Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Sadly, life/career is taking over, and I will not update the maps until at least mid-February. I wish you all a great 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Map for the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election


With the new census counts published last week, the numbers of congressional districts and electoral votes for each state for the upcoming elections have been set. Above is a map for the 2012 presidential election, with the following color-coding:

- Dark blue: Obama won by 19.25% or more in 2008
- Light blue: Obama won by 13.25% to 19.25%
- White: Obama won by 1.25% to 13.25%
- Light red: Obama won by less than 1.25% or McCain won by less than 4.75%
- Dark red: McCain won by more than 4.75%

These ranges are symmetric with respect to Obama's national margin of victory in 2008, 7.25%. The only adjustment was for Arizona, to remove the McCain home state effect. Obviously, the GOP may receive a boost in other states once their ticket is set.

The light blue states the Democrats are probably most worried about are Wisconsin (smallest margin among those states in 2008) and Michigan (due to the economic situation there). As for the Republicans, the most vulnerable red state is probably North Carolina, which Obama carried. Obama also carried Indiana, but he will have a hard time in the rust belt this time.

Assuming all colored states go to the favored party (otherwise, it's probably a blowout), the electoral count is 217-206 for Obama. He therefore needs 53 of the 115 remaining EVs. The Democratic senate successes in NV and CO and their gubernatorial win in MN this fall are encouraging for the White House; that's 25 EVs. On the flip side, I would be quite pessimistic about OH (rust belt) and FL (a mere 2.8% win in 2008). The remaining four states, PA, NH, VA and IA and their 43 EVs would probably be the toughest to call in a close national race. Obama needs PA and either VA or both NH and IA. He will need to activate his networks in NH and IA without the help of a primary race, and might want to make frequent trips across the Potomac while Republican hopefuls go at each other during the coming year.

As for PA, well if Pennsylvanians thought they got a lot of attention in 2008, they better get ready this time. As Pat Toomey showed in November, it is a state where the Tea Party can win...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Projection Trends, 2010

Here's the evolution of seat projections over this blog's 17-month-or-so existence. Below is a summary of the year from the perspective of each of the major parties.

Conservative Party: Before prorogation, the end of 2009 was a sweet one for the Tories. Although they weren't in majority territory, they were very close and slightly above their 2008 election results. On December 30, however, Stephen Harper announced that Parliament would be prorogued until early March, and what political observers would have asked were they not on vacation is whether this second prorogation would dent the Conservatives' popularity. Well, the answer came quickly in the new year, as polls immediately pointed to a tight race between the Tories and the Grits. What had been a 70+ seat lead quickly shrank to a 20-seat edge, and some polls even put the Liberals marginally ahead. The Conservatives recovered somewhat during the Olympics, and were then flat flat flat for nine months in the low 130s - perhaps fittingly given the lack of big news on the federal scene. However, the last month of the year saw, for reasons that are somewhat murky, a further recovery in Tory fortunes, and Harper ends the year only marginally behind where he was a year ago.

Liberal Party: The furor over prorogation obviously benefited the Liberals at the start of the year, and as the Tories partially recovered during the Games, the Grits gave back some of their gains. However, through the spring, even as the Conservatives were going nowhere, the Liberals kept sliding slowly, but surely. By mid-year, the Grits had coughed up almost all of their prorogation gains. The summer, however, reversed that trend, and by Labor Day, fresh from his BBQ tour, Ignatieff was just short of where he was during the prorogation episode. Unfortunately for the Liberals, as temperatures cooled, so did Canadians' sentiment toward their leader, and they end the year on a low, still ahead, but only marginally, of where they were in late 2009.

Bloc: The Bloc dipped a little early in 2010 due to the Liberals' strength. But as the Liberals slid during the spring, the Bloc recovered and even gained ground, staying above 50 seats for the most part through the rest of the year. 2010 was smooth sailing for Duceppe, as he had no real competition in Québec, and the situation seems unlikely to change any time soon.

NDP: For most of the year, the NDP's fortunes were inversely related to the Liberals'. During the good Grit stretches, the Dippers were in the low to mid 30s, while during Grit skids, the NDP hovered around 40. However, the late-year Tory surge has hurt Layton even as it weakened Ignatieff. Is this a temporary blip, or the beginning of the end of Layton's leadership?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

EKOS: Tories Lead by 5.5, NDP Up

EKOS decided not to wait until next week to give us its last poll of the year, which may also be the last voting intention poll overall for 2010. There is not too much of note in this poll. Overall, the NDP and the Bloc were somewhat stronger than usual, and the two main parties a bit weaker, but these changes are not statistically significant, and there are no surprising regional numbers, except perhaps that the Liberals are just 20 points behind the Tories in Alberta.

Adding this poll to the average gives:

CON - 142 (36.4%)
LIB - 80 (29.0%)
BQ - 52 (10.0%)
NDP - 34 (16.1%)

The average Tory national lead is 7.5% (due to rounding) 7.4% (Harris-Decima has posted its latest poll report, which allowed me to get unpublished numbers from previous weeks), almost unchanged.

Given that this is most likely the last poll of the year, I will, over the next few days, post updated graphs and maps. But you can already imagine that these updates won't be too exciting: all parties are within 5 seats of their count in the last projection of 2009. Indeed, after all the ups and downs of 2010, the end changes are rather puny: the Tories lost 2, the Grits gained 4, the Bloc gained 3, and the Dippers lost 5.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Harris-Decima: Tories Lead by Just 2

The latest poll from Harris-Decima, unlike other recent ones, have the Grits and Tories in a statistical dead heat. Ontario is tied in this survey, while the Tories have low numbers (relative to other polls) in BC, Alberta and Québec. The Bloc, at 44% in Québec, is strong, though this is often the case in Harris-Decima polls. The same goes for the Greens at 21% in BC. This is a fairly weak poll across the board for the NDP, except in Alberta, where 14% is quite good for the Dippers.

There has also been a Léger poll with weak Bloc and strong NDP numbers. Both Léger and CROP have been consistently delivering better results for the NDP in Québec than national pollsters. Any idea why?

Adding these polls to the formula yields little change:

CON - 142
LIB - 82
BQ - 52
NDP - 32

The average popular vote lead for the Conservatives drops to a still sizable 7.4%.

Unless infrequent pollsters like Environics and CROP come out with new numbers soon, there may only be no more than one voting intention poll left this year: hopefully EKOS will release bi-weekly numbers next week. Shortly after that release, I will update the projection graph and hopefully also the maps.

Update: I just noticed that I missed a CROP poll that came out two weeks ago. Incorporating it into the average does not change the projections. So indeed, virtually all pollsters have said their final word of the year on voting intentions!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ipsos: Tories Lead by 10, NDP Drops

The most recent Ipsos poll was released on Friday, and confirms what all pollsters but EKOS showed: an increased Conservative lead. It also has the weak NDP numbers that EKOS, but not the other pollsters, picked up.

Adding this poll to the mix gives the NDP its worst seat count of the year:

CON - 144
LIB - 81
BQ - 52
NDP - 31

The average Tory lead over the Grits increases to 8.4%.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EKOS: Tories' Lead at 4.5, 5.2 a Week Ago

Unlike the three polls earlier this week showing the Conservatives at 35-38% and with a near 10-point lead, EKOS' latest numbers suggest that the situation has remained fairly stable, as they only spot the Tories a 5-point lead. According to EKOS, Ontario is still a tie, and the Liberals lead by a whopping 38 points in Atlantic Canada (as always, small sample alert), contrary to the other polls that have the Tories ahead in both regions. However, EKOS confirms the Conservative strength in BC.

Adding this poll to the mix moderates the Liberals' losses:

CON - 143 142
LIB - 79 80
BQ - 52
NDP - 34

On the face of it, the Liberals gained 3 seats from the NDP. Actually, only one seat was transferred in that way. In the East, the Liberals also had a net gain of 2 from the Tories, who took them from the NDP out West.

The average Tory national lead is 8.1%. However, because the regional breakdown for the first week of polling was not released, the above projections do not take that week into account. Also omitting it for the popular vote gap calculation would put the Tory lead at 8.4%.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Angus Reid: Tories Lead by 12

After two bad polls for the Liberals yesterday, we get today an even worse one from Angus Reid! Once again, the Tories lead in Atlantic Canada, but what's really great for the government is that they lead by 13% in Ontario. If this were borne out in an election, the Grits could fall as low as 60 seats nationally, and the Tories would have a good shot at a majority.

Adding this poll to the projection gets us back to almost exactly the 2008 seat count:

CON - 143
LIB - 76
BQ - 52
NDP - 37

The average Conservative national lead is now 8.7%. They won the 2008 election by 11.4%, but are able to reach the same seat count since their popular vote losses are from the West, where most Conservative seats are safe anyway. The small seat losses there are offset by gains in Atlantic Canada, which is very competitive between the two main parties and therefore has a disproportionate share of swing seats.

