Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Liberals lead in Quebec as CAQ collapses

For the first time this year, the Liberals have led in Quebec in a poll by either CROP or Léger. This particular survey, by CROP for La Presse, gives the Liberals a three-point edge over the Parti Québécois. But the PQ is holding steady - it is rather the Coalition Avenir Québec that is losing French-speaking voters to Philippe Couillard's Liberals.

The Liberals now lead in the vote projection, with 38.3% support to 36.3% for the PQ. Assuming normal polling error, the Liberals would be expected to get between 37% and 42% of the vote, compared to between 35% and 40% for the PQ. The CAQ continues to drop, now down to 13.4% (or between 12% and 14%) while Québec Solidaire continues to grow. They are now pegged at 9.6% (or between 9% and 10%).

But despite the Liberals' advantage in the popular vote, the PQ's enduring edge among francophones gives the party the edge in seats, with 62 to 57 for the Liberals. But that now puts the PQ in minority territory, though their likely seat range (56 to 70) straddles the line exactly. The Liberal range, at 50 to 66 seats, also puts them over the majority mark of 63 seats, though they are less likely to win a majority government than the PQ.

If those numbers look unusual, consider the results of the 1998 election. The Liberals won the popular vote by 0.7 points, but lost the election by 28 seats. Here, the margin is five seats with a two point advantage. And 1998 is increasingly looking like a good reference: Mario Dumont's ADQ took 12% of the vote in that election, a number that the CAQ could easily find itself with on Apr. 7 (there was no party like Québec Solidaire in 1998, however. Its closest forerunner took just 0.6% of the vote).

How much of an advantage do the Liberals need province wide in order to win a majority government? This depends greatly on the distribution of vote within Quebec and the amount of support the CAQ captures. But consider that in 2008, when the Liberals won a slim majority government of 66 seats, they beat out the PQ by 6.9 points with the ADQ at 16%. Roughly speaking, then, the Liberals can probably expect to win a majority government of their own when their lead grows to more than three or four points.

CROP and Léger have been juggling a few sponsors in this campaign. Léger first reported for Le Journal de Montréal and then this past weekend for Le Devoir and The Globe and Mail. CROP now has reported for both Radio-Canada and, this time, La Presse.

Compared to CROP's previous poll for Radio-Canada, conducted Mar. 5-8, the Liberals have picked up three points to lead with 39%. The PQ has held steady at 36%, while the CAQ has dropped four points to 13%. QS was up two points to 10%.

That drop for the CAQ was outside the margin of error, at least the margin that would normally apply to a probabilistic sample. Neither Léger nor CROP has ever had the CAQ at 13% before going back to the founding of the party.

The CAQ dropped most significantly among francophones, falling six points to just 14%. The Liberals were the ones who took advantage, picking up five points to reach 30% among this important demographic. The PQ hardly budged, leading with 43%, while QS was at 11%.

Among non-francophones, the Liberals fell eight points to 71%, with the CAQ holding steady at 10% and the PQ increasing to 9%. QS appears to have picked up the support the Liberals shed among these voters, increasing five points to 8%.

The Liberals lead on the island of Montreal with 44%, followed by the PQ at 34% and the CAQ and QS at 10% apiece (QS needs to be higher to be able to win a third seat). In the suburbs around Montreal, the Liberals increased to 39% while the PQ picked up eight points to hit 37% in the region. The CAQ saw its support cut in half, falling to 13%. QS was fourth with 9% in the region.

The Liberals also led in Quebec City, with 36% to 27% for the PQ and 23% for the CAQ. This generally confirms the two polls we have recently seen in the region from Léger. QS was up five points to 12%, oddly enough their best result in the province.

The PQ led in the regions of Quebec, with 38% to 36% for the Liberals. The CAQ had just 13%, followed by QS at 11%.

On who would make the best premier, Couillard moved ahead for the first time in any poll since December, with 27% to 26% for Pauline Marois. The two leaders traded a single point, though, and have been around this level for some time. François Legault was at 14% and Françoise David was at 7% on this question.

The CAQ has been in steady decline since the campaign began, the exact opposite of what occurred in 2012. The Liberals have taken full advantage, while the PQ's vote has been quite steady. If the CAQ continues to drop, the PQ could be in real trouble. But the dynamics in this campaign have been interestingly intertwined. Supporters of the CAQ went to the Liberals, seemingly to block a PQ victory. If a Liberal victory starts to look likely, will supporters of QS (and maybe some from the CAQ) start to move to the PQ?


