Thursday, June 19, 2014

May 2014 federal polling averages

With the Ontario election campaign having kept us busy, it is time to finally take a look at the federal polling averages from May. There were only three polls conducted during the month, surveying just under 7,000 people. The numbers showed stability, the kind of stability that has been a feature of federal polling for much of the last 14 months.

The Liberals led for the 14th consecutive month in May with 33.9% support, a drop of 0.8 points since April. The Conservatives were down 0.5 points to 29.2%, while the New Democrats were up 0.2 points to 22.9%.

The Greens were up 1.1 points to 6.9% and the Bloc Québécois was down to 5.4%. Support for other parties stood at 1.7%.

How stable have things been? The Liberals have averaged between 34% and 36% support for the last five months. The Conservatives have averaged between 28% and 30% in 12 of the last 14 months, while the NDP has been pegged at between 23% and 25% for each of the last 14. That is a pretty settled electorate.

The Liberals narrowly led in British Columbia with 30.4%, a drop of 2.7 points. The Conservatives had 29.5% (+0.8) and the New Democrats 24.1% (-1.6), while the Greens picked up 3.2 points to hit 14.1% support. Apart from an anomalous December 2013, when only one poll was in the field, that 14% is the best the Greens have managed in B.C. since November 2010.

The Conservatives dropped in Alberta to 48%, a decrease of 8.7 points. The Liberals were up 1.7 points to 23%, while the NDP put up their best numbers since November 2013 with a gain of 2.6 points to 17.1%. The Greens were up 3.6 points to 8.5%.

Alberta has been, as usual, the least competitive region of the country in recent years. But the trend line for the Conservatives is certainly not a positive one. The Liberals are generally polling better than they did before the 2011 collapse, with support in the mid-to-low 20s. The same can be said for the New Democrats. Through they aren't at the 20% they routinely put up before and after Thomas Mulcair's leadership victory, they are usually registering in the mid-to-high teens, better than the 10% to 12% they could usually bank upon in 2009-2010.

Note that in the tracking charts, I have removed the markers denoting when interim leaders took over. I did this mostly to avoid cluttering up the chart, particularly in Quebec where the Bloc has had a musical chairs of leaders recently: Daniel Paillé in December 2012, André Bellavance in December 2013, Jean-François Fortin this past February, and now Mario Beaulieu.

In the Prairies, the Conservatives decreased 1.5 points to 41.2%, followed by the Liberals at 28.7% (-2.1). That is the lowest Liberal score in the Prairies since September 2013. The NDP was up 4.6 points to 22.8%, while the Greens were down 0.4 points to 6%.

The Liberals continued to lead in Ontario, up 1.3 points to 37.8%. They have been between 36% and 38% in the province since October 2013. The Conservatives were up two points to 34.8%, while the NDP was down three points to 19.8%. That is their lowest result since May 2013. The Greens were down 0.2 points to 6.1%.

For the first time since Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader, the Liberals did not hold an outright lead in Quebec last month. The party was down 2.8 points to 30.2%, their lowest since March 2013, while the New Democrats were up 1.3 points to 29.9%, their best since that date. The Bloc Québécois was up 1.2 points to 21.4%, and the Conservatives were up 0.2 points to 13.6%. Are the Tories picking up support in Quebec? They were at 12% in November-December, 13% in January-February, and have been around 14% since March. The Greens were down 0.2 points to 3.3% in the province.

The Liberals continued to dominate in Atlantic Canada, down 0.4 points to 53.7% (the Liberals have averaged 54% in each of the last three months). The Conservatives were down 4.6 points to 18.9%, their lowest since June 2013, while the NDP was up 0.5 points, also to 18.9%. The Greens were up 4.1 points to 7.2%.

With these levels of support, the Liberals and Conservatives would likely tie with about 128 seats apiece. That represents no change for the Tories compared to April, and a gain of one seat for the Liberals. The NDP was down five seats to 72, while the Bloc was up four seats to eight and the Greens were unchanged at two.

The Liberals made seat gains in Atlantic Canada (+2), Ontario (+1), and Alberta (+1), but dropped in Quebec (-3). The Conservatives were up in British Columbia (+3) and Ontario (+1), but were down in Atlantic Canada (-2), the Prairies (-1), and Alberta (-1). The NDP was up in the Prairies (+1), and down in Quebec (-1), Ontario (-2), and British Columbia (-3).

Stability is the word as we start ticking down on the 2015 election, now just 16 months away (or less than 12, if you believe that the Conservatives will pull the plug after a spring budget). One thing to keep an eye on in the next few months is the support of the Bloc. They are already quite low, but Beaulieu's start has been just short of a disaster. If that translates into a few extra points being made available to the other parties, that could be important in the multitude of very close ridings in the province.