Friday, August 5, 2016

The Pollcast: Fear and loathing in Newfoundland and Labrador

From hero to zero — that might be the story of Dwight Ball, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. How did one of the country's most popular provincial leaders become its most despised?

Last November, Ball's Liberals were swept into office in a landslide, winning 57 per cent of the vote and 31 of the 40 seats on offer. The Progressive Conservatives, in power since 2003, were booted back into the opposition benches.

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

Polling at the beginning of the year showed that Ball had maintained that level of popularity, with two-thirds of voters saying they would cast a ballot for his Liberal Party and 60 per cent saying they approved of his performance as premier.

That ranked him only behind Saskatchewan's Brad Wall as Canada's most popular premier.

But then the Liberals introduced a harsh budget in the spring, and their polling numbers plummeted. In May, the Angus Reid Institute found that just 17 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians approved of Dwight Ball. 

Last week, a survey from MQO Research pegged Liberal support at just 30 per cent. That put them in third place, behind the PCs and the New Democrats. The poll also showed 71 per cent of respondents thinking the general outlook of the province is getting worse.

Rarely has a plunge in the polls been so deep and so quick. 

To tell the story of how this happened, I'm joined by the CBC's David Cochrane on this week's episode of the Pollcast.

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

Hillary Clinton gets convention bump and a little help from Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton is coming out of last week's Democratic National Convention with soaring poll numbers just as Donald Trump's campaign is hobbled by one self-inflicted wound after another.

In less than a week, Trump has managed to claim that the upcoming election will be "rigged", attack the father of a slain Muslim American soldier, and claim that Russia is not involved in Ukraine. And these are just a few examples of what has made the last few days a tough one for the Republican nominee.

There is no doubt that Trump made some gains in the wake of the Republican National Convention and the naming of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate. But if his convention bump was typical, it is beginning to look small compared to Clinton's convention boost.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Kellie Leitch out with early lead in Conservative leadership fundraising

The first look at fundraising data for the Conservative leadership race shows Ontario MP Kellie Leitch off to an early lead over her rivals.

Elections Canada reports that in the second quarter of this year Leitch raised $234,785.59 from 334 donors, putting her well ahead of Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong, the two other leadership contestants who had entered the race before the end of the quarter.

You can read the rest of this article, along with a breakdown of the parties' overall fundraising for the second quarter, here.

Democrats would beat Donald Trump in a landslide — if only Canada joined the Union

After closing the gap on Hillary Clinton in the polls, Donald Trump is closer to taking the White House today than he has ever been before. But there is one way the Democrats could virtually ensure their party's hold on the presidency — making Canada the 51st state.

That's obviously not going to happen. But Canadians would be among the most reliable Democrats if, well, they were Americans instead. 

Polls have long showed Canadians expressing greater support for Democrats than Republicans. One recent survey gave President Barack Obama an approval rating of 80 per cent among Canadians, a score he has not managed south of the border since the first months of his presidency in 2008.

This affinity with the Democratic Party has continued throughout the current election campaign. Two polls conducted in recent months by Abacus Data and Mainstreet Research have shown that 73 to 80 per cent of Canadians would vote for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, if they had the chance.

Just 15 to 20 per cent would cast their ballot for Trump.

You can read the rest of this article here.


  1. Anything to stop Trump is worth doing !!

  2. I don't think Canadians adequately understand Clinton's background. She is everything that's wrong with the current political establishment.

    However, if Trump is the answer then you've asked the wrong question. I wouldn't vote for Trump either, but if I were casting a ballot in this Presidential election I'd almost certainly vote for Gary Johnson rather than Clinton.

    Not that it would matter. I like the idea of electing a political outsider, but in their system it wouldn't matter unless we could somehow replace all of congress at the same time, as well.

    I don't see that country making any real progress addressing its core problems no matter who wins the Presidency. Clinton and Trump would just make them worse differently.

    1. Ira,

      Third party candidates will keep somebody out of the White House. Remember when Nader denied Gore the presidency?

    2. Ira, try listing the "core problems" you think the US has right now.

    3. Remember when Ross Perot won 20% of the vote, despite dropping out of the campaign halfway through?

      Kyle - They have huge race relation and mass incarceration problems. They have some of the worst income inequality in the world (driven by a rapidly expanding population of unemployable people). They have terrible financial sustainability issues.

    4. If I could Ira...I know you are also a fan of majority governments, because of their effectiveness in getting things done. No need to get into that, but I was wondering what you thought of the division of power in the US...with senate, house and presidency all needing to working together to get legislation done, and its current inability to do so....what are your thoughts on that?

