Friday, May 9, 2014

Ontario polls continue to confuse

Two new polls emerged in the last few days, the first from Oracle Research for Global News and the second (and third) from the Innovative Research Group, the results of which were first discussed on TVO's The Agenda. But there's a hiccup. According to these polls, the Tories are either leading by 11 points or trailing by six.

Yet again, the projection model splits the difference to come up with a near tie in the aggregate: 35.6% for the Tories (or between 34% and 39%) and 35.5% for the Liberals (or between 34% and 39%). The New Democrats remain in third, with 22.6% (or between 21% and 24%).

The Liberals have moved ahead in the seat count again, with 46 seats to 40 for the PCs. The ranges overlap a great deal, however, making the Liberal advantage incredibly soft. The Liberals range from between 39 to 50 seats compared to between 39 and 48 for the Tories. Despite the overall lead for the Liberals, it is still really a toss-up.

And the polls give little indication of which way we should lean.

The Oracle poll pegged the Tories to have 42%, against 31% for the Liberals and 25% for the New Democrats. We haven't heard from Oracle at this level any time recently, though their website does have a poll from early April done for an energy organization. Compared to that poll, this represents an eight-point jump for the Tories and a four-point slip for the Liberals.

The two Innovative polls are interesting, in that the company released the results from both a telephone and online poll done at the exact same time. And the results were almost identical.

The telephone poll gave the Liberals 38.7% support, with the Tories at 32.8% and the NDP at 23.7%. Those results showed no real change from a previous poll done by Innovative in March. The online poll gave the Liberals 38.8% against 32.8% for the Tories and 19.9% for the NDP. This showed a bigger change from an April poll done online, with a swing of three points between the Tories and NDP to the benefit of the PCs.

It is interesting that Innovative shows very little difference between methodologies, except for a higher Green number in the online poll at the expense of the NDP.

Also interesting are the other numbers released by Innovative. The company estimates that 15% of voters are "Core Liberal", with 14% being core PC supporters and 10% being core NDP supporters. That is the base (which includes undecideds), but most fascinating is Innovative's estimate of swing voters. The poll suggests that 5% are PC-NDP swing voters, 7% are Liberal-PC swing voters, while 13% are Liberal-NDP swing voters. This gives one indication of why the Liberals have lurched towards the left in their latest budget - there are more voters to pick up in that direction.

But the polls are still confused, as they have been for some time. A PC lead of the size measured by Oracle is certainly unusual, only replicated in Ipsos Reid's most recent estimate of likely voter support. The large Liberal lead is also hard to swallow, though it has been repeated in some other polls. That the race remains close among a disinterested electorate is probably the safest bet. Hopefully the polls will begin to converge as Ontarians tune in and election day approaches.

48 comments:

  1. Note that Oracle also released a pair of riding polls - NDP leading in Sudbury which would be a gain and trailing in Sault Ste. Marie which went Liberal by a lopsised margin last time. Oracle did some riding polls in BC last years and that didn't get much publicity but turned out to be leading indicators of the BC Liberals doing better than expected when they had the NDP trailing in both Kamloops and both Prince George seats when those ought to have been "low hanging fruit" for the NDP if they were actually leading across the province.

    These days almost all the polls we see released use what i would still consider to be "experimental" methodologies such as IVR or online panel based...Oracle is a real, live old-fashioned telephone survey with live interviewers and that is still the gold standard

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    1. Do you have a link to these riding polls?

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    2. DL,

      Neither Kamloops or Prince George are low hanging fruit for the NDP. While Kamloops ridings are BC's Bell-weather they lean right. Prince George is much the same while nominally a swing riding it usually has a conservative leaning both provincially or federally. In 1996 when the BC NDP won a majority Prince George-Omineca went Liberal and in 1991 it went Socred.

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    3. Eric:
      http://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/ontario-election-2014/blog/polls-polls-and-more-polls-an-early-snapshot-in-two-local-ridings-1.1812757

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    4. When I said that the Kamloops and PG ridings were supposed to be low-hanging fruit for the NDP - what i meant was that IF the public domain BC polls showing double digit NDP leads had been accurate - those would have been the kinds of ridings that you would expect the NDP to be picking up. When i saw those riding polls early in the BC election campaign showing the NDP trailing in all those seats, it made me suspicious about whether all the online province-wide polls were accurate

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    5. DL,

      Kamloops certainly should have turned orange if the polls were accurate, Prince George on the other hand has may or may not turn orange even during a NDP sweep.

