Friday, December 6, 2013

PLQ should win by-elections, as Montreal vote holds steady

Voters in the Quebec provincial ridings of Viau and Outremont will be heading to the polls on Monday to fill the seats vacated by Emmanuel Dubourg (recently elected federal Liberal MP for Bourassa) and Raymond Bachand (who placed third and last in the PLQ leadership race). Both ridings should stay within the provincial Liberal fold, but it does give us an opportunity to look at voting intentions on the island of Montreal.

Kickstarter update: We keep plugging along, and are now at 41% of our funding goal. We've also reached 100 backers! Thanks to everyone who has pledged so far. For the rest of you, if you are interested in seeing this eBook on political polling published, or if you'd like to contribute to the operating of this site, please consider chipping in

The by-election in Viau looks unlikely to have any surprises. David Heurtel of the Liberals should easily take a riding won by Dubourg with 47.3% of the vote in a very bad election year for the party in 2012. In fact, 2012 was the only time that the Liberals did not capture a majority of the vote in Viau. Tania Longpré of the Parti Québécois, Jamilla Leboeuf of the Coalition Avenir Québec, and Geneviève Fortier-Moreau of Québec Solidaire will fight it out for second place.

The PQ has the inside track on that title, as the party took 23.7% of the vote here in 2012, compared to 12.4% for the CAQ and 11.5% for QS. In addition, as we will see below, the PQ's vote on the island of Montreal has been holding steady - if not increasing. Fortier-Moreau, however, is the only return candidate from that election year on a long ballot (nine candidates are running, the others being from Option Nationale, the Greens, the Conservatives, the UCQ and the Équipe Autonomiste).

But Outremont might be of more interest. Philippe Couillard is the Liberal candidate, as he tries to get into the National Assembly to lead his party. With an election expected in the early spring, Couillard might best be able to count in weeks the time he will be Outremont's representative.

On paper, there is the potential for a Couillard defeat. Why? Both the PQ and the CAQ have opted not to put up candidates of their own, in order to facilitate Couillard's entry into the National Assembly. Québec Solidaire is awarding the Liberals no such courtesy, and have the best shot of pulling off an upset if they can gather almost every vote that is against the Liberals.

In 2012, Bachand took 41.5% of the vote in Outremont, followed by the PQ's Roxanne Gendron at 23.2% and Québec Solidaire's Édith Laperle at 18%. Laperle is running again, and if she can capture the PQ's share of the vote she could take as much as 41.2%. Throw in a few CAQ voters not willing to back Couillard and supporters of ON who might be tempted to back the best horse, and you have the ingredients for a QS upset.
But the ingredients are very thin, and not just because Laperle needs every PQ vote as well as a few more votes in order to topple Couillard.

The chart above shows support on the island of Montreal as recorded by CROP since the last election. In that election, the Liberals won the island with 44.9% of the vote, compared to 23.8% for the Parti Québécois, 15.4% for the CAQ, and 12% for Québec Solidaire.

There have been wobbles back and forth since then, but the latest polls suggests that the PQ and the PLQ have both picked up a little support on the island of Montreal, coming from both the CAQ and QS. The most recent poll gave the Liberals 49% support on the island, followed by the PQ at 30%, the CAQ at 12%, and QS at 9%.

If we stretch that back to August, in order to get a stronger sample of around 900 decided voters, we get a clearer picture of support on the island (numbers for all parties have been relatively stable since then, so averaging out these four polls is not unreasonable). In that larger sample, we get the Liberals at 48.5%, the PQ at 29.8%, the CAQ at 9.8%, and QS at 9%.

This means that since the last election, the Liberals have gained roughly four points and the PQ six, with QS down three points and the CAQ down more than five.

If we apply this swing to Outremont, we see that fewer votes are available to Laperle. The proportional swing model would now give the Liberals 45% in Outremont, against 29% for the PQ, 14% for QS, and 9% for the CAQ. Whereas before the combined vote of the PQ and QS was almost equal to that of the Liberals, the two parties now fall two points short of Couillard. And that is without taking into account the boost Couillard is undoubtedly going to get as party leader. Laperle would now need more than a third of the CAQ's vote, an ideological leap that may be too wide to reasonably expect.

In Viau, applying the swing would give Heurtel 51% to 30% for the PQ and 9% for Québec Solidaire.

That Québec Solidaire has apparently dropped in support on the island of Montreal is something to consider when looking at their province-wide support. They have bettered the 6% they took in 2012 in the last seven polls, and the current aggregation has them at 9%. But all of those gains have apparently come off of the island of Montreal, where Québec Solidaire has no concentration of support and little prospect of winning new seats. It is hard to see how QS could win a third or fourth seat on the island of Montreal if their support actually drops - especially considering that we can probably expect Françoise David's share to increase in her riding next time (note that almost 1 in 3 ballots cast for QS on the island in 2012 was either for her or Amir Khadir).

