Monday, July 30, 2012

Ridings to watch in upcoming Quebec election

Aside from a few ridings on the West Island of Montreal, there are few parts of the province where a party can truly be said to be safe. The Liberals are down about ten points from where they were in the 2008 election, the PQ is down a couple, the CAQ is polling above the ADQ's support and may pull in a slightly different profile of voters, and Québec Solidaire stands to double its vote, if not more.

In other words, almost every riding in Quebec is one to watch. But there are a few that look to be more interesting than others. You can check out my list of ridings to watch at The Globe and Mail website here.

There are a lot of PQ-Liberal contests that look like they will be very close, and it is there that the election may be decided. But the CAQ is also a factor in several places, and could play the spoiler in several others. It should be a very interesting campaign, if it finally gets going on Wednesday.

Also upcoming is the federal Green Party's biennial policy convention in August. With a recent EKOS poll putting the party at 10%, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Greens, where they stand, where they could make gains, and whether these sorts of polling numbers are realistic. That's the topic of this month's column for The Hill Times, which can be found here. A subscription is needed to read it, but a subscription to The Hill Times is well worth it.

Hopefully some new polls will be released this week, as we are in a bit of a drought. If the Quebec election is indeed called for September 4, with the campaign starting Wednesday, I think the drought could turn into a deluge.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Internal polls show tight race in Quebec

Beggars can't be choosers, and considering that we are mere days from an election call in Quebec and haven't seen a poll since mid-June, we are definitely beggars. The media, too, is starving for some numbers, considering that two internal party polls made headlines yesterday.

There are few polling firms in Canada that conduct polls both for the media and for political parties and release both sets of data to the public. For that reason, I haven't often had to grapple with the conundrum of whether to include polls ordered by political parties in my projections.

There is little reason to seriously doubt internal polls, particularly when they are conducted by real firms that would not want to sully their reputations (political polling is but a small part of what opinion polling firms do), but the information that is made available is usually quite limited. For example, we are rarely privy to the other questions asked in the polls, and if the voting intentions question was asked after some political questions, the results could be skewed. And, of course, there is the problem that political parties tend to only release their internal numbers when they are positive. You won't see a party release their internal numbers that show them losing support, meaning that by including only the good internal polls that parties release the aggregate might also be skewed in their favour.

For that reason, as a rule I don't include internal party polls in the projection. And, in any case, there is rarely the opportunity to - internal polls are often only partially leaked, meaning a lot of the information is unknown. For example, with these two internal polls released yesterday, the voting intentions of between 15% and 16% of Quebecers are unreported and there is no regional data.
The two polls released yesterday were done for the Parti Québécois and the Coalition Avenir Québec. The poll done for the PQ puts them ahead by three points, while the poll done for the CAQ shows them in a much tighter race with the other parties.

There is nothing suspicious or unusual in these numbers as they generally fall in line with what Léger reported in June, but surely it is a coincidence that the Parti Québécois felt it should release a poll that gave it a marginal provincial lead and a wide lead among francophones, while the CAQ did not mind seeing their CROP poll leaked as it put them within six and seven points of the two front-runners and comfortably second among francophones.

On the other hand, it is hardly impressive that the PQ's internal poll gave them a lead over the Liberals that is within the margin of error, while the internal CAQ numbers put the party only significantly behind, rather than completely out of it. Nevertheless, the CAQ was apparently quite excited about the result, considering CROP was in the field until July 25 and the poll was leaked on July 26.

What the two internal polls show is that the situation in Quebec has not changed very much since the last polling conducted by Léger Marketing. If we average out these two polls, we get the PQ at 31.5%, the Liberals at 30.5%, and the CAQ at 22.5%, rather close to ThreeHundredEight's current poll average of 32.1%, 32.5%, and 19.6%, respectively.

The francophone vote, however, may be shifting slightly. These polls give the Parti Québécois an average support of 37% among this important electorate, compared to 25.5% for the CAQ and 23.5% for the Liberals. While the PQ's support among francophones looks unchanged (ThreeHundredEight's current poll average for the PQ among francophones is also 37%), the Liberals are down from their average of 26.7%. The CAQ is up from 21.4%. If the CAQ is polling that high among francophone voters, that gives them a much better shot of winning some seats on the outskirts of Montreal and in central Quebec.

But these being internal polls, they really only give us a hint at what might be going on in the province. We will have to wait for the inevitable media polls by Léger Marketing and CROP to get a clearer picture of the situation.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mulcair bump

A look at the last seven months of polling shows a clear trend where the New Democrats experienced a big bump in support when Thomas Mulcair became leader. But is that bump starting to flatten?

The charts below plot every national poll that has been released since the beginning of 2012, each dated by their median field date. The trend line shows how the polls have shifted over that time.
What stands out most in this national chart is that the New Democrats made a big leap in support after Mulcair's leadership win. Polls between January and March showed the Liberals and NDP jostling for second place, with the New Democrats placing ahead of the Liberals in most polls.

Things shifted dramatically after Mulcair became leader of the NDP, as the Liberals slipped away to around 20% while the New Democrats moved into a tie with the Conservatives and then moved ahead in June. The latest Nanos survey puts them on a significant downward trend, but the poll could be an outlier.

What is interesting to note in this chart is that the Conservatives have been generally steady, but also steadily declining. Whereas the NDP trend line is a bit of an 'S' and the Liberal line meanders a little, the Conservatives are almost on a straight (but modest) downward trajectory.
That has also been the case in Ontario, where the Conservatives have slowly slipped from around 40% to closer to 35% in the all-important province.

The New Democrats were firmly in third back in January and February, but moved into a tie as the NDP leadership convention approached. After Mulcair won, the New Democrats moved decisively ahead of the Liberals. They were also moving into the Conservative range, placing ahead of them in a few polls, but the last two surveys have sent them heading south.
The NDP's bump in support in Quebec was most pronounced, and the fortunes of the Liberals and Bloc Québécois have shifted accordingly.

At the beginning of the year, the New Democrats had a modest lead over the other parties, who were jumbled together in second place. In February and March, however, the Bloc moved into a sort of tie with the NDP while the Liberals also saw a gain in support.

Mulcair's win changed all of that as the party stormed ahead in the polls, sending the Liberals down into a tie with the Conservatives for third place. The Bloc saw a modest drop in support, but have not been in a position to challenge the NDP for top spot in the province since Mulcair took over.