The most worrisome thing in all this for Ignatieff is that he didn't commit any major faux pas lately, and yet is back where he was last fall, after he foolishly announced he would defeat the government. The voters that the Liberals need to win an election may be harder to get back this time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two Polls: Tories Lead by 6.9, 11

We have our first two non-EKOS polls in four weeks today (talk about a drought!), and the news is bad for the Liberals: Nanos has them trailing by 6.9%, while Abacus has them at a paltry 24%, 11% behind the Conservatives. The regional breakdown is just as disastrous for Ignatieff:
- there have now been four polls in a row showing the Tories leading in Atlantic Canada;
- the two new polls show the Tories ahead in Ontario by 7-8%, more than in the last election;
- the Tories stay strong in BC, while the Bloc shows no sign of dropping in Québec.

Not surprisingly, incorporating these polls into the aggregate projection increases the Conservatives' seat count:

CON - 139
LIB - 81
BQ - 51
NDP - 37

The Tories are now at their best position of 2010, and the Grits are almost entirely back down to the doldrums of last fall. No wonder many Liberals want a new leader! The NDP got decent numbers in today's polls, but lost seats because:
- the Liberals' weakness didn't benefit the Dippers, who were pretty much "maxed out" on that front; and
- the Conservatives' gains in popular support were larger than the NDP's.

The average national lead for the Tories jumps to 7.6%.

Monday, November 29, 2010

By-Elections: Tories Win, Liberals save face, NDP loses

As many expected, Conservative "star candidate" Julian Fantino has won the seat of Vaughan, held by Liberals for 22 years. He defeated Liberal Tony Genco by 997 votes, or just 2.5%.

Some in the media have been speculating that if the Liberals lose Vaughan, they would refrain from defeating the Tories and provoking an election this coming Spring, or even through 2011. However, the situation is murkier due to the unexpected Liberal win in Winnipeg North, where Kevin Lamoureux beat Kevin Chief, who was trying to hold the seat for the NDP, by 795 votes, or 5.1%. This win will prevent Liberal morale from sagging due to the loss in Vaughan, but the worry remains that the Conservatives have made significant inroads in the inner portions of the 905.

Finally, as expected, the Tories carried Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette in Manitoba by over 30%.

Turnout was 32.4% in Vaughan, 30.8% in Winnipeg North, and 26.9% in Dauphin-blah-blah. Low, but not disastrously so.

I would refrain from reading too much into these results. Certainly, this was a good night for the Conservatives, and a bad one for the NDP. However, the electors that voted today will only form about half of the electorate for the next general election. Because of the close margins in Vaughan and Winnipeg North, it is difficult to tell who would would have carried those ridings had the general election voters turned out.

Still, given Peter Kent's fairly narrow win (9.6%) in Thornhill in 2008, it's plausible to venture that:
- In 416-adjacent seats, Tories can win by a small margin with a star candidate. But this means that such seats would probably remain Liberal in a neutral match-up.
- There has been no great change in the 905 political landscape since 2008. Of course, this is unsurprising, since recent Ontario poll numbers are very similar to the 2008 election results.

Finally, an interesting fact: due to Vaughan's fast growth and Manitoba's over-representation in the House, there are more registered electors in Vaughan (120,864) than in Winnipeg North and in Dauphin-etc. combined (104,747). In fact, there were more votes cast for Tony Genco (18,263), the losing candidate in Vaughan, than for all candidates combined in Winnipeg North (15,780) or Dauphin-SW-M (14,411).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

EKOS: Tories Led by 6.2 in the Past Week, 3.7 in the Previous One

After two weeks of no new national poll, the regular one from EKOS is out. The past two weeks of EKOS polling suggest that the Tories now lead in Atlantic Canada. In Québec, there has been no real movement, though the NDP posted stronger numbers than in past EKOS polls, and are now close to a second seat in my projection (though that's actually mainly due to the Léger poll described below). Ontario is still a Liberal-Conservative tie. The most noteworthy numbers of this poll are in BC, where after a few good polls, the Liberals are back to third place status.

Also adding into the mix this Léger Québec poll released last week, which had a good Tory number and a whopping NDP number, I get the following aggregate projection:

CON - 134
LIB - 83
BQ - 51
NDP - 40

The Liberals were hurt by the EKOS numbers in Atlantic Canada and BC.

In terms of the popular vote, the Tory lead is now pegged at 6.3%. The increase is mostly due to the reduced weight put on the previous EKOS poll, which was a bit of an outlier in showing an almost tied race.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

4 Polls: Tories Still Hold Edge

Sorry for the lack of posts these past few days: work got a little crazy. Since the last update on the Canadian scene, four polls have been released: Abacus, Ipsos, Nanos and EKOS. These polls have tended to be good for the NDP: it averaged around 18%, and has regained the ground lost in the early fall. The Liberals also got good numbers in BC, polling above 30% in both the Nanos and the EKOS surveys. Did Gordon Campbell resigning help Ignatieff? Three of the four polls had the Tories ahead by around 5% in Ontario, but the largest and most recent one, EKOS, has the Liberals on top by 2% there.

The overall effect of these polls on the aggregate projection is a loss of 5 seats for the Tories, mainly to the benefit of the NDP:

CON - 130
LIB - 86
BQ - 52
NDP - 40

The average Conservative national lead has not changed much, and sits at 5.8%.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

US Election: Summary and Updates

Here are a summary of results and updates to this post as final numbers trickle in.

Senate
2008: 59 D, 41 R
Net changes: None (PA to D, MA to R)
This election: -6 D, +6 R (AR, IL, IN, ND, PA, WI)
Now: 53 D, 47 R

House
2008: 257 D, 178 R
Net changes: -1 D, +1 R (NY-23 to D; AL-5, HI-1 to R)
This election: -63 D, +63 R (66 to R; DE-AL, HI-1, LA-2 to D)
Now: 242 R, 193 D

Governors
2009: 26 D, 24 R
Net changes: -1 R, +1 I (FL)
This election: -6 D, +6 R (11 D to R; 5 R to D; FL I to R; RI R to I)
Now: 29 R, 20 D, 1 I

Senate Updates
- CO has gone for the Democrats. With what appears to be all regular ballots counted, the Democratic candidate has increased his lead to about 15,500 votes, or 0.9%. [11/4] The gap is now about 15,650 votes.
- [11/4] WA shows a lead of 3% for the Democratic incumbent, with 75% of the count completed. This is looking very good for the Dems. [11/4] This race has now also been called for the Dems.

House Updates
- VA-11: All votes are now in, and the Democrat has increased his margin to 920 votes, with about 390 provisional ballots left. Tentative Democratic hold, though the GOP is entitled to a recount. I will move this back to the too-close-to-call category if a recount is requested. [11/5] The final margin is 968. [11/9] This race has been called by the AP.
- KY-6: It turns out that the 600-vote margin mentioned in the previous post was based on all (as opposed on almost all) precincts. Also a tentative Democratic hold, with possible recount. [11/5] The final margin is 649. A re-canvass (which is not a recount) will be conducted on 11/12. [11/12] The re-canvass has confirmed the result, and the Republican conceded.
- IL-8: The Democratic incumbent has cut her deficit to 553 votes. All regular ballots have been accounted for, but there are possibly several thousand provisional and absentee ballots left. [11/5] The gap is now 350 votes, and counting will continue until 11/16. [11/17] The Republican held on to win by 291 votes.
- CA-11: The last batch of regular votes has put the Democratic incumbent ahead by 121 votes, with many absentee ballots still to be counted. [11/4] The gap is now 134 votes. [11/5] The Democrat's lead is now 548 votes, and counting continues. [11/9] The margin has increased again, to 632 votes. [11/12] The gap is now 1,690 votes. Looking good for the Democrat. [11/17] The margin has grown slightly to 1,757 votes. [11/19] The gap is now 1,783. [11/22] The margin is 1,788, and looks unlikely to change much. Democratic hold, although the AP has yet to call the race. [11/24] The AP has now called the race.
- [11/4] WA-2: The Democrat is now leading by 648 votes, with 73% of the count completed. [11/5] The Democrat's lead is now 3,872 votes, with 90% of the votes counted. This is starting to look like a Democratic hold. [11/9] A Democratic hold indeed: with 98% of the votes counted, the incumbent leads by almost 2%.
- [11/4] NY-25: This one is back in the too-close-to-call column: the last batch of votes was strongly Republican, putting the GOP ahead by 659 votes. Around 10,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted. [11/5] The GOP's lead has slightly increased to 684. The number of absentee ballots is around 7,000, and those will only be counted starting 11/15. [11/19] The Democrat now trails by only about 300, but is unlikely to make up more ground. [11/21] The count is almost complete, and the Republican leads by 567. It's time to declare this a Republican win, even though there has not yet been a concession, and the AP hasn't yet called the race. [11/23] The Democratic candidate has conceded.
- [11/6] NY-1: An error has been discovered in the tally. Instead of the Democrat winning by about 3,500 votes, the Republican is now ahead by about 400, with around 9,000 absentee ballots to be counted. [11/19] The Democratic incumbent has pulled ahead by 15 votes. This one is going down to the wire. [11/23] The Democratic lead is now about 200. [12/8] Democratic hold.
- [11/9] CA-20: This one is back in the too-close-to-call column, as the Democrat's performance in absentee ballots allowed him to close the gap from about 3% to just 27 votes. [11/12] The Democrat now leads by 1,107, and will probably win in the end. [11/17] The gap has again expanded, to 1,428 votes. [11/19] The Democrat's lead is now 2,742. The AP has not called the race, but I'll go ahead and designate this a Democratic hold. [11/23] The Republican has conceded.
- There are 6 other uncalled races that I've included in the tally of the leading party. Of these, two apparently have especially many uncounted absentee ballots: CA-20 (R lead) and NY-25 (D lead), where the gap is provisionally 1.6%. These could go back into the too-close-to-call column, but for now the gap in each is over 1%. The other uncalled race is TX-25, where the Democrat, losing by about 0.8%, has requested a recount. I'm not yet putting this one back in the too-close-to-call column since the gap exceeds 0.5%. [11/23] After the recount produced little change in the vote totals, the Democrat has conceded.

