Thursday, June 7, 2012

May 2012 Federal Poll Averages

A month filled with rhetoric, relatively large gains in May by the Conservatives in British Columbia and by the New Democrats in Ontario are signs of a shifting landscape. And for the first time since June 2009, the Conservatives lost the lead - and not just by a few decimal points.
Six national polls and two provincial polls in Ontario and Quebec were conducted during the month of May, surveying a total of 12,254 Canadians. Abacus, Angus-Reid, Environics, Forum, Harris-Decima, and Ipsos-Reid were in the field during the month.

The New Democrats picked up 1.6 points in May, increasing their support to 34.9%. This is a high-watermark for them, and increases their lead over the Conservatives by a full point.

The Tories were up 0.6 points in May to 33.8%, while the Liberals were down 1.5 points to an average of 19.1%, their lowest score since the May 2011 election. May was the third consecutive month of Liberal drop.

The Bloc Québécois slid 0.3 points to 5.9% nationally, while the Greens were down 0.1 point to 5.5%. Support for other parties stood at 0.8% in May.

On the first anniversary of the 2011 election, the Conservatives averaged 5.8 points lower than their electoral result, while the New Democrats sat 4.3 points higher. The Liberals and Bloc have hardly budged, while the Greens were up 1.6 points.

The largest amount of variation between April and May took place in Alberta, where the Conservatives picked up four points to hit 60%. The New Democrats, meanwhile, were down 1.4 points to 19.1% and the Liberals were down 3.5 points to 12.7%. The Greens were up 1.4 points to 6.1%.

A more consequential shift took place in Ontario, where the Conservatives slipped 2.5 points to 35.5%. The New Democrats hit a new high with a 4.6-point gain to 33.6% support, the narrowest gap between the Conservatives and the second place party since November 2010. The Liberals hit an all-time low (at least since January 2009) by dropping 1.7 points to only 24%. This is the fourth consecutive month of Liberal decrease in Ontario. The Greens, at 5.6%, were down 0.4 points.

The Conservatives picked up 2.6 points in the Prairies and led with an average of 45.2% support, while the NDP was down 0.6 points to 33.8%. They have been relatively steady now for four months in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Liberals, with a 3.6-point drop to 13.3%, were at their lowest point since the 2011 election. The Greens were up 1.9 points to 6.8%.

The New Democrats slid 2.4 points in Atlantic Canada to 37.6% support, but this still represents a wide lead over the Conservatives. Atlantic Canada has been a very volatile three-way race for some time, and no party has held this wide of a lead for two consecutive months since the Liberals did it in August and September 2010. The Conservatives picked up 2.9 points and averaged 29.6% support, while the Liberals were up 0.7 points to 28.9%. The Greens were down 0.3 points to 4.1%.

For the third consecutive month in British Columbia, the New Democrats led in May with 38.7%, down 0.1 point. The NDP is still at its all-time high on record, and no other party has held a lead against the Conservatives in B.C. since at least January 2009 for more than one month. The Conservatives, however, closed the gap by gaining 3.2 points to reach 37.4% support. The Liberals, at their lowest mark since July 2011, dropped 1.6 points to 14.7%, the fourth consecutive month of loss. The Greens were down 0.4 points to 8.3%.

And in Quebec, the New Democrats slid 2.8 points to 40.2% but still held a wide lead over the Bloc Québécois, which was up 0.5 points to 22.5%. The Liberals held on to third place by the skin of their teeth by holding steady at 15.6% support, while the Conservatives were up 1.2 points to 15.5%. The Greens were up 0.5 points to 4%.

As was the case in April, the New Democrats would not have been able to transform this 1.1-point lead into a plurality of seats. The Conservatives would have won 140 seats in a May 2012 election, four more than they would have won in April. The New Democrats would win 118 seats, down two, while the Liberals win 44, down three. The Bloc Québécois would have captured five seats (+1) and the Greens would have retained their one seat.

