Monday, July 6, 2015

Whither the Greens?

Lost a little in the epic shuffle at the top of the table has been the slow decline in support for the Green Party ever since the New Democrats began to pick up steam. But is this something real?

The projection has been updated with the latest polls from EKOS Research and Forum Research. The results have not changed much since last week, with the New Democrats still leading. They are at a projected 32.1% support, down slightly from last week. Their seat range has widened in both directions, from 113-140 last week to 110-142 now.

The Conservatives dropped 0.5 points to 28.4%, and their seat range dropped from 99-141 to 96-140. Of note, the maximum projected seat count for the NDP is now above that of the Conservatives, at 181 to 180, respectively.

The Liberals hardly budged, and are now projected to have 27.3% support and 73-106 seats.

The Bloc Québécois is up slightly from 5.2% to 5.5% (representing 22% in Quebec), enough to give them between one and six seats.

The Greens are up 0.1 point to 5%, putting them now in range of a second seat once again.

But that is a dramatic shift in fortunes for the Green Party. In the weeks ending from May 4 to May 25, the Greens were putting up between 6.8% and 7.4% in the aggregate - generally par for the course for them. However, as the NDP inched upwards the Greens dropped. They were between 6% and 6.4% in the first half of June, dropping to 5.5% in the June 22 projection and finally falling to 5% in today's update. In other words, the Greens have lost roughly 1/3 of their support in a matter of weeks.

It is hard to gauge the support of the Greens with a large degree of confidence. That is because their support varies so widely from poll to poll. In surveys done over the last three weeks, the Greens have been pegged as low as 2% (by two different pollsters) and as high as 7% (also by two different pollsters).

By comparison, the widest discrepancy over that period for the Conservatives has been just three points, and the Liberals four. 

So is this recent drop in the aggregate caused only by which pollsters are in the field? Not entirely.

The chart below shows how Green Party support has been trending nationwide since the end of March, according to the four pollsters that have been regularly in the field over that time.

It is hardly a clear trend, but there is a pattern in these numbers.

The most obvious is from EKOS, which is showing the most consistent and negative trend for the Greens. With the exception of that anomalous-looking April 28 poll, the Greens have been dropping in almost every single poll.

Forum is also showing some weakness for the Greens, who were polling at 5% or 6% in March and April before dropping to between 2% and 5% in May and June (or between 4% and 5%, if we exclude that 2% result). 

Ipsos's latest shift may just be sampling error, but certainly doesn't argue for a strengthening of Green support, whereas Abacus shows the Greens stable or growing.

But the larger data sets from EKOS and Forum are more convincing. They seem to suggest a shift away from the Greens taking place in mid-May, just as the NDP was gaining steam.

This shift has hit the Greens particularly hard in British Columbia, where they have their best shot at electing a second MP.

But you can see from the aggregate above that the Greens are heading in the wrong direction in British Columbia. The party had topped out at 13.5% support at the end of April, but they have since been on the decline. The Greens currently stand at 9.7% in B.C., the first time they have been at single digits since early December (and even that was unusual). 

The Greens could still potentially win that second seat in B.C. with these numbers, as they are still an improvement over their 2011 scores. And province wide polling can only hint at local strength. But it is hard to imagine the party winning more than two seats in B.C. if the Greens are below the 10% mark.

The shifting landscape at the national level carries a lot of local implications. And that goes for the Greens as well. In absolute terms they may not have lost as much support as the Conservatives and Liberals over the last few weeks, but proportionately it hits them just as hard. Could it be a surging NDP that blunts the Greens' hope for even a modest breakthrough in 2011?


  1. It made sense that the Greens would have targeted just a small area, and it made sense that that area be Vancouver Island, but that has made them quite vulnerable to NDP strength.

  2. I find it difficult to gauge Green support. They poll high in between elections and (usually) their support decreases once the writ is dropped.

    Under Elizabeth May, the Greens are also focusing on the ground game on a handful of ridings, which may be difficult to track with a website like 308.

    The Greens will hold on to Elizabeth May's seat no matter what. Their target seats are Victoria, Vancouver North, Guelph and Thunderbay - Superior North.

    After the NDP surge, I think any chance of taking Victoria or Thunderbay - Superior North is gone. Guelph I feel is the Green's best chance at a second riding. They are running the former ON environmental commissioner Gord Miller in an open seat that has "green" leanings.