It is also worth noting that the fact the PQ has gained support on the island of Montreal goes against the conventional wisdom that the debate over the secular charter is between urbane Montrealers and bumpkins in the rest of the province. Instead, and polling data has explicitly backed this up, it appears that Montreal francophones are no less likely to support the charter than their counterparts in the rest of the province (some polls suggest they are even more likely to support it). The divide is most certainly regional because of the multicultural population of Montreal vs. the rest of the province, but that is primarily due to the linguistic differences between the regions. This makes the charter good politics for the PQ, because it would appear that they are unlikely to lose the few seats they have in Montreal, while gaining new ones elsewhere.

But for now, the Liberals are the ones who will be gaining seats: Viau and Outremont on Monday.

36 comments:

  1. I suspect the support of francophone Montrealers for the Charter comes from a genuine commtiment to secularism and a (misguided) view that the Charter would safeguard and encroachment on civil society of the Catholic church, in other words, that the Charter represents the most recent element oftheQuiet Revolution. On the other hand, support in rural Quebec for the Charter mostly has to do with xenophobia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that puts us back to the urbane Montrealers vs. the bumpkins in the rest of the province. I find these judgments uncomfortable.

      Delete
    2. Éric,

      I think history clearly shows us that xenophobia and isolationism know no political or geographic boundaries. It holds sway across a wide swatch of territory and that has little to do with urban vs. rural. More to do with closed and entrenched minds than with anything else. As Barbara Frum might have asked: Are you bitter? Frankly speaking, yes they are.

      Delete
    3. I'm relying on comments I've actually read or heard in justification for support for the Charter. Self-styled progressive support for the Charter that I've been exposed to here in Montreal has been predicated on a fear that religion - particularly the Catholic Church - still has too much hold on society or may return to the dominance it once held in QC, and that the way to combat that is to create laws to secularise. What I've read in defence of the Charter from rural communities has been along the lines of the xenophobic arguments around reasonable accommodation, etc. I don't expect that to be the whole picture, obviously, but that is how the discussion appears as I've seen it.

      Note on xenophobia. There have been studies on the matter, and they do tend to find that people with less exposure to people of different backgrounds are more likely to be xenophobic. So, there is a statistical divide between relatively homogeneous rural communities and relatively heterogeneous urban communities. There are obvious exceptions in both cases - it's not a rule, it's a tendency, and it's borne out to some degree by experience. One can't take these things too far, of course, but there's enough reality to it to explain at least part of this phenomenon.

      Delete
    4. Secular tyranny is as morally reprehensible as religious tyranny or political tyranny.

      I find the argument that secularism is necessary to prevent the Catholic Church once again dominating Quebec society highly laughable. While most Quebeckers still consider themselves Catholics they have long abandoned Church doctrine. Hence, Quebec holds the highest support for birth control amongst all provinces. A position that is in opposition to Catholic teaching.

      Secondly, the Constitution, Canada Health Act and other legislation restrict religious provision of social services and limits religion's position in society. Such regulation did not exist pre-Quiet Revolution.

      Delete
    5. I'm sure you understand that the Church can be influential in a manner that can't be regulated by laws, etc. I think it's entirely understandable that people in QC would be nervous about the prospect of a resurgent Catholic Church, in terms that would limit their hard-won freedoms. You may find official secularism as a method to combat the influence of the Catholic Church laughable, but I can tell you, it's no laughing matter here. I literally live next door to Opus Dei, the fundamentalist wing of Catholicism, and I remember well the attempt by Human Life International in the 1990s to turn back abortion and birth control rights... people here were not amused. At the same time, I think the Charter is an abomination... religiosity has withered away for the past forty years without legislation, and the moment laws are proposed to secularise, people quite understandably get their backs up and dig in, suddenly breaking out those kippas, hijabs and crucifixes they hadn't worn for ages...

      Delete
    6. Chirumenga,

      I would like to state first off that I am not criticising you or your writings only the ideas of the PQ and SNP. I recognise these positions are not your own and that you may disagree with them. I appreciate the civil manner that you have debated thus far.

      I do recognise that religion may hold influence outside the realm the law or constitutionalism, however, the PQ Charter, limits clothing not ideas. If religion is so dangerous as to be able to rescind freedoms or rights surely the doctrine(s) of that particular religion should be regulated (as indeed it is to a degree under human rights law; a religion professing ethnic hatred for example would be illegal in this country). This is why the PQ Charter is so risible: limiting clothing does nothing to limit the influence of these religions-it limits only their visibility!

      If Quebeckers are concerned of a resurgence of Catholicism or believe that other religions need to be curtailed in some way they infer that Quebecois culture is not strong enough to survive in a modern Quebec. That "Quebecoisness" must be protected and subsidised, This is a slippery slope for the subsidy itself devalues the culture or language and further weakens its value. Who wants to be part of a community that is unable to be self-sufficient or sustainable? Why bother to learn French if clearly its value is on the decline? The Charter and Bill 101 for that matter further weaken Quebecois culture by reinforcing the perception that French and Quebecois culture can not compete in the modern world much less modern Quebec. When one has a defeatest attitude it is only a matter of time until the people or culture lose the war; in fact they have already lost because they are not willing to let their culture compete on the basis of its own strengths and merit- They have lost faith in themselves.

      Delete
  2. The Charter is only good politics for the PQ until another (larger) generation of allophones grows up viewing the PQ as a party of racist white people. It's very short sighted, and will give them a long term demographic disadvantage against the PLQ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they've been losing that battle for a few decades now already.

      Delete
    2. True. This will only make it worse though. I saw a documentary on CBC a while back about the rise of the Scottish National Party. As they grew their party they paid very close attention to the PQ, and took great pains to avoid the PQ's mistakes in alienating non-white voters. The SNP is strongly in favour of immigration as a way to support economic growth, and they are the only party with visible minority members in the Scottish Parliament.

      Perhaps the PQ should pay attention to the SNP.

      Delete
    3. The SNP doesn't have to struggle with linguistic differences, though. It would be interesting to see data on support among minorities by language, as I imagine the PQ does better among francophone immigrants than they do among anglophone immigrants.

      Delete
    4. If the PQ was half-way competent they would be using those linguistic differences to their advantage, convincing allophones to adopt French rather than English by fighting to make francophone society more welcoming than anglophone society.

      The SNP may not have the linguistic differences to worry about, but they certainly have the same issues to deal with with regards to racism, religious differences, and their interaction with nationalism. The Charter doesn't even touch on linguistic issues, but it's a very effective tool at alienating huge sections of Quebecois society.

      Delete
    5. The SNP is also more committed to progressive social democratic policies than the PQ, and that includes a more internationalist outlook.

      Delete
    6. The SNP's "internationalist" outlook is really nothing more than sovereignty association-"independence is safe because we'll be part of Europe". They fail to mention that by EU rules Scotland would need to apply for membership and other members would hold a veto on whether Scotland was allowed to join. Yes the SNP is committed to Europe but, is unwilling to fund an army or navy that would be have presence on the international scene. They do not want to join NATO or cooperate with the UK to maintain a joint nuclear deterrent. They are also unwilling to negotiate with the UK on use of the pound, but, assure Scots they would be able to continue to use Sterling. A country that unilaterally uses another's currency without permission or negotiation is not acting with an internationalist outlook, they act as a freeloader. As with the PQ the SNP will say anything to get elected or pass their referendum.

      Delete
    7. I was referring to the SNP's socialist internationalism, i.e. their solidarity-oriented internationalist outlook, not to the more limited in scope relations with the EU, etc.

      Delete
    8. I am not quite sure I follow you although I admit I am not an expert on the SNP. The SNP is affiliated with the European Free Alliance which is a nationalist grouping of political parties. To the best of my knowledge it is not associated with the Socialist International or the Fourth but, does have links with the Green party and trade unionism. The PQ also has links to unions. In general I think you are correct that the SNP is further left than the PQ. I really can find no evidence that suggests it has a more internationalist outlook than the PQ except regarding the EU, however, there may be interactions at the membership level of which I am not aware.

      Delete
    9. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss language from the Scottish Independence question: http://linguafrankly.blogspot.ca/2013/06/language-independence-referendum-and.html
      If you read the post, you can see that the position of Scottish Gaelic in Scotland is deeply divisive, though in a different way than Quebec. The minority status of the Gaels might more closely resembles the position Quebec's Native Americans played in the 1998 Quebec Referendum.

      Delete
    10. Another angry Gael, this time speaking in admiration of Quebec's language nationalism:
      http://tocasaid.blogspot.fr/2013/06/yes-scotland-no-gaelic-feart-horses.html

      Delete
    11. My family is from the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Gaelic is still spoken there but, it is about the last region of Scotland that has a significant portion of Gaelic speakers. Only about 1% of Scots speak Gaelic.

      The Gaels are a historic population from Ireland. I think it is incorrect to use "Gael" to describe a modern population. The Gaels (historic) inter-married with the Picts and Scots to form the modern Scottish population from the 9th century onwards. Originally, the Gaels were from Ireland and first established a kingdom in the West of Scotland.

      Interestingly, Gaelic was never the dominant language of Scotland. Scots (derived from Anglo-Saxon or Old English) was always the dominant language in the Lowlands.

      In the first link above the author of "Lingua Frankly" has made some rather glaring historical errors-most obtrusively he mistakenly identifies Gaels (historic) with Scots or Scottish post Kenneth MacAlpin. Then goes on to say that Scots (the language) was called Gaelic by the Scots themselves is simply preposterous. One has Germanic roots the other Irish. He then goes on to say that "Scots" was a Roman term for an Irishman-even though Hibernia was the Latin name for Ireland and Caledonia the Latin name for Scotland!

      The author is a perfect example of a SNP supporter who will write anything to have the referendum passed. In the case of "Lingua Frankly" he/ she is attempting to re-write history itself to support his political ends. The Lingua Frankly blog has no references or citations to back his historical claims- it is best treated as fiction not fact or history. The author may be well intentioned but, at best is a sloppy historian or researcher.

      Delete
  3. Not to mention that in playing these games they're endangering the future survival of francophone culture in Quebec. Like everywhere else in Canada (and most of the Western world), Quebeckers aren't having enough children to sustain their population or economy. The only solution is to bring in immigrants from other countries and culture to supplement the population and workforce. Quebec's future rests on its ability to make immigrants feel welcome, at home and a part of Quebecois society. The PQ seems determined to do everything in its power to undermine that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One irony is that francophone Quebec culture historically has been far more interconnected with First Nations culture...

      Delete
    2. Sure, in the 1700's. that was true.

      Delete
  4. All,

    My perception is that even with 50% + 1, which I support, Alex Salmond is going to get his head handed to him in the referendum. It won't even be close.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Couillard should stay in Outremont and forget about Roberval in 2014. There is not chance he can win in Roberval

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't go that far, but I'd definitely say there is a very good chance he would lose in Roberval.

      Delete
  6. A recent poll by CTV finds that 33% would vote yes to sovereignity and 51% would vote no, with the rest undecided or refuse to answer:
    http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/liberals-lead-in-new-poll-support-for-sovereignty-waning-1.1579479
    CTV declares that this is evidence of support for sovereignty is in decline. But I can't find any real evidence of this, since I don't know what the baseline support is. I recall that support for sovereignty has been hovering at just below 40% for some time. I'd really be intrigued to know if the Charter is really driving people away from sovereignty. Could you possible construct a graph showing historical levels of support for sovereignty?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The headline is very misleading. The 33% is low - when you don't take out the undecideds. When you do take out the undecideds, it increases to 39% which is normally how these polls are reported and is well within the norm for support.

      In fact, sovereignty is 'waning' so much that it increased from 36% to 39% in Léger's polling when the undecideds are removed.

      Really slopping reporting by CTV.

      Delete
    2. Ack, now I'm being sloppy. That should have read 38% to 39%.

      Delete
    3. When was the last Ledger poll, the one reporting 38%?

      Delete
  7. On the other hand, an August CROP poll cited in the Globe and Mail said that even before Pauline Marois election, sovereignty was at 28%.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/elections/do-we-care-if-another-tussle-for-quebec-sovereignty-happens-now/article4513853/

    ReplyDelete
  8. And yet a February 2013 poll showed independence support at 37%.
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/11/we-are-on-the-offensive-pauline-marois-claims-quebec-sovereignty-is-an-emergency/
    Whats the real story here?

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Leger poll also said that Tom Mulcair is by far the most popular politician in Quebec with a jaw-dropping 60% having a positive view of him compared to just 10% having a negative view. In contrast Justin Trudeau has a more anemic 44% positive/32% negative rating...and Daniel Paille has a subterranean 15% positive/17% negative rating...These kinds of numbers could be a leading indicator for what happens to federal party support once Quebecers re-focus on federal politics

    ReplyDelete
  10. looks like it's a done deal according to Radio-Canada at 8:50pm. Couillaird nabs over 58% in Outremont and Heurtel over 64% in Viau. The Interneters who want to rally behind Quebec Solidaire's candidate in Outremont did not catch enough wind.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Could someone explain to me why CROP and LEGER have come out with such different results in the last 5 days asking the same questions for party support and sovereignty in Québec. CROP has support for sovereignty pegged at 44%, LEGER at 33%. This makes pollsters look highly unreliable as a source of voting intention. Je ne comprends plus rien!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CROP had sovereignty at 44% after excluding undecideds, which is usually how those numbers are reported. Léger did not exclude undecideds in their report, and that was how the numbers were reported everywhere, without taking into consideration the fact that undecideds were not excluded.

      When they are excluded, Léger had support for sovereignty at 39%, not significantly different from CROP.

      Delete

COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. PLEASE KEEP DISCUSSION ON TOPIC.