Compared with April, the Conservatives gained three seats in British Columbia and one each in the Prairies, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. The New Democrats, meanwhile, dropped two seats in British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, explaining their difficulty in beating the Conservatives. Ontario is still the problem, but the NDP did capture four more seats with the May numbers than they did in April (two from the Tories and two from the Liberals).

The Conservatives would have won 19 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, 19 in the Prairies, 59 in Ontario, five in Quebec, 10 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North. In the expanded 338-seat House of Commons, they would have likely won 157 seats.

The New Democrats would have won 14 seats in British Columbia, one in Alberta, seven in the Prairies, 29 in Ontario, 58 in Quebec, eight in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North. With the new boundaries, they would likely win 128 seats.

The Liberals would have won two seats in British Columbia, two in the Prairies, 18 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, 14 in Atlantic Canada, and one in the North. That would be bumped up to 47 seats on the new electoral map.

The New Democrats are still in the good position of being able to govern in a minority with the support of the Liberals. Together, the two parties would hold 162 seats and a majority. But the Conservatives are still well-placed to win the most seats due to their strong numbers in Alberta and the Prairies and their better vote efficiency in British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. The New Democrats need to pad their leads on the two coasts by a larger margin in order to pull ahead. And if they can't take the lead in Ontario, they have little chance of winning a plurality without those commanding margins in B.C. and A.C.

The Bloc Québécois and the Greens seem to be in a holding pattern, which is probably not a horrible thing for the Greens (who are, indeed, up in the polls but that is often illusory for the party) but is not very good news for the Bloc. What happens in the next Quebec provincial election, and the aftermath of that vote, will probably play a big role in determining where the Bloc goes from here.

The Liberals are simply in terrible position. They are either below of or marginally up on their May 2011 electoral performance in every part of the country, suggesting that the first 12 months of this Parliament can be written-off for the Liberal Party. They are below 16% support everywhere except Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and in Ontario they are on the downswing. They desperately need their leadership race to boost Canada's interest in their party, but the recent example of the NDP race would suggest that this is not a given.

49 comments:

  1. And it doesn't take rocket science to know with those projected seat numbers we are looking at a strong coalition govt !!

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    1. Unlikely, The Liberals have little incentive to enter into coalition with the NDP or the Tories. To do so would further weaken their position to the point of irrelevance. In the UK the coalition has emerged somewhat successful in terms of policies but, the Lib-Dems have suffered in the polls with support at less than half their 2010 election result. Things are so bad one of the few shared opinions keeping the coalition together is the prospect of near certain defeat.

      The Liberals would be better off leveraging their support on an issue by issue basis to stay both in the spot light and keep relevant to Canadians.

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    2. You can bet your ass the Liberals will come to some agreement to remove Harper from the PM chair though Derek. It needn't be a true coalition.

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    3. It is possible Ryan but, look at 2006-2011. The Liberals sat on their hands either abstaining or voting with the Government.

      If we use the seat totals above the Grits would have to enter into a defacto coalition since, the NDP does not have a plurality of seats. A lot will depend on the Liberal caucus, some will be in favour of removing Harper while others may think they're better off having Harper in office rather than Mulcair. I can't see John MacCallum for instance in favour of a NDP government.

      If the Liberals help remove the Tories from Government in favour of the Dippers they abdicate their historical role as a alternate governing party transferring that status to the NDP. Such a move would be politically unwise.

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    4. The logical thing here is for the NDP to merge with the Greens. That would give the NDP the 5% boost across the country to give them a majority.

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  2. If this was the election result, I think it would be difficult for the CPC to run the line that the NDP governing in a minority with the support of the Liberals, or even governing in coalition with the Liberals, was an undemocratic seizure of power. This result would be very reminiscent of what happened in Ontario in 1985. The refusal to allow the party winning the most seats to continue to govern was widely accepted precisely because the party with the second most seats had actually got the plurality of the popular vote. The public acceptability of the result would likely be enhanced by the fact that the support of the Bloc would not be necessary.

