Friday, March 9, 2012

NDP back in first in Quebec

A new poll by Forum Research shows that, despite the robocall allegations and indications that more Canadians blame the Conservatives for the alleged calls than any other party, support remains unchanged at the national level. But in Quebec, the New Democrats have moved back into first place after languishing in second or even third in Forum's polling.

You can read my article about what this new Forum poll says about the robocall allegations at The Huffington Post Canada here.
Forum Research was last in the field on February 6, and since then the Conservatives have gained one point. They now lead with 37% support.

The New Democrats are unchanged at 28% while the Liberals have slipped one point to 25%.

The Bloc Québécois is down one to 5% and the Greens are up one to 4%.

Forum made two very welcome improvements to their polling, at least in this report. Alberta has split off from the Prairies and the poll was taken over two days instead of over one. Hopefully, Forum will continue to conduct and report its findings in this manner.

The most noteworthy regional shift in this poll is in Quebec, where the NDP has picked up six points (since Forum's Quebec-only February 23 poll) and leads once again with 28%. They are trailed by the Liberals, unchanged at 26%, and the Bloc Québécois, down six points to 23%. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are up one point to 18%.

The Conservatives lead in every other region of the country. In Ontario, they are down four points to 38% while the NDP is up five points to 29% to tie the Liberals, who are unchanged from last month.

In British Columbia, the Conservative have picked up eight points and now lead with 40%. The New Democrats stand at 31% (-8) and the Liberals at 17% (-7). The Greens get their best result here with 11% support, up six points.

The Conservatives lead with 69% in Alberta, followed by the NDP (16%) and the Liberals (11%), while they hold a narrow lead in Atlantic Canada with 35% (+2) to the NDP's 33% (unchanged) and the Liberals' 29% (+1).

And in the Prairies, the Conservatives have 47% support to 27% for the Liberals and 25% for the NDP. That is a bit of an odd result, as in most polls the Liberals have been languishing in third in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

With these levels of support, the Conservatives win 149 seats, six short of a majority. The New Democrats win 77 seats and the Liberals win 70, giving them a combined 147 seats, two short of the Tories. The Bloc Québécois wins 11 seats while the Greens win one.

The Conservatives win 20 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 21 in the Prairies, 56 in Ontario, 10 in Quebec, 14 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The New Democrats win 11 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in the Prairies, 24 in Ontario, 32 in Quebec, six in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

The Liberals win four seats in British Columbia, five in the Prairies, 26 in Ontario, 22 in Quebec, 12 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the north.

In a 338-seat House of Commons, the Conservatives win 166 seats, only four short of a majority. Their share of all seats increases from 48.4% to 49.1%.

The NDP wins 83 seats, its share decreasing from 25% to 24.6%, while the Liberals win 76 seats, their share decreasing from 22.7% to 22.5%.

This is the first poll in a little while to show the Conservatives so close to a majority. Another feature of recent polling is that the New Democrats and Liberals are no longer in a position to outnumber the Conservatives, and especially to form a majority on their own. This is partly the fault of the Bloc Québécois. Though their support is still stuck at around where it was in May 2011, they are doing much better relative to the New Democrats. The seven extra seats they win in this poll make a big difference - hand them to the NDP and a combination of Liberal, Green, and NDP seats would total 154, or half of the House.

What is perhaps most surprising is that support for the Conservatives is rock solid, despite the allegations flying about. Can the Tories sail through another bit of bad news unscathed, or is this the calm before the storm?


  1. The vote splitting in the Prairies and Ontario give the Conservatives their strong minority. The NDP for example is probably shut out of Saskatchewan since their two seats in the Prairies are the ones they currently hold. The only way for the NDP to form government is to keep the BQ at low levels while making inroads out west.

  2. If the robocall scandal continues to leave the CPC unscathed, it will be a sad indictment of almost 40% of the population, who really don't care whether they live a democracy or not.

    1. Perhaps, but, it may also be the failure of the opposition parties to prove the robocall affair is criminal. Thus far, we have allegations not proven fact. For all the brouhaha regarding robocalls not a single voter has come forth to complain he or she was disenfranchised or decided not to vote-if no one comes forward what is the scandal about? Not much, which probably indicates the effectiveness of robocalls.

      Secondly, don't blame Canadians for supporting who they do. The 40% who support the Tories may indicate a disinterest in the robocall affair maybe democracy itself-however, it may also be looked at as a strong rebuke of the other options on the table. If opposition parties can't score points with a scandal entirely of the Government's making then they need to take a good hard look at themselves.

    2. It took a while for the Sponsorship Scandal to damage Liberal numbers, yet we all know the end result...

      So far there hasn't been direct evidence of involvement by any higher ups in the party. If/when there is, I'd expect the polls to shift.

