Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tories, NDP tied in Abacus poll

Abacus Data released its latest federal poll on Monday, showing that the Conservatives and New Democrats are tied in national voting intentions. But a tie isn't good enough for the New Democrats - a seat breakdown suggests that the Tories can win many more seats with just as much of the vote as the NDP.
Abacus was last in the field Aug. 10-12, and since then the Conservatives dropped two points to 35%. The New Democrats picked up three points to hit 35%, while the Liberals were down three points to only 17%.

That isn't an all-time low for the Liberals - they were polling even lower than that in the immediate aftermath of the May 2011 election - but this is one of the lower results we've seen for the party.

The Bloc Québécois came up fourth with 7%, while the Greens were unchanged at 6%.

The shifts in support for the Conservatives and New Democrats are statistically insignificant, but the drop of the Liberals is outside the margin of error for a party with that much support. Perhaps this is not too shocking, considering that the Liberals are still leaderless (and more so than usual, Bob Rae has not been very visible of late).

It is worth noting that Abacus used Angus-Reid's online panel for their polling. Based on the information available in their report, it would appear that Abacus recorded, or at least released, more demographic results than Angus-Reid ever does: Conservatives lead among evangelicals while the NDP leads among non-religious people, for example. It is unclear whether Abacus's last poll also used Angus-Reid's panel.

Things held very stable in British Columbia and Ontario, with no party losing or gaining more than a point. The New Democrats maintained a five-point advantage in British Columbia, while the Conservatives held firm with an 11-point lead in Ontario. The NDP narrowly edged out the Conservatives in the Prairies, and were up by nine points over the Bloc Québécois in Quebec. The Bloc appears to be benefiting slightly from the PQ's recent election victory.

Alberta and Atlantic Canada had some statistically significant swings. In Alberta, the Conservatives dropped 12 points to 58% while the NDP was up 15 points to 29%. The Liberals fell nine points to 6%. But this is probably a statistical fluke considering the sample size - the same goes for Atlantic Canada, where the NDP was up 18 points to 47% and the Liberals were down 17 points to 19%.
Despite the tie in voting intentions, the Conservatives would come out ahead in seats with 157 to the New Democrats' 140 on the proposed boundaries for the new 338-seat electoral map. The Liberals would win only 26 seats and the Bloc Québécois 14.

The Conservative victory is mostly won in Ontario, where the party takes 84 seats. The Liberals manage only nine in the province, and appear to be somewhat penalized by the new boundaries. On the old map, the Conservatives would win 71 seats, the NDP 25, and the Liberals 10 in the province.

The New Democrats do very well in British Columbia and the Prairies, but also manage to win four of the 34 seats in Alberta. This is a rather shocking result, but with 29% in this poll some shocking things would be bound to happen.

On the leadership front, Thomas Mulcair has the highest favourability rating with 36%, compared to 35% for Stephen Harper and 27% for Bob Rae. He also has the lowest unfavourability score with 22%, while Rae managed 34% and Harper 50%.

Justin Trudeau, a virtual lock for a leadership run, has a favourability rating of 39% and an unfavourability rating of 23%, giving him slightly better overall numbers than Mulcair. Marc Garneau, a likely candidate for leadership, has a favourability of 26% to 15% unfavourable. He has very high "neutral" and "don't know" numbers.

Among Liberal supporters, Trudeau has a 70% favourability rating, with only 9% saying they have an unfavourable opinion of him. At 7%, Garneau's unfavourability among Liberals is lower, but so is his favourability rating: 51%. He starts out with a big hill to climb, as 42% of Liberal voters had a neutral opinion or were unsure what they thought of him.

And now for something (almost) completely different - if anyone watched The Rick Mercer Report last night, they would have seen Rick's Rant about polls. I think Rick is expressing a frustration that a lot of people have with polling right now, but I also think this is being borne out of a bit of a false narrative when it comes to polling. He refers to Alberta, Quebec, and the disappearance of the Bloc as things the polls got wrong. I'll give him Alberta - that was a disaster. But the problem in Quebec was rather minimal: underscoring the Liberals by a few points in polls taken a few days before the vote. That was hardly a catastrophe. It's not as if the polls said that Québec Solidaire would win 20% of the vote and the CAQ would form a majority government. The PQ won with a minority, as most of the final polls suggested was a strong possibility.

