Monday, August 26, 2013

Liberals still ahead in new Nanos poll

The poll went under the radar, but a sharp-eyed reader pointed out that the latest poll from Nanos Research for Bell Canada and Telus, on the subject of telecommunications, contained voting intentions information. From the looks of the poll report, the voting questions were asked right at the beginning, suggesting there is no reason to consider the sample biased despite the results' provenance from a privately commissioned poll. Add to that the fact that Nanos's numbers are remarkable in their unremarkableness, and we have ourselves the first national political poll worth looking at in a month.
Nanos was last in the field in mid-June, though that poll was conducted online. It is hard to know exactly how to compare these two polls, since the methodology of the last one included phoning people up to invite them to complete the online survey, blurring the lines between making it an online or a telephone poll. This poll, however, was done over the telephone entirely.

If we do compare the two polls at face value, we see that there have been no statistically significant shifts of support since June for any of the parties in any of the regions, or nationally. It is the status quo, though there are a few small trends to keep an eye on.

Nationally, the Liberals were up 1.1 points to 35.3%, where they seem to have settled at after the heady days right after Justin Trudeau's leadership victory. The Conservatives were up 2.5 points to 31.9%, their best result in any poll since an Ipsos-Reid survey from April. The New Democrats were down 2.5 points to 22.8%, while the Greens were down 0.5 points to 5.9%. The Bloc Québécois was down 1.2 points to only 2.5%, and 1.6% of respondents said they would for another party.

Undecideds were about 22% of the entire sample, up three points from June.

This is a more detailed poll from Nanos than we usually get, and it has some interesting breakdowns. For instance, the Liberals were only up on the Conservatives by one point among men (34% to 33%, with the NDP at 22%) but were ahead by five points among women (36% to 31%, with the NDP at 24%). The Liberals led among voters over the age of 30, and were even four points up on the Conservatives among voters 60 and older.

Regionally, the results fall well into line with what other surveys were showing in July.

In British Columbia, the Liberals were narrowly ahead with 31.7% to 30.8% for the Conservatives and 25.4% for the NDP, with the Greens at 11.8%. Of note, though, is that the Conservatives have been consistently slipping: they were at 37.5% in Nanos's previous poll from April.

The Conservatives led with 56% in Alberta to 23% for the Liberals and 9.9% for the NDP, and were also ahead in Saskatchewan and Manitoba with 40.5% and 44.3%, respectively. In Saskatchewan, the NDP was second with 30.4% to the Liberals' 24.6%, while in Manitoba the Liberals were second with 38.6% to 14.2% for the NDP. These Saskatchewan and Manitoba numbers align broadly with the other surveys we have seen for these two individual provinces.

In Ontario, the Liberals were at 37.2% while the Conservatives were up to 33.9%. The NDP was well behind with 21.2%. They were closer in Quebec, however, with 29.8% support to 38.5% for the Liberals. But the NDP has slipped in three consecutive Nanos polls in Quebec, while the Liberals have gained in three consecutive polls. The Conservatives were at 14% (identical to the recent CROP poll) while the Bloc was down to 12.2%. While that is a very low number, Nanos has had the BQ lower than other polling firms for some time. In fact, they had them at 9.6% in the months after the 2011 election, the only time the party has ever been in single digits.

The Liberals led in Atlantic Canada with 43.5%, followed by the Conservatives at 29.3% and the NDP at 26.7%. The two parties swapped places and about eight points, but that was within the margin of error.
These numbers would give the Liberals a narrow plurality of 132 seats, compared to 129 for the Conservatives, 75 for the New Democrats, and two for the Greens (the Bloc would be wiped out). The Liberal victory is won primarily in Ontario, where a number of seats go to the party by a razor-thin margin.

But as I discussed on Friday, it is possible that these national polls will understate the Liberal seat potential in Quebec. As you can see here, even with an 8.7-point lead over the NDP, the Liberals win fewer seats in Quebec than do the New Democrats. If we apply CROP's distribution of regional support to Nanos's province-wide numbers for Quebec, though, we get a very different result:
The Liberals win 42 seats in Quebec instead of 33, and the NDP drops from 37 to 28. It doesn't change the number of non-Conservative seats in the province, but it does turn the Liberals' narrow plurality into a much more comfortable one, making the close wins in Ontario less important.

Either way, the Liberals appear to be in control of the situation. The numbers have not budged yet over the summer, with the Liberals still in the mid-30s and the Conservatives still under 1-in-3 support. It will be interesting to see if anything will shake these numbers loose over the next few months.