Friday, July 20, 2012

Federal Liberals gain in Quebec?

Nanos Research released its newest numbers yesterday, putting the Conservatives 3.3-points up on the New Democrats. Though their national shifts in support were within the margin of error, a large jump for the Liberals in Quebec was not. Could they be really gaining support in the province?
Nanos was last in the field May 26-31 and since then the Conservatives have hardly budged, picking up a tenth of a percentage point to sit atop the table with 33.6% support. The New Democrats dropped 3.3 points to 30.3%, while the Liberals were up 1.6 points to 26.5%.

That is a very high number for the Liberals, one that puts ThreeHundredEight's aggregate outside of Nanos's margin of error.

The Greens were up two points to 4.4%, a statistically significant increase (though still quite a bit lower than the aggregate, due in large part to EKOS's recent numbers), while the Bloc Québécois was up 0.8 points to 4.2%. These numbers left 1% off the board, which we can assume is support for other parties.

For the Conservatives and New Democrats these levels of support are not unusual. They have been circling the low-30s for some time now, but the Liberal number is quite high. It is not the first time that Nanos pegs Liberal support higher than the norm.

The Conservatives held the lead in the Prairies, which in Nanos's polling includes Alberta. They had 44.5% support, down 5.7 points, and were trailed by the Liberals, who slipped 3.5 points to 24.8%. The New Democrats were up 0.7 points to 21.2% while the Greens were up a statistically significant 6.3 points to 7%. Of course, considering that the party was at 0.7% in the Prairies in Nanos's last poll, this is likely just a correction.

The New Democrats led in Quebec with 38.8%, down 2.7 points. The Liberals increased their support by 7.7 points, just outside the margin of error, to place second with 25%. It's quite possible that this Liberal surge is real, but at the same time it looks like an outlier result. Even with Nanos's numbers added to the aggregation, the Liberals don't score better than 18.4% in the province.

The Bloc was up 3.3 points to 17.2% and the Conservatives down 1.2 points to 16.8%, while the Greens were down 0.2 points to 2.3%. That is a low number for them in the province.

The Conservatives managed 36.8% in Ontario, an increase of 1.2 points, while the Liberals were up 1.3 points to 31.3%. The New Democrats were down a big 5.9 points to 25.6%, while the Greens were up 2.9 points to 4.6%. Save the Green increase, none of these shifts were statistically significant.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives were up 6.4 points to 40.4% and followed by the New Democrats, down 2.7 points to 34.3%. The Liberals were down 3.5 points to 19.5%. This sort of Conservative lead in B.C. has only been recorded in two polls since April, one of them by Nanos.

And in Atlantic Canada, the region is split three ways: NDP at 34.8% (+0.4), the Conservatives at 33% (+3.9), and the Liberals at 30.1% (-2.9). The Green result, at 2.1%, is on the low side.
The Conservatives would be able to pull out a plurality of seats with these numbers, winning 128 to the New Democrats' 104, but with the Liberals winning 75 their days in government would be numbered.

The results in Alberta may be somewhat surprising, and it could be that part of the problem is how Nanos combines the province with Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

But the Conservatives managed 62% support across those three provinces in the 2011 election. Having that drop to 45% is quite extraordinary, and with the Liberals jumping from 11% to 25% in the region it should come as no surprise that they can actually win a few seats. If Alberta has not seen this kind of negative swing for the Conservatives, however, that would have to mean they have taken a big hit in Saskatchewan and/or Manitoba, which would mean more seats falling into the hands of the New Democrats and Liberals there - more than enough to make up for the two Liberal seats in Alberta.

In Nanos's Leadership Index, which combines the scores the leaders manage on questions of trust, competence, and vision, Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair have hardly moved at 72.7 points and 46.8 points, respectively. Bob Rae has jumped 9.3 points to 41.5.

If we change the Leadership Index point total into point share, we get Harper at 39.6%, Mulcair at 25.5%, Rae at 22.6%, Elizabeth May at 8.4%, and Daniel Paillé at 3.8%. That does not look unlike some of the "Best Prime Minister" results we've recently seen. Compared to the share of points from Nanos's May poll, Harper and Mulcair are each down a point while Rae is up five. Try not to get crushed in the stampede to Draft Rae again.