And the polls did not miss out on the Bloc - the final four polls of the federal campaign averaged 24.6% for the Bloc Québécois in Quebec, instead of their actual result of 23.4%. Perhaps Rick is referring to a site like mine that did not predict that the Bloc would win only four seats, but I don't think it is fair to say that the polls missed out on the Bloc's demise.

This is something I have heard again and again, that the polls did not anticipate the NDP's rise in Quebec and the Bloc's fall. They absolutely did anticipate these things. They didn't see it coming two or three weeks before the vote, but that is because Quebecers hadn't swung over to the NDP yet. Polls don't predict future events, opinions ebb and flow during a campaign and we have seen many examples of that over the past 16 months. But critics of polls never point out their successes, even their recent ones: very good results in Quebec during the federal campaign, a perfect call in Manitoba's election, good performances in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and decent individual polls in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador. Sure, Alberta was a Dewey-defeats-Truman moment and they could have been better in Quebec, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. And that's my counter-rant.

64 comments:

  1. Given the disgust with the McGuinty Govt in Ont if that situation can be changed into more support for the NDP, which I think it can, then this picture could change dramatically.

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  2. For some reason, I have a feeling there might start to be a shift in the polling numbers starting around next Wednesday...

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  3. Interesting thing about the seat distribution you came up with based on this poll: the Bloc would hold the balance of power!

    Dom

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  4. Now that Justin Trudeau has said he will run for Liberal Leadership (and most likely win), the thing to watch is if there will be a demise of Liberal support in BC, Alberta, and Prairies while Ontario and Quebec get a huge boost.

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    1. Liberal support in Alberta is 6%, BC 17%, 13% in Manitoba/Sask. I don't think there is anywhere for Liberal support to go but up! I doubt Westerners will transpose the sins of the father onto the son. Most people don't remember the elder Trudeau and those that hold not so fond memories of PET are unlikely to vote Liberal in any case.

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    2. According to that Angus Reid poll 38% of BCers view Trudeau as the best Prime Minister in the last 50 years (and another 14% picked Chretien). Pierre Trudeau is still much more popular than the LPC in Alberta, so you could very well see the opposite happen. According to that Angus Reid poll 17% of Albertans view Trudeau as the best PM in the last 50 years, compared to 21% that view him as the worst. So a bit of a liability there obviously, but still a ceiling thats much higher than current support.

      38% BCers view Trudeau as the best Prime Minister in the last 50 years (and another 14% picked Chretien). That's better numbers than Trudeau gets in Quebec. In the Prairies the spread is 34% best to 9% worst. Harper's own rating in the Prairies is 17% best to 22% worst.

      So if JT gets tied to his father's legacy, that will be a boon to the Liberals in every single Province in Alberta, and probably not a huge drag in Alberta either.

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    3. I completely agree. Most Albertans have let go of the battles of the past (such as the NEP) and are looking for a new perspective. If you go to Alberta and talk to some university students, you'll get a lot of people who supports the Liberals.

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  5. Now with the Dauphin of Pierre and Justin becoming the LPC new Empereur et Roi, Methinks Thomas Mulcair may have some competition for the Left wing vote. Hopeful both will battle for it in Quebec and help put NDP back to 3rd party status.

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    1. Actually anon, I expect a resurgent Liberal Party to take back support from both the NDP and the CPC. Despite CPC followers belief that the Libs are left-wing, they are actually centrists and shift either way as needed.

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    2. I think the numbers in the Angus Reid poll support you too Pinkobme. 30% of CPC voters picked a Liberal as the best PM since 1968. Those voters will all be open to persuasion by whoever the next leader of the Liberals is.

