Monday, April 15, 2013

March 2013 federal polling averages

Considering that we're already closer to May than we are to March, and that the Liberals just changed things up quite a bit by choosing Justin Trudeau as their leader yesterday, now may seem like an odd time to take a look at the March polling averages. It is. My apologies for it being so late, but I've been burned before - Nanos once released a poll from the previous month on the 11th.

In any case, the number of polls released in March was rather low: only three, compared to seven in February and five so far in April. For that reason, in addition to it being so late in the month, I will present the information for continuity purposes and just briefly go through the highlights.
The Conservatives averaged 31.3% in March, virtually unchanged from February when they averaged 31.5%. The New Democrats averaged 27.1%, also not much different from their 27.5% of February. However, they fell to third for the first time in the monthly averages and their lowest point since April 2011.

The Liberals averaged 28.3% to place second, up 2.8 points from February.

The Greens dropped 0.9 points to 6.5%, while the Bloc Québécois was down 0.3 points to 6.1%.

Compared to the last time Abacus, Forum, and Léger were in the field within a 22-day period (Dec. 3-18), both the Conservatives and NDP have dropped while the Liberals have gained considerably.
The Tories fell two points and the NDP 2.7 points in polls by these three firms since December, while the Liberals were up 5.7 points.

Click to magnify
Regionally, the Conservatives led in British Columbia (barely), Alberta, the Prairies, and Ontario, while the Liberals were ahead in Atlantic Canada and the NDP in Quebec.

Of note: the Liberals were at their highest point in Alberta since December 2010 and their highest in Atlantic Canada since August 2010. The NDP was at its lowest in March in the Prairies since April 2011, while this was the first time the New Democrats fell below 30% in the monthly averages under Thomas Mulcair in Quebec. For the Conservatives, their result in Atlantic Canada was the lowest on record going back to January 2009 (their previous low had been 25%).

In terms of seats, compared to February the Conservatives were down two and the NDP was down 14, while the Liberals were up 12 and the Bloc gained four on the proposed boundaries of the 338-seat map.
The Conservatives would be reduced to a minority, and could easily be outvoted by the combined 187 seats of the NDP and Liberals. Unlike February, however, the Liberals would have formed the Official Opposition in a March election.

Approval ratings
It will be much more interesting to look at the April averages, as the number of polls is greater and the changes taking place are more dramatic. Already, the Liberals are averaging 31.3% in April (unweighted) compared to 30.6% for the Conservatives and 25.2% for the New Democrats. I imagine any other polls that will be released in April will show striking results as well.

Leadership races tend to have a big effect on the polls - it was an interesting time to be a poll watcher after Michael Ignatieff and Mulcair took over their respective parties, and it is interesting again with the newly-minted Trudeau. And now that all five parties (probably) have the leaders that will lead them into 2015, the real race begins.


  1. It appears Canadians are returning to their traditional voting patterns. Mulcair's failure to connect with Western Canadians has helped the Grits get back in the game.

    1. I'm not too sure. The NDP are still competitive. Just because the Liberals are coming back, doesn't mean the NDP is toast.
      If the NDP can take B.C. and the Liberals can take Ontario, then the conservatives lose a lot of seats.

    2. Originally, I had intended to expand my post to read something along the lines of; Mulcair's failure to connect with Western Canadians is the difference between third place and Official Opposition. Anything can happen in the future, from this vantage point it appears the Liberals not the NDP will be the main challenger to the Conservatives in 2015.

      More problematic for the Dippers their lack of support out West significantly reduces their chances of forming a minority government. If they can't win significantly more seats in what should be their "heartland" then they are fighting an uphill battle. The Tory floor is approximately 100 seats with 30% of the vote. Over the last number of weeks the NDP has not equalled or surpassed these numbers, therefore, at this level of support the NDP is not competitive to form government.

      Polls will certainly fluctuate in the next two years. At present the trendlines are moving in the wrong direction for the NDP.

    3. "Traditional voting patterns"? If you are referring to the 1935-1984 pattern where the Liberals held power for most of the period due to running up big majorities in Quebec, that is nothing like this poll. The three big parties holding roughly equal support is unprecedented in Canadian history. The NDP being competitive for first place has only existed for the last two years. The Bloc has only been around for 20 years but even at that, their current level of support is a product of the last 2 years. And the Greens never polled above 1% before 2004.

      Canadians don't have traditional voting patters; at least not since 1984.

