Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Pollcast: The DNC in the City of Brotherly Love

After the Republicans got their time in the spotlight last week in Cleveland, now it's the Democrats' turn. 

But will the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this week give them the unity that Hillary Clinton needs to take on Donald Trump?

National polls indicate that Donald Trump did get a boost coming out of his party's convention. That's turned the race to the White House into one that is increasingly difficult to call.

But convention bumps are historically common. If Clinton gets the same bump out of her convention, Trump will once again be this campaign's underdog.

But with the Democratic Party still divided between Clinton supporters and those backing Bernie Sanders, that might be a big 'if'.

Joining me from Philadelphia on this week's episode of the Pollcast is Keith Boag, the CBC's senior reporter in Washington, D.C.

You can listen to this episode here and subscribe to future episodes here.

Donald Trump gets a convention bump, but Hillary Clinton's could be next

Thanks to a bump from the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump has closed the gap on Hillary Clinton in U.S. polls. But with the Democratic National Convention now in full swing, will Clinton find herself comfortably in the lead again this time next week?

According to the CBC's new Presidential Poll Tracker, which you can follow throughout the campaign to see where the race to the White House stands, Clinton retains a narrow lead with 44.6 per cent to Trump's 42.8 per cent in a weighted average of polls.

Since the convention got underway, this represents a drop of 0.4 points for Clinton and a gain of 1.8 points for Trump.

You can read the rest of this analysis of U.S. polls here. You can also check out the newly launched Presidential Poll Tracker by clicking on the banner at the top of this page.

The Poll Tracker will be updated daily, and will feature state-by-state projections soon. In the meantime, my analyses (like today's) will feature the state of the electoral college map as well as where the polls stand in the closest states.

Canadians feel men have easier time in politics, but women have the chops, poll suggests

As the Democratic Party is set this week to officially nominate a woman for the U.S. presidency — a first for a major party in America — a newly published poll shows that Canadians agree that men have an easier time getting elected to public office than women, though men are less likely to see obstacles to the election of female candidates. 

And in addition to differences in views by gender, younger women tend to see their potential political futures differently than older women — namely, that the system is stacked more unfairly against them.

You can read the rest of this article on the new poll from the Angus Reid Institute here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donald Trump's Republican Party is still divided

The Republican National Convention being held in Cleveland, Ohio, this week was supposed to be the moment that Republicans of all stripes — those who voted for him in the primaries and those who didn't — united behind Donald Trump.

Well, so much for that.

Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas who was Donald Trump's main rival during the long primary season for the Republican nomination, was booed off the convention stage on Wednesday night after giving a speech in which he refused to endorse Trump.

You can read the rest of this analysis on what the polls say about the Republican Party's divisions here.

The Pollcast: Mr. Trump goes to Cleveland

The Republican National Convention being held this week in Cleveland, Ohio is Donald Trump's chance to unite the party behind him in his quest for the White House.

Will it work?

Last week, Donald Trump announced that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana would be his running mate. An attempt to attach a sturdy, experienced politician to Trump's erratic ticket, it was the first act in normalizing Donald Trump in preparation for the campaign against Hillary Clinton.

The second act is taking place this week. His team has descended upon Cleveland to put a Trumpian stamp on the Republicans and their National Convention, which is bereft of appearances by some of the biggest names in the party.

It is an indication that the fissures exposed by his unorthodox candidacy will not be papered over so easily.

What does this mean for the U.S. presidential campaign?

Joining me from Cleveland on this week's episode of the Pollcast is Keith Boag, the CBC's senior reporter in Washington, D.C.

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe to the podcast to automatically download future episodes here.

The impact of Libertarian Gary Johnson on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

There's one name that you might begin to hear more and more as voting day approaches in the U.S. presidential election: Gary Johnson.

But who is Gary Johnson, you ask? Over two-thirds of Americans are wondering the same thing. He is the former governor of New Mexico and he is running as the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee for the second consecutive election.

He's also one of the most unpredictable factors in what has been an unpredictable American campaign.

U.S. politics are rarely kind to third-party candidacies. Both the political system and media coverage is designed for two parties. And in order to get into the debates, a third party candidate needs to be polling at 15 per cent.

That is a threshold that is within Gary Johnson's reach.

You can read the rest of this analysis here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Donald Trump's VP pick of Mike Pence could boost his campaign, for now

In a normal U.S. presidential election, the choice of vice-presidential candidate usually has only a minimal impact on the race. Vice-presidential candidates can help deliver their home state and provide a short-term boost to his or her running mate's campaign, but elections are rarely decided by who the "Veep" will be.

But this is not a normal election.

Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, announced Friday that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana will be pick for vice-president.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, will make her pick before the party's convention in Philadelphia later this month.