Governor Updates
- Of the 7 uncalled races as of the last post, the 3 where I identified a tilt have been decided. As expected, the GOP picks up ME, regains FL (the sitting governor was elected as a Republican, but is now an Independent), and the Dems pick up VT.
- CT: The AP still has the Republican up by 0.7%, but the Democratic Secretary of State has said that when all votes are counted, the Democrat would likely win by about 3,000 votes, or just under 0.3%. [11/4] The AP now has the Democrat up by 0.5%, with a few precincts still to go. [11/5] The AP calls the race for the Democrat, but the Republican has not conceded due to irregularities.
- MN: All votes are in, and the Democrat's 0.5% lead is confirmed. Crucially, it's just under 0.5%, so unless canvassing produces a change, there will be an automatic recount. [12/8] Democratic pickup: the Republican has conceded after the part of the recount process.
- OR: Like in CT, the GOP lead has been cut to 0.7%. 4% of the precincts have yet to report, almost all in Multnomah county (central Portland), where the Democrat has carried 70% of the counted vote. [11/4] The Democrat has won the race: as expected, he vaulted ahead when Multnomah came in, and now leads by 1%.
- [11/4] IL: The Democrat has increased his lead to 0.5%, or about 19,400 votes, with all regular ballots counted. However, there are probably more than 100,000 absentee ballots left. [11/5] The Republican has conceded this race.

US Election Post Mortem

Relative to expectations, the midterm elections in the US were a mixed bag for both parties. Here is a tentative summary of what happened in Senate, House and Governor races.

Senate (51-53 Democrats, 47-49 Republicans)
- Harry Reid's relatively easy win in NV proved all pollsters in the last 3 weeks of the campaign wrong. It's not a big surprise since everyone knew it was going to be close, and President Obama significantly outperformed polls in NV in 2008. Still, the margin of victory (5%) is higher than what most would have predicted.
- CO and WA are also likely to remain Democratic, in which case the Dems would have 53 seats, making their majority defection-proof. The gap in the vote count is about 7,500 votes in CO and 14,000 votes in WA. CO looks to be the safer of the two: most votes have been counted, and almost all of the outstanding ones are in Democratic counties. Again, pollsters have been proven wrong here: no one gave the Democrat a lead in the last month of the campaign. There is a lot of counting left in WA, but King county, which includes Seattle, is a bit behind the rest of the state, which is a good sign for the Democrat.
- PA flipped to the Republicans, as expected. However, the margin there was only 2%, much less than the poll consensus. The margin in WI, which the GOP also took over as predicted, is also a bit lower than expected.
- Meanwhile, WV easily remained Democratic by 10%, a much larger difference than polls suggested.
- Overall, pollsters overestimated Republican support in almost all close Senate races, though NV was the only state where they were far off. This pales in comparison to their performance in 2006, when the consensus polling average was essentially on the dot in every close state.
- In 2012, 23 Democrats and 10 Republicans are scheduled to face an election. Even in a neutral environment, Democratic losses would be expected. The unresolved races in CO and WA are crucial: with 53 seats, the Dems have a fighting chance of maintaining their majority beyond 2012, but with just 51, that would be hard to do.

House (241-246 Republicans, 189-194 Democrats)
- In the House, 11 races remain uncalled, though only 5 are genuinely unsettled: VA-11 (Dems lead by 500 votes), KY-6 (D +600), IL-8 (R +800), WA-2 (R +1400), CA-11 (R +23). In each of these districts, only a few precincts are missing, except in WA-2, where due to postal voting, about 36% of the vote may be outstanding. CA-11 is almost certainly headed for a recount.
- Splitting the above 5 races evenly gives the GOP 243-244 seats, a gain of 65-66 relative to the 2008 election. This is the highest Republican total since the 1946 election, the biggest Republican seat increase since 1938, and the biggest Republican seat increase constituting a takeover since 1894! However, the last two Democratic Presidents facing a GOP takeover of a comparable magnitude, Truman and Clinton, were both comfortably reelected two years later.
- The Republican wave, while huge, was also not much bigger than expected: only 10 or so more seats than what most pundits called for. According to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, the national popular vote was fairly well estimated by pollsters; the GOP swing was just a bit more efficient than expected.
- Relative to the 2008 election, the Democrats lost seats in 34 33 of the 46 states where they had at least one. The wave hit everywhere, but less hard in New England (where NH was the only state out of 6 to elect Republican representatives) and on the West Coast (where the Democrats lost only 2-4 1 districts). Outside the Northeast and the West Coast, the Democrats won 136 seats out of 274 in 2008, or about 50%. This time, they're down to about 86, or about 31%.
- There were only two Republican losses relative to 2008, both in very blue areas: Delaware, where the popular moderate GOP incumbent decided to run for Senate (and lost to a Tea Party candidate in the primary), and LA-2 (New Orleans), where in 2008, voters barely threw out a corrupt Democrat caught with $90,000 in his freezer. Also, the Dems took back HI-1, which had gone to the GOP in a special election where the Democratic vote was split. (Addendum: They also held NY-23, won in a special election last year.)

Governors
There are no surprises among the races that have already been called. The GOP picked up 10 seats mostly in very red states and the Midwest; this is going to help them for redistricting. They lost RI to an independent and CA (addendum: and HI) to a Democrat. Seven races remain outstanding and close:
- Likely GOP wins: ME (as expected), FL (was a tossup)
- Likely Democratic win: VT (as expected)
- CT: the GOP has a healthy 1% lead, but 10% of the vote, reportedly mostly from Democratic strongholds, remain outstanding. This race turned against the Democrat in the last 10 days, which polls did pick up.
- IL: the Democrat has a 0.3% lead, with a few precincts left. This is a surprise, as the GOP candidate was favored.
- MN: the Democrat has a 0.5% lead, with a few precincts left. This is closer than expected, though the Democrat may well hold on.
- OR: similar to CT: the GOP has a 1.1% lead, but 11% of the vote, mostly from around Portland, have not yet been counted. This one was a tossup.

Overall
Democrats outperformed expectations in the Senate, but underperformed in the House, while gubernatorial races were mixed. Why did the polls underestimate the Democrats in the Senate, but not the House? Here are a few possible explanations:
1. Senate races are more prominent. If you're a young or unenthusiastic voter filtered out by pollsters' likely voter screens, you're more likely to defy expectations and actually vote in a close Senate race than if the most important close race where you live is for the House.
2. It just so happens that the close Senate races were in states where pollsters had a GOP bias. Maybe the same pollsters would overestimate Democratic vote if the close races were elsewhere.
3. Pollsters are different for the House and the Senate, and it just so happens that Senate polling firms made errors in the same direction.
4. Undecided voters broke for the Democrats only in Senate races. Perhaps these voters really want to send a message to the Dems, but have no confidence in the GOP. After agonizing for a long time, they decide to split their ticket: send a message with their House vote, which they can change in 2 years, but not taking a risk with a somewhat unknown GOP Senate challenger, whom they can only throw out in 6 years.

I will post an update when most of the remaining races are resolved.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harris-Decima: Conservatives Ahead by 5

The latest Harris-Decima poll confirms that the Tories have opened up a lead in late October. The big difference from the EKOS and Angus Reid polls from the same period, however, is that no such lead has appeared in Ontario: indeed, Harris-Decima has the Liberals ahead by 1% there. Rather, this poll has the Tories leading by 14% in Atlantic Canada; given that no poll has had the Tories up by more than 5% there (and that many have shown a large Liberal lead), this is probably just due to the small sample issue.

The other interesting thing is that this is the 5th consecutive poll showing the Tories at 33% or less in BC, and the NDP at 26% or more there. Gains in BC could well offset expected losses in Ontario for the NDP if this trend continues.

The new seat projection shows little change, although the Liberals keep slowly falling:

CON - 135
LIB - 84
BQ - 52
NDP - 37

The average Tory national lead is at 6.1%.

