Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What do Trump, Clinton, Pallister, Couillard, and Trudeau have in common?

They are all leading in the polls!

- We'll start with the next election around the corner, the Democratic and Republican caucuses being held in Iowa on Monday. Hillary Clinton narrowly leads Bernie Sanders in the polls for the Democrats, while Donald Trump is narrowly ahead of Ted Cruz for the GOP. I wrote about the state of the race for the CBC here.

- In Manitoba,
 which votes in April, a new poll shows the Liberals are dropping in support, with the Progressive Conservatives taking advantage. The NDP still trails at a distance, tied with the Liberals. The poll is from Mainstreet Research and I also wrote about it for the CBC here.

- A poll by CROP conducted in Quebec flew under the radar, as the polling firm posted the results quietly to its website. Provincially, it shows the Liberals leading with the Parti Québécois dropping back. Both the CAQ and Québec Solidaire were up. Federally, the Liberals were way ahead of the other parties.

- And the latest federal numbers from EKOS show the Liberals enjoying a wide lead nationwide, with 47% support against 25% for the Conservatives and 16% for the NDP.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ambrose up in Nanos tracking

The weekly rolling poll from Nanos Research often shows shifts within the margin of error from one month to the next, but the latest set of numbers from Nanos shows that interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has experienced a statistically significant increase in support.

Note to regular readers: these weekly poll reports can get a little tedious, so I will only write about new Nanos numbers in the future when they are showing a shift that is outside of the margin of error and worth a look.

Justin Trudeau still leads on who Canadians prefer for prime minister, and by a huge margin. He scored 52.2%, down slightly from the previous independent sample from Nanos.

Ambrose was up 3.3 points from Nov. 29-Dec. 27 poll to 14.6%, an increase that was outside the margin of error (though not by an enormous amount). It will be interesting to see if Ambrose continues to show growth.

Tom Mulcair was down a little to 11.5%, but has been wobbling back and forth since the election (as has Trudeau).

Elizabeth May was down to 3.5%, the lowest score for the Green Party leader recorded by Nanos since July.

And Rhéal Fortin of the Bloc Québécois — who is a virtual unknown in Quebec — was down again to just 0.9%. Presumably, that would only put him at about 3% to 4% in Quebec. By comparison, at his peak in Nanos's polling Gilles Duceppe managed 10% in the province during the campaign.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Breaking down Saskatchewan's elections

As I plug away at the projection models for Saskatchewan and Manitoba (the three-election system requires a little more work, since some effort at a rough transposition for elections before the last one has to be done), I thought I'd share some of the information I've tallied for the Saskatchewan model.

The model will be a regional one, with breakdowns for Regina, Saskatoon, and the 'rest of Saskatchewan', which is a sadly dismissive name for such a huge area of the province. These regions have been defined as any of the ridings with the name Regina or Saskatoon (or neither, in the case of the RoS), as these mostly align with the boundaries of each city.

Both Regina and Saskatoon have a riding or two that is partly outside and partly inside the city boundaries, but a quick glance at the map suggests that a large proportion of the population in these ridings is within the city limits. Locals may dissuade me of this notion if need be.

Because the model is a three-election system, I've had to calculate the electoral results in these three regions going back to 2003. So let's take a look at them, starting with the capital.

The last time the NDP won an election in Saskatchewan, in 2003, they dominated Regina. They took 56.8% of the vote, with the Saskatchewan Party capturing just 25.6%. The Liberals took 15.9%, finishing closer to the Sask Party than the Sask Party did to the NDP.

In 2007, however, the NDP lost a lot of its support to the Sask Party in Regina. The NDP fell to 47.5% as the Sask Party increased by about 10 points to 35.7%. The Liberals hardly budged, sliding to 13.9%, while the Greens went from just 1% in Regina in 2003 to 2.7%.

The NDP dropped again in 2011, but the Sask Party's big gain in the city (rising to 55.7%) was propelled by the disappearance of the Liberals from the scene — quite literally, as the party offered up just six candidates for the entire province. While the NDP did bleed some votes to the Sask Party, falling to 40.6% (and the Greens, who were up to 3.2%), the scale of Brad Wall's victory here was largely the product of the hole the Liberals left on the political landscape.