Of note, though, is that the New Democrats are experiencing a bit of a bounce-back. They have been scoring in the low 40s and high 30s since mid-June, whereas their polling numbers were in the low-to-mid-40s in April and May. Though the last survey from Nanos puts the Liberals on an upward trajectory, without it the Bloc, Tories, and Liberals have been generally flat.

These charts point to a bit of a plateau for the New Democrats, who made large gains after their March 24 leadership convention. A plateau is not a horrible thing for the NDP, as they need to solidify their support over the next few years, but it does indicate that the Conservatives and New Democrats might be at a tipping point, with the Tories near their floor and the NDP at their ceiling. Something could force either party through these barriers, or they could each return to more familiar ground. The result of the Liberal leadership race may provide that spark.

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, here are the same charts with a smoother trendline that is not so dependent on the latest Nanos poll. While it doesn't show the same sort of S-pattern for the New Democrats, the plateauing is still apparent. According to the numbers, however, the trendlines in the above charts are a better fit to the data.

These sorts of scatter plots do a good job of showing the variation from poll-to-poll. They also do a good job of showing how, despite these variations, patterns are still clearly discernible. Polls can paint with a very wide brush, but they are far from resembling something by Jackson Pollock.

UPDATE 2: There has been a lot of misunderstanding with this post. The graphic included in the original update calculated the trendline using two points instead of three, it did not remove the Nanos poll. Below, you'll see the same national chart as the one at the top of the page, but without Nanos. You'll still see that the NDP trendline is still the same sort of S-line.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tories fall in Manitoba without McFadyen

We're in the summer doldrums of polling, so what better time to catch-up on some provincial results that fell through the cracks. In this case, a poll by Probe Research on the voting intentions of Manitobans, who were last called to the polls in October. The Manitoba-based firm finds that both the governing New Democrats and opposition Progressive Conservatives have taken a step backwards to the benefit of the third-place Liberals.
Probe was last in the field Mar. 19-Apr. 4, and since then the New Democrats picked up four points to hit 44%, only a few ticks below their 2011 election result and a drop in support within their margin of error.

The Progressive Conservatives, however, were down five points to 40%, a statistically significant drop. The Liberals made up the difference, gaining three points to reach 13% while other parties (primarily the Greens, though Probe does not specifically report their results) were up two points to 3%.

The province remains regionally and demographically divided between the two main parties. The Tories were ahead among men by five points while the New Democrats were up among women by 11. The New Democrats had the edge among people aged 18-54, those with a post-secondary education, and voters who make less than $59,000 per year or more than $100,000. The PCs, on the other hand, got the nod from the oldest Manitobans, high-school educated voters, and those who earn between $60,000 and $99,000 per year.

Regionally, the New Democrats held the lead in Winnipeg with 49% (+1). This puts them well ahead of the Tories, who trailed with 32% (-3). The Liberals were up five points to 16%, the main source of their gain and a statistically significant one. Breaking down the capital into neighbourhoods, the New Democrats held a lead over the Tories in the northeastern, southeastern, and core parts of the city (the Liberals placed second in this last sector), and were ahead (but not more than marginally so) in the northwestern and southwestern parts. The Liberals had their best results, at 22% and 25% respectively, in southeastern Winnipeg and the core of the city.

Outside of Winnipeg, however, the PCs led with 53%, down seven points. The NDP was up a notable eight points to 36%, while the Liberals were up one point to 8%.
Aside from an extra Liberal seat in Winnipeg, the make-up of Manitoba's legislature would not change with these numbers. The New Democrats continue to dominate in Winnipeg and northern Manitoba, while the Progressive Conservatives win the majority of seats in the southern part of the province.

Neither the Progressive Conservatives nor the Liberals have a permanent leader at the moment, as both Hugh McFadyen and Jon Gerrard have stepped down. McFadyen announced his resignation shortly after the election results came in, and has recently vacated his seat of Fort Whyte. Gerrard, on the other hand, announced his impending resignation earlier this year but will be sticking around until a new leader is chosen in 2013. Taking over that party and leading it into better days will be no small task, while the next leader of the Tories has a good shot of becoming the next Premier - the New Democrats will have been in power for 16 years by the time Manitobans are next called to the polls.

In the meantime, though, it would appear that Greg Selinger is holding down the fort. His party has an intrinsic advantage because of how the province's seats are divided. The NDP could still win an election despite being down a few points in the popular vote because of their wide lead in Winnipeg. The last election hinted at this state of affairs, as the New Democrats won a larger majority than they did in 2007 with a much smaller lead over the Tories. The next leader of the Progressive Conservatives will have to break into Winnipeg if he or she is to have any hope of ending what could be an NDP dynasty in Manitoba.

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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Can NDP cobble together a plurality of seats?

Late last week, released the details of the newest EKOS Research poll. The survey showed little real movement at either the national or regional levels, but the result pointed to the potential for the New Democrats to tie the Conservatives in the seat count, even with a national lead of only 2.1 points.
After being quiet for some time on the federal scene, EKOS is quite active again. They were last in the field Jun. 21-26, meaning this poll of Jun. 27-Jul. 5 did not miss a beat.

Since that last poll, there have been no statistically significant shifts of support at the national level. This is unsurprising considering we are in the midst of a very hot summer and little has been happening that could bump the numbers around.

The New Democrats decreased by 0.1 point to 32.3% while the Conservatives increased by 0.9 points to 30.2%. The Liberals were up 0.3 points to 19.5%. Another 4.9% (-1.6) would vote for the Bloc Québécois while 3.1% said they would vote for other parties.

Then there are the Greens who registered 10% support, up 0.5 points from EKOS's last poll. That puts them out of step with what other pollsters have recorded, and EKOS recognizes that. In their analysis that accompanied their polling data, they give two reasons for the discrepancy: firstly, that some other firms are not prompting for the Greens, and secondly, that some other firms are not calling cell phones.

I don't doubt that these two issues explain some of the higher levels of support recorded by EKOS (something that has traditionally been the case for the firm). But most firms do prompt for the Greens. The only firm that I am aware of that does not prompt for them (only, some polls prompt for none of the parties) is Ipsos-Reid. And as for cell phones, one would expect that the firms using online panels would also be able to capture a high degree of Green support. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but none are consistently so much higher than the norm. But perhaps this has something to do with how they weigh their panel with an eye towards turnout.

Is Green support rising? Probably not to 10%, but it does seem to be on a slow increase. The party scores more 6s and 7s than it did shortly after the 2011 election, when they managed more 3s and 4s. But I don't think there is enough evidence to spark talk of a Green Invasion just yet.

