Monday, November 19, 2012

Conservatives lead by four in latest Ipsos

Late last week, a new poll from Ipsos-Reid was released further confirming that the race remains a three-way contest, though the Conservatives and New Democrats still hold the advantage over the third-place, but gaining, Liberals.
Reports that have accompanied this poll emphasize just how much the New Democrats have lost to the benefit of the Liberals. That is not inaccurate, but the comparison needs to be put into context: Ipsos-Reid was last in the field June 20-21.

June was the high-watermark of NDP support, so that they have dropped so much from a June poll is not much of a surprise.

Specifically, they were down eight points to 30%, putting them four points behind the Conservatives. They slipped one point to 34%. The Liberals were up eight points to 26%, while the Bloc Québécois was at 7% and the Greens at 2%. The shifts in support for the Liberals and NDP appear statistically significant.

It should be noted that this Ipsos-Reid poll was actually in the field just before last week's Abacus Data poll, and it also has to be noted that the poll Ipsos did in June was conducted online only. This poll was a hybrid telephone/online poll, so any shifts in support since their last survey could be partly the fault of the different methodologies that were employed.
But the changes Ipsos recorded since their June poll fall well into line with other recent surveys. On average, the Liberals have gained 5.4 points in polls by the same firms taken in June/July and October/November. The NDP has dropped 4.9 points and the Tories have slipped 1.1 points.

Clearly, the last four or five months have good for the Liberals. Their gain has come primarily at the expense of the NDP. That plays into the hands of the Conservatives, but at current support levels they would only likely win a minority government - which could spell the end of their time in power.

The result of 2% for the Greens ties their worst result in any poll taken since the May 2011 election, and even well before that. However, there are two reasons for this low number for the Greens. When Ipsos-Reid does their telephone polling, they do not "prompt" for the Green Party as they do for the other parties. Respondents are allowed to say they will vote for the Greens, and that is recorded, but they are not listed along with the other parties in the survey questions. Nanos Research also does not prompt, though they do not prompt for any of the parties.

This has the effect of giving lower scores for the Green Party. If we look at the average results of pollsters who have been in the field at least three times since March 24 (when Thomas Mulcair became leader of the NDP), we see that Ipsos-Reid and Nanos each average 3.8% Green support over that time.

Forum, which uses an IVR method that does prompt for the Greens, comes in third with 4.1%. Abacus's online panels yield an average result of 5.8%, while the prompting live-callers of Environics and Harris-Decima get the highest results for the Greens. Recent elections suggest that not prompting will get a more accurate result for Green Party support, but that still probably under-scores its actual support among the general (including non-voting) population.

But there is a second reason for Ipsos's low number. While unprompted support for the Greens is recorded in their telephone polling, respondents to their online poll only get the option to support "Other". The average that was calculated above included both Green and Other support. In Ipsos's last online-only poll, support for other parties was 4%. Generally speaking, it is safe to assume that most of this is support for the Greens, but in this case it explains why the party scored so low. That 2% for other parties comes largely from the Green supporters who responded to the online survey. That makes Green support likely closer to 4% than to 2%.

But back to the poll itself. The Conservatives led in Alberta with 63%, followed by the Liberals at 18% (+13) and the NDP at 13% (-11). The Tories also led in the Prairies with 46%, while the NDP was second with 28% and the Liberals third with 19%.

The New Democrats led in Quebec with 34%, followed by the Bloc Québécois at 26%, the Liberals at 25% (+10), and the Conservatives at 14%.

The Conservatives had the edge in Ontario with 36%, putting them six points ahead of the NDP (-10) and the Liberals (+8), who were tied at 30%. They also had the advantage in British Columbia with 43% to the NDP's 34% and the Liberals' 19%.

The Liberals were narrowly up on the New Democrats in Atlantic Canada with 35% to 34%, while the Conservatives were third with 25%.
With these numbers, the Conservatives would win 144 seats on the proposed boundaries for the new 338-seat electoral map. The New Democrats would win 98, the Liberals 84, and the Bloc Québécois 12.

