Monday, September 28, 2009

Léger Marketing National Poll

Here is the survey report. This is a large poll, and mainly confirms the trends in Ontario, and west of it. However, contrary to most polls by non-Québec firms, this Léger poll still has the Liberals within 3% of the Bloc. Also, since mid-September, the Liberals have been doing very well in Atlantic Canada, and the Tories poorly - maybe one region of the country did appreciate Ignatieff's stand after all.

The aggregate projection shows a further strengthening of the Tories, but I believe that things will now stabilize:

CON - 140
LIB - 87
BQ - 48
NDP - 33

Given Layton's plans to support the government on the Liberal non-confidence motion, Ignatieff will likely have a few months to get the Liberal number to a more respectable level.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Angus Reid: Tories Lead by 14 in Ontario

This Angus Reid poll has the Conservatives leading 44-30 in Ontario. But the Liberals lead 57-22 in Atlantic Canada! The latter is obviously a sampling quirk, but the former reinforces the previous Angus Reid poll that showed the Tories up by 12 in Ontario. Also compared to the previous Angus Reid poll, the Tories jumped from 13% to 21% in Québec, while the NDP jumped from 6% to 17% in Alberta. The latest EKOS had also picked up a Tory uptick (albeit much smaller) in Québec, but actually had the NDP dropping in Alberta...

This poll alone puts Harper a half-dozen seats away from a majority, while the new aggregate projection shows:

CON - 138
LIB - 88
BQ - 48
NDP - 34

The Liberals are still the only party that would gain seats, but now only a handful of them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cauchon in Outremont after all

If Ignatieff had made this decision at the very beginning, things would obviously be better for the Liberals. But as they say, better late than never!

As a result of this, I'll revert to projecting Outremont normally, which for now means that the NDP would lose it. Thus we now have:

CON - 136
LIB - 92
BQ - 48
NDP - 32

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ignatieff Offers Jeanne--Le Ber to Cauchon

Earlier this week, I had actually thought of this as a possibility, but didn't post about it since I thought that if Ignatieff wants both Cauchon and Le Prohon to run, having Cauchon in Outremont and Le Prohon in Jeanne--Le Ber is much more electorally efficient. Indeed, it currently appears that Outremont will be a tougher battle than Jeanne--Le Ber. Since Cauchon is a former Outremont MP, and is in any case much better known than Le Prohon, the logical choice would have been to nominate Cauchon in Outremont.

It looks like the reason why we now have it the other way around is to avoid embarrassing Coderre too much. Ignatieff is attempting to cut the pie in half by saying, "Denis, you can put your preferred candidate in Outremont, but you cannot prevent Martin from running as a Liberal." Unfortunately, this may achieve the "worst" of both worlds: Coderre is still disavowed since Cauchon is allowed back, and the Liberals may have lost Outremont in the process. (I put 'worst' in quotes since that's from Ignatieff's perspective - I personally have no problem with embarrassing Coderre to punish him for overreaching.)

EKOS Confirms Conservative Strength

After a whole week without polls, reliable EKOS comes through, and shows a 7.1% Tory lead. However, the Liberals kept their support steady from last week. Rather, it is the NDP (surprise, surprise) that has bled support, reaching 13.8%, their lowest level in a non-Ipsos poll in at least 6 months (according to ThreeHundredEight.com's list of polls).

Ontario is the big news of the poll: results in other parts of the country are actually par for the course. In Ontario, the Conservatives lead the Liberals by 6.7% according to EKOS, more than the 5.4% margin of the 2008 election. Normally, this would bring the Tories very close to a majority, but they do not have commensurate strength in Atlantic Canada or BC (not to mention QC, where the Conservatives are still weak even though this poll shows an uptick for them). As a result, even based on this poll alone, the Conservatives are no closer to a majority than they currently are.

