Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2 of the next 3 Amigos could mean trouble for Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the North American Leaders' Summit today. The remainder of Obama's presidency can be counted in months, while Pena Nieto, unpopular at home, will complete his single term in 2018.

Nevertheless, these two leaders present Trudeau with perhaps the best opportunity for continental co-operation — as their replacements could prove much less inclined to see eye-to-eye with the prime minister, particularly on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Of the Three Amigos, Trudeau is certainly in the strongest position. His term in office will continue until at least 2019 and likely beyond, as one-term governments are rare in Canada.

You can read the rest of this analysis here.

Clinton widens her edge in the electoral college over beleaguered Trump

The electoral map in the United States may be in flux as the presumptive presidential nominees feel their way forward in a volatile election. But if the map is changing, it could be getting worse for Donald Trump.

The problems surrounding the Republican's presidential bid have been mounting. Trump's team is being outspent, out-staffed, and out-fundraised by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. He continues to be outpolled by Clinton as well.

But the national popular vote only tells a small piece of the story. The real challenges for Trump are at the state level, where the electoral college decides who becomes president.

You can read the rest of this update on the U.S. projection model's latest numbers here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Pollcast: The Liberals and their digital revolution

For years, the Conservatives beat their rivals at the ballot box thanks in part to their superior skills at slicing and dicing the electorate. They learned a lot about their potential supporters and appealed to them as consumers. Then they reaped the electoral rewards.

But their election-winning strategy hit a wall in 2015 when the Liberals finally caught up in the data wars and employed new and risky advertising strategies with success.

"Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them," originally published in 2013, delves into how politics and marketing have come together in Canada.

Susan Delacourt, columnist for the Toronto Star and iPolitics and author of the book, joins me to discuss the new chapters in her updated edition that look at how the Liberals won in 2015.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to hear future episodes here.

Uniting Wildrose and the PCs in Alberta no easy task for Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney might be planning to leave federal politics to enter the fray in Alberta, riding in as a white knight to unite the divided right and defeat Rachel Notley's governing New Democrats.

It may prove even more difficult than many think.

Kenney, a former high-profile cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government, has been widely seen as a likely front-runner in the race to replace the departed Conservative leader.

Instead, the job vacancy that Kenney might now be hoping to fill is the leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives — a position abandoned by Jim Prentice after the PCs, who had governed the province uninterrupted from 1971, were reduced to third-party status in the 2015 election.

The party that vaulted ahead and currently occupies the role of the Official Opposition is Wildrose, led by former Conservative MP Brian Jean. Kenney would need to absorb Wildrose into the PCs in order to unite the right and create a common front to fight the NDP.

Wildrose, however, is not much inclined to be absorbed. And Brian Jean doesn't want to go anywhere. With more seats (22 compared to nine for the PCs) and more money in the bank, he could easily make the argument that it is the PCs that need to sacrifice themselves.

You can read the rest of this article here.

British voters split on Brexit referendum vote, but Remain may have edge: polls

The tumultuous and divisive referendum campaign on the future of the United Kingdom's place in the European Union comes to a fittingly tense and uncertain end Thursday, as polls suggest it could be decided by the narrowest of margins.

But after some harrowing days on an increasingly negative campaign trail that seemed to be leaning towards Brexit — interrupted by the tragic and violent murder of Labour MP Jo Cox — the edge may be back with the Remain camp.

In the last six polls published by members of the British Polling Council before Wednesday, the Remain side has averaged 45.5 per cent support. The Leave campaign follows less than two points behind at 43.8 per cent. On average, 10 per cent of voters remain undecided.

You can read the rest of this Brexit analysis here.

Donald Trump slumps in polls after Orlando

If Donald Trump believed that the Orlando shooting and a renewed focus on terrorism would help boost his sagging presidential campaign, polls suggest it has had no such impact.

In fact, his reaction to the tragedy may be hurting him.

The presumptive Republican nominee is now trailing rival Hillary Clinton in CBC's weighted average of U.S. polls by a greater margin than two weeks ago. His support stands at 43.2 per cent among decided registered or likely voters, compared to 49.3 per cent for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

You can read the rest of this U.S. politics analysis here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Pollcast: The state of the Parti Québécois leadership race

The Parti Québécois last finished a leadership race in May, 2015. The next one, brought about by the sudden resignation of Pierre Karl Péladeau last month, will come to a close in October. Will the man who finished second last year come out on top this year?