The most recent Mainstreet poll, which put the Sask Party at 49%, the NDP at 34%, the Greens at 10%, and the Liberals at 6% among decided voters, suggests that the two smaller parties are making up ground at the expense of the two larger ones. That's bad news for the New Democrats, who desperately need to return to Regina in force.

The NDP had also won Saskatchewan's largest city in 2003, but by a narrower margin than in Regina. The party took 47.8% of the vote, with the Sask Party at 29.5% and the Liberals not far behind at 21.6%.

But the NDP lost Saskatoon in 2007, falling to 41.7% against 42.8% for the Sask Party. Though that represented a steep drop for the NDP, the Sask Party made most of its gains off of the Liberals, who had fallen to just 12.8% in the city. The NDP's slide was also driven by a gain for the Greens, who went from 0.8% in 2003 to 2.3% in 2007 in Saskatoon.

The Sask Party won the city by a wide margin in 2011, as they gathered up most of the Liberal vote. The party took 58.2%, followed by the NDP at 37.5% (a smaller slide than in Regina). The Liberals captured just 1.4% of the vote, putting them behind the Greens, who had 2.9%.

The last Mainstreet poll gives the Sask Party 52% in Saskatoon, with the NDP at 37%, the Liberals at 5%, and the Greens at 2%. This would suggest that here the gains for the Liberals may draw votes away from the Sask Party, rather than the NDP.

The New Democrats narrowly held onto government in 2003 because they kept things competitive outside of Regina and Saskatoon, winning seats in the north (of course) but also the smaller cities of Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.

But the Sask Party still won the 'rest of Saskatchewan' with 47.6%, followed by the NDP at 39.4% and the Liberals at 10.9%.

With gains from both the Liberals and the NDP, the Sask Party dominated southern, rural Saskatchewan in 2007 with 59.6% of the vote, as the NDP dropped to 31.8% and the Liberals to 6.4%. The Greens, though, went from 0.3% to 1.7% in the region.

But while the NDP held on to a few seats in southern Saskatchewan outside of the two big cities in 2007, they were pushed out entirely in 2011. The Sask Party increased its vote to 69.7% as the NDP fell to 26.7% and the Liberals to just 0.4%. The Greens picked up a point, increasing to 2.7%.

In the Mainstreet poll, the Sask Party led in the region with 66%, with the NDP at 23%, the Liberals at 9%, and the Greens at 1%. The Liberal gain has come at the expense of both the NDP and Sask Party.

As the Liberals will be running a fuller slate this time around (their website lists 29 candidates), the party has the potential to complicate things for the other two parties. But there is no sign in the polls yet that any sort of upheaval is likely to give hope to the NDP or worry to the Sask Party.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

And Trudeau still dominates Nanos 'Best PM' poll

Breaking — the weekly rolling poll from Nanos Research still shows Justin Trudeau well ahead on who Canadians prefer to be prime minister.

Considering the slow movement of this four-week rolling poll, I imagine Trudeau will enjoy a sizable lead over his rivals for quite a long time to come. Here are the latest numbers, comparing it only to previous independent samples from Nanos.

Trudeau led in the poll with 53.5%, no different from where his numbers were the month after the election.

Rona Ambrose was up slightly to 13.7%, while Tom Mulcair was at 10.6%, down from where he was in the previous independent sample.

Elizabeth May and Rhéal Fortin followed with 4.5% and 1%, respectively.

Also, I'm sure this isn't the first time you see this poll, but Mainstreet Research had a national survey out yesterday that included some numbers on the Conservative leadership race. And guess who was nipping at Peter MacKay's heels? Kevin O'Leary! I took a look at the poll here yesterday.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Liberals still well ahead in Abacus federal poll

The latest federal numbers from Abacus Data show the Liberals continue to be in fine form, though their honeymoon surge at the end of 2015 has dissipated a little.

The Liberals led in the poll with 45%, followed by the Conservatives at 28% and the NDP at 17%. Compared to Abacus's previous poll from November, the Liberals are down four points, the Conservatives are up four points, and the NDP is up one.