Monday, November 1, 2010

US Election

While the Canadian federal political scene has been, all things considered, fairly calm these past few weeks, things have been heating up for the midterm elections here in the United States. Most prognosticators, of which Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight is probably the most sophisticated statistically, are predicting about a 15-seat majority for the Republicans in the House (equivalently, roughly a 30-seat gap between the GOP and the Dems) and the Democrats barely holding onto the Senate. The picture below shows my own Senate ratings.


All in all, there are 48 seats virtually assured for Democrats or senators caucusing with the Democrats (40 not up for election, 8 safe seats), and 43 seats virtually assured for Republicans (23 not up, 20 safe) - these are expected to be carried by double digits or high single digits. Of these, ND, IN and AR are pickups for the GOP.

Then, there are 4 seats where the outcome seems fairly certain (normally, these should be carried by mid to high single digits), but a perfect storm could create an upset. CA should remain Democratic, while AK should be carried by either the Republican candidate, or the Republican incumbent running as a write-in independent (but who will stay in the GOP caucus is re-elected). Meanwhile, PA and WI are likely pickups for the GOP. With these seats, the count is 49 Democrats and 46 Republicans.

Finally, there are 5 seats, all currently held by Democrats, where the outcome is very much in doubt. Unless they can win CA or poach one of the existing Democratic caucus members (like Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson), the Republicans need a clean sweep of these states to take control. The GOP currently holds an edge in IL, NV and CO. Nevada is of particular interest, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could lose his seat. Also, WA, where the Democratic incumbent has been favored throughout the race, has recently become a pure tossup. On the other hand, the popular Democratic candidate and current governor is now ahead in WV, despite the overwhelming unpopularity of President Obama in his state.

My best guess for the result in the Senate is 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans. Basically, I get 50.5-49.5 by splitting the pure tossup of Washington state, and round up for the Democrats as they have fewer questionable seats than the GOP in that count.

If WV and CA stay Democratic, then barring some defection, the Senate will remain Democratic as Vice President Joe Biden casts the tie-breaking votes. But if one of those two states flips, WA becomes determinant. That would potentially make for a long period of uncertainty: the vote there is likely to be extremely close, and the state, which votes almost entirely by mail, only requires that ballots be postmarked by Election Day.

Happy election watching!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Angus Reid: Tories Lead by 11; EKOS: Tories Lead by 6.1 (Past Week), 1.5 (Prior Week)

Two polls in the past 24 hours: Angus Reid and EKOS. The big news: the Conservatives have built up a lead in Ontario, even while struggling in Atlantic Canada, Québec and BC. The Liberals only get good news in Atlantic Canada though - obviously Ontario is not going well for them, but the same also goes for BC, where the NDP is running strong at the expense of both the Tories and the Grits.

All this is a wash for the Conservatives in the seat projection, while the Liberals lose 3 seats, and the NDP gains 3:

CON - 135
LIB - 85
BQ - 52
NDP - 36

The average Tory national lead is slightly up, to 5.4%. Ignatieff has now lost almost all of the ground he had gained in the summer, and we are almost back to the situation in April/early May, when the seat numbers were flat for all parties for weeks. Are these numbers now the default?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harris-Decima: Tories Lead by 2; Léger Marketing: Tories Drop Back in QC

Not much time today, but here's Harris-Decima latest national poll, and Léger Marketing's latest Québec poll. The most interesting development is that both have the Conservatives dropping back to the mid-teens in Québec. Their stay in the low-20s was probably a very temporary bump from the Quebec City arena story. In Harris-Decima's poll, Ontario remains a dead heat between the two main parties, and the NDP scored a paltry 12%, which casts doubt on the NDP bump shown by the recent Nanos and Angus Reid polls.

The new projection according shows gains for the Bloc and losses for the NDP:

CON - 135
LIB - 88
BQ - 52
NDP - 33

The Tory average national lead drops back to 5.0%.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nanos: Tories Lead by 4.2; EKOS: Tories Led by 4.2 and 6.6 in Past Two Weeks

After two weeks of poll drought, two polls are out today! First, the Nanos poll, while showing unsurprising national numbers (except maybe the low 4.9% for the Greens), has interesting regional figures: a dead heat in Atlantic Canada (good for Tories), a strong 27.7% for the Liberals in Québec, a 6-point Tory lead and an NDP rebound in Ontario (very bad for Grits), and a Liberal/Conservative dead heat in BC, with the NDP close behind. Generally speaking, this is a bad poll for the Liberals, as the silver linings in Québec and BC are not significant enough to compensate for the bad news in Ontario.

The EKOS poll, as usual, covers two weeks. The first week mostly overlaps with the Nanos polling period, and the Conservative-Liberal national gap is identical to the one shown by Nanos; EKOS shows a bigger Tory lead in the most recent week. Regional figures in Ontario and BC are very different from Nanos' numbers, however: EKOS still shows a dead heat in Ontario, while it has the Liberals third in both weeks in BC. EKOS also has much lower figures in Québec for both the Grits and the Tories (to the benefit of the Greens) than Nanos does.

Adding these polls in (and using slightly less aggressive depreciation - somewhere between the usual formula and the summer formula - due to the recent lack of polls) gives:

CON - 136
LIB -
88
BQ -
49
NDP -
35

This is the sixth projection in a row showing a seat gain for the Conservatives. The Tory average national lead jumps to 5.8%.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

EKOS: Tories Lead by 3.2 (Past Week)

Like clockwork, CBC has released EKOS' latest poll results. EKOS has not picked up the increase in the Tory national lead that Angus Reid and Ipsos observed. However, the regional patterns were very similar in these three polls: Ontario is almost certainly a dead heat, while the Liberals are doing well in Atlantic Canada and the Conservatives are making MB/SK look like Alberta. The NDP is at 13.5% nationally in the latter week of the EKOS poll, which drops it to 14.3% in my projection. It looks like the 18% in the Angus Reid poll from yesterday is a bit of an outlier.

Still, few changes in the seat projection, though the Liberals have lost 3 seats in the past two updates combined. The NDP is back down to 33, but still survives thanks to Liberal weakness in Ontario and Tory weakness in BC:

CON - 133 134
LIB - 90
BQ - 52 51
NDP - 33

The average Conservative national lead pulls back slightly to 4.8% 4.7%.

Another part of the poll looked at Canadians' preferred electoral outcome and their support for a Liberal/NDP coalition. Here is a summary of the numbers:

Liberal vs. Conservative: 37.8-36.2
Majority Liberal vs. Majority Conservative: 22.2-26
Coalition vs. Conservative: 40.9-39.1

The coalition issue increases support by about 3% on each side, so it appears that Canadians are not really afraid of it. However, bringing it up may still help the Tories electorally: while the 3% on the Left are probably mostly electors that would vote NDP anyway, the 3% on the Right might be Liberal/Conservative swing voters that would switch their vote to block a coalition. Indeed, the share of voters wanting a Conservative government is very close to the share of voters that would vote Conservative in every region except Québec (where a few Bloc voters may prefer the Tories to the Grits). Thus increasing the former number by 3% would really suit Stephen Harper, and could make the difference between a loss and a comfortable minority, or a comfortable minority and a majority.

Edit: Some weights were not originally assigned correctly.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angus Reid: Tories Lead by 8

The latest Angus Reid poll is out, and it is a sweet one for the Conservatives: 50% on MB/SK, a 15% lead over the NDP in BC, and a small edge (3%) in Ontario. This is also a good poll for the NDP after much negative news these past few weeks: 18% nationally, with very strong results in Ontario (19%) and Québec (17%), and a bounce in Alberta (14%; incidentally, the Tories did relatively poorly in the Wild Rose province with just 52%). The Liberals, on the other hand, only have one bright spot in this poll: a 17% lead in Atlantic Canada.

The new projection shows small changes in the seat count:

CON - 133
LIB - 91
BQ - 50
NDP - 34

The big movement, however, is in the popular vote average, where the Tory lead jumps to 5.2%. The reasons why the seat count changed little are that Québec remained stable, and the Ontario numbers didn't move much because this poll significantly reduced the weight on the early September Environics poll that gave the Tories a 10% lead there.

Let's see if EKOS' release tomorrow confirms the Conservative upswing suggested by Angus Reid and Ipsos...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ipsos Reid: Conservatives Lead by 6, NDP Down

The most recent Ipsos Reid poll was released on Saturday, but regional details only became publicly available today through ThreeHundredEight.com. (The Postmedia writeup on Saturday was seriously deficient: not only did it not give any regional figures, which happens sometimes, but it did not even given the dates of the poll, which is just bad reporting.)

In terms of the Liberal-Conservative horse race, this poll is in line with other recent ones in every region except MB/SK, where the Tories have an even larger lead than usual. In particular, the poll shows a dead heat in Ontario, like the recent poll average, but unlike the previous Ipsos poll.

The main action in this poll is for the smaller parties: the Bloc gains 5 points in Québec and is at 44%, while the NDP drops to 12% nationally. That puts them in a tie with the Greens, and the NDP trails the Greens in both Ontario and Québec. The 11% in Ontario is especially worrisome for Layton.

