Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Strong Liberal results in poll, with or without Trudeau

A new poll from Léger Marketing shows very strong results for the Liberal Party of Canada, even without Justin Trudeau's name being mentioned. When he is added to the mix, the poll continues the trend of a big boost in Liberal fortunes, over-and-above the usual honeymoon that new leaders can usually expect to enjoy.
We don't often hear from Léger at the national level. The last coast-to-coast poll from the firm was released in December. The Conservatives slipped four points to 31% since that poll, putting them well within the range of where other polls have put the party since the beginning of February.

The Liberals picked up an enormous 12 points, however, putting them at 30% and only one point behind the Tories. The New Democrats managed 24%, a drop of six points and their worst result in any poll since the 2011 federal election campaign. Is this a fluke or a sign of things to come?

The Greens fell two points to 7%, putting them even with the Bloc Québécois. All of these changes in support would be outside the margin of error of two polls of this size with random samples.

These are remarkable numbers for the Liberals, but not altogether unusual. This is the third of the last four polls to show the Liberals at either 29% or 30% support. But to give them a six-point lead over the NDP is certainly a change of pace.

At the regional level, the Liberals were up throughout the country compared to Léger's December poll, with double-digit bumps in British Columbia, Alberta (+12 in both), Quebec (+11), and Ontario (+15). The poll actually puts the Liberals ahead in that last province, the first non-Nanos poll to do so since April 2011.

The numbers should be of great concern to both the Conservatives and NDP, as they come without a mention of Justin Trudeau's name. The numbers in Quebec are particularly problematic for the New Democrats, as this represents an 11-point drop from Léger's December poll, but also from their February poll of 1,024 Quebecers. Léger has generally given the NDP higher numbers in Quebec than their non-Quebec competitors, and that always suggested that the lower numbers recorded by Ontario-based firms might have been off the mark. For Léger to show such a poor result should be very worrying to the New Democrats.

Unusual numbers can generally be seen as outliers until proven otherwise, however, so hope is not lost for the NDP. We will have to see what CROP says in their next poll, which we should probably see before Léger reports again. It would be helpful, though, if CROP reports before Justin Trudeau becomes Liberal leader.
And this is why. Léger shows that under Trudeau, the Liberals surge to 37%, pushing the Conservatives down one point to 30% and the NDP down four points to 20%. This compares quite favourably to Léger's Trudeau poll in December, which put the Liberals and Tories even at 31% under his leadership and the NDP at 24%.

Regionally, Trudeau boosts the Liberals only slightly in the western provinces but pushes the party up by 10 points in Ontario and 15 points in Atlantic Canada. He puts the party narrowly ahead in Quebec as well (though, interestingly, the NDP's numbers improve slightly there).

But without Trudeau, the Liberals are still in a strong position and would be well-placed to form the Official Opposition.
With Léger's non-Trudeau numbers, the Liberals take 109 seats to 131 for the Conservatives, 55 for the New Democrats, 42 for the Bloc Québécois, and one for the Greens (all on the 338-seat map).

This makes it difficult for the Liberals and NDP to combine for a coalition government, however, as it puts them five seats short of a majority. The poor showing for the NDP in Quebec (and the small improvement for the Bloc) tips the balance and puts the opposition in the same awkward position of needing Bloc support as in 2008.
There is no such problem with Trudeau's numbers, however. His party takes 146 seats to only 124 for the Conservatives, 35 for the New Democrats, 32 for the Bloc, and one for the Greens. Together, Trudeau's Liberals and the NDP command 181 seats, more than the 169 needed for a majority.

But Trudeau's arrival makes things easier for the Conservatives in the west. Though they drop two points in British Columbia, they win 28 seats instead of 20 as the New Democrats take a big hit that the Liberals cannot turn into seats. They also win two more in the Prairies. Overall, the Conservatives win 10 more seats in the west while the Liberals only win one more and the NDP drops 11.

But the Liberals win their plurality in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada (as they used to). With 71 seats in Ontario, they replicate what the Conservatives did in 2011. They are not able to supplant the Bloc in Quebec, however, as the Liberals have trouble making gains outside of the Montreal area. Most of those battles are between the NDP and the Bloc, but the New Democrats have been hamstrung by Trudeau. 

