Thursday, January 23, 2014

First national poll of 2014 much like last polls of 2013

It was a long desert we walked through, with just one national federal poll released between Nov. 29 and Jan. 21, but yesterday Abacus Data broke the polling silence with a survey showing that not much has changed in the interim.

Just a friendly reminder that my eBook, "Tapping into the Pulse", a polling retrospective of 2013, can be pre-ordered here.

The last poll publicly released by Abacus Data was conducted on Oct. 18-22, but their report refers to the changes in support from their last survey conducted a little later in October. The voting intentions results of that poll were not released at the time, and instead just the numbers related to the then unfolding Duffy-Wright scandal were published. For that reason, I'll be comparing numbers to the Oct. 18-22 poll in this post.

Since that poll, the Liberals have picked up two points and continue to lead with 34%. The Conservatives dropped four points (outside the margin of error of probabilistic samples of comparable size - technically, as an online poll these margins don't apply) to 28%, while the New Democrats were up one point to 24%. The Greens were up two points to 7%, and the Bloc Québécois was unchanged at 5%.

One-in-four respondents were undecided, a drop of six points since the Duffy poll at the end of October. I mention this because it is interesting to see how voting intentions changed when looking at the entire sample: where did those undecideds go? The Liberals picked up three points among the entire sample, as did the NDP, while the Tories dropped two. What this means is that, while the Liberals and NDP only made small proportional gains among committed voters, they actually made larger gains among all voters.

The Abacus report (PDF) is full of these sorts of interesting details, as they include both the raw and weighted sample sizes and the full results for all demographic breakdowns among the entire sample as well as the sample of decided voters. It is the kind of standards of transparency every polling firm should be meeting, but very few do.

For the regional numbers, the only significant shift in support occurred in Ontario. There, the Conservatives fell eight points to 30%. The Liberals moved ahead and increased their support to 37%, while the NDP was virtually unchanged at 23%. No other movement would be considered significant, with the insignificant exception of a Green spike from 2% to 8% in the Prairies.

Large, but not necessarily significant, shifts in support also occurred in British Columbia and Alberta. In B.C., the Conservatives moved ahead with 36%, while the Liberals dropped to 26% and the NDP to 25%. In Alberta, the Conservatives fell to 51% and the NDP jumped to 16%, with the Liberals unchanged at 24%.

The Conservatives continued to lead in the Prairies with 37% to 29% for the Liberals, while the Liberals led in Quebec with 35% to 28% for the NDP. In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals had 53% and the NDP and Tories were tied at just 21% support.

But despite the six-point lead in national voting intentions, the Liberals would only win a plurality by four seats. This is due to the strong numbers the Conservatives put up in the West, where they win a disproportionately high number of seats. They also aren't weak enough in Ontario to give the Liberals a majority there, while in Quebec the NDP wins a lot of close races.

In total, the Liberals would likely win about 131 seats on the electoral map that will be in force in 2015, while the Conservatives would win 127 seats and the NDP would take 76. The Greens and Bloc would win two seats apiece.

Each caucus would emerge rather unbalanced. Just over half of Conservatives seats would come in the West, while only 10% would come from Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Almost 85% of Liberal seats would be won east of Manitoba, while three-quarters of NDP MPs would either be from Ontario or Quebec.

Not every poll that has shown these sort of national numbers have shown such strong regional divisions, so it is not a given that the Liberals would be unable to win a larger minority with these national support levels. But it does demonstrate how efficient and inefficient the Conservative and Liberal votes can respectively be. The Alberta and Prairie numbers are not unusual in this regard, but the ones in B.C. are somewhat different than what we saw at the end of 2013. If the Tories have moved ahead there by 10 points, that makes it very difficult for the Liberals to pull ahead in the seat count. We'll see what other surveys show in the coming weeks.

This sort of scenario doesn't give the Liberals an unworkable minority, however. If they were so inclined, the Liberals and NDP could combine for a majority government, at least in practice if not officially.