42 comments:

  1. What is it with Nanos' Liberal numbers? Without fail, they consistently register the highest levels of Liberal support among all pollsters, not uncommonly by a considerable margin. See the complete list of polls conducted since last election at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Canadian_federal_election#Opinion_polls

    Every time a Nanos poll is released it creates an anomalous spike in Liberal support in the graph. They are the only pollster that ever found the Liberals ahead of the NDP since last election (4 times in total, including once by 4.5 points!). I'm not dismissing the possibility that they've gained some support since EKOS had them at 19.5% just a week earlier (which is in line with what almost all the other pollsters had been finding), but when it comes to Nanos' Liberal numbers, I've learned to wait for other pollsters before judging whether the trend is genuine.

    Dom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep in mind, Nanos is the only major pollster who uses live callers who don't offer prompts. The other pollsters either offer prompts (through callers or IVR), or online panels (which obviously have to ask multiple choice questions to produce useful data).

      This is why Nanos consistently shows extremely low Green support, and possibly why it continues to see Liberal support. Many voters voted Liberal all their lives, and Liberal is their stock answer. Only when presented with alternatives do they realise that they now support someone else.

      I like that we have pollsters asking questions so many different ways. I expect it gives us better data in the aggregate.

      Delete
    2. Not surprisingly, that is my view as well.

      Delete
    3. Good points, Ira. I guess I was just dying to share my repeated observations regarding Nanos' Liberal numbers. In addition to low Green support, I've noticed they also tend to find particularly low BQ support. In this case, I have trouble seeing how the same argument could apply as I really can't see many Quebeckers "forgetting" about the BQ's existence unless prompted. Therefore, I still wonder... :P

      Dom

      Delete
    4. Agreed Ira. Perhaps a good indication that there are a lot of "soft Liberals" out there that could be swung in different directions depending on the circumstances.

      Delete
    5. One thing worth noting was that Nanos was the only pollster to correctly peg the Liberal number in 2006. Everyone else underestimated the Liberals, though the margin was more in the ~3% range.

      Nanos was very accurate in 2008 and 2011 as well, but because of their use of live callers their sample size and precision is lower than their peers. My suspicion is that that's what's going on here - that the Liberals are doing better than EKOS and some of the pollsters show, but that at the same time the high MOE is doing the Liberals some favours here. So perhaps 23%.

      Delete
    6. Ok, I think I've got it all figured out. The reasons Ira gave nicely explain why Nanos tends to find high support for the well-known Liberals and lower support for lesser-known parties like the Greens. But what about their low numbers for the BQ, who are certainly very well-known in Quebec? Well, I believe Nanos only calls landlines, which means they may reach a disproportionately small number of younger adults, and according to age-demographic breakdowns in recent polls (specifically glancing over the last few Forum reports), it appears as though BQ support is indeed highest among young people these days. This may also explain Nanos' tendency to find below-average NDP support and also to some degree their low Green support. So there you have it: Nanos tends to find above-average support for well-known parties and below-average support for lesser-known parties because they don't prompt the respondents with all the possible options, and they also tend to find below-average support for parties most supported by young people because they don't call cell phones. EKOS, on the other hand, prompts respondents with all the options AND calls cell phones, which probably explains their astronomical Green numbers.

      Dom

      Delete
    7. Nanos does call cell phones.

      Delete
    8. Darn, there goes my wonderful theory! Back to square one. Ok, I'll quit cluttering your comment section for today, Éric. ;)

      Dom

      Delete
    9. Yeah, Nanos utilizes a mix of landlines, cell phones as well as VoIp phones (Voice over Internet Protocol).

      Delete
    10. Looking at the Nanos leadership index numbers for BC, I notice that Mulcair has dropped into 3rd place (after Harper and Rae) in all three categories, which is highly unusual for a federal NDP leader in BC.

      Perhaps the Conservative's massive television advertising blitz in BC - "the anti-Mulcair ads" - are having an impact.

      Delete
  2. We haven't had a federal poll out of any of the Quebec pollsters lately, which is a shame. I'd be quite interested to see what CROP and Leger have to say about the state of Liberal support. Unfortunately, we may not see federal polling from them for a while, since the Quebec election will be consuming all of the polling oxygen for a couple months.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can we say another instance of Charest Teflon ??