This follows the pattern also recorded by Forum Research since the election — the Liberals down a little from towering heights as the Conservatives recover their base of supporters. The NDP, however, remains at a very low level of support.

In other words, the gains the Liberals have made since the election have come from the NDP. As I've written in a few recent columns for the CBC, that is potentially a sustainable path to a few terms in government for the Liberals as it replicates their numbers from the Jean Chrétien years. It may seem like the NDP is in better form than at that time, but in reality what we're looking at is a lot of Bloc support from the 1990s and early 2000s now in the NDP column. That doesn't hurt the Liberals much at all.

Abacus also has some numbers on the government's approval rating. It remains high, though disapproval is catching up on approval (both are up).

One of the interesting bits from Abacus's polling is the breakdown of where Canadians place themselves on the political spectrum. The Liberals are doing disproportionately well in the centre and on the centre-left, while the Conservatives are doing disproportionately well on the centre-right and right. The NDP is doing best on the left and centre-left, but it does not dominate this part of the spectrum like the other parties dominate theirs.

I asked David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, if he could break down each party's support by the left-right spectrum. He obliged:

This chart shows just how much of the country is in the centre (or at least thinks it is). But it is also a very revealing look at the make-up of each party.

The Liberals are indeed the 'centrist' party, but they are pulled much more to the left (30%) than they are to the right (12%).

The Conservatives are much more of a centre/centre-right party than the Liberals are a centre/centre-left party, with a substantial right-wing. Just 8% of Conservatives consider themselves left-of-centre, while 49% think of themselves as right-of-centre.

The NDP still has a large portion of supporters considering themselves centrists, but they are pulled to the left more than the Liberals (39%, including 14% who are just on the left).

It shows with numbers what we already know — useful since it backs up conjecture with hard evidence. The Liberals are a centrist party that leans towards the left. The Conservatives are a centre-right party, and the NDP is a centre-left party.

The results for the Greens are illuminating. The Greens are sometimes considered a bit of a centrist party when the environment is left out of things, but their supporters do not seem to agree entirely. The party is clearly centre-left, with the largest portion of people who consider themselves leftists among the five parties. The Greens look a lot more like the NDP than they do the Liberals, though the Greens do have the largest proportion of right-of-centre supporters, by a narrow margin, apart from the Conservatives.

The Bloc is also a centre-left party, sitting somewhere on the spectrum between the Liberals and the NDP. And for all the noise about the niqab, only 9% of Bloc supporters seem themselves as right-of-centre.

Nevertheless, for the Bloc and Greens we're talking about small sample sizes. But it does help us put them on the political spectrum: from left-to-right, this chart suggests the parties should be placed with the NDP first, then the Greens, Bloc, Liberals, and Conservatives.

On an unrelated note, I wrote about a new by-election poll for Oshawa–Whitby here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mulcair drops in Nanos 'Best PM' tally

The latest weekly sounding from Nanos Research on who Canadians prefer for prime minister has low numbers for Tom Mulcair — the lowest on record for the NDP leader.

Nanos's poll is a four-week rolling sample, so there is a lot of overlap from one week to the next. But the chart below breaks down Nanos's polling into independent samples. Since the election, there have been three. Note that the first result for Rona Ambrose includes some responses for Stephen Harper.

None of the movement from poll-to-poll is outside the margin of error, so too much should not be made of these numbers until a more long-term trend emerges. But the difference for Mulcair between the first post-election poll and the most recent, where he registers 10.3%, is just 0.1 point less than the margin of error for these two samples.

Justin Trudeau's numbers in these independent samples are heading in a positive direction, and he leads with 53.2%.

Ambrose follows him with 13.2%, while Elizabeth May and Rhéal Fortin were at 4.2% and 1.1%, respectively.

As noted in Nanos's release last week, Trudeau's biggest competition is the undecided. They are at 18% in the last poll. If we remove the undecideds, Trudeau leads with 65%, followed by Ambrose at 16% and Mulcair at 13%.

