Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Provincial Tories drop in Atlantic Canada

The Corporate Research Associates released their quarterly poll results for Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick yesterday. With the poll from Prince Edward Island of last week, all show trouble for the Progressive Conservatives while the New Democrats have made gains.

I wrote about these NDP gains, and what they might mean for the federal party, for The Huffington Post Canada here. But let's take a closer look at the provincial numbers.

We'll start with New Brunswick, which will be holding its next election in 2014. Since CRA was last in the field in November, the Progressive Conservatives have fallen six points to 32%, putting them behind the Liberals, who were down three points to 35%.

This is the lowest the PCs have been since 2008, and the first time the Liberals have been given the lead in a poll since the 2010 provincial election.

The New Democrats were up seven points to 26%, the highest they've been on record. But this is only a small uptick, as the NDP had been between 20% and 23% for much of 2011 and the early part of last year, while they were at 24% as recently as August.

The Greens were up one point to 5%, while support for other parties was unchanged at 1%.

None of these changes of support were outside the margin of error. It has to be pointed out that CRA always has very large "undecided" numbers - in this case 45%. That means that the decided sample is quite small, roughly 220 New Brunswickers. That increases the margin of error to +/- 6.6% for decided voters, from 4.9% for the entire sample. This is the case for PEI (from +/- 5.6% to +/- 7.4%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (from +/- 4.9% to +/- 5.7%) as well.

The margin of error is that of the entire sample for the "Best Premier" and government satisfaction questions, however, since undecideds are included. Brian Gallant, who was named Liberal leader last fall, had the best result on the premier question in New Brunswick: 26% said he was the preferred option. David Alward dropped eight points, outside the margin of error, to 21%, while Dominic Cardy increased to 15%.

Satisfaction with the government fell to 41%, while dissatisfaction was steady at 49% (15% completely dissatisfied).
Despite a deficit in support, the PCs make up for it due to their incumbency advantage. They would win 28 seats, the bare minimum for a majority government, thanks in large part to their support in the northwest and in and around Fredericton and Saint John. The Liberals would win 20 seats, primarily in the northeast and around Moncton, while the New Democrats take seven.

These are using the current boundaries, and not the 49-seat map that is currently under consideration.

Now to Newfoundland and Labrador. The poll from CRA is remarkable in that it is historic for the firm - it is the first time the New Democrats have been placed in the lead.

The PCs and NDP swapped eight points since November, with the New Democrats increasing to 39% and the PCs dropping to 38%. That is outside the margin of error, and represents the lowest Tory number in CRA's polling since undoubtedly before the Danny Williams era (they were at 36% in January's MQO poll, and 35% in June's Environics survey). At 39%, the NDP is at their highest level of support in any poll ever publicly released.

The Liberals dropped one point to 22%, and have been generally stable since the 2011 election. Support for independents was 1%, while the undecided portion was a relatively smaller 26%.

Lorraine Michael is the preferred person for premier, with 33%. Kathy Dunderdale slipped to 32%, while interim leader Dwight Ball was the choice of 17%. Satisfaction with the government tumbled by 13 points to only 45%, while dissatisfaction soared by 15 points to 52%.
Here again, the Tories manage to eke out a victory. But unlike in New Brunswick, they are limited to a minority government of 22 seats (19 of them on the island but outside of the St. John's region). The New Democrats take 17 seats, 11 of them in and around St. John's, while the Liberals win nine seats, all of them west of the Avalon peninsula.

Prince Edward Island remains a Liberal bastion, with the party leading with 51%. That is a gain of six points since November, putting them back to where they were in the 2011 election. The New Democrats scored their best result, gaining four points to move into second with 26%. With their leadership turmoil still on-going, the Progressive Conservatives fell 12 points to only 16%, their lowest result since at least the 2007 election, and almost certainly well before that.

Premier Robert Ghiz led on the best premier question, the only incumbent Atlantic Canadian premier to do so in CRA's four polls. He was at 37%, trailed by Mike Redmond of the NDP at 18%. Steven Myers, interim leader of the Tories, managed 7%, 12 points fewer than Olive Crane did before her resignation.

