Saturday, April 9, 2016

March 2016 federal and provincial polling averages (updated)

An update to this post was made on April 15, for two reasons. Firstly, the original post failed to include a poll by the Innovative Research Group that had been conducted in March. Secondly, there was an error made in how the maximum seat projection ranges have been calculated since the election. Edits have been made throughout the text and the graphics have been updated as well.


Federal polling picked up a little in March, with five national and one Quebec poll being conducted and published throughout the month. In total, over 10,000 Canadians were sampled, and the numbers continue to show robust support for the Liberals.

The Liberals led in March with an average of 45 per cent support, down four points from February. But they are down only 0.2 points from January and 1.2 points from December.

As February had only two national polls, it would perhaps be unwise to draw too many conclusions from a comparison to that month. It might be more accurate to say the Liberals are down slightly from where they were in December and January. It is also their lowest result since the election.

The Conservatives averaged 30.5 per cent support, up one point from February and 2.1 points from January. This was their best score since the election.

The New Democrats were at 13.1 per cent, up 0.6 points from February but down 3.2 points from January — and 6.6 points since the October vote.

The Greens were at 5.5 per cent and the Bloc Québécois at 4.4 per cent, steady numbers since the election. Another 1.5 per cent, on average, said they would support another party or independent candidate.

I won't make any direct comparisons to the regional results in February, as the two polls from that month would have still had very small combined regional sample sizes.

The Liberals led in British Columbia with 47.4 per cent support, a second consecutive month of increase putting the party back where it was in the aftermath of the election. The Conservatives have been wobbling back and forth, and averaged 25.6 per cent in the province. The New Democrats were down again, falling to 15.8 per cent. The Greens were at 9.9 per cent.

This would likely deliver between 29 and 38 seats to the Liberals, with the Conservatives winning between two and 11 and the New Democrats and Greens only one apiece. That is a decrease from last month for both the Conservatives and NDP, and a gain for the Liberals.

In Alberta, the Conservatives continued to lead with 58.7 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 28 per cent, the NDP at 6.6 per cent, and the Greens at 4 per cent. This would likely deliver 29 to 31 seats to the Conservatives and three to five seats to the Liberals.

The close race in the Prairies continued, with the Liberals and Conservatives tied at 40.8 per cent, enough to give the Conservatives 17 to 19 seats and the Liberals between nine and 11. The NDP was at 11.3 per cent and the Greens at 6 per cent.

The Liberals dropped to a post-election low in Ontario to 46.7 per cent, dropping them to 75 to 93 seats in the projection. The Conservatives were up to one of their highest level of support since the election with 35.4 per cent, enough to give them 27 to 43 seats. The New Democrats were at 12.6 per cent (one to five seats), and the Greens were at 4.5 per cent.

The Liberals were down 4.1 points in Quebec from February (there were three polls in the province that month) to 46.2 per cent, but that would still give them almost all of the province's 78 seats with 63 to 73. The NDP was up 0.6 points to 17.9 per cent, but that would likely only win them one seat. The Bloc Québécois was up 2.8 points to 17.5 per cent (zero to five seats), while the Conservatives were down 0.2 points to 13.5 per cent. That would likely give them five to nine seats. The Greens were at 3.8 per cent.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberal voted oscillated back down to 59.9 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 19.9 per cent, the NDP at 11.3 per cent, and the Greens at 6.5 per cent. This would likely give the Liberals 29 to 32 seats and the Conservatives zero to three seats.

Altogether, the Liberals would likely have won between 211 and 255 seats in an election held in March, well above the 184 seats they won in the election.

The Conservatives would have won between 80 and 116 seats, straddling the 99 seats they won in the October vote.

The New Democrats would win between two and seven seats, well down from the 44 they currently have.

The Greens would have retained their one seat, while the Bloc Québécois would have won between zero and five seats, an improvement over the projected shutout in February.

The maximum ranges take into account big polling and projection misses. But they might also be a good proxy for the impact of a campaign.

In 2015, when the one-election model was in use, the Conservatives began the campaign on August 2 with a projected maximum range of between 83 and 189 seats — so it did envision their eventual outcome.

