Friday, March 20, 2015

Quarterly check-in with the premiers (updated)

Yesterday, Angus Reid released the results from their quarterly polling on the approval ratings of Canada's premiers. As usual, Brad Wall of Saskatchewan topped the list while Manitoba's Greg Selinger, after almost losing his job in a leadership vote, was at the bottom. But the poll did have some interesting findings - namely that two of the premiers heading to the polls this year have decent numbers and that, for the most part, premiers are unpopular.

Update: It was indeed a typo, but Gallant's DK was 10 points too high, rather than his disapproval rating. It has been fixed below. Angus Reid caught it earlier, but the wrong version of the PDF was still in my cache. Apologies. Before we get into the poll, a note on the numbers for Brian Gallant of New Brunswick. In Angus Reid's poll, the numbers for Gallant added up to 110%. I corrected this in the chart below by reducing Gallant's disapproval rating by 10 points, which aligns more closely with Angus Reid's previous poll. This would mean his 43% disapproval was a simple typo, and should have been 33%. I have checked with Angus Reid and will update once I have the correct numbers.

Let's start with the two premiers who will be asking for a mandate of their own this year (Wade MacLauchlan of Prince Edward Island is the third, but Angus Reid does not include the province in its poll - with good reason, as even with a sample of 6,278, PEI's share of that would represent just 27 respondents).

Jim Prentice of Alberta registered an approval rating of 43%, representing a drop of seven points for the PC leader since the last quarter. His disapproval rating was up six points, to 39%.

That is not a positive trend for Prentice, but with the divided opposition he faces he can easily win with 43% support. In fact, Alison Redford took 44% of the vote when she won the 2012 election, so Prentice appears in a good enough position.

And with a new rating of +4, Prentice is one of only two premiers with a net positive score.

Paul Davis of Newfoundland and Labrador had similar numbers to Prentice, with 41% approval and 43% disapproval. That is a sharp improvement for Davis, who had an approval rating of just 34% last quarter. His disapproval rating, however, was also up, by six points.

The issue with Davis is that in a three-party system where the third party may take just 10% of the vote, 41% would not be enough to win. And the polls by the Corporate Research Associates show that satisfaction with the PC government in the province is relatively high - and yet, the governing party is trailing in the polls at a great distance. It is almost as if Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have gotten over the anger they felt with the Dunderdale administration, but still want a change. That will be tough for Davis to overcome.

Two premiers have a year to go before the next election in 2016, and they could not be any more different.

Wall topped the list yet again with an approval rating of 64% and a disapproval rating of 30%, the highest and lowest scores, respectively, in Canada. His net rating is a remarkable +34, the best by a wide margin. And that 64% approval, in fact, matches the share of the vote his party took in the 2011 provincial election. He would seem to be in fine form to secure re-election, which no one doubts at this stage.

His numbers have slipped a little, as they have dropped for three consecutive quarters. But the shifts have been marginal, and he has a lot of room to fall before he has to worry.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Selinger, who found himself at the bottom of the list again. His approval rating stands at just 22%, with disapproval at 63%.

That is an improvement for Selinger, who was at just 17% last quarter, but it still makes for the two worst quarters for the NDP premier in Angus Reid's polling. It spells doom for his party's re-election chances, and that is part of the reason he almost lost a leadership vote a few weeks ago. His net rating of -41 is the worst in Canada, again by a wide margin.

The other premiers on the list are at least two years away from having to face the voters, so this poll is more of a mid-term check-up.

The two Atlantic Liberal premiers, Gallant and Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia, have decent scores. McNeil put up an approval rating of 43% and a disapproval rating of 44%, rather standard fare for a sitting premier. But he has dropped in three consecutive quarters, after posting an approval rating of 66% in June 2014.

Gallant has rather mixed numbers for a newly-elected premier, at 40% approval to 43% disapproval. His disapproval rating is up rather sharply.

