Wednesday, August 1, 2012

As Quebec campaign begins, PQ moves ahead

As I write, Jean Charest is en route to the Lieutenant-Governor's residence to get the ball rolling on Quebec's provincial election campaign. With a new poll out this morning, the projection now shows the Parti Québécois ahead by a narrow margin.

If an election were held today, the Parti Québécois would capture 34.4% of the vote and 60 seats, putting them in the delicate position of a minority government. That is, of course, if the Liberals do not take a crack at government themselves. With a projected 32.6% of the vote and 52 seats, they might be able to form the slimmest of majorities with the support of the Coalition Avenir Québec, which is projected to win 19.5% of the vote and 11 seats.

Combined, the Liberals and CAQ could hold 63 seats. That's the bare minimum for a majority, complicated somewhat by the presence of the Speaker. The PQ and Québec Solidaire (6.7% and two seats) could get together for 62, just one short of a majority.

Considering how close the result could be, the high and low ranges for each of the parties becomes even more significant. The Parti Québécois has the edge over the Liberals, being projected to win between 44 and 72 seats (though, of course, something closer to 60 is far more likely than either extreme). The Liberals stand to win between 37 and 71 seats, while the CAQ sits at between seven and 18. Québec Solidaire should win one or two seats.

The Montreal area is night and day, with the Liberals leading with 41.1% to 29.0% on the island and the PQ ahead 38.5% to 27.5% off of it. This results in lopsided seat totals, with the Liberals winning 20 of 28 on the island and the PQ winning 21 of 30 around it.

The most hotly contested part of the province is central Quebec, where the Liberals have a narrow edge with 32.4% to 29.3% for the PQ and 25.9% for the CAQ. In terms of seats, every party is in play: the Liberals could win between 1 and 15, the PQ between 3 and 12, and the CAQ between 2 and 9. The ridings in this part of the province are the ones to keep an eye on.
The poll by Léger Marketing is somewhat unremarkable, showing no major shifts in support since their last report of June 12-14. The PQ has 33% (+1) to the Liberals' 31% (-2) and the CAQ's 21% (+2).

In terms of statistically significant leads, the Parti Québécois is ahead among francophones, in the suburbs north of Montreal, and in eastern Quebec. The Liberals lead among non-francophones and in Quebec City. The rest of the province is close enough for no party to have a definitive lead.

But it's the other tidbits from the Léger poll that are most interesting. A majority of respondents said their intention to vote for the CAQ, QS, or Greens was not definitive, while the PQ's supporters were the most certain to vote. That bodes well for the Parti Québécois. And with 60% of Quebecers saying they want an election on September 4, the province seems geared up for the campaign.

In terms of what the major issues are, accessibility to healthcare topped the list with 35% saying it was one of their top two issues. This was followed by lower taxes and corruption (22% apiece) and tuition fees and job creation (14% apiece).

But broken down by party, we get an idea of the issues that are most important to people based on how they vote. The top three issues for PQ supporters are healthcare, corruption, and sovereignty, while the top three issues for Liberal voters are healthcare, taxes, and job creation. CAQ voters are most concerned with healthcare, corruption, and reducing the size of the state, while QS supporters chose corruption, tuition fees, and healthcare as their top issues. It very nicely lines up with how these parties have positioned themselves (aside from healthcare, which is a consensus issue).

The Parti Québécois's advantage among francophones, with 39% support to 24% for the Liberals and CAQ each, is extremely important. It means that they have an edge off the island of Montreal and in the more rural regions of Quebec. These are the parts of the province that have always given them the edge when things were close between them and the Liberals. Jean Charest will either have to close the gap or hope that François Legault does if he is to have any chance at re-election.

28 comments:

  1. The choice of September 4, rather than September 18 or even 25 seems a little odd to me. Given that the student protests tend to drive the PLQ's numbers up, I don't know why the Liberals wouldn't want to give them a chance to spark off again before the vote is held. I understand they want to get in before the corruption inquiry starts hearings again, but my understanding was that that was happening at the end of September. Of course I could be wrong on that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inquiry starts again on Sept. 13.

      Delete
    2. Ah, okay. That makes more sense. The PLQ would REALLY not want the news in the last four days leading up to the election to be dominated by the inquiry.

      Delete
    3. Sorry, it is starting Sept. 17. I was looking at the August calendar...