  3. So within a week, and we've seen 3 polls released (Ekos, Nanos, Forum) saying 3 different things.

    Ekos is accused of over-rating the NDP. Nanos is accused of over-rating the Liberals. And now Forum can be accused of over-rating the Conservatives.

    This is just mayhem.

    1. mayhem?

      None of the polls you mention have any movement month over month.

      That is about as far from mayhem as you can get.

  4. I'm with TS on this. The scandal is bound to hurt the Conservatives over time.

    1. Only if it was them. If it was, I can see the moderate conservatives that currently vote CPC voting either LPC or sitting on their hands. the hard core CPC voters will continue to vote CPC, much like hard core LPC did after AdScam.

  5. TS - Or, Canadians just aren't as willing to jump to conclusions as you are.

    How much this hurts the CPC will likely be based on how plausible their denials are. Plausible deniability gets you everywhere.

    And even that assumes they've actually done the things they're accused of having done. It seems odd, to me, that so many of these complaints emerged all at the same time, and months after the election.

    1. too many of the complaints are of just plain annoying calls too.

      only a small few of the 30k plus are about the EC polling station false calls.

      Plausable deniability is far easier to come up with when the people doing the accusing are armwaving and making stuff up to support the smaller scandal.

      When the big armwaving stuff turns out not to be true,... people dismiss the real scandal too.

  6. I think the "robocall" scandal isn't turning up in the polls for two reasons.

    First, for now there's really very little concrete evidence (as opposed to allegations) of wrongdoing on the part of the Tories and what concrete evidence there is (particularly in Guelph) point to local, and seemingly isolated, occurences by local campaign workers (I suspect the fact that Harper and Giurno made adament public denials of any wrongdoing has some weight too). If more evidence arises, then hey, things might change, but in the absence of particularly compelling evidence of Tory guilt, it's not surprising that Canadians are withholding judgement on the point.

    Second, the opposition parties have so thoroughly muddied the waters, they've undermined their own position and their own credibility. By dredging up every annoying phone call (some of which were almost certainly made by the Liberals) as evidence of voter suppression, their attack comes accross as partisan, rather than principled, and is discounted on that basis. Some of those allegations may play to their base, many of whom believe (unreasonably) that the Tories are capable of anything, but it doesn't come accross as legitimate concern to either Tory voters or swing voters, it just seems like political mudslinging. Indeed, some of that may backfire, because I have little doubt that some of the purported "Tories" pretending to be Liberals, were just Liberals being themselves - i.e., annoying.

    What's going to happen is that Elections Canada will investigate all 31,000 complaints and dismiss 99.9% of them. Had the opposition been smart, they would have tried to focus on the few instances where there appears to be some evidence, and gone for a 100% conviction rate. Now, instaed of a headline that reads "Guelph Tory Campaign Nailed for Election Fraud", the headline will read "National Tory Campaign Cleared of Election Fraud". Both the NDP and the Liberals have to learn to be more subtle, swinging for the fences is fun and all, but doesn't do you much good if you don't hit the ball.

    1. This is spot on.

      A minor addition to all this is that 31,000 complaints will take much longer for EC to deal with. The delay of the investigation result, if positive, will attenuate the shock value of it.

    2. And even worse, because a number of those complaints spoke with opposition party investigators before they spoke with elections Canada, there's a risk that their evidence might be seen as tainted. It's bad enough that their evidence is coming out 10 months after the fact (do you remember the text of voicemails you received 10 months ago?), but when it comes out 10 months after the fact and perhaps after a discussion with an opposition party worker, the optics are terrible. In a criminal trial, you could imagine what a lawyer would make of that ("Oh, so you filed a complaint with elections Canada only after you spoke with opposition pary worker").

      And that isn't to say that the opposition parties have done anything wrong, I'm certain they haven't done anything intentionally wrong (although they might have inadvertently tainted a witnesses recollection. It's easy to imagine asking someone "did the message you received sound something like this..."), but it's the optics that count. They should have taken a "hands-off" approach to this from day 1.

    3. Predictably, in today's Globe, we have Elections Canada announcing that the "majority" of the 31,000 alleged robocall complaints, wheren't substantive allegations of misdeeds, but form letters prepared by and other online activist groups.

      How could leadnow (and others) have been so stupid? Apart from giving the Tories a plausible talking point that the alleged robocall scandal is a smear campaign organized by sore losers, they've diverted Elections Canada resources away from legitimate allegations of illegal or fraudulent behaviour.

