Monday, March 9, 2015

February 2015 federal polling averages

It was a busy month in the polling world in February, as one Quebec and nine national polls were published, surveying over 21,000 people. The result? Very little movement since last month, when it seemed the Liberals were on track to lose the lead. Instead, they've held on for the 23rd consecutive month.

Note that the monthly averages are separate from the standing projection at this site. The projection decays polls every week, so polls taken in early February would be worth less than those taken at the end of the month. The monthly average treats all polls conducted in the same month equally, with only the sample size being a factor.

The Liberals led with 33.6% support in February, up 0.1 point from the previous month. This halts a period of decline for the party, which has fallen from the high of 39% they recorded in July.

The Conservatives were down 0.4 points to 32.7%. Nevertheless, this is still the best two months the Tories have put together since January 2013.

The New Democrats slipped 0.8 points to 20.2%, while the Greens were up 0.3 points to 6.3% and the Bloc Québécois was down 0.1 point to 4.6%. An average of 2.6% of Canadians said they would support another party or independent candidate.

In terms of the polling spread, the Liberals' position improved slightly. With the exception of a Forum poll that put the party at 39%, all polls had the Liberals between 32% and 36%, compared to a range of between 31% and 34% in January. The Conservatives, ranging from 31% to 35%, saw no change, while the NDP's range was down from 19% to 24% in January to 17% to 23% in February.

The Liberals led in British Columbia with 33.6% support, an increase of 2.6 points from January. The Conservatives were down 0.2 points to 30.4%, while the NDP was down 2.7 points to 22%. That was the NDP's worst result in B.C. since July 2009. The Greens were down 0.1 point to 11.2%. The party has averaged either 10% or 11% in 11 of the last 12 months.

In Alberta, the Conservatives were down 1.9 points to 52.6%. The Liberals were down 1.2 points to 24.4%, while the NDP was up 1.7 points to 14.6%, their best result since August 2014. The Greens were also up, by 0.6 points to 5.6%.

The Conservatives were in front in the Prairies with 40.9%, an increase of 0.2 points. The Liberals were up 1.9 points to 31%. The NDP was down significantly, dropping 6.8 points to 18.6%. But the New Democrats have been all over the place in the Prairies, averaging 24% in October, 20% in November, 16% in December, and 25% in January. Hard to discern a trend there, but the Greens were up 3.2 points to 6.8%.

The Liberals were narrowly ahead in Ontario, dropping 0.6 points to 37.4%, their worst since April 2014. The Conservatives were up 0.3 points to 36.7%, putting them in a (rounded) tie with the Liberals for the first time since July 2013. The NDP was down 0.5 points to 17.4%, and the Greens were unchanged at 6.1%.

In Quebec, the Liberals were up one point to 29%, but that still represents their worst two-month polling since Justin Trudeau became party leader. The New Democrats were steady at 27.1%, while the Conservatives were down a point to 19.6% (their best two-month period since August-September 2011). The Bloc Québécois was up 0.4 points to 18.9%, and the Greens were up 0.3 points to 4.4%.

The Liberals gained 1.2 points in Atlantic Canada and led with 50.6%. The Conservatives were down 4.3 points (the largest shift recorded this month apart from the NDP slide in the Prairies) to 21.9%, and the NDP was up 1.2 points to 19.6%. The Greens picked up two points to reach 5.9%.

With these levels of support, the Conservatives would likely win about 143 seats, up six from the January projection. The Liberals would take 127 seats, up three, while the NDP would take 63, a drop of nine. The Bloc and Greens are unchanged at three and two seats, respectively.

The Conservatives made gains in Ontario (five seats), the Prairies (three), and British Columbia (two), but dropped in Quebec and Atlantic Canada (two each).

The Liberals made inroads in Quebec and Atlantic Canada (two apiece) as well as British Columbia, the North, and the Prairies (one apiece), but dropped four in Ontario.

The NDP slipped one seat in both the North and Ontario, three in British Columbia, and four in the Prairies.

