Monday, May 6, 2013

Ipsos poll gives Dix more breathing room

A poll by Ipsos-Reid for the provincial election in British Columbia had some comparatively good news for Adrian Dix and the B.C. New Democrats, as it put his party 10 points up on the B.C. Liberals - a more comfortable margin than the three other polls that have been released since last week's debate. As a result, Dix has a more comfortable lead over the Liberals in the projection, and the likely ranges now put him entirely in majority territory once again.

The New Democrats are now projected to have between 42.1% and 46.1% of the vote, giving them between 43 and 56 seats. More precisely, they are currently projected to take 44.1% of the vote and 48 seats. The Liberals are between 34.1% and 37.9% and between 26 and 42 seats, or 36% and 36 seats more specifically. These ranges are also positive for Dix: his party leads in fewer close ridings than those in which it trails.

The Greens and Conservatives have dropped a little to 9.6% and 7.1%, respectively.

The odds that the NDP would win the most seats if an election were held today have improved to 78.6%, while he has a 94% chance of winning the popular vote on May 14. The large difference between the two are primarily due to two things: it is possible to win the most seats and lose the popular vote, and the probabilities are calculated differently. The probability of the NDP winning the popular vote is based on how the polls have moved, and have been wrong, in the past. The probability of the NDP winning the most seats is based on how the seat projection model has performed in other elections. It would only need to get six seats wrong (an accuracy rating of 93%) to put the two parties in a tie.

Ipsos-Reid's poll suggests that the gap between the two parties has closed, but sets off a few fewer alarm bells than the polls from Forum, Insights West, and Angus-Reid. But a narrowing gap was expected.

The chart below updates an article I wrote for The Globe and Mail before the B.C. campaign had kicked off. It originally showed that the margin the NDP had over the Liberals was greater than the one the Liberals had in the last two elections, and that it was holding relatively steady. But as you can see, the margin has closed very quickly and in a more dramatic fashion than in either 2005 or 2009.

The lead is now less than the one the Liberals had at this stage of the 2009 election, but larger than the margin of the 2005 election. But you can also see that the trends are not always exactly linear. In both 2005 and 2009 the Liberals had a bit of an uptick before the gap closed again.

And it needs to be noted that the last, steep closing of the gap in 2001, 2005, and 2009 were primarily due to errors and/or late movement between the last polls of the campaign and election day. And in every case, those errors and late swings were to the advantage of the B.C. New Democrats. We will find out whether this phenomenon is exclusive to the B.C. Liberal Party or just the party that is leading the polls next week.
Ipsos-Reid was last in the field Apr. 11-14, and since then the NDP dropped three points to 45% while the Liberals increased by six points to 35%.

The Greens were up one point to 10% and the Conservatives were down four points to 7%.

That gain by the Liberals is significant, but Ipsos is also judging Conservative support to be lower than in other polls - and probably more realistically.

Unlike the Angus-Reid survey, Ipsos-Reid finds the gender gap to still be in place: the two parties were tied among men while the NDP had a 20-point advantage among women (!). Also of note is that, according to the poll, roughly 1-in-4 supporters of the Green and Conservatives parties say they could change their mind by election day. But unless Christy Clark starts picking in the pockets of the NDP, they would need about 60% of Green and Conservative supporters to change their mind and vote Liberal in order for her to close the gap entirely.

Regionally, Ipsos-Reid shows the same sort of numbers that the other firms recorded in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. It appears that on the island the Greens have stopped making gains. But in the Interior and north, Ipsos-Reid still gives the NDP the edge. Angus-Reid, Insights West, and Forum all gave the nod instead to the Liberals. Much of the election will be decided here.

The next round of polls could be very revealing. When you look at the chart showing how the gap has closed in other elections, you have to believe that, if the polls continue to show gains for the Liberals, Clark would have a very good chance of pulling off a big upset next week (and if she does, we'll never hear the end of the "polls having been wrong", rather than the reality of minds having changed over the course of a campaign). But if the polls instead show little change in the numbers, one might conclude that Dix will be able to hold on and win. There isn't much time left for another lurch in the polls.


