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.


  1. When people say - and we see here that a lot of them do - that they know "a little" or "very well" Trudeau's ideas... do they really? Do they know that he's been a more strenuous promoter of the tar sands than even Harper? Has he said enough of substance for anyone to know where he stands on any other issues? (And t's a different problem with his stance/s on the gun registry...)

  2. As usual in Canada, the Conservatives rule because the vast progressive majority feels it has the luxury to devide its vote across 4 parties. Dumb as a bag of hammers. It is time progressives rally around one party. Canada needs only a Conservative Party and the NDP. The Liberals, BQ and Greens are just a waste of time space and resources. As a result we get F35s, bigger jails, crumbling infrastructure, Idle No More, end of the Gun Registry, endless attacks on reproductive choice, a reputation as a warrior nation that cares little about the environment all because all because the Liberals, Greens and BQ won't close their shop and join the NDP. Sad.

    George Orwell.

    1. If Canada were to become a two-party system things would become so polarized. Just look at the USA for an example. More choice is better than no choice. Also, if this were the case, the NDP would inevitably move to the centre to occupy the Lib ground the conservatives don't want to touch. Thus, we'd have, once again, a liberal party and a conservative party.

    2. "The Liberals, BQ and Greens are just a waste of time space and resources."

      arrogant much?

      before the NDP "surge", similar arguments were made about them, and if they falter back to third in the next election (far from impossible) those same arguments will be made again. but will the NDP listen? of course not. they think they have a distinct identity and set of beliefs. well, so do the other parties.

      it's best not to evince so much bloodlust for power when you're trying to get other human beings to work with you.

    3. Your conclusion is right... so the point is not that with a two-party system politics would be polarised; instead, you would have - as in the USA - two factions of the same business party. The same is true in most First World nations, even those with nominal alternative parties, so the UK, France, Germany, etc. In these countries the viable political options boil down to the roughly meaningless 'choice' between two pro-business parties, with minor issues consitituting the only differences between them.

    4. George,

      Your diatribe explains why the NDP has not attracted more support from "progressives". Ironically, it is due to regressive thinking such as you put forth, a zero sum game that never existed in Canada.

      The election was nearly two years ago and too many NDPers run around as if they won a majority government. The Liberals were rightly criticised for becoming arrogant in government-the NDP has become arrogant while occupying the much more humble benches of Official Opposition! If people such as yourself purport the NDP has a God given right to government whilst in Opposition how will you act once your party occupies 24 Sussex? It is unlikely your party will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the "farmer, soldier, labourer, From the mine and factory".

      You should be reminded the last time a politician argued they had a divine right to rule it ended very badly for Charles II. Frankly Thomas Mulcair has neither the oratorical skills of the late king nor the legitimacy.

      It is irrational to complain that "progressives" have failed to rally around the NDP then berate them for their choice. You are not likely to make friends much less political allies with insults.

    5. As much as I am an NDP supporter it frustrates me to no end when loudmouths like this "Orwell" fellow make us all look bad by association. The sad part is how many people are so willing to just lap it up by reflex.

      No one ever has a "right to rule" and anyone who thinks or acts that way deserves to get smacked down for their blind arrogance. The idea that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" has, unfortunately, been proven true time and time again.

      To the posters above, I suggest you look up the term "troll" and then deny them the chaos that they crave.

    6. A.S. -- for what it's worth, i know what trolling is about (i'm sure we all do by now). however, i've bumped into enough NDP supporters in real life who think and talk exactly like this "Orwell" fellow to know that wasn't just trolling.

      i don't think it's news to anybody that a lot of NDPers have a rabid, bitter hate for Liberals, often equaling and sometimes even exceeding their animus for Tories. i'm sure NDPers get along fine amongst themselves (kumbaya!), but personally i've had an easier time getting along with Tories (who for the most part still seemingly believe in "traditional" things like politeness, at least in real life social interaction) than ideological left-wingers, who often exude arrogance, pomposity, and self-righteousness like this Orwell fellow.

      as i come from a family of political (and economic) refugees, the kind of ideological self-righteousness i see on display probably unsettles me especially. i'm not voting for a party full of people like that, even when i agree with particular points of policy.