Vice-presidential candidates are often chosen to fill a gap in the presidential candidate's resumé, be it geographic, demographic, or political. With Pence as Trump's running mate, it would give his ticket much-needed political experience, as well as a figure outside of the U.S. Northeast.

But vice-presidential picks normally do not have a significant impact on the race. The choice may help a presidential campaign at the margins, but the first rule of a vice-presidential candidate is often cited as "do no harm." Vice-presidential picks are at greater risk of dragging down a campaign than boosting it to new heights.

You can read the rest of this article here.

The Pollcast: Tony Clement in, Jason Kenney out of Conservative leadership race

The Conservative leadership race has been shaken up by the departure of Jason Kenney for a bid at provincial leadership in Alberta. But a new name was added to the list of candidates this week when Tony Clement threw his hat in the ring.

So what do this new entry and high-profile exit mean for for the leadership campaign?

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe to the podcast to automatically download future episodes here.

Alberta MP Jason Kenney has opted to head back home to try to win the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives, unite the right in that province, and defeat the New Democrats in 2019. It's a tall order.

But his decision to leave federal politics has made winning the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada a little easier for the contestants already in the race: Ontario MPs Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch and Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.

And now Tony Clement. The Ontario MP has been here before — he ran for the party leadership more than a decade ago after the merger of the federal PCs and Canadian Alliance. He also ran for the leadership of the Ontario PCs in 2002. Both attempts were unsuccessful.

So will it be third time's a charm for Clement? And with Kenney out, who thinks they can fill the space Kenney would have occupied had he run for the federal party's top job?

Joining me on this week's episode of the Pollcast are Conservative insiders Tim Powers of Summa Strategies and Chad Rogers of Crestview Strategy to break it down.

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe to the podcast to automatically download future episodes here.

Liberals made big gains, but NDP still won the First Nations vote in 2015, data shows

Turnout among Indigenous Canadians increased dramatically in the last federal election, and an analysis of Elections Canada data suggests that the Liberals picked up most of these new voters. But overall, the New Democrats remained the top choice of First Nations voters living on-reserve.

According to Elections Canada, turnout in on-reserve polling divisions (defined as those completely or partially contained within an on-reserve community) in the 2015 federal election increased to 61.5 per cent from 47.4 per cent in 2011, a historic increase similar to the one seen among young Canadians.

An analysis of these polling divisions by CBC News also reveals how these First Nations voters cast their ballots.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

June 2016 federal polling averages

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A total of just four polls on national voting intentions was conducted in the month of June, three of them nationally and one of them in Quebec. In all, these polls surveyed about 7,142 Canadians. They recorded no serious movement in public opinion compared to the month of May.

The Liberals averaged 45.9 per cent support, down 2.1 points from last month. The Conservatives followed with 29 per cent, up 0.3 points, while the New Democrats were down 0.9 points to 12.8 per cent.

The Greens were up 1.2 points to 5.9 per cent and the Bloc Québécois was up 0.4 points to 4.4 per cent. An average of 2.5 per cent of respondents said they would vote for another party.
The Liberals continued to lead in British Columbia, increasing to 44 per cent support. The Conservatives were down 4.5 points to 25.8 per cent, while the New Democrats gained for the third consecutive month to end up at 18 per cent, up from 15.8 per cent three months ago. The Greens were unchanged at 9.7 per cent.

In Alberta, the Conservatives were up to 55.9 per cent, followed by the Liberals, who slid to 29.8 per cent, the New Democrats who were at 7.5 per cent, and the Greens who at 3.4 per cent. This movement benefited the Conservatives in the seat projection, as they increased to between 27 and 30 seats. The Liberals fell to between four and seven seats.

The Conservatives and Liberals were steady in Saskatchewan and Manitoba with 42.6 and 37.9 per cent support, respectively. It did result in a swing in the seat projection, though, with the Conservatives up to 18 to 20 seats and the Liberals down to eight to 10 seats. The NDP was down to 12.7 per cent, while the Greens fell for the third consecutive month to 4.9 per cent. The slide was modest, though, as they began this negative trend at 6 per cent.

The Liberals dropped 3.5 points in Ontario, but still led with 48.3 per cent support. They dropped to between 83 and 99 seats in the projection. The Conservatives were up to 32.4 per cent (and 21 to 35 seats), while the NDP dropped for the third consecutive month to just 11.4 per cent. The Greens posted their best numbers in the province since July 2015 at 6.4 per cent.