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  6. Sorry folks, but Justin Trudeau is probably the absolute worst, most short sighted decision the liberals have ever made. Now they are stuck with a coronation walk, devoid of any contest, that will only further intellectually bankrupt the party. Their brand is increasingly being tarnished in Ontario, and will only further evaporated to the west. His campaign will incredibly clumsy, not to mention more open to attacks from Harper and Mulcair. His lack of experience will only further play into the NDPs hands, who will gleefully use it to their advantage as the only real opposition.
    -Taylor

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    1. Hey Taylor... no decision has been made yet. But nice try.

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    2. I am not sure why people place so much emphasis on political leadership experience. Sometimes we get career politicians who are lacklustre leaders; Stephane Dion was an M.P. for 10 years. Sometimes we get leaders who have zero political experience and also suck, Iggy. However, history is full of men and women who have little political experience and turn out to be good politicians.

      Mulroney was never elected before he became Tory leader, PET was a M.P. for only three years before he won the leadership, Rene Levesque, Silvio Burlesconi et cetera-all were successful politicians (although the outcomes on their province or country may be described in less flattering terms)

      Then we have politicians with lots of experience who turn out to be poor leaders; Christy Clark being the most obvious example.

      While I do not believe young Trudeau to be the second coming, I think those that dismiss him outright are also wrong. Harper has always had poor likability ratings but, now controls a majority government. I do agree with Taylor that a coronation does the Liberal party a disservice and has the potential to discredit young Trudeau even before he takes the reins.

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    3. It isn't that Trudeau is bad - it's that if the Liberals elect Trudeau to lead them, it indicates that they still think their leader is the problem, and they're continuing to spiral towards the drain.

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    4. I think a similar situation will happen when Harper steps down as leader of the CPC. Since Harper has controlled so much of the CPC and government since he was elected leader, there will be a leadership vacuum in the CPC once he steps down. What has happened to the LPC will happen to the CPC in the future. Also, I believe the LPC has solved all of their problems by now. The only piece left in the puzzle is to get a good leader to promote their policies to Canadians. Compared to the CPC, the LPC is now much more united and ready to form government.

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    5. Bluegreenblogger27 September, 2012 20:46

      Trudeau is also seriusly under-rated by many, if not most observers of all stripes. I started paying attention to him about a year ago, and the guy is machine-like in his work ethic. But he comes across as very very personable. He is like the enrgiser bunny 'doing' event after event after event, across the country. And I have never heard anybody that met him say a bad thing about him. On such habits are electoral success built.

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  7. If Trudeau is crowned, he'll be leader of the third party, with about a third of the seats of the Official Opposition. He'll have a tough slog. Does he have it to do it?

    Since the last election and confirmed by all polling afterwards, Canadians look to the NDP as the government in waiting. Even under Rae's capable stewardship, the third party was unable to gain traction.

    If Trudeau can grow into the job and grow the party, and not implode, perhaps there's a future for the Liberal party when he's 65 years old.

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    1. You are not taking into account the amount of digital media that politicians use nowdays compared to 10 or 20 years ago. As a result, things happen more quickly in politics now than before. Only 1 in three Canadians view the NDP as the government in waiting. 55% of Canadians still wants the traditional Liberal and Conservative parties to govern. Also, a third party has managed to become government before, like the Ontario NDP under Bob Rae. If Trudeau become the leader of the LPC, then I believe the Liberals will get a majority government in the next election.

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    2. Firstly, digital media played a pivotal role in electing the NDP, Justin may have that charm, but the liberals on a grassroots level simply do not. I don't know where this "55%" fits in but I can tell you that even if that number is absolutely true, then by that rationality the NDP will win a landslide at 45% of the remaining popular vote. Browny points for mentioning Bob Rae in Ontario (he's an uberliberal now and Horwath is surging their anyways)
      -Taylor

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  8. Those of is who watch politics closely may forget or under-state something simple about Trudeau - people actually like him. Harper and Mulcair might be respected as capable politicians and leaders, but neither is much liked at a personal level. For those people who spend ten minutes a week (if that) paying attention to politics, that simple likability gives Trudeau a huge advantage. A lot of people dislike him, but the same goes for Harper and Mulcair. The difference is that he has charm that neither Harper nor Mulcair can compete with.

