Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Incumbent landslides in first Atlantic projections

With the first projections for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, all five provinces scheduled to have elections this fall now have running seat projections models under way at this site.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, ThreeHundredEight's first projection is a majority government for Kathy Dunderdale, with the Liberals and New Democrats tying for second.
With 67.1% of the vote, the Progressive Conservatives win 44 seats, increasing their current crop of MHAs by one. The Liberals place second with 20.3% and win two seats, while the New Democrats also win two seats with 12.3% of the vote.

Now, a poll has not come out of the province since the Liberals named Kevin Alyward their new leader. Whether the departure of Yvonne Jones and the arrival of Alyward changes anything remains to be seen. But until we get some new polling data, this is what we're looking at.
The PCs win 13 seats in the St. John's region, nine seats on the Avalon and Burin peninsulas, 20 seats in the rest of Newfoundland, and two seats in Labrador.

The Liberals win one seat in the rest of Newfoundland and one in Labrador, while the New Democrats win one seat in St. John's and the other in Labrador.
There are not a lot of close races in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Tories are leading by 5% or less in one seat and trailing by that amount in another, giving them a range of 43 to 45 seats.

The Liberals are trailing the PCs in one and the NDP is leading them in another, giving the Liberals a range of two to three seats and the NDP a range of one to two seats.

Though the colours are different, Prince Edward Island also has a landslide on its hands.
With 54.4% of the vote, Robert Ghiz's Liberals are projected to win a massive majority of 26 seats, leaving one seat and 31.4% of the vote to Olive Crane's Progressive Conservatives. The New Democrats are shut out but win 10.7% of the vote, while the Greens take 2.7%.

This is another province with few polls, and the small size of the ridings (roughly 3,000 people vote in each of them) make this province more difficult to project.
The Liberals win all five seats in Charlottetown, all eight seats in central PEI, and all seven seats in the western part of the island. They win six seats in eastern PEI, which is where the Tories win their one seat.

There are no close races in the projection, leaving the "range" at 26 Liberal seats and one PC seat.

ThreeHundredEight is now completely prepared for the fall election season. As long as there is a poll to add, I will update the projections every day starting next week.

EDIT: After a question from a commenter, I should point out that for all provinces I am assuming parties (and independents) will run candidates in the same ridings that they did in the previous election, until the election agencies in each province releases the official candidate list. At that point, I will update the projections to accurately reflect which parties and which independents are running in each riding.

I think there could still be a few surprises. While the Saskatchewan Party and the PEI Liberals look like locks to be re-elected, the Manitoba race is looking very close and Ontario could still go either way. And in Newfoundland and Labrador, the change-up in leadership throws everything up in the air. While Dunderdale's PCs are still the odds-on favourites, it makes the race one to watch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Harper's leadership numbers jump in Quebec

On the eve of Jack Layton’s death, the NDP still dominated the province that swung so decisively in its favour on May 2.

But there are signs that the party’s support in Quebec could be at risk.

A CROP poll for La Presse that surveyed 1,000 Quebecers between August 17 and 22 found that the New Democrats still enjoyed 40 per cent support in the province, down insignificantly from the 42.9 per cent of votes cast in Quebec on election night.

The Conservatives stood at 22 per cent, up a more significant — but still modest — five points since May 2.

However, compared to CROP’s last poll in the province carried out in June, it is clear that the NDP’s position in the province could be fragile.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

Along with the results of this federal poll, CROP reported on the provincial voting intentions of Quebecers. Those results were highlighted by La Presse last week.

With the current line-up of parties, the Liberals led that poll with 33%, followed by the Parti Québécois at 27%, the ADQ at 16%, and Québec Solidaire at 11%. "Others" stood at a preposterous 9%, so distributing that support to the existing parties bumps the Liberals to 36%, the PQ to 29%, the ADQ to 17%, and Québec Solidaire to 12%.

Those numbers would give the Liberals 64 seats, the PQ 48, the ADQ nine, and Québec Solidaire four. A rather narrow majority for Jean Charest.

But this is unlikely to be the line-up of parties on election night. François Legault's CAQ seems set to become a party, but it is difficult to take poll numbers for the CAQ seriously while the party is just a name with no candidates and a set of policies that are, at this point, somewhat vague and unlikely to be getting much notice from the general public. Nevertheless, the CAQ stands at 40% in this CROP poll, enough to propel it to a comfortable majority.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jack Layton secures his place in NDP – and Canadian – pantheon

On Saturday, Canadians said goodbye to their Leader of the Official Opposition and one of the most popular political figures in the country. New Democrats laid to rest the most successful party leader in their history, and a man whose name will likely be repeated in future with the same reverence as that reserved for Tommy Douglas, first head and spiritual heart of the NDP. 

