Monday, December 23, 2013

A year in polling

2013 has been a remarkable year in politics and political polling, with the Liberals returning from the dead, the Senate scandal shaking things up, and the surprise result of the provincial election in British Columbia. New provincial party leaders have been named in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, with Justin Trudeau taking over the federal Liberals and Daniel Paillé bowing out of the Bloc Québécois.

Tapping into the Pulse: Political public opinion polling in Canada, 2013 is an eBook I'm working on that was successfully funded on Kickstarter last week. Thanks to those who pledged! The Kickstarter drive ends on December 27, so you still have a few more days to reserve your advance copy (to be delivered one month before the book goes on sale), contribute to this website, and save a little money off the sticker price. It will be a comprehensive record of the year in politics and particularly in polling, and I hope you'll enjoy it!

With the year coming to a close, let's take a look here at how the federal parties have done in the polls over the course of 2013. We'll also compare their performances to how they did in 2011 and 2012 (I did this last year as well). The differences are remarkable.

The chart above and those below show each individual poll result that was released throughout 2013 at the federal level, as well as a rolling three-poll average.

As you can see from the above, most of the change that has taken place nationwide occurred just after Trudeau became leader. Since then, the three parties have generally been in stasis. But the trends are looking negative for the Conservatives.
If we compare the average of all the polls from 2013 to those in 2012 and in 2011 (after the federal election), we see just how much things have changed in the past year. The Conservatives have dropped from an average of 37.5% in 2011 to 33.9% in 2012 and now just 30% in 2013. The New Democrats, who were relatively stable between 2011 and 2012, fell to just 24.7% in 2013. And the Liberals picked up about 10 points in 2013 as compared to their performances in the previous two years. As you'll see below, this huge surge was repeated everywhere in Canada.

Starting west, British Columbia has been a bit of a jumble throughout the year. All three parties have been jostling for the lead since April, but it was Trudeau's arrival that turned an NDP/Conservative race into a three-way contest.
Here again, the Liberals picked up about 10 points in B.C. in 2013, coming from both the Conservatives and the New Democrats. The Tories regained the lead overall in 2013, but they actually lost it in the last few months.

Nothing too remarkable in Alberta, with the Conservatives generally holding stable after losing some support after Trudeau came along.
The same pattern nationally is repeated in Alberta, with the Conservatives losing about seven points over the last two years and the Liberals picking up about 12.

In the Praires, the Liberals moved into second after April and are now challenging the Conservatives for first place. Support for the NDP has been generally stable throughout the year.
The gain in 2013 for the Liberals is especially marked here, as the party has picked up about 13 points in 2013 as compared to 2012. The Conservatives have dropped but most of the Liberal gains made throughout the year came from the New Democrats.

Ontario has mostly been a close race between the Conservatives and Liberals, but that has changed in the last few months as the Liberals have moved ahead.
The Conservatives have dropped six points over the last two years, with the Liberals picking up most of that. The NDP, after increasing in 2012, is back down below where they were in 2011.

Quebec has been pretty interesting - the NDP started the year in front and lost it when Trudeau came along. He gave the party a wide lead until the summer, when the race became a lot closer. Through it all, the Bloc's support has been mostly steady (though it did uptick during the summer) while the Conservatives have been safely in fourth.
Both the Conservatives and New Democrats have been consistently dropping in Quebec, the Conservatives going from 19.3% in 2011 to 15.9% in 2012 and now 12.5%. The NDP dropped from almost 40% to 36% and now 28.3%. The Liberals have picked up all of this lost support, doubling their numbers since 2011 and the Bloc Québécois actually took a step backwards in 2013.

Atlantic Canada has been the Liberal Show, both at the provincial and federal levels. The lead for the Liberals here is almost as wide as that of the Conservatives in Alberta.
The Liberals made their biggest gain here in 2013, going from an average of 29.6% in 2012 to 46.1% in 2013. The NDP dropped about 10 points while the Tories were down seven. But since 2011, the Conservatives have shed about a third of their support.

What will 2014 hold? We certainly aren't done with the Senate, and the Bloc Québécois will choose a new leader, likely in the spring. Apart from that: events, dear boy, events. With Thomas Mulcair begin to regain the support he lost when Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader? Will Trudeau be able to hold on to that support? What influence will the likely elections in Ontario and Quebec have on the federal scene, particularly if the Parti Québécois is given a majority?