    Personally, I find the Greens irrelevant under FPTP. They are nothing more than a protest vote if voters are can't stomach voting for the other three parties. I find the NDP and Liberals are better at articulating environmental issues.

    1. As was the Reform Party, until it wasn't.

    2. It's hard to compare Reform to the Greens.

      The Reform Party filled a void in Canadian politics when Westerners and right-wing populists felt excluded.

      There is not much for the Greens to distinguish themselves from the Liberals or NDP. I find Megan Leslie a better advocate for environmental issues that Elizabeth May.

    3. I agree about Megan Leslie, but I think Ira's point was that a party can only reach competitive numbers by not caring about them for some time. Reform, like today's Greens, was a long shot, but those who did the work at the riding level year in year out did so out of commitment to the cause they espoused, not out of any hope of imminent electoral success. Western Tories also felt they did a better job of representing the views of disenchanted westerners, and maybe they did on some things, but they were perceived as too compromised by the inevitable big-tent policy adjustments, and many Greens feel that way about today's NDP. That belief may eventually flower into some kind of breakthrough. Or so goes the theory.
      Ironically, it's Harper's refusal to broaden the tent, so to speak, that is proving to be the downfall of what's left of the Reform party.

  3. May's little outburst about Khadr I think caused the Greens significantly more damage than they like to admit and I suspect that they will remain in trouble pending some replacement for May; it was not the kind of comment from which a politician can recover.

    1. I don't think her comment caused the Greens that much trouble, the ones who would consider voting for her probably feel the way she does too. As for those who felt the opposite, they probabaly weren't even considering the Greens in the first place. But then, what do I know, I'm not really into a Green-voting circle so I don't know all the political views of their supporters (living in Québec, the Greens are mostly ignored by voters).

    2. I agree with Thierry, I don't believe her "outburst" caused her much trouble (I certainly don't think it helped, however). I think left wing voters who support the greens as a protest are seeing the polls and realizing the NDP might have a chance in their riding - I personally supported the green party in 2011 knowing they had no chance to win my riding (NB Southwest, Tory fortress), but voted NDP at the last minute thinking there was an outside chance of unseating Williamson of the Conservatives. In the end, it still wasn't close here, but the opinion polls influenced my vote, and the NDP did finish second.

    3. Green supporters absolutely adore May and to suggest she needs to be replaced is just a big pile of bullshit.

    4. And it's not just Green supporters who think she is terrific. Others do to but can't see enough of a party to even consider voting for it.

    5. "Green supporters absolutely adore May"

      And CPC supporters absolutely adore Harper, but he's pretty clearly become a stench to the rest of the country; my point, quite simply, is that for the Green Party to grow, they need to appeal to more than their current core; May's little outbursts have massively dented their capacity to do that.

  4. I doubt May's comments about Kahdr have made much of difference, few people even remember it. I think what we are seeing a trend to strategic voting. People are willing to switch their Green vote to the NDP or Liberals to ensure that the Harper government does not get elected.
    The real story here is the steady decline of the Conservatives. In May, they were around 32% now they
    are down to just barely more than 28%.
    At that rate of decline, they will be down to about 20%
    by election date. Factor in a declining economy and more scandals to come, and they could do a lot worse than that.
    It is beginning to look more like an NDP or Liberal majority government with the Conservatives falling to third party status.
    The numbers do not lie.

  5. I think that it is a little too soon to talk about the death knell of Green support as for only the second time they will be included in the debates. Last time they were, they received about 6.5% nationally. May herself is a strong debater and may pull off a few memorable zingers that can give people a better impression. The polls will start to show the true race after August 5, which is the official first debate.

  6. Strategic voting will hurt the Greens this time.

    1. but that was the case for the Greens in 2008 and 2011, what makes 2015 different?

  7. I would vote green, but this election is about getting rid of the Conservatives. And in a swing riding that doesn't leave me much choice.

  8. As a someone who generally votes Green, the fact that both the Liberals and the NDP are promising some sort of electoral reform certainly influences me to consider voting for them this time around, if only in the hopes that they follow through and implement that so I can better support the Greens in the future.

