Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Satisfaction with Trudeau remains high; Manitoba NDP in third

Nanos's weekly 'best prime minister' tracking continues to wobble back and forth, with Justin Trudeau now back up to 53.1%, compared to 12.7% for Tom Mulcair and 11.3% for Rona Ambrose. Early days, of course, but that wobble seems to only be happening for Trudeau. Mulcair is holding steady but Ambrose has yet to experience her numbers rising from one week to the next.

Elizabeth May had 5.1% and Rhéal Fortin had 1.2%.

More relevant poll than who would be the best person for a job that Trudeau has for the next four years is a Nanos survey asking about Canadians' satisfaction with what the Trudeau government has been doing. The results are good for the Liberals: 67% of Canadians are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with what the Trudeau government has done so far. Just 28% were dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied.

Satisfaction was highest in Atlantic Canada (79%) and British Columbia (74%), and was lowest in Alberta and the Prairies (57%).

Manitoba NDP drops to third place

Greg Selinger's New Democrats got a lump of coal on Boxing Day when the Winnipeg Free Press published the latest results from Probe Research. The numbers were ugly.

The PCs, who have been holding steady pretty much since the last election, were leading with 43%, followed by the Liberals at 29% and the NDP at just 22%. Those are the best and worst numbers for the Liberals and NDP respectively for a very long time — Probe Research, operating for the last two decades, has never had the NDP in third.

And it gets worse from there. The NDP is trailing in Winnipeg with 29% to 35% for the Tories (the Liberals also have 29%). Only in the core part of Winnipeg does the NDP have a lead. Everywhere else around the city the PCs are in front, and in most parts it is the Liberals that are in second.

The PCs also look set to virtually sweep the area outside of Winnipeg (53% to 29% for the Liberals and 13% for the NDP).

So things are looking good for the PCs in the upcoming April election. Coupled with Brad Wall's likely victory in neighbouring Saskatchewan in that province's April election, right-of-centre parties might have their first victories in three years in 2016. I wrote about what could be a fleeting conservative comeback for the CBC today.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ontario PCs narrowly lead unpopular Wynne; plus a little Christmas cheer

A new poll from Forum Research and the Toronto Star shows that the Progressive Conservatives under Patrick Brown enjoy a narrow lead over the Ontario Liberals, despite Kathleen Wynne's disapproval ratings being sky-high.

The poll (only the Star report is online at the moment) gave the Tories 34% and the Liberals 31%, virtually unchanged from the 36% to 30% spread that Forum recorded in early November. The New Democrats had 26%, also unchanged from that previous poll.

Brown seems to have a profile problem. He has a net positive approval rating at 25% approval to 24% disapproval, but 51% of Ontarians still don't have an opinion of him. That is a lot of people to impress — or repel.

Wynne has an approval rating of just 23%, with 61% disapproving of her performance as premier.

Andrea Horwath of the NDP had a 40% approval rating and 26% disapproval rating.

It is a problem for the PCs when they are not doing better against such an unpopular premier. A similar situation in Manitoba is taking place, but the numbers are completely different. In Manitoba, the New Democrats have been in power since 1999 though the premier, Greg Selinger, is relatively new. He is deeply unpopular and trailing in the polls by about 20 points.

In Ontario, the Liberals have been in power since 2003, though Wynne is a relatively fresh face. She is also unpopular. But she is trailing in the polls by just three points.

Twas the night before Christmas on Parliament Hill

I deal with numbers on a daily basis, but for this holiday season I thought I'd try my hand with words. Here's my rendition (along with a dramatic reading!) of "A Visit from St. Nicholas", adapted for the Ottawa bubble.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Trudeau still tops Nanos PM poll; Watson approval ratings high

The latest installment of the Nanos weekly tracking poll still has Justin Trudeau well ahead on who Canadians think is the best person to be prime minister.

He topped the poll with 50.2%, followed by Thomas Mulcair at 13% and Rona Ambrose at 12.9%. Elizabeth May scored 5.1%, while Rhéal Fortin was at 1.3%.

