Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PQ begins election in majority territory

And we're off and running in Quebec's provincial election campaign, starting today and culminating with a vote on April 7, 2014. Pauline Marois and the Parti Québécois will be asking Quebecers to give them a majority government instead of the minority one they were handed less than two years ago. The polls suggest she starts the campaign with a good chance of getting her wish.

The Léger/Journal de Montréal poll out this morning goes a long way to confirm the sort of numbers that CROP had in February. The gap is smaller, at two points instead of five, but the PQ enjoys the same yawning margin over the Liberals among francophones, who decide elections in Quebec.

The current projection, based primarily on the Léger poll but also incorporating other polls going back to the beginning of the year, gives the Parti Québécois 37.5% support to 34.9% for the Liberals, 15.4% for the Coalition Avenir Québec, and 7.9% for Québec Solidaire. With these levels of support, and taking into account the potential for polling error, the PQ would likely win between 62 and 81 seats. With 63 seats required to win a majority, the polls point almost exclusively to a PQ majority government at the moment.

The Liberals would win between 36 and 56 seats, with the CAQ winning between five and seven and QS taking two. The precise projection - the result should normally fall closest to it - is 69 seats for the PQ, 49 for the PLQ, 5 for the CAQ, and 2 for QS.

Check out the Quebec projection page for the full details, including regional breakdown and riding-by-riding results. Tracking charts will be added as the campaign continues and new polls emerge.

The model is virtually unchanged from the one used in the Nova Scotia campaign, with one important difference. For that campaign, the minimum and maximum projections were based on the worst polling errors in recent years. In other words, the model was assuming the exact same sort of errors as in Alberta and British Columbia would take place to derive these maximum and minimum estimations.

That was a little crude, so instead this time the minimum and maximum ranges are meant to estimate 95% of potential results. These are calculated based on polling errors in the past, so it does take into account errors like in Alberta and B.C. But it leaves a little room for further error, which is always a possibility. Put simply, 19 times out of 20 the results of the election should fall within the projected minimum and maximum ranges. For a more precise estimation, see the chart below:
What the chart above shows is the likelihood of results falling between the various projected ranges. So, for example, if an election were held on March 3 (the last day of polling), there is a 75% chance that the result would be higher than the projected average. There is a 90% chance that the Greens and Option Nationale would get lower than the projected average. There is a 5% chance that the results will fall outside the minimum and maximums for any of the parties.

A full explanation of the methodology can be found here. A link is also omnipresent in the right-hand column.

Now, let's briefly take a look at the poll.
The poll shows no major change from Léger's last survey from mid-January. It gives the PQ 37% support against 35% for the Liberals and 15% for the CAQ.

Recall that the CROP poll which resulted in much spilled ink about a PQ majority had the split at 40% to 35%, so the Léger poll is only marginally and insignificantly different. Of most consequence, electorally speaking, is the francophone vote: 45% for the PQ against 23% for the Liberals. CROP had it at 47% to 24%, which was remarkable itself. So Léger has confirmed that the PQ has made big strides among francophones, and it could be a crushing advantage.

The poll had a few other tidbits that are worth paying attention to. The PQ and PLQ had the most committed voters, with 74% and 70%, respectively, saying their choice was definitive. For the CAQ and QS, only about half of their supporters had definitively made up their mind. That isn't surprising for a small party like QS, but it is incredibly worrisome for François Legault.

The Liberals have much to gain if those CAQ voters drift away: 44% said that the PLQ was their second choice, with only 19% saying the PQ was their second option. The PQ does have room to grow among supporters of QS and ON, but that is a much smaller voter pool.

On leadership, Marois topped Philippe Couillard with 27% to 25%. That is a gain for Couillard, which is good news for him. Less glowing, though, is that he scored just 17% among francophones - putting him in a tie with Legault. If Couillard struggles to make inroads among this demographic, the Liberals have no chance of winning. Quebecers seem to agree, since 46% of them think the PQ will prevail. Only 26% think the Liberals will win.