The Conservatives led in Ontario in the poll with 35.3%, up 2.9 points since EKOS's last survey. The NDP trailed at 29.6% (-3.2) while the Liberals were at 23% (-0.9). These shifts are all within the margin of error.

In Quebec, the New Democrats led with 39.1% (+5.7), putting them well ahead of the Bloc Québécois, which slipped 6.2 points to 20.8%. That is a statistically significant drop for the Bloc. The Liberals were down 0.9 points to 16.4% and the Tories were up 1.7% to 13.2%. At 7.7%, Green support appears considerably above what others have recorded in the province.

In Alberta, the Conservatives were up 5.5 points to lead with 59.8%, while the NDP stayed stable at 19.5% and the Liberals were down 5.1 points to 10%.

The New Democrats were up 1.8 points to 39.4% in British Columbia, while the Tories were down 2.3 points to 26.3%. The Greens were up 3.1 points to 19.4%, a score that puts them well above what other firms have found to be the case. The Liberals were down 1.7 points to 12.9%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals made a statistically significant gain of 14.7 points to hit 32.5%, while the NDP was down 5.5 points to 28.4% and the Conservatives were down 3.7 points to 25.8%.

And in the Prairies, the New Democrats stood at 31.9% (-1.6), the Conservatives at 29.8% (-11.5), and the Liberals at 24% (+7.6).
With these levels of support, the New Democrats and Conservatives would tie with 126 seats apiece on the current 308-seat map. The Liberals would win 51 seats, the Bloc Québécois three, and the Greens two.

At almost 20% support, the Greens would be able to win a second seat in British Columbia. Would they actually get 20% of the vote in B.C. if an election were held today? Probably not, but they do have the potential to pull off another seat win if they manage to make major gains in the province, particularly at the expense of the Liberals.

The New Democrats are able to tie for the most seats in this survey in large part because of their strong performances in the West. Depending on the poll, the Conservatives are usually able to win a plurality even if they trail by three or four points because of their lock on Ontario and the West. In this poll, however, that lock is broken in British Columbia and the Prairies. With 35 seats in the four western provinces and 59 in Quebec, it is not difficult for the NDP to win enough seats in Ontario and Atlantic Canada to put them over the top. If the New Democrats cannot manage to make major inroads in Ontario, they could by-pass the province if they win a majority of seats in B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

But the Conservatives have the advantage, due in large part to the six new seats going to Alberta and the 15 new seats in Ontario. The Conservatives should be able to win two-thirds of these 21 seats on these kind of support levels, which swings the pendulum back in their favour. However, a few extra seats in Atlantic Canada (where the NDP have been leading in most polls) could tie things up again. This points to something that has been apparent in poll after poll: British Columbia is looking like a real problem for the Conservatives and a key province as we head towards 2015.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Charest holds edge in tight contest in first Quebec projection

Seven weeks from a rumoured election, Jean Charest's Liberals hold a fragile advantage over the Parti Québécois in's first official projection for the 2012 Quebec provincial election. While Charest is projected to win a narrow minority government at current levels of support, there is enough uncertainty in the model to give either the Liberals or the Parti Québécois a win if an election were held today.

The last poll to come out of Quebec dates from mid-June, so the numbers are hardly fresh. In all likelihood, a new poll will come out in the next few days and turn these numbers completely on their heads. But until that happens, the Liberals are projected to take 34% of the vote, putting them narrowly ahead of the Parti Québécois, who sit at 33.6%.

At 18.4% support, the Coalition Avenir Québec is well behind. Québec Solidaire is projected to take 8.8% of the vote in an election held today, while 3.4% of Quebecers would vote for the Greens (Parti vert du Québec, or PVQ), 0.8% would vote for Jean-Martin Aussant's Option Nationale, and 1.1% would vote for other parties.

The projected vote of the Liberals and PQ overlaps considerably, with the Liberals projected to be between 33% and 35% and the PQ between 32.6% and 34.6%.

In terms of seats, the Liberals are projected to win 60 and form a minority government. The Parti Québécois is projected to win 55 seats, while the CAQ wins eight and Québec Solidaire two.

Here, the ranges are particularly significant as they give both the Liberals and the PQ the potential to win a majority: the Liberals could win between 40 and 80 seats and the PQ between 39 and 70 seats. That is a wide margin, but this is indicative of how close things are in Quebec. When the two parties are running neck-and-neck, a lot of seats are on the bubble. If one party pulls away from the other the ranges will become narrower.

The CAQ could win between four and 15 seats, keeping them out of the running for the Official Opposition but keeping them ahead of Québec Solidaire, which is projected to have a range of only two seats. Aussant could win his riding, giving his party a high range of one seat.

The regional details and the individual riding projections can be accessed by clicking on the main projection image. As the projection is updated, charts tracking the changing fortunes of the parties involved will be posted.

About the Quebec model

The Quebec model uses the same basic system as the models used to project all elections since the 2011 federal election. With each new vote, lessons are learned and the model is tweaked. The current iteration is very similar to the Alberta model, in that it injects a lot of uncertainty into it. This is a very necessary thing in forecasting, as there is a large degree of uncertainty in this sort of exercise. The polls themselves have their own degree of error, which magnifies errors that a seat projection model can make. But as has been demonstrated to be the case time after time, a seat projection model like's can accurately forecast an election result - if the vote projection plugged into it is accurate.

That is why the model adjusted the polls in Alberta and will do so again in Quebec. Polls are very good at assessing the voting intentions of the entire population, but where they fall short is when the entire population differs from the voting population. Based on an analysis of other elections, the polls are adjusted upwards for the governing and opposition parties, in this case the Liberals and the Parti Québécois. The polls are adjusted downwards for "third" parties, in this case the CAQ, Québec Solidaire, and Option Nationale. Parties not sitting in the National Assembly have their poll numbers adjusted downwards by a significant degree - in this case that is what is happening to the PVQ.

But in order to give some basis of comparison and to track what the polls alone are saying, will also be recording the unadjusted poll average. It is included in both the main projection and the regional projections.

The Quebec model is the largest provincial model the site has used so far, dividing up the province into six regions. Poll numbers for these sub-regions are sometimes available, but when they are not the sub-regions have their results "projected" using the same sort of swing system that is used for each individual riding. So, for example, if data only for the "Rest of Quebec" is available, the results from that large region is projected downwards into the three parts of the province that make up this larger region: eastern, central, and western Quebec.

