% said they were not very likely to vote. Another 12% of honest people said they were not at all likely to vote.

Of those who are absolutely certain to vote, 45% will vote for the Conservatives. Only 23% will vote for the Liberals, 15% for the NDP, 10% for the Bloc, and 7% for the Greens. Of course, the sample size of those likely to vote is about half of this entire sample, increasing the sampling margin of error to over +/- 4%.

Regionally, there is little change in Ontario. The Tories are up, however, gaining three points to lead with 46%. The Liberals are down two to 30%, while the NDP is up one to 16%. This is an important number for the Conservatives.

In Quebec, the Bloc has dropped five poins but still leads with 41%. The Conservatives are up 10 points (a statistically significant gain) to 25%, and lead the Liberals who are down three to 18%. The NDP is down one to 13%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are steady at 50%. While a big number, we've seen other results with the Tories about this high in the province. The Liberals are down six to 22%, the NDP is up one to 20%, and the Greens are up four to 7%.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 54% (-9), followed by the Liberals at 23% (+12) and the NDP at 17% (-2). Those opposition results look a little high for Alberta.

But then the government's numbers in the Prairies are high as well: 66%. That's a gain of 15 points. The Liberals are down 17 points to 18% while the NDP is steady at 13%. Chalk that one up to the 54 people surveyed in the two provinces.

Finally, in Atlantic Canada the Tories have gained six points and lead with 41%. The Liberals are down four to 28% and the NDP is up four to 20%. This isn't the first time we've seen the Conservatives ahead out east.

Not surprisingly, this one poll is enough to give the Conservatives a majority. With this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects 25 seats for the Conservatives in British Columbia, 26 in Alberta, 24 in the Prairies, 63 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 167, a gain of 13 over Ipsos's last poll.

The Liberals win five seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in the Prairies, 28 in Ontario, 12 in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 60, a drop of 11.

The Bloc Québécois wins 51 seats in Quebec, six fewer than last time.

The NDP wins six seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in the Prairies, 15 in Ontario, one in Quebec, and four in Atlantic Canada for a total of 30, a gain of four.

So, a remarkable result for the Conservatives. But it is just one poll. We'll see how things change in the next 100-150 polls due to be released in the next six weeks.

Ipsos did look at a few other issues, including how Canadians view the budget. About 19% give it a thumbs-up, about 16% give it a thumbs down, and 48% shrug. Those terms are how Ipsos has effectively characterized it.  Surprisingly, even 42% of Conservatives only have one thing to say about the budget: "meh".

Projection: Conservatives gain in Ontario

With a stellar poll for them from Ipsos Reid (poll summary coming later this morning), the Conservatives have made a few gains in Ontario and Quebec and now stand to win 152 seats in Canada.

UPDATE: My apologies, I missed a Conservative gain in Quebec earlier. It is now fixed.


Nationally, the Conservatives have gained 0.4 points and now lead with 38.2%, followed by the Liberals at 27.4%. They have dropped 0.3 points and one seat to 72.

The New Democrats are down 0.2 points to 16.1% and one seat to 33.

The Bloc Québécois is unchanged at 9.9% nationally, and are down one seat to 51 seats in Quebec.

The Greens are down 0.2 points to 7.1%.

The Conservatives have made gains in every part of the country except Alberta, and are up half-a-point in both Ontario and Quebec. Their biggest gains come in the Prairies and British Columbia.

The Liberals were relatively soft throughout Canada, but did not suffer any particularly crippling losses. Their gain in Alberta, where they now stand in second with 18.6%, is beginning to put them in range in Edmonton Centre.

The New Democrats were very stable in Central and Eastern Canada, but dropped in the Prairies and British Columbia, while the Bloc Québécois holds a steady lead with 39.6% in Quebec.

