Sunday, April 6, 2014

Angus Reid hints at further CAQ gains

What could end up being the last poll of the campaign (never say never) was released yesterday by Angus Reid, showing the same numbers for the Liberals as other polls but a tight race between the Parti Québécois and the Coalition Avenir Québec for second place. Was Angus Reid at the top end of the consensus of where the CAQ stands, or did Angus Reid record further gains for the CAQ? And, perhaps the most important question going into tomorrow's vote, can the CAQ continue its momentum to move into second?

The projection does not consider it a likely possibility. The maximum support for the CAQ and the minimum support for the PQ estimated by the model puts them in a tie at 26.5%. But that would still translate into no fewer than 32 seats for the PQ and no more than 21 for the CAQ. (Recall, however, that the maximum and minimum confidence bands include 95% of scenarios.) But that we're talking about the possibility that the CAQ could actually emerge out of this campaign with more seats than it had at dissolution speaks to the tremendous gains the party has made in the last two weeks.

The Liberals are still well ahead in the projection. While it leans towards the party capturing a majority, the likely ranges still envision as few as 59 seats for the Liberals. That puts them under the 63-seat mark needed for a majority government.

Let's move on to the Angus Reid poll. My detailed analysis of the final projection will  be posted tomorrow morning.

This is the first outing from Angus Reid in this campaign, and for several years in Quebec. The company did put out some numbers in 2008 and did well enough, however.

Angus Reid released only their estimation of likely voters, so we do not know what they got for all eligible voters.

Among likely voters, the Liberals managed 39%, where they have generally been in all polls conducted over the last two weeks. The PQ was at 27% (note that the four previous polls have had the PQ at between 26% and 29%), while the CAQ was at 25%. This is where Angus Reid stands out, as it is the best number the CAQ has recorded in any poll in over a year. But it also continues a rather consistent trend for the party. Since Forum pegged the CAQ at 13% on March 19, there has not been a poll where the CAQ's numbers have not increased.

Québec Solidaire was at just 7%, on the lower side compared to other recent polls.

Angus Reid reported a tight race among French-speakers, with the PQ at 31% to 30% for the Liberals and 28% for the CAQ. Note that Angus Reid appears to use a similar definition for language as Ipsos Reid does. Ipsos found similar numbers in their recent poll. It is inappropriate to compare the language results of Ipsos and Angus, however, to those of CROP and Léger.

Regionally, Angus Reid split up the province by postal codes. In Montreal and Laval, the Liberals were ahead with 48% to 28% for the PQ, 13% for the CAQ, and 9% for QS. This suggests higher PQ support, and lower QS support, than some other polls have recorded in the area.

In eastern Quebec, which encapsulates Trois-Rivières and everything east of it, the Liberals and CAQ were tied at 33%, with the PQ at 26%. As this region includes PQ strongholds like the Lac-Saint-Jean and the Gaspésie, this implies strong Liberal/CAQ numbers in Quebec City and west of it.

In western Quebec, which encapsulates everything west of Trois-Rivières, with the exception of Montreal and Laval, the Liberals led with 36% to 28% for the CAQ and 27% for the PQ. This implies rather strong numbers for the CAQ in the suburbs of Montreal.

But as these definitions are different from those of other firms, it is difficult to draw significant conclusions from them.

Angus Reid did have some other interesting numbers, however. Liberals and PQ supporters remain the most decided (80% and 75%, respectively), while little more than half of CAQ and QS voters have made their final choice.

On who would make the best premier, Philippe Couillard was ahead with 30% to 23% for François Legault and 20% for Pauline Marois. This corroborates the numbers published by Léger, which similarly showed a strong result for the CAQ leader.

Angus Reid also asked respondents whether their opinion of the leaders had worsened or improved during the campaign. For my part, I found the breakdown by 2012 vote the most revealing.

Liberals seem very pleased with Couillard, as 56% of the party's 2012 supporters said their opinion of Couillard improved during the campaign, against just 5% who said it worsened. The numbers are virtually identical for 2012 CAQ voters and Legault: 57% improved to 5% worsened. Françoise David also had similarly positive numbers among QS voters: 40% said their opinion improved against just 4% who said it worsened.

But Marois performed much less well. Only 21% of PQ voters from 2012 said their opinion of her improved during the campaign, while 20% said it worsened. And when we look at her target voters, we see why the PQ is on track for a defeat. Among people who voted CAQ in 2012, only 4% said their opinion of Marois improved during the campaign, while 63% said it worsened. That is enormous. Among QS voters, just 4% said their opinion of Marois improved, while 56% said it worsened. This has made it impossible for the PQ to gain new supporters during this campaign, and it also suggests how the PQ can be dropping from their 2012 performance.

Couillard, on the other hand, has done rather well among CAQ voters: 35% said their opinion of him improved, while 25% said it worsened. Legault had positive scores among Liberal voters (34% to 11%) and PQ voters (34% to 19%) as well, while David had a positive 27% to 10% split among PQ supporters. In other words, Couillard, Legault, and David all had success in pulling support from the kind of voters they needed to target to make gains. Marois had virtually none.

These numbers seem particularly relevatory, and hint at just how difficult it would be for the PQ to make the gains they need in these final days of the campaign. Marois's three main opponents, on the other hand, have good reason to believe they might be able to attract some waverers to their side. There is still much that could happen between this poll leaving the field on April 4 and voters casting their ballots on April 7. But a PQ comeback seems the least likely to occur.