Saturday, January 30, 2010

Canadian Federal Poll Analysis :: Where the Tories and Grits Stand Post-Prorogue

Earlier in the week on ThickCulture, I blogged about the consequences of Harper's proroguing of Parliament.  In recent polls of federal vote intent {21 Jan.28 Jan.}, Harper's Conservatives are in a statistical dead heat with the Liberals. In the wake of proroguing, support for the Liberals has shot up, while the Conservatives, Greens, NDP, and the Bloc all have lost ground since December. It should be noted that poll numbers do not necessarily equate to seats and that as of 28 January, 37.3% {+/- 1.8%} of those polled do not nave the intention of voting for a major party, which is almost identical to the 17 December poll.

Here are the party breakdowns by party, according to EKOS polls, by province/region::

(% of population)

Nationally (100%) 35.9%
British Columbia (13.2%)35.0%32.4% -2.6%23.6%27.1%
Alberta (10.3%)
Manitoba (6.7%)
Ontario (38.7%)
Québec (23.2%)
Atlantic Canada (6.9%)

What follows is a quick and cursory overview of the implications of these poll numbers, if they hold until the next election, which is a big "if". I left out the three ridings from the North, as EKOS polls don't offer such a breakdown. I haven't had the chance to go into the local dynamics on a riding-by-riding basis, so take my insights with a big grain of salt. I find the parliamentary system to be much harder to analyze than the electoral college.

The news in BC can be bad for the Tories. There are 4 swing ridings that they control and I feel they are extremely vulnerable in:: North Vancouver {over Lib}, Saanich-Gulf Islands {over Lib}, Surrey North {over NDP}, and Vancouver Island North {over NDP}. Liberal controlled Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca and Vancouver South, as well as NDP controlled Burnaby-Douglas, will be tougher to wrest away for the Conservatives. If the Liberals, NDP, and the Greens with Elizabeth May divide the left vote, Gary Lunn in Saanich-Gulf Islands may hold his seat.
BC:: Four Conservative ridings in play, challengers:: 2 Liberal & 2 NDP
The Liberals shouldn't be too gleeful about the increases in Alberta, which has 28 ridings. The Conservatives control all but one riding, Edmonton-Strathcona, which is NDP. The average conservative voting percentages were 65.6% in 2008.
AB:: Status quo.
The 28 ridings in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, typically characterized by high margin wins for Conservatives. Saint Boniface, Palliser, and Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar are all Conservative ridings that may be in play, given the 2008 results. The margins in Saint Boniface {over Liberals} and Palliser {over NDP} were over 10%, while Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar was 1% {over NDP}.
SK:: Two Conservative ridings in play, both with a NDP challenge.
MB:: One Conservative riding in play with a Liberal challenge {Saint Boniface}.
Ontario will be interesting in the next election. The Conservative decline was sizeable {-7.4%}, as was the Liberal surge {+5.7}. The Liberals have lost quite a few seats in the past two elections in Ontario to the Conservatives and the NDP. The Dipper numbers have dipped, but voters aren't abandoning the NDP to support the Liberals and reject Harper. That said, I think 12 Conservative ridings may be in play, particularly Kitchener Centre, Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga-Erindale, Oak Ridges-Markham, Ottawa-Orleans, and Oshawa, which were within 7 points of their next challengers. The other 6 are Ottawa-West Nepean, Thornhill, Oakville, Kenora, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Brant, all of which are within a 10% win margin. The Liberals cannot take Parkdale-High Park or Beaches-East York for granted, both fairly close races where the Liberals defeated the NDP. Voters in Parkdale-High Park will have two solid candidates to choose from in Gerard Kennedy {Lib} and Peggy Nash {NDP}. I also see Maria Minna {Lib} as vulnerable, as I've been looking at the 2008 Beach{es}-East York results by polling district, which I'll be blogging about in the future.
ON:: Twelve conservative ridings in play, 11 challenged by Liberals and 1 challenged by NDP {Oshawa}. Two Liberal ridings may be in play with NDP challenges in the GTA.
Québec is another interesting case. The Bloc is staying strong at around 37% in the polls in the last month. The Conservatives are too at 15-16% since December, while the Liberals improved 5% in the past month and are around 29%. The Greens and NDP have both lost ground in Québec. Conservatives have three ridings to protect from the Bloc:: Beauport-Limoilou, Robertval-Lac Saint Jean, and the newly won Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière du Loup. The Bloc has four ridings that are vulnerable to the surging Liberals:: Ahuntsic, Brome-Missisquoi, Haute-Gaspésie-La Matapédia-Matane-La Mitis, and Jeanne-Le Ber. Thomas Mulcair's {NDP} Outremont riding may also be vulnerable to the Liberals and Gatineau may be tough to take away from the Bloc. The Liberals have two vulnerable ridings {Bloc-challenged}:: Brossard-La Prairie and Papineau.
QC:: I don't expect much change from the status quo, given the current poll.
The Maritimes have seen the Liberals and Conservatives holding steady or increasing support, at the expense of the NDP. This could set up a battle royale in 8 swing ridings, five held by the Conservatives {next closest challengers in brackets}:: Egmont {Liberal}, Saint John {Liberal}, South Shore-St. Margaret's {NDP}, West Nova {Liberal}, and Miramichi {Liberal}. The three Liberal ridings that should be in play are St. John's South-Mount Pearl {NDP}, Malpeque {Conservative}, and Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe {Conservative}.
Maritimes:: I don't expect much change from the status quo, given the current poll.
Is there an advantage for the Liberals in another general election? Ignatieff doesn't think so. The Liberals need to win at least 35 seats and the Conservatives need to lose at least 34 in the next election to take over Parliament with a minority government. Right now, I see 19 Conservative swing ridings, with the Liberals having a realistic shot at picking up 14 of them.  The big battleground in the next election will be in Ontario, which is nothing new. The Liberals have lost seats to the Conservatives and the NDP in the province, so unless support for the NDP falls and the Conservatives go into freefall, a Liberal minority government may be a stretch.

I think how the following play out in February will shape the probability of an election::
  1. Will the Conservatives and Harper rebound during the Winter Olympics or continue to falter?
  2. Can Ignatieff demonstrate strong leadership skills?
  3. Will the NDP hold on to their supporters, particularly in Ontario?
  4. Will the rebounding economy help the Conservatives, despite disappointing unemployment figures?
I'm also wondering if a weakened Harper who is willing to deal in the next session would cause more damage to the Conservatives over time.

Twitterversion:: Thoughts on post-prorogue EKOS polls on intent in #Canada. Election soon? Not sure #s add up to support one.  @Prof_K

Song:: Kinks-"Well Respected Man"

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