    The only question is whether the other parties will be able to overcome their disadvantage and successfully portray Trudeau as a lightweight. But people already know Trudeau, so attempts to define him will be more difficult and attacks against him will be less effective because he has a degree of public sympathy already.

    That is, if Trudeau actually does run, and if he actually wins.

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    1. Good point Eric. A few years ago, when I still lived in Saskatchewan, Justin Trudeau spoke at an event in Saskatoon. Several car loads of people travelled more than three hours to take in his speach and gushed afterward about how charming and likeable he was. I know most of these folks and they are hardly Liberal supporters.

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    2. Bluegreenblogger27 September, 2012 20:49

      Exactly, he is a gifted retail politician, and he has been leaving a long trail of happy very positive impressions behind him for years. I am fascinated by the phenomena, and expect that in conjunction with a strong 'front bench' the Liberals under Trudeau will at a minimum return to official opposition, and maybe take th eleading role in a coalition government.

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  9. Eric. PLEASE. What the heck are you smoking? I don't think "people know him" and it wouldn't be difficult to portray him as a lightweight; because he is! What has he actually done in his life? The Harper machine destroyed such heavyweights as Dion and Ignatieff, and were gunning for Rae. With Trudeau, it would be taking candy from a baby ... wah,wah

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    1. You're right, people don't know him. I guess that's why he scored a lower "don't know" result than Mulcair did in this poll.

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    2. Knowing and knowing of are completely different. Perhaps some even just considered the surname.

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    3. Interesting how even Garneau and Charest had fewer "don't know's" than Mulcair... according to the tables at least, cause in Garneau's case the numbers in the chart don't seem to match those in the table. Strange.

      Dom

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    4. Oh, I've got it now: it appears they accidentally put Trudeau's numbers into Garneau's table. So that's 17% "don't know" for Garneau vs. 12% for Mulcair. Man Abacus is sloppy. :P

      Dom

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    5. Based on the surname alone, I'd do anything in my power to keep him out of the PMO.

      From my point of view, starting out as a Trudeau, he has nowhere to go but up.

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    6. We would also do everything in our power to get him into the PMO, Ira.

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    7. I'd be interested in a sales pitch. I'd like to know what it is people like about Justin Trudeau.

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    8. Ira, people who share your opinion are way outnumbered than you think. We would do everything in our power to get him into the PMO, this time, we will succeed.

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    9. His charisma and youth would at the very least engage more people in politics and restore some credibility to our democratic institutions.

      The sales pitch to the left half of the spectrum is pretty easy - Trudeau will win.

      To the right half, we'll have to wait and see what policies and ideas in brings forward during the leadership race.

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  10. Actually I remember how the NDP were "surging" according to the media for weeks before ThreeHundredAndEight acknowledged it. And even when it was acknowledged it came with the caveat that the Liberals and Conservatives and BQ would all still win more seats because the NDP vote was inefficient.

    It wasn't until literally the final days that the ThreeHundredAndEight model acknowledged what everyone in the country had already known and been debating for weeks.

    Just my $0.02

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    1. As I've explained many times before, the model was giving too much weight to older data which made it slow to take into account the NDP's surge. It wasn't a question of "acknowledgement", it was a question of choices made for the model long before the election took place.

      The sort of method I used would have been ideal in an election like 2006 or 2008, when voting intentions were relatively static in the last weeks of the campaign. It was not ideal for the 2011 campaign, and changes have been made accordingly.

      And before you further try to imply some sort of vendetta I have against the NDP, please note that I over-estimated NDP support in the provincial elections in Alberta (1.6 pts), Saskatchewan (1.6 pts), Newfoundland and Labrador (5.9 pts), Ontario (2 pts), and PEI (4.9 pts).

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  11. This poll shows more in common with last week's Nanos poll, and contradicts last week's Harris-Decima poll - the one that received so much media coverage triumphing in a return to traditional politics. The Abacus poll, by contrast, is getting hardly a mention... Not the favoured narrative of the mainstream news?