The 2011 election was, by far, the NDP’s best result in its 50 year history. Even against the standards of the Liberals and the Conservatives, Jack Layton’s achievement on May 2 was remarkable. At 103 seats, Mr. Layton tied for the fifth largest opposition ever sent to Ottawa in the 41 elections that have taken place since 1867. But even before 2011’s historic result, Jack Layton stacked up well against the party’s two other great leaders. 

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

Such a list of accomplishments might seem unattainable by any other leader of the New Democrats. Did the party hit its peak under Jack Layton? Time will tell, and the race to become the next leader of the NDP is underway. Of the three vacant postings on Parliament Hill, this is the most attractive but it is no more of an easy assignment than the leadership of the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois. Those two parties have hit rock bottom, and there is only one way to go from there. For the NDP, the next leader needs to hold on to Layton's success and improve upon it.

Four years is a long time, however. Certainly long enough for the next leader to put his or her stamp on the party and prepare it for the 2015 election.

This isn't the first time that an NDP leader has had this long to prepare for an election. Ed Broadbent in 1975 and Audrey McLaughlin in 1989 each had four years to prepare. Broadbent used the time wisely and grew his party's support, while McLaughlin led the party to its worst ever result. So history is no guide in this regard.

The Liberals under Jean Chrétien had three years to prepare for the 1993 election, and were swept to power. Jean Charest took over the PCs in 1993 and increased the party's caucus from two to 20 MPs four years later.

Likely the biggest event to take place outside of the NDP's control between now and 2015 is the Quebec provincial election. What happens there could play a huge role in how Quebecers feel about its adherence to the NDP at the federal level. Whether it be through a sovereigntist re-birth or the rise of the right under François Legault, it could hurt them. If the result of the election and a failure on the part of the new (or re-elected) government leads to another backlash against the establishment parties, it could boost them. We shall see.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Replacing Gilles Duceppe

Stripped of its status as an official party in the House of Commons, the Bloc Québécois is still smarting from the electoral pasting it received on May 2 that has left the sovereigntist party leaderless and its future in limbo.

Still, the Bloc will be the first of the three opposition parties to hold a leadership convention. Unless the date is put off — and some influential figures in the Bloc Québécois argue it should be — the Bloc will name its next leader in December.

There may not be many candidates.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website.

The future of the Bloc Québécois is interesting. Four years is a long time. On the one hand, it is a very long time for the Bloc to keep itself in the public eye, and between now and the next election the Parti Québécois could be handed a catastrophic defeat at the provincial level. On the other hand, it gives the Bloc a lot of time to prepare for 2015, work out a new angle, and hope for something to happen either within the NDP Quebec caucus or at the provincial level.

The Bloc still has a niche. Though it has been robbed of its role as a voice for social democracy in Quebec, it is still the only party that can speak for Quebec's interests and Quebec's interests only. It is also the only federal vehicle for sovereigntists in the province. At worst, they are still likely to garner 15% of the vote or so, at best they can still push 30% if the New Democrats remain a force in the province.

And something like that amount of support in Quebec might be enough to get them back into official party status. The New Democrats beat the Bloc by margins of ten points or less in six ridings (actually, it is astounding that it is only six ridings). Undoubtedly, constituents in many parts of Quebec will be very happy with their new, rookie NDP MPs and they will have a very good chance of being re-elected if things don't turn badly for the party. But in other ridings, these rookie NDP MPs might not live up to expectations and if the Bloc manages to keep itself at 1 in 4 support or so, they would have a good chance of winning at least 12 seats in the province.

That is, if they are still a factor. The next four years will be determinant for the Bloc, and the leader they choose will play a huge role in deciding whether the Bloc is swept from the province for good in 2015 or if it returns to the House of Commons with some influence. It is perhaps understandable that few high profile candidates are stepping forward to take on such a difficult, and potentially career-ending job.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brad Wall increases majority in first Saskatchewan projection

The Saskatchewan projection model is now complete, and will now be maintaining up-to-date riding by riding projections for the Saskatchewan election, scheduled to take place in November.