The CAQ, Aussant and the floor-crossers

This election poses a few small problems due to the presence of the CAQ and Option Nationale. The decision was made to use the ADQ's results from 2008 as the foundation for the CAQ in 2012, as the party merged with the other and is, in many ways, just an updated version of the old party and should appeal to the same voter profile. For Option Nationale, their projected regional level of support will simply be reflected in each individual riding.

With the exception, of course, of Jean-Martin Aussant. It is somewhat difficult to classify him, as he is not entirely a floor-crosser. The model takes into account floor-crossers, and it is for that reason that the CAQ's François Rebello, Daniel Ratthé, and Benoit Charrette are projected to win their ridings. Floor-crossers historically take a portion of their vote with them, in addition to being able to count upon their new party's base of support. The degree to which their vote transfers from one party to the other has been calculated based on past cases.

But this sort of system would not work for Aussant, as Option Nationale has no base to draw upon from the last election. Instead, Aussant has been treated as an independent that was formerly elected under a party banner. Again looking at past cases, a portion of Aussant's support from 2008 is assigned to him and taken directly from the PQ. Unlike with the floor-crossers, whose support rises and falls based on regional trends like any other candidate, Aussant's support is locked-in (unless a riding poll is released during the campaign). It will fluctuate by a point or two as the model adjusts individual forecasts to ensure they add up to 100%, but will remain independent of ON's position in the polls.

What will not remain locked is his high and low ranges, which will fluctuate according to ON's fortunes. Currently, Aussant has a very wide range of between 1% and 33%. This is unnatural, and is due entirely to where ON is projected to sit in the polls. Their range in his region is projected to be between just above 0% and 1.6%. Because their low range is so close to 0%, Aussant's low forecast is very low. This is one peculiar aspect of the model that will remain peculiar unless ON moves away from the floor.

How to read the projection

Seat projection models are best used to get a global picture of what the polls are likely to deliver in an election. Individual riding projections are presented for transparency, and also because people find them interesting (if I didn't include them, I would be asked to on a daily basis). They should not, however, be the focus of attention. They should not be used to make strategic voting decisions. That the forecast model puts one candidate behind another is not a sign that this candidate will certainly lose, or is losing support among his or her constituents. To read the projection as 125 individual projections is to miss the forest for the trees. The province-wide result is what is most important, as well as the range of possibilities.

The level of uncertainty presented in the model is based entirely on how much the polls are diverging from one another. When the electorate is volatile, the polls will disagree wildly and the range of projected outcomes will increase. When the electorate is settled, the polls will agree with one another and the range of projected outcomes will shrink. Consider the Alberta election - there was enough volatility in the last week of polling that the uncertainty model forecasted that a P.C. majority was a possibility.

As the campaign unfolds, several polls per week could be released. The poll average and vote projection will be able to cut through this cacophony, providing a clearer picture of what the polls are saying and where they are moving. The seat projection model will take that information and turn it into seats, which will demonstrate whether one party or another is likely to win a majority or minority government. It will then be up to the voters, but polling in Quebec has generally been good. I'm confident that the projection model will be able to tell a real story of what is going on during the campaign.

Monday, July 16, 2012

PQ struggling in Saguenay, Liberals in Estrie?

Polls from two regions of Quebec suggest that voters are swinging every which way in the run-up to the rumoured September provincial election. While the Parti Québécois could be struggling in their heartland of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, the Liberals appear to have taken a big step backwards in Estrie (also known as the Cantons-de-l'Est or Eastern Townships).

For a look at how leaders have fared in past Quebec elections based on their levels of experience, check out my article for The Globe and Mail here.

The poll by Segma Recherche is somewhat old, having been conducted between Jun. 4-6. But the results are quite surprising.

Throughout the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, the Parti Québécois fell some 14 points to only 34% support. The Liberals were also down, dropping six points to 32% since the 2008 election.

The Coalition Avenir Québec made the most important gain, picking up eight points to hit 18% support in the region. Québec Solidaire was up five points to 8% while the Greens were up about six points to 7%. They just need to find candidates for the region, as they only ran one in the five ridings in 2008.

There is little variation within the region, with the PQ and Liberals tied at 33% in Saguenay and the PQ holding an insignificant four-point edge over the Liberals in Lac-Saint-Jean.

The student protests appear to have greatly wounded the PQ in the region, as only 33% agree with the PQ's position on the matter. A majority, or 57%, are with the government. That hasn't helped the Liberals much as they are still down from the 2008 election, but it hurts the PQ much more.

With these levels of support, the Liberals would likely be able to pick up Chicoutimi and Roberval, while retaining Dubuc. The PQ would hold on to Jonquière and Lac-Saint-Jean.

The other survey, by Nadeau-Bellavance (a PR firm) was conducted in Estrie more recently, between June 18-23. Nadeau-Bellavance only polled francophones in the region, however, giving us just one piece of the puzzle.

Among francophones, Nadeau-Bellavance found the Parti Québécois well ahead with 37.8% support. The Liberals trailed with 28.3% while the CAQ was third with 16%. Québec Solidaire stood at 9.9% while the Greens were at 5.3%.

But, according to official statistics from the Quebec government, 10.6% of the population in Estrie have a language other than French as their mother tongue. If we insert those non-francophones into the survey, and portion them out according to the latest poll averages, the PQ is still ahead but with only 34.6% support. The Liberals trail with 31.7%, while there are no major differences for the other parties.

Compared to 2008, this represents a dramatic 10.5-point drop for the Liberals in the region. The PQ is down only 2.7 points, while Québec Solidaire is up six points. The Greens are up 2.4 points, while the CAQ is up 0.7 points over the ADQ's performance.

In terms of seats, the Liberals would only hold on to Mégantic and Orford with these numbers. Johnson, Richmond, Saint-François, and perhaps even Sherbrooke would go over to the Parti Québécois on this kind of shift in support.

These two polls suggest that Quebecers may swing in wildly different directions from region to region when they next cast their ballots. It will make the result difficult to predict. It should be a fascinating election.

Friday, July 13, 2012

B.C. NDP maintains lead

Earlier this week, Angus-Reid released its latest numbers on the political situation in British Columbia. They show that Adrian Dix's NDP remains solidly in the lead, while the governing B.C. Liberals continue to struggle to hold-off the B.C. Conservatives.
Angus-Reid was last in the field in British Columbia May 7-9, and since then the New Democrats have slipped five points to 45%. They hold a solid lead over the Liberals, who are unchanged at 23% support. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are up three points to 22%.

The Greens jumped two points to 8% while 2% of British Columbians said they would vote for other parties or independent candidates.