On another topic entirely, and quite different from my usual beat, I took a deep dive into the numbers surrounding our mission in the Middle East against ISIS.

And on another unrelated topic, you'll find below the latest provincial polling averages, updated through to December 2015.

Click to magnify

Monday, January 11, 2016

PCs lead comfortably in new Manitoba poll

A new poll from Mainstreet Reseach for Postmedia shows the Progressive Conservatives with a wide lead in Manitoba, settling a bit of a dispute from recent polls out of the province as to whether the Liberals really are making a serious move. While their support is the highest it has been in decades, they still do not appear to be in a position to seriously challenge the Tories — at least yet.

The PCs led in the poll with 44%, followed by the Liberals at 27% and the NDP at 23%. This puts Mainstreet in line with the Probe Research poll released over the holidays that had the split as 43-29-22. The Insightrix poll putting the gap between the PCs and Liberals at three points seems to be the odd poll out.

Another 6% supported the Greens, and 24% was undecided. (The infographic above is courtesy of Mainstreet.)

The single-election projection model (the three-election model is still under construction) would deliver 41 seats to the PCs with these numbers, with the Liberals winning nine seats and the NDP taking seven.

The strength for the PCs would seem to be largely due to the split between the Liberals and NDP. The PCs, recall, took exactly 44% of the vote in the 2011 election. The party looks poised to virtually sweep the rural parts of Manitoba, and benefit from a split in Winnipeg. Like the Probe poll, Mainstreet shows the Tories ahead of the other two parties by a much less significant margin in Winnipeg than it does province wide: 37% to 28% for the NDP and 27% for the Liberals. But it should be enough to tip the balance quite strongly in favour of the PCs.

I talked about the political situation in Manitoba (prior to the release of this Mainstreet poll) with provincial columnist Deveryn Ross on the latest episode of the Pollcast. You can listen to it here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

December 2015 federal polling averages

Just two polls were conducted in December, so we're still in a light polling phase. But the Liberals continued to lead by a very wide margin in the monthly averages.

The Liberals led with 46.2%, down 5.8 points from November. The Conservatives were up 5.1 points to 29.6%, while the New Democrats were up just 0.2 points to 14.2%.

The Greens followed with 5.4% and the Bloc Québécois with 3.7%.

The shift between the Liberals and Conservatives is rather large by normal standards, but since we're only talking about four polls (two in November, two in December), it may look bigger than it actually is. November's tally, taken in the wake of the federal election, may also have been a little exaggerated.

Regionally, the Liberals still led in British Columbia, though the margin between them and the Conservatives shrank. The NDP was also up.

The Conservatives widened their edge over the Liberals in Alberta, while in the Prairies the Liberals dipped just below the Conservatives.

The Liberals were down in Ontario to the benefit of the Conservatives, but the lead in the province remains very wide. The same goes in Quebec, but there was some movement that put the Bloc in third behind the NDP, reversing their relative standings from November. In Atlantic Canada, however, the NDP dropped from second to third behind the Conservatives.

With these levels of support, the Liberals would win between 209 and 237 seats, expanding their majority government significantly. They would put up some very strong showings in British Columbia and Ontario, and virtually sweep both Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

The Conservatives would win between 71 and 113 seats, with potential losses in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. The New Democrats would win between seven and 17 seats, almost all of them in B.C. and Ontario. They would run the risk of being shutout of Quebec, as would the Bloc Québécois. The Greens would win just their one seat in British Columbia.

So the Liberal honeymoon continues unabated. If there are any worrying signs in these numbers for any party (and no party should be worried this far out), it is that the New Democrats have not seen any rebound yet from a post-election frenzy for the Liberals, whereas the Conservatives are back to the numbers they have had in the polls for most of the last few years.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wall leads by wide margin in new Saskatchewan poll

The latest sounding of public opinion in Saskatchewan, which holds its election in a little more than three months, shows Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party to still be in a very strong position.

The poll gives the Sask Party 59% support, up two points from when Mainstreet Research last polled in early October. The New Democrats trailed with 28%, down four points, while the Liberals were unchanged at 7%. The Greens were down slightly to 3%.