The new projection gives:

CON - 132
LIB - 93
BQ - 50
NDP - 33

The Tories, after a brief small dip earlier this month (and a brief small bump early in the summer), are now back to the low 130s, where they have been since recovering from the prorogation flap in early March. The Liberal gains over the summer have therefore mainly come at the expense of the Bloc and the NDP. While the Bloc is still in a strong position, the NDP is now at its lowest projection in 11 months.

The Dippers' popular vote projection is a measly 14.6%, compared to 18.2% in 2008 (37 seats) and 17.5% in 2006 (29 seats). The main reason why they are still at 33 seats is that their vote share is holding up in MB/SK and BC relative to their main competitors there, the Conservatives. Indeed, the NDP is projected to lose roughly a third of its seats in Ontario, with more on the line if the Liberals strengthen further. Within Ontario, the NDP's vote also got way more efficient between 2006 (12 seats with 19.4%) and 2008 (17 seats with 18.2%) - our electoral system encourages smaller parties to build small pockets of support, and that seems to be what the NDP has been doing.

The average Tory national lead is up to 3.9%.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Léger: Bloc Leads by 14 in Québec; Tories and NDP Up

Léger Marketing has a new Québec poll, showing small losses for the Bloc and the Liberals to the profit of the Conservatives and the NDP. This is welcome good news for the NDP amid much disappointment from other polls. More importantly, the Conservative bump was also observed by EKOS last week, and this lends more support to the theory that the Colisée issue has improved Tory fortunes in Québec - the Conservatives have increased their Quebec City lead from 4% last month to 9%.

The new aggregate projection moves one seat from the Bloc to the Tories:

CON - 131
LIB - 94
BQ - 49
NDP - 34

This is the Bloc's lowest projection since late March.

Harris-Decima: Tory Lead Stable at 3

The latest Harris-Decima poll has results very much in line with the recent poll average in every part of the country, except possibly in BC, where the Tories do well with 37% at the expense of the NDP at 20%. The NDP's weakness in Ontario is confirmed in this poll (14%), and that's the main cause of their low national support level (also 14%). Harris-Decima agrees with EKOS that the Liberals hold a tiny lead in Ontario; that's probably where we've been all along, and the four freak polls early in the month (3 with a large Liberal lead and 1 with an even larger Conservative lead) likely were a fluke.

Not much change in the projection: on the net, the NDP loses a seat to the Tories:

CON - 130
LIB - 94
BQ - 50
NDP - 34

The last time the NDP was this low was before the Olympics, and the last time it was lower was in October last year.

The Tory average national lead increases marginally to 3.2%.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

EKOS: Tories Lead by 3.5

The latest EKOS release is out, and the numbers are quite good for the Tories. First, their national lead is comforting, as it appears that the previous EKOS and Nanos both showing a virtual tie was a coincidence, and that Ipsos, Harris-Decima and Environics were right about the 3-4% gap. Moreover, this poll shows a virtual dead heat in Ontario, unlike the previous EKOS and the most recent Nanos and Ipsos, which all showed a sizable Liberal lead - this also makes Environics' 10-point Tory lead in Ontario seem less crazy. Also, the latest week of polling in Québec puts the Tories above 20% for the first time in a while; it's too early to conclude anything yet, but did Harper's half-hearted musings about funding a new Colisée actually attract voters? Finally, Atlantic Canada seems to have tightened back up from inexplicably large Liberal leads shown by most pollsters in August.

It's not all bad news for the Grits though: in both weeks of polling, they were in a tight three-way race in BC (a dark spot for the Tories), and while their Québec numbers were essentially flat, the Bloc has shed a few points since the last EKOS poll.

For the NDP and the Bloc however, this is a bad poll. The Dippers have to be especially concerned about Ontario: none of the polls released in the past two weeks has put them above 15% there, so their gains from 2008 would likely have vanished had an election taken place recently. They do seem to be back to respectability territory in Atlantic Canada, but are still down from 2008, and while they do not trail the Tories anymore in BC, as mentioned above, the Liberals have caught up.

Much regional changes in the seat projection, but in the end, everything outside Québec, where two seats moved from the Bloc to the Liberals, canceled out:

CON - 129
LIB - 94
BQ - 50
NDP - 35

So despite all the good news for the Tories outside BC, their seat count does not increase. However, they consolidate a few seats in Ontario, and are closer to reducing losses in Québec. Similarly, despite all the bad news for the Dippers, their seat count does not decrease, but they have become more vulnerable in a few places.

The average Tory national lead is back up to 3.1%. I have now returned to the normal depreciation formula, since all pollsters appear to be back in action.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Environics: Conservatives by 4

A second poll today! Environics shows the Conservatives leading by 4 nationally, which is not too surprising. But the regional breakdown is pretty wild: apparently, the Tories lead Ontario by 10% (when Ipsos, Nanos and EKOS just told us the Grits lead there by 8%, 7% and 6.6% respectively), and the Liberals are at 33% in Québec (just 5% behind the Bloc), even though most other pollsters put them in the low 20s. The Liberal 30% in BC, NDP 29% in Atlantic Canada and NDP 32% in the Prairies are also pretty high, but aren't that surprising given the small samples in those areas.

The Tories' whopping 10% lead in Ontario in this poll negates most of the Liberal gains from the last projection, while the Grits' 33% in Québec merely brings them back into the game without yet yielding many seats:

CON - 129
LIB - 92
BQ - 52
NDP - 35

The average Conservative national lead is up modestly (but still down on the day) to 2.6%.

It will be very interesting to see what this week's EKOS says about Ontario. Was it just a fluke that Nanos, EKOS and Ipsos concurred, or is this Environics result not just 1-in-20 bad, but actually 1-in-100 bad? Perhaps Angus Reid would like to weigh in as well - we know someone annoyingly missed an excellent opportunity to do so last week (yes, I'm looking at you, Harris-Decima)...

Ipsos Reid: Conservatives by 3

The latest Ipsos Reid poll is out and shows almost no national movement since the last one a month ago. Both the actual numbers and the lack of national movement confirm Harris-Decima's latest finding.

Nevertheless, this poll is very significant: it gives the Grits an 8-point lead in Ontario, and confirms Nanos' and EKOS' finding that the Liberals have opened up a sizable lead in that crucial battleground. The Tories recoup that lost territory in MB/SK and BC, but those gains help little in terms of seats.

The shift in Ontario gives 6 extra seats to the Grits, at the expense of both the Tories and the Dippers:

CON - 124
LIB - 97
BQ - 53
NDP - 34

If upcoming polls keep showing a 7-to-8-point Liberal lead in Ontario, their gains in the projection would increase. However, they would remain roughly 15 seats short of the Tories. At that point, a rebound in Québec becomes crucial if the Grits want to tie up the seat count without having to win Ontario by 12+ points.

The average Tory national lead is down to 2.3%, mostly on the full depreciation of Léger's rogue poll from early August showing a 9-point Conservative lead.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Harris-Decima: Tories Still Lead by 3

Harris-Decima has released the results of a new poll to The Canadian Press, but the regional breakdown isn't yet available. The national figures held steady from two weeks ago for all parties but the Bloc, who are up one.

This post will be replaced, and a new projection made, when the details of the poll are made public.

Update: Still no full breakdown, but this article has the Québec numbers. The Grits are down 5, and just like EKOS and Nanos suggest, the Bloc is up. This will move one seat from the Grits to the Bloc in the projection - however, a drop in Québec likely means an increase elsewhere for the Liberals, so I won't update the projection until more details come out. The new projection will show an average Tory national lead of 2.8%.

Hopefully Harris-Decima gets around to posting the numbers if not tonight, then tomorrow...

Update 2: Harris-Decima has posted a press release, but it only contains the gender breakdown. (Not cool!) Hopefully another release is forthcoming, or we may only find out about the regional numbers by looking at the graphs of the next poll's report...

Update 3: Here's what I decided to do about this poll, since it looks like complete regional data will not be released. I project the Tory-Liberal popular vote gap and the Québec seat count as usual, which here means putting weight on this poll and the August 12-22 one. For the other provinces, I will project as if this poll didn't exist, which puts weight on the August 12-22 and the July 29-August 9 polls. However, I make a uniform adjustment to the non-Québec regional numbers of the older poll to make them consistent with the new national numbers. This gives:

CON - 128
LIB - 91
BQ - 53
NDP - 36

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nanos: Tories Lead by 0.5

Nanos Research is back in action with their first poll since June, which corroborates EKOS' latest poll showing a dead heat between the two main parties. The regional numbers in this poll are intriguing: a 6.6% lead for the Tories in Atlantic Canada (but as always, the small sample means it's way premature to conclude that the Grits have lost their double-digit lead there), and a Liberal-Conservative tie in BC, with the NDP not far behind. The most curious number, though, is the Bloc's 1.2% in Atlantic Canada...

The biggie in this poll, however, is the 7% Liberal lead in Ontario. This is very encouraging for the Grits, especially on the heels of their 6.6% lead there in EKOS' most recent week. The Ontario projection, which had been stuck for weeks, has finally moved in the Liberals' favour. Another storyline is the NDP's weakness: just 13-14% in both Atlantic Canada and Ontario, and third place in BC.