    7. Jared, you're just stereotyping. Sounding trolly even! If you believe the Conservatives are more palatable than the NDP, that's surely just because you have more in common with the former than the latter.

    8. I think most people would believe that if the Liberals did indeed close shop, it would be impossible that 100% of those voters would move to the NDP. It's clear that some Liberals would never vote NDP and thus would either stay home or vote Conservative in a two-party election. The NDP has never formed federal government, and never will if it keeps up this arrogant attitude.

      Currently, I am a centrist Liberal supporter from the 905 region north of Toronto. If the Liberals were to fold, I would definitely be voting Conservative. The NDP has demonstrated they are too immature to be trusted with the keys to government. The NDP used to be my second choice but since the federally-affiliated Ontario NDP sided with the teachers' unions, there is no way they would get the fiscal house in order if in government.

    9. I have no doubt that Liberal voters would split several ways, but seriously? You're actually shocked that the NDP sided with a union? This after your saintly Liberals spent years cozying up to the same union and relying on them in campaigns -- so why, then, are the Liberals your first choice at all?

      The PCs want to cut everything, and "no government is good government". Meanwhile the Liberals just spend more and cut taxes, then act surprised when we end up with a huge deficit. "Immaturity" is clearly not confined to any one party ... nor is arrogance.

    10. If you want to see the dangers of a PR system one need only look at the Israeli election results where in all probability the PM will come from a party that has won less than one fifth of the seats in Parliament. In Israel the tail has wagged the dog for a long time. That is he danger of PR!

    11. Beauchesne - You mean Charles I. Charles II was the king who restored the monarchy after the Cromwell Protectorate.

    12. Quite right Ira.

      I meant to append my remarks but, forgot.

      I am glad your comment has set the record straight.


  3. Éric,

    Either the Liberals or the NDP need a breakout between now and the election. (Notice how I didn't say 2015!) Without one, they will need at least an informal arrangement to form government. Anything short of that will lead to the practically inevitable -- another Conservative minority government.

    Ronald O'Dowd

    1. If one assumes a breakout for either the Liberals or NDP wouldn't that contribute to a NDP or Liberal government?

    2. And the end of Harper's career. A minority will finish him off.

  4. "These polls suggest that only Trudeau and Garneau are likely to attract many of those swing voters to the Liberal fold."

    Isn't this too much of a generalization when the same polls also show that people barely know about the other candidates at the moment?

  5. Replacing the Conservatives with the Liberal makes no real difference, especially now as the Liberals scramble to the Right. You say polarization as if it is a bad thing. Polarization is fantastic. It clarifies issues into black and white as they should be. The 2 remaining parties must address public opinion not just throw red meat to their base. The vast majority of western developed nations have either a two party conservative socialist polarization or the same is accomplished with coalitions like Italy. On all significat issues the Liberals ae far too far to the right.

    1. Life and politics is not a zero sum game both are far too complicated to be relegated to "black and white". Through this illogic a criminal would either be acquitted or sentenced to death, ties could not exist in soccer, the NDP would never have formed. Aboriginal rights would be discarded and I hate to think what would have become of the Aboriginal population. Poetry, drama, art and aesthetics in general would cease to have value, bronze and silver medals would not be awarded!

      You are correct the Liberal party is a small "c" conservative party. This is not a new phenomenon but, has been the secret to Liberal success since at least Laurier.

    2. If I have to have right, anything is better than Harper.

    3. Anonymous 13:38,

      "The vast majority of western developed nations have either a two party conservative socialist polarization..."

      Which country has a "conservative socialist polarization"? Are you thinking of some place like France where the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire and the Socialist Party are barely distinguishable from each other? Or the UK, where you can same the same of the Conservatives and Labour? Germany's Christian Democrats "vs." the Social Democrats?

    4. chimurenga,

      There are vast differences between the UMP and Socialists and Labour v. the Tories. The UMP would never introduce a 75% tax rate (that is counter-productive in any case) nor introduce same-sex marriage or adoption.

