Monday, August 27, 2012

PQ in precarious majority position as CAQ moves up

On Saturday, Le Journal de Montréal released the latest set of numbers from Léger Marketing suggesting that the Parti Québécois was still comfortably in the lead. More significantly, however, the poll indicated that the Coalition Avenier Québec has moved into second, ahead of the governing Liberals. A poll this morning for Le Soleil by Segma Recherche also points to Liberal woes, in this case in Quebec City. But a few riding polls released over the last three days suggest that the Liberals do still have some staying power.

The projection currently awards the Parti Québécois 34% support, with the Liberals trailing at 29.4% and the CAQ at 25.6%. Québec Solidaire, with 6.8% support, is well behind the three frontrunners.

The PQ is projected to win 67 seats, giving them four more than the bare minimum needed for a majority government. With 33 seats, the Liberals would form the Official Opposition while the CAQ would claim 24 seats and QS one.

But this order of finish is far from certain. If an election were held today, the PQ could emerge with a minority or a majority, as the range puts them between 52 and 78 seats. Though the PQ's minimum ties with the Liberals' maximum, it is extremely unlikely that the two parties would end up equal in seats.

The Liberals should be more concerned with not finishing third, as the range puts them between 26 and 52 seats. That means they overlap with the CAQ's 12-32 seat range, and with François Legault claiming a tiny bit of positive momentum to Jean Charest's negative trendlines, the odds are good that the CAQ could be in second place by the time the election rolls around.

Regionally, the Parti Québécois is leading in the Montreal suburbs (39.8% to the CAQ's 28.7% and the Liberals' 20.9%) and in the eastern (43.9% to 25.7% for the PLQ) and western (38.8% to 25.8% for the Liberals and 24.2% for the CAQ) parts of the province.

The Liberals only lead on the island of Montreal, though it is the widest lead in any region in Quebec. The Liberals have 46.2% support in the projection on the island, compared to 26.1% for the PQ and 13.6% for the CAQ.

Legault's party, on the other hand, claims two leads. He is ahead in Quebec City with 36.5% support, trailed at length by the Liberals at 28.4% and the PQ at 25.1%. And in central Quebec, the CAQ is narrowly ahead with 33.2% to the PQ's 31% and the PLQ's 26.1%. It is a close three-way race, but the Liberals get the worst of it: the PQ is projected to win 10 seats in the region, with the CAQ winning nine and the Liberals only one.
The Léger poll from Saturday was eagerly awaited, as the only available set of numbers came in the form of the widely lampooned Forum Research poll.

Rather than a big swing in favour of one party or another, Léger found things to be relatively stable since their poll of Aug. 13-16: the PQ unchanged at 33%, the CAQ up one to 28%, and the Liberals down one to 27%.

Though the gap between the Liberals and the CAQ is well within the margin of error, making it impossible to claim with any certainty that the Liberals are in fact in third place, the psychological effect of that positioning could be catastrophic. If Legault and the CAQ appear to be the only real bulwark to the Parti Québécois, the Liberals could shed federalist support over the next few days.

While the gap between second and third was statistically insignificant, that between the PQ and the CAQ was not. The PQ also holds a significant lead among francophones with 38% (-2) to 31% (+2). The Liberals' dominance among non-francophones remains unchallenged, however, with 67% support. The CAQ is down five points to 15% among this electorate.

Though most movement was within the margin of error, some was noteworthy. Québec Solidaire was up three points in the Montreal region to 9%, suggesting the performance of Françoise David in last Sunday's debate helped her party's fortunes. The CAQ was up eight big points in Quebec City to 46%, while the Liberals were up 11 on the island of Montreal to 45%. They were down considerably in the suburbs of Montreal, however, particularly north of the city.
Segma's poll of Quebec City provides a little bit of contrast with Léger's numbers, though the two were taken over slightly different days (Aug. 23-24 for Léger, Aug. 22-25 for Segma).