Nanos' leadership index remained flat for Ignatieff over the summer, so the recent signs of life shown by the Grits may be due more to the Tories' missteps than to the BBQ tour. On the surface, this is bad news for Ignatieff, but in fact this means there's plenty of room for growth: even with their leader still much less popular than Harper (and not much more than Dion), the Liberals are managing a tie.

The new projection is:

CON - 128
LIB - 91
BQ - 52
NDP - 37

The average Conservative national lead is 2.9%. This number has dropped 2% in the past 11 days without affecting the seat projection much. However, if it drops another 2%, the seat count would start tightening considerably: the Liberals are at the edge of the high payout zone in Ontario with respect to both the Tories and the Dippers.

We're past Labour Day, and Nanos is back. If Harris-Decima, Ipsos and Angus Reid also show signs of life in the next two weeks, and if EKOS returns to weekly reporting, I will switch back to the standard formula, which has slightly faster depreciation than the summer formula.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Projection Trends through Summer 2010

It's been a while since I last updated the projection trends (as well as the maps, but those will have to wait), so I thought that now might be a good time to do it as BBQ season ends.

The graph shows the evolution of the aggregate projection since the birth of this blog in July 2009. Picking up the narrative from the last update in December 2009, we see that prorogation brought the Tories down from near majority seat counts and produced a major spike in the Liberal numbers, cutting the gap between the two main parties to as little as 16 seats as the Olympics were getting started. By the time the Olympics were ending, however, the Tories recovered to above 130 seats, while the Grits were down to the low 90s.

In the spring, the Liberals continued their gentle slide, but those seats did not go to the Conservatives. Rather, it is the Bloc and the NDP that strengthened their position thanks to Ignatieff's continued weakness. The Tories were for the most part mired in the low 130s, never recovering to their Fall 2009 levels.

Finally, during the summer, Liberal fortunes reversed as Ignatieff finally started getting positive press after more than a year of unflattering reports. The Grits drew from all three other parties. Due to their previous rise, the Bloc and the NDP remain strong, but save for the prorogation episode, the Conservatives haven't been this low since around Labour Day 2009.

Where do things go from here? The first thing to note is that things are currently in flux. Only two firms, EKOS and Harris-Decima, have released polling from the second half of August, so the current projection is a compromise between mid-summer numbers more favourable to the Tories and the latest numbers more favourable to the Grits. As other pollsters get back into action, the Liberal seat count could quickly slide back to the low 80s or approach 100.

Once that's done, my guess is that things will be fairly stable, as they have been since March. I maintain my December prediction that the Liberals will stay above their Fall 2009 lows, but are unlikely to pass the Tories in 2010, except during a general election campaign (which now looks unlikely), where anything could happen.

Nevertheless, it'll be interesting to keep an eye on the numbers this Fall: the closer the Liberals get to the Conservatives, the more likely Budget 2011 will be rejected, which would probably lead to an April 2011 election. However, even if Ignatieff pulls even with Harper, he may hesitate to provoke an election given what happened last fall. Moreover, if the Grits actually manage to pass the Tories, that may mean that either the NDP or the Bloc would be much weakened, which could prompt one of them to support the Government or abstain.

Scenarios where Harper would call an election on his own in the next six months seem rather remote: his party has not been above 140 all year, and their spells above 133 have been limited to at most one week. But if the economic outlook worsens quickly, the PM may decide to go sooner rather than later and cut his losses.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

EKOS: Conservatives Led by 3.5 and 0.3 in Past Two Weeks

The latest EKOS release shows a tightening race between the two main parties, with a virtual dead heat nationally in the latest week.

The regional numbers for this poll are also very interesting: EKOS now agrees with all other pollsters that the Liberals are on a tear in Atlantic Canada, at the expense of both the Tories and the NDP: a little hard to believe, but throughout August, the Grits have been almost as strong in Atlantic Canada as the Tories are in MB/SK. In Québec, however, this poll suggests that the Liberals' inroads have abruptly reversed, and the Bloc is back to 40%+.

Ontario showed little movement in the first week of the poll - still a dead heat - but in the second week, the Liberals posted a 6.6% lead. If the latter number holds up in the coming weeks, the projected seat count could start moving significantly. Like Ontario, BC also showed little movement in the first week, but in the second week, the NDP took a 5.5% lead over the Tories, with the Grits close behind, and the Greens at a respectable 18%.

The small parties strengthen slightly in the seat projection:

CON - 128
LIB - 90
BQ - 52
NDP - 38

Exactly 6 months ago, the Conservatives pulled above 130 seats, and have not fallen below that threshold until today. Their average national lead has also dipped to 3.6%.

I don't usually do single poll projections, but given the odd results of the latter week of this poll, I decided to calculate what seat count it would produce. The result: CON 110, LIB 106, BQ 56, NDP 35, GRN 1. Note that in such a parliament, the NDP's support is insufficient to either major party. This means that unless the Tories and Grits govern together (i.e. when pigs fly), either the Official Opposition will need to abstain on confidence votes, or the Government will require the support of the Bloc. Also, I've been saying for a while that due to the low Ontario gap (Liberal Ontario lead + Tory national lead), the Grits are likely to lose the seat count if the popular vote is tied. In this poll, the Ontario gap recovers to a respectable 6.9%, and that produces a tight seat count with a virtual tie in popular vote.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Harris-Decima: Tories Lead by 3

The Canadian Press reports on the latest Harris-Decima poll, showing a narrowing gap between the Tories and Liberals. In Atlantic Canada, this poll agrees with the latest Ipsos, Angus Reid and Léger that the Grits have a double-digit lead; now only EKOS shows a tight race there. The Liberals must also be encouraged by their 28% number in Québec. However, Ontario is still a dead heat. The NDP got another really low number in Alberta (6%), but their 30% in BC might give the Dippers hope that they've recovered from weak August polling there.

Minor changes in the projection give:

CON - 130
LIB - 91
BQ - 50
NDP - 37

The average Conservative national lead is 4.9%. That Léger poll increasingly looks like an outlier. Excluding it would make the gap roughly 4%.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Léger: Tories by 9 Nationally (3 weeks ago); Bloc by 13 in QC (last week)

Léger Marketing has posted not one, but two new polls this week. The older one is a national survey from early August, and it shows a much larger Conservative lead (9 points) than contemporaneous polls (3-6 points). This can almost entirely be explained by the 7-point Tory lead in Ontario (compared to 1-point in other polls at that time; the latest EKOS shows a 3-point Liberal lead there) and by a whopping 48% for the Conservatives in BC (against 19% only for both the Grits and the Dippers).

The newer poll is a provincial one, and shows run of the mill numbers for Québec. Only the Tory number is slightly higher than usual - Québec pollsters often produce such results, in anticipation of the common federalist ballot box bonus.

These polls do not cost the Liberals any seats in the projections, though it pushes them farther away from bigger gains in Ontario. The Tories do manage an extra seat at the expense of the NDP, which is now at its lowest level since mid-March.

CON - 131
LIB - 90
BQ - 51
NDP - 36

The average Conservative national lead is 5.5%, but expect this number to go back down as this poll may well be an outlier.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tags

As you may have noticed, I've created an "Economics" label so that you can find my posts on that topic more easily. I've also renamed the vague "Commentary" to "Opinion," and somewhat broadened the scope of that category. Please let me know if there are other tags that you would find helpful!

EKOS: Tories by 4.6

The newest EKOS poll suggests that things may have stabilized, with very similar national numbers for both weeks for the Grits and the Tories (the NDP did improve quite a bit on the Prairies and in the Atlantic provinces). The most intriguing development in this poll is the 3.3% Liberal lead in Ontario during the second week, a change from a roughly 1% Conservative lead during the first week and in previous polls. Are the Grits finally getting traction in that crucial battleground?

Like in other recent polls, the Grits managed to score a respectable 25% in Québec, so their recovery from the spring doldrums there seems real. On the flip side, after several strong polls in MB/SK, the Grits fall back into the teens in this one, to the profit of the NDP. However, the Dippers did dismally in the other Prairie province, which (barely) moved my Alberta projection to a Tory sweep. In BC, this poll confirms the recently observed widening of the Conservative lead over the NDP; are British Columbians already calming down from their HST anger?

The Liberal seat count continues its summer gradual upward trend:

CON - 130
LIB - 90
BQ - 51
NDP - 37

The average Conservative national lead did grow slightly, however, to 4.7%, mostly on the much reduced weight of the 7/28-8/3 EKOS polling that had the Tories up by just 1.2%.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Rich Is Canada Relative to the U.S.?

According to Statistics Canada, Canada's real GDP per capita is catching up to America's: it went from 82% in 1999 to 92% in 2008. However, according to the IMF, during the same period, it went from 81% to 82% (other international organizations, like the OECD and the World Bank, show similar numbers). What's going on?

The reason why these estimates have come to differ so greatly is that Statistics Canada estimates that the purchasing power of each Canadian dollar was 90 U.S. cents in 2008, while the IMF reckoned that it was only 81 cents. In contrast, in 1999, both agencies pegged the CAD's real value at 0.84 USD. Of course, this begs the questions: why did the difference arise, and who's right?