  9. The real damage from May's outburst is that it seriously discredited her in the eyes of the national media. She used to get fawning coverage wayyyy out of proportion to what the leader of party on 1 would usually get in Canadian politics. After May's drunken Gong Show performance - I think the national media finally saw her for the flake that she is and since then she has slipped off the radar screen and the press is no longer will to give uncritical coverage to the "Elizabeth May Show"...

    1. Funny, I haven't noticed a difference in French media. She was absent before and she is absent still! Just goes to show how differently politics is reported between English and French.

    2. Choose any voter-on-the-street as distinct from the wonks who follow Ask them, "What do you think of Elizabeth May?" Then ask them, "Has she ever given a bad speech?" Really. Go out on the street and try it. Ask ten people and report back with your numbers (and, of course, margins of error).

      Recollection of the press dinner amongst the general populace is now virtually nil. Tar miners may not like what she says in general, but that's hardly new. Voter attitudes are not based on the press dinner delivery.

      That word *delivery* is key. F-bombing may have been unwise, but go back and read the content of May's diatribe, ignoring the style. Her statements line up with the beliefs of the Canadian public, barring that minority which supports child torture.

      DL's hypothesis that the press dinner affected the views of the media is worth considering. If it were true it could be significant. However, there's no evidence to support either the pre-dinner "fawning" or any change of attitude since then, so that statement can safely be discounted.

      Will the press dinner footage be fodder for Conservative attack ads? Probably not. Not because the party wouldn't stoop to it, but because they'd prefer Green votes to NDP or Liberal votes in most ridings. So in the end, the tempest is in a very small teacup.

  10. Green supporters may be looking at Harper's climate change record and deciding that:

    1. The NDP can win several more tight 3-way contests if Green voters swing NDP.

    2. An NDP vote this time 'round will count for something.

    3. An NDP government will take climate change seriously. Notley's government has already set up a task force on climate change.

    4. Western Canada is today dealing with unprecedently serious forest fires which is driving home climate change issues. The CPC has precious little to offer a voter who is suddenly concerned about climate change.

  11. My experience is that there are essentially two types of Green supporters.
    The first share an understanding with social democrats that free market capitalism is destructive of not only the environment but also individual, families and communities.
    These Greens are like the European Greens who enter into positive coalitions with social democrats in the Nordic nations.
    The second are like my MLA Weaver who - last week- tweeted that Greens should vote Green in a few ridings where they think they have a chance but in all other ridings vote Liberal!
    MLA weaver was a policy advisor and campaigner for Gordon Campbell and is a supporter of David Black's proposed Kitimat oil refinery project - with its associated oil super tankers. He will likely become the provincial Green leader in the coming leadership convention!
    Since my Green MP May refuses to speak against his views one is left with a host of confused and contradictory Green policy positions that raise the question of the validity of the Green policy book which can apparently be trumped by an elected Green doing his/her thing!
    As more BCers become aware of these contradictions the NDP surge - and Green decline in our province appears to be steady.

    1. Interesting revelations. Thanks.

    2. Green parties are often fairly fiscally conservative, because conservation efforts are expensive. Wealthier = Healthier, and there's mountains of data to support that. Richer countries do a much better job of environmental protection that poor countries do.

      Now, the BC Greens were not like that when Adrienne Carr was leader. She was all about redistributing wealth (as opposed to husbanding it for environmental protection).

      Also, social democrats in Europe aren't always social democrats just because that's what their name says. I wouldn't describe the governing party in Germany as being particularly leftist, and it has often been in coalition with the Greens (though isn't now). But even the German Greens didn't require much in terms of concessions from their coalition partners, save a limit on the maximum speed of mass-market cars... but that limit was 155 mph (nearly 250 km/h), because Germans.

    3. Thanks for your post Ron. I went and looked up Weaver and found someone that I could see myself voting for. Science credentials galore and a common sense direction of doing as little harm as possible to both the environment and our standard of living.

      I don't consider myself a centrist voter but have an excellent personal life history of actually living Green - tree planting , water conservation, recycling while pursing a higher standard of living.

      Ms. May and Muclair and Adrian Dix scare the heck out of me as I see them fixing the world by making my life significantly more austere and less enjoyable.

    4. "Ms. May and Muclair and Adrian Dix scare the heck out of me " then you better brace yourself. Because if, as your name suggests, you actually live in BC then you are experiencing the nasty things about Global Warming.