It makes for a very different political landscape, one that seems to have been constantly transforming over the last two years. Can these hypothetical numbers be dismissed? It would be easier to do so if they were not so consistent. In 10 polls since the end of October from Forum, Angus-Reid, and Léger, the Conservatives have always registered between 29% and 33% against Trudeau, while the NDP has always been between 19% and 24% (and only as high as 22% since December). In seven of the polls, the Liberals under Trudeau have managed between 37% and 42%. 

Maybe this will all disappear once Trudeau actually becomes leader, but he has been increasingly seen as the obvious winner for several months now and he has been getting plenty of media coverage. Things should not change too much once it becomes official, at least at first. But where will things go after that?

30 comments:

  1. What Atlantic seat do the conservatives hold?

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  2. Gotta love how the Conservatives would lose votes but gain seats in Quebec.

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  3. I recall a certain Mr. Ignatieff, a heavyweight intellectual start, who was poised to trounce Harper. We all saw how that worked out.

    We can expect a proliferation of party-financed Justin-themed parody websites in two weeks' time (or less). Let's reserve our judgement until then.

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  4. Politics has been broken in Canada for a long time. The major parties are not able to solve any of the problems of the day. All they do is blame their opponents but the government is simply scrambling since they have no good ideas as well. They are going to get creamed in the next election. It makes for good TV! I mean the corporate tax cuts were not the thing that was going to give us an endless trail or array of jobs but it was more a means to an end. The question is will people be stupid enough to believe catchy slogans or simply do what I do which is not trust the major party oligarchy. None of them are brave enough to propose a gold standard or change that will help the minor parties grow and flourish. They are meant for the status quo, and I believe that debts cannot be repaid and it is all just a game to distract the public and make them choose options which cannot solve the problems but rather pass them on to the next generation. Peace out! Oh and continue voting for dweedle dee, dweedle dum and dweedle dee and a half!

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    1. Why would the "major party oligarchy" propose reforms that promote minor parties? That would be irrational?

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    2. If the smaller parties hold the balance of power, they could force the hand of a larger party.

      Or you know, the naive answer, that they do it cause it's the right thing to do. It wouldn't be totally unheard of.

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    3. Also, I ran for a party in 2011 and I know that people don't take minor parties seriously. They look at you as if you occupy space. That is how the other parties looked at me. They thought of me as an untouchable or someone that shouldn't have belonged there. The truth is we need minor parties to limit the so-called major parties to constant minorities or infinite minorities. That would help Canada and ensure we get the right policies. I support what Beppe Grillo is doing with his Five Star Movement. I wonder how many people have heard of him.

      Also, answering the question about major parties not wanting to help minor parties grow why wouldn't they want to help? Why is there competition in business and real life but why not in politics? I am right that they should be called the major party oligarchy and just push slogans and one-liners and talking points rather than anything substantive.

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    4. The reason major parties do not help minor ones is that it is not in their interest. In both business and politics you do not become successful by helping your opponents!

      In fact we do have a very competitive political system in Canada. 3 major national parties and a litany of minor ones; in Quebec 4 major parties plus minor parties; every legislature save PEI and New Brunswick have at least 3 parties or 2 parties plus independents.

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    5. This is so obvious when you look South of the border and only see two parties.

      And you can certainly see the really bad governance that produces.

      Vive La Difference !!

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    6. There is an (inverse) correlation between electoral quotient and representation of political parties. The US House of Representatives and senate, with two party representation only, have electoral quotients of over 700,000 and 6 million, respectively. High electoral quotients ensure homogenizing of the population, favours the incumbents and inflates the cost of campaigning. The provincial parties in British Columbia did not exist until 1903, when the electoral quotient was 2000 (compared to approximately 55,000 of today). Danny Handelman

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  5. What's happening to the NDP numbers in Quebec without the Trudeau factor? 3rd place and only 5 seats? Sounds like they are getting orange crushed! And that's Mulcair's home base. Very bad omen.

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    1. It is a bad omen.

      Since 2011 the Quebec political landscape has changed considerably: New PLQ leader, PQ government, new NDP, BQ and Liberal leaders federally.

      The big cleavage in Canadian politics has always been one of nationalism and or language. Quebeckers voting preferences are simply moving toward the "traditional" divide and the NDP is being squeezed.

