Wednesday, January 30, 2013

B.C. Liberals narrow the gap slightly

With a new poll from the B.C.-based Mustel Group hitting the wire yesterday, the projection now shows a slightly closer race between the B.C. Liberals and B.C. New Democrats heading towards the May 14 election. Nevertheless, the probability that the NDP will win the popular vote on that day is still 93.4%, down from 94.6% as of Jan. 18.

The Mustel poll was in the field between Jan. 11 and 21, providing only a little bit of newer information than the Angus-Reid poll that was in the field Jan. 17 and 18. The margin in the poll (10 points) is the narrowest in any survey since March 2012, though that poll was also by Mustel. The last time that the gap between the two parties was 10 points or less on a regular basis was in November 2011. So this poll does show some change.

The projection with all available polling data as of Jan. 21 shows the New Democrats with 46.5% of the vote, down 1.3 points from Jan. 18. The Liberals have 32.9%, up 0.7 points, while the B.C. Conservatives trail with 10.7% (+0.3) and the B.C. Greens with 8.2% (+0.7). The projection range has dropped down for the NDP while the Liberals' range has increased, though the two parties still do not overlap (projected low of 43.7% for the NDP and projected high of 35.6% for the Liberals).

In terms of seats, the NDP has slipped one to 56, with the Liberals increasing to 28. One independent is projected to be (re-)elected as well. Nevertheless, despite the decrease in the NDP's seat projection, the party would still have a 95.2% chance of winning an election held today. The projected seat margin is simply too wide for the Liberals to be able to overcome it, even assuming the polls and the model are faulty (these are taken into account to calculate the probabilities). The projected low for the NDP is still in majority territory, with the party at between 44 and 69 seats. The Liberals could win between 13 and 41 seats, while between zero and four independents could be elected.

Looking forward to May 14, the forecast still considers a Liberal win to be a possibility. Their probability of winning the popular vote has increased slightly from 5.4% to 6.6%, but those are still very long odds. The forecast high for the Liberals is only 41.9%, while the forecasted low for the NDP is 40.5% (note that the projected vote has yet to fall outside the previous update's forecast). But if the numbers did hit those extremes and the regional distribution was especially beneficial to the Liberals, they could win as many as 59 seats. That is an absolutely best case scenario, however. The NDP could also win a landslide of 82 seats. With so much time still remaining between now and the election, almost anything is possible.

Regionally, the New Democrats slipped in metro Vancouver to 47.3% from 48%, and were down two seats due to the Liberals increasing by 1.4 points to 32.4%. The Conservatives took the biggest hit, dropping 1.7 points to 11.6%.

The NDP also dropped on Vancouver Island, decreasing 2.6 points to 50.2%. The Liberals fell, by 1.5 points, while the Conservatives were up 2.9 points to 8.4% and the Greens were up a point to 14%.

In the B.C. interior and north, the New Democrats had a tiny uptick of 0.2 points to hit 41.8%, while the Liberals dropped 1.6 points to 37.2%. The Conservatives were up 2.2 points to 11.7%.
The Mustel poll was relatively small, with a sample of 509 British Columbians. That is standard for the firm, however. They were last in the field Sept. 4-19, and since then the NDP dropped two points to 43% and the Liberals gained one to reach 33%.

Though that is a narrowing of the gap by three points, the +/- 4.3% margin of error needs to be emphasized. Neither of those shifts were statistically significant, and rather than consider that the gap could be even narrower we should, based on other data, lean in the opposite direction.

On the other hand, the swapping of seven points from the Conservatives to the Greens, putting them in a tie at 11%, was outside of the margin of error. It is difficult to imagine why the Conservatives would be shedding voters to the Greens. It could be the 'protest vote', or it could be something else entirely, i.e. Conservatives going to the Liberals, Liberals going to the NDP, and New Democrats going to the Greens, or just a product of the small sample size.

Mustel passed along some interesting regional variations, but the extremely small samples make them almost meaningless. But they do make some intuitive sense: the New Democrats doing very well in the city of Vancouver but in a neck-and-neck fight with the Liberals in the suburbs, and better numbers for the NDP in the north than in the southern interior.

But the numbers on Vancouver Island are the most fascinating. They put the Greens and Liberals in almost a tie for second place, while in and around Victoria itself the Greens are running a very strong second. However, the small sample sizes (with a crippling MOE of +/- 17 points) could make the numbers nothing more than a mirage. Nevertheless, they do match some of the scuttlebutt for the region.

The Mustel poll continues to show a gender problem for Christy Clark, as her party is running only four points behind the NDP among men but 17 points among women. Her approval rating stands at 38% in this poll, unchanged from Mustel's last survey, while her disapproval is 45%. Adrian Dix's approval rating increased to 45%, while his disapproval rating dropped six points to only 24%. But 32% still expressed no opinion.

Having a survey from Mustel is great for the aggregation, as they use live callers. Angus-Reid and Ipsos-Reid (at least in B.C.) use online panels while Forum uses IVR. It is good to have a mix of methodologies. But because of those different methodologies, and the somewhat different results they produce, it is difficult to assess what is going on in British Columbia. Is the gap narrowing? Have the New Democrats moved away from 50% support? We need more data.

20 comments:

  1. There's a question you might want to ask Angus Reid about its online panels. I was taking an AR survey the other day, and I noticed a disclaimer on the invitation that the survey wouldn't work on iPhones or iPads because it used Flash. I don't know if this was an AR survey or a third-party simply using AR's panel, but if AR is excluding iOS users then it has a serious selection bias problem.

