Monday, December 8, 2014

November 2014 federal polling averages

The federal polling averages for the month of November bring up what could be an important question next year: was this the moment that Stephen Harper set himself back on track for re-election? While the Conservatives still trail Justin Trudeau's Liberals (for the 20th consecutive month), the numbers they put up in November were the best they have seen since before Trudeau became leader.

A total of five national and one Quebec poll was conducted during the month of November, totaling 15,672 interviews. Note that I have included the recent Ipsos Reid poll in the November averages. Though my usual practice is to only base a poll's inclusion in a given month on its last day in the field, the Ipsos poll required that an exception be made. The poll ended on December 1, but 96% of it was conducted during November.

The Liberals led in November with an average of 34.7% support, down 0.9 points from where they stood in October. This is the fourth consecutive month of stagnation or loss for the Liberals, who were at 39% in July.

The Conservatives gained 2.5 points to reach 32%, their best since February 2013

The New Democrats were down 0.8 points to 21.7%, while the Greens were down 0.4 points to 6%. Support for the Bloc Québécois was at 4.1%, and 1.4% of Canadians said they supported another party.

If we compare this month's numbers to past averages in November, we get an interesting look at how things have been shifting over the last five years. The overall Conservative drop and Liberal gain is clear, as is the fact that the NDP is still well above where it was prior to the 2011 election. And the downfall of the Bloc is stark.

The Conservatives and Liberals were tied in British Columbia for the second consecutive month, each with 32.1% support. That was a gain of 0.6 points for the Tories and a pick-up of 0.3 points for the Liberals. The NDP was up 0.5 points to 23.6%, while the Greens were down a point to 10.2%.

In Alberta, the Conservatives averaged 57.5% support, a gain of 7.4 points and their best numbers since January 2013. The Liberals were down 3.8 points to 20.9%, their lowest since April 2014, and the NDP was up 2.5 points to 14.1%. The Greens were down 4.5 points to 5.4%.

The Prairies have been remarkably stable of late, with the Conservatives at 39.3% (they have been at 39% for three consecutive months) and the Liberals up one point to 32.2%. The party has been between 31% and 33% for the last five months. The NDP was down 4.7 points to 19.5%, their lowest since April 2014. The Greens were up 3.7 points to 7.9%, their highest since May 2013.

The Liberals have reverted to the level of support they consistently showed in Ontario between August 2013 and June 2014, falling 2.3 points to 38.1%. The Conservatives were up 1.5 points to 35.7%, their best since January 2013. The NDP was down 0.7 points to 18.9%, and over the last five months have been at their lowest level of support in the province since before the 2011 election. The Greens were up 0.4 points to 5.3%.

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In Quebec, the Liberals were down 0.7 points to 32.2%, their lowest since June 2014. The New Democrats were down 1.4 points to 29.7%, continuing their steady run now stretching to 11 months in which the party has managed between 28% and 31% support in Quebec (with the fleeting exception of June, when the party was at 34%). The Bloc was up 1.1 points to 16.9%, while the Conservatives were at their highest since January 2013 with a gain of two points to 16.3%. The Greens were down 0.2 points to 4.1%.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals were up 2.5 points to 51.2%, the Conservatives were up 1.5 points to 23.5%, and the NDP was down 0.9 points to 20.6%. The region has been among the steadiest in the country. The Liberals have averaged between 49% and 52% over the last six months, while the Conservatives have averaged between 21% and 24% over that time. And for the last 14 months, the NDP has been stuck at between 18% and 23% in the region. The Greens averaged 4.3% here in November, down 2.8 points from last month.

With these levels of support, the Conservatives barely win a plurality of seats despite trailing in the popular vote by almost three points. They'd take 133 seats, a gain of 11 since last month, while the Liberals drop eight seats to 128. The NDP would win 74, down three, while the Greens and Bloc would be unchanged at two and one seat, respectively.

The Conservatives picked up six seats in Ontario, three in the Prairies, and one each in Alberta and Quebec.

The Liberals dropped seven seats in Ontario and one in Alberta.

The New Democrats dropped three seats in the Prairies and one in Quebec, but picked up one in Ontario.

With now less than a year to go before the vote is held (and even less if you listen to some of the chatter in Ottawa), the lay of the land is shifting a little. The Liberals still lead, but the Conservatives are now in a position where they could plausibly come out ahead in seats. The New Democrats are still an important factor, but are now 10 points out of second place. Of course, that is where they were before the campaign kicked off in 2011, but it seems unlikely that a party can pull off the same trick twice. 

While there is still a lot of potential for movement, it may take the campaign to get things really unstuck. The Conservatives polled an average of between 33% and 38% in the 11 months before the 2011 campaign got started, while the Liberals were steady at between 26% and 30%. Before the NDP's breakthrough, they wouldn't budge from a range of 15% to 18%. If we apply those +/- to current numbers, we'd get the Liberals at between 31% and 39%, the Conservatives between 27% and 37%, and the NDP between 19% and 25%.  By that standard, the next 11 months may look a lot like the last 20. And then the campaign starts.