It should be an interesting year. I hope to cover it with the next annual edition of Tapping into the Pulse! This will likely be the last post of 2013, so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy holidays, and all the best in 2014. Thanks for reading, see you next year!

36 comments:

  1. Glad you like my quick-&-dirty 3-poll average graphs from Wikipedia, Éric. ;)

    One of these days I've been meaning to sit down and try to come up with a more sophisticated equation in Excel that takes the polling date into account, which would bring it closer to your own polling averages.

    Great work this year; keep it coming. Happy holidays!

    Dom

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    1. I have to admit, they were an inspiration! I wanted to show the regional numbers in a different way than with the monthly averages - gives an indication of the noise as well as the signal, I think!

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    2. I was wondering what kind of dedicated fellow would make such graphs and keep them updated like that! Great work! I check that wiki article about as often as I check 308

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  2. We've still got almost two years before the election. What's the odds there won't be changes ??

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  3. And of course the other question is "If the numbers continue this bad or even get worse for the CPC will Harper leave??"

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  4. I think its quite unlikely Harper would leave, unless his party was at abysmal numbers in the polls...say sub 20%. Otherwise I am quite sure Harper will lead his party into the next election and try to win by carpet bombing Trudeau with attack adds, and running an top notch get out the vote effort.

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    1. There is a remarkable amount of speculation Carl in the media. Given the election is two years away it's astonishing. The total mishandling of the Senate scandal and a couple of other issues has almost destroyed Harper. In fact the base may, I say may, force him out if things don't improve.

      As to attack ads re Trudeau every time they have tried one his numbers have risen, not fallen !!

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    2. IMHO the whole Harper resignation speculation is being driven by the media. There's next to 0 chance it will actually happen.

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    3. The CPC's current fundraising efforts are very Trudeau-centric. Presumably that's working, because they've been doing it for months.

      While you're correct that the attack ads didn't seem to work this time (though you can see why they tried - they worked with Dion and Ignatieff), it would seem the base really doesn't like the guy. It will be interesting to see what sorts of ads the CPC tries next, given that dichotomy.

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    4. We'll see what the Q4 fundraising totals are in the end too. If the Liberals come out ahead of the Tories, then that's bad news bears for the Conservatives in a big way IMHO. My guess is that it will be close but that the Liberals will fall a bit short still (and that the NDP will have an especially unfun time).

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    5. It's fascinating to look at the three leaders at year end.

      Harper still solid with his slightly less than 30% base.

      Mulcair really not part of the mainstream despite his superb House performance

      Trudeau way out in front of the other two and in fact his party as well. Despite a less than good House performance once he's outside talking to normal people he's a major force. And with a new baby coming he'll grab even more !!

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    6. I'd hardly call Mulcair outside of the mainstream. NDP support isn't THAT far behind the Tories and Liberals. It wasn't so long ago that they were polling in second place, and he is the leader of the opposition after all/.

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    7. I don't understand Trudeau's appeal at all. What is it people like about him?

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    8. Go and Watch Power Play tonight on CTV News channel Website. Don Martins show

      Will give you the answer !

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  5. And all of you wait till you see the new Nanos numbers, just out today, that the Cons are sinking rapidly.

    So the next election will be an Lib-NDP battle ?? CPC a distant third !!

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    1. Looong way to go before an election. Harper is an incredible well seasoned politician and campaigner at this point and cannot be written off even if they are a little low in the polls right now. We have a balanced budget expected soon least before the election for certain, and they will most certainly shift to giving another set of goodies in a budget before going out on the campaign. As well, shifting support by 10-15% or so during an election is certainly possible, a melt down by Trudeau in the debate, or some other kind of event could easily happen. The Cons have a very well oiled get out the vote machine in many ridings, it is extremely effective, their voter intention lists allows them to be very effective in how they target voters within ridings. This is going to be very difficult for the Liberals to overcome, though not impossible. Many ridings have defunct/non existent or minimal Liberal associations and that leads to a weak get out the vote effort...a significant problem for the Libs. Even if the Cons were at 10% today I wouldn't be celebrating...