    I can't imagine this would be the case, but it's something worth checking.

    On the question of this poll, I'm not surprised to see that Con-Green movement. The Greens out west are often quite pro-business (as wealth and economic growth are necessary to pay for environmental protection), and the BC Conservative support was quite rural. Just as much environmental protection is driven by hunters' groups (they want to preserve natural areas so they can go there and shoot things), there is a right-wing angle to Green support. This is, I think, why the Greens so often run second in federal ridings in Alberta.

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    1. Ira: I agree with your analysis of Green support. I've argured they have an opportunity to cover the middle ground -- and it's percieved to be a big area -- between the right (Liberals) and the left (NDP). They could (should) be a party to watch, if not in this election, certainly in the next one. As for the Conservatives, well they shot themselves in the foot when they attempted a coup of their leader only months before the election. They won't win a seat come May and the blame for that lies mainly in their own laps. It's also why the Libs have enjoyed some increase in support in recent months.

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    2. I have to agree with Ira here. I'd also add that both the Greens and the BC Conservatives have always a sort of "non of the above" aspect to them.

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    3. I think Green growth on Vancouver Island is pretty plausible. Between Elizabeth May, Donald Galloway's strong showing in the Victoria by-election and the fact that the BC Green's leader is also from Victoria, I find it pretty plausible that the Greens are developing some serious organization and support in the Greater Victoria area.

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    4. pinkobme - I think the BC Cons made a mistake in picking Cummins in the first place. When Cummins compared himself to Jesus... yah...

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    5. I didn't know the Greens ever came in second in an Alberta election. But I do agree with them being a free enterprise party and they do particularly well in the wealthier polls. They do get a lot of former Con voters as their tax positions are generally the same.

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    6. There's another, simple reason why the Greens are fairly conservative - the party was founded by former members of the Conservative Party.

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    7. Hey Ryan: I agree the Conservatives made a mistake, probably, picking Cummins as their leader in the first place. But even with all his weirdness the Tories were set to win some seats. They could then have dumped him after the election. This way, they still have Cummins, and won't get any seats. So it's a lose-lose.

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  2. Quick question for you Eric. You have the absolute maximum for the NDP at 82 seats, and the absolute minimum for the BC Liberals at 13 seats. There are only 85 seats in the Legislative Assembly though...

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  3. I have the NDP projected to take 44-69 seats if an election were held today, the Liberals 13-41. The 82 seats is the forecasted high for May 14. The forecasted low for the Liberals is one seat, not 13.

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    1. Yah just noticed I was misreading that. Oops!

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  4. The decline and fall of the Conservatives is giving the Liberals some breathing room as the only viable alternative to the NDP.

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  5. The decline and fall of the Conservatives also gives the NDP some breathing room as the only viable alternative to the hated Christy Clark - who totally repulses rightwing populists who vote Conservative federally in BC. Notice that BC Conservative support is falling and yet the Liberals are only getting the teeniest of dead cat bounces? That's because a significant chunk of people flirting with the BC Conservatives are shifting to the BC NDP - they HATE Christy Clark more than they fear Adrian Dix.

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    1. DL,

      A dead cat bounce is when a party or candidate is behind in the polls then leads then falls behind its opponent again.

      Secondly, over the last number of months BCLiberal support his increased by roughly 7%. Whereas, BCNDP support is down 5% from the last poll.

      Thirdly, please do not delude yourself and think BC Conservatives are turning to the NDP. They may not vote Liberal but, the large majority will not vote NDP either.

      Finally, I would please ask you use more respectful language. "HATE" (sic) is a strong word and opens the floor to rudeness. Many people could write novels about the indiscretions of Jack Layton or call him all sorts of names. Some may even wish to bring Mr. Dix's past to the fore and remind the blogosphere of his less than ethical behaviour as chief of staff to Glen Clark (in fact his actions were certainly criminal). The point being that if you wish to write advertising then you should pay for it!

      F.R. Scott

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    2. Yet the NDP vote went down.

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    3. F.R. Scott, I'm not sure that saying that people "HATE" a politician is quite the same as claiming that a politican's actions were "criminal". The latter is slander and legally actionable.

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    4. chimurenga,

      The latter is not slander. The comments as I attribute them to Mr. Dix are not malicious, false or injurious. He (Dix) has admitted to them and to his own lack of judgement.

      I would address your concerns to s 397 of the Criminal Code:

      397. (1) Every one who, with intent to defraud,

      (a) destroys, mutilates, alters, falsifies or makes a false entry in, or

      (b) omits a material particular from, or alters a material particular in,

      a book, paper, writing, valuable security or document is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
      -end quote

      It is a fact of law that someone who attempts to defraud through falsifying a document is committing a criminal act.

      F.R. Scott

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    5. Hey F.R. Scott: I agree with chimurenga's statement above. And you don't just put yourself in danger of litigation but also Eric because this is his site and he's responsible for what's on it. I agree hate is a strong word but it isn't actionable. Please be careful.

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    6. pinkobme,

      Not to be rude but, you should read the law before threatening me.

      In any event Dix has admitted and apologised for his actions so his (chimurenga) claim of slander is of no consequence.

      I would point out that D.L.'s original post could be construed as a threat against Christy Clark. Such a finding would put the author and perhaps others in far greater danger of litigation and or indictment.

      F.R. Scott

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