Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ipsos Reid gives Liberals advantage in new poll

A new poll by Ipsos Reid for CTV News emerged yesterday evening, painting a very different picture of the race in Quebec. The survey gave the Liberals 37% support against just 32% for the Parti Québécois. The message appears to be clear: the PQ's campaign is falling apart as the Liberals surge ahead. But can we really say that based on the information in this poll?

As this poll gives the Liberals a wider lead over the PQ than any survey has shown since December 2013 and includes a Liberal lead in the regions outside the two main cities, the projection has shifted quite dramatically. The Liberals are now projected to win 62 seats, or between 52 and 71 seats, while the PQ has dropped to 57 seats, or between 49 and 67 seats. This means that, if an election were held today, the Liberals would have a better chance of prevailing than the PQ, and also have a higher chance of a majority victory than the PQ. But, the race remains close enough that both parties could manage either a minority or majority victory.

A brief methodological note: this Ipsos Reid poll included numbers for committed voters, or those most likely to vote on election day. The projection has focused on those numbers rather than on the voting intentions of all decided eligible voters. For the regional results of the poll, a uniform swing based on the difference between the province wide support of decided and likely voters has been applied. Why have I focused on the likely voters? Because the purpose of the projection is to make a best estimate of likely outcomes. The outcome of the election will be decided by people who actually vote.

Ipsos Reid has not reported on provincial voting intentions in Quebec for several years. This is their first foray into the field, which makes it impossible to discern any trends. Discussion that the Ipsos Reid poll confirms the gains the Liberals have made is off the mark. We don't know what Ipsos Reid would have recorded earlier, so it is impossible to say whether the Liberals have made any gains or not. The poll does add to the evidence, however, that the Liberals are now ahead in voting intentions.

Well, sort of. This poll is the smallest one so far published in the campaign, with a sample of 810 Quebecers and 665 decided voters (the number of committed voters is even smaller, at 475). Technically, this means that the five-point lead recorded here for the Liberals is actually within the margin of error of a probabilistic sample of this size. That means that, while it is more likely that the Liberals are ahead, we cannot definitively say that they are. But when put in the context of the recent CROP poll, we are safe to say that the poll goes some way towards confirming the Liberal advantage.

The poll gave the Liberals 37% support against 32% for the PQ, their lowest result in any poll in four months (though, again, considering the sample size that puts it within range of the CROP poll that had the PQ at 36%). The CAQ followed in third with 16%, while Québec Solidaire was at 10%, Option Nationale was at 2%, and support for other parties was 3%.

Among those who said that nothing short of an emergency would prevent them from voting, the Liberals led with 40% to 33% for the PQ, 14% for the CAQ, and 9% for QS. I think this is a good attempt to measure the likelihood of voting, and the results are intuitive. For example, the likelihood of a respondent saying they'd vote increased as they got older and other polls have recorded that supporters of the CAQ and QS are less committed. These numbers would also seem to support the oft-repeated claim that the Liberals have a ballot box bonus (and they do, except when they don't, which is how most of these turnout models end up working).

The PQ led among francophones with 38%, followed by the Liberals at 29%, the CAQ at 18%, and QS at 12%. Compared to other polls, this is rather low for the PQ and high for both the CAQ and QS. Among non-francophones (or, as defined by Ipsos Reid, those who completed the survey in English), the Liberals had 80% against 6% apiece for the PQ and the CAQ and 2% for QS.

The Liberals led on the island of Montreal with 48%, compared to 25% for the PQ, 10% for QS, and 9% for the CAQ. Those numbers look very similar to those recorded by CROP. In the suburbs around Montreal, the PQ was ahead with 39% to 33% for the Liberals, 17% for the CAQ, and 9% for QS.

The numbers in the rest of the province are a little more unusual. In Quebec City, the PQ was narrowly ahead with 30% to 28% for the CAQ, 27% for the Liberals, and 8% for QS. Compared to other polls that have shown the Liberals well ahead and the CAQ collapsing, these numbers are certainly out of the ordinary. But the sample here is small: only 78 respondents, which in a probabilistic sample carries a margin of error of +/- 11%.

In the rest of the province, the Liberals were ahead with 37% to 32% for the PQ, 15% for the CAQ, and 11% for QS. The Liberals have not led in any poll in the regions since September 2013, but the last CROP poll did show the gap narrowing to just two points.

The Ipsos poll included the second choice question, finding similar results to Léger's estimations. A majority (58%) of Liberals chose the CAQ as their second choice, while PQ supporters were most likely (38%) to choose QS, and vice-versa (35%). Supporters of the CAQ still lean Liberal (46%), with just 21% choosing the PQ as their second choice.