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  3. I know I'm going to be riduculed here, but I disagree with the first sentence of your last paragraph Eric. Actually I think they are in amazing position -- considering. The Mulcair honeymoon is still in full gallop, that draws considerable votes from them on the left, and the chicken littles on the right of the party who fear another Orange Crush so switch to CPC, and draw support from the right of the Libs. And the Libs still manage to hold onto the same position they won in the last election. It should be a lot worse. I will agree though that the Libs need to pick well during their leadership convention next year. And although I like Rae and think he's done a great job, he's not the person for the permanent job. They need a fresh face, perhaps someone a tad center right.

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    1. I'm sorry, but no party at 19% in the polls has any claim to be in "amazing position". Especially a party that is below 16% in Quebec, the Prairies, Alberta and BC, and which has been trending down in Ontario.

      If the NDP had claimed to be in amazing position five years ago when you would have been able to hear the laughter in Hong Kong.

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    2. Thanks TS for making my point for me. Five years ago the NDP weren't in all that great a spot either compared to the other two main parties, but relatively speaking, you could see potential. Now look at them. It is "amazing" the Liberals, under the circumstances of the past few months, aren't polling several points lower than they are. That shows some strength. If they pick well during the leadership convention, they could pick off quite a few CPC seats, as that party starts to lose steam.
      I know, everyone left and right of them, want to bury the Liberals for good and all time. But they aren't dead by a long shot, just wounded, and not mortally. I say put away the shovels and save your energy for the next election. You're going to need it.

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    3. Yet they still managed to more than double their seats.

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    4. I'm not actually claiming the Liberals are in amazing position though. Just that polls change. Obviously any dip is bad, but things can and do reverse themselves.

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    5. Okay, maybe I shouldn't have said they were in an amazing position. Maybe instead I should have said the position Libs find themselves in is amazaing considering the left-right pull from the NDP and CPC. As they weather this storm, it becomes more and more apparent (to me anyway) a comeback is in the offing.

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    6. I think that the only way for the Liberals to get back on the upswing again is wait 'till after an NDP majority government becomes unpopular toward the end of its term, then present themselves as the "still leftwing-but-not-as-incompetent" alternative. The Ontario path, if you will (well, the Ontario Liberals blew it in 1995 after being ahead in the polls at first, but they did re-emerge as the main left-wing alternative in 2003).

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    7. Hey Esn: The Liberals aren't left wing.

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  4. There is something serioulsy wrong with a system where the party with the largest number of votes doesn't get the majority of seats. Who needs democracy then. You may as well have a dictator ruling by fiat!

    Arthur Cramer

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    1. If the whole country were electing a leader, you would be right.

      But that's not how our system works. Each community or collection of neighbourhoods elects a representative, and then those representatives goern the country.

      The communities who support the Tories still outnumber the communities who support the NDP, so the Tories end up in charge.

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    2. Ira, the "communities" you refer to are artificial constructs that serve, to a significant extent, the interests of those already in power. The argument has been made many times, and very persuasively, that this system is not prepresentative (or only weakly so). All this leads to advocacy of proportional representation to address these and other problems with FPTP.

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    3. Furthermore, communities (however construed) don't vote, persons do.

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    4. That may be the way the system works in the technical sense, but there's no question it doesn't work that way in a realistic sense. A lot more people vote based on parties and leaders than for their individual MPs. Otherwise the CPC wouldn't have bothered basically pre-emptively disqualifying the Liberals nation-wide with the attack ads on Ignatieff and Dion. It's not like only Ignatieff's Etobicoke riding suffered for them.

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    5. "But that's not how our system works. Each community or collection of neighbourhoods elects a representative, and then those representatives govern the country."

      Our system is bad.

