Friday, September 30, 2016

The Pollcast: Jason Kenney's quest to unite the Alberta right

Jason Kenney left federal politics earlier this month to mount a bid for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives.

But his plan to redraw the political landscape in Alberta doesn't end there. After winning the leadership, he wants to merge the PCs with Wildrose, another conservative opposition party, and take down Rachel Notley's New Democrats in 2019.

It's a tall order. Can he do it?

Joining me to break down the leadership campaign is Janet Brown, an Alberta pollster, and Graham Thomson, columnist for the Edmonton Journal.

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#TrumpWon the debate? Legitimate polls show otherwise

The hashtag #TrumpWon was trending on Twitter Tuesday. Partially boosted by sarcasm, it was fuelled primarily by Donald Trump, who was quick to claim he won Monday's debate by citing a slew of online polls that pegged him as the winner.

But there's a problem. None of the polls Trump has pointed to are actually legitimate polls. Instead, all of the scientific, real polls published so far have shown him to be the loser of the debate by significant margins.

In the world of public opinion research, the "online polls" that litter news websites are a plague. Whereas real surveys try to assemble representative samples of the population, these online polls are more of a gimmick or a game. Anyone can answer them. Often people can answer them multiple times. They can invite their friends, who likely think just like them, to answer the online polls on social media.

And then they can point to these completely unrepresentative and meaningless results as if they signal something important.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Crowded Ontario field could have big impact on Conservative leadership race

Add another name to the list. Andrew Scheer, former Speaker of the House of Commons and a sitting MP from Saskatchewan, is expected to make his candidacy for the Conservative Party leadership official today.

By the time the first debate is held in November, the number of contenders joining Scheer on the stage — including those now in the race, those about to make it official and those seriously mulling a bid — could number more than a dozen.

In addition to that crowded field, the rules of the leadership vote may help produce some unpredictable results, particularly when so many candidates are likely to hail from one province: Ontario.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Pollcast: Trump and Clinton finally face-off

On Monday night, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will take part in the first presidential debate. The confrontation comes at a time when the polls are showing a tightening race.

And depending on who uses the platform best, the debate could set the tone for the remaining 46 days of this unpredictable campaign.

The debate will be held on Monday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Hosted by the NBC's Lester Holt, the 90-minute affair will tackle three topics: America's Direction, Achieving Prosperity, and Securing America.

To help set up the debate, Keith Boag, the CBC's senior reporter in Washington, D.C., joins me on the latest episode of the Pollcast.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Why high-profile candidates may be sitting out Conservative, NDP leadership races

The list of people who have declared they will not run for the leadership of the Conservative Party or the NDP is more illustrious than the list of contestants already in the race or mulling a bid. Could it be that some of these opt-outers already consider the 2019 federal election a lost cause?

On the Conservative side, former heirs apparent like Peter MacKay and Jason Kenney have decided they have better things to do than take over the party. Other leading figures within Stephen Harper's government, such as John Baird and James Moore, both now working in the private sector, have also said they will be sitting this one out.

Instead, a group of Conservative MPs with low name recognition have thrown their hats in the ring, while others with similarly limited profiles are expected to declare their intentions soon.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Donald Trump inches closer to White House as Hillary Clinton slides: polls

Not since a surge in the polls at the end of the Republican National Convention two months ago has Donald Trump been this close to winning the White House. But Trump has less margin for error than his Democratic rival, as his lead over Hillary Clinton in a number of swing states is slim.

According to the CBC's Presidential Poll Tracker, Clinton is currently averaging 44.7 per cent support among decided voters, compared with 42.8 per cent for Trump. The edge Clinton continues to hold over Trump has diminished rapidly — standing at well over six points in August and a little more than three points two weeks ago. That lead now sits at just 1.9 points.

While Clinton was already trending downward, the combined impact of her "deplorables" comment and her health issues surrounding a diagnosis of pneumonia may have contributed to her numbers dropping further. In polls conducted since her near collapse at a Sept. 11 commemoration, Clinton has averaged a lead of 1.3 points over Trump. Those same pollsters had her ahead by 2.2 points during the previous two weeks.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Naming and shaming hecklers in the House of Commons

"Order, please!"