Satisfaction with the government increased to 50%, while dissatisfaction fell to 46% (those saying they were completely dissatisfied were down six points to only 16%).

In terms of seats, the Liberals would probably sweep the island with these numbers. It is difficult to know what would happen, as the New Democrats have never been this high and their support could be less uniform than the model suggests. The model puts the NDP within 10 points of the Liberals in only one riding (in Charlottetown), but if this poll was reflective of the result of the next election the New Democrats would probably be able to put their votes to better use and win a couple of seats. But their vote is less likely to be as efficient as that of the Tories (and that is not saying much) as we can probably expect the NDP to do best in Charlottetown, where the Liberals are already strong. However, if the NDP is indeed in second place, Redmond would be able to attract a few good candidates and, along with himself, win some ridings based on that alone.

With the New Democrats making new inroads in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, the next elections in these provinces will be quite unpredictable. How will this party, that has never before been a factor in these provinces before, do when the rubber hits the road? Will pockets of support emerge in unexpected places? It makes for an interesting time in Atlantic Canadian politics.


  1. Are you planning on doing an analysis and/or seat projection on recent Alberta polls?

    1. If you mean the recent ThinkHQ, probably not. The poll is almost a month old now.

    2. Charles Harrison12 March, 2013 11:45

      I wouldn't. ThinkHQ was way off last election, like all other pollsters - but it wasn't just way off. It was the fifth most accurate of nine pollsters. If its numbers are a month old, they're not really anywhere near the mark.

  2. Conservatives don't need Atlantic Canada. They have Alberta and that's where the money is !!

    1. That's the problem in a nutshell with the Conservatives. Alberta is only 10% of the population of Canada, but that's all the Conservatives care about. Atlantic Canada should have been voting NDP years ago; maybe now they are realizing it.

    2. Charles Harrison12 March, 2013 14:14

      This is provincial, not federal data. They are falling federally as well, but all this poll says is provincial data.

  3. Looks like three way races are likely to become the Norm in Atlantic Canada as the NDP moves into serious contention across the region.


  4. Charles Harrison12 March, 2013 12:04

    What 7 seats do the NDP get in New Brunswick? Saint John East? Saint John Harbour? Tantramar?

    1. Fredericton-Lincoln, Fredericton-Silverwood, Miramichi Bay-Neguac, Nepisiguit, Saint John East, Saint John Harbour, and Tracadie-Sheila.

  5. Charles Harrison12 March, 2013 13:14

    My Kent by-election prediction with this new data:

    Liberal 47.5-52.4-57.3 (95% chance of winning) PC 21.1-26.0-30.9
    NDP 13.1-18.0-22.9
    Green 0.0-43.6-8.5

  6. Charles Harrison12 March, 2013 14:13

    I doubt that the Liberals will do that badly in Newfoundland and Labrador when they choose their leader. I think the NDP rise and Liberal fall there is temporary until the Liberals choose their leader this November. Polls are not to be trusted during a leadership race.

    However, the NDP rises in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island could actually mean a successful NDP.

  7. The Atlantic provinces are slowly but surely voting NDP because it is more in their economic interest.

  8. The reason the PEI PC Party is so low is they nearly fell apart a month or two ago.

  9. Let's see ???

    600 billion $ deficit

    In six years !! These guys really work hard !!

    Because when they took power we were running a small surplus !!

    So how did they blow it ???

  10. I guess the Layton-era NDPers did what they wanted to accomplish. Shed the NDP's rough edges and make it a party that can seriously contend for power.

    NFLD will be the next new province to have a NDP government. It will likely happen in 1 or 2 election cycles. In NB, I think the goal will be to become a strong third party and in PEI it will be to get elected.

  11. Peter,

    I favour NDP not Tory but that deficit saved the Canadian economy and the collective deficits across the world saved the world economy. There was this little matter of the 2007 economic meltdown that required MASSIVE intervention with corporate bailouts and infrastructure spending.

    It would not matter if we had a Liberal, NDP or Tory government we would have a massive deficit.