      Delete
  2. Another Quebec Solidaire win in Montreal (bringing the total to 3) would make things real interesting in the event the PQ is in a minority situation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is intended as a non-partisan, open-ended question:

    Can anyone honestly see any of the parties winning a majority in this election? I'm just not seeing the love for Charest or Marois, as it appears to me that most of the support for either is purely based on aversion to the other getting in. As crazy as this may sound given that they're currently sitting in 3rd at around 20% support, the only party that I can remotely envision winning a majority is the CAQ, on the off-chance that they benefit from an NDP-like surge as a result of disenchantment with the traditional parties. But even that seems unlikely as I can't really see Quebeckers quite trusting Legault enough yet to hand him full control.

    Then again, based on Éric's numbers it would appear that a majority of seats in the National Assembly could plausibly be squeezed out of a meagre 34-36% popular support, which simply seems outrageous (not Éric's calculations, but the possibility of getting a majority with so little support), but hey, I guess that's just how our twisted FPTP system works!

    Please feel free to respond with your views on this.

    Dom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The regional and language divides makes a PQ majority a bit more likely than the numbers would suggest, but I, too, doubt we'll see a Liberal majority, absent some game changing event.

      Delete
  4. I'm surprised the Greens don't get more play. They are about as far left as a PQ/QS average, but they are not nearly as sovereigntist crazy as PQ/QS/ON.

    The Vote Compass on CBC is interesting. I ended up being as far left as PQ but as federalist as the PLQ. I'm sure I'm not the only one identifying in that area, and perhaps the Greens, maybe, will vault and grab some of the vote for a decent voice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I found the Vote Compass interesting, since there's this whole quadrant that is entirely unrepresented. Basically Anglophone leftists have to either settle for a sovereigntist party like the PQ or QS or instead settle for right-of-centre party like the PLQ.

      Delete
    2. There is new leftist,progressive federalist party in Québec, l'Union citoyenne du Québec/Québec Citizens Union. They received official party status on 13 July 2012 and should field about 25 - 30 candidates this election. Given a couple of election cycles they could become a credible alternative to the PLQ.

      Delete
    3. A good examples of the failings of FPTP imho.

      FPTP creates a strong pressure towards a two-party system. The addition of a federalism-separatism axis to Quebec's politics gives a pressure in the opposite direction.

      Quebecers are more diverse than the political options in front of them, and they deserve more choice. They also deserve to have those choices reflected in the National Assembly.

      Delete
  5. And it's Option Nationale, making all the ground as they more than double their vote share to hit the heady heights of 2%! If they carry on at this rate, they'll sweep it!

    On a serious note, I honestly can't remember any other poll where they've registered above 1% overall or 2% in any other demographic. Could this mean they're actually going to be a proper party, rather than fighting the Conservateurs?

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Anon1435: If nothing happens during the campaign, the PQ could easily win a majority. CAQ is on the cusp where they could win a ton of seats like ADQ in 2007 or an insignificant number like 2008. If CAQ wins few seats, it's a PQ majority for sure.

    On the other hand, voting intentions are volatile. As we saw in May 2011, little things on the campaign trail can get magnified and could deliver a majority for any of the four real parties (the Greens and Option Nationale being not organized enough to be rela players.)

    Adam A.: the Greens have had four no-name, unremarkable, part-time leaders in a row. They have never managed a full slate of candidates. They are most popular amongst angolphones but don't have an English website. Their annual report showed that they had only 250 members -- some Quebec volleyball leagues have more members than that. In short, they don't have any serious organizers.

    @Jo: Option nationale is not a real party, it's just a one-man show. Aussaint will probably lose his own seat. The only thing it is accomplishing is helping the Liberals in a few close ridings by stealing PQ votes.

    P.S. I'll be contributing to a new satirical blog on the Quebec election: www.superquebecvoteplus.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I predict a Liberal minority.

    The tuition fees crisis will force the PQ to take a stand and that will pigeon hole them either to be in bed with the Red Squares or at odds not really complying with their demands.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nice analysis, but PQ got a serious draw back, their voting intention is rarely the turn out they get. Statically, their potential voter just don't go and vote. In such a close race, it probably give an hedge to the PLQ and the CAQ (in where they would be second/first respectively).