On a series of leadership questions the responses aligned closely with voting intentions, with roughly 75% to 85% of supporters of each party choosing the leader of that party on questions relating to trust, the economy, values, etc. The one question where things did not match up so well with the province wide vote, however, was on who Quebecers would most like to have a beer with. On that score, François Legault came out ahead with 26% to 22% for Philippe Couillard, 19% for Françoise David, and 18% for Pauline Marois. If that is a proxy for likability, Legault might have the most to gain from tonight's debate.

(As an aside, I wonder if this question is gender biased, since 'having a beer' has more masculine connotations. Legault and Couillard together took 51% on this question among men, compared to 33% for Marois and David. Among women, Legault and Couillard took 45%, against 40% for Marois and David. By comparison, support for the PLQ and CAQ among men totaled 51% compared to 43% for the PQ and QS. Among women, the total support for the PLQ and CAQ was 54%, against 43% for the PQ and QS. In other words, women were less likely to want to have a beer with male leaders while men were less likely to want to have a beer with female leaders than their political support would have suggested.)

Ipsos polled on the question of sovereignty, finding that 37% (after distribution of undecideds) supported sovereignty-association (CAQ voters split 22/61 on this question). On outright independence, support dropped to 32% (PQ supporters split 67-13, QS 41-33, and CAQ 11-77 on this question). That is a little low, considering that both CROP and Léger no longer ask about sovereignty-association and have found support to be closer to 40%.

Finally, Ipsos also asked about the elephant in the campaign, Pierre Karl Péladeau. His entry apparently did very little to encourage people to vote for the PQ. Just 10% of CAQ and QS supporters said it made them more likely to vote PQ (much less than the 27% and 36%, respectively, who said it made them less likely). It did nothing to bring Liberal voters to the PQ.

But Quebecers do not necessarily dislike his entry into politics, as 46% said it was a good thing for Quebec, including 47% of CAQ supporters and even 36% of QS supporters.

Overall, what do we take from this poll? It has to be read with a good degree of context, considering the sample size (regionally, only on the island of Montreal does any party hold a definitive lead, but we don't need a poll to tell us that). When we look at committed voters, the results of the poll vary by only marginal degrees from the most recent surveys by CROP and Léger. The poll certainly suggests that the Liberals are having a good campaign, and that things have stagnated or worsened for the PQ. Is it a five or seven point lead? We'll have to wait for more polls to determine whether the campaign has really taken such a decisive turn.


  1. According to my simulator, using the reported numbers, I get:

    62 PLQ
    51 PQ
    9 CAQ
    3 QS

    And using the likely voters:

    65 PLQ
    51 PQ
    6 CAQ
    3 QS

    So basically, if the reported situation is right, the CAQ voters hold in their hands the potential to decide between a minority or majority PLQ government. The PQ definitely seems to have maxed out its support, so it will have to hope the CAQ makes a few gains before the election to get a chance at making it to government.

    On the sovereignty issue, I don't find anything odd, quite far from it. At 37% supporting sovereignty-association (even with undecideds distributed among this number), it is far from a stretch to think that at least 8% of them would answer "yes" to the sovereignty issue when the association option is not present. I was actually quite surprised by these numbers and figured that, with a well run campaign with focused information and an inclusive and hopeful message, you actually didn't have that much people to convince (those in favour of soverignty-association have already walked half the distance, you only need them to walk the last half and, of those who currently vote "no", some are bound to change when presented with the project). Anyway, that's my personal view on these numbers.

    1. The concept of sovereignty-association is just so fantastical. I understand why separatists would want it but, why would the RoC ever agree? What induces the RoC to agree? So that we can keep bilingualism? I don't think so.

      The philosophy behind sovereignty-association is simply bizarre and inconsistent even, hypocritical.

      Separatist who presumably have fought most of their adult life to remove Canadian influence from Quebec propose to become independent albeit with a strong dose of Canadian influence upon their now "independent" domestic affairs. What? After fighting for independence they want an "independent" Quebec to become a minor partner in a currency and economic union that will be dominated by Toronto with no guarantee of Quebec influence and no political mechanisms to resolve issues or promote their influence upon the "union".

      Then of course there are the likely implications of separation including a significant drop in Quebec asset values which likely would encourage both Canadian and International investors to purchase them at bargain prices leaving Quebec an even weaker player on the international stage and partner in any "sovereignty-association" agreement.

