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.


  1. With these numbers (without by-elections though, haven't made those changes just yet to my federal model), I'd get:

    131 CPC
    112 LPC
    86 NDP
    8 BQ
    1 GPC

    Region by region, it looks like:

    26 LPC
    3 CPC
    3 NDP

    40 NDP
    23 LPC
    8 BQ
    7 CPC

    55 CPC
    46 LPC
    20 NDP

    17 CPC
    6 NDP
    5 LPC

    29 CPC
    3 NDP
    2 LPC

    British Colombia:
    20 CPC
    13 NDP
    8 LPC
    1 GPC

  2. As someone who has lived in BC I think the likelihood of the Liberals garnering 30% of the vote pretty slim. We see this pattern time and again Liberals poll very well in B.C. between elections only to crash on voting day. I understand Eric's projection gives the Liberals 14 seats but, I think that very unlikely, in my opinion 8 is a more reasonable figure. The Liberal vote in BC is highly inefficient due to its concentration in Vancouver proper, the North Shore and to a much lesser extent areas of Surrey.

    1. Yet... if there are any genuine lessons at all from the recent spate of elections around the country, I would think it would be that past "patterns" hardly predict future outcomes in politics. Surprises here and there are just as likely.

    2. This is good news or bad news for all four federalist parties depending on how the information is spun.

      Liberals should be happy that they are consistently in the lead, but they could be doing a bit better. Some of the Trudeaumania wore off, but the question is would it return in 2015?

      Tories should be happy their base is in tact and they are doing decent in West + Ontario. There is a better chance of Tory support increasing rather than further decreasing. The problem for them is that the chances of them winning another majority is slim. They are not going to gain in Quebec and they are poised to lose seats in Ontario, BC and Atlantic Canada to the Liberals. Justin Trudeau is NOT Adrian Dix, Danielle Smith or Tim Hudak.

      The NDP should be happy that despite Trudeau's popularity, the polls consistently show them well above pre-2011 levels. The party is in a good position to hold on to the majority of their Quebec seats. The downside for the NDP is that Mulcair's good performance in the house is not really benefiting the party in the polls.

      Greens should be happy with a national poll showing them at 7%. They should be taken seriously by other parties especially in BC. They are competitive in Victoria, but I think they will lose their Thunder Bay seat. Though once election time comes along, May might be seen insignificant to the "big three".

      I believe the Bloc Québécois will be wiped out next year. Their new leader is unpolished and unappealing. They are lacking funds to mount a serious campaign. And I would not be surprised if all four Bloc MPs decide to quit caucus or not seek re-election next year.

    3. jdc,

      That is a good point. However, in BC the Liberals are not competitive in many ridings and we would need to see extraordinary swings to bump the Grits up to 14 seats even with an expanded BC contingent in Ottawa. With these numbers a riding such as Richmond would stay Tory and Burnaby-Douglas (which won't exist in 2015) would stay NDP. Although it must be said the new riding of Burnaby-North Shore is more favourable to the Grits.

      As I mention above Liberal support is very concentrated in a handful of areas. As an example in the riding of New Westminster- Coquitlam a working class urban-suburban riding the Grits received 8% last election. It's true in 2011 the Liberals were at a low ebb but, in the last 5 elections their best result is 27%. Generally 27% is not enough to win a riding in our system anywhere in the country.

      Briefly, I think a Liberal crash likely for many reasons but as we saw in 2013 resource development will be a key issue. With Boith the NDP and Liberal opposed to Gateway that leaves Harper about 40% of the vote. My insight would say the 10% boost from today will disproportionately come from the Liberals.

      Having said all that if the Green party can close in on the 20% mark in B.C. there will be many surprises!

    4. I think that Northern Gateway will be a steamroller for Conservatives in BC

  3. Bur Eric you have to almost ignore May and look at June as we've all seen major, significant shifts going on in June.

    How we come out of the end of June ??

