Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Liberal gains in the Prairies?

On Friday, Nanos Research released their most recent federal polling results, putting the New Democrats marginally ahead of the Conservatives, a first for the pollster. While the Liberals trailed in third, Nanos recorded them making a potentially statistically significant gain in a very unlikely place - the Prairie provinces.
Nanos was last in the field Apr. 13-18, and since then the New Democrats picked up 1.2 points to hit 33.6%. The Conservatives dropped 1.2 points to slide just behind the NDP at 33.5%, while the Liberals were up 1.6 points to 24.9% nationwide.

The Bloc Québécois was down 0.5 points to 3.4% while the Greens were down 1.8 points to 2.4%.

Compared to other polls, those are very low numbers for the Bloc and Greens, and a very high one for the Liberals. That is usually the case with Nanos Research, which tends to score the Bloc and Greens much lower than other firms. But Nanos has one of the better track records of Canada's pollsters, and Green support in particular has usually been over-estimated in other surveys.

The regional results are generally in line with what we've been seeing elsewhere. The New Democrats are ahead in Quebec with 41.5% (+4.1), British Columbia with 37% (+5.1), and in Atlantic Canada with 34.4% (-0.6). They trail in second in Ontario with 31.5%, up 2.2 points.

The Conservatives lead in Ontario with 35.6%, down 1.3 points, and are second in British Columbia with 34% (-5) and in Quebec with 18% (-1.7). The Liberals are second in Atlantic Canada with 33% (+2.5).

Quebec is an interesting result, as the Bloc Québécois usually places second in provincial polling. At 13.9%, they are really at the dregs. But the results in Quebec left 6.8 points on the table, which must be support for "Others". That is unusual. Much of that support should probably be attributed to the Bloc, which would put Nanos's results in the province in line with everyone else.

But the result in the Prairie provinces (Nanos bunches Alberta with Saskatchewan and Manitoba) is more interesting. The Conservatives lead with 50.2%, up 3.5 points, while the New Democrats trail with 24.7%, a drop of 5.7 points since April. Compared to the results of the 2011 election, that puts the NDP up about three points and the Conservatives down around 12 - a significant decrease.

The Liberals placed third with 24.1%, a gain of 8.5 points since April. That is an important number, because the margin of error for the difference between the Liberals' results in the Prairies over the last two polls is 8.5 points. In other words, the Liberals are straddling the line between a statistically significant gain and one that is within the margin of error. Probability being what it is, however, the likelihood that such a dramatic gain is only statistical noise is quite low.

That is not to say that the Liberals have made massive gains over the last six weeks in the three Prairie provinces, merely that they seem to be making some gains. Especially when we consider that, at 24.1%, the Liberals are riding quite a bit higher than their result of 10.7% in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba a year ago. For some reason, the Liberals have more than doubled their support on the Prairies. And it isn't just Nanos saying this: if we take their survey out of the aggregate the Liberals are still at 14.4% in the three provinces, a modest gain.

In the larger scheme of things, this apparent increase in Liberal support in this part of the country might be only some mildly interesting trivia. But, it could be something to keep an eye on going forward. Rhetoric has been running high on how Canada's resources should be developed, so the region might be ripe for volatility.

With these levels of support, the Conservatives would eke out a plurality of seats with 123, with the New Democrats winning 113 and the Liberals 71. The Greens would win one seat and the Bloc would be shut-out.

With Liberal support, the NDP could potentially govern in this House of Commons with the command of 184 (185 with Elizabeth May) seats, quite a large majority.

The Conservatives win 16 seats in British Columbia, 25 in Alberta, 17 in the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba), 49 in Ontario, six in Quebec, nine in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The New Democrats win 13 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, six in the Prairies, 26 in Ontario, 59 in Quebec, seven in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

The Liberals win six seats in British Columbia, two in Alberta, five in the Prairies, 31 in Ontario, 10 in Quebec, 16 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North.

With the Liberals doing so well in this poll in the Prairies, it should not be surprising that they can pull seven seats out of the three provinces. Is it likely to actually happen? Probably not. But their strong result in Ontario is quite helpful for the NDP, as it turns a lot of Tory seats over to the Liberals in parts of the province where the New Democrats are not in a good position to defeat the Conservatives.

Nanos's leadership numbers show that Stephen Harper has rebounded from a very rough April, his leadership index score jumping 6.6 points to 72.4 points. Thomas Mulcair dropped 5.6 points to 48.2, while Bob Rae was down 4.3 points to 32.2.

