Friday, August 5, 2016

July 2016 federal polling averages

While we've been inundated with polls in the United States, things have been quiet here north of the border. Only two federal polls, interviewing a total of 2,432 Canadians, have been conducted in the month of July. For that reason, I won't go into too much detail on the trend lines since there is a greater potential that normal sampling error will have been behind any movement in the numbers.

Nevertheless, the Liberals continued to lead in the polls in July with 48.8 per cent support, a gain of 2.9 points over their average in June

The Conservatives were down slightly by 0.7 points to 28.3 per cent, while the New Democrats were up 0.5 points to 13.3 per cent.

The Greens averaged 4.5 per cent in July, down 1.4 points, and the Bloc Québécois was down 0.5 points to 3.9 per cent. Another 1.4 per cent said they would vote for other parties or independents.

The Liberals led in British Columbia with 47.3 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 22.3 per cent. That was the lowest score the Tories have put up in B.C. since before 2009, when the monthly averages were first calculated. The New Democrats increased their support for the fourth consecutive month, jumping to 22.1 per cent, their best score since the election. The Greens were at 6.6 per cent, their lowest since November 2012.

In Alberta, the Conservatives led with 53.8 per cent, while the Liberals had their best support on record at 34.3 per cent. The New Democrats followed with 7.9 per cent and the Greens with 2.6 per cent.

The numbers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba look anomalous this month, as the Liberals soared to 49.9 per cent, by far their best performance since well before 2009. The Conservatives correspondingly fell to their lowest level at 30.9 per cent. These are likely outlier results, but it will be interesting to see if the Liberals continue to score anywhere near these levels in August. The NDP was at 13.2 per cent and the Greens at 4.6 per cent.

The Liberals also led in Ontario with 51.4 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 32.1 per cent, the NDP at 11.6 per cent, and the Greens at 3.8 per cent.

In Quebec, the Liberals were ahead with 48.3 per cent, while the Conservatives jumped to their highest since July 2015 with 17.7 per cent. The Bloc was at 15.3 per cent. The NDP dropped for the fourth consecutive month to their lowest level of support since October 2010 at 13.1 per cent. The Greens averaged 4.3 per cent.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals were up to 64.5 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 18.3 per cent, the NDP at 10.3 per cent, and the Greens at 7.1 per cent.

With these levels of support, the Liberals would likely win between 233 and 278 seats in our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. That's up 15 to 19 seats from June.

The Conservatives would win 57 to 92 seats, down 16 to 19 seats, while the NDP would win between one and 15 seats. Its floor has dropped by one seat but its ceiling is up three.

The Greens would win up to one seat (down one), while the Bloc would be shutout (down one as well).

At the maximum ranges, the Liberals are at their highest seat potential since just after the election. The Conservatives remain solidly in second place, as the New Democrats flirt with the bottom along with the Greens and the Bloc Québécois.

As explained last month, it is also a good idea to take a look at how these numbers would breakdown with either a form of proportional representation (PR) or an alternative ballot (AV).

I went through my (simple) methodology for calculating these estimates last month as well.
Once again, all of the opposition parties would be the main beneficiaries of a move to PR, while the Liberals would benefit the most from the adoption of AV.

This assumes all else is equal, with no change in voting behaviour, party strategy, or the list of parties due to the adoption of a new electoral system.

Still, with their current levels of support the Liberals (at 173 seats) would be able to win a majority even under PR because of how the provincial seat breakdown works out.

The Conservatives would win three fewer seats than they currently hold, while the New Democrats, with 43 seats, would have about as many seats as they currently have, despite their drop in national support.

The Greens and Bloc, at 15 and 12 seats, respectively, would achieve official party status in the House.

With AV, the Liberals would win the biggest majority government in Canadian history with these numbers with 279 seats to 47 for the Conservatives, 11 for the NDP, and one for the Greens. Again, however, this assumes nothing else changes.