In Quebec, the Liberals continued to lead with 50 per cent, down slightly from May but up in the seat projection to between 69 and 73 seats. The Bloc Québécois held on to second spot again last month at 16.1 per cent. The New Democrats, at their lowest level of support since February 2011, fell for the third consecutive month to 15.2 per cent. The Conservatives followed with 12.2 per cent (but were down to between five and eight seats), while the Greens were up to their best since May 2015 at 4.6 per cent.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals dropped to 54.5 per cent and between 28 and 29 seats. The Conservatives were up 5.3 points to 23.6 per cent and three seats, while the NDP was down to 13.3 per cent. The Greens posted 6.4 per cent support in the region.

With these levels of support, the Liberals would likely have won between 218 and 259 seats in an election held in June. That was down about 16 seats from their standing in May. 

The Liberals currently hold 183 seats.

The Conservatives would have won between 76 and 108 seats, up about 17 seats from last month. They now have 98 seats.

The NDP would have picked up about two seats from last month, and would have won between two and 12 seats. That is well below the 44 seats they now have.

The Greens would have won between one and two seats (they now have one) and the Bloc between zero and one seat (they now have 10).

At the maximum ranges (which largely take into account the potential impact of an election campaign), the Liberals are still well within majority territory. The Conservatives are also the only party vying for Official Opposition status.

The NDP, with a maximum of 19 seats, is well above the highs of the Greens (two), and Bloc (three), but all could potentially be shutout, too.

This is based on the current first-past-the-post system (FPTP). With the electoral reform committee now getting to work, it is worthwhile to make some rough estimates of what outcomes different potential systems could produce.

These are very basic estimates. For the proportional representation estimate (PR), I have assumed that each province retains the number of seats they currently have. I have rounded up or down the number of seats each party gets in each province, and then gave any leftover seats to the party that finished in first place in the region.

For the alternative vote or ranked ballots (AV) I've also done a very simple estimate. Because the Liberals and New Democrats tend to be each other's second choice, I have awarded any seat where either party was projected to be in first place to that party. Any seat that the Conservatives led with 45 per cent or more was awarded to the Tories. Any seat where the Conservative was in first place but with less than 45 per cent was given to either the Liberals or the NDP, depending on which of these parties was in second place.

A crude method — but past experience with more sophisticated methods have yielded virtually identical results in the current political landscape. If things change, then it will become worthwhile to make this estimate with greater attention to detail. But a more sophisticated model with current polling numbers would not differ from this cruder one by more than a handful of seats.

And, of course, this assumes all else being equal — so no change of behaviour by the parties based on the system in place, no change in the behaviour of voters, and no other parties on the ballot. That is unlikely, but the impact of these things is unknowable at this stage.

With those caveats in mind, let's go through the results.

With FPTP, the Liberals win an enormous majority — 237 seats, to 94 for the Conservatives, six for the NDP, and one for the Greens. With 70.1 per cent of the seats, it would be the biggest majority government since Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative victory in 1984.

With PR, however, the Liberals are kept to a minority with 160 seats, just 10 shy of what they would need for a majority government. The Conservatives win 100 seats, only a little better than they did with FPTP. 

But the NDP, Greens, and Bloc do significantly better with this system with 45, 20, and 13 seats, respectively. All three of them would reach the threshold of 12 seats needed for official party status.

In this scenario, the Liberals could govern with the support of any one of the other opposition parties. The Conservatives, on the other hand, would need the support of all of the other opposition parties to form a government of their own.

The Liberals do best under AV, winning 269 seats. At 79.6 per cent of seats on offer, that would be the biggest majority government in Canada's history. The Conservatives would be reduced significantly to just 57 seats, while the NDP would win 11 seats, a gain of five over FPTP due to a handful of Conservative-NDP races where Liberal second-choice votes would put them over the top.

It will be interesting to follow how these numbers will fluctuate until the electoral reform committee finalizes its work and presents a potential alternative to first-past-the-post by the end of the year.

In any of these systems, the Liberals do well because they are polling well. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that any advantage they may have today based on which electoral system is adopted would automatically carry through to 2019 and beyond.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Pollcast: The future of Canada's relationship with Indigenous people

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made renewing the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous Canadians a priority. What do Canadians think of the state of that relationship and its future?

Earlier this year, the Environics Institute conducted a survey of Canadians to gauge their views of Indigenous Canadians. The results suggest Canadians recognize and sympathize with the challenges Indigenous communities face — but that Canadians' own prejudice might be an obstacle in tackling those challenges.

The survey found broad support for increased funding for Indigenous schools, safe housing and clean drinking water, as well as more teaching of Indigenous history and culture to other Canadians.

But it also found that 44 per cent of Canadians thought that either the policies of Canadian governments in the past or the attitudes of the Canadian public today were the biggest obstacles to achieving economic and social equality.

Joining me to discuss the results of this survey is Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute.

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