Thursday, March 22, 2012

Conservatives and NDP draw even, Tories win on points

A new poll has caused a bit of stir today, as Environics puts the Conservatives and the New Democrats dead even at 30% apiece. But the NDP needs to be ahead of the Conservatives in some key regions in order to win as many seats as the governing party.
Environics has not been in the field, or at least has not released a poll, since well before the 2 May 2011 vote. Being able to look at the trends would have been helpful in this case.

The Conservatives and NDP are tied with 30% support each, a mark more of Conservative decline than NDP strength. Resilience, however, is another thing entirely as the party has generally held steady since last year's election.

The Liberals are stuck at 20% while the Bloc Québécois stands at 8% nationally, ahead of the Greens who sit at 7% support.

Somewhat problematic is the large result for the Others: 5%. Anything over 1% is unlikely in a general election, putting the remaining 4% in limbo. Adding that 4% to the Conservative result would give us a poll more in line with what other surveys have shown, but it seems like a big stretch to hand one party all of that extra support. If that "Other" result splits 50/25/25 between the Tories and the two main opposition parties, we're still looking at a very close result. Even if it splits 75/25 between the Tories and the NDP, this is still a within-the-margin-of-error gap between the two parties.

The Conservatives are leading in Ontario with 34%, Alberta with 58%, and in the Prairies with 43%. They are trailing in second in British Columbia (30%) and Atlantic Canada (28%).

The New Democrats are ahead in Quebec with 34%, British Columbia with 38%, and Atlantic Canada with 40%, while trailing in second with 19% in Alberta and 31% in the Prairies.

The Liberals are not ahead in any region, but stand in second in Ontario at 27%, one point up on the NDP. The Bloc Québécois trails the NDP with 30% in Quebec.

There is nothing outlandish with these regional results. The NDP has led in several polls on both coasts, and a close race hovering around 30% between the NDP and the BQ seems to be the norm of late. A weaker Conservative result in Ontario has also been a recent feature of polling, while there is nothing unusual in Alberta and the Prairies. In other words, no red flags in this poll.

What might explain this big Conservative decline? It is tempting to point to robo-calls and an impending austerity budget. But this Environics poll needs to be confirmed by some other surveys before we can come to any conclusions, as it stands alone at this point. It is, however, the newest set of data on record (outside of Quebec, at least, see below) so it could be the start of a new trend. The choice of leader at this weekend's NDP convention may or may not clinch this new state of affairs.

However, the NDP vote is not nearly as efficient as that of the Conservatives, who still take the lion's share of seats in Western Canada and almost half of them in Ontario. With these levels of support, the Conservatives win 128 seats to 104 for the New Democrats, 58 for the Liberals, 17 for the Bloc Québécois, and one for the Greens.

It is noteworthy, however, that despite the Bloc returning to official party status the NDP and Liberals are strong enough to combine for a majority government without needing the support of the Bloc and all the political baggage that brings.

The Conservatives win 14 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 19 in the Prairies, 52 in Ontario, four in Quebec, 11 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north. They would likely win 143 seats in the 338-seat House of Commons, increasing their share from 41.6% to 42.3%.

The New Democrats win 16 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, six in the Prairies, 24 in Ontario, 45 in Quebec, 11 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north. That would be upped to 113 seats in the expanded Commons, but their share would decrease from 33.8% to 33.4%.

The Liberals win five seats in British Columbia, three in the Prairies, 30 in Ontario, nine in Quebec, 10 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north. They would likely win 63 seats on the larger map, their share decreasing from 18.8% to 18.6%. The NDP and Liberals could still combine for a Bloc-less majority, however.

With the convention this weekend, this is certainly a bit of good news for the New Democrats. But they still have a ways to go. They need to be doing much better in Ontario, where they still trail in third, in order to surpass the Conservatives.

Quebec, however, remains key. Though the NDP and Liberals could get away with these 17 Bloc seats, the NDP would do far better to have those 13 BQ gains in their own hands. And, as a more recent CROP poll indicates, things are still very much in the air.
CROP was last in the field 17-21 February 2012, and since then the New Democrats have slipped two points to 29% in Quebec. They still hold a lead over the Bloc Québécois, however, though the party has gained four points to hit 28% support.

The Liberals are also up, gaining two points to reach 22% while the Conservatives are down three points to 19% support.

The New Democrats are ahead in the Montreal region with 31%, but that is still a drop of two points since mid-February. They are trailing in second to the Bloc Québécois among francophones (30%, -1) and in the regions of Quebec (28%, -3).