  1. Applying pro-rep to last election's results would yield a hypothetical 173 seats for the Liberals---which would be "so close to a majority...they could govern with the help of any other opposition party (and the Greens and Bloc, with 15 and 12 seats, respectively, would both reach the threshold to be officially recognized [as parties] in the House). The note in parentheses is a bit confusing; it seems to imply that a supportive coalition partner may not be acceptable or officially recognized as such unless it had reached the official-party-recognition threshold. I'm not sure if this is the case, but I don't see any good reason why any group of MPs who convince the Governor General of their commitment to vote en bloc with the government to ensure parliamentary confidence and pass bills, regardless of party affiliation, would not be recognized. I suppose a poor reason might be that the GG is, by tradition, legal precedent or rule, unlikely to consider the expressed commitment to support the government as very reliable if it comes from officially unrecognized parties. But where would this leave an Independent MP who might provide the single seat required to form a majority? Such an exclusive rule would seem to say that parties (and Independents) which have fewer seats than the required official-party-recognition threshold are naturally too unruly to trust any commitment they might make to support a government---or, conversely, that only officially recognized parties' commitments can be trusted. I don't see that any trust distinction between official and unrecognized parties or Independents can be made when, in fact, all MPs are independent and may vote or abstain as they wish, regardless of what their respective leaders have committed them to, without fear of losing their seat (i.e., even if they get booted in punishment from the party that bankrolled their successful candidacies).

    Is there a clear answer to this?

    1. It is unrelated, it was merely an aside.

    2. Official party status is confirmed and granted by the House not the Crown. The Speaker makes such determinations although on occasion the House may through a vote overrule the Speaker.

      Whether a junior coalition partner or any party is officially recognised as a party is not of concern to the Crown. The Crown is exclusively interested in the ability of the prime minister, which they appoint, to be able to guarantee supply and the passage of legislation; after which the normal confidence conventions apply.

      I would point out that an opposition party is designated such by virtue of its opposition to the Government. Therefore, the Government would not govern with an "opposition party" because by virtue of governing with them they become part of the Government. A better term would be "third party" or "minor party" "smaller party" differentiate it from the first party; the Government and second party; Official Opposition.

    3. Which party that is might differ from issue to issue, though. A Libertarian party in that position should be able to pass bills on fiscal issues with Conservative support and issues on social issues with NDP support.

      That doesn't stop them from being opposition parties.

    4. A party that supports the Government is not an opposition party during its support of the Government or at least will not be on whatever particular issue it supports-although I believe Geoffrey was writing about a more formal process whereby some form of formal agreement is enacted.

      A party that both supports the Government on one issue while staunchly opposing another in the Westminster system is open to the charge of being intellectually inconsistent or worse. In the Westminster system; opposition parties oppose and Governments govern.

    5. I would prefer opposition parties take principled stands, rather than just opposing the government because that's their job. If the government is making a good decision, why oppose that?

      And if the next decision they make is one with which you disagree, then oppose that one. Simply saying no because they're saying yes isn't intellectually consistent. It isn't intellectually anything. It's just opposition by rote.

    6. Obviously you don't get it so I won't push the point. Sufficit to say a party that supports a government in a vote does not govern and is unlikely to garner political capital from its support. In our system it is the job of the Opposition to oppose they don't usually do it from memory as you suggest but, out of their duty to provide an alternative point of view.

    7. It's also unlikely to spend political capital in opposition. Sometimes opposing a bill is the more expensive course.

    8. If "It's (a political party or leader)unlikely to spend political capital in opposition" Then how can "opposing a bill (be) the more expensive course"? In fact you have proved my point that opposing the Government while in opposition costs little or nothing and always has more upside than downside vis a vis the Government.

    9. I agree with Ira. And sometimes supporting a government bill can be the more expensive course as well. Sometimes opposition parties that seek to convince the electorate towards an alternative ideological course, or represent change that the electorate finds that it wants, are successful and are rewarded for it. An opposition party that simply opposes the government because it has nothing to lose may be bypassed by the public in favour of another opposition party, that is more authentic and principled, but that understands how not to squander this on being too much a pale imitation of the governing party.