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    6. @Bri - Ira's actually incorrect in asserting that voters can only be equal when you vote directly for a president (or parties).

      There are many proportional systems that don't require political parties at all and where each MP still gets a direct mandate from his or her constituents.

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    7. I see no problems with FPTP that need addressing.

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    8. Europe today demonstrates the many flaws of PR. Parties and parliaments become hostage to small minority groups within them (how is that democratic?). Two and a hlaf years after the economic crisis began Europe has not effectively dealt with their sovereign debt crisis. PR in Europe has made politicians take short term and medium term positions not the hard unpopular decision necessary.

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    9. That can hardly all be laid at the feet of a PR system not allowing consensus in any one country (the problem there is trying to reach some kind of resolution across dozens of countries), and it's not as though PR is the only alternative to FPTP anyway - run-offs and preferential balloting are others. Preferential balloting is probably the best, to my mind.

      The USA has exactly the diametric opposite of a PR system. If people don't live in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado or Nevada, their opinions don't matter because the results of other states are already known.

      They're about to go through another election where both parties campaign on cutting taxes for everyone and follow through on doing precisely that following the election (or in Obama's case, cut taxes for nearly everyone). Unpopular decisions indeed.

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    10. Ira07 June, 2012 16:28

      I see no problems with FPTP that need addressing.



      That's because politically you have right wing views and right wingers tend to oppose electoral reforms that would give more power to left side of the country. Let's be honest - this system favors the parties which have combined (PC + Alliance). The alternative vote system (ranking) is the best system for Canada because it reduces the vote split and gives an accurate representation of what Canadians want. Canadians do not want Stephen Harper. He never has had a majority of support and he never will. The majority of Canadians are not right wing ideologues.

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    11. "The majority of Canadians are not right wing ideologues. :"

      And on here it is so blatantly obvious, as it is becoming in the main stream press as well. They don't discuss, they either pontificate or rant but ANY compromise is obviously out !! The PMO says so !!

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    12. There are actually quite a few right wingers out there that have and do support PR.

      Robert - the trouble with AV is that it exaggerates party's strengths in a given region and creates blowouts. The fact that the results under AV would have been fairer last election is pure coincidence. In the 1980s, AV would have actually resulted in fewer NDP and Liberal seats and even weaker opposition.

      Ira - I realize you like FPTP. I'm just pointing out that when others are arguing that we have a crappy electoral system that produces crappy results, your response boils down to FPTP is good because FPTP is good. Tautologies are not persuasive.

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  5. I'm still discounting the British Columbia numbers due to the one poll that was a complete outlier showing massive CPC support over the NDP. Although the CPC showed slight gains in later polls in BC, the massive lead in the one poll was never corroborated, and therefore it should be ignored.

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    1. There was a poll that gave the NDP a 14-point lead in B.C. as well. It evens out.

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  6. In the end, if the NDP gets more votes across Canada than the Tories - i strongly suspect they will also get more seats. If anyone has a problem with "wasted votes" its the Tories who et this crazy North Korean type results in Alberta...there are almost no ridings that the NDP ever wins by those kinds of margins

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    1. They get 97% of the seats with 67% of the vote in Alberta. It's actually pretty efficient.

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    2. This wouldn't be without precedent either - it's exactly how the 1979 election played out. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_1979#Results_by_province)

      Joe Clark won 22 more seats than Trudeau even though he received 4.2% less of the vote. The regional breakdowns are very similar to the scenario Eric is outlining above.

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    3. But the NDP have a great many ridings where they finish second. Too many. If you're not going to win, you're better off not getting any support at all.

      The Liberals are actually really good at this right now.

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    4. Right you are Ira about the Libs == 35 seats!!

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    5. DL,

      The NDP also has a lot of ridings where they receive wasted votes; by my count more than 40.

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    6. A propos 1979, it's interesting that despite winning Ontario by 5 and a half percent of popular vote the Tories did not double the seat count of the Liberals in Ontario.

