Friday, June 1, 2012

130+ seats for the NDP

Earlier this week, The National Post released the details of the latest Forum federal poll, showing that the New Democrats hold a four point lead over the Conservatives. With strong results for the NDP on both coasts, the party is at a level of support that translates into a minority government.
Compared to Forum's last poll of Apr. 24-25, the NDP has remained steady at 36% support. The Conservatives are down one point to 32%, while the Liberals are down two points to 20%.

The Greens are up four points to 6%, while the Bloc Québécois is down one point to 5%.

It has actually been quite a volatile month, with the changes to EI and the focus on Mulcair's Dutch Disease comments. But despite this, the parties haven't much budged.

The New Democrats lead with 51% in Atlantic Canada (+10), 40% in Quebec (-2), and 40% in British Columbia (-4). The result in the Atlantic is the highest I have for the NDP on record. Samples are always small in the region, but it is quite a coincidence if this result is unrelated to the EI controversy, particularly considering the Tories are down seven points here. The NDP is running second by only one point in the Prairies (37%, -3) and Ontario (34%, +3), while they are further behind in Alberta with 16% (-8).

The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 61% (+7), in the Prairies with 38% (unchanged), and in Ontario with 35% (-3). A closing of the gap by six points in that province is quite significant. The Conservatives are second in British Columbia with 31% (-1).

The Liberals place second in Atlantic Canada with 24% (-3) while the Bloc is second in Quebec with 21% (-2).

With these numbers, the New Democrats would win 133 seats and likely form a minority government. The Conservatives win 121 seats while the Liberals win 49, with four going to the Bloc and one to the Greens.

In the 338-seat House, the results would be around 143 seats for the NDP, 137 for the Tories, and 53 for the Liberals.

The New Democrats win 16 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, 10 in the Prairies, 28 in Ontario, 57 in Quebec, 20 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The Conservatives win 14 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 13 in the Prairies, 57 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, two in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The Liberals win five seats in British Columbia, five in the Prairies, 21 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, 10 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

Despite the better vote efficiency for the Conservatives in Ontario, the New Democrats manage to win because their dominance in the East is not off-set by a Conservative dominance in the West. The NDP wins more seats in British Columbia and Saskatchewan than the Tories do with these numbers, whereas the Conservatives manage only nine seats east of the Ottawa River to the NDP's 77.

Thomas Mulcair is certainly riding a wave of sympathy. His approval rating stands at 41% to 31% disapproval (net +10, or 57% approval of decideds). That is much better than Bob Rae's split of 33% to 38% (-5, or 46% approval of decideds) or Stephen Harper's split of 33% to 59% (-26, or 36% approval of decideds).

However, Harper still beats out his rivals among own supporters. Stephen Harper has an approval rating of 87% among Conservative supporters, compared to 68% for Rae among Liberals and 67% for Mulcair among New Democrats (though, at 11%, Mulcair's disapproval rating among NDP supporters is lower than Rae's, at 12%, among Liberal voters).

But this poll shows the new electoral coalition that the NDP is trying to construct. Dominance in Quebec, strong results in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, and enough seats on the Prairies and in Ontario to beat the Conservatives. It is, perhaps, a more unwieldy coalition than the one the Conservatives have put together (Western Canada and suburban Ontario) and less potent, but it gets the job done.

The main sticking point for the Mulcair in this equation is the Liberal Party in Ontario. If the Liberals do well enough to keep the Tories down, it helps the New Democrats win a plurality of seats nationwide. But if they falter and a lot of that support goes to the Conservatives, the NDP is unable to breakthrough in the region they dearly need to: suburban Toronto. The Liberals also have the potential to cause problems for the NDP in Atlantic Canada, where their vote is as inefficient as it is in Ontario. Everywhere else, the Liberals are not a factor.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, merely have to nip-off the centrist, centre-right wing of the Liberal Party to close the gap on the NDP. Those voters in British Columbia and Ontario have a history with the Tories, and can be easily swayed back onto Blue Team. The Conservatives only need a little more support in order to get back on top.