If we convert the points into total share of points, we get Harper at 41%, Mulcair at 27%, Rae at 18%, Elizabeth May at 10%, and Daniel Paillé at 3%. If Nanos had asked respondents who they thought was the best option for Prime Minister, and removed undecideds from that total, I imagine they would have gotten something similar to this.

This poll is a good one for the New Democrats, as Nanos has usually not had the party as high as other firms. That they put them ahead in B.C. and close in Ontario is quite a coup. The numbers are good for the Liberals, but if we look at them only through the context of Nanos's polling they are less impressive. For the Conservatives, Nanos has not had them this low for quite some time, stretching back to mid-2009, judging from their tracking chart. But if we take that even further, we have to go back six years to early 2006 to find where they were routinely scoring this low. That is a long road back.

50 comments:

  1. It's interesting to see the Prairies this volatile. I really do wish Nanos would start breaking Alberta out from Saskatchewan and Manitoba though. It makes it more difficult to see what might actually be going on in Saskatchewan and Manitoba when they do it this way.

    Something that I find interesting is that the projection based on this poll has actually produced a relatively accurate representation in the House of the percentage shares of the votes. The CPC and NDP both over-perform their vote (CPC by 20 seats, NDP by 10) and the Liberals, BQ and Greens under-perform their vote (LPC by 4, BQ by 10, GPC by 6), but that's a relatively modest level of distortion compared to the last election when the CPC over-performed by 44, the NDP over-performed by 9, the Liberals under-performed by 24, the BQ under-performed by 14 and the GPC under-performed by 11).

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    1. Fully agree that Alberta should be considered separately from SK and MB - this poll demonstrates exactly why.

      The apparent Liberal bump looks to me like a boomeranging of the anti-Conservative constituency in Alberta coming back into the Liberal fold (if temporarily) after having flocked to the NDP banner mid-crush.

      If that's what's happening, it would suggest that even left-leaning Albertans don't like being put in the hot seat about the tar sands :-)

      LR

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    2. It's more than just a boomerang. These are higher numbers than the Liberals have had in the prairies in a very long time. 2000 was the last time the Liberals did this well in the West.

      I don't think the push back against the NDP is just about the tar sands. Mulcair doesn't say it explicitly, but there's an implication from his Dutch Disease comments that resource based industries have less of a right to export than manufacturing ones. That hits a lot of important sectors in western Canada.

      Still... only one poll..

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    3. I think there is a lot of wishful thinking from the Conservatives here.

      After a full court press from Conservative Premiers, the Conservative party, and the right-wing press (Globe-Bell, Postmedia/Global, Sun/Quebecor) to misreprent Mulcair's simple economic analysis as an attack on the West, the only result they got is a statistically insignificant blip on a fictitious political entity called "the Prairies". They appear to want to see results for their efforts where there are none.

      Nanos's own analysis of the data indicates that Mulcair's stand on Dutch Disease has not hurt him at all, and is in fact helping him a little when looking at the data globally.

      Mulcair's consistency is paying dividends. It's clear that he's a building coherent, consistent policies on the environment and the economy that the Liberals only talked about and the Conservatives dismiss as ecoterrorism and communism.

      Name-calling is no susbstitute for taking your head out of the tar sands.

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    4. Mulcair's strategy is to sacrifice votes in the Prairies to gain votes in central and eastern Canada. Why is it surprising to you that that's actually happening?

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  2. Mulcair's comments regarding Dutch Disease obviously had a big impact, if you look at the leadership index he took a big hit in the Prairies.

    While the NDP are polling well what I found interesting in this poll is that they are statistically tied with the Liberals in the Prairies, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. Big leads in British Columbia and Quebec are almost solely responsible for their nearly 9 point over the Liberals. While obviously they are still polling quite well for them in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and the Prairies, the NDP has a lot riding on BC and Quebec at the moment. Unless they are able to push the Liberals out of the picture in the regions where they're polling neck and neck it's not unrealistic to think that the Liberals could quickly tie things up with the NDP if the latter's support falls in BC and Quebec.

    While it's still a long time away, and polls will have told us 100 different things over the next year, a Dix led government in BC could possibly be troublesome for Mulcair. It's a lot easier to be in opposition than in government so if Dix's government is not popular come 2015 the NDP may have a lot of trouble making gains there. As well Quebec, like always, is still volatile, a popular Liberal leader may resurrect the party in that province.