The Bloc Québécois has 33% support among francophones, up four points since the last poll, and hold a wide lead in the regions with 36%, a gain of nine points.

The Liberals lead among non-francophones with 40%, a gain of six points. They are also running second in Montreal (25%, +3) and in Quebec City (24%, +7), which is a bit of a shocker.

The Conservatives are ahead in Quebec City with 33% (-4) and place second among non-francophones with 28% (-4).

With these results, the Bloc Québécois would win 27 seats to 22 for the NDP, 15 for the Liberals, and 11 for the Conservatives. This is a very different result from Environics's poll, and would transform the projection for their national numbers to 135 Conservatives, 81 New Democrats, 64 Liberals, and 27 Bloc MPs. This means the NDP and Liberals could combine for only 145 seats, short of a majority and so requiring the support of the Bloc Québécois.

This is why Quebec is so important to the New Democrats. If they are to form a government on their own, they absolutely need Quebec before they can even think of making the gains required in the rest of the country. If they are to form a government in tandem with the Liberals, they still need to hold on to the bulk of their Quebec seats, otherwise the Bloc wins too many for the two parties to govern without the support of the politically toxic BQ.

Poll after poll indicates that Thomas Mulcair is the NDP's best hope for Quebec, but there is nothing that says that a Brian Topp or a Peggy Nash, for instance, would not be able to gain traction in the province over the next three years. But the question with them is whether they can gain the support the party needs in the province, whereas Mulcair merely has to maintain the support that polls indicate he would have. The easier task is obvious.


  1. I may as well get the party started.

    A lot of people have fortgotten how majority governments work.

    We have not had one since Mulroney. Chretien got 3 but was always calling an election when the polls said he could win another. Not at all good for the country but good for Chretien's legacy as a politician.

    The way a majority works is that the government does all the unpopular cuts to numerous groups that make a big noise in the first budget.

    This budget will cut the PS, Government spending and grants to a variety of NGO and groups that have become entitled to unquestioned tax-payers $

    There is screaming and nashing of teeth. If an election were to be held the CPC would be booted out of office with the opposition being provided by special interests groups that are fighting for their survival.

    If the CPC were ever to raise taxes this would be the budget to do it in.

    Imagine how biased the CBC would be if they had a chance to hang onto the 1.2B/yr funding that gets cut to 800,000M..... They are obviously willing to spend the 400M in open warfare with the CPC to keep their budget. However this year they risk another 400M cut next year and every year thereafter should they fight too hard. They fight but are thnkful it was not worse.

    The second budget will be more of the same. The third budget will be a stay the course minor adjustment budget.

    The fourth will open up the grants to groups , cities, provinces that have a solid plan and will make good use of government funding.

    Then there will be the election budget that will have great things and handouts to everyone just so long as the CPC gets a majority...

    The polls and seat projections are for total amusement for the next 3 years.

    1. I agree with you to a point. Certainly it is well worn political practice for the government of the day to do all the hard, unpopular, crap early then hand out goodies later on in their mandate. However, that only works so long. As was the case with the Liberals, that strategy eventually just isn't enough to let them pass muster with the voters. Eventually we get tired of hodling our noses, or wake up or whatever, and turf the bums out. Will it be the CPC's turn in 2015? Who knows? That's what makes the psychology of politics so much fun. Polls aren't irrevelent though. They show trends for specific times, and for political junkies, they're interesting.

    2. LOL, just LOL.

      Are you sure you're not Dean Del Mastro.

      Read what Environics said. The CPC is sinking over robocalls scandal. The Elections fraud is going to linger over the next 3 years and cost Harper dearly, and none of your excuses will change that.

    3. He's just doing Harper's damage control as usual.

    4. Agree with you entirely BCVOR. The next election will be determined far more by what happens in the next 3 years than what's happened to date.

      I'd just caution you not to underestimate the danger of damaging a party's overall brand. If people take it for granted that your party is corrupt or fiscally irresponsible that can be tough to shake off.

    5. That generally works better when a party hasn't already been in office for almost six years. By October 2015, the CPC will be at just shy of 11 years, which is on the long side of average in terms of governmental life-spans in Canada. In terms of uninterrupted time in power, only Chretien/Martin, Trudeau, King, Laurier and MacDonald. In other words, they are likely to be approaching their "throw the bums out" stale date.

    6. pinkobme... I know I was rambling but a point I was trying to make was the Liberals did not govern like a majority was supposed to. They were always ready to take advantage of the polls and go for another "majority" 3 years into a 5 year mandate.

