Friday, May 2, 2014

Ontario NDP drops in EKOS poll

Hot off the wires following the release of the Ontario budget yesterday is a poll by EKOS Research that might give Andrea Horwath pause as she considers whether or not to send Ontarians to the polls this spring.

Update: And just as I hit 'post', news comes out that Andrea Horwath will not support the budget. Looks like we're off to the races. Also, an earlier version of this post said the NDP was at 22.9% in the EKOS poll - they are actually at 22.2%.

The poll by EKOS Research for iPolitics gives the Liberals the lead with 34.7% support, up 2.4 points from EKOS's previous poll of March 27-April 3. The Progressive Conservatives were also up, gaining 4.2 points to reach 31.6%.

The New Democrats, however, fell 6.8 points to 22.2%. 

The Greens were up 1.1 points to 9.4%, while 2% of respondents said they would vote for another party. Of the entire sample, 18.9% were undecided.

Only the drop in support of the NDP appears to be statistically significant, though it also looks a lot like a reset. EKOS's previous poll had the New Democrats at 29%, well above the 22% to 23% recorded in subsequent polls by Forum, Nanos, and Innovative. It does differ, however, from the 27% recorded in the most recent Ipsos Reid poll, but even Ipsos was registering a slip in support for the NDP from their own previous poll.

For the Liberals and PCs, the picture remains muddy. Of the five surveys now conducted since April 7, the PCs have recorded (in order of field dates) 38%, 36%, 30%, 37%, and 32%. The Liberals have recorded 31%, 36%, 39%, 32%, and 35%. Overall, the Liberals and PCs seem to be somewhere in the 30s. That is about as much as can be said with certainty. The aggregate now gives the Liberals 34% to 33% for the Tories.

Of significance, however, may be the Tories' lead among the oldest voters. Of Ontarians aged 65 or older, the PCs held a 40% to 36% edge over the Liberals. Among the next oldest tranche of respondents between the ages of 45 and 64, the Liberals and PCs were almost tied (33% to 32%, respectively). This suggests the Tories may have a turnout advantage (which Ipsos Reid also recorded in their poll).

At the regional level, the NDP drop appears to have taken place throughout the province. But in terms of statistical significance, the decreases were particularly marked in Toronto and eastern Ontario. 

In the provincial capital, the Liberals led with 39%, followed by the Tories at 29% and the NDP at 20% (down seven points). In eastern Ontario, the PCs were ahead with 43% (up 15 points), followed by the Liberals at 31% and the NDP at 18% (down eight points).

Elsewhere, the Liberals led in the suburban GTA (the 905 area code) with 36%, against 31% for the PCs and 23% for the NDP. The governing party also had the edge in northern and central Ontario with 40%, compared to 29% for the NDP and 22% for the PCs.

The PCs led in southwestern Ontario with 33%, followed by the Liberals at 26% and the NDP at 24%. The Greens scored 12% support in this region, their best.

With these levels of support, the seat result would be a toss-up. The Liberals would likely win 45 seats, with the PCs taking 41, the NDP winning 20, and the Greens taking one. (Let's not get overly excited about the Green result - 9.4% is not a particularly reasonable level of support for the party.)

Assuming 10% error in the model, that means the Liberals could win anywhere between 41 and 50 seats and the PCs between 37 and 45 seats. In other words, a coin-flip to determine who takes the plurality of seats.

At these numbers, the New Democrats are not in a good position to make significant gains. Of course, campaigns matter and Horwath does have the best personal numbers of the three leaders, so she may have the most upside. But it is still a gamble. With neither Tim Hudak nor Kathleen Wynne being loved by voters, the NDP cannot rule out the possibility of forming a government of their own if things go very well. But a more plausible best case scenario for the party sees it forming the Official Opposition. The question is whether they would take that role in a minority government, where they would have significant influence, or a majority government, where they would have next to none. 

38 comments:

  1. Minor edit for you, Éric: I'm seeing 22.2% support for the NDP, not 22.9%.

    Dom

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    1. Ack! You're right, corrected.

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  2. Meh, I feel EKOS is the least accurate of the major pollsters. Their Green numbers are always high, while their CPC/PC numbers are lower than other pollsters.

    On the other hand, even if EKOS polls are factored out, the PCs are only polling in the mid 30s range. Not impressive for a government-in-waiting and the only right-of-centre option in the province. .

    I don't know why media outlets are stating that if the NDP triggers an election, they risk a PC majority citing recent polls. Best case scenario for the PCs right now is a plurality of seats. It's doubtful whether they can govern in that scenario.

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    1. The polls are unsettled, so when they say they risk a Tory majority, I don't think they're off base. It may not be the most likely outcome, but it's possible.