  7. Does Forum release their 'undecided' percentage? If so, has that number been increasing? Because the most logical outcome of the robocall affair doesn't seem to me to be a CPC voter switching allegiances to the NDP or LPC so much as merely switching to 'undecided'. An affair that makes you like one party less doesn't by default make you like another more. And while certainly a larger number of CPC voters than opposition voters switching to 'undecided' would have an effect on overall redistributed numbers, it might not be so readily apparent (and it could, also, cause LPC or NDP voters to get disgusted enough with the whole state of affairs in Ottawa to also shift to 'undecided').

  8. IVR polling is not very good for tracking undecideds, I don't think. People who both to answer tend not to be undecided voters, as opposed to calls made by a live person where people might be more likely to stay on the line.

    Forum doesn't list undecideds, but we can surmise the number of undecideds by the portion of the sample that gives an answer on the VI question. In their last two polls, that number was about 5%, with no major change.

  9. The elephant in the room - as so often in political discussions - is media coverage of the robocall scandal, and the impact that coverage has on the public. Though there have been plenty of stories about the robocalls (until the past couple of days, anyway) the tone has been generally (especially editorially) to minimise the importance of the potential scandal. There are exceptions, but they are few in the mainstream media, despite occasional huffing and puffing, little has been published with much substance (true, the Elections Canada investigation is still underway) and almost nothing as far as I can tell about the implications of such a scandal in terms of democracy. It has to be said, assuming any of the allegations are true, even if the dirty tricks were 100% unsuccessful in preventing anyone form voting, etc., that makes no difference to their effect of undermining democracy. You do not measure the justice of an act by whether it succeeded in its own terms, but rather by its moral status.

  10. As a person who doesn't like answering the phone, I know that if I find a predictive dialer on the other end that isn't yet ready for me (I answer the phone to be greeted by dead air) I hang up immediately.

    As such, I'm more likely to respond to an IVR system than I am to a real person, because IVR systems don't make me wait.

  11. Eric,

    I just had an opportunity to read your Huffington post piece. The fact that Tory voters reported receiving misleading phone calls is interesting. As you say, the numbers are small, and likely not significant in any way (and query about recollection bias) but it suggests a more innocent explanation might be at play - i.e., error. Surely the Tories weren't out to mislead their own voters.

    While there's a certain segment of the population willing to credit the Tories for being James Bond-esque super villains (and the Liberals and NDP as being secular saints). The reality is that most of the people involved in an election campaign (for any party) are neither particularly evil nor particularly smart.

    That campaigns might have called people to inform them about polling locations (despite having been told not to) is easy to believe. That callers (whether in call centers or campaign workers) might indentify themselves as being from elections Canada (and I gather from people who are more active than I am that call center callers routinely go off script), or that callers might think they identified themselves as being from elections Canada (If I called you and said that Elections Canada had changed the polling station, you might reasonably conclude that I was calling from Elections Canada) also is pretty easy to believe.

  12. I guess the other consideration is that it isn't just political parties who can make robocalls. One can readily think of a number of interest groups (from all ends of the political spectrum) who might have an interest in the outcome of the election (including some with a history of shady tactics). I can also think of some based in the US who might not be familiar with our election laws or might just not care if they're breaking them.

    For example, there's a recording out today of a robocall encouraging guelph voters to vote strategically against the local conservative candidate because of their views on abortion. Not in itself a problem, except the caller doesn't identify on whose behalf their calling, which is a problem. The obvious point is that this isn't a call that any political party would make. The Tories obviously wouldn't tell voters to vote for someone else, the NDP wouldn't encourage voters to vote strategically (since they weren't likely to win that riding) and while the Liberals would tell voters to vote strategically, they'd also them to vote for the Liberals.

    Rather, this sounds like a third party trying to throw support to the Liberals, and seeing as this third party didn't identify themselves, any bets that they complied with the various obligations for third parties under the Elections Act(returns, spending limits, yada, yada, yada)? Yeah, probably not.

    Well, if the NDP and Liberal supporters are keen on having a by-election in ridings where there is evidence of illegal actions, I don't suppose the Tories would oppose such an election in Guelph. Probably not what NDP and Liberal supporters had in mind.

  13. I'm somewhat surprised that Conservative bloggers are still spinning that there is no evidence that this came from the Conservative party. The evidence is overwhelming that it does, and honest Conservative themselves have acknowledged it. What's uncertain is who withihn the party did it and who will go to jail for it.

    The fact that some Conservative bloggers still maintain this fiction indicates that they believe the strategy of flat-out denial is working. The fact that the party is no longer on the same page on this is an indication that fingerpointing within the party is weakening party unity on this. Several Conservative riding association members in Quebec and Ontario are now talking publicly about more in-out money laundering riding between riding and national campaigns to pay for these calls. After all, no one wants to go to jail, and Election Canada made progress this week in identifying the culprit at the Conservative Guelph riding office.