This puts the Tories in a minority situation, whereas the New Democrats and Liberals have enough seats to command a majority. The NDP's lower-than-usual results in B.C. and the Prairies hurts their numbers, while the Conservatives are hamstrung by the closer race in Ontario. But at 26 seats short of a majority, they would also need to do better on the two coasts.

This Ipsos-Reid poll confirms some recent trends, particularly the large Liberal gain in Quebec. While that is the major reason the NDP has slipped further from the Conservatives (put them back to 43% in the province and the national margin shrinks to one or two points), the Liberals have stolen enough points here and there from the party to make things even more difficult. But that does not absolve the Conservatives, who are down six points from the 2011 election. They are keeping their head above water, but they are far from being in a comfortable position, and have been for the last year.


  1. What I find most interesting about this poll is the age breakdown. The NDP is still dominating the 18-34 group (43% support), while that's where the Liberals actually score their lowest level of support, at 24%. "Trudeaumania" actually appears most pronounced in 55+ group. As has generally been my intuition, Justin is not in fact wooing youngsters so much as old nostalgic Liberals dreaming of a return to the glory days of Trudeau Sr. At least that seems to be the case so far.


    1. Exactly Dom. My vote won't be swooned by a Trudeau led Liberal party. NDP's got my vote!

    2. Anon 9:53,

      "Trudeaumania" hasn't taken hold among the 55+, because they're at 28% in this Ipsos poll among that demographic... they're at 26% overall. That their spread is so consistent among ALL age groups, should maybe point to the idea that Trudeau or the Liberals or whatever you'd like to attribute this rise to have broad-based support, not just singular support among the young (like the NDP seem to), or the old (as the CPC do). Though hell, the CPC are more consistent at least than the NDP.

      Anon 11:53,

      Don't let your vote be swooned by anyone, follow the evidence and the ideas that actually make sense - and I'll tell you now, a Liberal Party that was led by Hedy Fry would make more sense and intelligent decisions than the NDP's current leadership.

    3. But the thing is, the 18-34 age group is less likely to turn out than the 55+ age group. Justin Trudeau doesn't need a lot of the youth vote, he just needs to work on the 34-55 age group support. In the Quebec election, the Liberals led heavily among the oldest, that's how they were able to stay afloat and denied the PQ a majority.

      My vote won't be swooned by a Mulcair led NDP. Liberals got my vote!

    4. I was mainly just stating that observation in contrast with the narrative we've been hearing about how Justin could supposedly energize the youth vote. He very well could, but so far it doesn't appear to be the case.


    5. I have yet to meet a single person of my own adolescent/young adult demographic who even has the slightest inclination to vote Liberal. This may be anecdotal evidence only applicable to my area, but NDP support is fairly solid among those in high school-post secondary education levels. It's a generational divide, we want social inclusion, legalized marijuana, and a fair tax code.

    6. Volkov:

      "That their spread is so consistent among ALL age groups, should maybe point to the idea that Trudeau or the Liberals or whatever you'd like to attribute this rise to have broad-based support, not just singular support among the young (like the NDP seem to), or the old (as the CPC do)."

      The Liberal numbers in the different age groups (ascending) are 24%, 25% and 28%, respectively, while the NDP scores 43%, 27% and 23%, and the Conservatives 22%, 37% and 40%. With all due respect, the only thing that makes the Liberal numbers "consistent" compared to the NDP and CPC is that they're consistently low. Yes, the NDP has singularly high support among the 18-34 group, but nevertheless still *leads* the LPC in the 35-54 group and has a similar level of support among the 55+ to the LPC numbers in the two younger groups. Even the CPC's 22% among the 18-34 group isn't statistically much lower than the LPC's 24%. I therefore reject the argument that the Liberals have more "broad-based" support than the other parties.


    7. Dom,

      The concept is called "margin of error," please learn about it.

      Even if we took these numbers at face value, the fact that there are not wild swings between one demographic and the other, as compared to the swings we see in the NDP and the Conservatives, means that the Liberals have comparably more consistent vote among age demographics than their counterparts.

      Anon 13:39,

      Hi, I'm a 22-year old Liberal who is also involved in the Young Liberals and met several hundred of my kind this year alone. Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, indeed.

    8. Volkov,

      I'm afraid your condescending tone does little to advance your argument. I actually now have to wonder whether you in fact understand the concept of margin of error given your questionable attempt to use it to debate your point.