    ReplyDelete
  4. With regard to the Quebec numbers - let's also keep in mind that the Liberal "brand" is the only political brand in Quebec that exists both federally AND provincially - so when 99% of political news in Quebec is about the provincial scene, the word "Liberal" is still there. The NDP and Tories do not exist in Quebec provincial politics and the CAQ and QS do not exist federally and the Bloc Quebecois is now seen as a defunct step-sister of the PQ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If anything I'd think that would benefit the Conservatives and the NDP though. Neither the Liberals nor the PQ have particularly popular brands or leaders in Quebec these days.

      Delete
    2. Eric, which Alberta ridings are you having flipping Liberal?

      Delete
    3. Edmonton Centre and Calgary Northeast.

      Delete
    4. True but the floor of Quebec Liberal support is still a lot higher than the low teens levels we have seen lately for the federal Liberals

      Delete
    5. Can we really say Quebec Liberal support is higher than the low teens? They got 14.3% in the lasy election. A portion of the Liberal vote was/is a defacto federalist vote. If the NDP is viewed as the federalist alternative the traditional base of the Liberal party may decline.

      Delete
    6. What bugs me about this and other federal polls is that when there is a provincial election campaign on or pending it messes with the federal results. Charest may have lost a lot of support since the last election, but the provincial Liberals are still over 30% in the polls. Since a lot of people wouldn't be distinguishing federal vs. provincial, this will be what is pulling the federal Liberal numbers up in Quebec (and nationally). Once the Quebec election is over, they will settle back down. If not then we really do have a case of Trudeaumania II.

      Delete
    7. That contamination can still be there come election time though. The BC and federal Liberals run into this issue all the time.

      Delete
  5. Eric, I was looking over the projection for Quebec, and I was wondering at what level you think QS would have be in Montreal for them to gain the 10% or so they would need for a chance to win in Hochelaga, Laurier-Doiron and Sainte Marie-Saint Jacques. Those three seem to be QS's next tier of target ridings after re-electing Khadir in Mercier and electing Davide in Gouin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll just take the support away from the PQ to simplify things, but for them to go from 2 to 5 ridings on the island, the PQ would need to drop to around 18.5% and QS would need to hit around 22.5% on the island of Montreal.

      Delete
  6. @Eric

    Looks like you are starting to agree that there may be an east-west split developing in the prairies with the CPC being concentrated in the western portion(Alb/Sask) & the NDP/LIB taking more in eastern region.

    Also somewhere I saw that some of the riding distribution changes may be taking some of the older "pie" shaped segments around urban centers & separating them into distinct urban and rural. That would favour the left wing parties by allowing them to pick up the more urban seats!

    EM

    ReplyDelete
  7. ^Yes and no, as most of the the new growth/ridings are in the suburbs which tend to be more conservative. It's kind of a trade off.

    MN

    ReplyDelete
  8. These numbers must be very encouraging for the Liberals. For the first time in a long time they are up in every region of the country. Is the imminent departure of Bob Rae the catalyst? The NDP numbers in Ontario must be particularly gratifyng.

    What is going on with the BQ? Is Paille on the political radar screen or is the party in a death spiral?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Eric

    Based on your projections, do you think this poll is accurate at all? I am not one to believe the Liberals will take any Alberta seats and get 6 in the praries. Which seats are the conservatives losing in the Praries and in Ontario? (to the Liberals)

    ReplyDelete
  10. The Nanos poll seems at odds with every other poll in the last few months. I think it vindicates using the weighted running averages used on this blog as the most accurate measure of current public opinion.

    Is there a spike in the undecided/did not answer category here? This is a summer poll, after all, and many people lose interest in politics. A monumental sudden shift in public opinion is very unlikely; a monumental shift in people who don't care is likely.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "The Conservatives would be able to pull out a plurality of seats with these numbers, winning 128 to the New Democrats' 104, but with the Liberals winning 75 their days in government would be numbered."

    Really?And who would pull the plug? Only a party that thought they could win. Unless the voters significantly change their mind, any arty that pulled the plug would be severely punished at the polls. Canadians don't like multiple elections. They tend to make someone the majority after that kind of stunt, and it's not the party that pulls the plug.

    Place bets on the PM deciding when to go again and it being at least 3 years later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. With 75 seats and presumably on the upswing the Grits would see little need to jump into bed with the Dippers. Over the most recent minority governments Liberals have more often than not staved off an election to side with the Government.

      It makes little sense for Liberals to join forces with their main competition and diminish their own position as the alternative government. They'll sit in the Commons for a year or two until the polls look ripe then pull the plug.