  4. The NDP should be worried. Although their polling numbers are above their pre-2011 "high average" the trend has been pretty clear since Trudeau became leader. At 22.9% they are .9% above the cross-over level where they surpassed the Liberals as the lead opposition party. More importantly they do not lead in a single area of the country and are in third place in BC, the West and Ontario areas where they must improve in order to be considered a potential government. Tomorrow a poll from Forum will peg the NDP at 19% nationally. At 19% the NDP wins 30 seats +/-. At this point Mulcair is as much a liability as an asset.

    The Tories should also be worried. Although 31% places them within striking distance of a majority and positions them well to beat the Liberals in seats, they will have to work hard to convince that extra 5-10% of Canadians they deserve to be re-elected.

    It is not all good news for the Liberals either. They have not been able to open up a significant lead against the Conservatives in Ontario and they have been trending downwards particularly in Quebec, of course the Forum poll I mentioned puts them on the brink of a majority. While people genuinely like Trudeau significant questions exist as to his competence and experience. The last two elections where the Grits fielded untested leaders ended badly for them and so the campaign very likely will prove decisive.

    I don't think the BQ dead just yet. Canadian political parties often have surprising longevity even when they appear to be on the edge of death. The NDP and the PCs should have disappeared after 1993. 25% of Quebeckers are die-hard separatists they have nowhere else to go. So long as the BQ can win 25% of the vote they will be in contention for 4-8 seats.

    The Green party has held fairly steady since the election although Hyer will probably lose his seat. People like Elizabeth May and as the only woman to lead a political party her appeal stretches far beyond Hippies and environmentalists. The best shot for the Greens to win another seat is somewhere on Vancouver Island, with the NDP 8% below their 2011 result in BC they just may do it.

  5. A new Forum poll just came out a day ago, so perhaps that will be entered for the June update by the end of the month. It shows the same pattern (LPC 1st, CPC 2nd, NDP 3rd). The good news for the Conservatives is that it although the Liberals are way up from their disaster of 2011, the NDP is splitting the vote and taking a large chunk of seats so this is allowing the Conservatives another shot at winning.

  6. So who is going to win in 2015 ?

    1. The Conservatives, NDP, or Liberals, probably.

    2. You should be careful with this kind of comment, it could be seen as you having a bias against the Greens and the Bloc! ;)

    3. Very astute, Eric.

  7. All the stuff on here is great but I'm wondering if we could use a Trend Line file ?? Thoughts ?

  8. Hi Eric
    I would like to understand why liberal and conservative are tight in seat. I understand conservative are advantage with our system. However, it's a seven point lead. I don't understand

    1. Profil,

      Basically the popular vote nationally or provincially only has an indirect relationship with the number of seats a party wins. Although we think of an election in singular terms in reality a Canadian or provincial general election is the sum or aggregate of 308 individual riding (constituency) elections.

      The popular vote will vary from riding to riding. In some ridings the Liberals may get 50% of the vote in others 20%.

      For example if we had 10 ridings and in half the Liberals get 50% and in half 20% their total popular vote would be 35%. They would most likely win the five ridings where they win 50% of the vote and lose the ridings where they receive 20% of the vote. In other words they win 50% of the ridings 5/10 with only 35% of the vote.

      I hope that makes sense.

      Good luck and best wishes.

  9. And now there is speculation re an early election as the CPC has nominated about 1/3 rd of their candidates whilst the other parties almost nothing ??

    1. All I've seen is speculation by people who have no actual information concerning the likelihood of an early vote.

    2. That isn't a "Trend Line" !! It's a one month setting, not a Trend !!

    3. There is a chart above with trend lines. Here's a direct link to the chart:

      Really appreciate your close reading of my stuff.

    4. Speculation re early election is caused by the fact the CPC has so many officially nominated candidates vs the other parties very small numbers.

      CPC 100+
      Libs 30 ?
      NDP 17
      That's the numbers I've seen on the CBC site ?

    5. And there has been speculation for ages Harper would resign before the next election. Speculation is junk, written by people trying to find things to write about.

  10. It appears to me that nothing has changed since Trudeau took over as Liberal leader and that the only events that have had a significant impact on the polls since the last election are the arrival or Mulcair and Trudeau as new leaders (bumps in NDP and Lib fortunes, although the Trudeau effect seems to be longer lasting); the drama of the Senate scandals appears to have led to a slow bleed for the Cons that appears to have been stemmed for now. The rest just appears to be statistical noise.