Two of seat changes came in Ontario, as the Liberals have lost Brampton West to the Tories, and Sault Ste. Marie has gone back to the Conservatives after a few days in the NDP fold. These are both new seats for the Conservatives, as they voted Liberal and NDP in 2008. In Quebec, the Tories have also taken back Roberval - Lac-Saint-Jean.

Note that I have now included a "Held" column in the riding projection chart, showing which party held the riding at dissolution (I may be getting ahead of myself, but the government should fall this afternoon).

Also, I'm very happy to announce that I will be working with Le Devoir throughout the campaign, as well as The Globe and Mail. For my francophone readers, Le Devoir will be featuring my projections on a daily basis on their website, with a short accompanying text. On Saturdays, the paper edition (as well as the online edition) will feature my projection with a longer analysis. For that reason, don't expect projection updates here on ThreeHundredEight.com on Saturdays, particularly as the projection in Le Devoir on Saturday will be the same as the one on Friday.

With The Globe and Mail, my projection will be featured on their website on Sundays and in the paper edition on Mondays, as they have been now and then since October 2010. The Monday projections posted here will be those provided to The Globe and Mail, so they will not reflect any polls released Saturday evening or throughout Sunday.

You may have also noted that ThreeHundredEight.com is now hosting advertisements that are not automatically generated and have been put up by organizations here in Canada directly through ThreeHundredEight.com. This is necessary, as these advertisements help support the site and make it possible for me to work on the site every day. Throughout the campaign, you may notice partisan or political ads on the site. There is one on the site right now. These ads are not an endorsement of these groups or political parties by ThreeHundredEight.com. You, my audience, are simply the kind of people they want to reach: smart and politically savvy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Atlantic Canadian provincial polls, Dexter in trouble

Earlier this month, Corporate Research Associates released their quarterly polls for Atlantic Canada. As we wait for the federal campaign to start in earnest, and for the polls to start rolling in, now is a good time to check-in on the provincial situations on the East Coast.

We'll start with Newfoundland & Labrador, which will be heading into an election in the fall.
Compared to Corporate Research Associates' last poll (and you can find all of the Atlantic Canadian polls at that link), the Progressive Conservatives have dropped only two points and still lead with 73%. That's merely a statistical wobble.

The Liberals are up two points to 18%, while the New Democrats are steady at 8%. The Greens, who are not a recognized party in Newfoundland & Labrador, are still being poll by CRA and had 1%. These numbers generally line-up with the recent Telelink poll, also conducted in February.

I don't project any changes from my last projection for Newfoundland & Labrador: 46 seats for the Progressive Conservatives, and one apiece for the Liberals and New Democrats.

If there is some small glimmer of hope for the opposition, it is that the popularity of Kathy Dunderdale has fallen by eight points to "only" 64%. Yvonne Jones of the Liberals is up eight points to 18%, while 5% (-3) of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians think Lorraine Michaels of the NDP would be the best Premier. Another 12% aren't sure, but do note that all three party leaders are women.

It looks pretty clear that the Progressive Conservatives will have no problem being re-elected by year's end.

Next up is the other island province, Prince Edward Island. They, too, will be headed to the polls in the fall. Note that this poll has a huge number of undecided: 45%.
Nevertheless, the governing Liberals are up nine points to 62%, while the Progressive Conservatives are down nine points to 25%.

The Island New Democrats are up seven points to 11%, while the Greens are down six to 2%.

Wiping out the Progressive Conservatives, I project the Liberals would sweep all 27 seats with this poll. People on islands tend to make decisions en masse, I guess. There's no room for error!

Robert Ghiz is the best man to be Premier for 46% of Prince Edward Islanders, ahead of Olive Crane of the PCs, who is down 10 points to only 19%. James Rodd of the NDP is up one point to 3%, while Sharon Labchuk of the Greens is down four to 2%. Another 9% said "none of the above".

Next we move to New Brunswick, which elected the Progressive Conservatives to a majority government back in September. Though the party's shine is starting to wear off, they are still in control of the situation.
The Progressive Conservatives have dropped three points in New Brunswick to 58%, but still hold a massive lead over the Liberals. They are at 27%, up two points.

