Monday, March 11, 2013

February 2013 federal polling averages

February was a brisk month for federal polling, with four national polls, two Quebec polls, and one Ontario poll being conducted throughout the month and surveying 12,497 Canadians. The result was a big decrease in Conservative support, primarily to the benefit of the Liberal Party.
The Conservatives averaged 31.5% in February, down 3.6 points from what they managed throughout the month of January. That is a sharp decrease for the party, and the first poll of March does not suggest that things are getting any better.

The New Democrats were down 1.7 points to 27.5%, their lowest result since February 2012 (before Thomas Mulcair became leader). They have been on a general decline since June.

The Liberals averaged 25.5%, up 2.1 points since January, while the Greens were up 2.2 points to 7.4% and the Bloc Québécois increased by 0.4 points to 6.4%. Support for other parties and independents stood at 2.1% in February.

If we compare the results of these polls from Abacus, EKOS, Forum, and Nanos to the last time all four were in the field in a 30-day period, we see that the shift in support has been relatively small.
Without weighing the polls by sample size, we see that the average of 32% in the February polling for the Tories is down 1.2 points from November/December, when they averaged 33.2% in polls by these four firms. The NDP is down slightly as well, while the Liberals are up a tick.

Click to magnify
The Conservatives led in Ontario with an average of 35.4%, down 2.1 points from January. That is their lowest number since October, and one needs to go back to August 2010 to find the last time the Tories were at 35% in the province. The Liberals averaged 29.9%, a gain of 4.3 points, while the New Democrats were down 4.5 points to 25.9%, their lowest result since February 2012. The Greens were up 1.8 points to 6.9%.

In Quebec, the New Democrats have leveled off for the last four months, and were up 0.4 points to 33.2%. The Bloc Québécois was up 2.1 points to 24.9%. They have been steady between 23% and 26% over the last four months as well. The Liberals were up for the second consecutive month, this time by a single point to 23.7%. The Conservatives dropped to their lowest level of support since all the way back to June 2009 at 12.9% (-4.2). The Greens were up 0.8 points to 4.1%.

The Conservatives were narrowly ahead in British Columbia with 33.7%, a drop of 2.8 points. The NDP increased 0.8 points to 33%, while the Liberals were down 0.7 points to 19.3%. The Greens were up 2.5 points to 12.1% in the province.

The Tories were down 3.5 points in Alberta, but still led with 57.2%. The Liberals were up 6.6 points to 18.7%, their best score since December 2010. The New Democrats were down three points to 14.5%, their worst since January 2012. The Greens were virtually unchanged at 6.8%.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals led for the fifth consecutive month but dropped 2.4 points to 34.9%. The NDP, which has tumbled sharply from 40% in September, was down 0.5 points from January to 28.4%. The Conservatives were down three points to 28.1%, but have been generally stable since April. The Greens were up 4.8 points to 7.2%.

The Conservatives slipped 5.1 points to 42.7% in the Prairies, while the New Democrats were down 0.8 points to 26.8%. That is their worst showing since September 2011, and over the last four months they have been down considerably from where they were between October 2011 and September 2012. The Liberals hit their highest level of support since August 2010 with 23.7%, a gain of 6.5 points. The Greens were down a point to 5.4%.

Thanks to the updated figures at Pollmaps.ca, I am able to make projections with the proposed boundaries as they currently stand, including the latest changes to the map in Ontario and Quebec.
The Conservatives dropped 20 seats from January's projection, and would win 141 with these numbers. The New Democrats pick up five seats and win 104, while the Liberals gain 17 and take 85.

The Bloc wins seven seats while the Greens win one.

The results do show how the new boundaries open up the west to a little more competition, with the New Democrats able to win seats in Saskatchewan and the Liberals (who are up considerably in Alberta) competitive in Calgary and Edmonton. The new boundaries do not benefit the Conservatives much considering how far they've fallen in Ontario, while the NDP is able to hold on to the lion's share of seats in Quebec.

Approval ratings
The landscape is getting tighter, as the Conservatives slip and the Liberals gain. The last set of polls, including the most recent one from Forum, have been very consistent. They put the Conservatives at 32% or lower, the NDP at around 27%, and the Liberals closer to 30%. The numbers are a little too consistent - and February's averages are in line with them - to shrug off.

