Friday, March 4, 2016

February 2016 federal and provincial polling averages

Polling was particularly thin in the month of February at the federal level, with only two national and one Quebec poll being conducted and published. In all, just under 4,000 Canadians were surveyed.

The polls suggest that the high levels of support the Liberal government has been enjoying since its election victory in October are, for the time being, holding fast.

In the two polls conducted in February, the Liberals averaged 49 per cent support — up about four points from their January averages.

The Conservatives under interim leader Rona Ambrose were up about one point to 29.5 per cent, while the New Democrats were down four points to 12.5 per cent.

The Greens averaged 5 per cent and the Bloc Québécois 3 per cent.

Tom Mulcair's New Democrats were at their lowest level of support in February since I began calculating the monthly averages in January 2009, or over seven years ago. Going through my sparser archives before that date, it seems likely that February 2016 could have been the worst month in polling for the NDP since the end of 2003.

The Liberals led in British Columbia with 46.5 per cent support, followed by the Conservatives at 27 per cent and the New Democrats at 19 per cent. The Greens averaged 7.5 per cent. With these numbers, the Liberals would be able to win 22 to 38 seats in British Columbia, with the Conservatives winning between two and 13 and the New Democrats between one and nine. Elizabeth May would be in no danger in her seat.

The Conservatives averaged 57.5 per cent in Alberta, and would take 28 to 32 seats with those levels of support. The Liberals were at 29 per cent, good for two to six seats, while the New Democrats averaged 7 per cent, good for none. The Greens were at 5 per cent here.

In the Prairies, the Liberals moved narrowly in the lead with 42.5 per cent (enough for nine to 11 seats), while the Conservatives slipped to 39.5 per cent (17 to 19 seats). The NDP was down to 12 per cent. The Greens were at 5.5 percent.

There was little movement in Ontario, where the Liberals led with 50.5 per cent support (and could win 80 to 101 seats with that number). The Conservatives were at 32 per cent (19 to 39 seats) and the New Democrats dropped to 11 per cent (one to three seats). The Greens were at 5.5 per cent.

The Liberals dominated in Quebec with 50.3 per cent support, enough to win them 68 to 73 of the province's 78 seats. The New Democrats were down to 17.3 per cent (zero to one seat), while the Bloc Québécois was unchanged at 14.7 per cent. The Conservatives dropped to 13.7 per cent, but would win five to nine seats with that level of support. The Greens averaged 3.3 per cent.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals were at 72 per cent — a big 15-point jump that we can mostly ignore since it was derived from just two small regional samples. The Conservatives were down to 16 per cent and the NDP to 9.5 per cent, and would continue to be shutout of the seat count. At 3 per cent, the Greens had their lowest level of support here.

Likely ranges
Overall, that would put the Liberal tally at between 216 and 264 seats, a big increase from the 184 seats the party won in October.

The Conservatives would win between 71 and 112 seats, putting them in the ballpark of the 99 seats they currently hold, while the New Democrats would be down sharply to between two and 13 seats.

The Bloc would not win a single seat and the Greens would retain their one.

At the maximum ranges, the Liberals and Conservatives barely overlap even at the 95 per cent confidence interval, while the New Democrats are solidly in third — or worse.

Provincial polling averages

New polls were conducted and published in the month of February in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

In Alberta, the Wildrose was narrowly ahead in a three-way pile-up with 33 per cent, followed by the Progressive Conservatives at 31 per cent and the New Democrats at 27 per cent. The Liberals had 5 per cent and the Alberta Party just 4 per cent support. This represents a rather big spike for the leaderless PCs, though Brian Jean's Wildrose and Rachel Notley's NDP have been jostling for position since the May 2015 election.

The Saskatchewan Party under Brad Wall continued to lead in Saskatchewan with an average of 54 per cent support, followed by Cam Broten's New Democrats at 33 per cent. The Saskatchewan Party has led in the province since before the 2007 provincial election.

The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives under Brian Pallister averaged 50.5 per cent in February, followed by Rana Bokhari's Liberals at 21.5 per cent and Greg Selinger's New Democrats at 21 per cent. The Tories' lead against a divided set of opponents continues to look unassailable for the April election.