    5. The extensive checks and balances on power in the US system make it very difficult for the government to do anything significant without broad-based consensus. This made a lot of sense when the constitution was first adopted.

      Initially, the federal government wasn't expected to do much at all. The states operated largely independently, governing their own affairs without interference from each other. But that system only lasted for about four score and seven years, and since then the US has made extensive changes to how the government operates, mostly in small increments, and in doing so I think they broke their government.

      This could take a while. Bear with me.

      The Civil War produced a massive centralization of power in the hands of the federal government, both through the federal mandates that caused the war in the first place, and the reconstruction efforts. This made the question of whether the federal government was capable of acting much more important, because now it was actually responsible for things that mattered in a way that it hadn't been antebellum.

      This made the gerrymandering problem worse. In most governments, the drawing of electoral boundaries is handled by a non-political agency. Not so in the US, but when the federal government wasn't in change of much that wasn't really a problem. After the war though, the ability of elected officials to draw boundaries in such a way as to ensure their future political success meant lead to an increased polarization of the elected bodies. Since the winner-take-all nature of American elections have always favoured a two-party system, each party could draw boundaries to group together like-minded voters. And elected officials of both parties (whichever those parties were at the time) benefited from this, so they'd cooperate. This transferred the competitive portion of the election from election day to candidate selection, as it was generally known in advance which party would win which district. Since candidate selection was done either by party actors or by staunchly partisan voters (once primaries became a thing), this increased the polarization further.

      This encouraged geographic sorting of the population. Since any givern community was likely to governed by one party in perpetuity, if you wanted a change of government you needed to move. And since the boundaries were drawn to group together like-minded voters, that meant you could live among like-minded neighbours. This further reduced the number of competitive districts.

      In 1913, the 17th amendment turned the US Senate into an elected body. Previously, the senators had been selected by state governments - electing them politicized their office, making them more susceptible to public opinion rather than just lobbyists acting on behalf of state governments.

      The expansion of the primary system in the 1960s and 70s put even more power in the hands of the most partisan voters.

      And then they started to televize congressional committee meetings. Since this happened, the US government hasn't produced a single substantial piece of legislation without one party controlling both houses of congress and the presidency.

      So now, governance consists entirely of theatre designed to appeal to the most hardcore of partisans in order to protect the politicians from primary challenges. That's why every bill they do pass is laden with absurd additions like county-specific funding for something so that that congressman can show it to his voters and get reelected, or show it to lobbyists to get funding (each member of congress is given a mandatory fundraising target by the party). And that's why they can't pass a full budget or even funding for Zika research because they'd rather bicker about planned parenthood or green energy or any number of other pet topics which motivate partisan voters but never actually get anything done.

    6. Thanks for going into so much detail. I had a hunch you'd not be all in with the american system...just based on your previous commentary here over the years. The american system as it stands certainly looks broken and incapable for anyone person to fix it.

  3. I don't favour Clinton either but she is NOT nearly as insane as Trump. Given a choice I would vote for Sanders as offering the only way forward. But given the US political/electoral system there is NO hope !!

    1. Peter,

      Hillary needs to be supported. The lesser of two evils, if you will. Trump is the bigger threat to the national security of the United States. No contest.

    2. Hillary needs support sure, see Eric's poll tracker.
      Trump won't support Ryan or McCain because the criticized him !! What an idiot !

    3. No argument there. Hillary seems an entirely sane member of the political establishment, which at this point is just different flavours of rampant cronyism.

      Trump is a showman. There's no reason to believe that he believes a single word he's said in this election. I have no idea what he'd do as President, because I don't trust him at all.

  4. Eric did you notice that Hillary has got a big bounce in the polls?? Not sure what it says but it is encouraging.

    1. Bounces subside. If it's a bounce, it doesn't help.

      If's a real increase, it does.

      I would guess that the increase in Clinton's support is mostly a bounce, but the decline in Trump's support is real.

  5. Hi Eric, I notice on the CBC tracker that when I scroll (wheel) down the graph the lines from date-to-date extend as they should. However, when I near the end they don't ever extend to the most recent date, and instead the entire page window scrolls down. I'd say the browser thinks it's reached the end of your graph window and then moves on, while your graph is not quite fully at the end, hence the lines don't extend fully. Likely an issue with the resolution of my scrolling (too much with each step of the wheel). Don't know that there's an easy fix, but I'm likely not the only one who will see something like this.

