Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NDP up in BC, down in Quebec

On Friday, The National Post reported on a new Forum Research poll that looked at the federal voting intentions of Canadians. It also peeked at who Canadians think should be the next leader of the NDP.

Of course, yesterday was quite the day in NDP polling, as internal numbers from the Dewar and Mulcair campaigns were released. I'll go into more detail on them tomorrow when the endorsement rankings are updated, but in the meantime you can read my article about them at The Huffington Post Canada here.
Forum was last in the field on January 13, and since then there has been very little change at the national level. The Conservatives are up one to 36%, the New Democrats are unchanged at 28%, and the Liberals are up one to 26%.

The Bloc Québécois is steady at 6% while the Greens are down one to 3%.

Things are also steady in Ontario, where the Conservatives are at 42% (+1), the Liberals are at 29%, and the NDP is at 24% (-1).

But there have been big shifts in Quebec and British Columbia. On the West Coast, the New Democrats have picked up seven points and now lead with 39%, well ahead of the Conservatives. And this despite them gaining two points to hit 32%. The Liberals have made the room, dropping six points to 24%.

Quebec is the most significant change, as the Liberals have moved into first place ahead of the NDP. They are up seven points to 28% while the New Democrats are down four points to 25%. The Conservatives are up two to 24% and the Bloc is down three to 20%.

Could it be? While Forum is the first and only polling firm to put the Liberals ahead of the NDP in Quebec, they are not the first to show an increase in Liberal strength in the province as well as a decrease in support for the NDP.
This chart shows results in Quebec for the Liberals and NDP since the beginning of December (not spaced out correctly for time, but you get the idea). While the results are somewhat of a scatter shot, an uptick in Liberal support coupled with a slip in NDP support has become apparent.

This is somewhat surprising, though not because the New Democrats may have slipped into second. They have been on a downward trajectory since October-November. What is surprising is that the Liberals, the party of the sponsorship scandal, may have moved into first. Many had suspected that Quebec was lost to the Liberals and would be for a very long time. Perhaps a rebound of the Bloc Québécois is not inevitable, and in the absence of a consensus alternative to the unpopular Conservatives it is the Liberals that will benefit.

The rest of the poll shows pretty standard fare, the Conservatives well ahead in the Prairies (including Alberta) and a three-way race in Atlantic Canada.

The Conservatives win 150 seats with the results of this poll. The New Democrats win 84 and the Liberals take 67, which is quite problematic for them. With a total of 151 seats, the NDP and Liberals are not in a position to form a majority coalition government. For one, the Conservatives are too high in Ontario, but the NDP and Liberals are also shooting each other in the foot by running so close together as the alternative option.

The Conservatives win 13 seats in British Columbia, 26 in Alberta, 16 in the Prairies, 64 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, 14 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The New Democrats win 16 seats in British Columbia, two in Alberta, nine in the Prairies, 22 in Ontario, 28 in Quebec, six in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The Liberals win six seats in British Columbia, three in the Prairies, 20 in Ontario, 25 in Quebec, 12 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The Bloc Québécois wins six seats in Quebec and the Greens win one in British Columbia.
Now to the NDP leadership race, which Forum has been polling for some time. Their findings have been waved off as irrelevant since they are polling all Canadians or NDP supporters (as if their opinions are irrelevant!), but surprisingly the most recent figures from Forum actually line-up generally well with the recent internal polling from the campaigns of Paul Dewar and Thomas Mulcair. Aside from a slight under-estimation of Nathan Cullen's support and an over-estimation of Thomas Mulcair's, Forum's polling of NDP supporters is actually not too far off what polls of NDP members have indicated.

In this survey, Mulcair leads the pack among decided NDP supporters with 38%, followed by Peggy Nash at 17%, Paul Dewar at 14%, and Brian Topp at 12%. If we take out the undecideds, Mulcair has the support of 19% to 8% for Nash, 7% for Dewar, and 6% for Topp. Canadians generally share that opinion, though there is a tie among the three that appear to have been identified as running in a close race for second in Dewar's and Mulcair's polling.

Since Forum has begun tracking these numbers, there has been very little change. Mulcair was at 19% among all NDP supporters in early January as well, while the others have been going up or down a tick over the past few months without any clear trend. It would appear that NDP supporters are most apt to prefer Mulcair but aside from that no other candidate is building up a head of steam, at least in the opinion of the general public. But it is interesting to see that their opinion is not so out of step with that of the NDP's membership, at least at this stage of the game.