It makes for a very interesting political game of chess. So far, Mulcair's opening moves have put him at an advantage.


  1. Another possibility is that Liberal voters in Ontario start to desert their party for the NDP. Keep in mind that post-election polls in may 2011 showed that the single biggest reason people gave for voting Liberal was "personal hatred of Stephen Harper"

    1. Given the tactics the NDP are using to suppress Liberals in the House these days, don't expect much love for the NDP from Liberal supporters.

      Seems some people forget who gave the NDP official party status when they fell short of the required seats in the 1990s.

    2. One wonders how long that will persist. Yes, certainly some of them will continue to see Harper as the personification of evil forever, but many people - Liberals, in particular, may have still been afraid of the "hidden agenda" pushed so strongly by the Liberal campaigns of the past 10 years.

      As there is no longer any reason for Harper to hied his agenda, and he does appear to be moving forward with much of it in a coherent way, Canadians can now fairly assess his agenda on its merits.

      I would expect some (not all) Liberals who feared him to stop doing so.

    3. In answer to Ryan - the answer is NO ONE. The NDP lost official party status in 1993 and the Liberals did NOT give it back to them. The NDP spent four years being penniless and on life support before regaining official party status in 1997 - no thanks to any charity on the part of the Liberals.

    4. You know that's what I thought and then some more knowledgeable Liberals corrected me... or so I thought...

      That's what I get for parroting what other party hacks tell me lol.

      Still, the underlying point remains valid. Antagonizing Liberals is not a way to attract their supporters.

    5. Ira - The hidden agenda just isn't hidden anymore. Liberals are still sickened by this anti-environment, anti-democracy anti-freedom nonsense.

    6. Ryan -- you may be confusing the federal situation with the provincial scene in Ontario.

      There, in 1999, the ONDP lost official party status when they fell to 9 seats. The Ontario PCs, however, had reduced the size of the legislature but had not dropped the threshold for official party status. They lowered the bar from 12 MPPs to 8, allowing the ONDP to be recognized as an official party.

      The ONDP promptly lost official status again in 2003, when they fell to 7 seats, but this time the newly-elected Liberals did nothing -- aside from offering the ONDP caucus research funding on the condition that their MPPs accepted a status as independents. It was only Horwath's win over the Ontario Liberals in a by-election in 2004 that brought the ONDP back up to 8 seats and official party status.

      So really, there's no shortage of historical antagonism on both sides. I'm fairly sure there's a sizable number of NDPers who feel that the Liberal Party is getting what they deserve after a long history of mocking, belittling and generally stomping the NDP while routinely profiting off of strategic voting.

    7. For the complete picture: when the Bloc Quebecois attracted 8 members from defections and by-elections between 1990-1992, it was Audrey McLaughlin who was most steadfastly against giving them official party status. Even though the Bloc and NDP didn't compete for each other's votes at the time, the NDP didn't want its Question Period time cut into.
      When the NDP only picked up 9 seats in 1993, it was easy for the other parties to use recent historical precedent against them -- if I remember correctly, the party didn't even bother applying for status, knowing exactly what the response of the Liberals and Bloc would be.

  2. I am exceptionally impressed at the cross-Canada levels for the NDP. While I'm not surprised at the drop in Alberta, I am surprised at the levels in the Prairies, Ontario, and especially Atlantic Canada... wow at the 51% there.

    I'm also enjoying how the Bloc is decreasing even more!

  3. If Stephen Harper wants centrist Liberals to cross over to him he should try governing from the centre.

    1. I don't think Harper can ever hope to win over centrist Liberals - he hasn't even won over true red Tories, and his politics and policies alike continue to be in large measure about driving stakes into the hearts of the Liberal Party of Canada and their ideals alike.

