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.