Only the drop in NDP support appears to be statistically significant, if we assume a random sample from this online panel, though it is marginally so.

The New Democrats have the edge among men in British Columbia with 39% support to 29% for the Liberals, and lead by a huge amount among women: 51% to 21% for the Conservatives.

In Metro Vancouver, the New Democrats lead with 47% (-2) and are trailed by the Conservatives at 24% (+8) and the Liberals at 21% (-5). The gain by the Conservatives in Metro Vancouver is potentially significant, and undoubtedly a problem for the Liberals. The region is normally one of their strongest.

The New Democrats also lead on Vancouver Island with 46% (-6), followed by the Liberals at 26% (+4) and the Conservatives and Greens at 13% apiece.

In the Interior, the NDP sits at 41% (-7) and are trailed more closely by the Conservatives at 27% (+1) and the Liberals at 24% (+6). In the northern part of the province, the New Democrats lead with 48% (-13). The Liberals have made real gains with a 16-point jump to 29%, while the Conservatives are at 24% (+8).

It's no surprise that the New Democrats win a big majority with these numbers. They would win 70 seats with this level of support, while the Liberals would win nine (seven of them in Vancouver) and the Conservatives four (all of them in the Interior). Two independents would be elected as well.

Adrian Dix is clearly in a strong position with less than a year to go before the next election. He scored better than Christy Clark on every issue in Angus-Reid's polling: crime, health care, economy, environment, education, and federal-provincial relations. This is the sort of indicator that is horribly damaging to Clark's chances of winning.

Dix is far and away the most popular leader in British Columbia, with an approval rating of 48%. That compares quite favourably to Clark's 28% approval rating. His 38% disapproval rating is also much better than Clark's 64% disapproval. And this isn't a question of opinion yet to be formed about Dix - only 15% were not sure of their opinion of him.
John Cummins of the Conservatives is still relatively unknown with a "not sure" score of 28%, and of those who do have an opinion it isn't very good: 44% disapprove of him compared to 28% who approve. But the Liberals are in a sorry state if they are hoping to win a "who do people dislike less" competition with Cummins.

Dix is seen as the best person to be Premier by 26% of respondents, while 21% think none of the leaders would make a good premier. Clark scored 15% and Cummins 12%. After removing the "none of the aboves" and "don't knows", the respective results for the leaders are relatively close to their party's results, suggesting that none of the leaders are a particular drag (or particularly more popular) than their own party. This would seem to confirm the voting intentions result even more.

And those intentions are solidifying. Dix's NDP has held a lead of 20 points or so since March and has held a significant lead over the Liberals since November of last year. That makes nine months, roughly the amount of time between now and the 2013 election. If he has been able to maintain that lead for the last nine months, it stands to reason that he can hold it for another nine months. It won't be easy, of course, but the challenge facing Christy Clark is even greater.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

June 2012 federal polling averages

The Conservatives took a step backwards in the month of June, as their polling average dropped by 1.2 points and opened up a 2.2-point margin between their support and that of the New Democrats. The NDP remains the most popular party in the country, and is leading in three of six regions.
Eight national polls were conducted during the month of June, while both British Columbia and Quebec had one federal poll conducted exclusively within their boundaries. Two polls were also conducted in Ontario. In all, about 16,590 Canadians were polled on their federal voting intentions in June.

The New Democrats barely budged from their May 2012 result, picking up one point to hit 34.8% support - their highest yet on record since monthly averages were first calculated by in January 2009.

The Conservatives were down 1.2 points to 32.6%, and they have been struggling to get out of their rut of 33% to 35% since December 2011. The Liberals, after suffering losses for three consecutive months, finally stopped the bleeding with a 0.2-point gain to return to 20%.

The Bloc Québécois was up 0.4 points to 6% while the Greens were up 0.8 points to 5.9%. An average of 0.9% of Canadians said they would vote for other parties.

The greatest amount of shifting in support occurred in British Columbia, but the New Democrats held firm at 38.5% (they have been around 39% for three months now). The Conservatives dropped 3.8 points to 33.2% in the province, their lowest mark since November 2010. The Liberals were up 2.1 points to 17.8%, while the Greens were down a point to 9%.

The New Democrats continued to lead in Atlantic Canada, picking up 0.5 points to reach 37.5% support. The Conservatives were down two points to 27.5% and the Liberals were down 2.2 points to 27.3%. The Greens were up 2.1 points to 5.9%.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives slipped 0.5 points to 44.2% while the New Democrats hit 36.9% with a 3.4-point gain. At almost 37%, the NDP is at its highest point in Manitoba and Saskatchewan since at least January 2009. The Liberals, who dropped 1.1 points to 13.8%, have not been this low since the May 2011 election. The Greens were also down, slipping 1.6 points to 4.4%.

The New Democrats were up 1.8 points in Quebec to 42.1%, putting them well ahead of the Bloc Québécois, which was up 0.6 points to 22.6%. The Liberals were up 0.1 point to 15.8% and the Conservatives were down 0.7 points to 14.9%. The Greens, at 3.9%, had no change in support. After a roller-coaster ride in the province, voting intentions in Quebec have stabilized for all parties since Thomas Mulcair became NDP leader. Intentions are generally back to where they were on election night.

The Conservatives picked up 0.5 points in Ontario to lead with 36%, while the New Democrats dropped 1.4 points to 32.1%. The Liberals stopped four months of decreasing support with a modest 0.4-point gain. They averaged 24.8% support in the province in June. The Greens were up 0.3 points to 5.6%.

The most stable province was Alberta, where no party had more than a 1.1-point change in support. The Conservatives were up 0.7 points to 60.2% and the NDP was up 0.1 point to 19.1%, while the Liberals dropped 1.1 points to 12.7%. The Greens were up 0.6 points to 6.1%.

(Note: References to May's support may not line-up exactly with what was reported in last month's breakdown, due to a Nanos poll that was released after May's federal averages were originally calculated.)
Despite trailing by 2.2 points, the Conservatives would have still been able to win a plurality of seats in a June election. They would have won 133 seats, representing a drop of seven from the May projection.

The New Democrats increased their seat haul by three from May and would have won 121, while the Liberals were up four seats to 48.

The Bloc Québécois, at five seats, and the Greens at one were unchanged.

British Columbia was the main source of problems for the Tories, as they slipped four seats to only 15, tying them with the New Democrats. They were also down two seats in the Prairies to 17 and one in Atlantic Canada to nine, compared to where they were in May.