The updated aggregate prediction shows the Liberals losing two seats to the Conservatives:

CON - 136
LIB - 91
BQ - 48
NDP - 33

I gave Outremont back to the NDP due to Denis Coderre's shenanigans in that riding, and Ignatieff's lack of leadership on this issue. While the 33-seat figure doesn't look bad at all for the NDP, many of those seats are extremely vulnerable. The province to watch for them is BC: while the NDP has been losing strength everywhere else in the country, BC has held up for them. If that changes, and Ontario keeps giving poor numbers, the much feared losing of a third of the current NDP caucus could well become reality.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Bad Polls for the Liberals

Angus Reid and EKOS have the Conservatives up by 7 and 5.2 points respectively over the Liberals. This confirms the anti-Liberal tendency observed since Ignatieff declared that he no longer supports the Harper government. This also makes the most recent Ipsos poll less of an outlier, and suggests that something odd, beyond methodological differences, was going on in the mid-August Ipsos poll (Really Conservative data points? Rogue interviewer?)...

Although the Angus Reid and EKOS polls give the Tories similar national leads, the Angus Reid poll is by far more devastating to the Liberals: it has the Conservatives 12% ahead in Ontario, compared to just 4.6% according to EKOS. For this reason, the Angus Reid poll - just like the Ipsos - would actually imply that the Tories are very close to a majority (despite having only 36% nationally), while the EKOS poll - just like the Harris-Decima - suggests that they are nowhere near.

All this makes the Liberals lose 5 seats in my projection, mostly going to the Tories:

CON - 134
LIB - 93
BQ - 48
NDP - 33

It will be interesting to see how the NDP fares in the next round of polls now that it has all but declared that it would support the government long enough to avoid an election in 2009. Will left-wing Canadians reward Layton for "making Parliament work," or will they punish him for allying with the Devil? This looks like a make-or-break moment for the NDP. Fortunately for them, it's in Harper's interest not to damage the NDP too much, in order for the Liberals to remain weak. So perhaps the Prime Minister will try to keep the number of confidence votes to a minimum, in order to avoid embarrassing the NDP each time. Heck, he may even decide to move to the center just to make Ignatieff look like the bad guy! But if Canadians punish the Liberals too much in the polls for election mongering, Harper may decide to introduce a poison pill that would force the NDP to defeat him.

I feel that although the NDP may not feel too much public opinion pain in the short run due to public relief at avoiding an election, this is a tremendously dangerous strategy for Layton: if he indeed carries through supporting the government for months, he risks being Dionized, and losing a good number of left-wing voters come next election. These voters will eventually get over their relief of avoiding an election - probably, and inconveniently for Layton, just as the next campaign begins.

The numbers look bad for the Liberals for now. But if the next few months indeed feature a Conservative government propped up by the NDP, both will lose their main attack line against the Liberals. Who's forming an alliance with the socialists now? And who's the chicken? Ignatieff is getting a pretty good deal out of this, provided that Canadians do not hold it against him to have almost provoked an election this fall. Historically, voters don't care about such things once a campaign is underway. Will this time be different?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Harris-Decima Poll

Nothing much to report on this poll: the results are almost identical to the Harris-Decima from last week. The very strong MB/SK result for the NDP, and a more decent BC number for them mean that the Dippers gain 2 seats at the expense of the Tories in the aggregate projection:

CON - 130
LIB - 98
BQ - 48
NDP - 32

The four most recent polls as measured by their midpoint date (Ipsos, Harris-Decima, EKOS and Strategic Counsel) all imply a Liberal seat total under 100 in my model, as opposed to the vast majority of polls this summer. Now that the Bloc has announced that it will support the government on Friday's confidence vote, the Liberals might be secretly hoping that either the Bloc or the NDP will vote against their non-confidence motion in 2-3 weeks. Of course, the Bloc has little to lose from an election: it can make up for most of its expected losses to the Liberals by gaining seats from the Conservatives. So all eyes will likely turn to Jack Layton as the Opposition Day approaches.

Ipsos Reid Poll, and NDP Woes

Unsurprisingly, the new Ipsos Reid poll (more details via ThreeHundredEight.com) has the Conservatives far ahead, 39% to the Liberals' 30%. The NDP, however, has dropped to 12% from 14% in the previous Ipsos poll. In my projection model, that 2% and the way it's distributed across the country really hurt: the NDP drops from 30 to 21 seats in one-poll projections. Also, based on this poll alone, I have the Tories winning exactly half the seats in the House - literally on the cusp of a majority.