    The problem is that unless you pay very close attention, you don't see the mountain of evidence. Like the sponsorship scandal, this isn't going away soon, and perceptions will change over time. As search warrants are issued, subpoena's served, trials conducted, and jail sentences handed out over the next few years, this will have an effect.

    1. Anonymous,

      You probably should have read my earlier post when I said: "Had the opposition been smart, they would have tried to focus on the few instances where there appears to be some evidence, and gone for a 100% conviction rate. Now, instaed of a headline that reads "Guelph Tory Campaign Nailed for Election Fraud"..."

      If you want to characterize that as "flat out denial" that's fine, but I don't think a fair-minded person would.

  14. Carl the calls you speak of came from the Liberal MP in the riding:

    A campaign volunteer used a fake name to record the message.

    It did not specify which group it was coming from. That seems to be a violation of the law.

    The Liberal MP claims to have spoken to elections canada and they said the call didn't break the law.

    Elections Canada could not confirm his claim.

    They then repeated that all calls must specify who they are coming from.

    We now have one confirmed case of electoral misconduct in the riding of Geulph using robocalls.

    Except the Liberals were behind it. Not the Tories.

    1. Yeah but the Libs were just performing the same time-tested Tory tactic of slagging the other guy. The real problem (crime) in Guelph was the calls directing people (non-CPC supporters) to non-existing polling stations. The CPC will likely wear that over time. I also don't agree with some of you that this fraud problem is only in Guelph. There have been reports out here in BC, in at least two constituencies, from people who have publicly identified themselves, of similar misleading calls.
      Spin, spin, spin as fast as you can but all you catch are Tory crimes (allegedly for you sensitive types).

  15. pink

    Elisabeth May filed a report with Elections Canada within days of her win detailing the "moved polling place" robocalls her riding got !!

    So it ain't only Guelph !!

  16. 1.just curious: why you don`t do seat break-downs now and in perpetuity based only on 338 (no longer 308) as this will be the 2015 reality? i.e. why don`t you re-name yourself *338* ?
    2.Percentages are settling in
    circa 40-25-25-5-5 (always boost Tories because of faithfuls` turn-out plus effective robocall tactics). Mr. Layton has passed away, this is the reality. There is only one issue now: will anti-Tories figure out how to co-ordinate to defeat Harper in 2015? If they won`t do that, then I fail to see what the bother is
    anymore of spending the next 3 years continually evaluating voters` theoretical intentions.


    1. Until the boundaries for the new 338-seat map are decided, I will only be using the known boundaries of the current 308-seat map as my "official" projections.

      And no, I won't be renaming the site.

  17. Oups!!!!!

    11 mars 2012
    Le Bloc québécois déloge le NPD
    ." Leur appui au Bloc québécois, soit 31 %,...Le NPD, qui a pourtant remporté la forte majorité des sièges au Québec lors du scrutin du 2 mai dernier, arrive deuxième (27 %), suivi du Parti libéral du Canada (22 %). Les conservateurs de Stephen Harper arrivent pour leur part loin derrière, ne récoltant qu’un mince 14 % d’appuis..."
    Le sondage révèle aussi que si 45 % des Québécois préfèrent que leur province devienne un pays souverain. C’était 34% avant le référendum volé de 1995 où on a eu 50% pour le oui!
    Advenant la « séparation » du Québec, selon vous, est-ce que le Québec se porterais mieux, aussi biens ou moins bien « sans le Canada » ?
    Mieux 28%, Aussi bien 21%,Moins bien 43%, ne sait pas/refus 8%

  18. I'm betting that the Conservatives will see the same effect we've seen in the last 3 majority situations in federal politics. First Trudeau, then Mulroney then Chretien all left their parties in an unwinnable situation when they left and they were slaughtered. Be it scandals, unpopular policies, or whatever it is hard for a party to be in power for multiple terms without leaving a mess that annoys voters and leads to someone else taking over.

    I think the big questions are...
    1) When will Harper retire
    2) Will the NDP/Liberals merge and when

    If Harper sticks it out for another term (and I suspect he will) and the NDP/Liberals stay apart for this term (and I suspect they will) then after the next election things will get very, very messy as others in the CPC caucus will be pushing for change (due to some getting older and seeing their window closing) and the NDP/Liberals will know if the NDP surge was a Layton only or a permanent fixture - if permanent then merger happens, if not then we'll see how it goes.

  19. "Layton only or a permanent fixture - if permanent then merger happens, if not then we'll see how it goes. "

    I think we will find that in fact the NDP "surge" was a Layton only affair and thus no merger !!


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