      So the only hope mankind has is to do as May and others say let alone what the scientific community is saying. Will it impact your standard of living ?? Probably but at least you will continue to live !!

    5. "Richer countries do a much better job of environmental protection tha[n] poor countries do."

      This is absolutely not true. Rich countries simply download the waste of their economies on countries (and regions) that don't have the political or economic power to refuse. And, of course, the most polluted part of this country is also that which conventionally has been seen as the wealthiest.

    6. Ira, also, the Social Democrats are not in power in Germany, it's the Christian Democrats who are. But I agree with your point about the Greens. It's also worth noting that the German Greens took a sharp right-ward turn during the 1990s, becoming supporters of nuclear power, among other policy shifts.

    7. BCVoR,

      "Ms. May and Muclair and Adrian Dix scare the heck out of me as I see them fixing the world by making my life significantly more austere and less enjoyable."

      May and Dix promote economic policies that are hardly different from the Liberals (federal or provincial) or Conservatives, so if you want things to stay the same (a slow downward spiral for most of us, but a sharp upward boom for the 1%) you could as comfortably vote for them as anyone else. If you're part of the 1% you'll do just fine. As for Mulcair, it remains to be seen, but so far he seems to be adhering to the NDP's social democratic economic platform. When you use the terms "austere" and "less enjoyable" you inspire an image of East Germany or Communist Poland, but the NDP platform has nothing in common with those models. Corporate interests and their supporters have long attempted to denigrate redistributive and other economic policies that promote equality as inevitably resulting in an airless, austere society of mediocrity. But there's no factual basis for such characterisations. In fact, if you look at Scandinavia, it's easy to see that greater economic equality can result in a very comfortable and rewarding lifestyle (not free of problems, but what is?), and for everybody, not just for the 1%. It’s inequality that breeds austerity and dissatisfaction, not equality.

    8. If you want enough power to run a large industrial economy like Germany's, you're not going to get there with wind and solar. Nuclear is far cleaner than the coal & gas it replaces.

      Canada gets most of its power from hydroelectric dams, but hydro typically only counts as green if it's produced by existing dams - building new dams doesn't count. If we eliminate all the electricity we generate using fossil fuels (about 19% of the total), and eliminate all the nuclear (about 16% of the total), that leaves us having to make up 35% using only wind and solar (and maybe geothermal if we're lucky), plus all future growth.

      And that growth will be huge if we start converting large portions of our vehicle fleets to electric.

    9. chimurenga - You're exactly right about the benefits of having a smaller gap between rich and poor. A guaranteed minimum income (Manitoba had one for a while) would be a good way to help with that.

      That's why it would be a mistake to follow the American path of having extremely close ties between the government and big business, and why Canada's campaign finance restrictions are so important.

    10. Though, the SDU is in power in Germany. They're part of the governing coalition (a grand coalition, including the two largest parties) The CDU/CSU and SDU are governing jointly.

  12. Not a rhetorical question.

    Has there ever been an election where the Green vote on election day ever net or exceeded the support that the polls said they had?

    In the last Federal election nanos had them accurately polled at 4 %....for months proceeding the election.

    In the BC provincial election 2013 the 20 polls averaged the Green at 11.2% .. they got 8.1 % basically the same as they had in 2009.

    EKOS had the Green at 13% 2 days before the vote!!

    1. Ontario 2014. 308 had GRN at 4% they got 5%. This was partially due to faulty likely voter screens.

    2. PEI Greens received 11% in the 2015 provincial election, CRA had them at 6%. PEI Greens also cleared polling predictions in the previous provincial election.

    3. Nope Ontario 2014 the 33 polls that had Green included as a choice only 4 were below the 4.8% they got. The average poll had the Green at 6.5. Ekos had them at 8.2 the day before the election vote.

    4. BCVor: That's true if you go by the eligible vote tallies. But 308 used likely voters and if you look at the last day prediction they had them at 4%.

    5. EKOS has historically overvalued the Greens (generally at the expense of the Liberals).

    6. Because of the frequency and size of the EKOS robo-polls 308 is dominated by EKOS oll results.

      read the EKOS rationale on likely voters for the last poll of the 2014 Ontario election....