Incorporating this poll into the aggregate projection gives CON 131, LIB 99, BQ 48 and NDP 30. However, I've also decided to change the way in which I project Nunavut, in light of the great attention that it has received from the Harper government, and that Leona Aglukkaq will enjoy the first-time incumbent advantage. So the new projection is now:

CON - 132
LIB - 98
BQ - 48
NDP - 30

In one week, the NDP has lost 7 seats, and the Conservatives have gained 10. The NDP may feel that things are bad now, but it's not hard to see how things could get even worse if they prop up Harper enough times to avoid a fall election (i.e. both on Friday's ways and means motion, and on the Liberal non-confidence motion in 2 weeks). After all, I'd guess that a good chunk of 2008 NDP voters were actually Liberals voting for an MP that would not roll over on confidence votes; if the NDP starts supporting the government, those voters are gone. In addition, many Dippers could become demoralized and stay home if they see Layton vote confidence enough times.

Without fatigue at a dozen years of Liberal government and the sponsorship scandal like in 2006, and without a disorganized Liberal party with a weak leader like in 2008, the NDP is likely to return to 2004 levels of support. Their current saving grace is that they are the party that opposes the Conservatives, but that credential could evaporate over the next month.

In fact, according to polls, the NDP's popular support is already back at 2004 levels. I still have them at 30 seats (vs. 19 in 2004) because their vote has become much more efficient (e.g. they got 7 seats in Ontario with 18.1% in 2004, and 17 seats with 18.2% in 2008). But with Jack Layton not as new and exciting as back then, a toothless NDP could dip further, thus returning their seat total to 2004 levels.

If the NDP supports the government on Friday, they will have until the Liberals' motion to choose: do they accept to go into an election where they will likely sustain moderate losses? Or do they postpone the election in the hopes that things get better, but also risk losing all of the gains they made over the past 5 years?

If the NDP does get Harper through the fall, and if its support indeed collapses as a result, we might get a semi-stable Parliament, with the NDP wanting to avoid an election at all cost. Of course, then, each vote for the government risks pushing Layton's band further into irrelevance.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Commenting Format Changed

Comments are invited as always, but I had to change the format from an embedded form to the somewhat less inviting pop-up window. The reason is that upon trying to comment, I realized that the embedded form doesn't work in my Firefox browser... Does anyone else using Firefox have this problem with Blogger?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sooner than we thought?

If this happens, Election Day could be as early as October 26. That's two weeks earlier than the originally contemplated scenario - the government falling on the Opposition Day following the EI panel's report.

For now, I have to admit that I've somewhat tuned out due to the lack of policy ideas lately. But with the Conservative EI proposal coming up, not to mention all the parties' platforms in an eventual campaign, there is sure to be much to talk about later on.

Meanwhile, I ask: what is each leader's minimum performance to hold on to his/her position? I would suggest the following:

- Harper: form government. How tall of an order this is depends on the NDP and the Bloc's willingness to support the Liberals without a formal coalition, which Ignatieff is unlikely to agree to.

- Ignatieff: prevent a Conservative majority. This should be pretty easy, and the bar is pretty low since it's his first crack at it, and he's not Stéphane Dion.

- Layton: 25-30 seats. Above 30, and he's still above his 2006 result. But below 25, and he'll have lost a third of his party's seats, after which no leader is safe.

- Duceppe: 40-45 seats. Above 45, and it's pretty much par for the course. But below 40 would give something close to the Bloc's worst ever result of 38 seats from 2000.

The current projected outcome would bring little change unless Ignatieff seizes power with the support of the NDP and Bloc. But much can change during a campaign, and if the Liberals pick up just another 3-5% nationally, it's not hard to see a scenario where Harper and Layton would both be toast. (On the other hand, the Tories would still be short of a majority with an improvement of 3-5% over their current poll position.)