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to the podcast here.

Alexandre Cloutier, MNA for the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean, took 29 per cent of the vote in his losing leadership bid in 2015. This time, he is widely seen as the campaign's front runner. A poll published last week by Léger gave him 37 per cent support among PQ voters, more than double the support of his nearest rival. About a dozen caucus members have endorsed him.

But the race is far from over and the debates over what strategy the Parti Québécois should adopt on the question of the next referendum still rage. 

Cloutier shares a similar position with Véronique Hivon, MNA for the riding of Joliette, in waiting for "winning conditions" before launching another referendum campaign on Quebec's independence.

Other contestants for the PQ's leadership have different takes. Jean-François Lisée, MNA for Rosemont, thinks a referendum should not be held in a first mandate should the party form government. Martine Ouellet, the MNA for Vachon who took 13 per cent of the vote as a leadership contestant last year, thinks the party should hold a referendum as soon as possible.

Polls suggest support for sovereignty is still low and that there is little enthusiasm for another referendum in the short term. But the uncertainty over whether the party would hold a referendum if re-elected helped doom the PQ's campaign in 2014. Will the PQ's membership endorse Cloutier or Hivon's less well-defined position, or opt for the clarity offered by Lisée or Ouellet?

Joining me to discuss the race and Léger's latest poll numbers is Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Léger.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to the podcast here.

2015 federal election saw youth vote in unprecedented numbers

The 2015 federal election saw a huge increase in turnout among young Canadians — particularly young Canadian women — according to data released by Elections Canada.

While there was an increase among all age groups, the biggest occurred among eligible voters aged 18 to 24, the elections agency said. Turnout among this group increased 18.3 points, to 57.1 per cent compared to 38.8 per cent in 2011.

Elections Canada said Wednesday this is the biggest increase in turnout among this age group since it began making demographic turnout estimates in 2004.

You can read the rest of this article here.

It might be a long wait before Tory, NDP leadership contenders make the jump

And they're off! Eventually.

The Conservative and NDP leadership campaigns are taking some time to get going. In addition to being abnormally long, they both suffer from a lack of high-profile candidates officially in the running.

So when will the serious contenders step forward?

The Conservatives will choose their next leader on May 27, 2017, while the New Democrats will hold their leadership vote between Sept. 17 and Oct. 31, 2017. Three contestants have entered the Conservative race: Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch. No official candidates have yet emerged on the NDP side.

The conventional wisdom is that the higher profile candidates may wait a significant amount of time before taking the plunge — and with good reason, according to an analysis of how federal and provincial leadership races have played out over the last decade.

You can read the rest of this analysis on past leadership races here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Pollcast: NDP leadership up for grabs — who wants it?

Last week, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen ruled himself out for the leadership of the NDP. This week, Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo threw her hat into the ring — "unofficially."

The race to replace Tom Mulcair as leader of the New Democrats is off to a rough start. Where does it go from here?

Cullen, who was seen as a potential front runner, was not the only high-profile New Democrat to turn down the job. Former Nova Scotia MP Megan Leslie, who was also considered a potential future leader, said she wasn't interested in the position shortly after Tom Mulcair lost a leadership review vote at the NDP's convention in April.

So far, DiNovo is the only candidate to express an interest in the leadership. But despite her campaign launch earlier this week, DiNovo says she has no intention of paying the party's $30,000 entrance fee, and so is not an official candidate.

A lot of time remains before party members cast a ballot — the vote will only be held in September or October 2017. It could be some time before better known candidates decide to take the plunge. But who might they be?

Joining me to handicap the early days of the NDP leadership race are two party insiders, Robin MacLachlan, vice president at Summa Strategies, and Sally Housser, senior consultant at Navigator.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in the all-important electoral college, polls suggest

After finally securing a majority of pledged delegates in the Democratic presidential nomination last night — and a majority of all delegates, including superdelegates, on Monday — Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. Only Donald Trump now stands between her and the White House, and her chances still look good against the erratic and unpredictable Republican candidate.

After closing the gap on his Democratic rival, Trump has failed to maintain that forward momentum in recent polls. Though he still trails Clinton by a handful of points nationwide, the electoral map remains an imposing challenge for him.

