Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NDP slips in Quebec

With a steep drop in support among francophones, the New Democrats are now only one or two points ahead of their main rivals in Quebec, where more than half of the NDP’s 101 MPs were elected in May 2011.

Two recent surveys, one by Nanos Research for CTV and The Globe and Mail and the other by Léger Marketing for Le Devoir and the Montreal Gazette, indicate the New Democrats continue to bleed support in the battleground province.

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

The article focuses on the results of the Nanos and Léger surveys in Quebec. But let's here take a closer look at the Léger poll as well as Nanos's national results.
Nanos Research was last in the field December 15-18, and since then the Conservatives have dropped 0.8 points to 35.7%. They are trailed not by the NDP, however, but instead by the Liberals, who are up two points to 27.6%.

The New Democrats trail in third with 25.2%, down 3.5 points since Nanos's last poll.

Nanos is the polling firm that records Liberal support higher than any other at the moment, while also showing NDP support to be lower than other surveys. It certainly makes it stand out from the others, particularly in terms of its strong Liberal showing in Quebec and its weak NDP number in Ontario.

But there have been two polls recently that pegged Liberal support at 25%, while more have put the NDP at 28%. This does not make Nanos too different, though it does put it on the optimistic side of Liberal support.

The Conservatives are up 7.6 points in Ontario to 42.1%, followed by the Liberals at 35.1%, down 3.3 points. The New Democrats are down a whopping 12.6 points to 16.9%, a number so large that I think we can expect a whopping NDP gain in Nanos's next survey.

Quebec is the most interesting result, and in fact is not too different from the Léger poll below. The New Democrats are down 4.4 points to 29%, while the Liberals are up 3.6 points to 26.5%. The Bloc Québécois is up 4.2 points to 24.1%, while the Conservatives are down 5.7 points to 15.1%. This is not the first poll to show the NDP down to this level of support, and corroborates the slip that Léger has also recorded since mid-December (as well as the Liberal gain).

Elsewhere, the Conservatives have gained 6.6 points in British Columbia and lead with 41%, while they have dropped 6.4 points in the Prairies (including Alberta) to 48.1%. They are also down 12.1 points in Atlantic Canada to 29.5%.

The Liberals have gained 4.5 points in Atlantic Canada to reach 33.6%, while they have not moved much in British Columbia (21.2%, down 1.6) and the Prairies (20.5%, up 1.1). The New Democrats are down 4.7 points to 28.5% in British Columbia, but are up 5.1 points to 25.9% in the Prairies and 9.2 points to 35.2% in Atlantic Canada. The NDP has led in four of five recent polls on the East Coast.

With the current 308-seat electoral map, the Conservatives win 134 seats with the results of this poll. The Liberals win 80 and the New Democrats win 66, while the Greens take one and the Bloc takes 12.

The Conservatives win 20 seats in British Columbia, 24 in Alberta, 16 in the Prairies, 56 in Ontario, eight in Quebec, nine in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The Liberals win four seats in British Columbia, two in Alberta, five in the Prairies, 37 in Ontario, 22 in Quebec, 16 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The New Democrats win 11 seats in British Columbia, two in Alberta, seven in the Prairies, 13 in Ontario, 33 in Quebec, seven in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

This would still give the Liberals and the NDP a combined majority of seats, but would place the NDP in a junior position. And while 29% and 33 seats is not great for the NDP in Quebec compared to their election result (though stellar compared to where they were a year ago), it could be worse.
Léger was last in the field December 13-14, and since then the NDP has dropped five points to 28% in Quebec, a very similar result and trend to what was identified in the Nanos poll.

The Bloc Québécois has picked up one point to close to within one of the NDP, and stands at 27%. The Liberals are up five points to 22%, while the Conservatives are down three to 15%.

Those are not dissimilar results to Nanos. It gives us a range of 28-29% for the NDP, 24-27% for the Bloc, 22-27% for the Liberals, and 15% for the Conservatives. That is relatively tight, but compared to other surveys conducted in January it is on the higher end for both the Liberals and the Bloc, and the lower end for the NDP. Nevertheless, Léger and Nanos have the most up-to-date data available.

