Wednesday, February 13, 2013

January 2013 federal polling averages

We are rather deep into February to take a look back into January, but after Nanos Research released its latest numbers - stretching from January 26 to 31 - only a few days ago, the wait was warranted. In all, four public federal polls surveying 5,666 Canadians were conducted during the month of January, showing relative stability for the New Democrats and Liberals and an uptick for the Conservatives.
The Conservatives averaged 35.1% support during the month of January, an increase of 2.3 points over December's average. This is the highest level of support the Tories have managed since August 2012.

The New Democrats were up 0.8 points in January to 29.2%, their first gain since March 2012. The Liberals were up 0.3 points to 23.4%.

The Bloc Québécois was down 0.5 points to 6%, while the Greens took the biggest tumble, falling 2.4 points to 5.2%. This has more to do with the polling firms that were in the field than any sort of knock against the Greens, though.

If we look at the last time that Angus-Reid (twice), Forum, and Nanos were all in the field within 30 days of each other, we must go back to May-June 2012.

Since then, which was near the height of Thomas Mulcair's "honeymoon" as NDP leader, the Tories picked up 1.5 points, the NDP dropped 5.3 points, the Liberals picked up 2.4 points, and the Greens were down 1.1 points.

In Ontario, the Conservatives led with 37.5% (+0.7) in January and have been steady in the province since November 2011. The New Democrats trailed with 30.4%, up 2.8 points, their first gain since August 2011. The Liberals were down for the third consecutive month, slipping to 25.6% (-1.0). The Greens were down 2.3 points to 5.1%.

The New Democrats were ahead in Quebec with 31.9%, their third consecutive month at around 32% after a seven-month period of almost unchecked decline in the province. The Liberals placed second with 24%, a gain of 1.7 points, while the Bloc Québécois was at 23.6%, a drop of 1.9 points since December. The Conservatives have been pretty steady in Quebec since March 2012, and averaged 16.3% (+1.7) in January. The Greens were down 1.1 points to 3.4%.

The Conservatives led in British Columbia with 36.5% (+3.7) to 32.2% for the New Democrats (-4.5). The Liberals were up 3.1 points to 20%, while the Greens were down 2.3 points to 9.6%.

In Alberta, the Tories were down 0.5 points to 60.7%, well ahead of the NDP at 17.5% (+1.8). That was the first gain for the NDP in the province since July 2012, while the Liberals scored their lowest result since December 2011 with 12.1%, a drop of 0.8 points since last month. The Greens were down 0.1 points to 6.9%.

The yo-yoing of the Conservatives that has been on-going since July continued in the Prairies, with the party jumping 8.6 points to 47.8%. That is, however, their best result since October 2011. The New Democrats were down 5.8 points to 27.6%, the Liberals were down 1.5 points to 17.2%, and the Greens were down 0.9 points to 6.4% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The Liberals held the lead in Atlantic Canada for the third consecutive month with 37.3%, up 0.3 points since December. The Conservatives had 31.1% support, up 3.4, their best since March 2012. The New Democrats placed third for the first time since the last federal election with 28.9%, down 0.4 points. The Greens were also down 3.1 points to 2.4%.
In the 338-seat House, and using the still-in-flux proposed boundaries, the Conservatives would have won 161 seats in a January election, a gain of 16 seats over December's results. The NDP fell four seats to 99, while the Liberals were down seven seats to 68. The Bloc Québécois shed five seats and would have won nine, while the Greens held onto their one.

The Conservatives made gains in most parts of the country, but particularly in the Prairies (+5), British Columbia, and Ontario (+4 in each). The New Democrats dropped five seats in British Columbia and three in the Prairies, but picked up one in Quebec and three in Ontario. The Liberals were down seven seats in Ontario but were up three in Quebec.

Approval ratings
Three of the polls in the field in January asked about approval ratings, and both Stephen Harper's and Mulcair's increased, up to 38% in Harper's case and to 41% in Mulcair's. Harper's disapproval dropped to 53%, its lowest level since May 2012. Bob Rae had a higher disapproval rating than approval rating (38% to 32%) for the first time in three months.

As January saw little major change, it is hard to pick winners or losers for the month. The Conservatives probably had the best polling month, increasing their national lead, moving into first in British Columbia, and making sizable gains elsewhere in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada. They are still well below where they need to be in British Columbia and Ontario to win another majority, however.

The New Democrats had a good month as their decreasing support was finally turned around, and making gains in Ontario is absolutely essential for the party. But the NDP also needs to be doing better in British Columbia, the Prairies, and Quebec, and the loss of support in Atlantic Canada (at least since the heydays of 2012) is significant.

For the Liberals, any month in which they are still a factor is a good month while they are en attendant of Justin Trudeau. The party was stable everywhere, with most changes in support being of less than two points. Gains in British Columbia and Quebec is good news - another slip in Ontario is not.


  1. Thanks for this update, despite the inexplicable 'honeymoon' effect coming up again.

    I trust that for the next year, if ever and whenever Liberal numbers have increased under a new leader, that you will attribute this increase in part or whole to the honeymoon effect.

    In fact you would think an even more dramatic but equally ephemeral 'pre-honeymoon' excitement should be a key factor used to explain all these ridiculous speculative 'what if' polls.

    Anyway, an interesting time for polling!

    1. A political 'honeymoon' is when support for a party increases when a new leader is named but subsequently decreases. It is a rather common term.

    2. Yes, I understand. I guess I am a disbeliever in the general usefulness of that term.

      I should note that the NDP's increase in support under Mulcair was *immediately* referred to as a 'honeymoon' or 'bump'. Long before there was any evidence of a subsequent decrease in support, if indeed there has a significant decrease. One could only assume at the time that 'honeymoon' implied an explanation or sorts (e.g. a surge based on ephemeral, emotional interest in the new leader) and also a prediction (i.e. surge will end as all honeymoons do and support will return to 'normal').

      My original point however was not to contest the term, even though the Mulcair honeymoon seems to have led to a fairly promising marriage between the NDP and its new Quebec and nation-wide support. And even though the Harper honeymoon has produced even more rapturous and durable bonds with its growing support base.

      My original point was simply that I would expect, in fairness, the same terminology to be applied immediately and consistently should the Liberal Party enjoy an increase in support under a new leader.

      A minor quibble perhaps. Thanks again for the post.

    3. I suspect that people, including me, will be talking about a Trudeau honeymoon.

    4. Someone is having a tough time believing Harper isn't immortal. These polls are just as much about Harper's failures as the "honeymoon effect."

    5. Or rather the inability of Mulcair to capitalise on his "honeymoon" and his own failure to solidify his Quebec base and increase support in Ontario and the West. With all the bad press the Tories have garnered Mulcair's inability to lead in the polls says more about Harper's "honeymoon" than Mulcair's.

  2. None of our politicians are particularly well liked are they. Kind of depressing.

    1. I don't think it's depressing, except that it's a good indication that they are not serving the public, which is what they are (ostensibly) supposed to do. It's that fact that is depressing.

    2. Or is it that we, as a population, have allowed ourselves to become conditioned to hating our politicians?

      Now we rabidly hunt for every single wrong thing our politicians do and hold that up as incontrovertible evidence that they all suck, while the good things that they do are swept under the proverbial rug and ignored.

  3. It is hard to see much use in polls representing Bob Rae as leader of the Liberal Party. You would have to live under a rock to not know that the Liberals are changing their leadership. The most that could be said about polling for future voting intentions in early 2013 is that responses will be extremely volatile. Even in answering the ballot question, every respondent must have a wee little internal debate on what exactly the Liberal option means.


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