      EKOS leaves out that only max of 3% of the people the Robo-poll contacts answers

      They had the Green at 2.9% likely and 8.2% raw.... hard to be wrong with that sort of range.

      If EKOS thinks that this is more accurate relection of Green vote why doesn't he do this for his weekly federal polls that he has the Green at 7-10%?

      It would have the likely Green vote down at 1-3 % and basically sink Ms. May's party from any serious discussion.

      Even if Eric at 308 consistently used the EKOS published rationale to on likely Green voters it would be a huge blow to the Green party.

  13. Will the fair election act further impact the Green vote?

    while the Green vote sky rocketed in Ms. May's riding last election while the rest of Green support across Vancouver Island was down. How many of Ms May's voters had Driver license addresses outside her riding?

    I am pretty sure that travelling to vote in her riding would be a morally justifiable form of electoral reform for a high percentage of Green voters.

    1. The so-called Fair Elections Act will indeed make it more difficult for some Green-leaning voters to cast their ballots if the courts don’t set aside the most egregious aspects before October 19th. However, the voters didn't shift ridings in Elizabeth May's Saanich—Gulf Islands crushing victory; the campaign workers and funding did. That's being replicated on a much larger scale this year. Which, as has been noted earlier, will make predictions based on province-level polling more challenging. The trick is to find Vancouver Island polls that don’t come from an organization with an axe to grind.

      There has never been a hint of a suggestion of any irregularities in the 2011 SGI vote. If you're looking for 2011 election fraud convictions, try Del Mastro and Sona, or the unindicted Penashue who merely resigned in disgrace. Further back, there's the entire CPC in the “in-and-out” fraudulent election reporting of 2006. There seems to be a common thread amongst those criminals and transgressors…

    2. There are other examples, and they're not all Tories. Remember Desnethe--Missinippi--Churchill River?

      How about the Bloc scheme in 2000 where they would pay people to make donations to the party, and then those people would claim the donations on their taxes, effectively creating federal funding (both the donor and the party made money on the deal - only the feds paid).

      That last one bothers me because I thought of it first. I worked for the Reform Party at the time, and I saw how the political tax receipts worked (I actually produced them), and I figured we could get the government to fund us by moving money around. I proposed this to the party, and they quickly rejected the idea.

      But then two years later, it turns out the Bloc was doing it, and no one really seemed to care.

      It was a good idea, dammit!

    3. @ peter Meldrum.... seeing the impact of Global warming?

      It is hot here in the summer. We are breaking a few high temperature records that have been set randomly over the last 50 years. Today may equal the high that was set in 1994.

      Forest fires.... we will be about half of the burning Ha of the record set in 1958.

      June 28 was the hottest day in some cities breaking a record 102 years old ..

      why was it so hot 102 years ago?

    4. Ah yes

      Another Climate Denier !! Figures !!

    5. It depends what one is denying.

      It would be foolish to deny climate change. The climate changes constantly. Even with the recent warming trend, global temperatures are only just approaching the levels of 5 million years ago, which themselves were the lowest they'd been in over 100 million years. Climate change all the time.

      Second, it would be foolish to deny that humans can affect climate. The mechanics of the greenhouse effect are well understood (and the main reason we don't all freeze to death at night), and we can mess with that through our emissions. Not to mention smaller-scale effects like the urban heat island.

      The thing I'm skeptical about is the confidence people place in specific climate models that we're not allowed to examine closely. Even the historical temperature data that is used to run them is kept secret (the IPCC researchers have released only "value added" data, without giving us any indication of what they did to it and why).

      I find the lack of transparency around the IPCC extremely troubling, even though I don't doubt the underlying science. And given that the underlying science seems so clear, what do they gain by not being open?

      So I don't trust them, because they're not behaving like scientists (who should invite the world to examine to examine their work to see if they made a mistake).

      They clearly do make mistakes. The IPCC's third report had a laughable assumption about the residence time of atmospheric carbon, and that assumption was revised heavily downward in later versions (and then further confirmed by temperature measurements).

      There may well be some good science going on in there, but we're not allowed to see it.

      So I don't deny anything. But I do doubt everything, as I think we all should.