The New Democrats were up two seats in the Prairies to nine, two in Atlantic Canada to 10, and one in British Columbia to 15, but were down two seats in Ontario to 27 due to the gap between themselves and the Conservatives widening by almost two points.

The Liberals made their biggest gain in British Columbia, picking up three seats from May. They were also up two in Ontario but down one in Atlantic Canada.

A rough estimate gives the Conservatives 149 seats, the New Democrats 131, and the Liberals 52 seats on the 338-seat map (most of which remains unknown).

Along with voting intentions, will now be tracking the approval ratings of the party leaders. This being the first month that it has been calculated, there is nothing with which to compare the results.

Nevertheless, Thomas Mulcair had the best numbers in June with an average approval rating of 41%. Bob Rae was not far behind with 38%, while Elizabeth May scored 35% approval. Stephen Harper, at only 34.8% approval, had the lowest rating of the four leaders.

He also had the highest disapproval rating at 55.5%, much higher than Rae's (37.7%), May's (37%), or Mulcair's (32%). Part of that is due to his high degree of renown - an average of 8% of Canadians did not know whether they approved of Harper or not, compared to 24.3% who said the same of Rae, 27.3% for Mulcair, and 28% for May.

In terms of who Canadians see as the best Prime Minister, there is no average to calculate as only one poll asked that question in June. Stephen Harper came out on top with 30%, compared to 20% for Mulcair, 10% for Rae, 8% for May, and 2% for Daniel Paillé. Another 19% thought none of them would make a good Prime Minister.

It was a bit of a mixed month for all parties, as none had any unambiguously good news. The New Democrats come out on top for June, having marginally gained support and - more importantly - increasing their lead over the Conservatives. Improving situations in British Columbia, the Prairies, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada bode well for the party, but a slip in Ontario is potentially more consequential.

June was not a horrible month for the Liberals, as they managed to stop their national losses. They were also up by a decent amount in British Columbia, but dropped big in Atlantic Canada and look flat in Ontario. Those two regions are their most important, and they need to be doing better in them. Though it is true that they have no leader, nothing says they can't improve their position in the interim. Gains that are not made now will have to be made later.

The only real horse in the race for the Greens is in British Columbia, and they dropped support there. But they are not in danger of losing May's seat and, at 5.9% national support, are doing better than their 2011 election result. For the Bloc Québécois, they are holding steady from the last vote. That is not a good thing for them, but the provincial election could shake things up for the Bloc in the coming months.

June was roughest on the Conservatives, who lost more than a point nationally and were down by significant margins in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. They are also continuing to struggle in the Prairies and are well below their election score in Ontario, which all points to losing their majority. But it is still early in their mandate (when support can be expected to be at its lowest), so things may not be as dark as they appear. Nevertheless, glory is fleeting and the Conservatives will not be in power forever. Will they recover?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Transposition of votes for proposed Newfoundland & Labrador electoral boundaries

The redistribution of federal electoral districts is underway, and a few weeks ago the proposed boundary changes for Newfoundland and Labrador were announced. These boundaries are yet to be made official and the commission will hold public hearings before determining their final decision. But after transposing the votes from the 2011 federal election to the proposed boundaries, one riding changes hands: from the Liberals to the Conservatives.

For my take, including federal and provincial seat projections, on the Environics poll on the voting intentions of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, you can read my latest piece for The Globe and Mail here.

The following transposition of votes is, of course, unofficial. A few human errors might have slipped in, and it was not possible to transpose the votes cast in mobile polls or under the special voting rules. This means that the transposition has left some votes in predecessor ridings that have actually been re-located. But as ballots cast in this way represent a very small proportion of all ballots cast, and are unlikely to differ from the overall totals by a great degree, the overall effect represents a potential error of no more than a few tenths of a percentage point.

Newfoundland and Labrador received no new seats and two of the ridings, St. John's South - Mount Pearl (NDP) and Labrador (Conservative), were not changed at all. The two ridings on the Avalon Peninsula that did change are still recognizable, while the three ridings on the rest of the Rock were changed significantly. Let's go through them one by one, starting with the riding that swings with the transposed results.
Avalon lost a northern portion of its territory to Bonavista - Burin - Trinity, while it gained part of Conception Bay South from the old St. John's East. The effect of this trade-off is that the Liberals fall behind the Conservatives.

The 7,865 voters (this refers to people who voted in the 2011 election, rather than all eligible voters, as it will in the remainder of this post) in the area lost to Bonavista - Burin - Trinity were far more Liberal than the riding as a whole: 52.3% of them voted for Scott Andrews, while only 32.6% voted Conservative. That is compared to the 44% to 40.5% split between Andrews and Fabien Manning that occurred throughout Avalon.

The 6,790 voters picked up from St. John's East, however, voted en masse for the NDP. But that riding is home to Jack Harris, and undoubtedly many of the 72.3% of voters in this portion of the new Avalon riding cast their ballot for Harris rather than the NDP in particular. Another 20.7% voted Conservative and only 6.2% voted for the Liberals.

Taken together, the transposed result from the old Avalon to the new riding gives the Conservatives 38.5% of the vote to 34.9% for the Liberals. The New Democrats are bumped up considerably to 25.4% of the vote. That is an 11.2-point gain for the NDP, much of that (9.1 points) at the expense of the Liberals. The New Democrats picked up over 3,800 new supporters, while the Liberals lost almost 3,700.

But all is not lost for Andrews. He was facing a well-known Conservative candidate, which might not be the case in 2015. And a lot of those NDP voters in Conception Bay South may prefer voting for Andrews over the NDP candidate, as Andrews is still more likely to beat out whoever carries the Conservative banner. Nevertheless, the new boundaries make Avalon are more difficult hold for the Liberals, and give the New Democrats and Conservatives a better shot at the riding.
St. John's North, formally St. John's East, only lost that portion of Conception Bay South to Avalon. The rest of the riding stays intact, and the result is very little change from the 2011 result. The voters lost to Avalon voted in generally the same way as those in the rest of St. John's East, meaning that the transposed result gives the NDP 71% of the vote (-0.2), the Conservatives 20.9% (unchanged), and the Liberals 7% (+0.1).

In other words, Jack Harris is just as likely to hold St. John's North as he was St. John's East.
Bonavista - Burin - Trinity is a completely transformed riding. Though its predecessor has to be Random - Burin - St. George's by process of elimination, it is a very different riding. Tucked into the eastern part of the island rather than the south, Bonavista - Burin - Trinity is the riding in Newfoundland and Labrador that has the least in common with the ones on the old map.