The two central Canadian Liberal premiers, Kathleen Wynne of Ontario and Philippe Couillard of Quebec, are seeing their numbers turn a little sour.

Wynne's approval rating has dropped over two quarters now to 36%, with her disapproval rating at 53%. Her net rating is a poor -17. But this negative trend is lessened somewhat by the fact that Wynne's numbers are now more or less back to normal, after experiencing a post-election bump.

Couillard might be a little more worried, with an approval rating of 35% and a disapproval of 58%. That represents a drop in his approval worth six points, and his net score of -23 is the lowest in Canada with the exception of Selinger and Christy Clark of British Columbia. Coupled with a new poll out today from CROP showing his party dropping to just 29% support, Couillard seems to be experiencing the same post-election slump that Jean Charest went through when he first became premier in 2003.

Finally, Clark's numbers are holding steady with 33% approval and 60% disapproval, though that is a far cry from the post-election honeymoon of a 45% approval rating that Clark had in 2013. Only Selinger's net rating is worse than Clark's -27. But she doesn't have to face the electorate until 2017. Of course, poor approval ratings are certainly something she is familiar with and, undoubtedly, it probably doesn't scare her after the 2013 experience.

An unpopular bunch

As mentioned above, the poll does suggest that Canadians are not very happy with their premiers. In only Saskatchewan do a majority of respondents approve of their premier, and in four of the nine provinces polled (including the three largest) a majority disapprove of their premiers. Seven of the nine boast negative net ratings, and five of them have been in office for about two years or less. Their numbers are bound to get only worse.

What does this mean? Are we just poorly served by our leaders, or are Canadians so polarized that many find it hard to support a leader for whose party they did not vote? In no province does the current approval rating of the premier stand at a higher level than the share of the vote that premier's party took in the previous election. In Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador it is significantly lower than the bar set by the last election.

Perhaps it isn't a sign of a serious problem with our leaders or our politics, but rather a case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. One hopes our collective psyche is not as simple as that.


  1. Éric -- from the first paragraph, didn't Mr. Selinger narrowly keep his job in the leadership vote?

    And perhaps it may have been more accurate to scale down Mr. Gallant's numbers to the same proportions out of 100% from the 110% (thus a 36/25/39 split). I guess we'll all know when you hear back from Angus Reid.

    1. Whoops! Fixed.

      As for Gallant, when there is a mistake like this it is usually a typo of some sort. So adjusting it like you suggest would probably not be more accurate. There was a mistake in Selinger's posted numbers as well, but it was that the DKs should have been 14% (as above) instead of 8% (as in the PDF). I'm sure it is a similar kind of mistake with Gallant.

    2. Thanks, fair enough. You'd think polling firms would double-check their reports more thoroughly, eh?

      "Dammit, Jim, I'm a pollster, not a proofreader!"

    3. From the detailed report on their site now, it looks like they adjusted the "Not Sure" column from 27% to 17%, making Gallant negative overall.

  2. Two tangent questions: is the margin of error valid for an online panel survey? is the Andrew Reid, Founder of Vision Critical, who donated the data set related (or himself) to the eponymous Angus Reid?

  3. Brad Wall must be the envy of every sitting premier in this country (and past premier's too). Canadians as a rule are not typically kind to their sitting leaders.

  4. The premier most tied to the 2015 federal election would be Wynne.

    Wynne approval should be at its lowest if she is doing her job correctly at year 2 of a 5 year mandate. This is the time for her to do the unpopular things.

    The 2015 Ontario budget should be released prior to the October federal election. If it is a good budget it will even further hurt Wynne's short term approval.

    Trudeau and her are very tightly linked on a number of levels.

    Has there been any sitting premier so tightly involved with a Federal leader, ever?

    Does Trudeau campaign with Wynne and her 36% approval rating??

    Will the media keep the Trudeau/Wynne political romance in the news?

    Will Wynne keep fighting with Harper in public? There are 53% of Ontario voters who disapprove of Wynne and might side with Harper.