  2. I'm really impressed with that 34.3 in Alberta for the Liberals. Could they be doing something right ??

    1. As someone in Alberta for the moment I don't think it so much the Liberals doing anything particularly right as a statement about Alberta and its economy.

      This is a place badly in need of investment directed somewhere other than the resource extraction industries. The recession has not hit with full force yet and may not for some time but, everyone knows when it does it will be severe. Already houses are taking months to sell but, are generally holding their value- that can't last nor can the construction that continues apace in Edmonton and Calgary. There may be a temporary boost because of the (I think prejudiced) foreigner real estate tax in Vancouver but, the fundamentals don't look good.

      $100 pbd oil came about because the second and third largest producers (Iran and Iraq) were unable to sell their oil openly. Now with Iraqi oil fields coming on-line and Iran able to sell openly again a supply glut is almost inevitable. Never mind the improvements in shale technologies that many think have doubled the amount of extraditable hydrocarbons available and $100 oil is a long way off.

      What the Liberals have done in Alberta is shown general support for Fort Mac and rectified their EI snafu which no doubt helps although my take is that these two polls are outliers for the Prairies.

    2. And the sight of Lisa Raitt trashing the Liberals for low oil price has to be one of the most ridiculous things out there.
      We have NO control over oil prices !!
      They are set by the US market which currently is simply awash in both oil and refined product !! In large part due to fracking but also a slow US economy where people simply aren't spending or traveling as normal in the summer.
      Alberta and Canada need to look for other things we can sell, whether agricultural or manufactured they have to be suitable for international sale, not just N. American !!

    3. It is an unfair criticism but, demonstrates the reason why Harper actively promoted Canadian oil. In a market of oversupply ethical Canadian oil should be a competitive advantage.

    4. Canadian oil is sold at a discount due to the shortage of means to get it to market (pipelines), so there is some cause to criticize the people who failed to get pipelines built.

      But that person was Stephen Harper. Trudeau seems to be making steady progress on pipelines.

    5. Keystone XL is dead, TransMountain is all but, dead, Energy East will happen because of Dominic LeBlanc but, probably not in this decade.

    6. No Ira. Canadian oil is sold at a discount because it is heavy and of poor quality not due to lack of transport. Western Canadian Select is bitumen meaning it is unrefined heavy oil combined with particulates, in this case mainly sand. In order for it to move through pipelines it needs to be mixed with chemicals to make it more viscous and better able to flow as a liquid. Western Canadian Select in its natural state is not liquid but a blob like material reminiscent of playdough.

    7. I really hope Energy East doesn't go !! Crossing something like 6000 waterways, given the recent disaster in Sask. has to tell us just how bad the risks are !!

    8. Keystone could have been done if the feds had handled it better. Northern Gateway was a red herring (it was never going to happen).

      Energy East and twinning the TransMountain make perfect sense, though. The pipelines for Energy east mostly already exist, and TransMountain already has a right-of-way cleared, so there's no reason for anyone to complain about the route (unless KinderMorgan does something stupid like change the route, which is exactly what they've done).

      And no, Derek, you're wrong about the oil. Western Canadian Select is a blend of both conventional oil and diluted bitumen. There is no natural state of Western Canadian select. And while bitumen is naturally very thick (as are some conventional oils, including oils produced in Canada), the stuff we ship is not, because it's been diluted and blended. The stuff in the pipeline can be refined in the same refineries as traditional conventional oil.

      If we could get a bigger pipeline to the Pacific (we already have the existing TransMountain pipeline, which terminates at the Port of Burnaby), we could sell our oil to Asia more easily, and avoid that discount we seem to be giving the Americans.

    9. As hearings get underway on the proposed Energy East pipeline, documents obtained by the CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, show the Canadian military has expressed grave concerns about the possibility of an oil spill.