    4. GI,

      It is not unprecedented. After the Second World War the CCF looked like they were to be the next government. I believe they even lead in the polls for a considerable amount of time (of course polling itself was still in its infancy). Again before the 1988 election in either '87 or '88 we saw a competitive three way race with the NDP in the lead or second place.

      My point is this poll as part of a larger trend appears to portray the political spectrum moving towards a two-party system.

  2. Kudos on the Liberal leadership results Eric. Your endorsement points were just about bang-on.

  3. And it seems the Cons attack ads aren't working any more. The public can see over-use and downright flim-flam.

    Hope it stays that way.

    Remember in 2015 ABC !!

  4. And Penashue is trailing badly in NL

    Liberal leading according to CBC Poll

    1. Actually an Abacus poll for VOCM:

    2. Saw it reported on the CBC

      Thus who did it is unimportant. The numbers matter, that's all !!

    3. Who actually did the work conducting the poll and paying for it is indeed important, and credit should be given to the right people.

    4. Surely you understand ??

      Results are what matter !! Not process

      In this case all that matters is the relative vote share. Who did the poll is irrelevant.

      Results are what matter !!

    5. I just corrected your original comment with more information on who did the poll, calm down.

  5. Congratulations on he Kent by-election call!

  6. I want to see how the race will be once everything settles down. Trudeau just got elected as leader and is showing very high voting preferences, but this is usual after a leadership election. (I wonder how much a party benefits in the polls after a leadership election?)
    Despite that, though, he's garnering much more support for the Liberals than Mulcair did for the NDP. At this rate, if Trudeau proves competent enough, it looks like the NDP will be relegated to 3rd place.
    Do you think Mulcair would step down as leader after such a defeat?

    1. I took a look at the issue of a post-leadership bounce for the Globe back when the LPC race began:

  7. Based on reaction so far I think we are seeing a resurrection of the Liberals.

    Just saw one of the CPC attack ads. What a farce !! I don't think there will be much resonance with the public at all.

    Let's see what happens ??

    1. And the comments by Michael den Tandt in the National Post today say that bluntly the Conservatives really blew it in those first two attack ads.

      I think they have badly misjudged their target !!

  8. Re: the comment about voters returning to their traditional voting patterns

    I think that the commenter is right. Many canadians (conservatives included) are quite horrified with the direction canada is going both on the international stage as well as fiscally in a more domestic sense.

    "traditional" conservative leaders prior to the formation of the cpc (the pc was our blue party then) were statesmen (mulroney, clark) whereas harper has a much more aggressive style. Harper is more focused on the elimination of government programs in order to shrink government and cut taxes vs. Previous conservatives who introduced new funding mechanism to retain programs (ie. Gst).

    The "traditional" canadian electorate tended to vote in either progressive conservatives (ie. Red tories) or liberals (blue grits). Both sides tended to be more centrist in view. The ndp was a protest vote in times of turmoil and a natural place for the pro marxist and pro communist vote and diehard labour advocates.

    What.we have today is a very right wing conservative option which quite obviously tries to give the appearance of being moderate but its an appearance that very few buy - it is obvious to everyone that they are just doing this to retain power - and more than three quarters of the electorate are wondering how long the cpc will be able to hold back the wing nuts.

    Liberals have also been uncharacteristicically.quagmired since jean chreitien left the scene due to internal struggles, the sponsorship scandal, and a gaggle of leaders with bright yellow targets on their foreheads (rae with his ontario ndp government, ignatieff with his 25+ years living outside of canada, dion with his lack of charisma and dorky stature, martin with his dithering and propensity to make major policy announcements by the seat of his pants). that has formed government for most of canada's history to be so quagmired, "uncharachteristic" is a very true statement.

    The conservatives today have a very uncharachteristic agenda as well. They are trying to make the *canadian national identity* more conservative in nature. In conservative circles there is talk of changing the color of the flag from red to blue because red is a liberal color. We had the fiasco with the idea to change the national anthem. They are itching to dismantle the cbc, accusing it of being biased towards the liberals.

    If canadians return to more "traditional" voting patterns, no matter what the actual results for individual parties are, the current leadership of the cpc is toast because the style, positioning, and objectives of this particular group of conservatives is anything but traditional for canada, i would use the word unprecedented. Canada's traditional conservatives are much more moderate and do not have such disdain for the fact that government exists at all.

    If the liberals can capitalize on this discontent amongst conservatives about their own party's direction (and trudeau appears to be trying this given his pro pipeline and oilsands stance and appearances in conservative heartlands) then the upside for the liberals is potentially large indeed. Most all self respecting liberals and conservatives would never vote ndp, no matter where they position themselves.


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