  14. I find it odd that rarely anyone mentions the fact that Greens always higher between elections but usually drop about half by election day. Essentially, people park their support with them in between and when it gets to making a serious choice, they go back to the three main parties. Greens are always going to be faced with this as general populous doesn't see them as a valid option to form government. It's a niche party in a few ridings. Just a political reality. Sorry Elizabeth.

    1. The same was routinely true of the NDP...

  15. The Green gradual slide is being outpaced by Harper's personal collapse in the polls.

    The Liberals seem to have stopped the bleeding and are now statistically tied with the
    floundering Conservatives who are over 12 points back from their majority achievement in 2011.


    Stephen Harper has the steady approval of 3-in-10 (31% this week, 30% last week) and his net score is an abysmal -30.

    1. Yes Jimmy and despite Eric's piece on the CBC Harper is going to lose this election and could, quite possibly, end up as the third party.

    2. The efficiency of the CPC vote (especially compared to the Liberal vote) makes that third party outcome extremely unlikely.

    3. Like so many other Ira you see the Liberals as the enemy in this election for the CPC !! They aren't !!

      The NDP are the enemy and will triumph. Meanwhile if Harper goes on ignoring the natives and annoying segments of the public that third place is very, very likely !!

    4. The CPC shouldn't see any of the other parties as their enemy. None of the parties should.

      Parties that do are Canada's enemy, because they're interested in winning more than they are in governing.

    5. @Peter, don't make the mistake of conflating realism and enthusiasm. There are many who would happily see Harper lynched for what he's done to democracy in this country (including me, if that's not obvious), but who also fear and respect the epic skill of the conservative machine at surgically precise riding-level strategy. Saying Harper will lose will not make it happen. They only have to swing a few votes in a certain number of key three-way races to pull off another victory, (though a majority seems all but impossible). They are still very much in contention. Know thy rival, and underestimate him/her at your peril.

    6. i think Art you don't realise how many actually want to see the end of the Harper Conservatives. Now with the aboriginals onside the odds have improved. This country desperately needs a change. Denying or deriding is not positive !!

    7. Everyone is waiting until October to see where they will park their vote to end Harper's career.

    8. Aboriginals make up about 4% of the Canadian population.

      It's an important voting block, but not a particularly big one.

    9. Doesn't have to be Ira if it can swing the vote in a riding,. We've seen ridings won by less than 10 votes. That tell you anything ?

    10. I didn't claim they did, Peter. You're arguing against claims I didn't make.

    11. Oh but you did make the claim Ira. Read your stuff again !!

  16. The Green Party is the Captain Dunsel of Canadian politics. They are a fringe party that does nothing but funnel otherwise environmentally progressive votes from parties with some chance of actually forming government and influencing change.

    Yes, Proportional Representation might make them relevant, but while I personally support PR in principle, every time this option has been put to Canadian voters, it has been soundly rejected (except for that brief period in pre-war Socred Alberta).

  17. I don't know how many of you saw last nights P & P coverage of the First Nations National conference in Quebec??

    I was astonished that the CPC had NO representative there. Sure the PM may not have been able to fit it in but to not have the Indian Affairs Minister there is astonishing. Even that CPC stalwart, Stockwell Day, simply could not give any real reason for the absence. Meanwhile Mulcair and Trudeau are both there and each addresses the conference.

    Then the AFN Chief Bellegarde moves to get support to vote down the CPC and that's 51 riding's where they can in fact have the ability !! As Idle No More showed the First Nations can really, really organize. Could be a breakthrough !!

    1. I live in an area that has a large native population that has traditionally leaned towards the NDP in provincial elections. However, voter turnout is usually not high.

      However, this has become a much better educated group and have invested heavily in creating a strong business park and growing native owned businessess.

      If they can get good organization on the ground
      they could well turn out a huge NDP vote this time.around.

      If they organize here, they can do it everywhere. Harper hiding from the press like he did at the First Nations conference, by not showing up, is only encouraging those who wish to dump him.

    2. I think you are right Glen and with Bellegarde really pissed off by the CPC non-appearance at the convention look for big efforts

  18. within a year:
    1) May pre-maturely defended Jian Ghomeshi

    2) her drunk angry rant towards against the Torries while defend Khadr playing Welcome Back Kotter off her smartphone

    3) she complained openly that she can't gain traction in Quebec due to her poor French.

    all this within a span of a year


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