    10. What they mine from the ground is its natural state-bitumen and sand. It is so dirty David Suzuki and the tree huggers are right-it should stay in the ground! Far too much water is used to clean the product and even afterwards the lack of a refinery in Alberta leaves its production of limited economic value. Once again the discount is due to the quality of oil-which is poor- as opposed to transportation costs. That is how oil is priced: Brent; Light Sweet Crude, West Texas International, WCS, etc...

    11. Refining it Alberta would be idiotic. The refineries should always be where the end product is needed, not where the raw materials are produced.

      What would you have the refinery in Alberta produce? Every different part of the US has different gasoline regulations, so they have to refine their gasoline locally.

      And most of the water used is returned to the environment through evaporation. That's what tailings ponds do.

      You're also oversimplifying the market in terms of how the prices work. Everything (including heating value, the most important aspect of petroleum products) gets factored into the price. That's why ethanol is so cheap. It has a lower heating value, so you need to burn more of it to produce the same amount of energy.

    12. Peter - oil spills happen. But they happen more with trains and trucks. Pipelines spell less oil per bbl*mile than either of the other options.

    13. And the pipelines used in Energy East are mostly already in operation - they just carry imported oil the opposite direction.

      The question is whether we want those pipes to carry Saudi oil west or Canadian oil east.

    14. Also, the reason we're not having the same fracking boom as the US is because we invented fracking, and have been doing it since the 1960s. We've mostly produced our fracked oil already.

    15. Ira
      Prince Albert, Sask. if you've forgotten.

    16. Yes, oil spills happen.

      They happen more often per barrel of oil transported when we use trains.

      The only way we're going to spill less than we would with pipelines is not to transport the oil at all.

    17. " not to transport the oil at all.

      Lot to recommend that !!

    18. If it is idiotic for Alberta to have a refinery why does Belgium have four? The Czech republic three, Even Greece four?

      If it is idiotic then maybe Alberta itself is idiotic and passed its usefulness-isn't that what you imply? Nigeria has three refineries for Pete's sake so obviously your take that refineries must be near markets is an opinion not fact! Nigeria may have 100 million people but the vast majority of its oil is exported. Newfoundland has an oil refinery! And Alberta already has three refineries producing 500,000 bpd! Alberta oil usually is upgraded anyway so to take one more step and increase the added value of the product is logical why you would think otherwise Ira is beyond me but, I am concerned with the less than factual nature of your comments.

    19. If that's your objective, come right out and say that. Don't bandy about talking about the risks of spills.

      The oil is a tremendously valuable resource which can earn us billions. If you want us to voluntarily stop earning that revenue, I'm also inclined to ask what you think might replace that economic activity.

  3. Éric,

    I'm a bit confused about the claim "the Liberals (at 173 seats) would be so close to a majority even under PR that they could govern with the help of any other opposition party," since 173 seats is a majority government. They would not need any other party's support to govern, as far as I am aware.

    1. Ack, you're right. For some reason when I wrote this I had 180 seats in my head as the majority threshold. Will fix.

  4. I don't think these AV numbers would hold up at all. In a scenario where a person could vote their conscience without risk of voting in a highly unfavourable option, I think you'd see a huge change.

    I for one spent years voting for the most likely party to beat Harper, rather than voting Green as I would have preferred. If enough people do this that could amount to a huge shift.

    I personally believe of course that AV is the sensible solution to ensuring majority consensus, and I don't think it's helpful to pretend to predict the outcome of that with this clearly flawed model as it misrepresents the situation considerably in my opinion.

    1. Yes, though it is not even clear that such a (huge) change would necessarily serve the objectives of some voters who currently vote strategically. If, for example, there was a large group of anti-Conservative voters who otherwise vote strategically Liberal, and they were to shift their first choice support to the Greens in an AV system, the Liberals might be eliminated from the final runoff in a number of ridings. The Conservatives might then win a number of ridings with Conservative-NDP or Conservative-Green runoffs that might otherwise have gone Liberal. Not that I am suggesting that this is an argument for such voters against AV. It is just worth noting that AV is not a mathematically perfect system for accomplishing its most positive attribute, that of obtaining a consensual outcome.


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