39 comments:

  1. I noticed Abacus has recruited Bruce Anderson as their new chairman, an impressive addition!

    Dom

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    1. And Nonos was out with a leadership poll yesterday and not much change either.

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  2. what seats did the bloc and the greens win

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    1. Greens win Elizabeth May's and Victoria. Bloc wins Richmond-Arthabaska and Bas-Richelieu.

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  3. do we expect Hyer to win re-election? that would be 3 seats

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  4. Jean Crowder M.P. (Nanaimo Cowichan) announces she will no re-offer in 2015 citing desire to spend more time with family.

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  5. The NDP and/or the liberals could do better in BC. There should be a nice threeway going on there

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    1. I think the NDP is at about their maximum, their appeal is limited for a whole host of reasons related to both party policy and personalities. They could win a few more seats but, it would be difficult for them to break 20 seats at the next election (especially because the re-distribution will likely cause them to lose Burnaby-Douglas and put other ridings in play).

      The Liberals have more room to grow partly because they are starting from a much smaller base of two seats. Their problem is that BCers perceive the Grits as the party of Central Canada who do not hold nor represent B.C.'s interests. The Vancouver business community is generally favourable to the Liberals but, outside Vancouver that type of endorsement only gets you so far.

      I do think people out here are willing to give Trudeau a chance and listen to what he says but, he needs to put some meat on the bones of policy for people to vote for him. Realistically though even with an expanded house they would do well to win 8 seats.

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    2. Bede, you to realize that as recently as 2006 the Liberals took 9 seats in BC, right?

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    3. Ryan,

      In spirit your statement is correct but, not in practice. In 2006 the Liberals only elected 8 M.P.s and 1 Tory!

      In any case that was the Grits' best showing in B.C. since, 1968 and in my mind a bit of a one-off.

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  6. So in the West the Liberals go from 4 seats to 18 seats.

    I find it hard to imagine the Liberals getting 14 new legitimate candidates to run in the West.

    Are there any faces to the new Liberal MPs? Are they running their campaigns?

    What would their policies be that would be palatable to a Western voter?

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    1. "I find it hard to imagine the Liberals getting 14 new legitimate candidates to run in the West. "

      Do you view any Liberals as legitimate though? Lol.

      Plenty of talent wanting to run for the Liberals in my neck of the woods. Rising tides lift all ships, and a lot of people want to be part of that rising tide. I don't expect candidate recruitment to be a problem.

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    2. BCVOR and Ryan

      I also view the number as on the high side but, since we are dealing with many new constituency boundaries I suppose it could be possible. Also as the by-election in Brandon-Souris demonstrated the Grits are having some success recruiting candidates with name recognition.

      The Greens' winning Victoria also strikes me as odd, not out of the realm of possibilities but, looking at the provincial numbers the NDP to Green swing is not large enough to make this seat turn over.

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    3. Well, this is assuming the polls hold up. If they do I think the numbers are more or less correct. There's 2-3 new seats in the City of Vancouver alone that will be likely pick-ups, and another 2-4 in the suburbs.

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    4. Keep in mind the byelection and provincial election results in Victoria btw Bede. Green organization is nill in most of the country, but in Greater Victoria they are a force.

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    5. 14 seats in the West was the 2003 result for the Liberals btw. Hardly unrealistic to look for that again with similar polling numbers and more seats up for grabs in the West.

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    6. Ryan,

      Vancouver only gets one new seat; Vancouver Granville. Having said that Granville, Kingsway and South are all potential Grit pick ups.

      There are certainly 2-4 potential seats in suburban Vancouver the Grits could win but, I think they need to be higher in the polls for these pick-ups to become a certainty.

      As for Victoria the by-election was really a one-off. The campaign focused anger around a sewage treatment plant and I don't think in 2015 that animosity will still be around.