While Léger found the CAQ with 46% support and a lead of 22 points, Segma pegged the party at 34%, five points up on the Liberals.

They both show a statistically significant CAQ lead in the Capitale-Nationale, and the results for the PLQ and PQ are within the margin of error of each poll. But it is impossible to reconcile the two results for the CAQ. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but one or both of these polls is likely a little off.

Segma broke the results into the Rive-Nord (generally Quebec City itself) and the Rive-Sud (Lévis and surroundings), finding the CAQ in the lead in both areas. The area around Lévis was the last stronghold of the federal Conservatives in the last federal election, likely explaining the better CAQ results there. The PQ is much more competitive in Quebec City itself (and the projection accordingly has them in the running for four seats in the region, though one is more likely) but generally the race in and around the capital is between the CAQ and the PLQ.

Riding polls

There are pockets of stronger support for each party. Segma released two riding polls, taken Aug. 21-25 and using a hybrid IVR/live-caller method. In Lévis, Christian Dubé of the CAQ (future Finance Minister of a CAQ government, apparently) is in strong position with 41%, compared to 27% for the Liberal incumbent Gilles Lehouillier. The PQ trails with 18% and Québec Solidaire with 10% (a good result).

In Louis-Hébert, Sam Hamad of the Liberals has a statistically insignificant lead over the CAQ's Michel Hamel with 35% support to 30%, with the PQ's Rosette Côté not far behind at 26%.

The projection was very close for these two ridings, with Lévis projected at 42% CAQ to 27% for the Liberals and 21% for the PQ, before adding Segma's numbers to the model. In Louis-Hébert, the projection had 35% PLQ, 32% CAQ, and 26% PQ.

Two riding polls were also released over the weekend in smaller local newspapers. A poll by Cara-Télécom for La Nouvelle Union taken Aug. 21 found Claude Bachand of the Liberals to have 39.8% support in Arthabaska, compared to 32.6% for the CAQ's Sylvie Roy and 18.1% for the PQ candidate. With a large margin of error, Bachand is not out of the woods.

And a poll by Baromètre of Trois-Rivières put Danielle St-Amand back in front with 37.7% compared to 29.8% for the PQ's Djemila Benhabib and 26% for the CAQ. This is in contrast to a Segma poll from earlier in the campaign that gave the PQ a six-point lead and put the CAQ well out of the race. Again, the sample is small here so the lead St-Amand holds is not important.

Nevertheless, these two polls show that the Liberals do have the ability to hold on to ridings where they are the incumbent. Whether these numbers will hold is another thing entirely, and in consideration of the small sample sizes we can only say that the Liberals are not out of the running in these two ridings. That this is good news for the Liberals speaks to the predicament they are in.

25 comments:

  1. The Léger Marketing poll released Saturday shows only 3% undecided. This seems suspiciously low. The CROP poll released August 16 had found 19% undecided (up from 11% a few days earlier). Any thoughts on what the true number of undecideds may be and where they are likely to be headed?

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    1. The number of people who answer "undecided" in an online is always very low. Gauging the undecided is best done by live-callers, which CROP uses.

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    2. Any word on the next batch of CROP numbers?

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    3. Someone on RDI mentioned that they will be out tomorrow, but we'll see.

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    4. 3% "I do not know" and 2% refusal to answer for a total of 5% with no answer on vote intentions. Maybe answerers are less shy to give their opinion on the Internet than by the phone?

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    5. No, it is just because the Internet panels require a lot more willingness to participate, which means most people who do participate are probably at least leaning towards one party or another. If you weren't interested or were unsure, why would you bother logging in to fill out the questionnaire?

      With live-callers, pollsters are more likely to catch people who are not paying attention much and haven't made up their minds. And unlike IVR, since they are dealing with real people they are less likely to hang up.

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    6. Would some of the "undecided" with live callers actually be people who won't bother to vote? I would think someone who logs in and fills out a poll online is very likely to vote.