For the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc, however, it took until October for the maximum ranges to extend to where the parties eventually wound up. So I think it is fair to say the maximum ranges give a window of what two to three weeks of campaigning could do to the polls. In that sense, they give an indication of what outcomes we might expect if we were in the early stages of a campaign.

The maximum ranges currently give the Liberals anything between a huge majority and a very slim ones. The Conservatives would almost certainly finish second.

The New Democrats could best hope to win 16 seats while the Bloc still could not achieve official party status (9 seats), or be shut out (the NDP too).

I had made an error with the earlier projections, as after the election I had forgotten to re-classify the parties. That is why the Liberal lower end was so low — they were being treated like a third party, not like the governing party.

With the chart now corrected, you can see that the Liberals have not been in a position since the election that would put their majority government in doubt. And only in January did the NDP have an outside chance of finishing in second place.

Provincial polling averages

It was a busy month at the provincial level, with new polls in every province but British Columbia.

In Alberta, Wildrose led with 34 per cent, followed by the New Democrats at 27 per cent, the Progressive Conservatives at 25 per cent, the Liberals at 8 per cent, and the Alberta Party at 4 per cent. Though Rachel Notley's governing NDP is back in second, they have been on a pretty consistent slide since the summer.

The March polling in Saskatchewan averaged 57.1 per cent for Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party, 32 per cent for the NDP, and 6.4 per cent for the Liberals. The result of the election on April 4, however, was 62.6 per cent for Wall's party and 30.4 per cent for Cam Broten's NDP.

The campaign continues in Manitoba and we have already seen some polls conducted in April. But in March, the Progressive Conservatives averaged 44.8 per cent, followed by the NDP at 24.8 per cent and the Liberals at 23 per cent. It was the first time the New Democrats were in second since last summer.

One poll in Ontario showed continued stability in the province, with Patrick Brown's PCs ahead with 40 per cent to 30 per cent for the Liberals and 24 per cent for the NDP.

In Quebec, the Liberals fell to 32.5 per cent, giving new support to the Coalition Avenir Québec, which was up to 23 per cent. The Parti Québécois was steady at 30 per cent, while Québec Solidaire stood at 10.5 per cent.

The Liberals dropped in New Brunswick to 45 per cent support, followed by the PCs at 27 per cent, the NDP at 18 per cent, and the Greens at 8 per cent.

In Nova Scotia, the Liberals were down to 56 per cent, with the PCs up to 23 per cent and the NDP falling to third place to 16 per cent support.

It was steady sailing in Prince Edward Island, wit the Liberals at 61 per cent, the Progressive Conservatives at 19 per cent, and the Greens at 11 per cent.

And in Newfoundland and Labrador, the post-election honeymoon is on with Dwight Ball's Liberals, who were up to 66 per cent. The PCs were at 23 per cent and the NDP at 11 per cent.


  1. It seems despite the poor performance Ont. Liberals still lead !!

    1. Peter Meldrum,

      According to Eric's graph above the OLP are trailing Patrick Brown and the Tories by 10 points!

      "Patrick Brown's PCs ahead with 40 per cent to 30 per cent for the Liberals and 24 per cent for the NDP"-Eric.

    2. Yet Ghost I've seen other figures with the Libs at 51% to the Tories 30%. Got a hunch they are more right.

    3. I believe you are confusing federal and provincial numbers. In the current context, the OLP with a 21-point lead would be suspect.

    4. You may be right but talking to citizens most are happy with what's here ! And yes that 21% is suspect.

    5. "Talking to citizens" does not produce statistically relevant data. Particularly if you're just doing it in one area.

      Evidence suggests that Wynne's government isn't popular right now. Lucky for her, there's no election imminent.

    6. Peter Meldrum,

      Then where is this poll? Why has it not been published? Does it exist because last I checked the OLP was in the midst of a money for access scandal because sadly, the OLP has a bad habit of taking money for favours. The polls Eric published last month had the OLP trailing the PCPO by roughly 10 points! So where is this illusionary poll that for some strange reason or simply because it is an outlier has the OLP up by 21 points. I smell something stinky. Kathleen Wynne-who by her own admission put money raising quotas on her ministers - should resign!

    7. Those fundraising quotas are the same thing American members of congress have. So if you're okay with US campaign finance, Wynne's scheme shouldn't bother you.

      If you're not okay with US campaign finance (I don't know anyone who is, not even Americans), then Wynne's scheme looks really bad.