    (Side note - I'd prefer a horizontal graph to the vertical layout.)

    Great job overall.

    1. I agree that the layout is a bit awkward, but I think that a layout like I've put on the graphs on my site at are fairly easy to do, and something of a similar type might work for Éric. It only requires use of a Google Sheets document to type in the forecasts and produce a chart.

  6. Éric,

    Fear will decide the presidency. If high, it stimulates Trump's GOTV. If low, it reduces Hillary's GOTV as people become foolishly complacent. Hillary can't win without an unprecedented turnout.

    1. Lucky for Clinton, this election cycle has had no respect at all for historical precedent.

      With Trump's recent rhetoric that the election itself is rigged, I worry that his defeat could actually do more harm to the country than his victory would. That country runs on the belief that democracy is omnipresent. If Trump undermines that belief, their deep social problems might become way harder to address.

      That is not to say that I hope Trump will win. Depending what else happens between now and November 8, this might not even matter.

    2. Ira,

      I think they lost their view of a principled democracy when the dead put JFK over the top, thereby robbing Nixon of his possible win.

    3. America is not and probably never was a democracy. It is a republic. The framers of the U.S. Constitution always refer to it as such. It has some democratic or at least popularly elected attributes; the House of Representatives and now Senate (although this was not the original intention of the Senate whose initial mechanism was to be a stop on the popular will and a house made up of the land owning class and gentry). America is modeled after the aristocratic Roman Republic which is why their institutions are not as responsive, some may even opine democratic, as institutions in Westminster systems.

  7. It's remarkable how little attention the Conservative and NDP leadership races are getting, even from us political nerds who comment here. Even from the leadership candidates! That Kellie Leitch, someone who I had never even heard of before she declared, is the top fundraiser tells you how little attention this is getting.
    To think how the fortunes of both parties have deteriorated in a year, when both of them went into the election expecting to win!

    1. I understand your comment about the lack of attention being payed to these races. I think, however, that more of it has to do with the attention people (often of a similar type) are paying to the US presidential election.

      Also, as for your comment about Kellie Leitch, many (if not most) Canadians, especially political nerds, are aware of her, since she was the minister in the last election responsible for the Barbaric Cultural Practices "snitch line."

      I think that people will pay more attention in the late fall when more candidates with higher chances start to announce themselves, and the US election is over.

      While both parties are down in the polls, I wouldn't say that this is connected in any way, whether as a cause or as an effect.

    2. But was she specifically responsible for for?...or was that the campaign deciding it was a good idea and sending her out to promote it. I mean, I am not absolving her of how horrible it was, I am just saying she was likely the creator of it.

    3. It is debatable, Carl, who truly introduced it, but what is not debatable is that she was the one who got the large portion of the public blame for it, and is therefore well known. That's what I was trying to say.

    4. Oh yeah, she was Barbaric Cultural Practices Lady... which only emphasizes my point -- that someone who so badly hurt her party in mid-campaign be doing relatively well as a leadership candidate, shows how weak the race is.

      I get what you say about US election/summer, but if the campaign was a healthy one, then several A-list candidates would already be either running or actively setting up a campaign, and we would be talking about it. If Wall, Charest, Kenney and Lord were running, would we really be ignoring the campaign until November? Even more so with the NDP -- that not one serious candidate has emerged is a much more serious issue than their current poor polling.
      You would think that a job where one good campaign means becoming Prime Minister would be enough incentive to run, despite current bad polls. Remember when the Democrats couldn't get any A-list candidates (Cuomo, Bradley, Gephardt) to run in 1992 because they thought Bush Sr. was unbeatable? Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown did pretty well out of their decision to run -- Billary is about to start their third presidential term and Jerry Brown is California Governor For Life.

    5. All the more reason for the party to get behind Maxime Bernier.

    6. Ira,

      Are the Reformers really going to line up behind the Libertarian Bernier? Or, do they prefer to be king maker? Reformers and Alliance members have the power to either make or break MacKay or O'Leary. I expect they will use their membership plurality to good advantage.

    7. Ronald,

      Are you certain that MacKay and O'Leary are the frontrunners? Polling this far out from leadership contests in Canada is almost as likely to tell you that the leaders won't win as that they will, unless there is a clear frontrunner (which there isn't). I suspect that someone (e.g. Rona Ambrose if she runs, Brad Wall, Lisa Raitt etc.) will come from another part of the party and win.

    8. Elections Canada,

      Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the CPC convention vote slam the door on Rona? As for Wall, hasn't he ruled out a run? As for Raitt, isn't she a bit too second-tier to win?