  1. "Never give up. Never surrender." (Smily face)

  2. Seeing as the Greens and the BC Conservatives are each only running candidates in 55-60 out of the 85 seats - doesn't it make sense to reduce the projected province-wide popular vote for each of them by about 25% since 25-30% of British Columbians will not be able to vote for those parties even if they want to?

    1. It certainly does, that is why I am! As you can see on the BC projection page, if I wasn't adjusting the Green and Conservative vote they would have 11.8% and 9.3%, respectively.

  3. Looks like the majority of voters are voting against the NDP.

    Guess they're not a legitimate government if they win then....

    1. Most Canadians suffer under the tutelage of illegitimate governments, then. When will the UN save us?

    2. When did you join the Tea Party, Eric? ;)

    3. While I agree the Friendly Giant's phrasing was asinine, handing 100% of the power to a party with the support of 45% of voters is simply unfair. No matter if it's the NDP or anyone else. Thank God Marois fell short of a majority in Quebec.

    4. To be fair, yes. It is unfair that a minority of the population chooses a majority government. That said, it is pretty far from being against precedent in Canada.

    5. Matt that is the way it's always been and will continue to be !!

      CPC know this !

    6. I have a problem with people writing a minority of voters who elect a majority government is unfair or illegitimate. To follow that logic a government would be legitimate only if 100% of eligible voters cast a ballot and the winning party/ candidate received 50%+1.

      When we look at proportional systems a similar pattern emerges whether it be in Eire or the BC Liberal leadership race; the candidate in first place on the first ballot/ count usually finishes on top. A change in the system (save for full PR across Canada) may have a very limited impact on seats. Australia being the prime example: They have their first minority government since the war. All FPTP does then is remove unneeded rounds of voting-hardly a catastrophe.

    7. Two points I forgot to mention. In a PR system a minority chooses government (ie the politicians or their staff who cobble together a workable government in parliament). Secondly, unless parties run on a joint platform there is no difference between the current system and a reformed or PR system since, one can not say with metaphysical certainty, that a vote for party A is also a vote for party B and A to form government.

    8. Bede - You're getting Instant Run-off Voting confused with proportional representation I'm afraid. Instant run-off voting is a majoritarian system like first past the post, and it's what they use in Australia's House. Look to Germany, Ireland, Sweden or New Zealand for examples of proportional representation.

    9. Also - "To follow that logic a government would be legitimate only if 100% of eligible voters cast a ballot and the winning party/ candidate received 50%+1."

      Not really. A government would have a majority mandate if it received 50%+1 of the vote. High turnout would be nice of course. It's not an unreasonably high threshold either. Most democracies in the world reach it.

    10. Ryan,

      I am not confused between PR and instant run off which is why I write: "save for full PR across Canada".

      In regards to your second point how can one say: "It is unfair that a minority of the population chooses a majority government" and not infer a majority of voters are needed to create legitimacy?

      How is it unfair that a minority elect a government throuigh FPTP but somehow a minority who elect through PR legitimate? 50% with a turnout of 80% is still a minority position.

  4. Ryan, without a majority, Marois is doing exactly what Charest was doing (for the issues that matter). With a majority, I'm not sure how things would be different.

    1. Just wait and see. There's been a big difference between Harper under a minority and Harper under a majority.

    2. If anything, Harper was able to implement his policies more easily (i.e. with less criticism) while in a minority position than he has been with a majority.

  5. Friendly Giant, the distinction is that in polling, a large majority of Canadians actively oppose Harper and his policies. Generally speaking, you don't find the same level of broad-based, focussed disapproval against other governments.

    1. Well we certainly did in BC the last time the Dippers were in power! Or how about Quebec where a large portion actively and vocally disagrees with PQ language and constitutional policy?

      More importantly polling and voting are two different kettle of fish. Polling is not a legitimate governmental decision making process-voting is! Secondly, if the Tories are at 30% in the polls that does not equate to 70% of Canadians actively opposing them or their policies. All that can be gleamed from such information is 70% of Canadians have a voting preference other than the Conservative party. By your logic we could infer that 78% of Canadians actively oppose Mulcair and his policies.