The New Democrats, who have a new leader in Dominic Cardy, dropped two points to 8%. The Greens are up to to 6%.

Unchanged from my last projection for New Brunswick, the Progressive Conservatives would sweep all but two seats in the province if another election was held. But note that the undecided in this poll stands at 37%.

Current premier David Alward is the best man for the job for 42% of New Brunswickers, down three points. The phantom next leader of the Liberal Party stands at 16%, while the NDP and Greens are both unchanged at 6% and 5%, respectively. Cardy was not leader when this poll was taken, having been named leader on March 2.

Finally, on to the province with the only interesting political race: Nova Scotia. When we last heard from CRA, NDP Premier Darrell Dexter had enough support to give him a minority government.
That appears to be no longer the case, as the New Democrats have fallen four points to 34% in the province. The Liberals, with a four point gain, are now in the lead with 35%, while the Progressive Conservatives are steady at 26%.

The Greens take 4% of the vote, unchanged, with 45% being undecided (another huge result).

That's a close race, and it is even closer when the seats are tallied. Down five from last time, I project the New Democrats win 20 seats with these numbers, the same amount as the Liberals, who are up four. The PCs, the kingmakers, win 12 seats. What would happen in such a situation is beyond me, but if the Liberals win the popular vote I imagine the NDP might allow them to try to form a government. Do I smell a coalition?

Liberal leader Stephen McNeil is considered the best man to be premier, at 26% (-1). Dexter has dropped eight points to 23%, while Jamie Baillie of the PCs is at 13% (-4). Green Party leader John Percy is at 2%, down two. None-of-the-aboves is at 8%.

The outcomes of the two elections on the Atlantic coast this fall are virtually assured, the only question being how badly the opposition performs. New Brunswick has a new government, and its voters won't be heading back to the polls until 2014, while Nova Scotia is still two or three years away from a provincial election. That is plenty of time for Dexter to turn things around and Alward to mess it up, but in Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island, the opposition has little time left.

NDP out of the race in Gatineau?

No federal polls were released yesterday, which shouldn't come as any surprise. The campaign is virtually scheduled to properly start on Saturday, so expect an onslaught of polls beginning next week.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Segma Recherche for Le Droit and 104.7 CKOI for the two Gatineau ridings of Hull-Aylmer and Gatineau show that the New Democrats may not actually be ready for a breakthrough in the Outaouais.
Riding polls always need to be taken with a grain of salt - it is more difficult to nail down a representative sample and the margin of error is relatively large: 6.5% for Hull-Aylmer and 5.5% for Gatineau. In addition, candidates for every party have not been nominated. Nevertheless, Segma was not far off on most of its 2008 riding polls, so we should take these results at face value.

We'll start with Hull-Aylmer, which has been a Liberal stronghold since the dawn of time. It hasn't always been an easy win for the Liberals, as in 2006 the Bloc Québécois came within four points of taking the riding. But in 2008, Marcel Proulx was re-elected with 37% of the vote.

According to this poll, that has dropped to only 28%. The Bloc has increased its vote to 27%, about where they were in 2006.

The New Democrats are at 18%, just about where they were under Pierre Ducasse, who had run for the leadership of the party back when Jack Layton was awarded the role. Ducasse will not be running again for the NDP in Hull-Aylmer, instead replaced by Nycole Turmel. The Conservatives are also steady at 14% (they had 15% in 2008), while the Greens appear to have made some in-roads, standing at 13% (instead of 5%).

Of course, the MOE needs to be taken into account and the Green boost could be illusory. If that Green support reverts to the Liberals, Proulx should be re-elected. If not, the Bloc could pull an upset.

On to Gatineau. This is considered to be one of the ridings to watch, as the Bloc eked out a victory in 2008 with 29% of the vote, ahead of the NDP at 26% and the Liberals at 25%. Segma, however, doesn't see the race as so close.