      On the nationalist question the NDP tried to straddle both sides of the fence; a soft-federalist party willing to acquiesce to the demands of separatists that 50%+1 is enough to initiate independence. The result is that neither separatist nor federalists are satisfied and voters are turning to their traditional practices and parties. As a result we see an increase in both Liberal and BQ support.

      Another factor is the poor economic situation in Quebec. Last year growth was below 1% and this year is estimate at 1.1%. The NDP is not known as the party of economic growth. Mulcair's Dutch disease quip has not helped matters. Quebec, like most provinces, is economically dependant on commodities comments that oppose resource production will face some backlash whether it be in Fort McMurray or Asbestos especially amongst those whose jobs are dependent on the industry. I take these numbers to suggest Liberals will do a better job promoting growth.

      Finally, Mulcair has done a mediocre job as Opposition Leader. His crtiques of Harper have not stuck and his parliamentary comments rarely make the news.

      An election is still two years away but, I think he has an uphill job keeping Stornoway.

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  6. 1511 for a national poll is a pretty small sample IMO

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    1. Statistically it is not, and is actually 511 more than the standard sample.

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  7. Greg Weston had an article about how Grits do better when they are leaderless that might explane these results
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/03/07/f-vp-weston-liberals-polls.html

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  8. i see nobody on here is willing to voice the "common wisdom" that in fact the country is basically fed up with the CPC and Trudeau, just by name, is taking the country back to a happier era,

    Sorry folks but Harper will not get back in in 2015. He's kicked too many major "cans" !!

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    1. Canada is so fed up with the CPC that the CPC continues to lead in the polls, and consistently has since they took power.

      What data are you looking at?

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    2. Eric's post from March 14 does a pretty good job of showing how CPC support has continued to decline since May 2011. We don't know if that trend will continue, but I think it's pretty clear that if it does the Conservatives are in serious trouble.

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    3. barely lead in the polls, a ten percent drop fro election day isn't nothing...

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    4. CPC support has been declining, yes, but I would not characterise a gradual decline in a non-threatening environment alongside two different leadership race bumps for opposition parties as "fed up".

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    5. Fair enough Ira. A tie for the lead isn't really Armageddon yet either.

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  9. Looks to me like this links up with what we saw with the preferential vote poll from a few days ago. Seems likely that the Liberal gains are largely coming from past Conservative voters who are feeling disaffected. I suppose the question will be if the Conservatives can get their numbers back up come election season. If they were to do so it seems that the NDP would be in second and the Liberals would go back to third party status. I'm not sure the numbers would support the view that Liberals are picking up on the left as much as the right. And I know the Trudeau brand doesn't do well outside of Ontario, aside from that I'm not sure what is really propelling Trudeau.

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    1. If you look at the polls on who Canadians rate as the best Prime Minister in the last 50 years, you'll see that the Trudeau brand does pretty well all across Canada, even in Alberta. Certainly better than what that the Leger poll suggests.

      Now Justin Trudeau is not his father. There are plenty of reasons to like the father and not the son, but there are just as many reasons to like the son and not the father.

      I just don't think some sort of claim that the Trudeau brand is weak outside of Ontario holds water, when polls have clearly shown the opposite.

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    2. James,

      In the polls above the NDP are down 11 and 7% from the 2011 election and the Tories are down 9 and 10%. I think the Grits are gaining support from both the left and right.

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    3. bede, from the one poll, yes. But the balance of polls have shown the Cons to be down more than the NDP, which have held much closer to their 2011 election result

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    4. LIb gaining from the right, but the NDP vote is returning to the Bloc!!!

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    5. chirumenga,

      On aggregate the NDP is down 5% according to Eric's average while the Tories are down 9%. In relative terms the Tories are down a little less than 25% while the NDP is down roughly 20% whereas the Liberals are up 55%. So I think I am correct to write; "the Grits are gaining support from both the left and right".

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  10. Eric, I noticed there's another Forum poll claiming a seat total. Any idea how they generate that seat total? Do they pin ridings to the wall and throw red, green and orange darts or something?

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    1. Sorry, should have added blue darts in there.

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  11. with or without Trudeau

    And therein lies the real interest. Trudeau certainly doesn't hurt the numbers but they are good without him. And that's the really interesting point !!

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