On a sunny day in June, the noise on the floor of the House of Commons as MPs read out statements is like that of a busy cafeteria. In the gallery above sit a few dignitaries, tourists in shorts holding ear pieces to the sides of their sweating heads, a class of elementary school students on a field trip, and a handful of journalists.

The ear pieces are a necessity. Without them, it is impossible to hear what an MP on the floor is saying.

This is not something that comes through on television. The microphones placed on the desks of MPs do their jobs impressively well. The House of Commons is a very noisy place, even before question period gets started.

And then come the heckles. 

You can read the rest of this article here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Electoral reform could have big impact on Canada's smallest parties

When it comes to changing Canada's electoral system, who is standing up for the little guy?

The special committee on electoral reform will be hitting the road next week to hear directly from Canadians on changing the way they vote. The committee is made up of members from each of the five parties with representation in the House of Commons.

But there are a lot more parties in Canada than that.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Pollcast: The impact of Peter MacKay's decision not to run

The Conservative leadership race was shaken up this week when Peter MacKay, a former cabinet minister and the last leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, decided he would stay out.

He would have been seen as the front runner had he decided instead to throw his hat into the ring. But now that both MacKay and Jason Kenney — who is running for the leadership of the Alberta PCs — have ruled out a bid, the leadership race has been blown wide open.

Back on the Pollcast with me this week to wade through the growing list of leadership candidates are Conservative insiders Tim Powers of Summa Strategies and Chad Rogers of Crestview Strategy.

You can listen to this podcast here. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Conservative base solid, but growth needed to challenge Liberals

Conservatives holding their caucus retreat this week in Halifax can rest assured that, despite Justin Trudeau's soaring poll numbers, their base is solid. But while that base is strong enough to keep the party first in fundraising, the Conservatives will not take power again relying upon their base alone.

So that base must grow. But a Conservative leadership race without a household name in the running — particularly now that Peter MacKay has announced he will not throw his hat in the ring — will make that a challenge.

After capturing 31.9 per cent of the vote in last year's federal vote, the Conservatives have averaged 28.6 per cent support in polls conducted since. This matches where the party was polling for much of 2013 and 2014, when the Mike Duffy affair was eating into the Conservatives' numbers.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

NDP troubles continue 1 year after being government-in-waiting

The NDP's caucus retreat in Montreal this week comes at a time when the party is at its lowest level of public support in over a decade.

One year ago today, in the throes of the federal election campaign, the New Democrats were on pace to win. They were leading in the polls with about 32 per cent.

But since last year's vote, in which the NDP captured 19.7 per cent of ballots cast and was reduced to third-party status, the party has averaged just 13.7 per cent in the polls.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Pollcast: The summer of electoral reform is over

All summer, the special committee on electoral reform has been hearing from expert witnesses on how Canada's voting system should (or should not) change. Soon it will be hitting the road and meeting with Canadians directly before submitting its final recommendations.

But after hours of discussion, is the committee any closer to a consensus on what Canada's electoral system should be?

Joining me to parse through what MPs heard all summer, are the CBC's Aaron Wherry and the Ottawa Citizen's Kady O'Malley.

And if you've followed me on Twitter, you know I have a special place in my heart for Baden-Württemberg's electoral system. I try to sell it to Aaron and Kady. It goes over about as well as you'd think.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trump closes in on Clinton as U.S. election enters final stretch, polls suggest

Labour Day is traditionally when the U.S. presidential election enters its final stretch. The next nine weeks will feature a handful of debates and a lot of frenzied campaigning. They will also be decisive, as new polls suggest Donald Trump is closing the gap on Hillary Clinton.

The latest projections of CBC's Presidential Poll Tracker show that Clinton's lead over Trump has been cut in half over the last month. In the wake of her party's national convention, the Democratic nominee had opened up a margin of more than six points over her Republican rival in early August.

Now, Clinton is estimated to have the support of 45.4 per cent of decided voters, followed closely by Trump at 42.2 per cent. That 3.2-point margin is the smallest it has been in the national polling average since the end of the Republican convention in July.

You can read the rest of this analysis here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Libertarian Gary Johnson's presidential fate to be decided in coming days

Gary Johnson is embarking on the two most important weeks of his campaign for the U.S. presidency.

The Libertarian Party candidate wants to get a spot in the presidential debates, and the final decision on who gets in will be made soon. Whether he secures an invitation will have a significant impact on the fate of his party.