Instead, Richard Nadeau looks to win the riding for the Bloc again very easily, with 37% of the vote. This is not a very surprising number, as Nadeau had taken roughly 40% of the vote in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

What is surprising is the drop of the NDP. They are down to 16%, despite Françoise Boivin being tauted as the next great Quebec NDP MP. Instead, the Liberals and their candidate Steve MacKinnon are running second at 22%, still a drop for them.

The Conservatives, at 19%, are about where they were in 2008 (17%), while the Greens have gone from 3% to 6%.

It is difficult to believe that the NDP is not in the running in Gatineau, but there you have it. If the NDP can't win Gatineau it is hard to locate another riding that they could win in Quebec, especially since Hull-Aylmer was definitely in their top five.

Note that I will be including riding polls in my projection. Because they have large MOEs and rarely will we have corroborating evidence through subsequent polls in these ridings, riding polls will be given a relatively low weight in each riding projection: 25%.

This Segma poll was included in yesterday's projection, and I accordingly have the Liberals leading in Hull-Aylmer with 34%, followed by the Bloc at 23% and the NDP at 19%. In Gatineau, I have the Bloc in front with 31% to the NDP's 25% and the Liberals' 23%.

The Outaouais will certainly be a region to watch on election night. Gatineau was supposed to be the close race, but Hull-Aylmer could turn out to be the nail-biter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slow Tory decline in new Harris-Decima poll

I only have one poll to report today, but the graphic you see below is how I intend to present the many polls that will probably be released each day during the campaign. I've included the latest Nanos poll in the graphic to provide you with a better idea of what to expect.

Compared to their last poll conducted at the end of February, there is very little change to report in the newest release from Harris-Decima. But a longer view shows us that Harris-Decima is showing the Tories as losing support steadily.

Though the party is only down two points from that last poll, and leads with 34%, they are down three points from early February. Again, this is not a very statistically significant change, but it is a mini-trend for Harris-Decima. Throughout it all, the Liberals have been relatively steady and remain unchanged from last time at 28%.

The New Democrats are up two to 17%, while the Bloc Québécois is up one to 10% and the Greens are unchanged at 9% in this telephone survey.

There hasn't been much change in Ontario, where the Conservatives are down one to 38%. But if we stretch that back to early February, this is a five-point drop. The Liberals are steady at 37%, while the NDP is up one to 15%. Harris-Decima is showing a much closer race in Ontario than other pollsters.

In Quebec, the Bloc is well ensconced at 40%, up one. The Liberals are down one to 19%, while the Conservatives are down two to 19% as well. The NDP is up three to 12%.

Harris-Decima also shows a closer-than-usual race in British Columbia, something that hasn't changed for the polling firm since February. They peg the Tories at 30% in the province, down one, while the NDP is at 26% (-5), the Liberals are at 24% (-3), and the Greens are at 17% (+7).

In Alberta, the Conservatives are down 10 to 52%, trailed by the Liberals at 22% (+3) and the NDP at 15% (+9).

In the Prairies, the Conservatives are down two to 46%, while the NDP is up one to 24% and the Liberals are up nine to 20%.

And in Atlantic Canada, there has been very little change. All three major parties are up a point, with the Conservatives and Liberals tied at 34% and the NDP at 24%.


With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects 14 seats for the Conservatives in British Columbia, 26 in Alberta, 22 in the Prairies, 49 in Ontario, nine in Quebec, and 13 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 134. That is a drop of four from last time.

The Liberals win nine seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in the Prairies, 44 in Ontario, 12 in Quebec, and 14 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 83, a gain of two.

The Bloc Québécois wins 53 seats in Quebec, a gain of three from Harris-Decima's last poll.

The New Democrats win 12 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, four in the Prairies, 13 in Ontario, one in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada for a total of 37, an increase of two.

