Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PQ gains but race still neck-and-neck

A CROP poll released earlier this week by La Presse looking into the views of Quebecers on the student protests also looked at their voting intentions. The result was a significant gain for the Parti Québécois, putting them only a point behind the governing Liberals.
Compared to CROP's last poll of May 2-3, the Liberals are unchanged at 31% support. The PQ, however, is up five points to 30%.

The CAQ is down two points to 22%, while Québec Solidaire is up one to 9%. The Greens, down three to 5%, trail along with Option Nationale, unchanged at 2% support.

This survey puts CROP more in line with what Léger Marketing, Segma Recherche, and Forum Research have concluded. Since mid-April, their polls have not put the gap between the two parties at more than four points, with most showing a gap of two or less. CROP's six point lead in early May, then, was a bit of an outlier. But in the highly charged atmosphere of the protests, it might have been a telling snapshot.

Interestingly, this poll broke down the linguistic groups into francophones, anglophones, and everyone else. Though the sample sizes are smaller for the last two groups, the results show that Québec Solidaire does have some appeal among allophones, scoring 18%. That still puts them well behind the Liberals, who register 55% among this group. Among anglophones, the Liberals lead with 72%.

The Parti Québécois is up six points among francophones and leads with 36%, ahead of the CAQ at 26% (-3) and the Liberals at 23% (-1).

The PQ also leads in the Montreal region with 31%, a gain of six points. The Liberals are down three to 29% while the CAQ is up one to 20%.

In Quebec City, the Liberals are down one point to 34%, followed by the CAQ at 28% (-5) and the PQ at 26% (+2).

In the rest of Quebec, the Liberals are surprisingly ahead with 32%, a gain of four points. The PQ is up four points to 30%, while the CAQ is down five points to 23%.

This makes for a somewhat unexpected seat result. Because of their traditional lead among francophones, the Parti Québécois can usually turn a tie or close race into a seat plurality or even a majority. In this case, however, with the Liberals ahead in the regions and running very close to the PQ in the Montreal area, the Liberals manage the plurality.

They win 60 seats, three short of a majority, while the PQ wins 49, the CAQ 14, and Québec Solidaire two.

In and around Montreal, the Liberals win 28 seats to 26 for the PQ, two for the CAQ, and two for QS.

In Quebec City, the Liberals win seven seats to three for the CAQ and one for the PQ.

And in the rest of Quebec, the Liberals win 25 seats to 22 for the PQ and nine for the CAQ.

If the Parti Québécois is truly behind in the regions of Quebec, they have no shot at winning the election. The Liberals have a lock on a whole swathe of seats on the island of Montreal, and Quebec City appears to be flipping between the Liberals and the CAQ depending on the poll. The PQ has always been able to run up its numbers outside of the two cities, and if it can't do it in the next election they will be hard-pressed to defeat Jean Charest if the contest continues to be this close.

Their one advantage is that Charest is nearer to his ceiling than is Pauline Marois. CROP asked respondents what their second choice would be, and if we add the first and second choice numbers together we get a good idea of how much growth potential each party has.

After removing the undecideds and "would not votes", the PQ gets a total of 49%, well ahead of the Liberals' 41% "ceiling". That is actually very low for Jean Charest, considering he bested that score in the 2008 election.

But François Legault has the most potential growth. His first and second choice adds up to a grand total of 56% of the electorate. That might give his party some hope, but it is also an indication of how poorly they are doing compared to what they are capable of.

Québec Solidaire's total adds up to 29%, while the Greens manage 15% and Option Nationale 9%.

By region, the PQ has the highest "ceiling" in and around Montreal with 50%, compared to 48% for the CAQ and 39% for the Liberals, while the CAQ has the highest totals in Quebec City (61%) and the rest of Quebec (64%), compared to 53% and 40%, respectively, for the Liberals and 44% and 48%, respectively, for the PQ.

So, there are still a lot of votes at play. It appears that Jean Charest may have outlasted his welcome for too many Quebecers. His room for growth is small, making it all the more difficult for him to attract new supporters, but he does have the most experience. Marois has less room to maneuver than Legault, though he will be leading a party into an election for the first time. It would seem that these last two leaders have the most to gain (and perhaps to lose) during a campaign, but it might all come down to who manages the five-week gauntlet best.

31 comments:

  1. Seems Quebecers are in the mood for a minority. They want very badly to spank Charest, but are leery of a PQ majority also.Thus CAQ or much less likely QS may be in position to play kingmaker. Eric, if CAQ holds balance of power in a nearly hung house, which way would they likely swing?

    JKennethY

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    1. I don't know. Legault is more to the right, which would put him with Charest, but he is also a nationalist and former PQ minister, which would put him with Marois.

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    2. That gives him a pretty strong bargaining position...

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  2. J'ai vraiment de la misère à comprendre comment le parti libéral peut arriver à des résultats aussi élevé dans le reste du Québec alors que son score chez l'électorat francophone n'est que de 23%.....

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    1. Oui, c'est étrange. Peut-être leur score parmi les francophones à Montréal est très faible.

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  3. Charest is in deep trouble.. while many a moderate supporter may have disagreed with the protestor's those same moderates can not be happy that fascist legislation in obvious violation of the charter of rights and freedoms has been passed and that protestor's are being kettled and arrested en masse for exercising their natural right to protest and freedom of assembly.. seeing lawyers join the protest is indicative of this.. can he put the rabbit back in the bag? He's past his due date and there are other federalist options it seems..