The Tories are in a bit of trouble, as they have dropped a great deal and particularly in provinces where they need to be doing better: Ontario and British Columbia. The NDP is making it difficult for the Conservatives in B.C. while the Liberals are doing much better in Ontario.

Of course, the Conservatives have been here before: the monthly averages chart shows just how weak the Conservative numbers were throughout 2010. But the party will only get up from the floor so many times before they stay down. The stars may be aligning for a comeback to be more unlikely than it was in the past: a confident Official Opposition with strong bases of support, a wildcard in Justin Trudeau at the helm of the Liberals, and the years in government starting to pile up.

28 comments:

  1. And the Liberals still have no Leader !!

    Wonder what will happen when Trudeau is anointed ??

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    Replies
    1. Greg Weston suspects "not much" in a recent article... noting that the Liberals are generally most popular between leaders! Which could be a sign of innate human optimism, that people expect the best out of a party that hasn't yet chosen its precise direction.

      LP
      But it adds to a suspicion (and only that) that Trudeaumania may not really outlast his candidacy.

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    2. Bob Rae is the Liberal leader right now FYI.

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    3. Charles Harrison11 March, 2013 13:08

      My prediction with 308 seat house gives them a minority with 139 seats.

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    4. Trudeau isn't annointed leader, he will be "elected" leader!! This isn't a coronation like with Paul Martin!! I think Trudeau will have to face at least three ballots before he gets elected leader.

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  2. Yes, the Liberals have all but anointed Trudeau, but wouldn't we expect that some of this is accounted for in the numbers? That is, Trudeau has been the clear frontrunner for some time now, so we'd expect that the polling would start to reflect that, yes?

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    1. I agree. At this point Trudeau is so obviously the next leader that at least some of the bump he will bring is surely starting to be priced in.

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  3. Eric, thanks for linking to new seat distribution data. Interesting!

    Do you have any thoughts on how these changes could impact swing? Some new ridings have significant town/rural splits, and cover unusual breadths of territory. Two examples being Matsqui-Mission-Fraser Canyon, bringing half of Abbotsford (effectively suburban Vanc.) into union with distant Lillooet. Also, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford takes in communities on two sides of Vancouver Island with no road access between them (except for logging roads! Or main roads passing through through Victoria/Esquimalt, each in other ridings). Any thoughts on what you see?

    LP

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  4. Hey Ryan, Bob Rae is the interim Leader. Sorry to disillusion you !!

    And he's announced he will retire as soon as a new leader is selected !!

    Plus a lot of the Liberal rise and CPC fall is due to public rejection of a lot of CPC thrusts !!

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    1. I disagree. A lot of it is due to a passion for the apparently different in politics. Once it is revealed that Justin Trudeau is nothing more than an empty suit with good hair, those numbers will start to recede again.

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    2. Thanks TS for that laugh. I've put in several long tiring days at work recently and needed that bit of right-wing spin to cheer my day. Trudeau Jr. has been very popular, even in such CPC strongholds as Saskatchewan, since before he even became a MP. You can throw crap at him all you want but it just doesn't stick. Besides, the main reason for the CPC decline is natural -- they're reaching the end of their government lifespan and Canadians' tolerance of them. So even an "empty suit with good hair" should easily beat them in a couple of years. They're ripe for the picking.

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    3. Yes Pink, precisely

      Not helped I will add by the basic incompetence.

      Just as an example they have refused to grant any funding to tackle some of the issues brought up by that aboriginal prison population report!!

      Biggest deficit in history. and several other basic errors.

      Public isn't stupid as we both know.

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  5. If we actually have a result like CPC-141, NDP - 104 and Libs - 85 - Tom Mulcair becomes PM and Justin can be his minister of Fitness and Amateur Sport!

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    1. I think that rather unlikely. Trudeau and Mulcair are fighting for the exact same ground (Quebec). Mulcair or Trudeau would be foolish to "shack-up" thereby conceding their position. On issues such as the Clairity Act Mulcair and Trudeau are miles apart. Finally, the Liberals are on the rise whereas most polls show the NDP in a slight decline. In short the Grits may feel they have more to gain staying outside government especially a small minority as predicted another election would be held relatively soon.

      J. Caldwell Abbott

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    2. I don't think it's in the interests of either party to form a coalition government. Those tend to end badly under first past the post.