Finally, the Greens win one seat in British Columbia, unchanged from last time. André Arthur, however, is not re-elected in Portneuf - Jacques-Cartier, as he would have been in Harris-Decima's last poll.

So, a glint of sunshine for the opposition parties. Perhaps the Tories aren't so close to a majority after all. But the campaign has just begun, and this poll was taken before this surprising week. Nanos and Harris-Decima provide us with a nice starting point from which to look at this campaign, but all in all, the parties seem to be exactly where they were in 2008.

Note that this poll was included in this morning's projection. The poll summaries will always include only the polls that have been included in the projection each day.

Liberals down, NDP up in new projection

Yesterday, Jack Layton surprised us all by coming out into the foyer of the House of Commons and announcing that his party could not support the Conservative budget. This came after both Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe said they would not support the budget either. While Layton made some reference to not being able to support the budget "in its current form", Finance Minister Jim Flaherty emerged to say that no amendment would be considered.

This morning, there is word that the Liberals will use their opposition day to put forward a motion of non-confidence in the government related to accountability issues. The downfall of the government is now unavoidable.

For all intents and purposes, the election campaign begins today. And this means a lot of work at ThreeHundredEight.com. What can you expect?

I've decided upon a daily routine which I hope to keep to throughout the campaign.

I will be getting up bright and early (today was an exception!) and work on inputting the newest polls into the projection model. As soon as it is ready, I will be posting the daily projection. I'm hoping I can do this before 8:00 AM each day.

Then, after catching up a little on the news, I will post a summary of the previous day's polls. These will be all national and provincial polls released during the previous day, and will be accompanied by an analysis of new trends, especially fascinating results from the individual polls, and a one-poll-only seat projection for what I consider to be the most interesting poll of the lot. Hopefully, this poll summary will be out before noon.

Finally, in the afternoon I will post about different things. This could be a riding poll or interesting regional poll, a new individual poll that is out during the day that deserves an immediate look, or some piece of analysis that I've been working on.

Any and all suggestions for things to cover during the campaign are welcome! But let's get to today's new projection.

At the national level, the Conservatives have dropped 0.5 points to 37.8% but are still projected to win 149 seats. The Liberals are up 0.3 points to 27.7%, but have lost two seats and now stand at 73. The New Democrats are up 0.5 points to 16.3%, and are now projected to win 34 seats, a gain of two since March 21st.

The Bloc Québécois is up 0.1 points to 9.9% nationally, while the Greens are down 0.3 points to 7.3%.

Rather than go through the regional changes one by one, each day I will be presenting the following chart:

Note that the Conservatives have dropped everywhere west of Quebec, with the losses in British Columbia and Alberta being especially large. The Liberals, meanwhile, are relatively stable except for some encouraging gains in Alberta and Ontario.

The NDP is up strongly in the west as well as in Atlantic Canada, while the Greens have gained in the one province that matters: British Columbia.

At the riding level, the New Democrats have re-gained Edmonton - Strathcona from the Conservatives. The Liberals have lost Ajax - Pickering and Brampton - Springdale in the GTA to the Tories, while the New Democrats have taken Sault Ste. Marie back from the Conservatives in northern Ontario.

British Columbia is a province to watch for the New Democrats. With their gain and the Tory loss, they are now moving closer in Burnaby - Douglas, Surrey North, and Vancouver Kingsway.

Below are the individual riding projections. I've put them all in one big image, which should be more convenient. As always, they are also presented in the right-hand column.

Let's get this campaign rolling!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Narrowing national gap, widening Ontario gap in new Nanos poll

The latest CTV/Globe/Nanos poll shows very little change in the topline numbers, and even a downward trend for the Conservatives in the West. But Tory growth in Ontario puts Stephen Harper on the doorstep of a majority government.