    The best bet for the NDP is to try and push the Liberals out in Ontario.

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    1. The danger of that strategy is there are quite a few Liberal-Conservative races in southern Ontario. If Liberal numbers fall too low in Ontario the Conservatives can sweep that board and pick up another majority or strong minority. You also decrease the likelihood of Liberal support for an NDP minority. Given that most of these projections show the Liberals holding the balance of power between the NDP and Conservatives, that may be a bad idea.

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    2. In this one poll, they are neck-and-neck in the Prairies, Alberta and Atlantic Canada. In this one poll. Look at the aggregation that Eric has at the top of the page though. This poll is showing a much stronger result for the Liberals than essentially anyone else has.

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    3. Agreed. Personally I tend to look at Nanos and Angus Reid as the most credible pollsters, but even they are disagreeing with each other in a number of areas. I suspect reality is somewhere between the two pollsters' numbers.

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  3. Great analysis....

    The value of polls has shown to have limited in predicting actual outcome but the changes in a specific pollster (Nanos in this analysis) does provide some value.

    Nanos had the CPC at 36-38 % range pre-writ 2011. So a 34 would indicate that they are at the low end or broken through their low barrier of what their support was when they were in constant campaign mode.

    That level of support is amazing considering the point they are in their mandate and their doing the dirty work to provide a balanced budget in 2014.

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    1. Harper is tanking from scandal and lies not legislation. He is rapidly becoming a joke with voters.

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    2. 1)down 2-4% 40 months ahead of the next election is not tanking.

      2) You have an incredible low scandal threshold... Compare and contrast anything you are dreaming the electorate are upset about with Harper and Shawinigate which Chretien rode out to his third majority.

      When Harper fires the head of the BDC for not unwriting his golf course in Calgary then he has only one more majority left.

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    3. The thing is exactly that they have dropped below the levels between which they usually fluctuate. It takes a lot of doing to turn a poll that has the CPC at their lowest level in a Nanos poll since 2006 into a good-news poll for the CPC.

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    4. The CPC have been in campaign mode since 2004. They were ready for an election to be called at any time.

      The CPC election and especially pre-election campaign budget will be larger than any ever seen or imagined in Canadian politics. They have been raising money at the same rate as the last 8 years and not spending any for the first time in 8 years.

      Right now the NDP is reveling in their new found opposition status. They even went so far as to spend money (that they have real difficulty raising) on a campaign style TV campaign to introduce Mr. Mulcair as leader.

      It isn't easy always being in campaign mode as Dion and Ignatieff found out.

      Already the NDP have lost one of their front line campaigners/talking heads as Pat Martin who may have bankrupted himself the Party and has lost any credibility as a spokesperson.

      This is something that the NDP have to deal with in the next 2 years as a court case and the NDP stance against small business is not something to have on your plate as you head into an election imho.

      If it makes you feel good and sleep at night that this Nanos poll shows the CPC a couple of points below where they were 4 months prior to their majority win I sincerely hope that my analysis not agitated you.

      Peace out

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    5. What on earth are you talking about, re Pat Martin? If you mean the lawsuit by Racknine, the odds of such a lawsuit being successful are spectacularly low. Besides, if the NDP can prove in court that RackNine was the company from which the misleading calls came, which seems to have already been admitted in the early days of the scandal, then all that they really have left to claim is that being called "rascals" rises to the level of defamation. "Rascals" is hardly a firebreathing insult.

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    6. Martin didn't just say a few calls came from the place. He insinuated not just that the company was negligent, but a willing participant in electoral fraud.

      Or atleast in his apology he said he did.

      He went on to say: "Racknine was merely an innocent intermediary, not a participant, in electoral fraud"

      Proving the company was innocent of conspiracy to commit electoral fraud is immaterial. Martin has already admitted he did state they did, or otherwise imply, and in his apology admitted that he now believes they didn't.


      All that said, I agree with you, the lawsuit has little change of succeeding.

      But as someone who has to listen to Martin repeatedly have to apologize to persons and groups for things he seems to not regret saying (he keeps doing it).... Well in this case, I have to applaud Racknine for pushing the issue. And even if it doesn't succeed, maybe it will help remind Mr. Martin (and others like him) next time that one ought to do some thinking before they open their mouth.