The New Democrats have dropped among francophones (seven points to 26%), non-francophones (three points to 33%), in Montreal (four points to 30%), and in the rest of Quebec (nine points to 26%). This is problematic in every case, as it puts the NDP behind the Bloc among francophones and in the rest of Quebec, behind the Liberals among non-francophones, and in a close race with the Bloc and the Liberals in the Montreal area. The NDP has picked up one point in Quebec City, but they stand at 24%, seven points behind the Tories.

The Bloc is up two among francophones, in Montreal, and in the rest of Quebec. They are down six in Quebec City, however.

The Liberals are up four points among francophones and in the rest of Quebec, six points in Montreal and Quebec City, and 10 points among non-francophones.

The Tories have slipped two points among francophones and in Quebec City and five points in Montreal and among non-francophones.

These numbers would result in 27 seats for the Bloc Québécois, 25 for the New Democrats, 15 for the Liberals, and eight for the Conservatives.

Those are very problematic numbers for the NDP. Grafted on to today's parliament, it would reduce the NDP to only 68 seats in the House of Commons (the Liberals would increase to 42, the Conservatives to 169).

Being in the lead is still a good thing for the NDP, but they are in a very delicate position. By the time the next leader is chosen, he or she may take over a party in second or third place in Quebec unless things are turned around. The one advantage the NDP does have in this case, however, appears to be that neither the Liberals nor the Bloc are making their gains by anything but default. Neither party has really done anything to warrant a big increase in support.

The party can try to dismiss the polls considering the next election is still more than three years away, but during the years of the Bloc's dominance in Quebec a drop in support of this size would have been a major story. Much of the support the NDP gained in Quebec in the last election is relatively soft - it has to be, considering how quickly it turned from the other parties to the NDP. Waving away the results of these polls does not take anything away from what appears to be discontent among Quebecers with how the NDP has handled their new role in the province. The NDP ignores this discontent at their own peril.


  1. Bob Rae is doing his best to keep the Liberals afloat. Rae knows how to get media attention, while most of the senior NDP members are clueless. The real test is whether the Liberals could maintain these numbers once the NDP has selected a leader.

    The NDP needs to do a lot of ground work in Quebec and the rest of the country. They need to step up on their fundraising efforts too, as the Liberals are bringing in more money than them.

  2. This just emphasises the fact the NDP needs a leader and given the Quebec numbers that leader should probably be Mulcair.

  3. Waiting until the end of March has been a horrible misstep for the NDP. If the goal is drumming up memberships, I don't know how well that's going. But if the goal has been to increase public interest in the NDP and to increase public awareness of the candidates through a lengthy debating process, then the result has been a dismal failure. I wish the debates could have been closer together, and I wish the whole thing could have already been done now that parliament is sitting again and we've got a budget coming up.

  4. Bungle,

    The Liberals have an interim leader too and are growing their support. It's picking a weak interim leader, not the timing of the leadership race, that's the root of their problems IMHO.

    I realize this is likely a rogue poll and the Liberal support is at least a bit lower than this, but I think this illustrates effectively the most likely direction for the Liberals to take back power.

    1. Ryan,

      I don't know how much Liberal support has really been "growing". As Andrew Steele pointed out in the Globe recently, the recent Liberal "bounce" in the polls looks more like a "dead cat bounce" than anything else, since they're still polling well below what they were polling during pre-write periods unde Dion and Ignatieff.

    2. Well, by growing I mean relatively to the polling from May-July 2011. But yah, clearly not back to what they were before the election. We have 3 and a half years to rebuild though. It's a start! :)

  5. The problem with the NDP support in Québec is that it is too evenly spread out. They lead in popular vote in the province but trail in every demographic and region (except Montréal where they lead by an insignificant 1%). The NDP could easily come in 3rd in terms of seats behind the Liberals and BQ if their vote splits this much.