You can read the rest of this article here. This article also represents the launching of a new U.S. projection model. The full methodology for the new model can be found here. Should be an interesting five months!

British voters leaning Leave as Brexit referendum approaches, polls suggest

After months of a "Brexit" looking like a long shot, the United Kingdom might be heading towards that option as the referendum on the country's membership in the European Union finally approaches.

This according to a slew of recent polls. But the margin between the two options on the June 23 referendum ballot — to "remain" a member of the EU or to "leave" it — is very close, and past experience in favour of the status quo suggests the betting odds might still be in favour of a vote to stay.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, June 3, 2016

May 2016 federal polling averages

The polling world was a little quieter in the month of May, with three national and two Quebec polls being conducted, interviewing a total of just under 7,000 Canadians. 

And the numbers continue to show that Justin Trudeau's Liberals are holding on to the new support they captured in the aftermath of the 2015 federal election.
The Liberals averaged 48 per cent in the month of May, up 0.6 points from where they stood in April.

The Conservatives were also up 0.6 points in May and averaged 28.7 per cent.

The New Democrats slipped 0.4 points to 13.7 per cent, followed by the Greens at 4.7 per cent (down 0.2 points) and the Bloc Québécois at 4% (down 0.3 points). On average, 1 per cent of people polled said they would vote for another party or independent candidate.

The Liberals led in British Columbia with an average of 42.3 per cent support, down 3.1 points from April and dropping their projected seat haul to between 20 and 29. The Conservatives were up to their best numbers since the election, gaining 3.3 points to reach 30.3 per cent and between 11 and 18 seats. The NDP was up 0.2 points to 16.7 per cent and the Greens were down 0.8 points to 9.7 per cent.

The Conservatives were ahead in Alberta with 52.7 per cent, down 0.2 points, while the Liberals were also down 0.2 points to 33.3 per cent. The NDP was down 0.9 points to 8 per cent, while the Greens were up 1.6 points to 4.3 per cent.

In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Conservatives put up their best numbers since the election with a 2.6-point gain to 42.7 per cent, enough to boost their seat total to between 18 and 20 seats. The Liberals were down for the third consecutive month, in which time they have shed 5.2 points of support, to 37.3 per cent. That represented a drop of 2.4 points since the previous month, bringing their projected seat total down to between eight and 10. The NDP was unchanged at 13.7 per cent and the Greens were down 0.7 points to 5 per cent.

The Liberals led in Ontario with 51.7 per cent, down 1.8 points, while the Conservatives were up two points to 31 per cent. That dropped the Liberals down to between 87 and 109 seats and boosted the Tories up to between 12 and 31. The NDP was down 0.3 points to 11.7 per cent and the Greens were up 0.3 points to 4.7 per cent.

In Quebec, the Liberals soared to their highest support level on record (going back to January 2009) with a gain of 4.5 points to 51.4 per cent. That lifted their seat projection to between 72 and 74 seats (there are 78 in the province). The Bloc Québécois picked up 0.3 points to reach 16.6 per cent, while the New Democrats dropped to their lowest level of support since February 2011 — 15.6 per cent, down 2.1 points from last month. The Conservatives were down to their lowest since November with a drop of 2.4 points to 11.8 per cent and between four and five seats, while the Greens were up 0.8 points to 4 per cent.

The Liberals dropped 2.5 points in Atlantic Canada, falling to 58.3 per cent support and between 27 and 31 seats. The Conservatives were down 0.9 points to 18.3 per cent, while the NDP was up 3.9 points to 17.3 per cent. The New Democrats have gained in Atlantic Canada over three consecutive months, picking up 7.8 points over that time. They'd be projected to take one to three seats at these levels. The Greens were down 0.2 points to 5.7 per cent.

With these levels of support, the Liberals would win between 223 and 266 seats. That is down about 10 seats from last month, but still well above the 183 seats the party currently occupies.

The Conservatives would win between 68 and 104 seats, up about 10 seats from last month. The party currently holds 98 seats.

The New Democrats would win between two and 12 seats, up slightly from last month. But with 44 seats at the moment, that is a big drop.