Now, there have not been many Saskatchewan polls so the current projection is largely based on the latest poll from Insightrix Research. Nevertheless, more polls should appear as we approach the election.
The first projection for Saskatchewan has Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party (SP) at 58.9% of the vote, with the New Democrats trailing with 31%.

The Greens stand at 5% in the projection, while the Liberals are at 4.7%.
The SP is projected to win 43 seats, increasing its majority from 38. The New Democrats are projected to win 15 seats, while both the Liberals and Greens are shut-out.

The Saskatchewan Party wins 12 seats in the north, 19 in the south, five in Regina, and seven in Saskatoon.

The New Democrats win three seats in the north, one in the south, six in Regina, and five in Saskatoon.
It is unlikely that this is going to change any time soon. Most of the ridings in Saskatchewan are heavily tilted towards one party or the other. Only one riding is projected to have a margin of 5% or less, and it is one in which the SP leads.

This gives the Saskatchewan Party a range of 42 to 43 seats, with the NDP at between 15 and 16 seats.

The models for Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island are also completed, but need to have the charts and vote projection finished. Once they are, I will present ThreeHundredEight's projections for these two Atlantic provinces.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PQ plunges as Charest gains, even against Legault

Turmoil in the sovereignty movement has had a dramatic impact on provincial politics in Quebec this summer, with the Parti Québécois polling at new lows and an uptick in support for Premier Jean Charest’s governing Liberals. 

A new poll conducted by Léger Marketing for the Journal de Montréal finds that Charest’s government now enjoys the support of 34 per cent of Quebecers, up four points from Léger’s last poll taken in early June

The Parti Québécois has dropped six points to just 24 per cent — a full 14 points below the party’s standing from four months ago. 

The Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) is down three points to 14 per cent while Québec Solidaire stands at 12 per cent support and the provincial Greens scored five per cent.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

UPDATE: I also have a piece on The Globe and Mail website this morning:

Trailing Tory Leader Tim Hudak in the polls and ranking as one of the country’s least popular premiers, Dalton McGuinty does have one ace up his sleeve in the upcoming provincial election in Ontario: a Conservative government in Ottawa.

Quebec will probably not have another election until next fall or even 2013, as Charest is less than three years into his five year term. But politics in the province are currently the most volatile in the country. The Parti Québécois has gone from front-runner to trailing by 10 points in a matter of months, while the potential formation of new parties (François Legault's CAQ or a new sovereigntist party called the Nouveau Mouvement pour le Québec) is throwing everything out of whack.

The formation of the CAQ seems inevitable, but poll numbers for the phantom party will only mean something when Quebecers start paying attention to what it has to say. The creation of the NMQ is, perhaps, less likely but even if it captures 5% of the vote it would severely hinder the PQ's chances in a three-way race between Marois, Charest, and Legault.

But things happen so quickly in Quebec that by the time the election rolls around the landscape could have completely transformed again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last snapshot of a political landscape gone forever

Yesterday's sad news has been a blow to everyone who follows Canadian politics. Jack Layton has been a fixture of the Canadian political landscape since he became leader of the New Democrats in 2003, and he reinvigorated his party and brought it to new heights. Indeed, the loss of this stellar politician and Canadian leader is made all the more tragic by its coming after such a great achievement. Jack Layton and all of those who supported him had reason to hope for a bright future. Though the future they envisioned can still happen, it is very sad to think that Jack Layton will not get to be a part of it.

For my own part, I first began to pay close attention to Canadian politics around the time of Jack Layton's successful leadership run and the last leadership race of the old Progressive Conservative Party - one that quickly resulted in the merger of the Tories and the Canadian Alliance. For myself and many others, the next phase of Canadian politics will be a very different world. But thoughts of what comes next for the NDP and Canadian politics in general can wait.

A federal poll from Abacus Data was released late last week. It would have been the subject of some analysis here on, but in light of yesterday's news and the transformation of Canadian politics it will entail, I will instead post the results of the poll without comment and merely for future reference.

The poll represents a last snapshot of the federal Canadian political landscape as it had existed.
Of note is that a majority of Canadians polled had a favourable opinion of Jack Layton, while fully 82% of Canadians polled had either a favourable or neutral opinion of the NDP leader before he passed.

Many have commented on the positive politics that Smilin' Jack tried to bring to Parliament Hill, and how he was respected and liked even by those on the opposite side of the aisle. We may not see another political leader like Jack Layton for some time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Race narrows in Ontario projection with new Nanos poll

Monday, August 22 update: Condolences to the friends and family of Jack Layton, who passed away this morning. It is very, very sad news and Canada is diminished by his loss.