In Ontario, the Progressive Conservatives were well ahead with 40 per cent support. Trailing in second were the governing Liberals under Kathleen Wynne at 30 per cent, with the New Democrats under Andrea Horwath at 24 per cent support. Patrick Brown's PCs have been leading since August 2015, though this is the widest gap since September.

And in Quebec, the Liberals continued to lead with 36 per cent support, followed by the Parti Québécois at 30 per cent, François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec at 19.5 per cent, and Québec Solidaire at 11 per cent. After a brief surge following Pierre Karl Péladeau's PQ leadership victory, the lead of Philippe Couillard's Liberals has been holding steady.


  1. The federal polling is somewhat surprising. Obviously, the Liberal honeymoon is the reason for the 49% support. However, it appears that the Conservative Party did not suffer particularly - at 30%, the party is holding on to its core. It is also worth mentioning that CPC is leaderless. The party that is in big trouble is definitely the NDP - they should be concerned about their numbers in BC, Ontario and Quebec. I do not recall the party being this low in BC, especially when the provincial NDP appears to be quite competitive. I think for NDP, the elections in Manitoba, BC and Alberta will be litmus tests that indicate how committed their supporters actually are. Personally, I think NDP will lose in Manitoba (obviously); Alberta (Notley's name is quickly becoming mud here in Edmonton); BC is the only province I see NDP having potential to unseat the Liberals.

    1. Nothing surprising about how well the federal Liberals are polling. Progressives of all stripes wanted Stephen Harper out. Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is somewhat left-leaning which is comforting to many Dippers. They also realize that a Mulcair-led NDP government would not be any more left leaning than the current government.

      I think the future of the federal NDP is bleak for now. Provincially, Manitoba is a lost cause. Their best bet is to retain power in Alberta, win in BC next year and make gains in Nova Scotia and Ontario in upcoming provincial elections.

      As you mentioned, the Conservative core is 30%. This 30% won't be shaken away form them no matter what. However, it would be a stretch to claim the Conservatives are leaderless. Rona Ambrose has been a very visible interim leader trying to mold the party into something "kinder and gentler". She'll be there for another 15 months too.

    2. The BCNDP will not win the next general election, as always it will be a close and hard fought campaign but, John Horgan is not premier material and the BCNDP does not have the trust of British COLUMBIANS. aFTER THEIR FOURTH LOSS IN A ROW EXPECT A RE-ALIGNMENT AND THE RISE OF THE GREEN PARTY. Already the Greens can expect to be competitive in a half dozen ridings mostly on the Island. I expect them to win 3/4 seats in 2017.

      The NDP is out of ideas-they are passe! The best and the brightest no longer join the NDP or the Labour Party but instead join the Liberals, Lib-Dems and Greens. Social democracy is all but dead. If Bernie becomes President it may rebound for a time but, the dye is cast.

    3. Big Jay
      Rona Ambrose keeps losing poll support. She is becoming less and less of any value as she spews the "party line" with no connection to reality. Get used to it !

    4. I think Horgan is actually the right leader for the NDP, but I think at Dix so badly discredited the NDP that they basically don't have a hope in hell.

      I agree that the Greens could make a move. I don't see them taking more than 3 seats in 2017, but if they put in a strong showing, expect them to be a big force in 2021. I know a lot of disgruntled federal Liberals are shifting from the BC Liberals to the BC Greens.

    5. I question the idea of "a lot" of federal Liberals supporting the BC Greens. There are surely some, but there are not "a lot," if we define "a lot" as being "a significant number." The last poll I saw put it at 9%.

      The fact is that I suspect more federal Liberals who are usual BCL supporters will either go NDP or not vote at all than will vote Green. Maybe this is different in the Victoria area but not in most of the province.

      The Greens are too, uh, convinced of some of their more far-flung positions to gain the support of your standard-to-more-determined BCL supporter, even gobbling up NDP voters will be a stretch going forward. The party would need to expand its appeal greatly if it truly wishes to earn a significant presence in the Legislature, beyond the 1-3 seats we keep pointing to.