The Greens would win between one and two seats and the Bloc between zero and one seat. These parties hold one and 10 seats, respectively.
At the maximum ranges, the Liberals are still well above the majority mark — their lowest range is still at 196. The Conservatives are still comfortably in second, while the New Democrats are competing more with the Greens and the Bloc for third party status than they are with the Tories for the role of Official Opposition.

Of course, that is under the current first-past-the-post system. With the Liberals bowing to pressure from the New Democrats to give up their majority on the committee that will study electoral reform, it appears that the Liberals and NDP may co-operate on changing the voting system.

If that is the case, we might be heading for some form of proportional representation. So how would May's support numbers translate into seats with mixed-member proportional representation, perhaps the most likely version to be adopted?

This assumes, of course, that nothing else changes — including which parties are on the ballot and how these parties try to woo voters. Contrary to some opinions, though, I'm not convinced that the 2019 election will be radically different if there is a change to the electoral system. It takes time for parties — and voters — to adapt and adjust.

Working with a 338-seat House of Commons with each province receiving the number of seats it currently has, and distributing seats proportionally according to each party's support in each region of the country, I get the following numbers:

This is a rough calculation, of course. But it gives an idea of the impact. The Liberals just come short of a majority, and would require the co-operation of another party (any party, though) in order to pass legislation. Only a combination of all four opposition parties would be able to defeat the Liberals.

Compared to FPTP, the Liberals lose out tremendously. The Conservatives gain a little, while the NDP, Greens, and Bloc gain a lot. Why this is so for the Greens is obvious.

But at the levels of support the NDP and Bloc are registering right now, they are in a dangerous position — just low enough to lose a lot of seats and come up with very little.

The NDP and Greens want a change to a form of PR, so they will be pushing the Liberals to go that route. The Bloc has traditionally benefited from FPTP, and is with the Conservatives in demanding a referendum on any change. But a PR system would have worked out better for them over the last two elections, and may work out better for them in future elections if they do not regain the kind of support levels they used to have.

It will be interesting to see if the Bloc's position will change, as a electoral reform package supported by four out of five parties in the House of Commons would make for a more convincing argument for dispensing with a referendum. 

But it will be most interesting to see what the Liberals do. If they can't get a preferential ballot, will they accept a form of proportional representation?

The Pollcast: Liberals shift on electoral reform — what now?

The Liberals have backed down on their electoral reform plans, accepting an NDP proposal to award seats on the electoral reform committee according to how many votes each party earned in last year's election.

That means the Liberals have given up their majority on that committee. What's next?

After months of saying that the original proposal for the make up of the committee — giving the Liberals a majority of seats while awarding the Greens and Bloc Québécois one seat apiece, but no voting rights — was appropriate, the shift in the Liberals' position is dramatic.

Does this signal that the Liberals and New Democrats will co-operate on electoral reform? As the New Democrats support a form of proportional representation, is that now likely to be the kind of system that will be used in the 2019 federal election? And where does the Conservative Party fit into the equation, now that they've lost an opposition ally?

Joining me to try to answer these questions is the CBC's Aaron Wherry.

You can listen to the latest episode of The Pollcast here.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals hold support from post-election honeymoon — plus, the launch of the Leader Meter!

Honeymoons don't last forever. But that doesn't mean the love affair has to end — and the love affair Canadians are having with Justin Trudeau's Liberals appears to be enduring in the polls.

The Liberals continue to hold the new support they captured after their majority victory in last fall's federal election, when they pulled votes away from both the Conservatives and New Democrats.

Justin Trudeau's own popularity also remains high, with approval ratings well above those of both of his main rivals, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose and outgoing NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, as well as the ratings he posted before last year's vote.

The CBC's new interactive tool, the Leader Meter, lets you track those numbers.

You can read the rest of my analysis on the state of federal polling numbers here.

But first a few words about the new Leader Meter!

The Leader Meter is an interactive feature tracking the latest public opinion polls related to leaders' approval and disapproval ratings. The Leader Meter lets you choose the data you want to look at, how you want to break it down, and how it compares to past party leaders and Canadian prime ministers.

You can check out the Leader Meter here. You can also read a full explanation on how to get the most out of this interactive tool here.

The Leader Meter is a really fun interactive feature — I hope you'll enjoy it. I'll be updating it whenever new data emerges.