      When the PQ triggered the Quebec election, they risked a PLQ majority after all.

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    2. Those are good points Ryan. I was surprised at the movement of all parties from their last poll; Liberal +2.4, PCs +4.2, NDP-6.8. Usually big swings like this indicate a volatile electorate.

      With the exception of Nova Scotia we've seen the campaign determine who will be government in BC, AB, QC and Canada it will be an interesting campaign.

      I will not vote for Wynne but, I feel she had no choice but, go to the polls regardless of what the NDP decided to do. As an unelected premier she should have sought out a mandate as soon as possible. By hanging on she was causing confusion and held hostage by the socialists. Every six months they would demand a new trinket-that is no way to run a province.

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    3. You have a point Ryan. Still, I felt it gave the PCs too much credit since they had much better momentum going into the 2007 or 2011 elections. And I agree with Daniel regarding the volatile electorate. I don't think the Ontario electorate has been this volatile since...I don't know.

      If the left fears a PC majority, then they should fight a well organized election explaining to swing voters why the PCs do not deserve to be in power.

      It seems 2.5 years is when a decently ran minority government turns sour. Perfect example was Harper's minority government from Fall 2008 to Spring 2011.

      Wynne did not need to seek a mandate last year, since her party received a mandate in the last general election and had majority support in the house to pass the budget last year.

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    4. Federally, the average "lifespan" of a minority government is 18 months.

      Provincially I think they tend to last slightly longer Rodney MacDonald-John Hamm in Nova Scotia went 2003-2006 and MacDonald 2006-2009 about 2.5 years each. The Romanow-Calvert miniority went from 1999-2003 in Saskatchewan. However, I am sure there are examples of minority governments lasting less than 18 months as well.

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  3. As for the NDP, my prediction is their numbers will be back in the high 20s by the second week of the election. Horwath is a charismatic leader that can appeal to voters frustrated with both the OLP and PC.

    I suspect the NDP platform will be light on specifics. Probably a few easy to understand policy planks. We all know Horwath is no policy wonk.

    The Greens should focus on just getting Mike Schreiner elected in Guelph. This is doable but difficult since the riding is currently held by the incumbent Liberal education minister and the NDP nominated a popular local artist.

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  4. How do you find out where Ekos defines it's regions?

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    1. They use area codes.

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    2. So would that mean your projection would have the suburaban GTA as the entire 905 belt from Northumberland to Niagara? Are Barrie and Peterborough in the North?

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    3. Oh, wow. I feel like that could be more obvious in their reporting that we aren't just talking about the northern most 9-11 ridings

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    4. Thanks for clarifying that. I was puzzled to see the NDP stronger in the "suburban GTA" than in the city itself, until I realized that "suburban GTA in this case also included Hamilton and Niagara Region. "Suburban GTA" is a very misleading name for that region!

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  5. Really, you think the NDP might creep up to official opposition with those numbers? They just pissed off a lot of core supporters in voting down the budget, which actually seemed to be achieving a lot of what the left was asking for ...

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    1. I think Horwath will campaign on the notion that Liberals cannot be trusted to implement a left-leaning agenda due to their broken promises and incompetent governing in the past.

      Right now I can see the final vote count going somewhere like this:

      OLP 34%
      PC 34%
      NDP 27%
      OGP 4%
      OTH 1%

      The Liberals will be back in power with a reduced minority. Their vote is more efficient that the PCs since their support is concentrated in the GTA and Ottawa. Outside these regions, I believe they will do poorly, with the exception of a couple of well known incumbent cabinet ministers.

      The PCs with a more rigid right-wing platform should be able to secure their base, but not gain much more. They may lose a bit of their vote share, should pick up a couple of seats due to left-of-centre vote splitting. There were quite a few ridings scattered across the province that the PCs lost narrowly in 2011. If the Liberals decline slightly, the PCs can pick these up.

      Despite current polls, I still feel the NDP will do well in the Southwest. They won four by-election in this part of the province, all of them where the Liberals were reduced to third. The question is whether their gain will translate into more seats. I feel they can potentially pick up urbanized ridings such as Windsor West, Kitchener Centre, Brant and Cambridge. I think they will finish a strong second to the PCs in the rural ridings in this region.

      The Greens should just focus on getting Mike Schreiner elected in Guelph. Will be difficult since it is held by a sitting cabinet minister, and also a target riding of the NDP.

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  6. Hey now, Rob Ford endorsed the Greens in his drunken rants. Maybe that's why they're so high in the polls.

    Which seat do you see going Green?

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    1. I think it was Dufferin-Caledon.

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  7. Hmm, I wish we could get a more accurate poll for the riding that Schreiner is running in. It looks like it'll be a tough battle there!

