Friday, September 11, 2015

Week in Review: Maybe Things Weren't Ever Bad for the Conservatives

Every week, after the weekly EKOS and quasi-weekly Forum polls come out, I plan on doing a quick overview of the most important trends during the week.

Here are the changes compared to the projection from a week ago (Update: I discovered a small mistake in the weight assigned to the EKOS poll. The correction moved an NDP and a Liberal seat to the Conservatives, and changed national vote shares by 0.1% either way.):

CON: +2 (+0.9%)
NDP: -6 (-0.6%)
LIB: +4 (+0.7%)
GRN: 0 (-0.8%)
BQ: 0 (-0.2%)

As you can see, for all the talk of the Tory campaign going poorly, the big losers of the week are actually the NDP and the Greens! How can that be?

- The Conservatives had some poor numbers in the Forum and Léger polls late last week (which were included in last week's projection, and hence are not part of the changes above), and the Nanos polls early this week. For a while, these were the most up-to-date numbers, and they therefore drove the narrative. However, each of these polls had the Tories unusually low in certain regions of the country: Forum and Léger in Ontario (21% and 28%), and Nanos in BC (as low as 17.5%). Given the most recent Nanos numbers, as well as the EKOS and Forum polls today, it looks like all of these were either transient or simply statistical noise.

- What about the changes in the Conservative campaign? Perhaps the Tory internal numbers are poor, and today's EKOS is actually the outlier. But it could also be that the Tories underperformed their expectations, since they were the only party able to spend a lot in the first half of the campaign. Or perhaps they're simply toying with the media: if the narrative is that they're down when they actually aren't, then if they stay stable longer, the narrative will become that the Tories have recovered, potentially generating positive momentum.

- What about the NDP? The real big story of the week is that the NDP is probably down in ON, to the profit of the Liberals. I say "probably" since today's Forum poll bucks the trend, but Nanos, EKOS and Ipsos all showed NDP weakness there (though EKOS has the Tories up rather than the Liberals). This has prevented the Conservative seat count from increasing along with its vote share reduced the Conservative seat count increase by shoring up the Liberal vote. The NDP's national numbers are stable, mostly because they've likely made further gains in QC at the expense of the Bloc (though today's EKOS bucks the trend). But these gains have only a small effect on the seat count since the NDP is already almost sweeping QC.

- In terms of the popular vote, the biggest losers are the Greens: they have lost 15-20% of their support according to the projection, and are now back to 2011 levels. Perhaps, as people went back to their routines post Labour Day, some also ended their fling with the Greens. Or perhaps, by putting out a very lefty platform, the Greens lost some support from centre-left voters that like neither Mulcair or Trudeau.

As for the Liberals, they appear up in Atlantic Canada, but due to very small sample sizes, caution is warranted in the latter region even after aggregating polls. The Liberal strength in Atlantic Canada is now on par with the NDP strength in Québec. Ontario is looking very good for the Liberals in the Nanos numbers, but all other polls this week put them roughly tied with the Tories there. The Liberals must win ON by at least 5 points, and probably 8-10, in order to have a chance at winning the most seats, and they are probably not there. But if ON strategic voters desert the Liberals for the NDP, all that might do is to allow Tories to win more seats in the 905 area...

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the West much. That's because the West has actually been quite stable.

One narrative that you may hear is that today's EKOS and Forum numbers suggest that Trudeau's comments about small businesses are hurting him. That would be absolutely wrong in the case of EKOS: their numbers today reflect polling completed on Tuesday. In fact, if EKOS put out its numbers as quickly as Nanos does, the media coverage of the past two days would have been very different - and the Tories would have consistently led this site's projected seat count.

No comments: