Wednesday, January 8, 2014

December 2013 federal polling "averages"

The quotation marks in the title of this post is no accident. There was only one publicly released national poll during the month of December, making it impossible to call the month's calculations an average. For that reason, I am not going to bother with a post detailing the month in polling, since I can instead just point you to the poll report from EKOS Research.

There was a federal Quebec poll conducted in December by CROP as well, which does make that province's estimation an average (33% LPC, 27% NDP, 22% BQ, 12% CPC). But it is still too little to spend any time on. So this post and the graph below has been uploaded to the site merely in order for future generations to know what happened in December 2013.
The EKOS poll does make the month look rather anomalous in some parts of the country. For example, it sinks the Conservatives to just 26% nationwide, their lowest on record, and shows big upticks in Green Party support in most regions. But apart from those exceptions, EKOS's numbers were not too unusual and do not make the line graph appear extraordinarily unwieldy. Hopefully things will fall in line in January.

Why the dearth of polls in December? You might suspect the holidays to be the culprit, and it is true that polling firms usually step out of the field in the last weeks of December. But there had been four national polls in December 2012, five in December 2011, seven in December 2010 (albeit in the context of a minority government), and four in December 2009. So, December 2013 was unusual.

There might be an element of poll fatigue at play, especially now that we are at the mid-point of the Conservative mandate and 2013 was a rough year for polls. Accordingly, I also suspect that the polling miss in Brandon-Souris, and the very negative press that resulted, may have encouraged a few pollsters to step outside for awhile. We saw a little bit of the same thing happen shortly after the election in British Columbia. That experience was so traumatic that it also apparently prompted one firm, Angus-Reid, to drop out of the political game entirely. We haven't heard from them with a poll on voting intentions anywhere since the B.C. election.

Over the last few years, January has been about as quiet as December so we could expect more silence. But because of the lack of polls released last month, I imagine that more than a few pollsters will come out with some new numbers soon. We haven't heard from some of the regulars since October. There are more than a few questions I'd like answered. Any consequences from the resignation of Daniel Paillé? Have any of the year-end interviews had an appreciable effect? Hopefully, we'll have some answers soon.

19 comments:

  1. Eric is it possible we could be seeing a bit of "poll fatigue" ??

    After all with the turmoil of the past year and in particular the Senate thing the pollsters have been almost overactive given we're only halfway through a four year term.

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    1. Penultimate paragraph : "There might be an element of poll fatigue at play..."

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  2. There's evidence in the cross tabs of a couple of reports labelled "Fed" on Forum's website that they conducted a ballot question poll in mid-December, but they're yet to release the results. I note that Forum has released at least one federal poll every month since December 2011, so skipping a month would be unusual by their standards.

    Dom

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  3. Also, a comment about the EKOS poll. It seems a bit strange to me that they keep switching back and forth between IVR and telephone/online methodologies. Now that they've released a few of each, they appear to suggest a tendency for IVR to find lower Liberal and NDP support and higher Green support compared to telephone/online.

    Dom

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  4. Graphs look like a distinct Liberal climb blended with a distinct Tory collapse.

    'bout time !

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    1. The graph indicates a Liberal increase along with a Tory and NDP decline in popular support at least since, May 2011. Since, Trudeau became leader we see the Liberal increase abating and support for the Grits falling from the high to the low-30's. It appears NDP support has stabalised in the low 20's. It also appears Tory support may be stabalising at a low ebb in the mid-20's but, I'll wait until we see some 2014 polls before making a firm opinion.

      Importantly both the Tory and NDP graphs are negative since Mulcair became leader whereas, the Liberal graph is negative since Trudeau took over the reins albeit after a meteoric rise.

      With all parties within 9% of one another and the election two years away anyone could win the next election. We will need at least a few more polls to determine whether the Liberals' new found support has solidified and whether the NDP and Tory support is stable.

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    2. I'd argue that the graph just shows random noise in the Liberal numbers since spring 2013. Just seems to be going up and down and up and down.

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    3. Ryan,

      I don't think it random noise, the variations are outside the MoE and to my mind indicates a halt in the Grits upward trajectory.

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    4. I partly agree with both of you.

      I think Bede's correct that we've likely seen Liberal support plateau; unless Trudeau somehow manages to perform extraordinarily between now and 2015, although I think he'll more likely be simply fighting to hold his ground. The Libs have a shot at winning the next election, but I think a majority is unlikely.

      As for the conspicuous ups and downs over the past several months, I think Ryan's correct that it's at least partly noise, mostly caused by pollster effects.

      Forum tends to drag LPC support up, and they usually poll every month. They've consistently had the highest LPC numbers among all pollsters since Feb 2013, occasionally by quite a lot. Since Trudeau became leader, Forum's range has been 35–44%. EKOS also tends to drag LPC support up when they use their telephone/online method (36–39% since Trudeau), as I commented above. Nanos used to get some of the highest LPC numbers, but lately they've been overtaken by Forum.

      On the other hand, Ipsos (31–36%), Abacus (29–32%) and EKOS IVR (30–35%) tend to drag LPC support down.

      So the averages seem to be at least partly influenced by which combination of pollsters happened to be in the field each month. The two months since Trudeau with the highest pollster "diversity"—June and October—had LPC averages of 34 and 35%, respectively.

      Dom

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    5. It is hard to see the Liberals winning a majority. The Tory dominance in the West limits their potential. even in a bad year the Tories will still win 60 seats out West and probably another 25 in Ontario. The Liberals could win 165 seats in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes but, I am less certain they are able to win 14 in the West and territories. In B.C. whatever the polls indicate unless a very large swing occurs the Liberals just do not have the on the ground game needed to win a dozen or more seats.

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    6. Yah, pollster effects are what I attribute the excessive noise to. There probably is some underlying trend but it's pretty hard to tease out of that.

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    7. And Bede - just so I'm clear - I think you and I are both arguing for more or less the same underlying trend, with Liberal support more or less holding steady since spring/summer 2013.

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    8. Yes Ryan I think that is the trend.

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  5. For once the polls are 100% in agreement at least.

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  6. I'd be very interested in seeing the impact of Palle's resignation. The fact that they've recently decided to continue without a leader for next year is extraordinary.

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    1. I don't think they've actually made that decision yet, just that they are considering it.

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    2. and if they keep considering it for a long enough time... heh heh

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    3. The Bloc has come to realise that having a leader inside the House of Commons is imperative. If I were a betting man I would place my money on Bellavance keeping the job on a permanent basis. Although I suppose Fortin is may take a run at it.

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  7. I come from the future and the Liberals do indeed win the June 2015 election albeit very narrowly.

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