Statistics Canada gives two reasons for the diverging figures, both of which suggest that its numbers better reflect the relative standing of the Canadian economy:

1. The International Comparison Program (ICP) is the main reference for establishing the true purchasing power of various currencies. It does so by collecting prices for a variety of goods in each participating country. The last round of the ICP was carried out in 2005, and determined that the CAD's purchasing power was about 0.82-0.83 USD. However, Statistics Canada used extra data and recomputed the figure by tweaking the basket of goods being compared, so that it better reflects North American consumption and investment patterns. The adjusted value was 0.87 USD.

2. After the 2005 benchmark, these statistics are adjusted every year to reflect differences in inflation between countries. For example, if inflation is higher in Canada than in the US, then the relative purchasing power of the CAD would decrease. Question: inflation of what? If Canada and the US did not trade at all, the answer would be easy: the inflation of all goods and services in each economy. But due to international trade, the G&S produced in a country do not correspond to the G&S consumed in that country. What basket of goods and services should be used depends on the purpose of the calculations:

- If one is trying to figure out economic (i.e. real GDP) growth for a given country, one should use production prices: the goal here is to compute the change in the volume of G&S produced. The relative prices of imports and exports are held constant.

- If one is instead interested in international comparisons of material quality of life, the consumption prices are the relevant ones. The relative prices of imports and exports follow changes in the market.

In Canada's case, this makes a big difference: as energy prices have risen considerably, a given volume of Canadian exports is now worth more imports than it used to. This has not been the case for the US. Thus, since 2005, while Canada's economic growth per person has roughly matched America's, Canadians' material quality of life has been increasingly more rapidly than Americans'. This is the second reason why international organizations, using the former measure, do not show Canada catching up, while Statistics Canada does.

(By the way, the second measure above - the trade-adjusted value of GDP - is sometimes termed Gross Domestic Income (GDI). Every year, GDP=GDI at that year's prices, by definition: your income is the value of what you produce. But because the previous year's GDP and GDI are not generally the same at current prices, real GDP and real GDI growth rates differ. So point 2 is simply saying that the international organizations' estimates reflect Canada's real GDP growth rather than its real GDI growth.)

To make a long story short: there is good reason to believe Statistics Canada's findings that Canadian economic standards are catching up to American ones (although I'm bit skeptical about the point 1 adjustment being so large)! This is consistent with the mood in the two countries, even during the 2003-2007 expansion: while Canada and the U.S. posted similar growth rates (and had similar population growth rates as well), Canadians were much more upbeat than Americans about the economy. After the next round of the IPC in 2011, international organizations will recognize part of the catch-up (the portion related to point 2), as the exercise will update the relative prices of all goods.

Interesting side note: although Statistics Canada puts the CAD's purchasing power at 0.90 USD, it is lower for private consumption goods and services (what you and I actually "feel") - only 0.84. The numbers vary wildly across categories of goods: food, alcohol and tobacco are a lot more expensive in Canada, while health care (even the private portion, like eye care and dentistry) and education are a lot cheaper. However, for government purchases and capital investments, the values are 1.01 and 0.98. The former reflects cheaper health care in Canada, while the latter may be partially due to Canada mainly using value-added taxes instead of sales taxes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Angus Reid: Conservatives Lead by 4

A new Angus Reid poll is now available. It confirms the tightening of the race between the Grits and Tories, and provides reassurance to the NDP after two bad polls earlier this week.

This poll has something for everyone. The Tories can be happy to still lead by 3% in all-important Ontario (and by 48% in Alberta). The Liberals can congratulate themselves over a whopping 47% lead in Atlantic Canada (with 65% of voting intentions!), and yet another strong result in MB/SK (32%, just 10 behind the Tories). The NDP can get excited about their 18% in Québec, and relax a little about MB/SK and BC, where they get OK numbers (24% and 27%).

The new aggregate projection is:

CON - 130
LIB - 88
BQ - 52
NDP - 38

The Tory average national lead is now at 4.4%. I'm already curious about what next week's EKOS will tell us - but that's a whole week from now! Will Nanos or Environics come save us?

Another statistic of note in the recent poll: Harper has fallen below Ignatieff in terms of momentum, and how! In previous Angus Reid polls, Ignatieff tended to have, by far, the worst momentum score. However, over the past month, Harper was at -26 (just 6% have a better opinion of him, 32% worse), while Ignatieff was at -12 (10-22). That BBQ tour has probably not generated much positive feeling for Ignatieff, but it can be argued that it has mitigated some negative ones. The census flap, however, has probably damaged Harper, though it remains to be seen whether the effect will last.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Republicans, Democrats and the Past 40 Years of the US Economy

Figures below refer to US median household income, in 2008 dollars, and come from the US Census Bureau.

How a Republican would see it:
1978: $45,625 one year after Carter takes office
1983: $42,910 (-6% in 5 years) two years after Carter leaves office
1989: $48,463 (+13% in 6 years) the year Reagan leaves office, and just before Bush Sr. betrays Reagan by raising taxes
2004: $50,535 (+4% in 15 years) three years after Clinton leaves office
2007: $52,163 (+3% in 3 years) just before the financial crisis caused by government intervention in the mortgage market

How a Democrat would see it:
1969: $43,557 the year Nixon takes office
1976: $43,649 (0% in 7 years) the last year of the Ford presidency
1979: $45,498 (+4% in 3 years) the 3rd year of the Carter presidency, just before the Fed got serious about inflation
1993: $45,839 (+1% in 14 years) the year Clinton takes office
2000: $52,500 (+15% in 7 years) the last year of the Clinton presidency
2008: $50,303 (-4% in 8 years) the last year of the Bush presidency

The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle. Nixon/Ford were unlucky to face the Oil Crisis; the Fed's inflation fighting destroyed Carter's record and gave Reagan an artificially low base to start from; Bush Sr. had to raise taxes due to Reagan's deficits; Clinton probably benefited from Reagan deregulation; Bush Jr. cannot be held solely, or perhaps even mainly, responsible for the financial crisis, which had roots in the Reagan reforms and in the Fed's actions mitigating the bursting of the Clinton tech bubble.

Given this history, you can be sure that 25 years from now, people will still be arguing whether the sluggishness of the current recovery is Bush Jr.'s or Obama's fault.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ipsos Reid: Tories Lead by 3; Harris-Decima: Tories Lead by 6

ThreeHundredEight.com has reported on the latest Ipsos Reid poll, while Harris-Decima has its own new release. The two polls are not surprising and indeed virtually identical in Québec and Ontario: the Conservatives still lead by 1 in Ontario, while the Liberals seem to be on a slight up trend in Québec. Considering small sample sizes, Alberta and Atlantic results are also unsurprising. In Manitoba/Saskatchewan and BC however, the Liberals show unexpected strength in the Ipsos Reid poll (just 5 behind the Tories in both cases, and 13 ahead of the NDP in BC), while nothing of the sort appears in the Harris-Decima survey.

Both polls are very bad for the NDP: their regional numbers go from weak in Ontario (16%) and Québec (12%) to very weak in the Atlantic (20-21%) and Alberta (8-9%) to disastrous in MB/SK (14%) and BC (20%) - in the latter, they trail the Tories by 17-18%.

The Bloc and the NDP weaken to the profit of the Liberals:

CON - 131
LIB - 87
BQ - 52
NDP - 38

Still, the smaller parties are in a strong position. The Liberals are approaching respectability territory, though their inability to get ahead in Ontario means they're not competitive yet with the Tories.

The Tory average national lead is down to 4.6%.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ontario: where Ignatieff Needs to Make Progress

I have done so in the past, but let me reiterate how important Ontario is for the Liberals to have any chance of defeating the Tories.

I applied a projection based solely on the most recent week of the latest EKOS poll, where the Tories only led the Grits by 1.2%, but had roughly the same lead (0.8%) in Ontario. The seat result? Not even close:

CON - 124
LIB - 95
BQ - 50
NDP - 39

This is the same seat count for the Tories as in the 2006 election, while the Liberals do 8 seats worse even though they lost by 6% that time. Why? In 2006, the Grits still carried Ontario by almost 5%.

I also made a projection adding 3% to the Liberals and subtracting 3% from the Tories in every region of the country. This gives the Grits a 4.8% national lead, but a dead heat on the projected seat count:

CON - 109
LIB - 109
BQ - 49
NDP - 41

Do the Liberals now need to win by that much just to get a seat plurality? My guess is 'not quite so': after all, the "Ontario gap," defined as the difference between the Tory lead nationally and the Tory lead in Ontario, is abnormally low in the latest EKOS poll. That figure stood at 0.4% in the survey, while in my current poll average, it is 3.5%. But even with an Ontario gap of 3.5%, the Liberals would need to win the national popular vote by 3-4% in order to tie the seat count.

Now, it is quite possible that due to random error, polls currently understate Liberal gains in Ontario and overstate them elsewhere. If that's the case, and the Ontario gap is roughly at the level of the last election (6%), then the required national popular vote lead for the Grits is even lower. But I'm pretty sure that unless a drastic relative regional change occurs, the Tories would win the seat count in the event of a tied popular vote at the next election.