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    1. I believe last election Forum had a poll which covered individual ridings across the province. Hopefully we can see something similar in a couple of weeks.

      The race in Guelph will defiantly be interesting. All four parties should be competitive there.

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  8. I should have added this Lethbridge one from February, it has the city as a close four way race

    http://www.lethbridgecollege.ca/sites/default/files/imce/about-us/applied-research/csrl/provincial_vote_intention_report-winter2014.pdf

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  9. opps, that last comment was supposed to be in the Alberta post

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  10. Truth is that there is a clear split in the NDP Provincial Council. The split is between those who see, and disagree with, Horvath taking a line that is to the right of the OLP and others who argue that they should make a grab at power by any means possible. This split is well known through the party, right down to the grass roots. It has the potential to seriously effect the numbers of NDPers who will work for the party let alone vote for it. I think that some of the shift in the OLP numbers can be attributed to this schism. Wynne is very much aware of this split and, in part, her budget is designed to take advantage of it. The budget tells NDPers that there is no need to step to the right, they will feel comfortable voting Liberal. The NDP could not come up with budgets that are any better than Wynne's last two budgets.

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  11. Every other poll has the Ontario NDP leading in the north by a mile, but ekos has them trailing by 10+ pts? Huh.

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    1. Ipsos does, Forum doesn't. Any way, the samples are small.

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    2. Hi Eric, which five seats in the 416 in your projection do the polls show going PC?

      I'm guessing Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Etobicoke Centre, Eglinton-Lawrence, Don Valley East and York Centre?

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    3. Looking at 2011 general and 2013 by-election results, I'm going to guess Etobicoke Lakeshore, Etobicoke Centre, York Centre, Scarborough Agincourt and Scarborough Guildwood?

      (let's see how much I get right)

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  12. The NDP will be squeezed this election between the Tories who will say: "they supported a listless, scandalous and corrupt government" and the Liberals who will say: "if you vote NDP you'll get Hudak, only the PCs or the Liberals can form government".

    I predict the election will be a two horse race and NDP support will decline as this becomes apparent.

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  13. The PC seat count has been underestimated in pretty much every election. Are you ready to do it again?

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  14. I think Formerly has it right and some of the telephone shows are showing that even Tories are going Liberal just tp prevent Hudak.

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  15. I think the NDP's decision to reject this pretty decent budget is both stupid and unprincipled. The ONDP has apparently learned nothing from Bob Rae.

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    1. What was unprincipled was keeping in power an unelected premier.

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    2. We don't directly elect premiers in Canada.

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    3. Exactly Eric. That is why it is so important, almost a constitutional convention, unelected premiers seek a mandate sooner rather than later.

      Premiers are monarchs for the time being as powerful as any medieval king or roman emperor. Her Majesty delegates her authority and power to premiers because they hold the consent of the people through election. The success of the English monarchy and hence the Canadian Crown is based on the popular nature of the institution. The Queen rules by consent of the people, any premier who fails to gain that consent treads perilously close to tyranny. The history of the monarchy is a conversation between Crown and people, a dialogue that created a system of government. For the institutions of government to be successful consultation with the people must occur and the only legitimate way to obtain consent is through election.

      In our system that consent is doubly important because the Queen reigns but, does not rule. If her ministers are seen to be illegitimate then the legitimacy of the Crown itself (indeed the whole constitutional framework) comes into question.

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    4. FCP, you and I are never asked at election time who we want to be premier. The ballot has the riding candidates' names and parties. The democratic mandate belongs (legally and morally) to the MPPs, and (morally only, since MPPs are allowed to defect) to the parties, not to the leader. A governing party can therefore change its leader at any time; it has no effect on the legitimacy of the government, as long as it retains the confidence of the legislature.

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    5. MGK,

      "you and I are never asked at election time who we want to be premier".

      Exactly, That is why it is so important, almost a constitutional convention, unelected premiers seek a mandate sooner rather than later.

      "A governing party can therefore change its leader at any time; it has no effect on the legitimacy of the government, as long as it retains the confidence of the legislature".

      This is simply incorrect as I suspect you know. The change of leader may have no effect on the legality of a government but, if an appointed premier stays too long in office without going to the polls it will have an effect on its legitimacy since, at some point the premier needs to obtain the consent of the governed.

      I stand by my statement above and I suggest you re-read it!



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  16. Actually if you really looked at that budget the only thing that could be done was reject. Talk about a debt increase !! WOW !!

    And forget Hudak, he's offering smoke and mirrors and no reality.

    I'll predict another Lib minority and a new NDP leader !

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    1. I agree with the new Dipper leader, I think they're on course to lose seats. I'm calling a Conservative plurality but, at this point can't tell if that will be enough for them to form government.

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