A new poll from Nanos Research for CTV and The Globe and Mail released during my absence shows a narrowing race between the provincial Tories and the governing Liberals, echoing a flash poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid earlier this month.
For the Progressive Conservatives, this is very little change since Nanos's last poll in May, but with 42.1% support the Tories hold a 4.5-point lead over the Liberals, who have gained 3.6 points and now trail the PCs with 37.6%.

That is a good gain for the Liberals, coming primarily off the backs of the New Democrats. They have dropped 2.5 points to 16.2%, while the Greens are down two points to 3.4%.

Another poll on leadership found that Dalton McGuinty has now squeezed ahead of Tim Hudak on who would make the best Premier, with 30% support to 29%. Andrea Horwath is in third with 12%.

So things appear to be getting better for the Premier, with only a couple weeks left to go before the start of the campaign.

The projection has been updated to include this new poll, but this one set of data isn't enough to shift the balance of the projection in too dramatic a fashion. In September, polls will be weighted on a daily basis but as we are still in a pre-writ period they are being weighted on a monthly basis.
There have been no seat changes in the projection, with the Progressive Conservatives clinging to a majority with 57, the Liberals safely in Official Opposition territory with 32, and the New Democrats almost doubling their current haul of MPPs with 18.

The Progressive Conservatives are now projected to have the support of 40.5% of Ontarians, up 0.4 points since the last projection of August 12.

The Liberals are up 1.3 points to 32.6%, while the New Democrats are down 1.1 points to 20.1%. The Greens are also down, dropping 0.6 points to 5.5%.
The race has gotten much closer, however, as many seats are now on the bubble. In several cases, decimal points separate the winners from the runners-up.
The Progressive Conservatives now lead by 5% or less in 18 of their 57 projected seat wins, up two seats from the last projection. They also trail by 5% or less in seven seats, down two.

The Liberals, meanwhile, lead in eight by 5% or less (two seats fewer) and trail by 5% or less in 18 seats (up two). The New Democrats are unchanged, trailing by 5% or less in two seats.

This makes the Tory range at between 39 and 64 seats, worse than August 12th's 41-66 seats. It means that only 42% of the PCs' range is in majority territory. The Liberal range, up from 22 to 48 seats to 24 to 50 seats, now comfortably straddles the range of the Progressive Conservatives. And with the NDP range at between 18 and 20 seats, the Liberals are quite safe from the prospect of finishing third.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Liberals up three seats in Ontario projection

Note that ThreeHundredEight will be on hiatus for a few days next week. Articles in The Globe and Mail and the Huffington Post will still be published in the meantime.

With a new Ipsos-Reid poll showing a narrowing gap between the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, the new projection for Ontario is narrowing as well.

The poll pegs Tory support at 38%, down four points from Ipsos-Reid's last poll in July. The Liberals are up five points to 36%, while the New Democrats are up one point to 23%.

However, this poll had a small sample of 400 people, giving it a margin of error of +/- 4.9%, 19 times out of 20. That is relatively large, and means that the shifts in support are not statistically significant. That does not mean they aren't an indication of something happening, however.

The samples used in the regional breakdowns of this poll are too small to consider, but in the GTA the Liberals now lead with 47% to the Tories' 32%. Nevertheless, in a larger Ipsos sample Tim Hudak topped the premier numbers at 38%, ahead of Dalton McGuinty who scored 33%. Andrea Horwath stood at 24%. Hudak led the other two leaders on all the important indicators, such as trust and competence.

This poll alone, however, would give the Liberals a minority government of 53 seats, with the Tories taking 35 and the New Democrats 19.
With this poll, the Progressive Conservatives have dropped 0.4 points since the August 2 projection to 40.1%, while the Liberals are up 0.7 points to 31.3%.

That means the gap has narrowed from 9.9 points to 8.8 points.

The New Democrats are up 0.2 points to 21.2%, and the Greens are down 0.5 points to 6.1%.

This has resulted in the Progressive Conservatives dropping three seats to 57. These three seats are all Liberal gains in the projection, and the party now stands at 32. The New Democrats are unchanged at 18 seats.

The Tories need 54 seats to have the slimmest of majorities, so they are starting to descend into dangerous territory.
They have dropped four seats since the first projection of July 20, all of which have gone to the Liberals. The New Democrats, however, have remained stuck at 18 seats.