      Considering the total sample size of this poll (2,000), the breakdown into 3 age groups and the fact that an undisclosed proportion of respondents are not included in the final results due to being undecided, it's probably safe to assume the margin of error within each age group is in the ballpark of 4 - 5%.

      Liberal support varies among the groups from 24 - 28%. What does that tell us? That their support is indeed consistent across the groups (I never contested that), and though there's indication that it's higher among the 55+ (28%) than the 18-35 (24%), it still likely falls just within the margin of error. Great.

      Now this is where your argument begins to fall apart, because you appear to be trying to suggest that because variation in support among the age groups is greater than the margin of error for the other parties, that somehow means they don't have "broad-based" support while the Liberals do. In fact, given the numbers it merely means they are currently experiencing particularly high popularity with certain age groups (18-34 for the NDP, and 35-54 and 55+ for the CPC) whereas the Liberals simply aren't markedly popular with any age group and their support is consistently mediocre.

      The only way you could reasonably argue that the Liberals nevertheless have more broad-based support than their rivals is if the latter were scoring significantly lower than the Liberals' 24 - 28% outside of their "high-popularity" groups. This is hardly the case. The CPC's 22% in the 18-34 group is not statistically different from the Liberals' 24% in that group. The NDP's 27% in the 35-54 group is not different from the Liberals' 25%, and finally the only instance in which I'll concede you a point is with regard to the NDP's 23% support in the 55+ vs. the Liberals' 28%, which is probably just barely outside the margin of error.

      In other words, it makes no sense to claim that the Liberals have more broad-based support than their rivals simply because they score a consistent ~25% across all age groups while their rivals happen to be more popular within certain groups but otherwise enjoy similar levels of support to the Liberals in the other groups. If anything it means the CPC and NDP *also* enjoy broad-based support, *and then some*.


  2. Who knows? He could very well turn out to be a decent leader, if he wins the leadership. All I'm saying is that this Trudeaumania we're currently witnessing appears to be fuelled primarily by a bunch of old-timers going gaga over the prospect of a "second coming", my own dad among them! :P


    1. Charles Harrison19 November, 2012 14:05

      The old timers can't be going gaga about that! Justin isn't even close to Pierre (in the good way)!

  3. These polls consistently show that the New Democrats and Liberals do not have to merge.

    This is a contrast to the 1990s and early 2000s, when the Liberals were generally polling in the 40-50% range (they didn't retain those levels of support, come election time).

    However, even if the right-wing opposition merged and retained every single vote, they would still have lost every election. When Stephen Harper took over the Canadian Alliance support was in the 10-15% range. Harper originally did not want a merger, but was afraid the right-wing opposition will be decimated by Paul Martin if they did not merge. Of course, history shows Martin blew it and Harper gained from Liberal scandals.

  4. Charles Harrison19 November, 2012 14:03

    Abacus Data just released a poll from Nov. 11:


    Not much of a three-way race anymore, I say.

    1. Yes, I wrote about that poll last week.

  5. LPC Martha Hall Findlay focuses on supply management, which is a really valid point.Justin meanwhile wants to legalize da weed. But Justin is a dreamboat of curls to lure a LPC coronation as rightful LPC Roi Et Empereur to Martha's failing campaign=Prediction of a future fact.

  6. Eric -- Just as I naysaid those who predicted a Liberal/CAQ coalition, I will naysay your prediction that if the Conservatives get a minority in 2015, the Liberals and NDP will coalesce to kick them out. Ideologically similar parties are, by definition, chasing after the same voters (as your analysis shows). As both parties consider themselves as viable alternative governments, they will do everything they can to project themselves as such. Becoming the junior partner in a coalition is therefore the last thing they will want to do.

    Couillard and Legault could throw out Marois anytime they want to, but they don't want to share power with each other; they to steal each other's voters. Same thing with the federal NDP and Liberals -- as they compete for the same voter and both see themselves as potentially the next government, they won't do anything to help the other achieve power. Only once one party gives up on achieving majority government (as the PCs finally did after the 2000 election, kicking and screaming), will they consider working with each other.


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.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.