  1. Wow, Quebec is really fertile ground for any political party, provincial or federal. I would have never thought the Liberals would be ahead of the NDP and BQ in Quebec, after their disastrous fourth place result in the province.

    This just shows that it is Mulcair or bust for the NDP. Nash, Dewar and Cullen are no doubt talented, but I doubt they can create a permanent foundation for the NDP in Quebec.

  2. The NDP falling in Quebec is the best thing to happen to the Mulcair campaign, I'd say they are delighted?

    Are you going to post the leadership numbers for the Liberals Eric? If you're not doing an article could you post them here?

  3. If forum is correct it's good to see the Conservatives gaining some traction in Quebec.

    1. Agree totally. It's bad for the country to have the second largest province with so few representatives in the government.

  4. One minor observation...remember when electing an MP was supposed to represent a big "break through" for the Green Party?? Well Elizabeth May is in parliament and gets plenty of publicity and yet support for her party is wayyyyy down from what polls were routinely showing back when they had no seats! This poll says 3%. I remember when they were often getting 11-12% a year ago.

  5. These numbers are really surprising.

    On Quebec the last leger-marketing on end of January (Quebec only survey, bigger sample), they were polling the BQ at 27%, the NDP at 28%, LPC at 22% and CPC at 15%.

    Think I will wait for the next léger-marketing...

  6. Eric that's pretty stunning that the CPC is winning that many seats with only 36% of the vote. Especially compared to the 124 seats they got in 2006 with 36% of the vote.

    Ontario seems to make all the difference in Canadian politics.

    Quick question.

    What's your rough seat count total if the new seats are added with the forum poll ?

  7. Maybe 167 or 168, right on the cusp of the 170 needed for a majority.

  8. The polls in Quebec have been very topsy-turvy. They all agree that the NDP is down from the big win last May - and realistically in the short term after what happened last year, the NDP probably had no where to go but down. No one agrees on who has picked up the slack, some polls show the BQ gaining ground, some the Liberals, some even the Tories...for the most part its a bit of a four-way race right now. I think one thing we observers in English Canada need to keep in mind is the extent to which federal politics is totally off the radar screen right now in Quebec. To the extent that people pay attention to politics at all - its focused on the provincial scenes and the "perils of Pauline" etc... Federal preferences are very, verey, very soft right now. Even if the NDP was still polling at 45% - big deal, the BQ was polling in the high 40s just weeks before they lost almost all their seats!

  9. I disagree somewhat, federal politics in terms of recent decisions made by the Conservative government are certainly on the radar screen in Quebec.

  10. Quebec continues to perplex me with the Liberals holding its neck ahead of not just the Tories and the NDP, but also the Bloc! I would've expected the Bloc to pick up many of the NDP's supporters.

    God, that province is so damn unpredictable sometimes.

  11. When was the last time the Liberals polled in first place in Quebec? 2009?

  12. The last election in which the Liberals finished first in Quebec was in 2000.

  13. The Liberals stand to gain the most in Québec given they finished in fourth place in the last election. It seems the Québec race has always been between the incumbent and the party with the least baggage. 2000 was all about the Liberals, 2004 was the BQ (dumped Liberals due to sponsorship), 2006 was the Conservative breakthrough (elect some government MPs), 2008 was a small return to the Liberals (swing against Conservatives) and 2011 was a major shift to the NDP (one term too many for the BQ).

    It does not matter who the NDP chooses for their leader except that they have to choose him/her soon because they are set to lose many seats in Québec and the gains in English Canada may not be able to offset the drops. Though technically in this poll, the Liberals, NDP and Elizabeth May combine for 152 seats, it may be enough for a working majority given that the BQ is more likely to support the progressive coalition than the Conservatives though it has yet to be seen where the Liberals have strong Ontario and Québec support in the same poll.

    1. People, give it a rest ... the election's in 2015.

    2. Any minority which relies on Bloc support would be incredibly toxic outside of Quebec, and would surely result in a Conservative majority - likely a large one - in an ensuing election, if the west had not already separated.

  14. Anon 08:06

    Right on !!

    Concentrate on local/provincial stuff for the next two years. Ain't gonna be a Fed for over two years !!

    1. Gotta plot early to bring down Harper!


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