The overall picture, though, points to general stability in the numbers with the Liberals and Conservatives being within a hair of each other.


  1. How is it that the Bloc is down 0.1 points nationally but up 0.4 points in Quebec (the only province where they are running candidates)? Doesn't your model account for differences in sample size from each province from one month to the next?

    1. The national average is the average of national polls - the regional averages are the averages of regional polls. It would depend on how each polling firm is weighing things. More importantly, CROP polled in Quebec and so their numbers would not be reflected in the national totals.

  2. As a CPC supporter (though I do often vote Libertarian), I'm really pleased with these polling numbers. The unassailable lead Trudeau had enjoyed is now gone, and I think the CPC is well positioned.

    That is not to say that things can't go wrong for them, but at least now when things go right for them they might enjoy some material benefit. Another CPC majority (come October) is not out of the question.

    1. @Ira, the CPC are definately in the position of probably winning the most seats, but these numbers put their chances at a majority at less than 1 in 6. The model is weighted against the sitting government falling to either extreme. Using the model weighting, there is an equal probability of the Liberals finishing between 107 and 161 as for the Conservatives to finish between 125 and 160. It would be interesting to see what the probability of the CPC finished with over 170 seats actually is in the model, somewhere between 11% and 15%.

      Eric, is this something the model could spit out? A percent chance of a majority or plurality for each party?

    2. If the election were held today, a majority would almost certainly not happen. The polls are clear on that.

      I'm forecasting ahead, expanding the error bars as the campaign progresses. Either the CPC or the Liberals could win by 10 points.

    3. Agree entirely with that assessment/forcast. It is definitely within reason to see polling support shift by 10 points or so during an election. As various policies, platform planks and election events influence voters minds and grab their attentions. And of course 10 point swings are huge in terms of their potential to take a party from majority to crushing defeat.

  3. Still Liberal-NDP co-operation means the end of Harper's rule !!

    1. Intriguing possibility, but why would Trudeau want to take the risks and make the compromises of a coalition with the NDP if he comes as close to power in 2015 as these polls suggest? He would surely like his chances of winning power on his own in 2019 or sooner, against a weak (ie., 2nd place in the popular vote), 4-term Conservative government likely to be led by a poorly-known Harper replacement. Trudeau is only 43 and the only viable Liberal leader in sight; he doesn't need to do anything desperate to gain power because he knows it will fall into his lap sometime in the next four years.

    2. Goaltender there is NO need for the Trudeau Liberals to form a coalition with the NDP. We've had numerous situations in the last 50+ years where there were minority Govts. Sometimes another opposition party would support the Govt party and generate good results. Just think of the introduction of Medicare by a minority Liberal Govt that got passed and helps all. No FORMAL agreement is necessary in our system !!

  4. With these numbers, my model gives:

    135 CPC
    116 LPC
    79 NDP
    6 BQ
    2 GPC

    By regions, it gives:

    24 LPC
    5 CPC
    3 NDP

    38 NDP
    24 LPC
    10 CPC
    6 BQ

    55 CPC
    47 LPC
    19 NDP

    17 CPC
    6 LPC
    5 NDP

    29 CPC
    4 LPC
    1 NDP

    British Columbia
    19 CPC
    12 NDP
    9 LPC
    2 GPC

    2 LPC
    1 NDP

    Overall, compared to the January average, the CPC is down 1 seat, the NDP down 2 and the LPC is up 3. The BQ and GPC are stable. In the Atlantic, the only change is a LPC win from the CPC. In Québec, again, the only change is a LPC win, this time from the NDP. In Ontario, there is no change whatsoever. In the Prairies, this time, it's the CPC making a gain from the NDP. In Alberta, there is no change. In British Columbia, only one seat is changing hands, another LPC win from the CPC. And there is no noted change in the Territories.

  5. We will see how Trudeau's speech against Harper's playing to fears and prejudices moves the meter in the next few weeks. While C-51 is popular, certain provisions will likely be found unpalatable as they are applied.