      Labour would never hold an in-out referendum on Europe as David Cameron proposes nor would they stand up for the City as David Cameron has done and kept the sticky fingers of Brussels away from British financial institutions.

      I am sure similarities abound between these parties however, if one researches their policies and follows their reactions to current events each is very distinguishable from one another and to the voters.


    5. Libor, there are marked (I wouldn't say "vast") differences between these pairs of political parties in their rhetoric, but next to nothing in terms of implemented policy. The exceptions tend to be with comparatively minor issues, where larger distinctions are tolerable because they don't upset the status quo. But for fundamental issues, the economy, foreign policy, etc. the dominant parties substantially overlap, albeit, sometimes arriving at the same destination by different routes.

    6. I agree with chimurenga. In the UK, the Lib-Dems are actually the most pro-european party, not Labour. What the last Labour government has done (the so called "New Labour") under Blair and Brown have made policies that are very similar to the Tories. Their policies on banks and unions are very similar to the Conservative policies and very far from their supposed Socialist roots. In fact, on many policies and areas, the Liberal Democrats actually moved to the left of Labour, such as the Iraq War, banks, etc.

      Here in Canada, I would disagree with the notion that the Liberals are a small 'c' Conservative party. The only small 'c' conservative parties that exist in Canada are the BC Liberal-Conservatives(who thought of changing their name), the Alberta PCs, the Sask Party, and the various Atlantic Canada PC parties. Progressive Conservatism are not Liberal values. The Liberals believe in an activist government, such as initiating social programs, eliminating socially conservative laws from the past, making a fairer and more progressive tax system, and governing for everyone instead of the few. The small 'c' conservative PCs, however, would only start initiatives after disaster strikes, or after massive protests to get something done. Put in short, their goal is simple, quick solutions, while Liberals do things from the beginning to prevent any damage from happening in the first place. The PCs are only progressive when the people demand them to be, while Liberals are always striving for a progressive country.

    7. chimrenga,

      In terms of implemented policy there are vast differences. The tax rate, adoption and same-sex marriage rights in France!

      Cameron wants an in-out EU referendum-this is a vast policy departure from Blair-Brown. Labour's stated policy is pro-Europe!

      Foreign Policy between Labour and Tories is diametrically opposed on Europe.

      On economics Tories want to retain the pound and insulate the City from European financial regulations. Labour is pro-integration.

      The economy the Conservatives have taken a similar path as have most Western nations of low interest rates. Labour likely would have followed a similar course.

      I agree some overlap certainly does exist, however, I think it a mistake to assume that the parties are fundamentally the same.


    8. It is not possible to eliminate any laws from the past.

      "What's done is done and can not be undone".


  6. As Keith Davie said "ampaign from the left but govern from the right." Who needs that? Look at Manitoba, BC, Sask, are they poorly governed as 2 party provinces compard to Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia?

    The sad thing for Liberals is that 80% of their voters are left-of-centre and 80% of their politicians are right-of-centre.

    George Orwell

    1. I don't see B.C. Liberals (or those in P.E.I. or New Brunswick) complaining that their province is polarized into two major parties ... I guess it doesn't matter when your chosen party is the one benefitting from it.

      The voters, not political junkies, will decide if they do or do not want a party to represent them. If that means a party withers and dies, so be it. A new group will fill the void, and hopefully they will be effective at doing so.

    2. Scotty on Denman03 February, 2013 22:03

      First: BC Liberals are liberal in name only; they are renamed Social Credits (Socred, we say) which is right of Conservatives.

      People, including political junkies, in BC lament the polarization we've had for a hundred years and is perpetuated by red-baiting BC Liberals (who actually still accuse the NDP of being communists;) The NDP (which is poised to thrash the BC Liberals in May) have until recently contributed to this polemic but have since embraced a much wider segment of society by reforming its party rules and policies; they are now more like real liberals but still miles away from BC Liberals who have driven the province into near bankruptcy.

  7. Yes I am thinking of UK, France and Germany. Look at the Liberals in BC. "We exist to keep the NDP out", if we need to become the conservatives to accomplish that we will pay any price, adopt any policy, change any policy (tar sands, gun registry) to gain and hold power but in the end, like Robert Redford in The Candidate, we lose our soul and don't know why we are there.

