Latest national poll median date: October 20
Projections reflect recent polling graciously made publicly available by pollsters and media organizations. I am not a pollster, and derive no income from this blog.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Trends 2019: Seventh and Final Instalment

For new readers: these trends are different - and I would say more meaningful - than the ones you might see elsewhere, since they are retroactively recomputed* when old data becomes available. Thus, my "Trends" posts avoid showing "fake" variations caused by polls coming out with different lags. More details were provided in the first instalment of this series. My post on comparing models highlights other advantages of my approach.

As I work on my final projection (considering adjustments based on some sub-regional breakdowns from Campaign Research and IRG), here is the final trends post. As usual, all numbers in this post reflect my turnout adjustment of CON +1.5, LIB +0.5, NDP -1, GRN -1.

Methodological note: The data points for September 26, October 3 and October 11 are not plotted: each of those dates was the midpoint of only one public national poll (Nanos tracker), making those projections less reliable given that discounting has become very aggressive.

1. The major story of the final week of the campaign was a steep further rise of the NDP, peaking at 40 seats and 19% national support on Monday/Tuesday, followed by an equally steep pull back, to 31-32 seats and under 17% on Friday/Saturday. However, the final NDP number is back up to the mid-30s and 18.2%: the last two polls (by median date) showed the NDP either not dropping from its mid-week levels (Mainstreet) or actually surging on the final day (Nanos). If the momentum that Nanos picked up is real and continues on Election Day, the NDP could approach, or even surpass its 2015 seat count of 44. However, if the final polls just happened to see noise on Sunday and a few tight races don't go the NDP's way, it could easily end up in the 20s.

Either way, it'd be a much better result than envisaged at the start of the campaign, when the NDP was hovering around 15 seats. Will Jagmeet Singh continue to perform well once the election is over, or will he prove as ineffective as he was before the campaign?

2. The Liberals appeared to have turned things around at Thanksgiving. They hit rock bottom a day or two before Thanksgiving, and have been on an upward creep since, except for the final day polls. Were strategic considerations making their way into voters' minds? If the final day downtick was noise and/or their turnout matches the Tories', the Liberals should eke out a win. If both are true, they should win comfortably. And if in addition, the IVR pollsters are right about Ontario so that the Liberals win it by ~10 points instead of 5, they may start thinking about a majority. If, on the other hand, the Tories beat the polls significantly like in 2011, the NDP gains more Liberal voters, and the Bloc's supporters, who tend to be older, turn out in droves - i.e. the perfect storm against Liberals - the Grits could fall dangerously close to 100.

If the Liberals win the most seats, it will probably be because some soft voters, having not seen any other plausible option (those in ON possibly being turned off the Tories by Doug Ford), reluctantly came home. Given the country's relatively good economic performance in the past few years, it seems likely that Trudeau has been a net drag on his party's fortunes this year.

3. The Tories fell through Thanksgiving weekend, though there appears to have been a modest recovery in the last few days. The general trend of the past month has been ugly for them. One cannot help but feel that, with just an average-quality leader, the Tories would have capitalized on Trudeau's baggage and be on their way to at least a strong minority - strong enough that Trudeau would probably feel obliged to resign. Indeed, that would be the case if the Tories just held their constant August level of 36%. Unlike for the Liberals, it is hard to see the Tories getting a majority because they are so far behind in QC. Even if they somehow tie the Liberals in both ON and Atlantic Canada and get above 20 seats in BC, they'd probably still need 20 seats in QC, which is just not happening. On the other hand, it is not difficult to imagine the Tories failing to make substantial gains: one just needs the IVR pollsters to be right in ON and the Tories dropping some tight races in the Atlantic and BC.

4. The Bloc's explosive rise appeared to stop just before Thanksgiving, and its support has held steady this week. It's looking like a seat count in the 30s for them if the tossups don't all fall one way or another. The main risk for the Bloc is that a significant fraction of its supporters actually approve of the Liberal government. If these voters decide to "play it safe" after all, the Liberals could hold up surprisingly well and avoid significant losses in QC, which would limit the Bloc to picking up NDP seats and getting in the 20s. On the other hand, Quebecers like to jump on bandwagons; if the Bloc capitalizes on that, it could well crack 40.

5. As I've commented in every (or almost every) trends post since the first one in late August, the Greens are on a downward track. Last week, I ventured that the Greens could fall below their 2008 popular vote of 6.78%, and it looks like that will be really close. At this point, it's all about saving Nanaimo--Ladysmith for them - gains are still possible, but they would be gravy. Just like Trudeau and Scheer, May needs to go.

*Changes made on or after Sept. 25 are only reflected back to the start of the campaign (Sept. 11). These include the re-weighting of standalone regional polls (i.e. regional numbers not part of a national poll), the Guilbeault baseline adjustment in Laurier--Sainte-Marie and fixing an old spreadsheet error. These only make a barely visible (if at all) difference on the graphs.

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