    Will the media give it the same sort of coverage as they have to date?

    Do the Cons put out attack ads linking Trudeau to Wynne?

    1. The Wynne approval rating is equal to the Liberal support levels in the last Ontario election. The 53% disapproval rate is split between OPC, NDP, dissatisfied OLP, and non-voters. I think the 53% disapproval rating of Harper in Ontario is much more important to Harper's election than the approval or disapproval rating of any of the primers.

    2. Just have to do it.

      So Harper why is Harper's disapproval rating in Ontario not split between Liberal, NDP, Green, dissatisfied CPC supporters and non-voters. ?

      Snark off...

      You seem to have a Liberal bent...

      Here are a couple of what I think are reasonable questions:

      do you think Trudeau will stick with his strategy of campaigning as Wynne's political friend/surrogate in Ontario over the next 6 months?

      Wynne , or at least media coverage of it, has been quiet on how bad Harper is for the last 2 months. Will that continue?

      snark back on..

      It is not in Ontario's interest to have Wynne in an all out adversarial relationship with Harper who according to this site is a good bet be PM for the next 2-3 years at least.

    3. The Harper disapproval is split between everyone listed. I mention it because you stated a possible relationship between the 53% disapproval of Wynne, and thereby approval of Harper. With a 53% disapproval rating for both, it becomes a question of who do people dislike more (Wynne/Trudeau or Harper) and who they were voting for anyway.

      As Wynne's current approval rating was sufficient for her to win a majority of seats in Ontario, I would suggest it is a net positive to energy that same base, as the majority of disapproval wouldn't vote Liberal anyway and a substantial portion will plug their noses and vote for the Liberals anyway.

      As for Wynne having an adversarial relationship with Harper, Harper cannot afford to alienate rural Ontario, so he too must plug his nose and get along.

    4. As for my political disposition, I label myself a fiscal conservative and social liberal. This would probably put me into the Green Party, but they have about a snowballs chance in Hades. My vote currently goes to whichever party I feel has a chance of being elected locally and will make the biggest effort in paying down the national debt.

    5. You seem to have a Conservative bent if you think Harper will be PM for another 2-3 years (which the site currently projects his party to win 143 seats).

    6. This site numbers give the CPC 164 seats max, so no chance of a majority, thus Harper will be gone max one year from election. One way or another he is going to out soon..

    7. JImmythedeke - I suggest you both re-read the chart, and re-read Éric's description of what this site actually does.

      Éric is not predicting the election months in advance. He's interpreting current polling results.

    8. I understand that. BCVR is predicting a majority when the polls have not support it and consistently have not since 2011. I was merely pointing out that the CPC max seats is well below majority and has been that way for years.

      One way or another he is going to out soon..

    9. Jimmy The polls did not ever show Harper winning a majority in the History of polls.... Yet there is the fact that the voters gave Harper a majority.

      People 1 Polls 0

      Right now EKOS and now Leger have Harper at the same level of support (within the MOE of CI) that they had him at the last election.

      The campaign has not started.....

      In august 2010 about the same lead time as we have to this election Ekos had a couple of polls with the Cons under 30%.

      according to the EKOS polls Harper is polling much better than he was when he won a majority.

    10. Big Jay...

      Okay suspend your believe and say that somehow the polls have corrected them selves after a decade of under estimating Right wing support.

      So if Harper get 147 seats and Trudeau somehow gets 127.... that would be the same margin that Harper had in his first time a PM over the Liberals 124-103. He ran the country like this from Jan 2004 thru jan 2006. 24 months.

      Paul Martin had a margin of victory of 135-99 and he governed from June 2004 to Jan 2006... 19 months.

      The winner of the election get to govern... otherwise there is another election.

      If the Liberals and NDP want to make a coallition then Mulcair and Trudeau have to make public their joint position on pipelines.

      Trudeau comes out and says he will go along with mulcair in stopping the pipelines then pure and simple we get a conservative Government.