Regionally, the Liberals picked up a seat each in Greater Toronto, the Hamilton/Niagara region, and in southwestern Ontario.
This still means the Tories win the majority of seats in Greater Toronto and southwestern Ontario, but no longer in the Hamilton/Niagara region. Perhaps importantly, the seat gain in the Hamilton/Niagara region now gives the Liberals at least one seat in every region of the province.

There are still a lot of close races in Ontario, with 26 of them being projected to have a gap of five points or less between the winners and the runners-up.
This gives the Tories a range of between 41 and 66 seats. Significantly, this puts 50% of their range in majority territory and 50% of their range in minority territory. We could say they have a 50/50 chance of winning one or the other, with a slight edge to a majority.

The Liberal range is now 22 seats to 48 seats, making a minority government possible but also putting them outside of the NDP's range, which is still between 18 and 20 seats.

All of this points to a closer race forming in the province. It should be an interesting campaign.

I am getting very close to having the models for Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island ready. When I return from my hiatus I should be able to start presenting ThreeHundredEight's first projections for these three elections.

Ontario Election: Ridings to watch

Ontario will hold its election on Oct. 6. Premier Dalton McGuinty, who is trailing the Progressive Conservatives in the polls, will have a difficult time getting a third mandate for his Liberal government (though a new poll suggests he’s narrowing the gap with PC Leader Tim Hudak).

The New Democrats under Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, will try to capitalize on their federal counterparts’ success, further squeezing the Liberal leader.

Here are some of the ridings to watch on election night in Ontario...

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website. Articles for the two Prairie provinces and the two Atlantic provinces holding elections this fall will follow next week.

I'll have something on the latest Ipsos-Reid poll for Ontario later today, with a projection update.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wall still holds huge lead in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is an enigma, at least from a polling perspective. Even Prince Edward Island, with a population smaller than that of Regina, is polled more often than Saskatchewan. But out of the mists of the prairies comes a new Saskatchewan poll, demonstrating in part why so little polling is conducted in the province outside of an election.
The poll, conducted by Insightrix Research a month ago and released yesterday, shows that Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party has the support of 58.2% of decided voters. The New Democrats have the support of 30.8% of decided voters.

This is virtually unchanged from Insightrix's last poll conducted in April 2010. Since then, the Saskatchewan Party has dropped 0.2 points while the NDP is up 2.1 points. In other words, in a poll of this size, there has been no change whatsoever.

But the Liberals are in a bit of trouble, standing at 4.2% and behind the Greens, who are at 5% support in this online panel poll.

Insightrix also reports the 1% of voters who would spoil their ballots, something not recorded as a percentage of the vote share in an election. Removing the spoiled ballots bumps the Saskatchewan Party up to 58.8%, the NDP to 31.1%, and the Greens to 5.1%. Seeing as this is standard practice in other polling firms, I will be recording the poll's results as such in the chart below and in the projection in the right hand column.

Speaking of which, the seat projection model for Saskatchewan is almost complete. It is close enough to completion that I can use it for this poll.

With the results of this poll only, the Saskatchewan Party wins 43 seats and another majority government. The New Democrats are reduced to 15 seats, while the Liberals and Greens are shut out of the legislature.

The Saskatchewan Party wins five seats in Regina, seven in Saskatoon, and 31 in the rest of Saskatchewan.

The New Democrats win six seats in Regina, five in Saskatoon, and four in the rest of Saskatchewan.

The rural/urban divide is plainly obvious in this projection. The NDP and the Saskatchewan Party run a close race in the province's two largest cities, but outside of those cities it is a Saskatchewan Party romp. And, in fact, two of the NDP's four seat wins outside of the major urban centres come from minor urban centres like Moose Jaw and Prince Albert.

The numbers have moved so little in the last 15 months that it seems unlikely they would move any more in the next three months. Of course, the campaign trail has its own set of surprises but Brad Wall is a popular premier and the province is doing well, so it would seem that his re-election is as much of a sure thing as exists in politics.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NDP soft in Quebec, strong in BC in new Angus-Reid poll

The latest federal poll from Angus-Reid, taken earlier this week, shows that the top-line numbers have moved very little for any of the parties. But at the regional level, some shifts have taken place.
Nationally, the Conservatives lead with 39%, followed by the New Democrats at 31% and the Liberals at 19%.

The Bloc Québécois stands at 6% and the Greens at 4%.