    Tom Walkom socks it to the Liberals in todays Toronto Star. My mother would have said "fish or cut bait" my father would have said "**** or get off the pot."

    Stand for something important that we cannot get anywhere else or get off the stage.


    1. .... what?

      The fact that the BC Liberals exist to "keep the NDP out" is NOT the product of the Liberal's own movements, its how polarization has afflicted British Columbia's politics. You mentioned earlier that parties other than the Cons and the NDP are a "waste of space" - and I assume this comes out of idea that polarization is beneficial. In BC's case, the polarization came between "free market" and "labour" - or the BC Liberals and NDP. Before the BC Liberals it was the SoCreds, and before that it was a Lib/Con coalition, in the "free market" category.

      If you were consistent, you'd say in BC's case, "the Greens and Cons are useless." But because the "free market" option in BC happens to be called Liberal, *now* you have a problem with it.

      Care to explain? Or just admit you're another partisan hack?

    2. Right on, Kyle. Many people who came from the former non-conservative Liberal Party of British Columbia does complain that their politics are very polarized. In the 2004 federal election, I think there are actually three BC NDPers who ran as federal Liberal candidates. What the free market/labour divide has done to BC is that it left many true Liberals having no choice but to join the NDP, which has a good political machine.

      Fortunately, most Canadians are not polarized voters...yet. The toxic polarized political atmosphere in BC, SK, and MB can be prevented from federal politics. That requires all parties to be assertive rather than being aggressive. Sadly, the partisan people and commenters have learned to hate the other side more than to work with the other side. People should get rid of this "us versus them" attitude.

  8. I don't mind vigorous political debate, but please don't make it personal.

  9. There is room in most political cultures for 2 parties, ons based on individualism, capitalism, business, liberty and a second party based on community, social democracy, labour, and equality.

    The rest f politics is window dressing and distraction. In BC The Liberals became the party of Howe Street and Wierhauser. They are the business party in red sweaters.


    1. Clearly there is a need for a political party focussed solely on grammar and spelling.

      The Liberal party has always been the party of Bay St. and Howe St. Read some history! They advocated free trade before the term existed!

      What there is no room for in politics much less society are people who are obstinate and closed minded.

      George II.

  10. Typing on a cell phone is always interesting. I happen to have an MA in political science specializing in Canadian provincial politics and worked at one time for a well known polling organization. I have picked up a thing or 2 along the way.

    I don't believe in 2 brokerage parties or 2 right of centre parties as in the USA. I believe we are best served by one potential government party clearly left of centre and one clearly right of centre. I have zero respect for the Liberal Party of Canada, did you witness the Vancouver debate OMG. The Green Party is also just a "spoiler" party helping to reelect Harper.

    George I

  11. Canada is actually better served with two moderate parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The NDP and its predecessor the CCF have historically been a protest party and only done well in elections when the two main parties were not good options. The last federal election saw the Québecois dump the BQ and the Conservatives, while leaving the Liberals out in the cold. The beneficiaries were clearly the untested NDP.

    Canadians are a moderate population, so the pre-1993 three-party system of the Progressive Conservatives, Liberals and NDP/CCF worked fairly well for 50 years. At least back then, the political climate was not this hostile. The NDP will never form government if it continues to believe it is entitled to power since the Conservatives are so "terrible". This is what cost the Liberals the last three elections.

    1. Problem being, the Coservatives have veered away from moderate Red Tory to Reform and the NDP have moved towards the centre. Leaving only two moderates, the NDP and the Liberals.

  12. Apparently the Liberals have come out for Equality of Opportunity and more consultation.


  13. le 28 janvier 2013
    Le Bloc renaît...les libéraux aussi
    Pratiquement enterré au lendemain de l'élection fédérale de 2011, le Bloc québécois (BQ) renaît de ses cendres, alors que le Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) perd des plumes.
    Le BQ aurait récolté 34 pour cent des intentions de vote contre 23 pour cent pour le PLC, 21 pour cent au NPD et seulement 16 pour cent au PCC.

    1. Ce sondage est pour la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean seulement.


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