    6. An unpopular Rona Ambrose isn't a bad thing for the CPC, Peter. The party numbers looks really stable, and Ambrose is only the interim leader. But if she's not well-liked, the permanent leader will look better by comparison. As long as her unpopularity isn't hurting the party (and it appears not to be), they're fine.

      I agree with your assessment of her leadership - it's basically rote adherence to doctrine - but the party's numbers seem fine.

    7. What I am seeing Ira is a sort of rethink going on. Like Brown in Ontario talking about a carbon tax and other areas looking at stuff that under Harper would have been impossible. Be interesting to follow over the next 4 years. Are we seeing a return to Progressive Conservative at least in ideas ?

    8. Ryan,

      I must strnuously disagree. The last poll I saw had the BC NDP and BC Liberals in a statistical tie 43% to 37% respectively. Since, we know that BC Liberal supporters have a higher turnout than their BC NDP contemporaries in all liklihood Christy has a small but, important lead. If the best Horgan can do is tie a premier with a 34% approval rating-that is not a formula for success. Still all to play for of course but, thus far the data does not endorse Horgan as the next premier.

      It is of course too late to change the captain but, one wonders if Farnworth should have stayed in the race? At least a race would have generated media attention. Horgan has not been particularly skilled at doing so from what I have witnessed and read.

    9. Kyle - I'm talking more about activists and volunteers.

    10. I'd note federal Liberal members don't have the option of joining the BC NDP, because BC NDP membership also automatically confers federal NDP membership. A poor choice by the NDP.

    11. Capilano Dunbar,

      It would be foolish to count the BC NDP out. Exclaiming with caps lock does not change that.

      Peter Meldrum,

      Ambrose is keeping the Tories visible and somewhat viable. That's all that matters.

      I'd rate her interim leadership in a good middle between the hapless Nycole Turmel and the successful Bob Rae.

    12. That shouldn't stop them. There's no rule that says they con't belong to more than one federal party. I used to belong to three - it let me vote in more nomination races that way.

      That you're a member of a party says nothing about whether you support that party.

    13. Peter - I think we're seeing a move away from the absurd rigidity that marked Harper's time in office, a rigidity that made less and less sense as the years past.

      I liked his rigidity from 2006-2008. But then he lost his nerve/mind and starting doing things that made no sense. Harper's original fiscal plan (balanced budgets, no bailouts) combined with Trudeau's temperment and willingness to innovate would make a great Prime Minister.

    14. Ira - the parties themselves require you to be a member of only one party. They aren't able to enforce that, but it limits how high you can rise in a party.

    15. Capilano:

      "If the best Horgan can do is tie a premier with a 34% approval rating-that is not a formula for success."

      My point is that there is no formula for success in 2017 after the debacle of 2013.

      "It is of course too late to change the captain but, one wonders if Farnworth should have stayed in the race?"

      Farnsworth was the minister responsible for the Casinogate scandal. We could just recycle the same attack adds that were used against Dix against him, except this time we could add the tape of him crying on camera during a press conference when asked about Casinogate.

      Farnsworth would be crushed.

    16. Ira I think you are right re Harper's rigidity. Now looking at where they need to get to I think there is still a very long way to go. The ultra-rigid view of the extreme right have to go. As we are seeing with Trudeau's Liberals flexibility is the essence. Something Harper never had.

      And the recognition they or one of their members has really done something wrong is essential. This recent Cheryll Gallant fiasco was a real good example. The Tory office really hammered Gallant, Ambrose mealy-mouthed it and Raitt barely said "bad" .
      Just an example but indicative.

    17. big jay,

      The caps were a mistake - an errant keystroke. Sadly, it is you who look foolish for criticising the font not the content of my comment.

      In fact the NDP is headed for its fourth consecutive loss and those of us who live in British Columbia in the Spring of 2016 see this clearly. The BC NDP is on nobody's lips. No high flyers or big investors are cozying up to them in case and certainly not in the likelihood they become Government. Most British Columbians could not name the leader of the BC NDP much less any M.L.A.s unless they happen to have a Dipper as their own. I re-mind you those who do are a minority in this Province.