      Sovereignty-association is a sure-fire way for Quebec to decrease its sovereignty vis a vis the RoC and the International community.

      Quebec had the opportunity to negotiate sovereignty-association on its own terms-the results are found in the Quebec Act!

    2. Sovereignty-association is simply stating that there will be econnomic ties between Canada and Québec. it's only a matter of pragmatism since ontario's entreprise and Québec enterprise will want to continue to make business with as less barriers as possible. Nothing "fantastical" about it, only down to earth pragmatism. imho.

    3. Ontario will have a trade agreement with the US an independent Quebec will not. Ontario would give up a very large competitive advantage to agree to "sovereignty-association" and presumably allow Quebec access to the American market. I doubt the benefit in Ontario-Quebec trade would off-set the potential loss in exports for Ontario. Independence could very well drive down wages in Quebec if so, that may be a direct threat to Ontario jobs. The RoC may very well want to impose restrictions or barriers upon Quebec goods.

      As for pragmatism isn't that why we have a country? I would suspect an independent Quebec would be subject to duties and tariffs just like France or Brazil. What adavntage does Sovereignty-association give Canada? If anything it poses more risks and threats IMO without any benefits to the RoC.

      When I wrote "fantastical" I was refring to the inconsistent philosophy of sovereignty-association: To become an independent nation then, encumber Quebec with agreements restricting Quebec's ability to exercise independence. As I wrote above I think sovereignty-association gives Quebec less independence than what they currently exercise as a province vis a vis the rest of Canada.

    4. I agree Canada has absolutely no incentive to sign a sovereignty-association agreement with Quebec. Independentists are simply deluding themselves if they think the RoC will acquiesce to some form of economic or currency agreement out of the kindness of their hearts. Canada would first have to recognize an independent Quebec which is far from guaranteed even with a clear question and result.

      I would appreciate a separatist explaining why some separatists want 1. sovereignty-association since it seems to contradict the idea of independence 2. what benefits or incentives accrue to Canada if they agree to sovereignty-association?

    5. You really think that the USA would impose tariffs outside the current NAFTA ? I'm quite sure New England entreprise would scream. politics is all good, unless you disrupt trade. Once trade is disrupted, the business side of society usually steps in and talk directly to politicians and basically says something along the lines of "stop it, I need to make money".

      "What adavntage does Sovereignty-association give Canada?"

      How about a free (as in tariffs, duty) route between Ontario and maritimes provinces? is it a good incentive?

      "I would appreciate a separatist explaining why some separatists want 1. sovereignty-association since it seems to contradict the idea of independence 2. what benefits or incentives accrue to Canada if they agree to sovereignty-association? "

      1- i think most country agrees on the necessity of free trade agreements between independent nations. NAFTA, Europe-Canada trade agreement. Heck, it's the basis of current economy since the end of World War II.
      2- Read above. And I should add that ontario-Québec trade represent 58% of the GDP. you really think politics will have the final word here?

    6. 1. The articles states Quebec-Ontario "region" represents 58% of Canadian GDP not trade. Ontario represents slightly over 70% of the 58%.

      2. An independent Quebec would have to apply to join NAFTA just like Mexico. All current NAFTA members hold a veto over new additions. Whether pressure from New England would create a USA-Quebec free trade agreement is anyone's guess but, in general Americans hold deeper protectionist views than other countries-so any agreement may take a while.

      3. Trade between the Maritime Provinces and Ontario are minimal and frankly it is quicker to ship goods through New Brunswick and New York to Southern Ontario than go through Quebec. I would predict very minimal impacts. Trade between Quebec and the Maritimes would likely decrease but, like the rest of Canada the Atlantic trade is primarily North-South.

      4 The numbers in the article: Quebec exports $35 billion to Ontario and $81 billion to the other provinces. Ontario exports $41 billion to Quebec and $62 billion to the rest of Canada.

      Those numbers are not insignificant but Ontario-USA trade equals $330 billion per year compared with $77 billion Ontario-Quebec trade. The trade would not disappear but, independence and lack of a trade agreement would likely see a decline between Ontario and Quebec. However, the numbers do indicate that Quebec is more dependent on inter-Canadian trade than Ontario. This is partly the result of Quebec having a smaller economy but, also demonstrates a strong export strategy and demand for Quebec products within Canada. All in all independence would be a disaster for Quebec; Quebec-Canada trade represents roughly 33% of Quebec's GDP whereas Ontario-Canada trade represents only 15% of Ontario's GDP. I think it pretty obvious Quebec would be far worse off economically than Ontario should they opt for independence.