    8. I am admantly against the U.S. system of campaign finance, I supported John McCain for the simple reason I thought he'd be a one-term president who would clean up the system. Frankly it is disgusting what goes on down there and not just among the Koch brothers but, the PACs, favourtism and covert bribery. In my opinion the United States of America is not a democracy but, has reverted to what it was designed as; an aristocratic Roman republic. I pray Bernie Sanders will win and be able to bring democracy back to America.

      The OLP have little pride or sense of right and wrong otherwise Wynne and her Government would have already resigned.

    9. As an Ontarian when I read you saying the OLP was ahead all I could say was "what" and quickly go back and check. I voted for them last election, and strongly regret it having let myself be convinced Wynne would be different then Mcguinty. Big mistake, at this point I am convinced the only thing that might get them back in touch with Ontarians would be a few terms out of office. Anyway, while I agree with Ira that "'Talking to citizens' does not produce statistically relevant data," from my own experience most people I talk to, including to others that voted Liberal in the last election, are quite unhappy with them.

    10. Ghost whatever you have learned about US political financing is only the tip of the Iceberg.
      Go to the Library and get a copy of

      Dark Money
      by Jane Mayer

      Be prepare to be appalled .

  2. Well there we go !! A leadership campaign. Mulcair LOST and thus we get a second leadership campaign !!

  3. The polling average continues the story of the Liberal honeymoon and perhaps why NDP delegates voted in favour of a leadership convention. Both the Tories and NDP are suffering from the popularity of the new Government but, at least the Tories are competitive in Ontario, the Prairies and Alberta. The NDP is distantly behind everywhere and with a projected seat total between 3-10 would lose their official party status in the House of Commons.

    The delegates made the wise choice. Continuing Mulcair's leadership would have only divided the Party into loyalist and rebel camps. Dumping a leader is painful but, it is better done quickly than a slow drawn out affair that produces internecine rivalries and institutionalised divisions. Dumping Mulcair gets the 2015 election behind them.

  4. I don't know about the rest of you but allowing Mulcair to remain as leader till the leadership convention is sheer insanity to me. The NDP should have done as the Tories and installed an interim leader who can't run for the leadership.

    1. Who, though? I'm not confident I can name another sitting NDP MP. Mulcair is, for better or worse, the face of that party, and along with Ed Broadbent one of only two living people with any claim to that title.

      Mulcair is very skilled in the House. He absolutely should be on the front bench for that party. If I were a Dipper, I would hope that the new leader would keep him around.

      Mulcair hasn't been a strong leader, but he has some definite virtues that make him a very valuable member of that team.

    2. I think the long goodbye is Mulcair's severance package. From what I hear Mulcair's finances like Churchill's are not particularly affluent.

    3. Ira I would agree re Mulcair's strength in the House. But that is actually a relatively small part of the leaders job. it's elsewhere that he has really failed.

    4. No argument there. As a leader, he's been dreadful.

      But again, I don't know who else could do it even as well as Mulcair in the short term. Most of the NDP MPs I could name were defeated in the 2015 election.

    5. Keeping Mulcair around is a good idea. Too many leaders in too short a time cause confusion. It takes sometime for a leader to be "known" by the electorate so for simplicity's sake if nothing else keeping Mulcair is a good idea.

      The second point I'd make is that the leadership race will only last two years "if needed" by the NDP and so the more likely scenario is for a leadership convention sometime in late Spring or Summer 2017.

  5. There's an Insights West poll in the field for BC right now I believe. So new numbers there too. Rumour is they may be a bit interesting too.

    1. provincial or federal poll for B.C.?

      If provincial I think "premier mum" as Clark's been dubbed will be riding high. Horgan has been all but invisible. The House is sitting but, the NDP is attracting little media attention. The only reason I know the House is in session is because the Government is running these insufferable ads about their balanced budget.

      Perhaps the Greens will be in second and the NDP third? I hope so.

  6. wow you really love the Liberals and hate the NDP don't you Eric....

    1. I'm sorry if facts and data offend your partisan attachments.

      When the NDP was leading the polls and the Liberals were in third - guess what, I wrote about that too!

    2. "I'm sorry if facts and data offend your partisan attachments."

      Brilliant comeback, Éric.


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