      If Mulcair come out and says if Trudeau is PM pipelines are okay... the NDP won't get enough seats to hang onto their official party status.

    11. BCVoR, and if a range with the MOE instead of hard number is used (like here on 308), then EKOS would have been predicting a Conservative majority in 2011. So either Harper doesn't have the same amount of support (exclude the MOE) or EKOS predicted a Harper majority (including the MOE). Which point do you prefer to distort, because it seems otherwise you just pick and chose as you like to believe.

    12. "Jimmy The polls did not ever show Harper winning a majority in the History of polls.... Yet there is the fact that the voters gave Harper a majority."

      That logic can produce a result that Trudeau will win a majority too.

  5. I'm flabbergasted that Prentice has such high numbers compared to Redford's. From a governance standpoint, Prentice is doing the same stupid stuff that Redford was doing.

    Adjusted for inflation, Alberta's per capita spending has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. That's their fiscal problem. The price of oil is irrelevant. 21st century Alberta is just like Alberta of the 1970s and 80s. They spend way too much and then blame someone else for it.

    Only in the 1990s have they acted in a fiscally responsible way. It's infuriating.

    1. Agreed Ira. The one thing I'd say in support of Prentice is he is visible. Redford held a certain distance by design I thought.

      As for finances. It is a taxation problem as much as a spending problem. Alberta's population is ageing like everywhere else in Canada and so consumption taxes become more effective and payroll taxes less. I wouold remind you that the 1990's with King Ralph dividends were not fiscally prudent.

      It is infuriating and it speaks to the lack of political sophistication within Alberta. Good governance is probably more dependent on a credible and competent Opposition than Government in the Westminster system.

    2. The dividends were unnecessary, but they made a valuable point. This is your money, and we take it from you by force.

      Ralph's cuts were harsh, but given the level of overspending they needed to be. From there, the province needed to allocate spending more sensibly going forward. Sadly, they didn't. Even Ralph was overspending by the end of his time in office.

      Alberta could, if it had managed its money better, be in a position like Alaska. But it managed its money badly.

      The positive legacy of the 1990s was the massive deregulation in Alberta. Having recently moved to Alberta from BC, I love the private car insurance and private liquor stores and private utility companies.

    3. But beer is more expensive in Alberta. So whatever good deregulation did with liqour stores it certainly has not yet had a positive benefit on prices. It is nice that you can go to a Liqour store until 2 am.

    4. Beer is, because Alberta has a beer tax BC doesn't have.

      Buy scotch or cognac, though, and you're paying an extra $40+ per bottle in BC.

      But the primary benefits are selection (there's so much you can't get in BC), convenience (some Alberta liquor stores deliver), and employment. When Alberta privatised its liquor stores, the number of people employed in them skyrocketed.

      Overall, privatising Alberta's liquor stores lead to better selection, better hours, more locations, and more employment.

    5. So, it's cheaper to be an alcoholic in Alberta-wonderful pyblic policy!

    6. It's also cheaper to drive a car, run a business, earn an income, and a great many other things.

  6. Concerning your conclusion, I suggest that there's a link to be made between the approval rating and the number of active parties in the province (division of the vote). In some province, being elected by only 30% gives you power, but no public support for your policies, which directly lead to dissatisfaction. I don't think you have to worry about any "greener grass" effect.

    1. I think we live in times were a leader is conflated with their party and if in power the government. Therefore, approval/disapproval ratings really are voting intention questions reformatted into a "this one or any other" format. For the Premiers, there is no breakdown by voting intention, but for the Federal leaders there are. In general, they have 70-90% support from their own party, and from 10-80% from other parties. Assuming a three-way race, you need 80% support from your own party and 40% support from the others to reach a net positive approval.

  7. Obviously a lot to do with this opinion is how well a particular province is doing. Thus the provinces with real economic problems will show distinctly lower approval !!