The score for the Liberals is interesting, as the last poll from Insightrix, taken just after the federal election, had the party with double the support. It appears it might have been nothing more than a post-election blip.

Regionally, the race was somewhat closer in Regina and Saskatoon, where the New Democrats had 34% and 37% support, respectively, among decided voters. Nevertheless, the Sask Party was up by 15 points in both cities.

Outside of the two cities, the Sask Party was ahead with 66% to 23% for the NDP. The Liberals were not much of a factor anywhere.

The NDP scored better on some issues than they did on the voting intentions questions, but the Sask Party was still well ahead on all scores. There is little indication that Wall is at any risk.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

More Albertans have negative view of Notley, positive view of Jean

An interesting poll by Abacus Data for Progress Alberta, a progressive interest group in Alberta, was released this week about the views of Albertans on themselves, their leaders, and some of the policies the new NDP government has put into place.

Where Albertans place themselves on the political spectrum, and where they place other Albertans, is particularly interesting. You can check out the full report from Abacus Data here.

But for our interests, the views Albertans have on the province's party leaders is notable. For one, Rachel Notley is seen as more progressive than the NDP, while Brian Jean is seen as more centrist than the Wildrose party.

Overall, 61% of Albertans said Notley was progressive or leans progressive, compared to 16% who thought she was conservative or leans conservative. Jean scored 15% on being progressive, while 47% thought he was conservative. The remainders considered these leaders to be in the centre.

Of the three main party leaders, Notley did score the highest on Albertans having a positive impression of her. She had 32% on that mark, but 38% said they had a negative impression of her. Another 25% were neutral while 5% did not know.

Not terrible numbers for Notley, but the honeymoon does seem to be over. Her best results were in Edmonton, where she had a 43% to 27% split on positive/negative impressions. That worsened to 30% to 36% in Calgary, while between 49% and 57% of Albertans outside of Calgary and Edmonton had negative views of the premier.

Jean is still largely unknown, with 35% saying they have a neutral impression of the Wildrose leader and another 23% being unsure. Of those with a firm opinion, 24% had a positive impression of Jean and 18% had a negative impression.

Ric McIver, interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives (who may be mulling a run for the permanent position), is much more unknown: 65% were either neutral or undecided on him. Another 16% had a positive impression, while 19% had a negative impression.

The poll has some interesting findings on some of the moves the NDP has made, and I encourage you to check out the Abacus report. There are, of course, the caveats that this poll was commissioned by a group with a political point-of-view, and that should be taken into account when reading Progress Alberta's own analysis. But the Abacus report itself is about the numbers, and there some fascinating ones there.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Trudeau support holding steady

The weekly check-in from Nanos Research (expect another 200 or so before the next election) shows no change of significance over the last month.

Justin Trudeau remains in front by a very wide margin, with 52.6% of Canadians choosing him as the best person to be prime minister. Rona Ambrose edged ahead of Tom Mulcair with 12.1% to 11.6%, while Elizabeth May had 4.8%.

While this is the first week-to-week improvement in Ambrose's numbers since she took over the interim leadership of the Conservatives, she is still down from the last independent sample. But none of the leaders have experienced any shift since the previous independent Nanos sample larger than 1.6 points, well within the margin of error.

Being prime minister is wearing well on Trudeau, at least so far. Shortly before the election campaign began the country was split on whether Trudeau had the qualities of a good leader. Now, Trudeau is at 71%, and has held steady at around that level since winning the election.

Mulcair stands at 56% on this score, while Ambrose is at 27%. That is primarily because she is still largely unknown (38%), but the number who say she does not have the qualities of a good leader stands at 35%.

One wonders, though, how much the approval ratings of new, low-profile leaders is reflective of the approval rating of the party they lead. Fully 48% of Quebecers think Rhéal Fortin, who is the interim leader of the Bloc Québécois, does not have the qualities of a good leader. That isn't markedly different from the numbers that Daniel Paillé, André Bellavance, Mario Beaulieu, and Gilles Duceppe managed in their brief tenures since 2012. But how many of those 48% of Quebecers have even seen or heard a single thing about Fortin?