      They haven't put forth a memorable policy idea in years and campaigned against the carbon tax! They are completely out of ideas and don't even bother to put up a credible or effective Opposition because frankly, the best and the brightest don't join the NDP.

      Finally, I explicitly don't count them out: "Still all to play for of course but, thus far the data does not endorse Horgan as the next premier". I examine the data and point to the conclusion I believe is supported by the data. It is what a good analyst does- some of us even make money at it.

    18. Ryan,

      Fair enough on the first point regarding Farnworth however, I don't think he would have made the best leader either, I simply wonder if the race would have produced positive benefits, mainly media attention for the NDP and new leader? The repercussions of not having a race have made the NDP nearly invisible and after their lacklustre federal campaign, leaving volunteers and activists demoralised.

    19. Ryan,

      If the rule is unenforceble, it's not a rule. Also, when I worked for the Reform Party from 1993-2000, they had no such rule.

    20. My understanding is that it is not a rule per se but, a condition of membership. Before being accepted as a member (we should all remember that political parties are private clubs)one promises they are not a member of any other party.

    21. One could lie but why bother? Surely, you didn't vote for both why not simply resign from one before or shortly after joining the other?

    22. I wanted to vote in the nomination process for all three. And I did.

    23. Well Ira, I am afraid that is just stupid. You end up cancelling your vote(s) by voting for more than one candidate. Is there some logic I am not taking into consideration?

    24. That doesn't make any sense at all.

      Assume a two-way race. I'd vote in the Liberal nomination process to choose the Liberal candidate I liked, and then in the Tory nomination process to choose the Tory candidate I liked.

      So then, in the general election, I hopefully get a race between two candidates I had some say in selecting. I still vote for one or the other in the general election, but my candidate might not win. But that's okay, because the other candidate isn't bad either.

      Also, since vastly fewer people vote in candidate nominations, the marginal impact of my vote is much larger there.

    25. Alternatively, if I really dislike one party, I can try to get them to select a less electable candidate, thus harming their chances in the general election. That's how it worked with Adrian Dix.

    26. I stand corrected Ira, I forgot you were voting in separate nomination contests.

      Frankly I find your actions disturbing and even though many years have passed I condemn them! Your actions at best were deceptive and at worst probably tantamount to treason in my mind. It reminded me why I and many more people never trusted the Reform/Canadian Alliance. The lack of rationalism among its members and its disregard for fair play. It may not be criminal, but, it is certainly an activity of low moral standard as well as not rational since, at the end of the day one needs to make a choice at the general election so putting forth two strong candidates weakens the chance of your preferred candidate (the one you vote for at the general election) from winning. Therefore, the strategy is self-defeating.

      As for your second comment; once again it shows an unwillingness to participate in fair play, is it legal? Sure. Are you a good Canadian or person for participating in such actions? I would opine No.

      I believe and I hope I am in the vast majority, that regardless of political affiliation we should all try as best we are able to make Canada a better country and the Earth a better place for our children and their children. I see your approach to be in direct opposition to this. But, hey, I am assuming you are a Canadian, a rational person, fair and good natured- perhaps you hold none of these attributes or some but not others?

      Your second comment is called a scortched-earth strategy it is what the Russians desperate to stop the Nazi invasion of 1941 did. The famine that followed killed more Russians than the Wehrmacht. It is what Tories did to help elect Jeremy Corbyn Labour leader last year. But we should all be careful what we wish for. As unlikely as it appears today Jeremy Corbyn might win the 2020 election, indeed, both he and socialism are in a much better position now to govern the U.K. than at any time in the last 80 years. If the unthinkable comes to pass those smug-faced Tories who helped elect him will be moving to Paris or Frankfurt.

      Finally, there is no evidence that Adrian Dix was elected BC NDP leader with votes other than those from BC NDP members. So, I am unsure as to the meaning of your last sentence. Even if Rogue BC Liberals or a coordinated strategy of B.C. Liberals did help elect Dix the strategy nearly backfired. a swing of 2.2% or 40,000 votes and it would have been Premier Dix. If it was a deliberate strategy it was a very risky one.

    27. I think that formal rules governing a process supercede any ethical concerns. That's what formal rules are for: to establish objective standards of behaviour.