Compared to the last completely independent sample (recall that Nanos employs a four-week rolling poll with weekly updates), Trudeau is down a little more than three points. Ambrose is also down, but that previous sample included some numbers for Stephen Harper, so it is an apples to oranges comparison.

Trudeau's drop is within the margin of error, but it will be interesting to track these independent samples rather than just the week-to-week variations. I'll put together a chart for that once Nanos's poll chugs along for a little longer.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson boasts high approval rating

Forum Research put out a poll on Ottawa issues today. They are virtually all of very local concern, so I invite you to peruse Forum's report.

But Mayor Jim Watson's approval rating is of note. Forum pegs it at 73%, with just 27% of Ottawa residents disapproving of Watson. His numbers are high across the board, particularly among Ontario Liberal and Ontario NDP supporters. But even a narrow majority of PC supporters in the city support Watson, who in a former life was an Ontario Liberal MPP and cabinet minister.

Note that Watson took 76% of the vote in Ottawa's 2014 municipal election.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Divided vote boosting PC chances in western Manitoba

A poll published in the Brandon Sun by Probe Research shows just how much trouble the Manitoba New Democrats are in, with four months to go before voting day in the province.

The poll shows that the NDP's support in western Manitoba has dropped by more than half, from 41% to 18%. Virtually all of that has gone to the Manitoba Liberals, who have risen from 4% to 22%. The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, have not seen their vote change at all: they took 53% of the vote here in the 2011 provincial election, and are now polling at 54%.

This is the developing story of the Manitoba election, that the PCs will almost win by default as the NDP loses a huge share of its vote to the Liberals. Look at the regional breakdown in the Probe poll.

Brandon West and Brandon East were relatively close PC-NDP races in 2011, with the NDP prevailing in Brandon East. Now, with hardly any movement on the part of the PCs, the Tories are well in front in Brandon West and narrowly ahead of the Liberals in Brandon East. Considering that the Liberals are not likely to have the sort of organization they will need in this election (they won 7.5% of the vote and one seat in 2011), it will be difficult to get out all of the vote to win a riding like Brandon East — further boosting the PCs chances.

In the rural parts of western Manitoba, the PCs are even less likely to be challenged. But even there, in Parkland the margin was just 14 points in 2011. Now, with the PCs down two points, the margin is 29 points.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trudeau continues to have majority support as PM

With detailed posts becoming less frequent here — at least until the provincial elections in Manitoba and Saskatchewan kick-off — I thought it might be useful to do shorter posts to alert readers of and summarize new polls on various topics that have come out in the previous 24 hours. I'd appreciate your thoughts in the comments section about whether this is worthwhile.

The latest poll comes from Nanos Research, as part of its weekly rolling poll. The latest numbers show Justin Trudeau at 51.5% on who Canadians see as the best choice for prime minister, followed at length by Rona Ambrose at 13.7% and Thomas Mulcair at 12.8%. Elizabeth May and Rhéal Fortin (interim leader of the Bloc) scored 5% and 1.2%, respectively. All seem to be holding steady after the post-election re-alignment.

You can read the full report from Nanos here.

Ambrose is suffering from a lack of familiarity (41% say they do not know if she has the qualities of a good leader), but Mulcair is clearly at a low ebb, as Nanos has not had him this low since the tracking began in 2013.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Premier approval ratings: cracks in the Wall?

The Angus Reid Institute has published its quarterly review of premiers' approval ratings from coast-to-coast (excluding the territories and Prince Edward Island). The numbers show some significant shifts in opinion since Angus Reid's summer poll, and diverging fortunes for the two premiers headed for an election in April.

But while Brad Wall still topped the list, some (small) cracks are beginning to show in his dominance in Saskatchewan.

Wall's approval rating stood at 60 per cent in the poll, with 35 per cent disapproval. That puts him as the only premier with a majority approval rating, but it is his lowest approval rating recorded by the Angus Reid Institute since these quarterly polls began at the end of 2012.

The Saskatchewan premier was the only one with a strong net rating, but two other premiers also had positive scores. Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia had the approval of 46 per cent and the disapproval of 43 per cent, while Rachel Notley in Alberta had an approval rating of 45 per cent and a disapproval rating of 44 per cent.