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  2. Only thing polls can agree on is that the NDP support has declined from a couple months back when they were polling in the mid to high 20s and now they are in the low to mid 20s with the potential to slip into the teens.

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  3. The election is on the same day the soccer world cup is starting, I wonder if that affects turnout. At least the tories have another body to limit the damage working families is going to do them unlike the last time, it should be an interesting election.

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    1. The only game being played that day is Brazil vs. Croatia. It would be interesting to see what role - if any - it plays on voter turnout it Portuguese-heavy ridings like Davenport and York South-Weston.

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    2. I believe the game starts at 7 pm EST. One would hope most people will have voted by then.

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  4. I think that you may want to include a comment on full disclosure:

    The owner of Innovative Research Group is Greg Lyle. He is a Liberal organizer and has served as a campaign manger in provincial elections.

    His company has a product/service to guide you through "How to build projects people don’t like…" dealing with NIMBY situation ..... not unlike the the Ontario power plants that got pulled by McGuinty.

    Mr. Lyle has published interview on how polling impacts elections.

    It could be said that he is a political operative rather than a pollster.

    This information seems to me worth considering when evaluating the accuracy of his published polls.

    It would be nice to know if any polling company is doing any parties internal polls as well as public polls.

    Mr. Lyle has stated that Political parties spend a significant amount on private polls. Mr. Graves of EKOS recently bemoaned the fact that the polls done for news services were basically loss leaders... that there was not sufficient cash being paid to cover the expenses of doing a high standard poll.

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    1. "His company has a product/service to guide you through "How to build projects people don’t like…" dealing with NIMBY situation ..... not unlike the the Ontario power plants that got pulled by McGuinty."

      Lol. You're really reaching with that one. Lots of companies in lots of jurisdictions need to overcome local opposition to get their projects through. This isn't a new thing or a Liberal thing rofl.

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    2. BC VoR,

      Several pollsters provide strategies to political parties, this does not make their less accurate.

      The founder of Decima Research, Allan Gregg was aligned with the federal Progressive Conservatives back in the day.

      Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker is a staunch Conservatives, while EKOS President Frank Graves is a staunch Liberal.

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    3. Allan Gregg was more than aligned with the Conservatives. He was a political operative.

      I did not follow his polls at the time but I would have heavily discounted them as they would have been released with the primary intent on getting the Conservatives elected. I would have imagined that it was his polls that would have Kim Campbell getting elected by a landslide at the start of the campaign. It was Gregg who was responsible for the negative ad on Chretien's facial affliction that basically wiped the PC down from majority to 2 seats.

      There may be some parallels her between Gregg and Greg (Lyle) both have had very weak vulnerable candidates far ahead in their polls that would confound logic.

      I was unable to find the affiliation of Bricker and the Conservatives. Is it more than a feeling that Bricker is right wing?

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  5. Go home pollsters. You're drunk.

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  6. Wll, my freshly made Ontario model will be put to the test! With the total aggregated numbers, I get:

    45 PC
    44 OLP
    18 NDP

    I know nothing about Ontario politics (except what makes it to the news here in Québec), so this is a very neutral approach. I have not made any changes for potential star candidates or anything of the sort. We'll see how it fares in the end.

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    1. And that yields the expected Liberal minority Govt. It's what to expect

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Hello! Not Eric here! For comparaison's sake though, I'll be posting my results. With only one election under the belt for my system (I may have three simulators, but they all use the same type of formula), I'm really trying to see how it fares. So here goes:

      Oracle
      53 PC
      35 OLP
      19 NDP

      Innovative (Tel)
      54 OLP
      36 PC
      17 NDP

      Innovative (Net)
      57 OLP
      37 PC
      15 NDP

      Funny how the 11% lead for the PC brings them at 1 from a majority but the 6% lead brings the OLP right on it or better. Knowing nothing about Ontario politics, I don't know if that is an observable situation (inefficency of the PC's vote) or if it's just a fluke, but it's quite surprising. Even the PLQ doesn't have such a bad situation in Québec (and it has been noted very often how inefficient their vote is).

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  8. Right on about the disinterested voters. It doesn't look like the polls have moved much. They remain as volatile as before the campaign. This would indicate that there has been no issue or event that has defined the campaign so far. It has to be good news for the Liberals that the gas plant scandal is not really changing any minds for now: those willing to vote on the issue have already made up their minds.