It will also play a big role in the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August 2016 federal polling averages

Below you will find the federal polling averages for the month of August. The averages combine two federal polls (Forum and Abacus) and one Quebec poll (CROP), altogether surveying 4,355 Canadians.

Compared to the July 2016 averages, the Liberals were down 0.8 points, the Conservatives were up 1.2 points, the New Democrats were down 0.3 points, and the Greens were unchanged.

Monthly tracking chart

The tracking chart below shows the monthly polling averages stretching back to January 2009. Elections and campaigns as well as the arrival of new federal leaders are also included.

You can click or tap on the chart above to magnify it.

Seat projections

The chart below shows how many seats each of the parties would have won in an election held in this month. This seat projection uses the current first-past-the-post system. For full methodology, see here.

The tracking chart below shows the maximum and minimum seat ranges (which are wider than the likely ranges above) projected for each party since the 2015 federal election.

You can click or tap on the chart above to magnify it.

Seat projections with alternate electoral systems

The chart below shows potential seat outcomes using alternative electoral systems.

In addition to first-past-the-post (FPTP), the chart shows estimations for proportional representation (PR) and alternative voting (AV).

For PR, each province retains the number of seats they currently have. The number of seats each party receives is rounded up or down according to the vote share received in each province, and any leftover seats are awarded to the party that finished in first place in the region.

A very simple calculation is done for AV. Because the Liberals and New Democrats tend to be each other's second choice, they are awarded any seat where they are projected to be in first place (along with the Greens). Any seat that the Conservatives or Bloc Québécois leads with 45 per cent or more is awarded to that party. Any seat where the Conservatives or Bloc Québécois is in first place but with less than 45 per cent is given to the Liberals, the NDP, or the Greens, depending on which of these parties was in second place.

Though a crude method, past experience with more sophisticated methods have yielded virtually identical results in the current political landscape.

These projections also assumes 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. All of these assumptions are likely to be greatly tested in any change to the electoral system.

The Pollcast: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May on electoral reform

On the latest episode of The Pollcast, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May notes that a lot of the focus of the electoral reform debate has been on what impact it will have on parties.

But her support for changing the way elections are run in Canada is not about how it might benefit the Greens — rather, she says it is a matter of rights. And that makes a referendum, according to May, inappropriate.

In this latest installment in the podcast series on electoral reform, I also chat with Bloc MP Gabriel Ste-Marie about the Bloc Québécois's position on the issue.

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

NDP's Halifax Needham byelection victory a warning to Stephen McNeil's Liberals

If Premier Stephen McNeil was still thinking about sending Nova Scotians to the polls this fall, Tuesday's results in the Halifax Needham byelection should give him pause.

On the face of it, the New Democrats' win in a riding they have held since 1998 might come as no surprise. After all, Halifax Needham is a riding that elected Maureen MacDonald six times. In four of those occasions, MacDonald won with a majority of ballots cast.

But it was a close contest in 2013. In that election, MacDonald took 44 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Chris Poole came up 277 votes short with 40.4 per cent.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Liberals hold post-election gains in summer polling

A year after the Liberals began the 2015 federal election campaign in third place, support for the party is holding firm — maintaining the gains the Liberals made in the immediate aftermath of last fall's vote.

Over the last three months, the Liberals have averaged 47.3 per cent support in federal polls, representing a gain of 7.8 points since the October election. Compared to the previous quarter, however, the Liberals are up just 0.6 points. This suggests that the party's support has leveled off and that —10 months after being sworn into power — the initial Liberal "honeymoon" has settled into a new normal.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Upcoming Alberta byelections pose stiff challenge for Liberals

Just hours after Stephen Harper announced he was resigning his Calgary Heritage seat, the Liberal Party sent out an email blast to its supporters. Looking for donations, the party said it was hoping to kick-start its efforts to elect a Liberal MP in Harper's vacated riding.

It's an ambitious appeal. The Liberals were beaten in Calgary Heritage last fall by almost 38 percentage points and more than 22,000 votes.

Byelections will need to be held soon in four ridings. The fundraising request from the Liberals mentioned two of them: Harper's and Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. That seat was left vacant this spring when Conservative MP Jim Hillyer died of a heart attack. A byelection campaign needs to be called for that riding within a few weeks.

You can read the rest of this article here.