      During the NDP leadership race, I looked at the candidates and declared that, if they chose Dix, they were guaranteed to lose the next election. If I had voted in that leadership race (I didn't), I could have voted for Dix in an attempt to undermine the party's chances.

      And yes, it could backfire. It's not without risk. Just look what's happening with Donald Trump now - the GOP tried to buoy Trump in an attempt to get Cruz out of the race, expecting Trump to implode later. That hasn't happened, and now they're left with a race between two candidates they loathe.

      Regarding your first point about possibly weakening my preferred candidate's chances in the general election, that seems to be in direct opposition to your complaint about the other strategy. But more importantly, you're forgetting that many Canadian ridings are not competitive in the general election. One party is virtually assured victory. So, if I'm a strong supporter of a party I know won't win the seat, not participating in the dominant party's nomination contest is tantamount to not voting at all. I'd just be letting other people decide who my representative is.

    28. @bede,

      Open primaries are just as much a part of the democratic array as closed primaries. Your analysis of preferred outcomes is too binary. In a multi-party system (3-5 viable choices in Canada), you can definitely have a secondary preference that you are happy supporting. For example, if Ira prefers CPC over LPC over Green over NDP, then having stronger candidates for both CPC and LPC increase the likelihood of having a preferred outcome, if at the cost of a most preferred outcome.

      Look at the OPC Party's last couple leadership elections. Due to the small base, extreme candidates (as viewed from an arbrary Party Position) have dominated over possibly more electable alternatives (for example, as a nominally OLP voter, I was supporting Christine Elliott and would have potentially voted for her depending on her exact influence on the party platform). Hudak went too hard on budget cuts; Brown is too light on policy (but appears to be tacking to the centre on social issues).

      A race between Wynne/Elliott would have forced more accountability from the current government.

    29. Ira,

      I interpret your writing to mean you did not follow the "formal rules" in fact your writing makes clear you broke them: "One can lie. I did". (Ira, March 15, 2016, 14:17). If formal rules are to "establish objective standards and behaviour (sic)". By lying you broke those standards of behaviour and ethical questions persist.

      It is certainly a very risky proposition and your willingness to participate raises more questions than answers as to why you are even involved in politics? Is it for the greater good or self-aggrandizement? Is it a noble pursuit you follow or a selfish one? It would be funny if the stakes were not so high and serious. The well-being of your family and neighbours are at stake ill-conceived actions may do irreparable harm costing people jobs and livelihoods perhaps even lives.

      I am sorry to write I have lost a good deal of respect for you Ira, and am disappointed at your actions and philosophy.

    30. Mapleson,

      I must point out you confuse the Canadian and American nomination process. Canada does not have primaries either open or closed. As someone with Americans in my family I have been brought up on American politics around the dinner table and hope I have a strong understanding of the political process Down South. Although I admit I have only ever taken one American political science course as a graduate student.

      Canada does not have primary process-we have nomination contests within political parties by riding or constituency. In order to vote in a nomination election one must be a member of the political party holding the nomination contest or election. For example; If I want to vote for the next Liberal candidate in Vancouver Quadra I must be a member of the Vancouver Quadra Liberal Riding Association. This happens in all 338 constituencies across Canada although in ridings where there is a sitting incumbent the party riding association will often grandfather the sitting M.P. as the candidate for the next election. Generally speaking the roles governing these contests are national in nature. That is to say the rules are crafted by a "national executive" or at a "national convention" although variations probably exist among the parties.

      In America the nomination rules are governed by the State political party. So the Utah Republican Association sets the rules for all Republican nomination contests and candidates standing in Utah both for Federal and State office. Rules and procedures as well as internal party governance (hiring secretaries, paying the phone bill etc...) are governed and administered by members of political parties often through a state party executive or chairman. So a political party membership in America is similar to Canada. These are the activists and door knockers, and phone callers. The difference is that anyone can vote for whoever they want in an open primary and in a closed primary you only need register as a Democratic or Republican voter. Registered Democrats or Republicans however, do not necessarily have a say or vote on how the State political party is governed. They are also generally speaking not party activists or volunteers although a minority certainly are. In other words a registered voter is much more akin to the general population. Regular people who register as a Democrat or Republican do so in order to vote in that party's primary.