      Assuming (big assumption) that the Mulcair bump actually lasts into next fall and beyond, the elders of a healthy Conservative Party would start to chat quietly to Harper about whether he should really plan on leading the party into the 2015 election or step aside in favour of a visibly more moderate leader, one who could have a chance of carving off enough Liberal voters to fend off the NDP. (Some people in Ottawa are already talking about Chris Alexander as that kind of guy, and there's no doubt that he has that ambition.) But I kind of doubt that Harper would agree to abandon his massive project to re-tool this country prematurely.

  4. Harper, not unlike Charest in Quebec, will continue to polarize voters. The primary benefiary of this is the NDP as they clearly stand in direct opposition to the policies of the Conservative government while the Liberals only offer a milder version of the same.

    The next election will be a clash of visions in Canada, not unlike what is currently occurring in Quebec right now over the student strikes.

    We have never seen so many "class" based arguments being presented in Canadian politics are we have recently. I, for one, think it is a good thing.

  5. I think a lot of the Ontario Liberal voters from 2006 and 2008 who were going to go to the Conservatives have gone, thus the 905 turning blue in 2011. If the NDP can make a strong pitch to those who remain, they may well bring the NDP a breakthrough in the GTA.

  6. Alienating one's voter base is never a good idea. The Conservatives have attacked those voters that vote while rewarding entities that can't vote (Corporations, Foreign Ownership)

    At some point, the balance tips and the voter doesn't necessarily vote a party in as much as they vote a government out.

    Once the perception and the belief is there, no amount of vote buying or fairy tale promises will change that

  7. Sort of off-topic, but any chance the "Latest Federal Projection" in the sidebar will be updated soon? The pie chart is still showing April's numbers. It's a minor thing, obviously, but it sets off my internet OCD every time I see it! :)

    Thanks! Love the site!

    1. I should probably change the heading - it's meant to refer to the last projection for the monthly averages.

  8. The Liberals never gave the NDP party status from 1993 to 1997 when the NDP did not have the minimum of 12 seats.

  9. If the Council of Canadians lawsuit is successful, there will be 16 byelections within a
    year and a half. As long as the Cons don't win those 16, the rest will be history.

  10. If the Council of Canadians pending lawsuit on Voter Suppression RoboCalls is successful, there will be 16 byelections by November 2013. Balance of power anyone!

  11. Past and present Forum's BC results at NDP 40% (-4%) and CPC (-1%) have never really made any sense.

    But this Forum poll likely explains why.

    Buried deep within the Forum poll is the question as to how those polled by Forum voted during the 2011 election (after those not voting have been factored out):

    1. NDP - 31% (2011 actual - 33%) (-2%)
    2. CPC - 29% (2011 actual - 46%) (-17%)
    3. Lib - 22% (2011 actual - 13%) (+9%)
    4. Green - 12% (2011 actual - 8%) (+4%)
    5. BQ - 1% (2011 actual - 0%) (+1%)
    6. Other 5% (2011 actual - 0.2%) (+5%)

    IOW, 2011 BC Conservative voters are strongly under respresented, while Liberal, BQ, and Other are strongly over-represented in this Forum poll.

    I suspect that the over-represented BQ, Other and some Liberal vote favours the BC NDP in this poll, while the actual CPC vote in BC is obviously under-represented.

    Forum may not have properly calibrated their BC on-line panel. A much discussed Angus Reid on-line panel federal poll in Saskatchewan during the 2008 campaign also had this fatal error.

    1. Forum does not do online polling. They use phone numbers. This has nothing to do with any "panel"

    2. Stand corrected, Forum uses IVR. But the 2011 BC voting results are waaaaaaaaaaaay out of whack with the actual 2011 BC vote results.

      And one can infer that the Forum BC results are also out of whack. Intuitively that makes sense.

    3. People move, people forget, people lie. How else to explain the Bloc getting 1% in every region outside Quebec, and 2% in AC?