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  6. Trudeau is a blank slate right now that everyone that dislike Harper or Mulcair can project their deepest feelings upon. After the white smoke goes up the chimney, he will have to take difficult positions on difficult issues, the Tory attack machine will attack with both guns blazing, he will be call a "camp councillor unfit for high office" He will stumble badly since he IS totlly unprepared for high office, lucky for him he has 2 years. The Liberals are running out of money and since their support is usually a mile wide and an inch deep, they may have trouble in the fuure.

    One more 3rd place finish and the logic will set in that if you want to beat the Tories, you must vote NDP.

    With these numbers the Tories elect only a minority. If the Liberals back Mulcair they make him seem prime ministerial. If they back Harper, their own progressive voters will wonder wtf?

    Even allowing Harper to continue with a minority on a vote by vote basis will seriously damage the Liberal brand, what is left of it.

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  7. The Liberals don't have to back either Mulcair or Harper. If both the CPC or NDP fail to form government the governor general will naturally ask the remaining choice, the Liberals to form government, provided the incumbent PM doesn't call another election. Once the Liberals form government, those ministers and shadow ministers desperate to seize power will floor-cross like crazy until the Liberals become the first party.

    And the Liberals have consistently outfundraised the NDP since 2011. If anything the NDP is actually the one losing money with their early attack ads and ads defending Mulcair.

    And the NDP vote is a light-year wide and a millimetre deep, you can expect two-thirds of their seats in QC to evaporate in the next election now that the NDP have shown their true colors to the separatists!!

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    1. I have seen wishful thinking but that takes the cake. You should write comedy.

      Ever remember Jean Lapierre or Lucien Bouchard? Every party has interesting relationships with Quebec nationalists.
      Mulcair is miles ahead of Trudeau in Quebec. Trudeaus positions are only even interesting to English and Allophone Quebecois.

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    2. Anon: Mar. 11: 18:23,

      It may not work that way. The Monarch or Governor is under no obligation to go through a list of party leaders until one forms a Government and there is no convention that would support such action.

      The premier or PM who is defeated on a motion of confidence may either resign or advise a dissolution. If the Governor accepts the resignation and appoints another PM (we assume the leader of the opposition) who then loses a confidence then he or she must resign or advise a dissolution.

      If the two largest parties in the House can not form a government it is a bit of a stretch to assume the third party leader could do so. In the first place he would need the support of one of the larger parties-who are unlikely to be supportive after just being defeated in the House presumably by votes from the third party.

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  8. For all the talk and punditry that NDP support is in decline, Éric's projection shows the NDP gaining a seat more than they won in 2011. It's just a new distribution, with fewer seats in Qc and more in BC, the Prairies, and On...

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    1. chimurenga,

      They win an extra seat in a House of 338- 30 more than 2011!

      In relative terms they fall 3% in the House even though they win an extra seat.

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    2. not as precipitous a decline as that of the Conservatives...

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  9. I wonder what all of these declines mean for the Ibbitson/Bricker "Big Shift" theory where the Toriies win the next 40 elections?

    Geo O.

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    1. The Tories will win for a generation or two to come but, Bricker/ Ibbitson's idea of 40% and 60% self-contained voting blocks is out the window.

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  10. I dont expect them ti win for a generation. The results will be as expected around here. The population will realize that only the NDP can challenge the Torirs for government. The Liberals will then go the way of the British Liberals or those on the continent. The Liberals continued existence above 15% guarantees Harper another government.

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    1. I think the polls are almost conclusive: the NDP does not have the support or seats necessary to form government. In only a handful of polls since the last election is the NDP predicted to win a plurality.

      The NDP is actually the barrier protecting Harper. There are far more Liberal-Conservative races in Canada than NDP-Tory. The 35 seats the Liberals currently have are not enough to tip the balance and in any case there is no guarantee they would all fall to the NDP..

      It any case Mulcair is not catching on with people so it is likely we'll have a Tory government for some time to come.

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  11. Breaking News from the Toronto Star


    Former astronaut Marc Garneau quits Liberal leadership race

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  12. The game plan for the NDP is to be Whoppi Goldberg in the centre square to block.

    The NDP game plan is to hold the Liberals in 3rd place until people give up on them and shift to the NDP as the only party that can beat Harper. Libs in 3rd with Justin for 2-3 more elections they will collapse.

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