    9. Oh yeah, you're right on the first count. As for the second, I merely mentioned her as an example. I didn't mean I expect her to win, necessarily, just that her and Brad Wall are the sorts of people who might. In addition, she seems to be clearly positioning herself as an option, and if people are tired of MacKay after all these years and disapprove of O'Leary as an alternative, who knows what may happen.

    10. The reason both the NDP and Tory leadership races are slow to start is an easy question to answer. Campaigns cost big money. Someone like Peter MacKay will lose most of a year's salary in the hope of being leader. The Tory leadership is decided on a point system based on Canada's House of Commons ridings extensive travel arrangements must be made. In addition planning for the next Ontario general election has taken many volunteers, donors and others to focus on races closer to home.

      The NDP situation is very similar. The BCNDP and National team are still smarting from Christy Clark's 2013 majority government victory. It is desperate times for the BCNDP. As Eric showed a little while back Clark's approval numbers are poor-she is an unpopular premier who polls below her party. Gordon Campbell was an unpopular premier as well-who polled below his party. If the BCNDP is unable to defeat unpopular incumbenmt premiers then it has an existential problem. If the BCNDP fails to win in 2017 expect the Green Party to win multiple seats. This is all a very drawn out way of writing that national NDP attention is focused on BC for the 2017 provincial general election. Morale is particularly low amongst Dippers due to their shalacking in Saskatchewan, their spiritual home and Manitoba where they had expected a loss but, not the near death experience they barely avoided. Both poor performances come on the endtrails of Horvath's silly gamble and utter rejection at the hands of Ontario voters during their last trip to the polls.

      Which brings us to the leadership race. If the NDP was a healthy party the race would be in full swing with Alexandre Boulerice as the front runner. He is perhaps the only potential candidate with the ability to repeat Layton's inroads in Quebec. The NDP is unwell however, in English Canada their support has fallen from that of a major party +/-20-25%+ to competing with the Green Party 5-15%. Eric's latest FPTP projection says it all. The NDP at this juncture, would not achieve official party status and may elect members from only one province-British Columbia. The Party is in no position to repaet Layton's orange crush, they'd be lucky to achieve what McDonough did by winning 20 seats some in areas where previously they had not been competitive. The NDP is playing defence not offence. As now the NDP base I would expect a leader from out West. I suspect many Western M.P.s are holding their cards to their chest in order to see who'll they'll be up against-once again leadership campaigns cost big money. For my money I'd pick Peter Julian although at this date I would still want favourable odds. They really need a leader who can appeal to Ontario but, I see no one in the present caucus who can fulfill that role.

  8. Ronald - Probably not, but I can dream.

  9. O'Leary isn't going to run. He's worked too hard on his US TV career to give it up. He made a few musings about running to attract some attention, as he does about a lot of things. He hung out with Tony Clement a few days before Clement announced his candidacy, suggesting that O'Leary will support Clement if/when needed.

    I seriously doubt MacKay will run. If you have leadership ambitions, you don't retire as MP just as your party leader looks doubtful to win a fourth term. He already *was* a party leader and he quickly came to the astute observation that Canadians didn't like him enough to elect him as prime minister (or even to vote his party into Official Opposition status).

    Bernier is by far the most interesting candidate but he's making the classic mistake of everyone who campaigns on a libertarian platform: he assumes that everyone understands instinctively how wealth is created and why small government is good. Most people haven't taken Economics 101 and have the common sense understanding of the national wealth as a big pot of gold which the government distributes to those who please it. Pushing libertarian policies, without the proper packaging, just sounds like cancelling Christmas.

    1. What Bernier needs to do is make bolder statements to get more attention. He needs to call for a fixed money supply or something. If he starts sounding crazy, he'll earn more media, and then he can actually explain stuff.

      But he can't explain economics without getting people's attention first. Economics (especially his brand of Austrian economics) isn't easy to explain. The reason Keynesian economics has been so popular over the last century is because it's easy to understand. It makes sense on its face.

      Keynes talking about about jumpstarting the economy is easier to understand than Hayek's assertion that the economy doesn't exist.

    2. Turner retired in 1975, then went on to be PM. Chretien retired in 1984 when everyone knew Turner was about to lose the election, then went on to be PM. Mulroney was not an M.P. when he became leader, neither was Trudeau.

      MacKay will run if only because it is expected.

  10. Goaltender interference,

    RARELY, but sometimes you can even have a Third Act in Canadian politics. Read: PET.


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