Using Random - Burin - St. George's as the base for Bonavista - Burin - Trinity, the riding has lost 2,213 voters to Bay d'Espoir - Central - Notre Dame. These voters were slightly more Liberal and Conservative and less New Democratic than the riding as a whole, but the 10,485 voters lost to Long Range Mountains in the west had a much more different profile. While 44% of them voted for Liberal Judy Foote, 31.8% voted Conservative and 22.7% voted for the NDP. The New Democrats won quite a few polls in the area outside of Stephenville, and the loss of these voters hurts the party in Bonavista - Burin - Trinity, particularly as the 7,865 voters picked up from Avalon voted more or less like those in Random - Burin - St. George's.

The transposed result gives the Liberals 53.3% of the vote in Bonavista - Burin - Trinity, compared to 32% for the Tories and 13.6% for the New Democrats. This makes the riding a safer Liberal seat than Random - Burin - St. George's had been.
Bay d'Espoir - Central - Notre Dame occupies the centre of the island from north to south, with most of its territory belonging to the old Bonavista - Gander - Grand Falls - Windsor riding.

The 8,989 voters lost to Bonavista - Burin - Trinity voted in much the same way as those in the rest of the riding, but the 4,845 voters picked up from the old Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte and the 2,213 voters from Random - Burin - St. George's were less Liberal and more Conservative than those in Bonavista - Gander - Grand Falls - Windsor. Those picked up from Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte are especially problematic for the Liberals, as they split 42.6% for Gerry Byrne to 39.6% for the Conservative candidate. Those voters from Random - Burin - St. George's were less evenly split.

The transposed result gives the Liberals 54.8% of the vote (-2.9) and the Conservatives 30.4% (+2.8), with the New Democrats at 13.7%. It makes the riding slightly less safe for Scott Simms and the Liberals, but it is still a relatively safe Liberal seat.
Long Range Mountains occupies the westernmost part of Newfoundland, and is drawn largely from the old Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte riding. But by picking up the southwestern corner of the island from Random - Burin - St. George's, the riding has become slightly less Liberal and more NDP.

The riding lost a lot of Conservative voters, as 39.6% of the 4,845 lost to Bay d'Espoir - Central - Notre Dame voted Tory, while 42.6% voted Liberal. The 10,485 voters picked up from Random - Burin - St. George's, however, are little better for the Liberals. 44% of them voted for the party, while 31.8% voted Conservative and 22.7% voted for the NDP.

This results in a 1.8-point drop for Gerry Byrne, as the Liberals take 55.2% of the vote in new riding. The Conservatives are unchanged at 25.2%, while the NDP is up 2.1 points to 17.9%. This makes the riding slightly less safe for the Liberals and slightly more interesting for the NDP, but just like the rest of the ridings on the island of Newfoundland but west of Avalon, it remains a safe Liberal seat.

From four Liberal seats, two NDP seats, and one Conservative seat, the proposed boundaries would have transformed the 2011 election result into three seats for the Liberals and two apiece for the New Democrats and Conservatives.

Using's current polling averages and the current boundaries, the Liberals would be projected to win five seats (picking up Labrador) to the NDP's two in Newfoundland and Labrador. That would not change with the new boundaries, but it would make Avalon a close Liberal/NDP race.

Those Harris voters complicate things for Andrews, but they are unlikely to vote so heavily for the New Democrats again now that they are in Avalon. Nevertheless, the NDP candidate will have an easier job convincing voters to stick with the NDP in Conception Bay South than Andrews will convincing them to turn away from the NDP and towards the Liberals - that's a two-step process instead of one.

Losing the voters in the northwestern part of Avalon is the big issue, as the loss of just those voters would still give the Conservative the edge, with 42.7% to 41.7%. Not only would Andrews need to win over a lot of those NDP voters in Conception Bay South, he would need to beat out the Conservatives in that part of the riding by 5% or more. If the Tories stay low in Atlantic Canada in the polls, that will not be a problem. But if they recover, Avalon could be an interesting three-way race in 2015.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Conservative uptick in Forum polling

Two national polls from EKOS and Forum Research were released this week, one showing the New Democrats narrowly ahead and the other putting them tied with the Conservatives. Forum's polling is particularly good for the Tories, as it gives them a statistically significant increase in support nationwide and shows improving personal numbers for Stephen Harper.
Forum pegs NDP and Conservative support at 35% apiece, representing an increase of five points for the Tories since their last poll of June 14. That is a notable bump, while the NDP's drop of two points is not. The Liberals, down three points to 19%, also saw their support shift within the margin of error.

The Bloc Québécois is unchanged at 6% while the Greens are down two points to 3%. Support for other parties stands at 1%.

The Green result is somewhat out of step with what other surveys have shown, but the party has a tendency to be over-estimated in polls of the general population, at least when compared with the voting population.

The Conservatives hold the lead in Alberta with 63% (+3), while the Liberals trail with 18% (unchanged) and the NDP with 13% (also steady). The New Democrats lead in Quebec, however, with 42% (+1). They are trailed by the Bloc at 22% (unchanged), the Conservatives at 18% (+3), and the Liberals at 15% (-3). None of these shifts in support are outside the margin of error, as is the case across every region of the country.

In Ontario, the Conservatives have 40% support (+6) while the New Democrats are at 33% (-1) and the Liberals stand at 23% (-5). In British Columbia, the Conservatives are at 39% (+9), with the NDP at 37% (-8) and the Liberals at 17% (unchanged). The Greens are down one point to 6%.

The New Democrats placed ahead of the Conservatives in the Prairies with 48% (+5), 10 points up on the Tories, who are down five points since the June 14 poll. However, this result for the New Democrats is substantially higher than what has been normally registered by other surveys in the region. The Liberals are at 10% (-9).

And in Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives sit at 35% (+7) while the NDP is at 33% (-11) and the Liberals are at 28% (+6).

There have been no significant shifts in support since Forum's last poll at the regional level, but the individually insignificant Conservative gains throughout the country point to a potentially real increase nationwide. Whether this is a stand-alone result or something that we could see across other polls remains to be seen.
Despite the tie, the Conservatives come out ahead in the seat count with 148 to the NDP's 121, primarily due to their strong results in Ontario. The somewhat unusual result in the Prairies, however, gives the New Democrats the majority of the seats there.

And while the regional breakdown favours the Conservatives, the personal numbers for Stephen Harper also point to an advantage.

He is seen as the best person to be Prime Minister by 30% of Canadians, putting him ahead of Thomas Mulcair who scored 20%. Bob Rae was well behind with 10%.