Compared to Nanos's last poll conducted in mid-February, the Conservatives have slipped 1.1 points to 38.6%, while the Liberals are up a point to 27.6%. That's a gap of 11 points rather than February's 13, but this variation is still within the margin of error of the two polls.

The New Democrats are up one point to 19.9%, their highest result from any pollster for some time, while the Bloc Québécois is up 0.2 points nationally to 10.1%.

The Greens are down 1.1 points to 3.8%, a very low result for them, even by Nanos's standards. Note that, unlike other pollsters, Nanos does not prompt any of the parties in their surveys, and that by now the poll is one week old. This telephone poll has a sampling margin of error of 2.8 points, and 22% of respondents were undecided (up from 18.8%).

Ontario is the big story of this poll, though the shifts are within the margin of error. Nevertheless, the Conservatives are up 4.2 points to 43.2%, making this the sixth straight poll putting the Conservatives at more than 40% in the province. The Liberals are down 1.9 points to 30.9%, while the NDP is down 0.4 points to 23%. Aside from the recent Léger poll, Nanos is the only pollster to have recently put the New Democrats at 20% or more in Ontario. The Greens are down 1.8 points to 3%.

This poll is part of a recognizable in the province. Along with recent Conservative strength, Nanos helps to confirm Liberal weakness. This is the eighth consecutive poll pegging the Liberals at less than 35% in Ontario, and if this trend would hold throughout an election it would likely mean a majority for the Conservatives.

The Bloc Québécois leads with 39.3% in Quebec, up two points from mid-February. The Liberals follow with 24.7% (+0.3), while the Conservatives are down 0.6 points to 19.6% and the NDP is down 2.9 points to 13.9%, still a good number for them. Give or take a few points, this is generally where the parties were in Quebec at the end of the 2008 election, but the slight increases in Liberal and New Democratic support mean seat gains, as noted below.

The Conservatives have dropped 7.1 points in British Columbia, and now lead with 37.5%. The New Democrats are up 8.4 points to 29.7%, while the Liberals are down 2.2 points to 24%. The Greens are up 0.9 points to 8.8%. Despite these wild variations, none of these are statistically significant.

Both the Conservatives and Liberals have picked up 4.9 points in Atlantic Canada, putting them at 42% and 36.9%, respectively. The NDP is down 2.7 points to 17.7%.

Finally, Nanos still clumps Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba together. The Conservatives have dropped 9.1 points in the three provinces, and now stand at 55.5%. The Liberals are up seven points to 25%, and the NDP is up 4.2 points to 16.9%.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight's model projects 19 seats for the Conservatives in British Columbia, 57 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and 15 in Atlantic Canada. I've awarded them the 50 seats in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba that my official projection currently gives them. In all, that is 153 seats, two shy of a majority and six more than I projected for Nanos's last poll.

The Liberals win six seats in British Columbia, two in the Prairies, 31 in Ontario, 17 in Quebec, and 13 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 70. That is a drop of 14 seats from last time.

The Bloc wins 45 seats in Quebec, dropping two seats from their current standing in the House of Commons due primarily to local factors. It is also a four seat drop from the last Nanos projection.

The New Democrats win 11 seats in British Columbia, four in the Prairies, 18 in Ontario, two in Quebec, and four in Atlantic Canada for a total of 40, an increase of 12 from last time.

Nanos also looked at the leadership numbers for each of the party leaders, grading them on trust, competence, and their vision for Canada. Combining them determines Nanos's Leadership Index Score. Since mid-February, Stephen Harper has dropped 16.1 points on the LIS, and now stands at 82.8. He lost much of that, not on trust as you might suspect, but on competence.

Jack Layton is second with an LIS of 51.4, an increase of almost eight points, while Michael Ignatieff is up almost three points to 39.7.

As for the top issue for Canadians, it is still healthcare at 29%, an increase of six points since February. Jobs and the economy is second at 18% (-2), while education is third with 9% (+4). Of course, both education and healthcare are provincial concerns.