      TS ... This is the first year of Majority government. It is the first year the CPC can do anything that they do not have to go to the polls immediately to fight an election on.

      The CPC have been fighting off faux scandal and probably have a much higher degree of internal ethical checks than is the case for a government entering its 6th year.

    7. Except roboscandal is real and serious. Someone is going to prison and if they are a CPC (which is likely) Harper will eat it like Martin ate Adscam.

    8. AR poll

      The momentum score for Stephen Harper stands at -28, with more than a third of respondents (37%) acknowledging that their opinion of the Prime Minister has worsened over the course of the past month. The best scores this month are posted by Elizabeth May of the Green Party (-4) and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae (-5). In fact, Rae’s numbers on improvement (13%) are significantly higher than those of all the other leaders.

    9. Anonymous.

      That is your take away from an AR poll that had the CPC at except same support 37 that the last AR poll (april 29,2011) before the CPC Majority election of may 2,2011.

      if the CPC support is still as solid as that when they are about to cut billions of spending and PS jobs and build prisons no self respecting hug-a-thug wants and planning to be as unpopular as they will be in the next 3 years it My take-away is we are in for a long long run of CPC majorities.

      It is amazing that EKOS and AR both have the CPC support at exactly what they thought it was at last election.

      This is the time that the CPC should be down in the polls like Environics suggests.

  2. And where are the CPC supporters that vilified Graves for having the same result. Looks like this is the second poll to show a Harper dive in the polls. I expect more to come. The polls reflect scandal slowly and you are now just beginning to see the damage the Harper team has reaped upon themselves for their shameless cover up.

    1. Clearly it's the Pirate Party. I fully expect our next Prime Minister to be Long John Silver, governing in a coalition with the Rhinos. ;)

    2. Angus Reid out today with a poll contradicting this one.

      Graves and Environics on one side with everyone else on the other.


    3. Isn't Graves EKOS? The last EKOS poll showed a Tory gain, didn't it?

    4. You're not adding to the narrative, Ira.

    5. Angus Reid shows Harpers personal numbers plummetting. He scored far worse than Rae or Mae.

  3. Did environics shift their polling somehow to prompt for others ?

    That's just such a huge number. Or is it coming from Alberta with people thinking Wildrose ?

    Since that support seems to have come out of the Conservatives it seems logical that it would go back to it when push comes to shove during an election.

    Bad news seems to be creating many shy Tories though.

    1. I believe Eric said that not all of it is likely to have come from the CPC and it does pose a problem for them due to that fact.

  4. Isnt that CROP poll an example of Simpsons Paradox? NDP loses Francophones and Anglophones, but wins Quebec overall.

    1. Yes, indeed it would seem to be. In this case, the NDP has the advantage of doing moderately well in both groups, whereas no other party can do well in more than one.

  5. The breakdown is interesting and while entirely possible I'm a bit skeptical of two aspects of this poll. First the Atlantic Canada numbers are always a bit wonky and it is hard to get a solid bearing on that region given it has a pretty diffuse population and seats often end up split quite heavily between different parties. That being said I'm quite skeptical the NDP are actually ahead by 12 over the Liberals in that region. I think it is more likely to be relatively close race. The Liberal probably would still win a good chunk of NFL and PEI, especially if more noise is made about changes to the fisheries act by the Conservatives. NS and NB seats can go almost any way. Secondly I'm also a bit skeptical of the Ontario numbers. They are plausible but the Liberals are usually a bit closer to tied with the Conservatives in the polling trend and the NDP usually trail by a bit more (around 5 points usually at least).

    Regardless though the Conservative's would very feasibly be reduced to a minority and probably don't have the support to get a majority again (minding an election is a few years away). The probability of a NDP-Lib coalition is very real if the Conservatives were reduced to a minority again and would avoid the mess of a merger. I'd be interested if Elizabeth May retains her seat or not in the next election under this scenario.

    Just for a note on the Angus Reid poll recently as well, my experience with Angus Reid is that it usually tends to have a much larger range of numbers than other pollsters. I think it would be fair to say that Angus Reid often overestimates the front-runner and underestimates the third place party.

  6. And the most trusted party ??


  7. Eric

    Is there any information at all were the 60,000 votes came from?

    What portion of Mulcair's 34,000 winning votes came from Quebec?

    I doubt we will ever know. It will remain a mystery like the voter suppression of the 65,000 NDP members.

    The singing of the o-a-a-oh-ay -- the traditional taunt song of Montreal by the winning Mulcair side to the rest of the convention and Canada would give a strong indication of Mr. Mulcair's power base and prime special interest group to which he is beholding.


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