  12. The NDP will never be successful just by absorbing Liberal votes since the Conservative vote is persistent. In Ontario for example, if the NDP steals votes just from the Liberals, they might get some of the Liberals' remaining 11 seats, but the Conservative vote is very efficient outside the GTA to easily win a majority of the seats.

    1. The Conservatives cannot win the majority of Ontario's seats without the GTA. Even more so since the 905 region would get more seats with the new seat distribution.

      Ontario is a moderate province. The Conservatives were successful in Ontario due to impressive ground work and a split/weak opposition.

      I think the hardest area for the NDP to be successful is the 905 area (even Bramela-Gore-Malton and Oshawa would be difficult). The Liberals still have a strong foundation there and the anti-Conservative vote can easily go back to the Liberals. The Liberals may also run their best candidates in this area too.

    2. Fortunately for the NDP, and unfortunately for this hypothesis, it appears at least somewhat that NDP gains are coming at the expense of the Tories in Ontario; Conservativse are down 9.4% from 2011, whereas NDP is up 8.4%. So it appears that the NDP is taking votes away from the Tories in places like Southwest Ontario, where the NDP should be competitive next time around and provincially. Of course, it's also possible that there are Tories switching to Libs, and Libs switching to NDP. The real question is how far has the NDP really penetrated into the 905 area (and is it enough to take Oshawa at last?)

  13. I think the chances of the Council of Canadians lawsuit being success are ZERO.

    1. Even if no by-elections are triggered, it is a black cloud on the Conservative government. People will still talk about the Robocall scandal in 2015 and beyond albet the Liberal Sponsorship scandal.

      - Joe Issac

    2. It is a another non factor Joe.

      People who support Harper and the conservatives accept that there is no evidence pointing to the conservatives (yet, maybe someday their will). There is circumstantial evidence that a staffer might have maybe masterminded it.

      The people who hate Harper, aren't going to hate him anymore than they do now. Neither are they going to hate him less if the tories are cleared.

      And the people who aren't political junkies... Don't care. They are busy going on about their lives and care little about political minutiae. They are much more interested in their own lives, their jobs, their families...etc.

      None of those 3 things is likely to change without a smoking gun.

    3. DL, I am not sure I give it a zero. Well the 16 all together, that is certainly a zero chance. But a acouple of them?? maybe a 20% chance, 3 or 4? under 10%. If the haters are putting all their eggs in this basket, then they are going to be even more annoyed with Harper (if that is at all possible) when nothing comes of it.

      Even the Etobicoke Centre riding that a judge overturned, I am not sure that decision won't be overturned on appeal.

      I mean, noone, even the trial lawyer alleged wide scale fraud, just that some people voted that shouldn't have. That means we can reasonably assume that the average voter out of that 74 would fall where it actually did. With that assumption we can strip out the 18% who voted neither tory nor liberal and do a quick binomial calculation.

      18% of 74 is 14. Thus of the 74 votes, 60 would have voted either tory or liberal.

      Given the winning margin of 25 votes that means that the liberal candidate would have needed to win 42-43 out of 60, almost 75% of the votes that the judge determined were in question.

      With that kind of calculation, I would put the chances of even the Etobicoke Centre by-election happening at only 1 in 3.

      I will say tho, that if the decision stands and the by election goes through... it will raise the chances of a few of the council of canadians cases might rise. But I think that any of them is still a 1 in 4 crapshoot.

  14. Almost all the ridings in the Council of Canadians case went Conservative by much, much bigger margins than did Etobicoke Centre - in many cases the margins were over a thousand or in the 600-800 range. That means that to get a judge to overturn the race in a riding that went tory on election by by 800 votes, the Council would need to find over 800 eligible voters in that riding who would swear an affidavit that they intended to vote for the second place candidate and ended up not voting at all because of a misleading phone call sending them to the wrong polling station. There is zero chance of that happening.


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