When it comes to what motivates Canadians to cast their ballot in favour of one party or another, 48% said they make their decision based on the parties' policies. Another 20% said that the leader is the most important factor, while only 12% based their decision on the local candidate. Another 10% said their voting behaviour is based on who they traditionally vote for. None of these numbers had significant regional variations, but they definitely show the importance of the national campaigns - it determines how 68% of Canadians vote (combining platform and leaders).

Two other questions Nanos asked are of interest. On the F-35 fighter jets, only 27% agreed that they should be purchased now, while 68% said that "now was not a good time". That opinion is even shared by 56% of Conservative voters.

But the question is less than perfect. Nanos mentions that the F-35 jets could cost as much as $30 billion, the number quoted by Kevin Page of the PBO. That's fine, but Nanos did not spell out that the $30 billion is spread out over several decades. Listening to the Nanos question, respondents might have thought that the $30 billion will need to be spent right now.

Finally, Nanos asked who Canadians trust on economic policy. The Conservatives lead with 30%, but the Liberals are not far behind at 21%. The NDP is at 16%.

This poll has a litle bit of something for everyone. For the Bloc, they look to hold on to their vote. For the NDP, they have the potential to reach 20%. For the Liberals, their Quebec number is good and Harper's lustre appears to be dulling a little bit. For the Conservatives, this is as good as a majority.

But I suspect that the Liberals have already made up their mind to vote down the government, while the Bloc is just waiting to see whether the $2.2 billion for the HST is in the budget. It probably won't be, which means the NDP is on the hook. The Conservatives have held out a small olive branch, but the NDP hasn't yet given any impression as to which way they are leaning. The budget, slated for 16h00 in Ottawa, will be one to watch.

There is a Harris-Decima poll lurking around out there, but it hasn't been posted on the Harris-Decima site just yet. It will probably be posted sometime today, so look for a report on the poll here tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tories and Bloc poised for modest gains in snap election

With the fall of his government potentially days away, Stephen Harper will enter the election campaign with a clear advantage over his adversaries should Canadians be sent to the polls this spring. However, his long coveted majority government appears just out of reach.

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

Unfortunately, the new Nanos poll came out too late for me to include it in the projection, but I will do a write-up on the poll soon. In the meantime, here are the details to today's projection update:

Nationally, since last Monday's updaye the Conservatives have gained 0.1 points, and now lead with 38.3%. They have dropped four seats, however, are now projected to win 149.

The Liberals are down 0.3 points to 27.4%, are are unchanged at 75 seats.

The New Democrats are up 0.2 points to 15.8%, and are also unchanged at 32 seats.

The Bloc Québécois is up 0.2 points to 9.8% nationally, and are up four seats to 52.

The Greens are down 0.1 points to 7.6%, are are still projected to win no seats.

All seat changes that have taken place were in Quebec and Ontario, so let's get to those right off the bat.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are up 0.3 points to 41.4%, while the Liberals are down 0.7 points to 33.7%. The NDP is up 0.3 points to 15.8%, while the Greens are up 0.1 points to 7.9%. The Liberals have actually gained, however, as they take back Ajax - Pickering and Brampton - Springdale from the Tories. The reason for this is the incumbency factor - the projection model isn't always linear. The Conservatives are now projected to win 54 seats, the Liberals 37, and the NDP 15.

The Bloc has gained 0.7 points in Quebec and now leads with 39.5%, well ahead of the Liberals at 21.4% (-0.5) and the Conservatives at 18.8% (-0.6). The NDP is up 0.9 points to 13.5%, and the Greens are down 0.6 points to 5.8%. The Bloc has re-gained Ahuntsic and Brossard - La Prairie from the Liberals and Montmagny - L'Islet - Kamouraska - Rivière-du-Loup and Roberval - Lac-Saint-Jean from the Conservatives. That puts the Bloc total at 52 seats, with the Liberals winning 13, the Conservatives nine, and the NDP one.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are 1.2 points to 41.5%, followed by the Liberals at 24% (+0.3) and the NDP at 21.8% (-1.1). The Greens are down 0.3 points to 10.5%. Seat projections are unchanged at 22 for the Conservatives and seven apiece for the NDP and Liberals.