    It's interesting that the Liberals win six more seats that the Conservatives with an equal number of votes. Is that even statistically meaningful given a) how close the vote must be in these 6 ridings and b) that that the minimum and max range for both parties is identical? I imagine we're talking less than 100 votes in these 6 ridings.

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  9. Sorry Eric I was wondering if you could do a seat count from the two polls you reference?

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  10. Here is the link to the two Oracle riding polls i referenced http://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/ontario-election-2014/blog/polls-polls-and-more-polls-an-early-snapshot-in-two-local-ridings-1.1812757

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  11. The Greens are not going to win the election. Any poll that says they will is just plain wrong. By the same token, any poll that says they'll take 1% in Ontario is just as wrong if not more so.

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  12. I was polled by innovative this weekend. They asked a number of questions about the Beer Store and expanding alcohol sales outside of LCBO and Beer Store before they asked the horse race questions. Is this normal?

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  13. And now Ipsos says its PC 37, OLP 31 and NDP 28! the plot thickens

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  14. Ipsos:
    http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/hudak-s-progressive-conservatives-have-6-point-lead-over-liberals-poll-1.1814999

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    1. That doesn't give me a PC majority either. It actually lowers the number of seats for them compared to the Oracle poll... it goes like this:

      48 PC
      38 OLP
      21 NDP

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    2. Out of the likely voters

      "42 percent said they would vote PC, while 28 per cent would vote Liberal. Twenty-seven per cent would throw their support to the NDP."

      a 14 pt PC lead over the OLP

      M. Soucie SVP.

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    3. Thierry,

      What if you distribute the undecided vote?

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    4. My previous projection was using the reported numbers, not the likely-voters. With the likely-voters, it does become a majority, and a very tight race for official opposition.

      58 PC
      25 OLP
      24 NDP

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  15. The big news from the Ipsos poll is: Hudak was picked as the best premier while Wynne was third in the best premier category.

    It is beginning to look as if a PC majority is around the corner.

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    1. Hudak as best Premier is scary. He'll be worse than Mike Harris and far to his right. I agree that Wynne and Horwath are not much better but at least they won't plunge us into the dark ages..

      Hudak has a great idea regarding apprenticeships. Then he goes and detracts from it by promising to fire 100,000 civil servants. He talks about reducing teachers, but so far will not say if this means eliminating full day kindergarten and junior kindergarten. Again I'd be fine with both. Where he might find some real savings is in reducing the head counts of our bloated police forces. Again, he is afraid to take on the police and the most powerful unions in Ontario.

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    2. I think you mean NDP majority

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    3. knownothingsk,

      I mean a PC majority since Hudak has a 6 point lead in the "best premier category" over Wynne and a 5 point lead over Horvarth. The NDP polls in the high 20's on a good day and that is simply not even close to majority territory.

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    4. Earl,

      The dark ages in England (more correctly known as the Saxon period) was a time of great knowledge and enlightenment. In England Latin and a Romano-British lifestyle continued for much of the population. Great Scholars and historians emerged such as the Venerable Beade and trade from a far afield as Byzantium continued. Most importantly the recall of the Legions set the stage for the development of a native political system and the formation of the nation-state of England. The departure of Rome was a necessary reform and one that made England independent, self-sufficient and the wealthiest country in Europe.

      Today Ontario is also in need of reform especially its economic performance around productivity. Manufacturing will never come back to its 1945-82 heyday even with a "low" Canadian dollar. Ontarians need to accept this and move on, be innovative and create a 21st century economy.

      Hudak does appear to have a problem "staying on script". His handlers need to do a better job if they hope to win the election.

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    5. @Earl

      You really do not see or feel that Ontario has already begun the Dark Ages?

      Ontario enjoys the greatest benefits of confederation and to its credit has prospered and been generous in giving the provinces a healthy allowance.

      It has only been under the current Liberal regime that Ontario has lost it's mojo. It still has all the advantages and somehow has frittered them away.

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    6. Winter is coming BCVOR.

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  16. Right now people still are debating what the real issues are for this election. I think we need a TV debate to happen to get people going outside of a few key ridings where interest is high for whatever reason.