  1. According to my simulator, using the aggregated numbers above, the results would be:

    59 PQ
    58 PLQ
    5 CAQ
    3 QS

    This race is becoming much closer than it was earlier on, all with the sudden twist on independance the election took. Couillard is muddling along in the sovereignty/constitution issues and, while people don't want a referendum, they don't want a confusing/unclear message either. Also, the people have a better opinion of the team presented by the PQ, so that, in the end, may be reflected in the riding per riding's vote. With no party presenting itself on the left side of the spectrum, the PQ clearly shedding this mantle, QS may start, slowly but surely, grinding away at their vote and, by election night, do its own orange wave (on a smaller scale, obviously, but say 8 riding would already be considered humongous for the party).

    I do believe that, on election night, all of these numbers will drop a bit due to people wishing to keep both the PQ and the PLQ from a majority, the question being, will it be enough? All in all though, those questions are quite pointless until the debates since a lot of people will be influenced by those, even if lots of voters say they are already committed to one party.

    1. I notice the QS is at 12% in the Quebec metro region, do they have a chance of winning a seat there?

    2. Not unless something unusual happens. Their best bet would be Taschereau, but they are a long way from being able to win it.

    3. Cheers Eric good to know.

    4. According to my simulator, the closest "race" for QS in Québec city is 25% under the winner... still quite far from being a win. It would take quite a rise for the party and quite a crash by both the PQ and PLQ to manage to make a gain there.

  2. Its not inconceivable that a QS rise coupled with a CAQ collapse in Taschereau could hand the seat to the Liberals

  3. QS and the PQ may be on the same side of the political spectrum re: independence, but they are on the opposite side re: the Charter. Haven't the QS being trending roughly flat or a bit up? I'd expect that to continue with the latest baptism-is-rape and kosher food is funding wars in the Middle East stuff.

  4. This is one point, but there are more important points at play.

    The QS is firmly on the side of the left, and sovereignist second. It's supporters see no point in independence if it means being run by vested interests at Quebecor and beiing part of NAFTA. They are essentially a party of left wing ideals, and they can be consistent by sticking to their core constituency unapolegitically. .You can disagree with them, but still respect them.

    The PQ is sovereignist first and left second. It is sending out mixed signals on its social democratic roots by bringing on board a corporate union buster like Peladeau. It is also sending out mixed signals on its very reason for being by discussing sovereignty one day, and refusing to discuss it the next. That give the impression of being weak in your convictions,

    I think the PQ has maxed out its support. The QS has the advantage of being a smaller party with a core constitutency, so they can afford to run on principle. The PQ is trying to be all things to all people, while maintaining a more complex coalition of right-wing xenophobes, hard-core soveriegnists, and vested union interests that don't always get along and don't necessarily reflect the views of the party establishment. . Moreover, with the QS and ADQ around, it is a smaller party that is more indebted to these warring constituencies.

  5. I'm surprised the Liberals, when in power, haven't pushed for changes to the voting system. A simple one, a ranked voting system requiring 50%+1 to win, would probably get them in more often than not with most CAQ votes going to them would it not? This giving the PQ a victory when they lose the vote is just nuts.

    1. I'm not sure such a system would actually benefit the Liberals. You'd likely have the Liberals winning more seats in Montreal and Quebec City in the run-off, while the PQ wins more seats outside these cities.

      Quebec's voters are so oddly imbalanced that any regional system would probably give this sort of result. Sure, the Liberals might be leading province wide but the PQ has a wide lead among francophones. As they make up the majority of voters in about 85% of ridings, the PQ has the advantage. They'd still have the edge in a run-off in these ridings.

      The only way for the non-francophone super majorities on the island of Montreal to carry their weight would be for a PR system. This would more or less condemn the PLQ to coalition governments with the CAQ.

    2. I read somewhere that Charest was seriously contemplating introducing such a reform during his first mandate but the project ended up getting shelved for some reason.


    3. Dom - He was actually looking at a very modest version of MMP, but shelved it due to opposition in his own caucus.

      MMP or another proportional system would have reduced the Liberal seat totals throughout the 2000s though. The beneficiaries would have been the ADQ, CAQ and QS (and potentially ON and the Greens, though that's less certain).

      In the 1990s it's a different story. PR would have boosted Liberal fortunes in both 1994 and 1998.

      At the end of the day, the Liberals had a choice between some of the power all of the time or all of the power some of the time. They chose the latter unfortunately.

      "This would more or less condemn the PLQ to coalition governments with the CAQ."

      It's a fate worse than death apparently. :/


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