Aside from a few decimal-point changes, this is exactly what happened on election night.

But regionally, most of the results are quite different.

Except, oddly, in Ontario. There the Conservatives still lead with 44% and the Liberals and NDP are deadlocked in second, with 26%.

Nationally and in Ontario, this generally jives with what others polls have shown since the election. The Nanos poll conducted last week differs, but it was taken on completey separate days. Conceivably, both these polls could be correct.

Where they agree with one another is in Quebec. In the Angus-Reid poll, the NDP has dropped to 35% (Nanos had them at 34%), indicating that the departure of Jack Layton has had a real effect on votes there. The Conservatives and Bloc are tied in second with 22%, while the Liberals trail with 17%. As 85% of the last election's Bloc voters still support the party, according to one of the questions in this poll, it appears that most of the NDP's lost support has gone to the Conservatives and Liberals. It is possible, then, that some of the federalist votes the NDP picked up in the last election are reverting to the federalist parties they supported before the last election due to Nycole Turmel's past.

The NDP makes up for the drop in Quebec with a huge number in British Columbia. They lead there with 38%, ahead of the Tories at 37%. The Liberals are at 17%. The NDP also puts up good numbers in Alberta, and leads in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada. The Conservatives are still very strong in Alberta and competitive in Atlantic Canada, but their 44% in Ontario is what keeps them in power.

Stephen Harper's approval rating stands at 40%, to 41% disapproving (or a 49% approval rating if we take out the 'not sures'). Bob Rae's approval rating is at 23% (41% without the 'not sures') while Nycole Turmel's is at 22% (44% of decideds).

Angus-Reid, oddly, even asked what people thought of Vivian Barbot's performance as interim head of the Bloc. Considering she has barely been visible and isn't an MP, it comes as no surprise that she scored 5%.

This poll would result in the Conservatives winning 156 seats and holding on to their majority by the skin of their teeth. The New Democrats win 108 seats, the Liberals 39, the Bloc Québécois four and the Greens one.

The Conservatives win 17 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 11 in the Prairies, 70 in Ontario, 13 in Quebec, 16 in Atlantic Canada and two in the north.

The New Democrats win 14 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, 14 in the Prairies, 22 in Ontario, 47 in Quebec, nine in Atlantic Canada and one in the north.

The Liberals win four seats in British Columbia, three in the Prairies, 14 in Ontario, 11 in Quebec, and seven in Atlantic Canada.

Obviously, the four Bloc seats come in Quebec and the Greens hold on to their British Columbian seat.

The poll also looked into the Turmel affair, but I think the results are far less informative than they appear at first glance.

Firstly, 43% of Canadians followed the story very or moderately closely, with only 26% not following it closely at all. In other words, 74% of Canadians are aware of the issue.

While 41% of Canadians say they are concerned with having Turmel as interim leader of the NDP, 51% said they were not concerned. Demonstrating how this sort of thing isn't much of a problem in Quebec, 64% of respondents in that province were not concerned. A linguistic breakdown of that number would have been fascinating.

Now, 41% is a huge swathe of the population. Other parties don't have this kind of issue that would "concern" Canadians. But what would the response have been had Angus-Reid asked Canadians whether they were concerned with having Stephen Harper as Prime Minister, or Bob Rae as interim leader of the Liberals? I imagine those numbers would have been relatively significant, but nevertheless meaningless.

The same issue exists with the question of whether the NDP should replace Turmel. Only 34% of Quebecers said she should be replaced, while 45% of Canadians as a whole said so. That number drops to 29% among New Democratic supporters.

But again, ask Canadians if Harper or Rae should be replaced and at least one-third of respondents would probably say yes, broken down pretty clearly along party lines. People also generally dislike politicians, and putting them out of a job is always a popular opinion. So Angus-Reid should have asked about the replacement of Harper and Rae to give us some basis of comparison.

There is little that we can take this poll as conclusive evidence that something significant has happened. The only notable thing in this poll, in conjunction with Nanos's poll from last week, is that the New Democrats seem to be faltering in Quebec after polling above their election result for the first few months after the ballots had been cast. Is it a honeymoon effect, a mere statistical wobble, or something related to Jack Layton and Nycole Turmel? Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Liberals gain in new Nanos poll, NDP drops in Quebec

If a federal election were held today, Stephen Harper’s Tories would be reduced to a minority government and the Liberals would have 48 more seats than they do now, sharing the balance of power with the NDP, seat projections based on a new poll show.