      I still find it hard to imagine the Tories winning twice as many seats in Ontario 'today' with less than 2 percent lead in popular vote.

      I suspect it's extremely difficult to model the seat impact of such a huge increase in support for the NDP.

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    7. No, with the vote results the model gave the NDP 60 seats in Quebec when they went from 12% to 43%. The model also gave Wildrose 18 seats when the party went from 7% to 34%.

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    8. @Derek Andrew... my point was that the Libs are at 35 elected.. period!! lol

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    9. Anon 22:43,

      I wasn't responding to your comment which explains why I addressed my comment to DL.

      In any case your comment is incorrect since, the Grits elected 34 member in 2011 and picked up a floor crosser from the NDP for a total of 35.

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  7. The NDP has the most inefficient vote of the three main parties. The Conservatives can get 56% of the seats with 36% of the vote in Ontario, while the Liberals can win the most seats in Atlantic Canada in third place.

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    1. The Liberal vote is much less efficient in other parts of the country though.

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  8. I still wonder if the NDP will make the vote get out when it matter. Jack made it. But I tend to see left and centre left natural voter as more unlikely to vote. And they are in a worse spot that what it look in Quebec, who are giving them a fair amount of MP. They don't have any real local organization. That going to hurt them in term of retaining crucial riding.

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  9. I'm interested in seeing how Ontario plays out, as the three parties are forming something of a split, though the Liberals take 10% less than the other guys.

    Yet, even at 24% of the vote, the Liberals could pick up quite a few seats because their vote is very concentrated in Toronto. If, say, the Liberals are at 24% in Ontario, but maintain 35-40% in the GTA, there are many many seats for them to pick off in the area. Even 30-35% in still fairly good and guarantees a second place or a good third.

    That's the biggest problem for the NDP, really, and it explains some of the mutterings of people saying how "undemocratic" that result is, because the NDP get the most votes yet still remain in Opposition. Well, Ira's not wrong - communities vote differently. Toronto is a much stronger Liberal area, which means more competition and less pick-up opportunities for the NDP. Rural Ontario is much stronger for the Conservatives, meaning that even when dropping the Cons will retain more rural seats, with the NDP second, but second ain't good enough.

    Ontario will remain their biggest problem in any election, until the Liberals are "equalized" across the province, rather than concentrated in the GTA.

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  10. Mulcair has had a good start, however, the NDP's real test if they can maintain these numbers come fall and winter. Summer polling would not really matter, because everybody will be tuned out during the summer months. By September, the media would be giving the Liberals more attention with the beginning of their leadership race.

    The Tories need to get their act together. They do not have the same discipline they had when the were governing in a minority. Harper needs to inject some fresh blood into the cabinet.

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  11. Let's keep in mind that in the last election the NDP and Liberals had almost identical percentages of the popular vote in Ontario (25.6 and 25.3 respectively. This yielded 22 NDP seats and just 11 Liberals seats. So whose vote is more "efficient" and as for the 1979 comparison, that was an election where the Liberals won well over 50% of the vote in Quebec and had supermajorities that were way beyond anything the NDP will get in Quebec.

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    1. The seats counts are actually almost exactly the same. Reason being is there are 4 parties competing for seats now in Quebec, compared to 3 in 79.

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  12. You must be irritated that Nanos puts out a poll with field dates in May - right after you did your May averages!

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    1. Slightly. I don't know why you would release week-old data...

      But I added Nanos to the averages and it only budged things by a few decimal points here and there. The new numbers are reflected in the tracking chart in the right-hand column, and will be used as the reference point when comparing May to June.

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  13. Michael Barkusky28 June, 2012 03:05

    If the liberals choose to keep the Conservatives in power rather than support an NDP - Green coalition, the subsequent resentment on the part of centre-left voters would probably do them as much damage as would accepting the junior party status in a post-election coalition. I don't think that is an option to be chosen lightly by them.

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