      Does anyone still have one of Martin's "Opto Civilitas" buttons? Perhaps we could return one a week to him every time he starts spouting off again?? Or one a day?

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  4. I think the farmers wanna grow legal cannabis.. That's why the liberals are polling high on the prairies..

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  5. Whoa.. Bob Rae says he won't run for permanent leader of the LPC... Trudeau time? The other options are all mediocre in my opinion..

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    1. Game changing news! I am sure Trudeau is having second thoughts about running for leadership. I doubt he would run, it doesn't seem like his heart is set on the enormous task.

      In the end, I think it will be someone bland like Dominic LeBlanc or David McGuinty. These guys have a good chance to retain existing Liberal seats and maybe pick up a few, but I doubt they would return the Liberals back to their glory days.

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    2. Problem is Jack that Rae has the most heavy baggage of any of them.

      The CPC media machine would totally destroy him !! Think Dion and Ignatief times 10 !!

      Trudeau shouldn't run. Garneau is really almost untouchable !! Our first astronaut etc. The rest ?? Who knows but you can be sure the CPC has the cannon fire for them all !!

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    3. The Liberals are playing good politics by taking a Clinton-style "triangulation" approach. This would ensure them that their party remains relevant in an increasingly polarizing time in Ottawa.

      That being said, I doubt the Liberals would overtake the NDP. The NDP has an increasingly steady electoral coalition with Quebec nationalists and left-leaning voters in the RoC, that do not see a difference between Conservative and Liberal.

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    4. This leaves the Liberals even more rudderless than they were with Bob Rae in the running.

      The Liberals aren't a party anymore. They are a collection of competent MP's (Trudeau, Kennedy, Rae, Dion, Goodale, etc.) and a few hangers-on trading on nostalgia (Garneau for example). Other than a few well-organized riding associations (that would fit in very well with the NDP), they have no organization. Whereas the NDP can count on strong provincial organizations that cross over (BC, Sask, even Quebec), the Liberals only have this in Ontario.

      It's pretty clear that the NDP and Mulcair are the only real alternative to Harper next election.

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    5. WHat strong provincial organization does the NDP have in Quebec exactly?

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    6. I disagree with both Anonymous 12:00 and Guy Carleton. I believe that there is a chance for the Liberals to form Official Opposition once again. If the Parti Quebecois wins the next Quebec election, then they could hold a referendum for sovereignty after the 2015 general election. This referendum could potentially help the Bloc Quebecois, and give Quebec nationalists a choice: Do you want a federal party working to create a sovereign Quebec, or do you want to elect a popular federalist party (NDP)? This has the potential to destabilize the NDP base in Quebec. If the NDP lose a lot of seats in Quebec, the Liberals only need to gain a handful of seats to overtake the NDP.

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  6. Trudeau may have to sacrifice his stance if the Liberal party stakes their survival on his leadership of the party. Both the NDP and Conservatives would lose a chunks of their support. I think NDP would lose more of it then the conservatives. Nevertheless quite a few seats in Ontario would switch from Conservative to Liberal in the above scenario.

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  7. Mulcair's rhetoric on oil extraction is becoming more and more dangerous to him. His recent claims that oil companies keep the contents of hydraulic fracking fluid a secret (because they're carcingenic)is pure fiction.

    Oil companies are required to make that ingedient list publicly available. It differs from well to well based on the specific geology of the associated rock strata, but anyone can get that list.

    Mulcair is going to have to stop making blatantly false claims if he's going to maintain any sort of credibility.

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    1. Except that isn't what Mulcair said. What he said is that the CAPP claim that they regulate the fracking fluid used by their members is false. Argue against what he actually said, not what you would like to think he said.

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  8. Two Liberal seats in Alberta? That's wild...I'd assume they'd be Edmonton Centre and Calgary Northeast...however...this poll has to be an anomaly for the prairies.

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    1. I'm curious what two seats those are too...

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    2. Calgary Centre was basically a Liberal "fortress" --- they were in second place with 17% of the vote.

      This is the riding that Lee Richardson left open to a by election.

      If they are ever going to win a seat in Alberta a low turnout by-election it would be Calgary Centre........ or maybe the poll might be driving a wrong prediction.


      Basically anywhere they win in AB will be a huge huge upset and totally go against what the last vote count showed.

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    3. That's what I'm wondering. Calgary Centre has been closer in the past too, and the last two mayors have Calgary have both been Liberals.