The Nanos Research poll conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV indicates that the Tories have dropped in public support by almost six points since June.

The poll also indicates a boost in support for the Liberal Party and a large drop in NDP support in Quebec following Jack Layton’s announcement that he was temporarily stepping down as party leader to fight a new form of cancer. (Note: The poll does not capture what impact, if any, the controversy over interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmell’s past association with the Bloc Quebecois has had on NDP support).

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

A seat projection accompanies the piece, and what is most fascinating to me is that the post-Bloc Québécois era (if we are, in fact, in one) can still deliver a minority government. But what has changed most dramatically is that with a three-party system instead of a four-party system, keeping the Conservatives to a minority means giving the New Democrats and the Liberals a combined majority of seats.

Quebec is thrown upside down - again - with a poll like this. The New Democrats win 43 seats in the province, down from 59 but still a good haul, while the Liberals and Conservatives each take 16.

In Ontario, a six-point gap between the Tories and the Liberals means only 48 seats for the Conservatives, 37 for the Liberals, and 21 for the New Democrats.

Put this together with weak Conservative results out west and you have a Conservative minority government that likely doesn't last the Throne Speech.

It is impossible to know for sure, but Jack Layton's health issues and temporary departure appear to have hurt his party in Quebec. But what I am very curious to see is how those numbers move, if at all, once a poll is conducted that captures the aftermath of the Nycole Turmel brouhaha. Will they go up? Will they go down? It is really anyone's guess, though I imagine their numbers will go down outside of Quebec.

One thing that is worth noting about the polls post-election is that they don't exactly agree with one another. Abacus Data (as well as CROP and Léger) has consistently put the Bloc in second in Quebec, while Nanos Research has consistently put them in fourth. In Ontario, Nanos has put the NDP in third while Abacus has them in second.

Obviously, the stakes are pretty low with a majority government in Ottawa. But it would be helpful to have some other polling data to get a better idea of what is actually going on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Ontario election race, McGuinty may be running out of steam

In less than two months, Dalton McGuinty will be asking Ontarians to hand his Liberal Party its third consecutive majority government, something that has not been awarded in the province since the days of the Big Blue Machine. 

Frequently polled as one of Canada’s least popular provincial politicians, Mr. McGuinty has a steep hill to climb in order to solidify himself as the longest serving Liberal premier since Sir Oliver Mowat gave up the job in 1896.

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

If 2007 is any guide, we should expect the polling in Ontario to begin in earnest at the end of the month. Four polls were released in the last two weeks of August just before the last election, so things should really start moving soon.

According to the Wikipedia page, there was a new poll released during the provincial campaign on generally two out of every three days. Hopefully the pollsters will be as prolific in 2011, as it is unlikely the other provincial elections will feature as many surveys. We could be surprised, though. Even little New Brunswick had a poll released every day up to the last week-and-a-half of the campaign.

Similar frequency in Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island by the Corporate Research Associates, the Atlantic Canadian polling firm, would be very interesting. Manitoba has Probe Research and one or two Saskatchewan-only polling firms often come out of the woodwork during a campaign, so we should have something to go on once the writ drops.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The new face of the NDP in Quebec

Nycole Turmel’s history with sovereigntist parties in Quebec may came as a shock to some, but to anyone familiar with the political landscape of the French-speaking province there is nothing surprising about it.

The new interim leader of the New Democrats was told to expect a rough time when she was handed the job, and it did not take long for the prediction to come true.

You can read the rest of the article at The Huffington Post Canada website.

I might as well take this opportunity to mention I'll be speaking about seat projections at a colloquium organized by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy on September 6. Barry Kay, who has been practicing the art (magic?) for much longer than I, will also be speaking about the subject while the morning's seminar will focus more on actual polling and public opinion research. You can find more information about the event here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tim Hudak still the man to beat

The gap is narrowing, but Tim Hudak is still the man to beat in this fall's Ontario election. 

A new poll by Forum Research puts Hudak's Progressive Conservatives at 38 per cent support, 10 points ahead of the governing Liberals.

Not far behind Dalton McGuinty are the New Democrats, who stand at 24 per cent.

This represents a gain of two points apiece for the Liberals and NDP compared to Forum's last poll conducted in June, while the Tories have dropped three points. 

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website. A seat projection for the Forum poll accompanies the article.