    The race in Québec will likely be between the Liberals and the NDP as most of the recent polls in Québec have shown large NDP losses and the Liberals holding in 3rd with at least 5% more than their election result (whereas in late 2011, they were in the low teens).

  6. "Waiting until the end of March has been a horrible misstep for the NDP."

    You may recall that initially there was some sentiment in the NDP to schedule the leadership vote in late January - but then a hew and cry went up that such a quick vote would leave no time for membership numbers in Quebec to catch up to the rest of Canada and all the editorials in Quebec started to shriek that Quebec would be disenfranchised and that it was all part of some "fix" to stop Mulcair etc...I'm not sure the NDP would be any better off picking a leader last week with about 5% of the votes coming from Quebec and with the party being raked over the coals in the Quebec media for "humiliating Quebec" etc...

    I've said it before and I will say it again, when we are in the final stages of election 2015 and its October 2015 - the fact that the NDP chose its leader in March as opposed to January of 2012 will not matter one iota.

    1. I gotta agree with you on that, hard to see how a 2 month delay will have a major impact on an election 3 and a half years later. It will mean that NDP criticism of the upcoming budget (in which the Tories will implement all their unpopular policies) will be less effective than it might have been, but outside of political junkies (i.e., the people reading this blog), it's hard to see that having much of an impact on voting results.

      On the other hand, the Liberal decision to push their leadership election back to 2013 is looking worse and worse. When it was first announced, it made sense on the theory that pushing it back a year would increase the pool of potential candidates and help revitalize the party. Increasingly, though, its looking like that effect of pushing back a year will be to allow Bob Rae to use his position as "interim" leader to set himself up as the only credible candidate for leader (which, evidently, was not what was intended - and as an aside, while Rae may be the best politician the Liberals have in their arsenal right now, given his age, he isn't the right person to rebuild the party over an 8 year period). The end result is that they won't have a competitive leadership race, it'll be another corronation a-la-Iggy, and they've just wasted 2 years.

  7. Seems to me that the NDP without Layton at this critical juncture is a big hurdle to their entrenching the last election's results.

    I believe the NDP surge was the result of Quebecors warming to Jack's optimistic campaign and taking a chance on him. Others simply followed suit IMO given Ignatieff's terrible campaign.

    The CPC majority was probably more based on a few center right liberals running scared from a coalition with the NDP as lead.

    It's funny how people can believe that the Liberals are toast. They clearly fill a niche the other parties can't without abandoning their base, while the Libs can poach from either side.

    Bob Rae isn't just doing well. From where I'm sitting he's practically the only politician who looks comfortable in his skin and can speak in a straight forward manner easily understood by all.

    I kind of regret not backing him in any of the leadership contests. In hindsight he would've been a good leader to rebuild the party for the next generation.

    Now he's getting too close to his best before date to serve this role fully.

    Philosopher King

  8. "They clearly fill a niche the other parties can't without abandoning their base, while the Libs can poach from either side."

    The same could have been said of the British Liberal party a century ago. How'd that work for them?

    Bob Rae had damn well better be comfortable in his skin, he's been a politician for 34 years, a party leader for 14 of those and the leader of a government for 5! If he isn't comfortable now, he never will be. He would have been a better choice in 2006 - the Liberals still would have lost the next few elections, but it wouldn't have been the amateur hour that the last 6 years have been. Now, he's too old to lead the Liberals into 2019. I wonder whether he realizes that.

    1. What I'm saying is that they still have considerable potential, a better record, perform better in the house etc etc so it's foolish to under-estimate them when the NDP is in what I would kindly characterize as a precarious position.

      None of the leadership candidates in the NDP impress me at all either. I can't imagine any of them capturing people's imagination like Layton did.

      And what can I say about quoting a century old example from a different country? Hmmm, let's see, how about I just roll my eyes and let it go at that? LOL

      On Bob Rae, you essentially paraphrased my point, so how could I not agree? LOL


  9. Bob Rae is good in opposition, but is not fit to govern.


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