      If David Bronconnier runs...

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    4. There's no way Calgary Centre would switch to Liberal. All the communities outside of the downtown area, but are still within that riding will vote for Tories. I think Tories will get over 50% of the vote in that riding.

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    5. Ryan:

      After Bronco's $25 million dollar poorly welded and 2 year late Peace Bridge I don't think he could win Calgary Centre which hasn't elected a Liberal since, 1968.

      FP

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    6. Quebec hadn't elected more than one NDPer ever. Until it did. Things change.

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    7. Of course things change Ryan but, why you think a discredited former mayor will be the catalyst of that change is somewhat perplexing.

      FP

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  9. Assuming that Nanos is one of the more accurate pollsters (which I believe to be the case) this poll seems to show an easy way for the Liberals to return to power, either through being the dominant party in a coalition or by actually winning a plurality. If they can hold those numbers (seems possible, since Mulcair seems to have abandoned all progressive voters in the Prairies, and the results elsewhere are pretty feasible results) and make some gains in Quebec and BC, it seems they could easily leap over the NDP. Personally, I hope this is the case, because it'd likely make 2015 one of our most interesting elections yet.

    Off topic, but I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Dalton McGuitny as a leadership candidate. I know he denied it in the fall, but with low provincial numbers for the Liberals, my guess is he'd be more willing to jump to federal politics.

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    1. Try David McGuinty his brother. He's essentially in play.

      Dalton is a has been as of now !! Can't even get his budget through !!

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  10. Yesterday, Forum research did a provincial BC poll that also had a question on Federal preferences. 39% chose NDP to 31% for Conservatives. That is very low for the Cons in BC, the lowest I've seen in a long time. C-38 gutting of environmental controls probably at the heart of this. This issue will resonate for a long time. Cons will lose seats to NDP in BC in 2015 if it does.

    JKennethY

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  11. There is a BIG problem here which everybody is ignoring.

    This poll was taken PRIOR to Bob Rae quitting.

    It isn't worth squat any more. The whole Liberal scene has shifted !!

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  12. Rae is still the interim leader of the LPC until next April...I suppose some could argue that we should suspend all polling until the Liberals pick a permanent leader. I disagree

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  13. The point I was making and which you ignored was that with NO permanent Leader the Liberals are in la-la land until 20013 !!

    No polls now can be considered to reflect reality !!

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    1. They reflect the reality of the situation right now.

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    2. No they don't any longer. Rae's announcement sent them off. Because the predication that he wold remain as Leader was inherent in them. Now there is an almost year long period ahead in which he is INTERIM Leader and we don't know who the real leader in the next election will be !!

      Throws all the babies out with the bath water !!

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    3. If an election were called tomorrow it would be Bob Rae leading the Liberals in the election. The NDP was without a permanent leader until March. The Liberals have been without a permanent leader since May 2011. Should all pollsters have gone on vacation for the last year?

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    4. C'mon Ryan get it RIGHT !!

      Layton died !! Thus the NDP had a period with NO leader

      Not what has happened to the Liberals !! This is an internal shift. If the pollsters are smart they will adjust to the situation unlike some here apparently !

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    5. Okay Peter, please come back when it is all over. See you in April!

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    6. C'mon Eric you get my point. For the next ten months or so taking any Liberal poll at face value is silly. The numbers won't indicate much except a possible trend.

      However polls of who's leading in the Leadership race have a lot of value as they will indicate possible directions the party could go.

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    7. No, it isn't silly. Just as the NDP slumped during their race, only to rebound after Mulcair won, the polls will tell us whether Canadians are excited about the Liberal race or not, and will give an early indication of whether the right choice was made once we compare the before and after numbers.

      And just because there is a race going on doesn't mean the numbers will definitely change once it is over - if the NDP had chosen one of their less capable candidates they would likely still be at 28%.

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    8. Eric, Eric !! That is basically exactly what I said but with a twist.

      No leader = Caretaker leader. That means that no new policies or directions will appear as PARTY policy. So any polls can only look at the current situation or at what is perceived to be the "leaders" ideas ??

      So we can only see what is perceived as the party situation with NO definitive link to real PARTY policy which translates into votes that can't really be counted !!

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    9. Eric,

      I'm sure you're busy but, here's an idea: What is the average "bounce" a party garners after a leadership convention? Conversely, does party support decrease during an interregnum period?

      Just a thought.

      Cheers,

      Delete

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