      JB

      Delete
    2. In that scenario, no one would have to pull any plug and the would be no new election. The NDP and Liberals would simply announce they had an accord or coalition and Harper would either resign or he would lose a vote on his Throne speech and the NDP would take power with Liberal support. See what happened in Ontario in 1985 for a precedent

      Delete
    3. DL,

      I think that unlikely for the very reason you state. Bob Rae propped up David Peterson and look what happened; Peterson got a majority government 2 years later. Nick Clegg is another good example, his party's support has halved since the election and although he claims he would consider a coalition with Miliband after the next election the reality is the LibDems with their current numbers would not have enough seats to do so. Even in Australia where the National party and Liberal party have been partners for generations the results are similar. Over the last 30 years the smaller National party has declined whereas the Liberal party has gained. It appears to me that the junior partner is the one that gets the least credit and the most blame. Not an attractive situation in this scenario.

      The other main obstacles are philosophoical and political. Liberals are closer to the Tories on both these fronts than the NDP. The Grits are at heart a small "c" conservative party. friends of Bay St. not the 99%, a status quo Senate not abolition, constitutional monarchists not republicans, lower personal income taxes not increased taxes, strong supporters of Israel not Hezzbolah and Hamas. Their commonalities appear limited to Defence procurement policy and robocalls.

      Could a deal be worked out? When there's a will there's a way but, history would suggest the third party has little to benefit from such a result.

      JB

      Delete
  12. PS: Given that the Liberal membership and base is largely motivated by an almost pathological personal hatred of Stephen Harper - I think that if we had a seat breakdown like Eric's projection from the Nanos poll in 2015 and the Liberals under their new leader opted to "pull a Nick Clegg" and prop up Harper as PM - it would lead to an internal revolt in the Liberal Party the likes of which no one has ever seen before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. South Parkdale Jack23 July, 2012 12:29

      What an identity crisis that would be!!

      Delete
    2. They won't. Harper burned that bridge and it may well bite him in the butt hard.

      Delete
    3. Also, the Liberals' post-2015 stance is likely to be influenced by a powerful practical consideration...money. I expect one of the first items of business for a NDP-Liberal coalition government would be restoring the public funding of political parties. Coming off a costly election campaign in 2015, and facing the prospect of having to fight another in the near term, this will give the Liberals a very good reason to play ball with the NDP.

      Giovanni

      Delete
    4. Liberal fundraising has actually been improving. The Bloc, Greens and NDP now benefit the most from public funding, with the Conservatives and Liberals benefiting least.

      That being said, I doubt that would change the Liberals' stance on public funding for elections. It was brought in because it was thought to be the right thing to do. At the time it benefited the Liberals' opponents most.

      Delete
    5. DL,

      I think it ridiculous to say Liberals have a "pathoilogical personal hatred of Stephen Harper". If that is the case then why did so many Liberals (especially Ontario Liberals) switch their vote to the Tories last election? I would be very surprised if most Canadians hate anybody.

      I have to say an internal revolt is very unlikely. The party whip and leader's role in signing nomination papers are two strong reasons to remain on side. If Liberalism and Liberals are so vehemently oppossed to Stephen Harper and the Tories why did they prop two minority Tory governments from 2006-2011 without so much as a peep of internal revolt?

      JB

      Delete
  13. First of all I am not talking about Liberal voters, I am talking about Liberal members and activists and staff and MPs. Those people tend to be viscerally anti-Harper. It's true that the Liberals propped up Harper from 2006 to 2011 but sine that caused them to drop from 103 seats to 34, perhaps they have learned their lesson, if not THEY DIE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you really think most Liberal caucus members, staffers et al. "hate" Harper? Most people are mature enough to disagree without becoming spiteful. Why wouldn't Liberals "hate" Mulcair and the NDP? They are the ones who have usurped the Grits not the Tories.

      Liberals need Conservative and NDP voters to re-gain their position, it makes little sense to alienate potential voters.

      By your own logic you demonstrate why the Liberals would be unwise to prop up a NDP government. If supporting the Tories was a bad idea what makes supporting the NDP key to survivability? If one knows voting Liberal is a vote for the NDP or the Tories there is little point voting Liberal. Voters will simply skip the middleman and vote for the Tories or Dippers.

      JB

      Delete

COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. PLEASE KEEP DISCUSSION ON TOPIC.