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?