And Harris-Decima seems to be patting itself on the back for its new website design instead of, you know, actually updating the content...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Three Polls

Now that Labour Day has passed, new polls are coming in at increased frequency. Since the last update, three were published: Nanos, Harris-Decima and EKOS. All three have the Tories leading the Liberals by between 3 and 4.1%, but the regional numbers differ significantly: Harris-Decima has a favourable breakdown for the Grits (5% lead in Ontario, and down only 5 to the Bloc in Québec), while EKOS has a bad one (down 1.9 in Ontario, and down 12 to the Bloc in Québec). The common denominator in these polls is a low NDP result: between 14.8% and 15%.

These results mean that my projection went up significantly for the Conservatives, down a lot for the NDP, and down a little for the Liberals. Note that the Prairies and Atlantic breakdowns are not yet available from Harris-Decima, so these numbers may be updated later today, but I don't expect major changes:

CON - 127
LIB - 101
BQ - 48
NDP - 32

This is the best projection for the Tories since this site was launched on July 21, and in fact we're back to almost exactly the same numbers as back then. Basically, the Conservatives' slow slide over the second half of the summer was reversed by election talk over the past 10 days.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Strategic Counsel: Tories Lead in Ontario, Bloc Strong

Here is the poll.

This poll is bad news for the NDP: terrible Québec (6%) and Ontario (11%) numbers, and not so great out West either (22% vs. 24% for the Liberals). The Grits can't be happy with being at 23% in Québec, and behind the Tories in Ontario (39% vs. 41%) either.

For the Conservatives, this poll is a mixed bag: they're still weak in Québec, but have their first lead in Ontario since early July in a non-Ipsos poll. However, 43% out West is actually very low for them.

The Strategic Counsel consistently overpolls the Bloc, and I'd be very surprised if their support were anywhere near 49%.

The updated projection is:

CON - 121
LIB - 103
BQ - 47
NDP - 37

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Angus Reid and Léger Polls

Here are the Angus poll and the Léger writeup. Almost everything in these polls are in line with recent data; the only new thing is that in the Angus Reid poll, the NDP is virtually tied with the Conservatives in BC. Accordingly, my projection just adds one NDP seat and subtracts one BC seat there:

CON - 120
LIB - 104
BQ - 46
NDP - 38

The Liberals got good numbers this week in Alberta, in both the Angus and EKOS polls. This doesn't net them any seats in my projections (and almost certainly wouldn't give them more than a couple in reality). This makes their vote less efficient, which cancels the beneficial effect of the growth of the Ontario gap (now back to about 5%). Thus, they remain 16 seats behind the Tories, even though they're only about 1% behind in the national poll average.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

EKOS: Exact Tie!

32.6%-32.6%

Good news for the Liberals: for the first time in 5 weeks of EKOS polling, they have polled even with the Tories. Furthermore, they hold a 7.3% Ontario lead, and are only 1.4% behind the Bloc in Québec. However, this is a disappointing poll for them in MB, SK and BC, and their high number in AB probably doesn't help much seatwise.

Conversely, this is the lowest that the Tories have been in an EKOS in Ontario since late June, but the first time in 4 weeks that they're above 35% in BC.

Also, the Bloc's 32.3% in Québec is their worst non-CROP poll of the summer - and if ThreeHundredEight.com's list of polls is complete, their worst non-CROP since January!

Nothing surprising on the NDP or the Greens' side.

Given these regional figures, this poll implies something close to a tie, and pulls my aggregate projection even tighter:

CON - 121
LIB - 104
BQ - 46
NDP - 37

It'll be interesting to see next week's EKOS, now that the Liberals have announced that they will start voting against the Conservatives on confidence issues.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pulling the Plug

After giving contradictory signals concerning their intention to defeat the government, the Liberals have apparently decided to indeed pull the plug. Given the strong and specific language used this time, it is hard to see how the Liberals can afford backing off once more - unless the polls take a dramatic turn for worse.

The official campaign would take place in October and early November, with November 9 being the most probable poll day. But no one will be surprised if September already starts to feel like a campaign. Stay tuned!