    Plus, at least half of the population was against the position of the PQ in the student boycott. If the minority student make trouble, again, that will work against the PQ. And where their voter don't tend to vote as much, "les cols rouges" as some have dub the silent majority do tend to vote a lot, even more when they are annoy at something. Taking an hour or less to vote is a good way to influence politics and is often the only way for the middle working class to make themselves heard.

    With a vote for the 4th September, thus most of the voter there and very concern of what going on, between the corruption and the social trouble, PQ might have a theoretical edge between more voting intention and leading among french québécois, but in fact, if anything happen and upset the balance, they will hardly even form a minority government. Charest is a dangerous campaigner, and Legault could very well surprise everyone.

    Their is still the question of what will happen with the CAQ, they could seriously screw up anyone, including themselves. I would say they don't start well. Legault is not as popular as Mario was and what he want is a lot less clear, well he want to form the government, but beside that, there is an "floue artistique". If he precise it, he might stand a chance, if he try to win everyone, he will just lose everything.

    Polls will at best give a general view of what going on. Quebec as a province tend to surprise. Except for some rare political analysis, no one predicted the surge for ADQ in 2007. Even if it wasn't too surprising, you just had to listen to what was going on. Polls failed to see it until the end of the campaign.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a question about whether "on-island" and "off-island" is the best way of analyzing poll results in Montreal. I see the following as more relevant:

    - Non-francophone: Downtown Montreal; Montreal-Nord; Saint Leonard; Brossard; Chomedey; Chateauguay
    - Urban-francophone: East End; Longueil
    - Suburban Francophone: Laval, North Shore, South Shore

    I suppose non-francophone means that the non-francophone presence is large enough to eliminate the PQ as a plausible choice.

    I also noticed that last election Laval went all Liberal and North Shore ridings went all PQ. The extension of these "exurb" ridings into rural areas appears to favor the PQ.

    Does any of this figure into your seat projection models?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The regional breakdowns are based on what kind of information is available from the polls. Splitting up Montreal as you suggest might make more demographic sense, but that level of polling information is not available.

      What is available, however, is a breakdown of the Greater Montreal area between the island and the rest, so that is what I work with.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Éric. I'm surprised polling firms don't stratify the data according to demography.

      Delete
  10. Isn't it a bit misleading to project a "PQ minority government" when in fact all that your projection says is that no party would have a majority but that the PQ would have more seats than any other party. Just because the PQ has a couple more seats than the Liberals does NOT mean that they would necessarily end up forming a minority government. Charest as the incumbent could try to stay in power and make a deal with CAQ.

    My understanding Eric, is that you are in the business of projecting seat distribution - not on speculating who will or will not make the requisite deals in a minority situation to take power.

    If I were you, instead of projecting "PQ minority GOVERNMENT", I would project "Minority Assembly - PQ Plurality"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll just quote my post above:

      "If an election were held today, the Parti Québécois would capture 34.4% of the vote and 60 seats, putting them in the delicate position of a minority government. That is, of course, if the Liberals do not take a crack at government themselves."

      Delete
  11. That's reasonable...I guess my issue is less with you than with the way the media will have misleading headlines like "PQ Minority Gov't Projected" when all we can project is seat distribution - it is the task of others to speculate on who would succeed in forming a government in a minority situation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always try to be careful with these sorts of things. But sometimes I can wear my pundit hat, too.

      Delete
  12. New poll from Forum. Bad numbers for CAQ, though Legault is the only leader with a net approval rating. Could be interesting if he gets some traction.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/elections/francophone-support-gives-parti-qubcois-the-edge/article4457181/?cmpid=rss1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I noticed that one - I wrote the article! It's been included in the projection already.

      Delete
    2. Hah... I missed that lol...

      Delete
  13. Éric, I know I've asked you this before, but do you have any new thoughts on why Forum seems to consistently find remarkably higher numbers for the Liberals and PQ and lower numbers for the CAQ than CROP and Leger? Cheers.

    Dom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know why, but in their last poll in May they had the CAQ around where Léger, CROP, and Segma had them. We'll see if this continues as the campaign progresses.

      Delete
  14. Can I ask a naive question from south of the border: what could possibly be going on with Quebec's healthcare system that could forge a consensus between these four parties? What I hear most often about Quebec here is either mafia corruption, the student strike, or competition between provinces on natural resources. I hear little about healthcare. Also, help me understand how this breaks down vis-a-vis different constituencies in the province. I lived in montreal a few years ago. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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.