The Liberals should be doing better, though, as they score higher than the PQ on many issues: healthcare (29% to 24% for the PQ), jobs (33% to 25%), tackling the deficit (25% to 20%), and infrastructure (32% to 24%). These are all important issues in an election campaign. Perhaps the Liberals will be able to take advantage as the campaign unfolds, but the PQ has its own issues of strength: reasonable accommodations (33% to 21% for the PLQ), tackling corruption (26% to 18%), and protecting the French language (55% to 9%). It is obvious how the two parties will design their campaign strategies, with the Liberals focusing on issues of the head and the PQ on issues of the heart. 


  1. This is the first election campaign my simulator will go through. I will constantly post my results as a comment to your articles to see how it fared in the end. Using your average vote projection, I have:

    65 PQ
    53 PLQ
    5 CAQ
    2 QS

  2. I know I've asked before, but some mix of content in French at least re: the Quebec election would be appreciated. <3

    1. I'll be working with L'actualité during the campaign and will link to that.

    2. You can tell your friends on Reddit that I will be making all of the Quebec graphics bilingual.

    3. Hahaha. It's a bilingual country Eric! Even some of us anglos like to read stuff in French from time to time. :p

    4. The fact of the matter is that I'm not confident enough in my written French to work without the safety net of an editor, which I don't have here.

    5. Fair enough. It takes me a great deal of effort to attempt to construct grammatically correct French sentences on paper too unfortunately.

  3. I think the problem here is going to be similar to the one in Alberta - we have a three-way race but a two-way referendum. One hand voters are faced with a choice between the PQ, PLQ, CAQ, and QS. In reality they are faced with the issues of sovereignty and the charter, which come down to PQ v. everyone else,

    Why is that important? Because you cannot assume that the undecided voters who are excluded in polls are genuine undecideds. A very tiny number might be undecided between the PQ and PLQ, but a large number will be anti-PQ voters who are unsure whom, the PLQ or CAQ candidate, is most likely to beat the PQ in their riding.

    The same thing happened in Alberta where Liberal/NDP votes operated as a resevoir for the Tories and still will.

    Does this mean the polls are wrong? No. But it were doing a prediction, I would consistently put the PQ at or near the bottom of their seat range rather than the top. Tactical voting will work hard against them, especially given the sort of campaign we're going to see and the non-viability of CAQ.

    1. It means this website will be very important, as people looking to block one side or the other may come here to see which party to support in their riding.

      No pressure.

    2. Not forgetting Ryan that while Quebec is no longer the economic engine it used to be it still is an important part of the economy and voters understand that. Think Bombardier for instance. And the PQ record on the economy isn't good !!

    3. Daniel,

      I think it would be foolish for the Alberta Tories to count on that "reservoir" next time out. Both the Liberals and NDP were lead by weak leaders and Redford had the persona of a centrist. Two years in we see the Redford Tories acting more or less how the Tories act in Alberta with fiscal restraint and anti-tax policies. I think the shine will be off for traditional Dippers and Grits. Hopefully, the Dippers and Grits won't chicken out like 2012, had they stayed with their own parties Alberta would likely have returned a minority PC/ WR government with the NDP and Liberals holding the balance of power. Alberta is in desperate need of change.

      The other point is the perceived shift between NDP&Grit -->PCs is probably exaggerated to some degree. Both parties lost support in the final week but so did Wildrose. As someone who was in Alberta during the election my impression was the media was really pumping up Wildrose which in the end was illusionary, Wildrose had neither the rock solid support nor ground game to turn their perceived lead into government.

  4. I am struck by the large gap among Francophones 45% PQ, 23% PLQ in the Leger poll. The Liberals best shot may be too woo the CAQ vote which appears to be collapsing. The campaign will be crucial especially with only a 2.5% lead but, as of today the PQ looks to be well placed to win a majority.

  5. the polls were more dire for the Liberals in 2012 but the PQ only managed to win a minority. Everyone thought the PQ were going to win a majority

  6. your riding numbers give laval des rapides to the Libs albeith narrowly. On what basis do you expect Leo Bureau Blouin tout ne unseated? If anything hé gained in popularity since 2012.

    1. The Liberals are up in the Montreal suburbs, PQ is stable.


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