    Judges will be reluctant to waive Charter rights without a notwithstanding clause.

    But at least Trudeau has dropped his low profile and come out swinging.

  6. Perhaps I am just displaying my age but the thing that drives me crazy is the constant reference to the Liberals and NDP forming a coalition gov’t following the 2015 election. That simply won’t happen. Unless we or the NDP finish with a majority, convention is that the GG will call on the previous gov’t (Cons) to see if they can form a ministry. Which they will try to do. If they fall on a vote of confidence at the time of the Throne Speech the GG will then call on the next Leader with the next largest number of seats to see if they can form a ministry and hold the confidence of the House. Presumably by that time, which ever it is, us or the NDP will have worked out a deal for support of a minority gov’t for x amount of time. No coalition. A coalition involves sharing power and having members from the other Team sit in Cabinet. Neither the NDP nor the Liberals will want to do that. It will be more like PM Pierre Trudeau’s Minority of 1972 –74 or David Peterson in the late ‘80’s in Ontario. The only actual coalition (outside of war time) that I am aware of was the NDP/Liberal in Sask and that lead to the demise of the provincial Liberals at the time.

    Paul McKivett

    1. I will agree that in English-style parliaments a minority is able to govern stably given an informal agreement for confidence vote support in exchange for some supported legislation. However, past results do not predicate future actions. The UK is in the last year of a 5-year deal for a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and current conditions are looking towards a similar one between either the Conservatives and UKIP or Liberals and SNP. We almost had a coalition in 2008, so it’s not an impossibility. Equally, it’s not highly likely, but still possible.

    2. Paul
      I don't think it's your age, except that you remember a time before Harper's purposely misleading attack upon coalitions for purely partisan reasons. You remember when people had a better understanding (and interest in) how the Westminster parliamentary system worked, and when all parties were considered credible, therefore whatever arrangement could earn the confidence of the House was acceptable. The fact is, although many believe we directly elect the PM, the PM is elected by MPs, not voters. And the GG may offer the party with most seats the first chance to govern, but whether they do or not depends on winning a majority of votes in the House.
      Neither the Liberals nor NDP (nor Cons nor Greens, for that matter) discuss coalitions, because none of them represents such a coalition. The Cons continue to foster fear of an imaginary Communist/Nazi/Separatist coalition in order to drive their base to vote. In the meantime, some opposed to the CPC are misguided about the reasons for their success and continue to chatter about the need for merging the parties in order to have only one place for left-of-centre voters to go. It's misguided from a partisan values perspective, and it's misguided from a practical strategic perspective.

  7. "You remember when people had a better understanding (and interest in) how the Westminster parliamentary system worked, and when all parties were considered credible, therefore whatever arrangement could earn the confidence of the House was acceptable"

    When did what people believe this?

    "The Cons continue to foster fear of an imaginary Communist/Nazi/Separatist coalition" is not a great statement if you want to be taken seriously.

    Ignoring your hyperbole any PM/part that relies on a formal support agreement with separatists will be in power only till the next election and then never again. That is a simple fact.

  8. "Ignoring your hyperbole any PM/part that relies on a formal support agreement with separatists will be in power only till the next election and then never again. That is a simple fact."

    That is not a fact, that is and opinion. You are biased.

    1. In fact, I think a CPC-Bloc coalition would be a good government. The Bloc would tone-down the social conservatism in many respects, and together they could devolve power to the provinces.

    2. There is a difference between a good government and a good electoral policy. If Harper ever gets into bed with the BQ, his own words will come back to haunt him. "Canada's government cannot enter into a power-sharing coalition with a separatist party. At a time of global economic instability, Canada's government must stand unequivocally for keeping the country together."

    3. He should never have used that rhetoric against the coalition anyway. Since he wasn't going to stick to his principles on economics anyway (his post-prorogation budget looked nothing like the one he'd proposed pre-prorogation), I think we'd have been better served by him being defeated in the house and then attacking from opposition.

      I don't expect that Dion-Layton-Duceppe coalition would have lasted long.


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