Monday, April 30, 2012

Tories narrowly lead NDP

A year after the federal election, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats are almost neck-and-neck in national voting intentions. But while the gain for the main opposition party is well within the norm, the Prime Minister has lost more support than he did one year after his election victories in 2006 and 2008.

A weighted average of all public polls puts Conservative support at 34 per cent nationwide and narrowly ahead of the New Democrats, who trail with 32.9 per cent support. This represents a gain of 2.3 points over the last year for the NDP but a loss of 5.6 points for the Conservatives since the election. Compared to Mr. Harper’s past performances, this is a dramatic drop.

You can read the rest of the article, which includes a seat projection, at The Globe and Mail website here.

These latest set of numbers are heavily based upon the two latest polls by Nanos Research and Forum Research, reported by the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, respectively. Both put the gap between the Conservatives and the New Democrats at between two and three points, the only difference being that the Tories led in the first and the NDP in the second. This, effectively, makes them almost tied.

What better time, then, to begin tracking federal voting intentions. The chart at the top of this page shows the weighted average of all federal polls. These are unadjusted - they are simply the average weighted by date, sample size, and record of polling firm accuracy. They serve as a good one-stop to see how the parties are doing. I will update these numbers as new polls are released, and the chart will be moved off to the right-hand column once the projection for the next provincial election (Quebec) is ready.

With more than three years to go before the next federal election, clearly the stakes are somewhat low. But Canadian politics is now a bit of a marathon (every party admits the campaigning continues between the writs), and it should be fascinating to watch how party support rises and falls over the next few years.

Some might consider that the numbers are meaningless this far out from an election. To them I say that the public opinion of Canadians is never meaningless, and that these federal polls act as an on-going barometer of what Canadians think of what the parties are doing. Those that, for instance, dismissed the NDP's decline in Quebec during the leadership race were dangerously dismissing the dissatisfaction Quebecers were having with that leadership race and the potential for anyone but Thomas Mulcair to come out on top. Those who today dismiss the Conservative slip are ignoring that a good deal of Canadians who had previously supported the Tories are unhappy with what the government is doing. These are important things to know - and what's best is that the polls are an objective measure.

I will not be maintaining an on-going seat projection. Along with the time it takes to keep a seat projection up to date, there is the problem of the boundary changes. Only once the new seats are decided and the votes have been transposed will I begin to consider maintaining an on-going projection. In the meantime, these check-ins with the Globe and Mail, projections for individual polls, and the seat projections that go along with the monthly poll averages should more than suffice!

30 comments:

  1. Even without seat projections it is pretty clear that the road to power for Mulcair leads through Ontario. It would take a 4 point swing in that province (NDP up 4%, Cons down 4%)to elect an NDP minority, and somewhat more, as well as continued gains in the West to produce an NDP majority. (Not based on any model, just astute (I hope) guess work on my part.

    If the economy continues to improve, this likely won't happen. If the economy tanks (See Carney on debt/housing bubble impending crisis)it likely will. Especially in Ontario where the good grey burghers tend to vote with their wallet.

    JKennethY

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    1. Its possible enough scandals keep coming out to shatter the public convidence in the government as well and cause a switch in voting intentions...perhaps

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  2. Given current values for the Loonis vs USD expect Ont. economy to tank further.

    The Tories have no answers and in fact apparently don't seem to give a damn as long as that Alberta oil flows.

    So the situation in Ont. is going to change over time. Whether it's the NDP or the Liberals that get the biggest boost is another question ?

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  3. To me the big question in Ontario is what happens to the Liberal vote over the next three years. Its not that the Tories are doing all that well in Ontario...at 38% that is nothing spectacular - its just that Ontario is the only place where there is enough residual Liberal strength to create a split on the anti-government side. I think that the big question is whether bit by bit a chunk of people whop currently have their votes parked with the Liberals give up and start to move to the NDP. If the Liberals dropped to 20% and the NDP went up to 35% in Ontario - a ton of seats would start shifting away from the Tories.

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    1. I'm not sure a 38/35/20 split actually gives the NDP all that many seats. There were a lot of extremely close CPC/LPC races in the 905 region in 2011 with the NDP a distant third. Likely a 38/35/20 split actually solidifies those seats for the CPC. The only seats I really see that kind of split even possibily putting into play for the NDP are the following:
      - Ottawa-Vanier (L)
      - Markham-Unionville (L)
      - Oshawa (C)
      - Scarborough-Guildwood (L)
      - St. Paul's (L)
      - Toronto Centre (L)
      - Bramalea-Gore-Malton (C)
      - Essex (C)
      - London North Centre (C)
      - London West (C)
      - Sault Ste. Marie (C)

      So that is a total of 11 seats (hardly a ton), of which five are Liberal held and six are Conservative held.

      The think is that I expect such a shift would also deliver more seats to the CPC from the LPC. Particularly the following (some are on the same list as those put in play for the NDP):

      - Ottawa South
      - Kingston and the Islands
      - Markham-Unionville
      - Etobicoke North
      - Scarborough-Agincourt
      - Scarborough-Guildwood
      - St. Paul's
      - Guelph

      If we assume the NDP picks up all the seats that I see such a shift placing in play for them, and that the CPC picks up all the seats that I see as being in play for them minus those on the NDP list, that would mean a net change of:

      NDP: +11
      CPC: 0 (lose six and gain six others)
      LPC: -11

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    2. My math was a little off there, since I undercounted the seats on both lists. The best NDP net result of such a shift that I see is:

      NDP: +11
      CPC: -1
      LPC: -10

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  4. Mark in Ontario30 April, 2012 11:47

    Mulcair told Tout le monde en parle in French that NDP government will bring back long-gun registry and will whip all NDP MPs to support it. No word that he has repeated this in English in Western Canada. This is Mulcair's problem - he has to ensure that former BQ voters stay loyal to NDP, but this will have negative consequences in RoC - something Duceppe never had to worry about. As Eric says, the next few years will be interesting.