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    1. I think it has more to do with who ordered the poll. Harris-Decima polls for the Canadian Press, whose stories are shared with many of the country's major newspapers. So, automatically it gets more attention.

      Abacus provided their poll to Sun Media, which is a bit divorced from the other papers.

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    2. Harris Decima is the more established firm too isn't it?

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  12. Yes, as soon as I posted I recalled that Harris-Decima had been for Canadian Press... However, what was more striking was the exulting over the 'return to normalcy' that that poll supposedly heralded. Little thought of judging things from one poll in isolation... whereas the Abacus and Nanos polls are more in line with most of the polls of the summer.

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    1. That's generally the argument I made in my column this week for The Hill Times.

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  13. I'm interested in the rant and counter-rant about polls.

    First, let me say that I recognize the value of measuring public opinion, as pollsters do, at the same time that I think it's important to critique the absurd effects of polls, as satirists do.

    I don't think the main point of critics is that polls are horribly inaccurate, at least not when they calculate percentages of support. Translating that support into seat projections is another matter. It's not uncommon to see major parties actually winning a number of seats well outside already generous hi-low projections. But I don't think even these inaccuracies constitute the most significant grievance critics have.

    I think the biggest issue with polls is not about their accuracy, but about the immeasurable effects polls have on people who fall outside whatever prevailing opinion is registered by a poll. Given the scientific aura around polls, there's a strong impression that they are not just descriptive, but also predictive of human behaviour, as if the course we plot for the future is determined by laws of nature, rather than the way people think things should be, and the actions they take to change things in the face of many unpredictable events.

    Imagine if the the front page news focused on conversations about how citizens think things should be, based on topics that emerge from their own everyday experiences expressed in their own terms, rather than in the words of pollsters who ask predetermined questions based on topics predetermined by those who can afford to commission a poll. What would politics be like, then?

    We can't measure the answer to that question, or any normative question that suggests how something ought to be. That's the main deficiency of polling, or any other practice that treats politics as a scientific game of calculations. In focusing on the way particular things are from the vantage point of those who can afford to ask and analyze the data, we take space away from normative and democratic politics where good ideas--and not just the most popular ones--are given a fair chance to enter the public discourse and open future horizons that are much broader than the narrow snapshot that polls offer.

    This doesn't mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Polls have a place. But maybe Rick Mercer is right that they don't belong on the front page all the time. Maybe the satirists and critics are right to constantly question the limits of the politics of polling, and make space for other discourse-changing forms of politics. In addition to getting polling snapshots of how things are and have been, we need more spaces to imagine how things ought to be so that we have a better chance to change the way we see them, and to find creative ways to solve the social, political, economic, and ecological problems of our time.

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    1. Very nicely said.

      Very nicely said.

      It's true that in a number of ways, polls guide and limit political discourse. On this very page, for example, there's an overwhelming amount of discussion about Justin Trudeau's charisma and likability - features that are often measured in polls but that have no political (i.e. policy) substance. We should be looking at Trudeau's track record, at his political statements and philosophy - but these can't be measured in polls and (so) they don't get much attention in the media. Polls, as you say, offer the promise of quantifying and making scientific something that is inherently hard to grasp : the complexity of political behaviour. Another simple example... During the Alberta election I had an idea that something other than the mainstream media narrative (the Wildrose Party winning a majority) might happen because my mother, who lives in Calgary-Glenmore (roughly the same area represented federally by Steven Harper) and who is a lifelong NDPer, had become a member of the provincial Progressive Conservative party so that she could vote for Alison Redford as leader, and voted PC in the election to oust the Wildrose member who'd won in the 2009 by-election. If she had been polled, she would have said that she was voting NDP, even though she was already strongly considering voting PC. She wasn't alone. No polling could tap that mix of changing, amorphous, and strategic poltics.

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  14. Four seats for the NDP in Alberta? I would imagine Edmonton-Strathcona and Edmonton Griesbach, what are the other two? Edmonton McDougall? Lethbridge maybe? Edmonton Manning?