In Alberta, the Conservatives are unchanged at 62.4%. The Liberals are down 0.9 points to 17%, while the NDP is up 0.9 points to 9.7%. The Greens are down 0.2 points to 8.3%. The Tories are still projected to sweep all 28 seats in the province.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives are down 0.4 points to 51%, well ahead of the Liberals at 21.2% (+1.3) and the NDP at 20.4% (-0.7). The Greens are down 0.1 points to 5.9%. The Conservatives are projected to win 22 seats in these two provinces, with the NDP winning four and the Liberals winning two.

Finally, in Atlantic Canada the Conservatives have gained 0.7 points to and lead with 36.9%. The Liberals are down 0.3 points to 35.4%, while the NDP is down 0.2 points to 18.4%. The Greens are down 0.1 points to 6.2%. The Liberals are projected to win 15 seats in the region, with 13 going to the Tories and four to the NDP.

You can click on the below riding-level projections to enlarge them:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Poll aggregation methodology

The following is a detailed description of how the polling aggregate is calculated. While this method is similar to how the vote projection is calculated in the run-up to and during an election campaign, there are some differences.

Currently, the methodology described here applies to the poll aggregations being maintained for the federal political scene and the provincial situations in Ontario and Quebec.

Poll aggregation

The weighted polling average includes all publicly available opinion polls. Polls are weighted by their age and sample size, as well as by the track record and past performance of the polling firm.

The weight of a poll is reduced by 35% with each passing week. In polls taken over multiple days, the last day the poll was in the field is used for the weight.

The sample size weighting is determined by the margin of error that would apply to the poll assuming a random sample. The margin of error for a poll with a random sample of 1,000 people, for example, is +/- 3.1%. A poll with a sample of 500 people has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Rather than giving the poll of 500 people half the weight of the poll of 1,000 people, the smaller poll would be weighted at 70% (3.1/4.4) of the larger poll.

Polling firms are also weighted by their track record of accuracy over the last 10 years. Their accuracy rating is determined by three factors: 1) the last poll the firm released in an election campaign, 2) their average error for all parties that earned 3% or more of the popular vote, and 3) the amount of time that has passed since the election. In order to take into account changes of methodology or improvements made over time, the performance of a polling firm in a recent election is weighted more heavily than their performance in an older election. The difficulty of each election is also taken into account: elections where the average error was lower are weighted more heavily than elections in which the error was higher. This is meant to take into consideration elections in which there were particular factors contributing to pollster error that were outside of the pollster's control. Conversely, in elections where the consensus was close to the mark a pollster has fewer excuses for higher error levels.

The accuracy rating is determined by comparing the average error, weighted by how recent the election is, of the best performing polling firm to others. For example, if the best performing firm had an average error of 1.5 points per party, a firm with an average error of three points per party would be given half the weight.

All of these ratings are combined to give each poll in the aggregation a weight. In sum, this means that newer polls with larger sample sizes from polling firms with a good accuracy record are weighted more heavily than older and smaller polls from firms with a bad track record.

A firm with no prior experience is automatically weighted at half the value of the best firm.

When more than one polling firm is active and another poll was conducted recently, no single poll is allowed to have a weight of more than 66% of the entire projection.

The performance of this method

This adjusted and weighted poll aggregation performs better than most individual polls and better than an unweighted and simple averaging of the last polls of a campaign. An analysis of shows that the model used by ThreeHundredEight.com performed better, on average, than 19 of the 26 polling firms active in at least one of the campaigns in which the model made a projection and was about 23% better than a simple average of polls and, on average, better than the average performance of the polls in 11 out of 13 elections.