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    1. Actually what Mulcair told TLMEP was a bit more nuanced than that. He said that he could whip a vote to bring back the long-gun registry if such a move was part of the NDP's platform. That distinction is important - policy is not decided solely by the leader, and it's possible that as the election approaches he'll find a way to have reference to the gun registry not included in the platform.

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  5. Are you going to become ThreeHundredThirtyEight.com?

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    1. No. The name of the site is an homage to the number of seats in the House of Commons when it was launched, not a running tally!

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  6. I've sort of kept an eye on the currency value for years. Right now we've got a situation where the oil money flowing into Alberta and Sask is driving the Canadian dollar to unsustainable heights for anything but oil !!

    Today the Canadian dollar is bringing $1.02 US Dollars. In other words the CAD is worth 2¢ more than the US buck. If you think you can sustain an economy on being more expensive than the people you are shipping to think again !! It ain't gonna work but who will get the worst hurt is Ont and Que. The manufacturing centres, not the resource folks!!

    So Harper's West is delighted and the rest of us are failing !! That will be reflected in votes in three years time !!

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    1. Mulcair spoke to this weeks ago, referring to it as the "Dutch disease"; which somewhat slighted me since I was born in in Holland, but, nonetheless, he's "all right" !!!

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    2. A recession in the US due to higher oil prices wouldn't be any better for Ontario's manufacturing.

      FYI, the Conservatives hold 73 seats in Ontario, compared to 72 seats in the West. I'm no fan of Stephen Harper, but I think you're a bit off base there. Harper's government is as much based in Ontario as it is in the West.

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    3. The Harper government may be numerically based in Ontario, but the ideology and the focus is western.

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  7. Did you do a provincial breakdown of the current projection?

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    1. Yes, here it is (BC-AB-PR-ON-QC-AC-NT)

      CPC: 18-26-13-61-5-11-1
      NDP: 13-2-10-25-57-9-1
      LPC: 4-0-5-20-9-12-1

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  8. "The chart at the top of this page shows the weighted average of all federal polls."

    To clarify, Eric, when you refer to all federal polls averaged so far, are you referring just to the latest Nanos and Forum polls? Or did you go further back to arrive at this starting point?

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    1. I went back further, but because of the weighting system the Nanos and Forum polls are the most important.

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    2. With Crop reporting the NDP at 51% very recently and Leger reporting 47% not long ago (no doubt these are on the high end), I am guessing your weighting system must very heavily weight the very newest polls?

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    3. Correct, but in the case of CROP it has been somewhat swamped by three large Forum polls conducted in April that put the NDP at between 41% and 42% in Quebec. And then there is the Nanos poll putting them at 37.4%.

      Poll weights are reduced by 35% each week. A link to a full explanation of the methodology is in the right-hand column of this site.

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  9. I appreciate TS's analysis, but of course the thing we have to keep in mind is that IF NDP support in Ontario jumped up to the mid-30s it would not be a uniform province-wide swing. You would probably see the NDP making alot of Bramalea-Gore-Malton or Scarborough-Rouge River style surges into contention in seats that the party had no previously been in a serious player in. For example, the NDP at 35% would probably be competitive in ridings like Niagara Falls, St. Catherine's, Cambridge, Kenora, seats in the K-W area, plus a bunch of seats in Brampton and Mississauga that are not all that different demographically from BGM (i.e., if the NDP can win BGM, why not target Brampton Springdale next time)

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  10. There seem to be a lot of left wingers on here who are already counting the votes. Three years is an eternity in politics.

    Peter I know that having our dollar so high hurts our manufacturers. The value of the dollar is set by the markets. It is not something we control. What would you suggest to change this?

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  11. DL the NDP finished 16,000 votes behind Rob Nicholson in 2011. What makes you think the NDP would be competitive in Niagara Falls?

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    1. Look at the results in Niagara Falls in the provincial election...almost a perfect three way split. Demographically Niagara Falls is not that different from neighboring welland

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    2. In Ontario, you can't necessarily transpose results directly from the federal level to the provincial, or vice versa. There are plenty of ridings that vote Conservative federally but vote Liberal provincially. McGuinty could not have been re-elected if that weren't true.

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  12. Earl

    "What would you suggest to change this? "

    It seems to me obvious that as soon as you reduce the amount of money flowing into the oil sands this problem will drop.

    That said doing that actually means active intervention in markets and everybody will have an immediate hairy !!

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  13. Mulcair's Rx for the Dutch disease, is to factor in the cost of environmental degradation into the companies' bottom line rather than essentially subsidizing these expenses. This would make our tarsands produced oil somewhat less attractive to the US consumers and have a dampening effect on the Canadian dollar. This wouldn't put an end to oil exports but it would slow them down. In addition the NDP is calling for value added production to be done in Canada (ie refining) and the export of finished or partially finished product. Westerners who are on "oil autopilot" might not like this but it would have the effect of diversifying the western economy from totally resource/agriculture based by adding a major industrial component.

    JKennethY

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  14. No projection eh Eric? Why, cause the Libs would look bad?

    Arthur Cramer

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    1. Sigh. As I pointed out IN THIS POST, there is a seat projection with my Globe and Mail article.

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    2. Arthur, as near as I can Figure, and I've been reading the 308.com Blog for many years (more than I or Eric probably care to remember) and I have never known him to take a partisan stance in favour or against any party. Not saying he doesn't have his opinions, but he doesn't let them get in the way of what the numbers are saying.

      JKennethY

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