  8. Yes Wynne's numbers may be low but who did she destroy in the last election?? Hudak and the Provincial Tories who still dom't have a leader a year later. As to the provincial NDP don't make me laugh !

  9. I find it interesting that 2 (really 3 will Wall) of the top 4 popular leaders are Conservatives.

    1. I'll add another interesting but equally useless analysis, since Clark is functionally a conservative the lowest 2 most unpopular leaders are NDP and Conservatives!....Each province has its own set of unique problems, where each individual is judged by the residents. Manitoba has for example had an NDP government for most of my life, and has had successful and popular NDP premier in Gary Doer, but Sellinger has never been popular, is not Gary Doer and has likely sunk his own ship with his policies and approach to politics. That has more to do with his fortunes than the party he belongs to.

    2. Davis and Prentice are pretty much old line PCs not anything like the federal Conservatives. Wall is most popular possibly because his party is just not affiliated with either federal party. Which does matter very much in these opinion ratings.

      Unfortunately for Wall or Prentice, Canada has never taken to electing Premiers as PMs. The opposite of the US where they usually elect Governors.

    3. But Sir Charles Tupper Bt. did serve as premier of Nova Scotia and PM, though, not elected.

    4. Clark is not functionally a conservative. Clark's first legislative action upon becoming premier was to raise minimum wage.

      And her predecessor, Gordon Campbell? His first legislative action upon becoming premier was to raise minimum wage.

      The BC Liberals are conservative only by BC's standards.

      If we judge by inappropriate standards, we get inappropriate results. If we compare to the Saskatchewan NDP - probably the most leftwing major party in the country - that makes everyone else look fairly right-leaning.

    5. Hugh Segal (former?) Conservative senator is in favour of a guaranteed minimum standard of living. Essentially using tax dollars topping off the working poor ensuring everyone reaches a certain baseline..aka an income supplement. Is that a conservative idea or would he not be a functional conservative for proposing it?.. Do conservatives define themselves as being in favor of reduced purchasing power of the poor and making their lives harder, since without any minimum wage increases the poor would lose purchasing power continuously as inflation pushes the costs of goods and services ever higher. In Manitoba under Gary Filmon (Progressive Conservative) minimum wages were also increased 4 times under his premiership. Increased 3 times under Brad Wall (Sask Party)...and almost every year in Alberta since 2005. Conservatives seem to be in favour of increasing minimum wages with the exception of Ontario under Mike Harris. I think, they do it for political rather than ideological reasons, as raising the wages is a great way to win favour with the electorate.

      As for Clark and the BC liberals...Don't take my word for judging them as functional conservatives, a Google search can find a lot of far more knowledgeable people than myself concluding this...

    6. Hugh Segal is a Progressive Conservative / Red Tory, who see raising the bottom the easiest way to raise everyone.

    7. Ralph Klein talked openly about eliminating the minimum wage when he was Premier (at the time, almost no one earned it). His reasoning was that the bureaucracy surrounding it was more expensive than the benefits of a minimum wage warranted.

      He talked about deregulating marriage for the same reason.

      There are good reasons to talk about a guaranteed minimum standard of living that cut across traditional ideologies. As more and more jobs are performed by machines (especially white collar jobs), more and more people will be rendered effectively unemployable. While this would produce a highly productive economy, it would also create a persistent cohort of unemployed people that grows and grows. Unless we want some sort of downtrodden underclass in a dystopian future, we need to find a way to provide those people the means to live meaningful lives, even if they're not (and cannot be) part of the productive economy.

  10. The problem for Wynne and usually all premiers is their popularity apex occurs about a year after their first majoritry victory. To be at Christy Clark levels (who has been premier for three times as long) is a poor omen.

    At 22% it sure looks like Selinger's politcal career is coming to a close unless Mulcair becomes PM and appoints him to the Taskless Thanks.

    finally I am surprised Prentice's numbers are so high, the economy is in a shambles, the Government listless, yet, Prentice still eeks out a net positive rating. I think uit really speaks to the political cultural in Alberta and the lack of Opposition. Ifr I had to make a prediction I would say the PCs will bge re-elected.