A look at how this PM support breaks down by party support suggests why Harper is so far ahead of Mulcair, despite the tie in voting intentions for their parties. Fully 83% of Conservative supporters chose Harper as the best PM, with "none of them" being the next most popular result at 5%. For Mulcair, however, only 51% of NDP supporters chose him, with 15% saying "none" and 10% choosing Rae. While this gives a small indication that the NDP has the potential to leak some support to the Liberals, the Liberals seem more likely to leak support to the Conservatives. While 33% of Liberal supporters chose Rae as the best PM and 27% said "none", 12% thought Harper was the best option. Only 6% chose Mulcair.
Nevertheless, Thomas Mulcair has the highest approval rating of the three leaders with 39% (unchanged), compared to 36% (-4) for Rae and 35% (+4) for Harper. He also has the lowest disapproval rating at 32% (+1), while Rae has a disapproval rating of 37% (+5) and Harper scores 58% (-3).

With only 7% (-1) of respondents not knowing their opinion of Harper, he is (by far) the most polarizing figure of the three. A lot of opinion is yet to be formed about Mulcair, however, as 29% (-2) responded "don't know" on whether they approved or disapproved of his performance. At 27%, Rae's is also high but he is only the interim leader.

Among their own supporters, Harper is very popular with an 85% approval rating (unchanged). Mulcair's is up by four points, but is still well behind at 64%. Support for Rae among Liberal voters is down nine points to 60%.
EKOS has not been heard from since their poll of Mar. 6-11, making the shifts in their latest survey more of an indication of the changing landscape between the pre- and post-Mulcair periods.

EKOS puts the NDP up 2.7 points since that last poll to 32.4%, ahead of the Conservatives who are down 6.1 points to 29.3%. The Liberals are down 0.4 points to 19.2%, while the Greens are up 1.4 points to 9.5% and the Bloc Québécois is up 0.7 points to 6.5%. Support for other parties sits at 2.9% in this poll.

That is a statistically significant drop for the Conservatives, while the other shifts appear to be within the margin of error. But the Tories have not scored this low, or the Greens this high, in other recent polls.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 54.3% (-6.9), putting them ahead of the NDP at 19.5% (+0.9) and the Liberals at 15.1% (+4.5).

In Ontario, the NDP stands at 32.8% (+1.8) while the Conservatives scored just behind with 32.4% (-2.2). The Liberals, at 23.9%, are down 2.4 points. The Green result of 9.6% is on the high side.

The New Democrats are at 33.4% (+2.8) in Quebec in this poll, followed closely by the Bloc Québécois, up 2.5 points to 27%. The Liberals are up 2.2 points to 17.3% while the Conservatives are down 11.4 points to 11.5%, the only regional shift in support outside of the margin of error in this poll. Nevertheless, both the Conservatives and New Democrats scored far lower in Quebec in this survey than they have in other polls.

In British Columbia, the NDP is at 37.6% (+4.4) and followed by the Conservatives at 28.6% (-6.7) and the Greens at 16.3% (+2). The Liberals are down 1.7 points to 14.6%. Here again, the Green result looks high.

The Conservatives slipped 4.6 points to 41.3% in the Prairies, while the NDP was down 5.7 points to 33.5%. The Liberals were up 4.3 points to 16.4%, while in Atlantic Canada they have dropped 8.3 points to 17.8%. The NDP scored highest there with 33.9% (+11), with the Tories at 29.5% (-2.4). That Liberal result in Atlantic Canada is quite low.
With the results of this poll, the Conservatives still come out ahead with 136 seats to the NDP's 112. Ontario is still a problem for the New Democrats, but added to that is the strong Conservative result in the Prairies and in Atlantic Canada, where the NDP is not high enough to have a swathe of seats fall into their lap. With the Liberals at such a low result, the Tories are winning a lot of those seats instead of the NDP.

These two polls do not show any major change in the landscape, though Forum hints at improving Conservative fortunes. Globally, however, the polls point to a very tight race between the NDP and the Tories with the New Democrats holding the edge, at least in popular vote. But they are not doing well enough in Ontario to be in a good position to win more seats than the Conservatives. The aggregate still gives the NDP the national edge at 34.4% to 32.5% for the Conservatives, but the Tories are up by 3.4 points in Ontario. That is more than enough to ensure a majority of seats in the growing province.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eight months later, little change in Saskatchewan

On June 20, Insightrix released a new poll on the voting intentions of Saskatchewanians. It suggests that little has changed since the November 2011 election, and that means the Saskatchewan Party is still well ahead of its competitors.
Insightrix reported that the Saskatchewan Party has the support of 60.8% of voters, compared to 29.4% for the NDP, 4.3% for the Greens, 2.8% for the Liberals, and 1.2% for other parties. They also reported that 1.5% would spoil their ballot, something that is not recorded as part of the overall vote share in elections. Removing that last bit from the equation, we get the Saskatchewan Party at 62% and the New Democrats at 30%, with no major change for the Greens, Liberals, or others.

Since the election, that represents a two point drop for both the Sask. Party and the New Democrats, with the Greens up one and the Liberals up two. These are insignificant shifts, and for the Liberals much depends on how many candidates they run. They only ran nine out of 58 in the last election and took 0.6% of the vote. On a full slate that would have meant around 4% support, suggesting that they have also not budged very much.

These marginal changes would result in no seat shifts, as the Saskatchewan Party would hold on to their 49 seats and the New Democrats would retain their nine.

Brad Wall remains a very popular politician in Saskatchewan, as his approval rating stands at 67.5%. That is down only a small amount compared to the 69.1% he scored in an Insightrix poll from November. It is noteworthy, though, that his "strongly approve" numbers have slipped by seven points, from 39.6% to 32.8%. This might be something to keep an eye on in future reports from Insightrix.

Nevertheless, this still gives him a wider lead over the NDP's interim leader than his Saskatchewan Party has over the New Democrats. John Nilson has an approval rating of 32.2%, though almost 37% of Saskatchewanians "don't know" what they think of Nilson. This is not very important, however, as the Saskatchewan NDP will be choosing its next leader in March and Nilson will not be a candidate.

Steady as she goes in Saskatchewan, then. Wall is a very well-liked premier of a prosperous province, and that makes him a potentially strong candidate to be the eventual successor to Stephen Harper as leader of the Conservative Party. He will only be 54 by the 2019 federal election - plenty of time for him to win one more mandate for his party in Saskatchewan, pass along the premiership to another person, and brush up on his French.