    2. "...[I]f the Tories are at 30% in the polls that does not equate to 70% of Canadians actively opposing them or their policies"

      Absolutely. But, in fact, repeated surveys and other measures (protests, public statements of one kind or another, etc.) make it clear that the Harper government is particularly unpopular, even as its 30+% base is resolute in its support. And the government is not merely unpopular, as the former BC NDP government was, but fundamentally opposed in clearly articulated political terms.

      The example of the PQ isn't relevant, since the population here is actually fairly evenly divided on both the PQ and PLQ. No one could make a legitimate claim that the majority of Quebec's population is either for or against the PQ's (or the PLQ's) language and constitutional policies. Though one could make a case that the majority of the population is at least mildly opposed to the economic and other policies of both parties.

      To recap, I'm (with others) not simply subtracting the percentage that didn't vote for Harper and claiming that number is therefore actively opposed to the government, I'm noting a specific phenomenon that has persisted since Harper first came to power, a phenomenon that is demonstrated in many ways (opinion polls, protests, etc.) and which is not at all comparable to the un/popularity of Mulcair. Have there been mass protests against Mulcair? Is there a ShitMulcairWouldDo facebook page?...

    3. chimurenga,

      I want to weigh in regarding your Quebec comments. I think the sovereignists are in a self-imposed lull what with the fractioning of the sovereignist vote. It seems to me that as long as QS continues to grow and ON remains a relevant force that Marois will have trouble getting traction with the left-of-center public.

      As for Harper, he goes into any election with at least two-thirds of Canadians opposed to his government. As you've said, that is hardly new but the bug has always been getting those people out to the polls. I also agree as regards Mulcair. Both men are known as angry but it isn't the same kettle of fish no matter how one might wish to make it so. Mulcair is liked on the left in greater percentages than Harper. That's a plain yet inconvenient fact for those of us who happen to be Liberals. We will never see a visceral reaction against Tom the way some people simply go ballistic as soon as they hear Harper's name. Ain't going to happen. The NDP may continue to drop federally but they are hardly out of the game. They will remain competitive, right DL?

    4. The thing with Quebec is - and this is very rarely understood in the mainstream media, or outside the province generally - that sovereigntism is 1) a spectrum of hopes and desires running from a fairly weak self-determination within confederation to complete separation, and 2) self-identified sovereigntism is now supported by the lowest percentage of Quebeckers in decades. So the issue – the Great Red Herring of Quebec/Canadian politics - is not especially significant at the moment. Much more pressing on people’s minds are the economic, health care, education, etc. issues that the PLQ handled in a way that Quebeckers disagreed with, and that the PQ is now handling in much the same way. So, the PQ is losing ground, defying the constituency that brought them to power, while the PLQ brings with its new leader enough faint hope they might do things differently next time that the party is moving ahead.

    5. chirumenga,

      I had to laugh at your response. "Repeated surveys and other measures"? How about some cold hard facts. Harper thrice elected to government! The NDP never elected to government. Every election the Canadian people demonstrate they are fundamentally opposed in clearly articulated political terms to a NDP government.

      Public statements: from whom or what? How about the repeated public statements held at every election that voters simply do not trust nor respect the NDP/ CCF enough to vote them into government! Or the statements from business leaders, Western Canadians, the Hon. Alison Redford, the Hon. Brad Wall, the Hon. Christy Clark and others who condemned Mulcair's "Dutch disease" comments for what they are: prejudiced, untruthful and a gross mis-characterisation of both the current Canadian economy and the Dutch economy of the 1970's.

      You do not clearly remember the 1990's in BC. People demonstrated against the NDP government and their policies, call-in shows were chalked full of horror stories of fudgeit budgets; of Adrian Dix falisfying documents to protect his former boss, Glen Clark, who wished to give his friend a casino licence; of child poverty increasing, of the economy going down the tubes due to excess regulation and a mismanaged set of priorities by a chaotic rotation of NDP premiers; of Ujjal Dosanjh taking a family vacation to India on the public dime; of fast ferries that were incapable of doing the job; of a Skytrain line that only went through NDP ridings after studies found alternatives routes were far more cost effective with higher ridership numbers. Do you really want to re-live the scandal plagued years of the last BC NDP government? At the 2001 BC election British Columbians were fundamentally opposed to the NDP clearly articulating in the most blatant of political terms their displeasure.