    This is not to say Tory spending is not out of whack. Prisons and jet plains are no substitute for child care health care and education.

    1. Peter,

      Canada has a $600,000,000,000 debt not deficit. For 2012-13 the projected deficit is approximately $22,000,000,000.

    2. Stop drinking the CPC coffee !!

      There was no excuse for the deficit in the first place and the continuing CPC out of control spending has only made it far worse.

      Lose the rose-coloured glasses !!

    3. Indeed, criticize the Tories for wasteful spending. Criticize the Tories for turning a trade surplus into trade deficits (thereby creating a structural component of the fiscal deficit). Absolutely do NOT criticize the Tories for a fiscal stimulus which saved or created hundreds of thousands of jobs; heck if anything it was much too small.

      Not sure if the NDP or Libs are any better in terms of fiscal support and infrastructure investment to reduce unemployment (slightly at best), but at least the NDP appears to do something to tackle the trade deficit and increase employment that way. I don't really know what the Libs or Trudeau would want to do of course.

    4. A major part of the huge Conservative deficit has nothing to do with spending; it is all about tax cuts for their corporate buddies. When they cut the GST they robbed the federal treasury of more than $12 billion each and every year (even more now) and the tax cuts had nothing to do with saving us from the economic downturn because the cuts were made long before the downturn. Of course, it's all part of their right wing agenda: cut taxes when the economy is doing well so that you have an excuse to cut programs when the economy is doing poorly.

    5. Kain,

      How would a trade deficit create a fiscal deficit? The two are generally unrelated. Depending on tax regimes a trade deficit may contribute more to a surplus as tariffs and duties are collected on imported goods.

  12. New Asian immigrants of about 2 million about a Toronto a decade are added to Canada population. These immigrants are of capitalist mode to increase populations in Ontario and the West. This bodes well for new conservative Canada governments in the future. Also the 30 new MP's in HOC are in Ontario & the west and mostly likely to vote CPC. These new Asian Canadians will not have an interest the problems of Atlantic Canada's seasonal economy way of life or the interests of first nations to resolve their problems. Canada is turning on a blue tide of conservative thinking and as one know rising blue ocean tides wait for no one!

  13. Charles Harrison13 March, 2013 13:52

    Where's Dominic Cardy running in 2014? Anyone?

  14. Anon above just read the Big Shift or watched Ibbitson on Paikins Agenda show. Interesting theory but if the Liberals would only disappear there are still far more progressive than conservative voters in Canada.

    Pollsters get a base line by asking Canadians to choose A or B.

    A) Government is a force for good in society


    B) Government usually makes things worse

    Almost all Tories choose B. All NDP Green and most Liberals choose A.

    60% of Canadians choose A 40% choose B.

    The only thing that allows Tories to ever win is that the Liberals won't die.

    1. I am tired of the NDP insulting other Canadians. Your baseline methodology question, which I question the authenticity of, are nothing less than insulting. I have never been asked nor viewed such a question and doubt it would be successful in Canada. Totally ridiculous-the Tories built the CPR for Pete's sake not to mention implemented Medicare (thank you Dief.) Please cite your sources!

      In any case if Dippers are so deluded to think Canada is a "progressive country" or that 60% will always vote for the Liberals, Dippers or Green then they will remain cemented upon the opposition benches. Canadians don't like being pigeonholed by others' viewpoints!

      The history of Canadian politics is based far more on language and nationalism than left-right political ideologies from previous centuries.

      Finally, using your logic most Canadians would conclude it is the NDP that consistently denies Canada a "progressive majority" government through their futile and always unsuccessful attempts to form Government!

  15. I know we use different methodologies Eric, but for what it's worth, my model suggests these numbers would yield 23 Liberal seats, 17 PC seats and 9 NDP seats on the proposed 49 seat map and 27 Liberal, 19 PC and 9 NDP on the current 55 seat map. I suspect most of the difference is that I do not award an incumbency bonus.

    1. That is similar to what I got before including the incumbency factor.

      I think it is safe to say that we'd be looking at a toss-up result between the PCs and Liberals on these numbers.


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