(Paul Davis was included in this poll, as he lost the Newfoundland and Labrador election on November 30.)

Brian Gallant of New Brunswick was the only other premier with a generally even rating, scoring 34 per cent approval and 39 disapproval. His 'not sure' rating of 27 per cent was, by far, the largest.

Four premiers put up some very poor numbers. The best of them was Philippe Couillard of Quebec, with an approval rating of 35 per cent and a disapproval rating of 57 per cent. He was followed by British Columbia's Christy Clark (34 per cent approval, 60 per cent disapproval) and Ontario's Kathleen Wynne (30 per cent approval, 60 per cent disapproval). For Wynne, that was her lowest rating since becoming premier in early 2013.

At the bottom of the list — again — was Manitoba's Greg Selinger, with an approval rating of 22 per cent and a disapproval rating of 65 per cent.

Wall and Selinger, book-ending the table, are also the two premiers headed to an election in the spring. However, in terms of who has positive momentum and who has negative momentum, the roles are reversed.

Since the last quarter, Selinger's net approval rating has increased by three points, from a woeful -46 to a still woeful -43. But since this time last year, in the final quarter of 2014, Selinger's net approval rating has actually improved by 13 points. That is the greatest improvement recorded by any premier in the last year. Admittedly, though, it was from a very low base.

Wall, on the other hand, has seen his net approval rating drop by seven points since the last quarter, and 14 points since last year. Only Wynne had a worse year-on-year drop in support, with her net rating dropping by 20 points to -30.

McNeil and Gallant, perhaps buoyed by the federal Liberals' strong performance in Atlantic Canada, saw their net approval ratings increase by eight and 30 points, respectively. Clark was also up three points since the last quarter.

Notley, however, has seen her net approval rating slide by 13 points over the last three months. That has decreased her net rating from a respectable +14 to a break-even +1. Couillard's rating has also dropped by 13 points over the last three quarters, though he was in a worse position a year ago.

If approval ratings can act as a proxy for potential electoral performances, a few of these premiers are in a very safe position: Wall, McNeil, and Notley. Couillard could prevail in a divided political landscape in Quebec. Clark and Gallant would be in much more trouble, while Wynne and Selinger would be defeated.

Luckily for most of these premiers, they do not have to face the electorate for quite awhile — the provincial elections on the schedule for 2017 are in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, and Clark has shown her resilience before. Wall is a virtual lock for the April election in Saskatchewan, but Selinger looks like he will be in tough.

Of course, four months is an eternity in politics, so neither Wall nor Brian Pallister, leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives, can take anything for granted. But these will be hard numbers to mess up, in Wall's case, or, for Selinger, overcome.

Monday, December 7, 2015

November 2015 federal polling averages

The post-election period begins, and the federal polling will remain light for a little while. But two polls were conducted last month, and they show the Liberals in the midst of quite a little honeymoon.

The Liberals averaged 52% in those two polls conducted by Forum Research and Abacus Data. That is an increase of over 12 points from the election results.

The Conservatives averaged 24.5%, a drop of over seven points, while the New Democrats were down almost six points to 14%.

The Bloc Québécois averaged 4.5%, while the Greens averaged 4%.

The Liberals led in every region except Alberta, with 44.5% in the Prairies, 51.5% in British Columbia, 52.5% in Quebec, 55% in Ontario, and 68% in Atlantic Canada. The Liberals were in second with 33.5% in Alberta.

The Conservatives led in Alberta with 50%, and were second in the Prairies (38%), Ontario (27%), and British Columbia (24%). The were third in Atlantic Canada with 10.5% and fourth in Quebec with 13%.

The New Democrats were in second only in Atlantic Canada, where they stood at 15%. They had third place showings in the rest of the country, with 14.5% in British Columbia, 9% in Alberta, 15.5% in the Prairies, 14% in Ontario, and 15% in Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois held the second spot in Quebec with 17.5% support. The Greens had their best result in British Columbia, where they were at 9.5%.