      You very well may be correct that trade and business interests will force both the Canadian and Quebec government into negotiations for a trade agreement. I would hypothesise that such negotiations would be dependent on other sets of negotiations such as borders and the national debt.

    7. I read too fast the article and saw the word "trade". My bad.

      I think we agree on major points btw. So, it's not that far fetched that both Canada and Québec will want a trade agreement? Economic ties between Ontario and Québec are important. For you, for me, for our children.

      Of course, compared to Ontatio-USA trade (and Québec-USA trade), the numbers are not as high. But none of us will want to put barrier there when it's so hard to have more than 1% GDP growth. This would collapse both province. Maybe more for Québec than Ontario, but I can't see why that would matter. It's not like Québec would collapse while Ontario would be in the positive side. When 2 entities collapses, to know which one collapse more is not a relevant question, imho.

      Is there a cost associated with independence? Sure. I'm not for the independence because I'm against Canada, only because I think it's the most logical thing to do both for Québec and Canada, in the long term. I think it's a waste of time for both of us to hesitate between going independent of not. Canada deserve better, we deserve better. I think that we could be much more dynamic if we stop this non-sense and concentrate on our strength, without losing time about this kind of politics that goes nowhere (and will continue to go nowhere, until we are either independent or obediant).

      About the national debt. Will we take our share? or course. Does someone said otherwise? I mean, a leader of the mouvement, not an newspaper editorialist.

  2. Just out of pure interest Eric what's the margin of error on that Ipsos-Reid poll ?

    1. Because it is an online poll, Ipsos uses what they call a credibility interval, and they pegged it at +/- 4%.

    2. Which puts the Liberal s at either 33% or 41%

      Any guesses ?

  3. I do think that a poor campaign performance by the PQ is plausible. When people talk about what on the policy side of the equation contributed to the federal Liberals' decline, I like to say that the Liberals moved left on issues the right cares about, and right on issues the left cares about, losing voters to both the NDP and Conservatives at the same time.

    I feel like something analogous is happening here. The PQ are losing anti-referendum/economy voters to the LPQ and CAQ while losing anti-charter and anti-PKP sovereigntists to QS.

    Meanwhile the PQ is scaring both anti-charter and anti-referendum CAQ and QS supporters into voting PLQ.

  4. I think that the fact that the simulator shows only 2 seats for QS even at its maximum is a weakness of the algorithm. The QS managed to garner a 26% in Laurier-Dorion and a 24% in Saint-Marie when they got a 6.5% nationally. If QS would increase its share by 50% then it makes sense that these two ridings can be within their grasp. At Laurier-Dorion I know for a fact that the PLQ sees the QS as their principle opponent, especially because of the fact that QS has thrown all its resources there and in Saint-Marie

  5. It might seem that way, but QS is actually down on the island of Montreal. The gains have come from elsewhere in the province, so it does nothing to improve their chances in Laurier-Dorion.

    The model is regionally based. QS could be at 5% province wide but if they gain on the island of Montreal they could be projected to win more seats. What matters to QS and their seat hopes is their polling level in Montreal, not provincially.

    1. But how is the island of Montréal sampled? I mean, QS's potential seats are in the eastearn part of the island, not the west island (clearly), but not the north or the center either. So if most polls are conducted to people say in Verdun, Marquette and Robert-Baldwin, those are two strongly Liberal ridings and one weak Liberal riding, putting QS at a disadvantage. All I'm saying is, those regional results are much easier to screw up than the provincial ones where the sample is much bigger, and therefore, if QS is rising province-wide, with their base being in Montréal, it should most definitely be taken into account in their potential seats on the island (whether or not the poll's regional results say they are rising).

    2. Actually QS is competitive in the centre of the Island (Sainte-Marie, Laurier-Dorion, Gouin, Mercier). The same areas where Projet Montreal and the NDP first made inroads. This is probably the most left wing area of the whole country (heavily populated with young, activist, artist and alternative people)

    3. I think Vancouver-East is likely the most left-wing area in Canada. They have had a CCF-NDP M.P. for all but 9 years of the ridings existence or 70/79 years. The NDP regularly garners 50% of the popular vote or better.

      The QS success in Gouin and Mercier partly results from the leaders running in those ridings which likely inflates the QS vote.

  6. Anyone see the Forum Research poll once again bucking the trend and giving the Liberals a 14 point lead? If I remember correctly, they also favoured the Liberals to win in 2012 and, while they overstated the Liberal vote, they overstated it by less than the other polls understated the Liberal vote.


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.