      If one looks at the Victoria numbers a very large swing would need to go from the NDP to the Greens. The NDP won 50.7% of the vote in 2011 the Greens 11.6%. So the NDP would need to lose roughly 37% of its 2011 vote to the Greens for this to be a Green pick up. Not impossible of course but, I think difficult. If one looks at the Green party results provincially in the ridings that make up the federal district of Victoria the NDP holds large margins over the Greens in Victoria Swan Lake 54.5% (NDP) to 23.2% (Green) and Beacon Hill 48.9% (NDP) to 34% (Green). However, they did win in Oak Bay Gordon Head with a star candidate, 40.4% (Green) to 28.9% (NDP). While the Greens do well in Greater Victoria I don't think they have the critical mass needed to start electing M.P.s or M.L.A.s throughout the region at least not while the NDP holds 25% support.

      Could they do it? Yes they could especially if they found the right candidate and if Tories or Liberals switch to the Greens to keep the Dippers out (we saw this in Alberta in 2012 when Liberals and NDPers voted for the Tories to keep the Wildrose party from power).

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    7. 14 Liberals from the West in 2004 (Not 2003)

      10 were well known incumbents and cabinet ministers who were delivering the pork to the West.



      Raymond Simard
      Reg Alcock
      Anita Neville
      Ralph Goodale
      David Kilgour
      Anne McLellan
      Keith Martin
      Hedy Fry
      Stephen Owen
      David Anderson

      Even you as a Liberal supporter will have trouble imagining the Liberals assembling a western Dream team.

      Incumbents are hard to unseat. Ralph Goodale can still get elected in Regina even though he is completely on the wrong side of all the policies the people of Saskatchewan have adopted as their own. He has an unshakable reputation of delivering the pork when he had a chance.

      That was only 14 MPs.... These polls are calling for 18... an additional 14.

      Do you think that Trudeau will be able to get people like David Emerson (ex-CEOs) to run?

      Seriously... without partisanship... look at the qualifications of the rookie Cons elected in 2011.

      Alexander, Adler, Leitch, Adams, Rempel are the quality of candidates who should get elected whether they ran as Cons or Liberal.






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    8. BCVOR,

      The projection does call for 4 additional Liberal seats but, keep in mind B.C. alone is gaining 6 seats in 2015, Alberta gains an additional 6. On top of that The Tories are down 10 points in Alberta and BC from their 2011 result and down roughly 20 points in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. whereas, the Liberals (if polls are to be believed) roughly double their 2011 vote in the West.

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    9. BCVOR,

      I think you're kind of missing the point that 2011 taught us in the form of the "Orange Wave" - you don't necessarily need big names, you just need the proper organizational structures in place and the momentum at your back.

      The West could very well see a small mini-wave in favour of the Liberals, if the polls are to be believed - you don't need big names to take advantage of that.

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    10. Well the NDP in Quebec didn't even have an organsational structure-they had momentum and le bon Jack.

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    11. @Kyle H.

      There are 2 points I would like make about the Orange Wave and the power of incumbency.

      1) It has never happened before and likely will never happen again. The polls have shown that Wildrose in Alberta and the NDP in BC were supposed to sweep into power like the Orange wave...... but after serious consideration and looking at the consequences the voters of BC and Alberta voted for the status quo and the incumbent candidates.


      2) The Orange wave was totally an election campaign phenomenon. The NDP were the 4th party in Quebec federal polling less than a year from the election. They were polling at 9% and the Green at 7-8%. If they could have changed leaders (traded May for Layton) the Green could have easily been the dominate federal party in Quebec.