Normally around this time, I would post the monthly federal poll averages. However, no federal polls were released during the month of July, so unless something appears soon that was taken before Monday it doesn't look like there will be any federal numbers to report.

I doubt this will be the case for much longer. It is astonishing to think that in little more than a week Jack Layton temporarily stepped down as leader, the party named a new interim leader, and that leader, Nycole Turmel, was then raked over the coals for her past with the Bloc Québécois and Québec Solidaire.

Obviously, the federal political situation has changed significantly in the last 10 days. But most people pay little attention to federal politics and even fewer are tuned in during the height of summer. Nevertheless, with the New Democrats going through recent events I imagine we will see a few polls being released in the next week. I also imagine even the slightest dip in NDP support will be attributed to Ms. Turmel.

But is this the work of a slow political summer? When Jack Layton returns, will anyone care about what happened with the former interim leader? More to the point, will this matter in 2015? I would wager that it will not, though it could potentially by the first in a long list of issues the NDP could have with its new Quebec caucus. It is almost unavoidable that a coalition of progressive federalists, nationalists, and sovereigntists, which is what the NDP appears to be in Quebec, will be somewhat tumultuous. But, really, that is par for the course in political Quebec.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ontario race tightens in new projection

With the release of a new poll by Forum Research, the Ontario projection has been updated. Though there has been very little change, the race has narrowed in many ridings and a worst case scenario for the Tories could see them win one less seat than the Liberals.
The Progressive Conservatives are projected to win 40.5% of the vote and 60 seats, while the Liberals win 30.6% of the vote and 29 seats.

That is a drop of 0.8 points for the Tories and 0.6 points for the Liberals since the last projection. It is a gain of one seat for the Liberals and a loss of one for the Tories.

The New Democrats are up 1.1 points to 21.0%, but remain at 18 seats, while the Greens are up 0.3 points to 6.6%.

As only one seat has changed, there has been no shift in the regional breakdowns except in the Greater Toronto area.
There, the Tories are now projected to win 12 seats, down from 13, while the Liberals are up one to six.

Aside from that, the PCs are projected to win the most seats in every part of the province except Toronto (Liberals) and the North (NDP).

But it is in the marginal seats that the election will be decided, and the number of these seats has risen.
The PCs are leading by 5% or less in 16 seats and are trailing by that amount in nine seats.

The Liberals are leading by 5% or less in 10 seats and trailing by 5% or less in 16 seats in the projection, while the NDP is trailing by 5% or less in two seats.

This puts the Progressive Conservative range at between 44 and 69 seats, down from the range of 48 to 70 seats in the previous projection. It still means that 62% of the range puts the Tories in a majority situation, but a minority is still a possibility, at 38% of the range. Worse still is that with the Liberal range standing at 19 to 45 seats (an increase from 18 to 41), there is a small chance that the Liberals could win one more seat than the Tories.

The breadth of the NDP range, at 18 to 20 seats, is unchanged. But there is now less overlap with the Liberals than there was in the past projection, lowering the chances of the NDP forming the Official Opposition. Though the NDP has gained ground on both the Liberals and Tories in the popular vote in this projection, the reduction of PC support has benefited the Liberals more, as they are in more one-on-one races with the Tories.

Monday, August 1, 2011

In Manitoba race, odds could tip in Greg Selinger’s favour

On October 4, Greg Selinger will be asking Manitobans to hand his New Democratic government its fourth mandate in his first election campaign as leader. Until recently, it appeared that the days of Mr. Selinger’s tenure as premier were numbered, but newfound popularity could extend the life of Manitoba’s longest running government since the 1950s.

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

Manitoba will be an interesting race, and at the moment it is the election whose result is most difficult to predict. The latest polls put the New Democrats and Tories in a tie, and the two parties have been running neck-and-neck almost since the 2007 election.

But the odds seem to be stacked in the NDP's favour. My projection model gives them a good shot at winning a majority of seats even with a larger gap between the PCs and the NDP than currently exists in the vote projection.

The NDP wins a lot of close races in Winnipeg, while the Tories pile up huge majorities outside of the city. This is the key reason for the inability for the Progressive Conservatives to win without a large lead in the popular vote.

This has actually been the case for a little while now. Using the UBC's uniform swing model for the 2007 election, the New Democrats would have still won a majority of the seats with 41.1% of the vote to the Tories' 44.6%. The re-districting does not seem to have reversed the situation. Indeed, it seems to have entrenched the NDP even more reliably. We shall see how it plays out.