      Usually one is voting for a whole list of nominees from presidential candidates to county councillors, gubernatorial hopefuls, State Senate and House nominess, Representative and Senate nominees and then there are the whole host of state official primaries such as comptroller, treasurer lieutenant governor secretary of state etc...

      I hope I have cleared this up for you. FCP

    31. Bede,

      If you're trying to effect positive change, why not seize every advantage i your attempt to do so. Why let opportunities pass without exploiting them?

      If you're not trying to make a difference, why are you interested in politics? If you are trying to make a difference, why aren't you trying harder?

    32. Well that is just it Ira, "positive change" not cheating the system for one's own benefit! Don't fear I am very involved in "positive change". I'm modest I don't feel the need to brag or advertise. I admit however, that some of the "positive change" I hoped to bring once elected were less "positive" or less "change" than I hoped and in subsequent campaigns worked against them.

      Cheating the system discredits it. I for one like the current system. But it is more than that: cheating the system causes disillusionment, a loss of hope, an increase in cynicism that has a drag on society and a negative effect on us all as less people wish to participate in the citizenry. This is turn leads to corruption and poor governance leads to lower living standards-why would I want that?

  2. Why is Mulcair hanging around? Really, what is the point? He must feel he is basically unemployable and so, remaining in his current job the only way to provide an income for his family. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad! :(

  3. Tom Mulcair is what keeps this group of folks together. As much as there was great disappointment by Rosemary Barton on CBC TV at the loss of her NDP friends in the Maritimes, he will hold this group of loose cannons from rolling all over the deck. Jack was the reason they did so well, that is all. Tom is their best choice. after the 2018 election they will decide.

  4. I think there might be some truth to Geoffrey Lee's comment. Perhaps Mulcair is worried that som of the Quebec caucus will bolt to other parties should he resign as leader. The NDP caucus and support is very much weighted towards BC and Quebec which is kind of an odd combination.

    There is also the question of who replaces him. Cullen might be a good choice, pragmatic and younger than Mulcair. There are signs though of more left-wing elements inside the NDP looking to push a more radical agenda and they might not want a more moderate leader like Cullen.

    Big Jay is probably right about their prospects in fact I think they might even be worse than he suggests. Manitoba is clearly lost and avoiding third place may now be the goal. Saskatchewan there might be a couple of seats picked back up after the disastrous last election.

    In Ontario I don't expect too many gains, Brown is running the PC's much more to the centre this time around and won't alienate the NDP-PC switchers(yes they exist in rural and blue collar towns). Horwath has had multiple kicks at the can and hasn't gone really anywhere maybe she can pick up a few seats here or there I suppose.

    B.C. might be in play but we've seen the NDP underperform there in the past. Nova Scotia is like Ontario, maybe some mild gains in play or simply holding steady.

    1. I think Geoffrey Lee is right Mulcair is the only thing holding the parliamentary party together. It is a poisoned chalice of course because with these numbers most of the NDP M.P.s will not be re-elected-so the trade-off is a united but much smaller party.

      The problem of who would lead after Mulcair isn't relevant-somebody will lead it and with the current leadership numbers we can hypothesise that his or her leadership and popular support numbers will be higher than at present. Frankly, it would hard to get worse. Mulcair is putting up numbers generally equivalent to Audrey McLaughlin during her tenure, her leadership ended with 8% support and 9 seats and this is where these numbers for Mulcair point. They are losing their opportunity to be considered a major party-one that can compete for Government, at their current levels they probably would not win enough seats to be a junior coalition partner-they are fast losing their relevance. After McLaughlin it took the NDP 3 elections to be thought as a significant piece of a potential government and this way due to a variety of factors that may or may not manifest again. At this point Mulcair (judging by his poll numbers) is doing more harm than good. A leadership race would at least provide the opportunity for some excitement and present a fora to introduce a new generation of leadership-two things Mulcair is unable to give! If NDP delegates at the convention don't dump him then, there really is not much hope for the party.


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