    As a Green (I will mention that I am running up here in Thunder Bay-Superior North each time I post) I am hopeful of Mike Schreiner winning in Guelph as a lot of effort is going into that and has gone into it for awhile now. For the rest of the province I suspect we'll see the lowest turnout ever as the big 3 parties really don't seem to give anyone a reason to vote for them, just reasons to vote against the other parties. Negative campaigning is very frustrating.

    I suspect in the end we'll see one of the Liberals or PC's make a major error and then drop enough for the other to win a slight majority or to be just shy of it. The PC's are most likely as they have done that for 2 elections in a row (extremely winnable ones).

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    1. According to my simulator, he is currently receiving 7,25%... of course, that is without any type of bonus since I don't follow Ontarian politics and don't know what to apply. And, also, it is not taking into consideration a strong local campaign.

      For you, I have 4,85% in Thunder-Bay-Superior-North, with a potential OLP and NDP race if the results of the Ipsos poll are right. I wish you good luck in your attempt at election, I am a sympathizer to your cause.

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    2. Yeah, extreme long shot here and I know it but if one never tries one never knows. I knew I could not support the Liberals or Conservatives (both strongly in favor of throwing tens of billions of dollars away on more nuclear power) and the NDP does not appeal to me (as unrealistic on transit as Rob Ford is, among other issues).

      Locally we have an extremely weak PC candidate after the last one made comments about natives getting special treatment on taxes (it is called treaties and they are legally binding) then was dumped by the PC's and the new candidate hasn't lived here for 20+ years which is a very big deal to people up here. That leaves a stack of open votes for someone who is fiscally sane, which I feel I am and I feel the Greens are. Of course, this is now getting too one sided so I'll try to avoid being too partisan.

      Local campaigns do matter. Up here it could be a two party race, but Guelph will be among the most interesting ones as the NDP/Liberals/PC's and Greens all feel they have a shot there with good reason. While the horse race is fun, I wish we had a system that doesn't allow someone to sneak up the middle and potentially win with sub-30% support (ie: alternative vote type system so you need 50%+1).

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    3. Usually, the favourable tax treatment First Nation people receive derives from the Indian Act tax exemption not treaties. Until the First World War the only taxes levied in Canada were import taxes; duties, tariffs and some property taxes.

      The s. 87 Indian Act tax exemption is far reaching and applies to all taxes levied by government. However, it does not apply to taxation levied by First Nations themselves and herein lies its purpose: The exemption exists so First Nations have the ability to tax themselves in order to finance their own government, services et cetera. Although known as a tax exemption a better way to look at s 87 is vacated tax room-it is up to First Nations to occupy it! Perhaps the best example of First Nations occupying tax room is the Yukon First Nation Self-Government Act (effectively a treaty). It allows FNs to collect income tax from anybody within their territory. FNs do not set tax rates - taxation is harmonised with Ottawa and money collected is distributed to First Nations. Collection and tax forms (administration) are done through the CRA.

      I have a real problem with alternative vote. 1. Why should a second place vote count the same as a fisrt place vote? 2. If one is counting second or third place votes effectively a ballot has been counted twice or thrice! I think it is simply not fair.

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    4. I totally agree about changing the electoral system. What an archaic system that allows for major abberations (like electing someone with less than 30% or having a majority of seats without a majority of votes, which happened in 1998 here in Québec).

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  17. Marvelous editorial cartoon in yesterdays Ottawa Citizen re Hudak's ability to "blow it" and then he promises 1 million new jobs after he fires 100,000 civil servants !! Anybody recognise the insanity here ??

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    1. Eric: This got through your non-political campaigning / arguing filter??

      @ peter

      Of course it is insane!!

      The USSR had full employment with all people being civil servants....

      The standard of living was a bit lower than the average (well even the people in poverty) Ontarian but maybe if only half the population are Civil servants it will work out better.

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  18. DWP: also there is an article in Sat Vancouver Sun regarding the Nisga nation in northern B.C. levying property taxes to help pay for local services. I believe the Sechelt Band may also do so. They may be the only two that have signed modern treaties in order to do so.

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    1. You forgot the Tsawwassen Band.

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  19. Sorry, I meant the Globe & Mail on saturday.

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    1. Cheers Paul I'll have to grab a paper.

      For anyone interested most "modern treaties" in B.C. contain tax provision clauses although the tax agreements themselves are usually outside the treaty. This is so at a later date they (the tax agreements) can be re-negotiated without effecting the overall treaty.

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