Can Ignatieff deliver his home province? His job depends on it. (Although by returning to academia, he would collect a larger paycheck while barely having to do any work due to tenure...)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

EKOS: Tory Lead at 4.8 in Past Two Weeks, Just 1.2 in Most Recent Week

The most recent EKOS poll shows some movement toward the Liberals in the past week. Specifically, Liberal fortunes appear to have improved in Atlantic Canada and Québec in the most recent week. However, the Grits are still shown trailing the Tories by 1% in Ontario, which is a major impediment to substantial improvement in the projected seat count. Indeed, the Tories lose only one seat in the aggregate projection, although this did bring the Grits to their highest level in almost 4 months:

CON - 131
LIB - 84
BQ - 53
NDP - 40

The average Conservative national lead, however, dropped one full point to 5.1%.

Note: Once EKOS posts its own report on the poll, I may update the above figures: the CBC report only shows the number of decided voters, and not the total number of voters interviewed. I weigh polls based on the latter because many pollsters report only that. As a result, the current numbers currently slightly underweigh the most recent poll.

Update: Weights have been fixed, but that caused no change in the projection.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Conservatives and Statistics

A lot of people think that the Conservatives are getting rid of the mandatory census long form to deliberately produce unreliable data that cannot be used to attack their policies. I don't think the Tories are that devious - they are probably just incompetent with data, and therefore don't appreciate the value of accuracy.

For example, in the Stockwell Day crime flap today, we got several indications that the Tory cabinet sucks with data - they fail to use it correctly even when it supports their case:

- Day did not bother producing any data to back up his assertion that crime is actually increasing in Canada (despite a drop in reported crimes) because more crimes are going unreported to police.

- Later, his colleague Rob Nicholson came to the rescue with a complete non sequitur, stating that 34% of crime in Canada go unreported, without mentioning whether the proportion has gone up.

- Upon examining the actual 2004 Statistics Canada report, one realizes that 34% is actually the proportion of crime that is reported, and in fact 64% of crime is unreported (with 2% unknown). [By the way, the AP seems to have done the verification, while the CBC just reported Nicholson's statement. (Hopefully this will have been fixed by the time you click on the link.) Journalistic rigour, CBC?]

- That 34% reported crime figure is down from 37% in the previous report for 1999, which is itself down from 42% in 1993.

So the data suggests that indeed, an increasing proportion of crime is going unreported. But the Tory ministers either didn't bother with it, or stated the level of crime reporting both erroneously AND without referring to the time trend, which is required to make their case. You really wonder how these people made it through university.

By the way, the next report, covering 2009, is due next month, so we're debating these figures exactly at the time where we have the most outdated data. Are the Tories afraid that the rate of crime reporting has stopped decreasing? Again, my guess is that they were instead simply guided by anecdotal evidence, electoral interest and ideology.

Besides, in the 1999 report, StatCan suggests that part of the decrease in crime reporting may be driven by lower damage in property crimes (smaller proportion of $1,000+ cases and bigger proportion below $100) and higher insurance deductibles: many people won't bother reporting a theft if they wouldn't get reimbursed anyway. In fact, reporting of violent crime has increased from 31% to 33% between 1999 and 2004.

So even if one believes that crime incidence has increased, it's unclear that we should be worried about it: serious crime appears to be decreasing, so it may well be that the overall social harm from crime is also decreasing. And even if one agrees that crime is harming Canadians more than before, it's another logical leap to conclude that we should build more prisons. After all, Québec, with its relatively light approach to punishment, has much less violent crime than the rest of the country. (Of course, you could argue that the causation runs the other way, but the point is that it's not at all clear that more punishment leads to less crime. What is clear is that prisons cost money.)

But, even given supportive data, Conservative ministers are unable to craft a coherent argument for the simple proposition that crime incidence has increased. Is it any surprise that these people don't think much of weakening the census?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harris-Decima: Tory Lead Is 5

Harris-Decima just published a new poll, which has low numbers for both the Conservatives and the Liberals (31 and 26), and relatively high ones for the NDP and Greens (18 and 12). In Québec, the Bloc is trouncing everyone else with 41% against less than 20% for any single other party. In Atlantic Canada and Ontario, the Grits and Tories are tied. BC is a tight race between the Conservatives and the NDP, while the Tory lead over the Dippers in MB/SK is a slim 5%.

No change in the seat projection after these mostly unsurprising numbers:

CON - 132
LIB - 83
BQ - 53
NDP - 40

The average Tory national lead decreases slightly to 6.1%.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harper's Tax on Everything

A policy that raises the cost of doing business for a wide range of industries, particularly in rural areas, is going into effect.

"But the Tories are against the carbon tax," you say. Think again. It's the scrapping of the census long form. All kinds of businesses will find it a lot harder to obtain accurate data about their markets. They will either have to incur additional costs to obtain good data, or use worse data and incur the resulting losses. This is particularly true in rural areas, where voluntary data will be especially unreliable due to small sample sizes. And when the cost of doing business rises, we all know who's paying in the end.

But it's much worse than a carbon tax: this policy will actually cost the government money (both directly and indirectly through future poorly targeted policies due to lack of data), and doesn't do anything for the environment (with more forms sent out, it's actually a negative). Plus, you know, Canadians will still have to answer a bunch of questions on the short form, and a whole bunch more on their tax returns. Is it really more personal to tell the government how many rooms are in your house than to tell it how many people live in it, their relation to each other, and exactly how much income of each kind you made? So I fail to see what big privacy gains all this nonsense will get us.

Actually, let me take all this back. Although Harper's imposing a "tax on everything," these actions are actually consistent with the general Conservative strategy: assume Canadians are shortsighted ("Let's cut the GST cuz, you know, it's annoying, even though income taxes harm the economy more") and lazy ("A new carbon tax? Noooooooooooo... I don't want to deal with anything new, even if I'll get tax cuts that compensate for the cost"), and propose policies in consequence. It's worked pretty well so far, so let's congratulate the Tories on their good work, eh?

Blog Is One Year Old! EKOS: Tories Led by 6.9 in Past Week; 5.8 in Past Two

The newest EKOS release is out. The two-week roll-up really doesn't carry any surprising numbers, except for the Tories being a bit low in BC.

The aggregate projection accordingly changed little:

CON - 132
LIB - 83
BQ - 53
NDP - 40

The Conservative average national lead falls to 6.3%, mostly on the depreciation of the second week of the previous EKOS poll that showed the Tories with a 10.5% lead.

This blog just turned 1. Thanks to all those that have been following! Here are the projection ranges for each party during the past year:

CON - 120 (Sep 4 and Feb 4) to 153 (Oct 16)
LIB - 71 (Dec 10) to 108 (Jul 30)
BQ - 46 (Jul 30-Aug 18, Sep 2, Sep 4, Feb 8) to 55 (Jun 23-Jul 10)
NDP - 31 (Jul 30, Aug 6, Oct 16) to 41 (Apr 8, Apr 27-May 1, Jun 22, Jun 23)

Basically, last summer, the Grits were relatively strong, and everyone else was relatively weak. In the fall, it was the Tories' turn to be strong at the expense of everyone else, and lately, the Bloc and the NDP have been in vogue. But we've been basically dancing around an "equilibrium" level of about 135C, 85L, 50B, 38N.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Environics: Tories Lead by 3

After two weeks without a poll, we've now had four in the past week! The most recent release is by Environics. Not only are the headline figures better for the Grits than in other recent polls, the regional breakdown is pretty good as well in seat-relevant matchups: 10-point lead in Atlantic Canada, small lead in Ontario, and "just" 11 points behind the Bloc in Québec. At the same time, this poll is by no means a disaster for the Tories, who maintain their dominance in the West and remain competitive in the East.

This poll brings the Conservatives back down to the low 130s, where they have been for most of the time since early March:

CON - 132
LIB - 82
BQ - 54
NDP - 40

The three most recent polls were in the field almost simultaneously (Ipsos 7/6-8, Angus 7/6-8, Environics 7/5-8), and show somewhat different leads for the Tories: 6, 9 and 3 respectively. All three have decent Liberal leads in the Atlantic and (of course) complete Tory dominance in Alberta. In Québec, Ipsos is the odd one out with a much higher number for the Bloc (45% vs. 37% and 39%). In Ontario, Angus stands out (7-point Tory lead vs. virtual ties), while in MB/SK, the Environics poll is the weird one (15-point Tory lead vs. 30+). Finally, in BC, Angus Reid shows the NDP virtually tied with the Tories with the Grits 15-20 behind, while the two other pollsters have the NDP virtually tied with the Liberals, both a dozen points behind the Tories.

The CBC writeup of this poll mentions that a Léger poll shows the Tories 11 points ahead. I have however not yet been able to find any other mention of the Léger survey, which leaves me wondering if there is actually a new Léger poll, or if the CBC writer just pulled up the most recent one released two months ago...

The average Conservative national lead drops to 6.7%, for now.