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  2. I think, once all the votes are counted, the results will resemble none of these polls. I'm getting ready for a wild election night.

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  3. I wonder if the gains experienced by the Liberals/CAQ in Montreal/Quebec, respectively, might indicate strategic voting (or fear of the PQ) on the part of non-PQ voters.

    In any event, the CAQ is looking more and more like the msot plausible non-separatist alternative (that they're closing the gap against the PQ, at least acorrding to Leger, amongst Francophones is potentially telling).

    That might explain Pauline Marois' caterwauling about a CAQ/PLQ coalition. I'm not sure that's a good strategy on her part. For the CAQ-istes, that's a great outcome, to go from nothing to government in a year and it's gotta be a better oucome than being the official opposition agaisnt a Bloc majority. For the hard-core PLQ core, anything's gotta be better than a separatist government). I guess it might scare some of the QS voters into the PQ fold (although query whether the supporters of a party committed to immigration, human rights and combatting racism, as QS purports to be might be more scared of the current incarnaion of the PQ).

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  4. Is it just me or is Charest's wife a stunner? :D

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  5. Eric, what do you think todays events atUQAM etc. will do for opinion polls? I suspect it will drive support towards the CAQ, maybe even the liberals a bit. Will we see a shift similar to what happened when stuff picked up in the spring, or will voters not be as sensitive given that its already deep into the election period?

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  6. "Is it just me or is Charest's wife a stunner?"

    I noticed that too...surely she could do better than a jowly dolt like Charest - but then again power is the ultimate aphrodisiac!

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    1. That's not very nice. They've been married for 32 years.

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    2. Or perhaps he's not a jowly dolt at all?

      if you base your impression on him based solely on reports from QS/ON/PQ supporters, you may not get a complete or acurate picture of the man.

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    3. I may not like Charest, but you've got to respect the fact that he's had more political come-backs than just about anyone else I can imagine.

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    4. Yah, Charest's got to be the most skillful politician in Canada right now. Policies aside, the man knows how to win. We'll see if his record finally catches up to him this time.

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  7. There is a more recent and larger samples size poll in Trois Rivieres showing the PQ at 38, the Liberals at 29 and the CAQ at 21.

    http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2012/08/27/benhabib-en-avance

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  8. New poll for Trois-Rivières : PQ 38%, PLQ 29, CAQ 21%.

    http://fr.canoe.ca/archives/infos/quebeccanada/2012/08/20120827-201304.html

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  9. Thanks for the link, guys.

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  10. Outsider opinion from the U.S.: Another term for Liberals (aided by several more years of Harper leadership) could possibly strengthen the sovereignty movement more than Mdm. Marois could dream of, as it transforms into a political movement rather than just an ethno-cultural one.

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    1. The sovreignty movement is a political movement. In the last National Assembly the PQ, CAQ and QS supported the concept although each had a different method for achieving it. Independentistes were united during the 1995 referendum.

      The sovreignty movement can trace its political beginnings to to mid 19th century when before and after the 1848 rebellion French-Canadien nationalism coupled with a general yearning for greater political power for the non-landing owning class emerged.While it may be incorrect to call Louis-Joseph Papineau a sovereigntist it is clear les Patriotes wanted greater autonomy from the British Empire.

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    2. Just a small note, the rebellions were in 1837-1838.

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  11. CROP:

    PQ 33
    CAQ 28
    PLQ 26
    QS 7

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1247972--quebec-election-premier-jean-charest-falls-to-third-place-in-new-poll

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  12. Good piece by Chantal Hebert in today's Star.

    Shows why the sovereignty issue isn't as big a deal as it's being made out.

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  13. http://www.lapresse.ca/le-soleil/dossiers/elections-quebecoises/201208/29/01-4569089-sondage-segma-large-avance-pour-le-pq-dans-taschereau.php?utm_categorieinterne=trafficdrivers&utm_contenuinterne=cyberpresse_B13b_regions_1956700_section_POS1

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