      Your statements on Quebec are simply bizarre. In two referendums a majority of Quebeckers who cast ballots voted against PQ constitutional policy.

      On the one hand you argue it is impossible to prove Quebeckers are either for or against PQ or PLQ constitutional or language policy yet, with the other you claim certainty is possible regarding economic and other policies of both parties. Huh? Do you have evidence to back up this statement?

      It is obvious from the number of lawsuits against "Bill 101" and other elements of the French language charter that a significant portion of Quebeckers oppose this policy. More striking parents vote with their feet; a large segment of Francophone parents wish to send their children to English schools actively disagree with PQ language policy.

      As for your assertion that "sovereigntism" (sic) is a spectrum of "hope and desires" nothing could be further from the truth. Sovereignty is about removing Quebec from Canada. This spectrum you speak of may be found in nationalism or federalism but, not sovereignty. It is this mis-understanding of a well-understood concept that makes the NDP so dangerous for Canada. I am thankful you have stated clearly for Canadians the NDP's position in regard to Quebec independence-the NDP are a separatist party.

      Not that any of this matters of course since the NDP are well on their way to reclaiming their rightful position in Parliament-fourth place!

    6. I'm not sure why you think I speak for the NDP, whom I've only ever begrudgingly supported, or why you think I was talk talking about Conservatives vs. the NDP. It seems you’ve completely misunderstood my point.

      Cold hard facts. Harper’s conservatives have been elected three times – twice as minority governments, once with one of the lowest percentage majorities ever. On the other hand, we have a public that is unusually unified in its opposition to Harper and his policies. Evidence for this is in the large volume of a huge number and variety of statements (shorthand for any text, video, internet post, demonstration, street theatre, whatever…) criticising the Harper government in noticeably similar terms, in the strikingly large support for an NDP-Liberal coalition, in several carefully conducted surveys of political values that were recently published showing a sharply increasing polarisation of political values with a marked preference for progressive vs. conservative values, etc. In a blog comment it’s hard to characterise such a wide variety of phenomena in only a sentence or two, so this will have to do. I’m hardly the first person to notice this – it was in all the papers for the last seven years. Let me reiterate. I’m not talking about NDP vs. Conservatives, I’m talking about an unusually unified public opposition to Harper and his polices – some of this public include erstwhile supporters/members of the Conservative Party, some do not identify with any party. I’m not talking about party politics.

      The public statements you cite aren’t pertinent. I wasn’t talking about statements Mulcair, or Layton, or May, or any other politician has made. They don’t mean anything in this context since all politicians are professional adversaries of each other. Statements from “business leaders” would be worth mentioning (for your argument), if part of a wider phenomenon of popular anti-progressive sentiment against a specific social democratic government. Two problems, though. 1) There is opposition to progressive politics – in fact, it’s more unified and aggressive than its left-counterpart, but naturally it represents a comparatively small number of people whose numbers are compensated by their power and investment in major institutions; it isn’t a popular movement. 2) Canada has yet to experience a social democratic government that has remained true to its espoused progressive values, whereas the Harper Conservatives have come much closer to truly representing their neo-liberal/socially conservative values.

    7. Which brings me to BC. I have little to say on the subject, beyond what I originally said. I’ll just note that the BC NDP governments were notably pro-business (perhaps not enough for your liking) and effectively abandoned the traditional NDP claims to progressive policies, etc. except in trivial matters. And again, opposition to the NDP – however self-righteous or justified or popular – was not expressed in the broad-based relatively unified terms that the opposition to Harper has been. It was fragmented and largely traditional in its dislike for a sitting government that could have been virtually any sitting government (keywords were “incompetent”, “corrupt”, “unrepresentative”, etc.). Compare with, say Stelmach’s government.