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    12. There is certainly something to be said for the power of incumbency and local organization. I was in Alberta during the 2012 campaign and a friend of mine said that Wildrose just didn't have the ground game in rural areas to pull it off (He was a Wildrose supporter for what it's worth).
      Unknown parties or candidates have swept into office before without much organization: The Progressives at the 1921 election, Diefenbaker in Quebec in 1958, Mulroney in Quebec in 1984. In 1952 in BC Social Credit emerged from obscurity to win a plurality of seats although their success was at least partially the result of a preferential system of voting. Although these swings do not happen very often they do happen and if history is to be a guide at the next election the beneficiary of the swing usually loses a good portion of their previous gains, including to new upstart parties such as Social Credit in Quebec in 1963.
      In some ways these large changeover of seats are transitory and usually the big wins are chronologically and geographically specific. Thus, the Socreds would not have won if not for preferential voting in 1952 and W.A.C. Bennett’s pre-emptive meeting with the Lieutenant Governor. The Progressives had a population recovering from war and adapting to industrialisation. Diefenbaker had a recession and a tired Liberal party. Mulroney had a disliked constitutional settlement and a tired and divided Liberal party.
      I agree that without Layton and the context of an election campaign the NDP would not have done nearly so well in Quebec or the rest of Canada. Layton's; "most people don't get a promotion if they don't show up for work" jab towards Ignatieff during the debate probably gained the NDP a dozen seats in English Canada alone.

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  7. Forum also reported today. Interesting leadership numbers from both. Mulcair leads for best PM and has 44% approval for his overall performance. As the election approaches this leading indicator may very well eat into the soft left lib vote as Butts leads Trudeau farther to the right.

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    1. That's odd, it doesn't match what Nanos or other pollsters has been registering. And it still shows a 37-25 margin between the LPC and NDP on vote intention...

      We'll have to keep an eye on this.

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    2. Where are you folks seeing this Forum poll?

      Dom

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    3. Ok, found it @ Hill Times. They *must* have mistakenly mixed up Trudeau and Mulcair's numbers for best PM. Guess we'll have to wait for Forum to post their full report (if they ever do!).

      Dom

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    4. Eric, I think you need to look at the actual question being asked in the polls. I suspect they're different. The forum poll asks Mulclair if they approve of his job as Opposition Leader... not whether he would make the best prime minister or some generic question like "do you approve of X"?

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    5. Kurb, see here:

      http://www.hilltimes.com/news/politics/2014/01/23/libs-gain-at-expense-of-conservatives-but-mulcair-favoured-as-leader-who-would/37178

      They asked both an approval/disapproval question and a best PM question. According to the article, Mulcair got 44%/28%, Trudeau 45%/36% and Harper 30%/62% on the first question; but then it claims the best PM results were Mulcair 29%, Harper 25% and Trudeau 19%.

      In contrast, Nanos' latest weekly best PM numbers are Harper 28%, Trudeau 27% and Mulcair 21%:

      http://www.nanosresearch.com/library/polls/Nanos%20Political%20Index%202014-01-17E.pdf

      Dom

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  8. eric can you just do a "shorty" giving Nanos and Forum please ?

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  9. The numbers really are a shifting !!

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/more-see-trudeau-as-excellent-prime-minister-than-harper-poll-1.2510713

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    1. And a header on that piece says:

      "Poll suggests 68% of Canadians believe Harper is not honest, accountable:

      !!!

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    2. I'd be curious as to what people thought the honesty of any generic politician is.....but yes 68% does not look good at first glance.

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  10. Nanos

    VOTE CONSIDER

    Canada Trendline [PDF]
    Liberal 49.5% -1.1

    NDP 40.9% +0.2

    Conservative 38.7% -0.8

    BQ 35.6% +0.3

    Green 26.0% -0.1

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  11. Nanos


    BEST PM

    Canada Trendline [PDF]
    Trudeau 27.3% -1.3
    Harper 27.7% +0.6
    Mulcair 20.5% +0.6
    May 4.3% +0.1
    Bellevance 1.7% +0.3
    (Change b/w Jan 10 - 17/14)

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    1. You do realize those are bad numbers for us Liberals, right?

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    2. And NO prize for the Tories either Ryan !!

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  12. Best PM

    Trudeau 27.3% -1.3
    Harper 27.7% +0.6

    After months of negative media coverage Harper still tops Canadians' preference for best PM and gains +.6% whereas Trudeau loses -1.3%.

    Maybe not a prize for the Tories but, considering everything good numbers. For the Liberals this should raise concern as it definitely appears Justin's honeymoon is over.

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