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    1. Edmonton Strathcona, Edmonton East, Edmonton Centre and Lethbridge.

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    2. Edmonton Centre no longer exists in the new ridings.

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    3. Edmonton Centre is Edmonton McDougall now and is barely changed from Edmonton Centre.

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  15. Can you give a link to the poll (I wish to have a look at the extremely detailed demographic breakup)

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    1. The link is in Éric's post, near the top, just under the first graphic - the word "Abacus".

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  16. Environics have come out with a poll today showing a 35% to 31% lead for the NDP. Interestingly the Environics regionals show an ndp lead in Ontario, but less support in the west than the Abacus poll. The Libs are at 20% nationally, and close to that among all demographics. NDP shows continued strength among middle class and female voters.

    JKennethY

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    1. I'm looking forward to Eric's numbers on that poll. They showed a BIG Bloc surge, and I wonder how many seats it would cost the NDP.

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    2. A post QC election bump. Doubt it will last, but yes, those numbers would probably give the Bloc 25 to 30 seats, with most damage to NDP but also hurting Libs and Cons.

      JKennethY

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Forum Poll says Trudeau a game changer.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/27/with-justin-trudeau-as-their-leader-liberals-could-easily-win-federal-election-exclusive-poll/

    I'm with Ira I would hate see to see Justin Trudeau as PM.

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    1. Hate is a very strong word. Justin Trudeau has done nothing bad towards you, his policies isn't necessarily that of his fathers, and he hasn't made any mistakes that has damaged the country, so why do you "hate" him? If he becomes PM, he will have a lot of experienced people in cabinet helping him. I think it's better than the NDP being government, that party has no experience at all forming a federal government. I think, as Conservatives, we should do all in our power to prevent a socialist party coming to power, it's dangerous enough already with the NDP being viewed as a government-in-waiting. If it takes some sacrifices, such as having the Liberals elected for a few years, then so be it.

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    2. Justin Trudeau as PM is better than Stephen Harper as PM. He has integrity, accountability, and charisma. These are some basic qualities that a leader should have in order to govern a country well, something that Stephen Harper lacks. Trudeau would be a good choice for PM. I would like to see Justin Trudeau as the PM, just like the majority of Canadians do. Canada needs it.

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    3. Me too. I would most definitely not "hate" to see Justin Trudeau as PM.

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    4. Justin Trudeau's popularity is comparable to popularity of Shinjiro Koizumi, a son of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi.
      Shinjiro Koizumi is also a young, good-looking man.

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    5. TOO BAD! NDP-LIB WILL BE SPLIT THE VOTE! IT MEAN HARPER GETTING ANOTHER PM!

      I AM NOT SUPPORT LIBERAL THEY ARE SAME OLD SAME OLD LIKE CONSERVATIVE. SO WE WANT CHANGE!

      NDP/NPD SUPPORTER

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  19. I find it interesting that no matter what the poll numbers show this site predicts the Conservatives will win the most seats.

    -Annoyed

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    1. Annoyed I totally agree. I'm annoyed to !!

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    2. Totes. Except when it hasn't:

      http://www.threehundredeight.com/2012/07/can-ndp-cobble-together-plurality-of.html

      http://www.threehundredeight.com/2012/06/tories-slip-as-ndp-makes-modest-gains.html

      http://www.threehundredeight.com/2012/06/130-seats-for-ndp.html

      http://www.threehundredeight.com/2012/05/ndp-leads-could-win-plurality-of-seats.html

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    3. At a guess, due to NDP lead in ON in the new Environics poll, Eric will be showing an NDP minority Gov't.on that poll anyway.

      JKennethY

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    4. I thought so as well, but I've already run the numbers and that isn't what comes out. The problem is primarily in Quebec (25 seats for the BQ) and in British Columbia (only 13 seats for the NDP).

      I'll have more details Monday.

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    5. the NDP will win around 60 QC seats next election and a lot more than 13 in BC I guarantee it.

      -Annoyed

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    6. Quite possibly, but not with the numbers in the Environics poll.

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