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  6. Read this

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-conservatives-see-performance-rating-plunge-in-poll-1.2477348

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    1. Don't see how this is any better or worse than any other polling out there lately.

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    2. Maybe not but as an "Official" yearender is points a direction.

      As to whether that direction will hold only time will tell but it does sort of go along with the "longer in power the lower the approval" that we have seen before.

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    3. When one aggregates the "very good" 12%, "good" 14% and "average" 17%= 43% tghings do not look too bad for the Tories. Especially when "very poor" 38% and "poor" 18%=46%.

      Arguably, those who responded "very poor" were not going to vote for the Conservatives in any case, so from my reading this poll is more status quo than pointing in a downward direction.

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    4. Agreed Bede. More of what we've been seeing in the last few months. Not great polls for the Tories but not dire straights either.

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    5. A walk In The Snow ?? Ryan

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/is-a-walk-in-the-snow-in-stephen-harper-s-future-1.2480564

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    6. No way in hell will Harper resign. He won't pass up a chance to run against a Trudeau. Anyone in the Conservative caucus who tries to push him out won't be getting their nomination papers signed in 2015.

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    7. I tend to completely agree with you Ryan. Be fun to watch it play out though.

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    8. I don't think Harper will resign but, I don't know the man personally so who knows if he has an undisclosed malady or conversely in fine health and contemplating a generous job offer.

      Harper has won the right to lead the Tories in the next election and I would not expect much caucus dissent at least in public. As the BC NDP demonstrated parties that stage internal coups against the leader tend not to win the subsequent election.

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  7. Happy new year readers and Eric. Thanks for a wonderful blog. This has been my go to site for Canadian political polling and analysis over the last year and it is much appreciated.

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  8. Having visited this site for over a year a couple of impressions are left.

    First is the incredible amount of work Eric puts into it. Thank you very, very much Eric !!

    Another is the existence here and elsewhere of the Candide school of political commentary.

    "Oh nothing wrong here, let's move on" !!

    Let's all face facts. All political parties approval and rejection ebbs and flows. What we should be looking at, in order to roughly at least, predict the future is trends. Not absolute numbers but trends.

    So when a new poll comes out and shows a significant change and somebody on here basically spews the "party line' to claim, in the face of the poll numbers, that there is no real change we know we are reading a "Candide" and thus can place the comment where it belongs.

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    1. Of course one poll does not a trend make Peter!

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    2. No bede one poll doesn't but just look at the graphs on here, even Alberta shows a shift.

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    3. Yes but, the link you provided was a one-off.

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    4. Of course a single poll is done from one link. Your intelligence should be able, where Eric hasn't yet done, to create the trend.

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    5. So, you are asking me to imagine a trend?

      I went to Nanos' website-the poll is a one-off. At this point it can not speak to trends or describe one. The poll you provided measures government performance, Eric mainly measures support levels of political parties. Whilst such measurements are similar they are not the same. To compose a trend out of fundamentally different metrics is to confuse the situation.

      In any case the poll you provided, as I note above, does not conform to to the overall trend 308 has outlined. Other research by Nanos also points to a more fluid and complex situation such as; a poll indicating both the Liberals and NDP are losing potential voters.

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    6. "a poll indicating both the Liberals and NDP are losing potential voters. "

      Maybe but as Eric's numbers prove not at near the rate the CPC is losing voters.

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    7. The real problem with nanos is what do the numbers and power indicators even mean?....how do they relate to voters intentions? Its quite different from asking someone who they would vote for straight up...how do their weight the 4 questions they ask?...and how accurate is the weighting?....none of that shows up in what Nanos puts out.

      About nanos showing fluid and complex electorate....that sounds like what Nik Nanos keeps talking about...for the past year...but his numbers change so slightly from poll to poll (party power) they run I really don't understand where they glean that information from

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    8. Agreed Carl. It's some interesting information on party brands for sure, but beyond that...?

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    9. Actually Peter the poll I refer to had the Liberal losing 15% and the NDP 11% of potential voters whereas the Tories were only down 2%. As Carl mentions it is difficult to discern what it all means since voter consideration of a political party is not the same as voting intention.

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