I haven't yet updated the three-election projection model to incorporate the 2015 federal election results, but based on the 2011 three-election model these numbers would deliver the following seat ranges:

Liberals: 231-278 seats
Conservatives: 51-92 seats
New Democrats: 5-10 seats
Bloc Québécois: 0-6 seats
Greens: 1 seat

Early days, of course, and the polls have little practical impact. But it does suggest that Canadians are reacting favourably to the Liberals' first weeks in office.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Newfoundland and Labrador election post-mortem

In the end, the results were a little more interesting than people were expected. The Liberals still won a big majority in Newfoundland and Labrador (roughly as big as the PCs won in 2011), but the opposition was slightly more robust than some had feared it would be.

The Liberals won 57.2% of the vote, and captured 31 of the 40 seats that were on offer. The Tories took 30.1% of the vote and seven seats, while the NDP took 12.1% of the vote and two seats. I went over the regional breakdown of the results in my CBC piece here.

But how did the projection do? Broadly speaking, it did a decent job.

The Liberals were projected to within one percentage point and one seat and the Tories within two percentage points and one seat. The NDP was over-estimated by a little more than three percentage points and two seats.

But overall, with the emphasis having been placed on the minimum/maximum projections, the forecast was good.

And the new three-election model proved its worth. Had the old model been used, the Liberals would have been projected to win 27 seats, with nine going to the Tories.

The district-level projection was not as good as I would like it to be, making the right call in 33 of 40 ridings for an accuracy rating of 82.5%. The potential winner was identified by the likely ranges in one more district, bumping that accuracy up to 85%.

In the maximum ranges, the potential winner was identified in all but one district — the result in Fortune Bay–Cape La Hune was the one that bucked all the trends.

Of the seven errors, one was projected with 50% confidence and four with 67% confidence or less. The errors were not consistently on one side or another, with the PCs winning three seats the projection model awarded to the Liberals and the Liberals winning four seats awarded to either the NDP or the PCs.

With the actual results plugged into the model, the district-level accuracy did not change: 33 of 40 would have been called correctly, though the potential winner would have been identified in 35 of 40 ridings. But the errors would have been more consistent in that the model would have systematically over-estimated the PCs, getting more NDP seats right but more PC seats wrong. The projection with the actual results would have been 27 Liberals, 12 Tories, and one NDP. The old model would have done even worse, with 25 Liberals, 13 Tories, and two New Democrats.

How did the polls do? It might be better to ask how the poll did. Only Forum was in the field in the last five days of the campaign. In the table below I've included all of the pollsters that released data during the campaign, but I think it is worth considering the amount of time between the polls conducted by Abacus and CRA and voting day. This is particularly the case for CRA, which was in the field for more than two weeks.

Forum's election-eve poll was the closest, with an average error of 2.33 points per party.

The performance of the other pollsters appears to have been directly related to the gap between their final poll and election night. I'm not sure if there is much to read in this — though Forum did have a poll done on Nov. 24 that was much closer to their final estimation than it was to the Abacus and CRA polls released during the same week. But there just wasn't enough data to do much comparison between the different pollsters.

Nevertheless, Forum's last poll of the campaign was close to the mark, following on their successful final poll of the federal campaign.

Next up, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in April.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Liberals win in dramatic fashion in Newfoundland and Labrador

That the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberals won big in last night's provincial election came as no surprise. If anything, many expected their victory to be even bigger.

But despite those over-heated expectations, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians still delivered the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives their respective best and worst performances in half a century — and the most significant swing in a party's fortunes in the province's history.

You can read the rest of my first run-through of the Newfoundland and Labrador election results here. I'll be back with a more detailed post about how the projection and the polls did this week.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post the updated monthly provincial polling averages chart, which I had let lapse during the federal election campaign. You can click on the chart to the left to magnify it, and you can always find it in the right-hand column of this site.

If we consider the B.C. Liberals a conservative party, Liberal parties are leading in five provinces (Quebec and Atlantic Canada) and are in second place in one. Conservative parties, including the Saskatchewan and Wildrose parties, are leading in three provinces (from Saskatchewan to Ontario), and are in second place in five. The New Democrats are leading in two provinces (B.C. and Alberta), and in second place in three. The PQ is in second place in Quebec.