    1. yep Christy Clark was polling 28% a month before last election.

      So if she has a 33 % approval it would mean that in an election 30 days from now her party would get around 50% of the vote and a huge majority.

      The pollsters and polls don't like Ms Clark but somehow when compared to the best the NDP and Suzuki Liberals have to offer we the people love her.

    2. Alright, that's it. This is the last time I'm going to let you post this kind of argument. Using the last poll a pollster made before a previous election and then extrapolating that to election results is simply lazy and not at all a proper use of the numbers. In this case, you're forgetting that a campaign changes voting intentions - in a new campaign, Clark could do even better than 2013, or much worse.

      Methodology changes, margin of error, the shifting voting landscape (the voting pool of the Conservatives in 2011 when the NDP was at 31 and the LPC at 19 is different in 2015 when a whole new swathe of voters has joined the pool and the NDP and LPC numbers are reversed).

      Stop making this argument, because I'm just not going to post it anymore. It misleads readers and it is a waste of time pointing this out to you because you keep posting it anyway.

    3. Any investigation into Clark's fortunes would need to look at the NDP numbers, as well. I also don't think they have found the sort of transformative leader they would need to overcome the horror British Columbians have when they think back to past NDP Premiers.

      BC is an odd place, politically speaking. Note how in federal elections they often seem to move in the opposite direction of whatever the rest of the country does.

    4. Federally BC has a strong regional divergence as well. But thats not overly shocking most places already have strong Urban vs Rural splits.

  11. An unpopular bunch of premiers, but most of them are safe bets for re-election.

  12. A usual nitpick, but the BC Liberals are more blue than red in our colours. For example:

    1. I don't think the media has adopted that just yet.

    2. You can be the first! :3

  13. Eric you have the numbers so can probably answer this easily.

    If we remove all Alberta seats from the total what is left for the major parties in the rest of the country. Thanks

    1. That's an interesting question. Why are you asking it?

      If we remove an entire province, the results change quite a bit. Without Alberta, the projection would show a Liberal minority.

      But why not remove a different province? Why Alberta? What are you trying to achieve here?

    2. I think everybody knows that the Conservatives depend heavily on the Alberta seats to even get a minority govt. So if Alberta disappeared what is the result. As you say probably a Liberal minority. I contend Alberta skews the seat result so badly that something needs to be done !

    3. If you removed the have Provinces the ones that send cash to the ones that can not make end meet on their own you would have your utopia of low but equal services for all.... sort of like Mother Russia

      or maybe you could get Norway to send some money,,,, (everyone compares how well Norway handles its Oil money compared to spendthrift Alberta.... hint Norway keeps it for the 3M Norwegians rather than funding Health care across Europe)

      Take BC and Sask out of the mix as well.... it works out well geographically.

      Based on the 2011 election you would have:
      Cons 101
      NDP 90
      Liberal 31
      BQ 4
      Green 0

      A conservative Government sort of what we had in 2008

      Chances are that you would have 4-8 years of a socialist government followed by a solid conservative government voted in soon after we stop accepting immigration and temporary workers permits based on a ROC passport.

    4. You could say the same for the Liberals and Ontario since 1980 or Quebec before 1980. Mulroney and Mackenzie King are the only PMs with a plurality of seats in every province.

    5. BCVoR,

      You realise that Ontario is a net contributor to equalization payments? Ignoring that fact, your geography also forgets that Newfoundland is a have province as well.

  14. Nothing to do with Have or Have Not provinces. It's just about the numbers.

    1. I'm not sure you're correct Peter, I believe Ontario is the average on which equalisation is based. Equalisation is calculated based on the average revenue yield a province would garner at the average tax rates based on five major revenue sources.

    2. Sorry Cap but it is only about the numbers, not anything to do with the politics


COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. PLEASE KEEP DISCUSSION ON TOPIC.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.