Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Conservatives lead in two polls

It is not a common occurrence for two polls to be released on the same day with both being in the field at the exact same time. But that happened on Friday, as Forum Research and Angus-Reid both published their federal polls conducted on Jan. 16-17, surveying some 3,600 people. And, most shockingly, the polls were not in disagreement about much.
We'll start with the Forum poll. The firm was last in the field Dec. 18, and since then the Conservatives increased their support by five points to 36%, a statistically significant lead. The NDP was unchanged at 28%, while the Liberals were down two points to 25%.

The Bloc Québécois was up one point to 7%, while the Greens were down two to 4%.

The shifts in support for the Conservatives and Greens were outside their respective margins of error.

The Conservatives led in Ontario, where they were up six points to 40%. The NDP and Liberals were tied at 27% in the province. The Tories also led in Alberta with 63%, while the New Democrats jumped nine points to 20% and the Liberals placed third with 11%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives were narrowly ahead with 40% to 36% for the NDP. The Liberals fell eight points to 15%. The Tories also had the advantage in the Prairies, with 49% (+13) to 33% for the NDP and 11% for the Liberals.

The Liberals led in Atlantic Canada with 46%, putting them well ahead of the Conservatives at 28% and the NDP at 23% (a drop of 13 points). The Liberals were also in front in Quebec, with 29% to 26% for the NDP, 25% for the Bloc, and 16% for the Conservatives.
Angus-Reid has been busy this month, as they were last in the field only a few weeks ago on Jan. 2-3. The Conservatives have not budged since then, holding at 35% support. The NDP was down four points to 29%, while the Liberals were up three points to 22%.

The Greens and Bloc Québécois were both unchanged at 6% apiece.

My complaints with both of these firms are the same: Forum should be releasing unweighted data, while Angus-Reid should at the very least be releasing sample sizes for their detailed breakdowns, in addition to their unweighted samples.

The Conservatives also led in this poll in Ontario with 38%. The NDP dropped six points to 29% while the Liberals increased to 26% in the province. In Alberta, the Conservatives led with 62% to 18% for the NDP and 11% for the Liberals, while in the Prairies the Tories led with 53% to 25% for the NDP and 15% for the Liberals.

The Conservatives and NDP were tied in British Columbia with 35% apiece, while the Liberals made an eight-point gain to hit 19% in the province.

The New Democrats led in Quebec with 32%, though that represented an eight-point drop since earlier this month. The Bloc trailed with 25%, while the Liberals were at 21% and the Conservatives at 17%.

The Liberals were in front in Atlantic Canada with 35% to 31% for the Conservatives and 29% for the New Democrats.

These are two very similar polls, with a variance of no more than one point for the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc at the national level, two points for the Greens, and three for the Liberals (here's probably why). We see the same gender split as well (39% or 41% for the Tories among men, 25% or 28% for the NDP, and 31% or 30% for the Conservatives among women, 30% for the NDP). The Conservatives held statistically significant leads in Ontario and Alberta and were ahead in the Prairies, while the race in British Columbia is neck-and-neck. The Liberals were ahead in both polls in Atlantic Canada, and Quebec is a jumble of a three-way race between the NDP, Liberals, and Bloc (pegged at 25% in both polls).

There are some things to note, however. The results in Quebec are particularly interesting. Forum has the Liberals at 29% in the province, a very high score. In fact, in the six polls that have put the Liberals at 29% or more in Quebec since September, five of them have been from Forum. We could be looking at a methodological bias, or that everyone else is under-estimating Liberal support in the province.

Atlantic Canada is a region to keep an eye on, as it appears to be in flux. According to the monthly averages, the New Democrats were leading in the region between April and September, before moving into a tie with the Liberals in October and November and falling to second in December. Both of these polls put the New Democrats in third in Atlantic Canada. The NDP has been in second or third in 12 of the last 15 polls now, and were third in almost half of those.
The seat outcomes from these two polls are mildly different, and only because of the results in Quebec. With Angus-Reid's numbers, the Conservatives would win 162 seats on the 338-seat map, falling just short of a majority. The NDP wins 96 seats, the Liberals 65, the Bloc 14, and the Greens one. Awkwardly for the opposition, the NDP, Liberals, and Greens can combine for only 162 seats - meaning the Bloc Québécois would hold the balance of power.
With poor results in Quebec, the NDP falls to third party status with Forum's numbers, as the Liberals edge them out with 75 seats to 70. The Conservatives win 163 seats, again just short of a majority, while the Bloc returns with 29 seats and the Greens hold their one.

What is costing the Conservatives their majority in these two scenarios? British Columbia and the Prairies, primarily - but also Ontario, where the Tories are not winning the new seats added to the province.

Liberal leadership race

The two polls also quizzed Canadians on the on-going Liberal leadership race, giving us plenty of data to work with. The most interesting to me was the breakdown by Angus-Reid of just how much Canadians know about the candidates:
Aside from Justin Trudeau and, to a lesser extent, Marc Garneau, the answer is not that much.

Trudeau's numbers are by far the best, as 22% claim they "know his background and the ideas he believes in very well". That is a question that is very similar to what CROP recently asked about the Quebec Liberal leadership race, oddly enough.

Garneau was second at 9% on this classification, while everyone else was at 2% or less - political junkies only.

When you add the people who know their background and ideas a little, which is about what you should expect from Canadians this far from an election, Trudeau's advantage is amplified. Fully 48% have a decent idea of him, 70% if you include those who know him very well. That is huge, and Garneau hardly competes with a combined 42% awareness. Martin Cauchon places third with 15% (13% know him a little) while Martha Hall Findlay ranks fourth at 13% (11% know her a little). No one cracks 10% after that.

One in five Canadians recognize the name only of Trudeau, Cauchon, Hall Findlay, and Deborah Coyne (perhaps confused by her columnist cousin), while one in four recognize Garneau's name (likely due to his astronaut past). But over 62% of Canadians have never heard of the candidates outside of Trudeau and Garneau, and that increases to over 70% for the bottom five and 80% for the bottom three.

Forum finds that 34% of Canadians think Trudeau is the best option, though that is a drop of five points since their December poll. He is followed at length by Garneau (10%), while no one else does better than 3% (Hall Findlay and Cauchon managed that). Among Liberal supporters, Trudeau's lead increases to 63% to 6% for Garneau. Hall Findlay and Joyce Murray managed 3%.

Accordingly, 55% of Canadians think Trudeau will win (according to Angus-Reid). Another 7% think Garneau will win, while no more than 1% give any of the others a chance. Trudeau and Garneau are the most appealing to voters, as 40% told Angus-Reid a Trudeau win would make them more likely to vote Liberal. 23% said the same for Garneau, while no more than 7% said another candidate would make them more likely to vote Liberal.

More specifically, in a head-to-head match-up with the other parties Forum gives a Trudeau-led party the lead with 35% to 33% for the Conservatives and 21% for the NDP. Fair warning, however: that is a drop of four points for the Trudeau Liberals since December. Angus-Reid finds something similar, giving the Trudeau Liberals 34% of the vote to 33% for the Tories and 22% for the NDP - a drop of eight points since earlier this month.

Forum didn't ask about the other candidates, but Angus-Reid did: Garneau improves Liberal fortunes slightly to 25%, while Hall Findlay drags them down to 19% and Cauchon to 17%.

The votes are there for the taking, though. Angus-Reid founds that 38% say they are very or moderately likely to vote Liberal in the next election. To be precise, 14% said they were very likely to vote Liberal (the base) while 24% said they were moderately likely (the swing voters). These polls suggest that only Trudeau and Garneau are likely to attract many of those swing voters to the Liberal fold.