    It looks to me that the statistical noise could be removed from the federal data by taking a 3 month running mean. Otherwise, it seems that the data is affected by the pollsters who happened to be in the field in a given month ( each pollster seems to have their own biases). Three months seems to be enough to yield a representative sample from all pollsters.

    For the provincial and regional data, it appears a 5 month sample would remove the noise and is enough to provide a baseline.

    This is more than an academic exercise. It would provide a baseline to judge how much the vote moves during an election campaign when polls become more frequent. That would in turn provide a way of gauging "momentum" and trends in the electorate created by the campaign. If the last election has shown anything, it is that trends in a campaign matter A LOT.

    A nice display for this would be to show running means in bold and the noisy monthly data in thin lines. Climate scientists always do this when plotting trends in annual data to get rid of oscillations caused by El Nini and volcanoes.

    1. I get your point. Smoothing climatic data takes out a significant amount of variation due to the system being highly variable. Forgive my poor statistical explanation but smoothing will reduce the precision of an election projection because the public can shift rapidly in the final days of the campaign and all of that would be lost with highly smoothed data.

  11. Eric what I had in mind for this Trend Line thing was to take all the polls in a given month that give a support number for the parties.

    Then average that say CPC number from each of the polls and plot that on a month to month basis. Do the same for the other three as well. Should give us an idea of where the public is going.

    Does that make sense ?

    1. What do you think I'm doing above?

    2. Peter,

      Do you mean a linear regression?

    3. A single chart that gives the national averages month by month. That's all !!

    4. That already exists. It is included in the post above. It has existed for years.

    5. The exercise of monitoring month-to-month fluctuations has proven useful in showing that monthly composites cut out a lot of the noise; however, you can't really tell from month to month which way the polls are going. In any given month, the month to month trend generally varies and is not a good indicator of real trends.

      This means that a monthly analysis of the national data may be too frequent to discern any trends (monthly analysis of economic data are even more useless). That's why I've been enjoying the longer term discussions of regional trends.

      The Liberal trend in Atlantic Canada seems real, but it's a sparse sample in most of the polls.

  12. The polls have the Liberals higher in the Atlantic provinces (significantly so) than they have been since 1993.

    Also in BC the Liberals are polling higher than they ever have...since 1968 ... Trudeaumania

    Outside of Quebec ( BQ and NDP) has distance 3rd place party ever had historical high polling in any province never mind 5.

    This is headline worthy..... Liberals polling historically high in 5 provinces.

    1. This isn't Trudeaumania. Trudeau is just a better leader than Dion or Ignatieff, two of the worst party leaders in Canadian history. That the Liberal party even survived the corruption of the Chretien Liberals and then these guys is a testament to how much Canadians love the Liberal brand. When Conservatives behave this way, they are reduced to 5th party status.

      This is just Canada's natural governing party taking over by default. It's more like what happened to the Conservatives at the end of the Mulroney era: a highly ideological, corrupt, unliked, and untrusted government of Conservatives is facing defeat (possibly oblivion) at the hands of a sympathetic, personable leader who has paid his dues in the political wilderness.

      Still things have changed. They are polling at historically LOW levels in the two provinces that count the most because of a surging NDP. With the huge NDP/Liberal swing vote in Quebec and Ontario catching on to strategic voting, it may be difficult for the Liberals to win a majority even with the Conservatives at the brink of becoming a rural party.

    2. I'd agree with most of what you said, generally speaking. I think the conservatives still have a decent shot of winning the next election though, moving 10 points during an election campaign is not unreasonable and their 31 now could easily be 41 on E day.

    3. Does any one really believe these polls are accurate !!!???

      That the Liberals with their 35 MPs and green leader are actually more powerfula political force in 5 provinces than they ever have been as the Natural Governing party where they were in power for 35 out of 43 years .

      Does not Compute

  13. Why aren't actual by elections starting with Labrador (5) included here? Especially with 4 more in play right now... An ACCURATE, no margin of error set of polls of thousands of Canadians is surely worthy of being added to your numbers...,_2013


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