      The Quebec referendums failed by very slim majorities. They were also tests of not only a single issue, but a single question on that issue. The reason it’s “hard to prove” that Quebeckers are for or against the PQ or PLQ language and constitutional policies is precisely because the numbers are so evenly divided. As for economic and other policies, maybe you missed the wide-spread, broadly popular red square protests of last year, or the many opinion polls of political attitudes that show a marked preference for progressive policies regarding economics, health care, education, etc. Incidentally, I did not say that argument could be made with “certainty”, my comment was qualified in this regard. You seem to think that any opposition to a policy is the same as the kind of opposition I’m talking about in reference to the Harper government. It’s not. There’s a difference of scale and of coherence and of comprehensiveness. A “a large segment of Francophone parents wish to send their children to English schools” is not a majority of anything and it’s not broad-based political phenomenon, it’s a single-issue disagreement.

      Your definition “sovereigntism” (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) is the one the National Post, et al. invokes, but it’s a conveniently limited one. Read something published in Quebec for further insight. The term you’re looking for, with no ambiguity, is “separatism”.

  6. This is a weird election.

    I'm perhaps the strongest pro-business, small government guy here, and I also think an NDP government would be terrible for BC.

    And I think I'll vote for them. I love the NDP candidate in my riding, and I don't think Christy Clark has been a good premier.

    I think my ideal outcome from this election is the Liberals squeaking out a majority with Clark losing her seat.

  7. Ira,

    Do you think the Liberals are capable of scaring enough people to get them to swing back to the Liberals in the voting booth? It seems to me that is Clark's only hope -- but it strikes me as grasping at straws. I think the only question is how many seats the NDP will win in order to form government.

  8. Ira

    It is hard for me to vote Liberal. Especially for Clark who is a true Liberal and not a Conservative using the Liberal name.

    In every poll I will say that I am voting Cons, but will vote Liberal today.


    Clark is only using the opportunity that Dix has provided.

    Why in the world would have Dix tried to win every Green Vote when he was basically guaranteed a majority with the single " the Liberals are incompetent"??

    Now he will have some of the non-government trade unions voting Liberal as he is shutting down all jobs including union jobs.

    It is Dix's election to lose and he is doing the best he can to snatch defeat from the jaws of Victory.

    Carole James would have won this one in a landslide.

  9. And meanwhile according to the National Post Justin just continues to poll higher and higher !

    1. So are you saying that the BC poll is likely wrong as well?

      Is Trudeau running in BC?

      Is trudeaumania helping Clark?

      what is the point of your post on the BC election?

    2. BCVOR Apparently the word "meanwhile" has no meaning for you.

      Sad !!

  10. BCVOR,

    Is it your estimation that Dix could actually lose or will his errors merely reduce him to a bare majority? I thought it was almost an inevitable NDP runaway train. Have I got that wrong?

    1. It will be closer than it has to be.

      The Cons in Alberta were behind the wildrose in Alberta.

      Both thee the Wildrose and The BC NDP are protest parties on the edge of the political spectrum.

      When people finally get to vote they have a tendency to keep the incumbent in power. Especially when things are not that bad....

      The Liberals under Chretien and Martin went on and on and on past all logic before the voters figured out that Harper's Cons were more than a protest party.

  11. Peter,

    Do you agree with me that the CPC will double down on shit in a can in light of this polling trend? Now, whether it actually works this time is another matter.

    1. They probably will Ron despite the fact that every time they have popped out a new ad there numbers have gone down and Justin's !!

      At that rate the more attack ads the better

  12. I agree with BCVOR that Dix is doing everything in his power to lose this election, but unfortunately it still will not be enough. I'm not a huge Clark fan, but I think overall the liberals have done a good job of steering us through a rough decade. I like the candidate in my riding, Sam Sullivan, and will have no problem putting an X by his name

  13. A Time Colonist poll has NDP lead down to 4 points

    NDP 41 , Lib 37 , Green 12 , Cons 10

    seems like a move from NDP straight to Liberals.

    Cons and Green hanging on to their support.

    How many union jobs (that would/should have been solid NDP) will be impacted by closing down the port of Vancouver????

    Also now that we have the PST back there are a lot of people embarrassed that they supported the recall.

    Tax on beer/wine in a restaurant went from 12% HST to 5% federal sales tax and 10% BC alcohol tax.

    Even NDP supporters can see a 3% tax grab.


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