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    1. It's hard to make the argument that he's in "deep trouble" when even after everything that's happened, the seat projection is still 60 seats for the governing party. He converted a 12 (?) seat gap from minority to majority the last time he was in that position. A three seat gap, and we have another election in six months.

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  4. If federalists begin to jump ship from the liberals which party seems most likely to benefit? CAQ or QS?

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    1. CAQ or a new left-wing, NDP-ish federalist party

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    2. QS is separatist...

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    3. Federalist or not, that doesn't change anything for many Québécois. People are tired of Charest and don't want to vote for Legault inexperience. They don't want to vote for Marois too, but it's the only center-left party that is still in position to form a government.

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    4. QS is socialist first, and nationalist because that's the thing to say.

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  5. Quebec needs a moderate left federalist choice. Time for a quebec provincial NPD.

    JKennethY

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    1. The federal party wouldn't charter a provincial NDP at this point in time. It's a crass political calculation, but they don't want to get the NDP brand bogged down in the muck that Quebec provincial politics are right now. They would certainly be happy to lend organizational support to a leftist federalist party, and might even agree to charter them as a provincial wing of the NDP after the next election, but not right now.

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    2. I don't see it ever happening. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have an affiliated party in Quebec. It would only cause them headaches, and the provincial party would likely be hindered by having close ties to Ottawa.

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    3. I agree, Eric. If this was going to happen, I can see the foundation of a party under the name "Social-Democratic Party" or something like that, with the NDP giving them organizational support in much the same way that important federal Conservatives give organizational assistance to Wild Rose in Alberta. That's the farthest I see it likely going.

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    4. I don't think it would work. Unlike the CAQ, an SDP (assuming it wouldn't get the NDP name, which may be a good or a bad thing) would have to try and get at the PQ's core vote, and would probably only end up draining it of federalists. The Liberals- though probably a more likely target than the PQ- are far more organised, established, and experienced, and I couldn't see its entire Left-wing half decamping. Not least for fear of federalist vote-splitting giving the PQ victory. Remaining CAQ voters wouldn't really be interested, and QS and the Greens are small already.

      All in all, I think it would peak at 20%, maybe 25%, and then suffer the same fate as the CAQ.

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    5. "[...] would probably only end up draining it of federalists." Since when the PQ has federalists in their rank? The core of the PQ vote is pretty much the sovereignists!

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    6. For what it's worth, a little while back I ran into a young man named Alexis St-Gelais, a former PLQ riding president who quit in protest (I forget why exactly), who is apparently now hard at work trying to set up what he described to me as essentially a provincial homologue of the NDP. It's called l'Union Citoyenne du Québec (UCQ) and is basically a left-leaning federalist party. However, I somehow doubt they'll be ready to make a serious run yet in any upcoming election. You can check them out at: www.ucquebec.org.

      Dom

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  6. Who could lead a provincial ndp party in Quebec? It seems like a no brainer..

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    1. OK, as someone with no brain, who were you thinking?

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  7. I think Bill 78 will settle much of this confusion.

    If upheld by the Courts then it's all over for everybody.

    If overturned by the Courts Charest is toast

    We'll see ??

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    1. I can see Charest using the notwithstanding clause to pass a new version of Bill 78.

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    2. He would be committing a bloody political suicide if he uses that.

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  8. You know, I just had a sort of epiphany.

    Who would make a great next Premier of Quebec? Considering all politicians on both provincial and federal levels, I came up with one name:

    Françoise Boivin.

    She is different, exciting, left-wing, federalist, has experience on the federal level, is a great organiser, and has quite a few fans.

    She would be a tremendous loss on the front benches of the federal opposition, but she may be just the person to turn around Québec provincial politics.

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  9. I doubt Charest really benefits from not calling an election till 2013. Win or lose, he should face the electorate right now.

    While I believe it's highly unlikely, a coalition government might bring some form of stability and competence in government. Perhaps a Liberal-CAQ or PQ-CAQ coalition?

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    1. Legault was one of the PQ's hardcore sovereignist, so I don't think the PQ would be too warm to be making a deal with him after him giving up his stance on sovereignty. A Liberal-CAQ coalition sounds more plausible.

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  10. The polls are going to be very wobbly the next few months and the campaign will change everything. Charest will get more unpopular before the next election, but he is by far the most experienced campaigner. The PQ is the natural "party of change" but Marois is a very bad campaigner as her disastrous foray ino the Bloc's 2011 campaign showed. Legault has very little experience and his has ADQ baggage-- efficient strategy for him would be to concentrate on PQ seats outside Montreal. Khadir will be higher profile this election but apart from three or four seats in eastern Montreal where QS will be a factor, QS will simply cyphon off a few percentage points from the PQ.
    In summary, as ridiculous as it sounds, I think Charest is in a surprisingly strong position. The PQ has a shaky leader and faces vote-splitting from all sides, while the CAQ and QS are too weak to campaign effectively in all parts of Quebec.

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  11. The best thing the PLQ could do, in my opinion, is have Charest step down and have a more leftist member take the reigns before calling a new election. He is running his party into the ground and corrupting the only solidly federalist option in Québec.

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  12. If PQ are elected then Canada will have to
    face another final notice from Quebec and it's demands more power & more money & threats to separate (how many times has it been & done nothing to sow the 'seeds of dissolution'.
    Does Quebec want a U.D.I. unilateral declaration
    of independence like USA in 1776 from UK ?

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    1. Not in minority country.

      The PQ has 3 years left to launch a referendum while Harper is still in Ottawa, but that can't happen with a minority gov.

      As soon as Thomas Mulcair becomes PM in Ottawa, the PQ can kiss their referendum chances goodbye without an ultra-conservative Ottawa.

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