Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Federal Polling

There has been some interesting federal polling of late, all of it which indicates to me that there is a significant gap between the Conservatives and Liberals federally. The gap has ranged from 5 percentage points to 16 percentage points over the last month. Looking through all the polls, I would say broadly the national results are roughly the same as they were in the 2008 election.

What changes that seem to have happened are as follows:

  • The Conservatives seem to have some strength in Newfoundland.   The latest Anus Reid poll was a very large one and allowed for some numbers for provinces we do not normally see results for, one of those being Newfoundland.  This should be worth two seats for the Conservatives
  • In BC the Conservatives continue to be down from where they were in the last election but I am not sure if they are down enough to lose seats.  Also, I can not see Esquimalt Juan de Fuca going anyway other than Conservative.
  • The Conservatives seem to be up in Ontario from the last election.   I think on these numbers this will mean about five to eight seats to the Conservatives
  • Outside of some of the 'bleu' regions of Quebec, the province seems to be swinging behind the Liberals as the main opposition to the Bloc, but the regional numbers are not consistent enough for me to trust that as a trend.   I can not certain, but I think the Conservatives will lose two to four seats to the Bloc and the Liberals will gain two or three from the Bloc.

So what do I think the implication of this all has on an election?  I think it speaks of a good situation for the Conservatives.    Ultimately the Conservatives will be able to out spend and out campaign the other parties, by which I mean the NDP and the Liberals.  

Over the last six elections the NDP keeps showing how weak they are at campaigning, I see nothing that will change this and I see them mainly playing defense in the seats they hold.  

The Liberals under Ignatieff are either hiding their campaign style and competence or they really are that weak.  Combine this with a leader with no real campaign experience and a party without a lot of money and I suspect the Liberals will be hard pressed to improve their numbers.

Taking an election campaign into account, I see the final result being a small majority government for Stephen Harper if we hold a spring election.  Roughly as follows:

  • Conservatives  158
  • Liberals 72
  • Bloc 48
  • NDP 30

Keep in mind I predicting the outcome of a spring federal election and not the results that would occur from the polling numbers of the moment.   The current polls will be ancient history by the time we have an election and are really meaningless other than to give us a broad sense of the mood of the nation.

Election prediction is primarily an issue of dead reckoning of what seems realistic given the information at hand and projecting changes into the future.

The party that should be the most worried is the NDP as they have been weak on the national scene for a long time.   I honestly do not think the NDP can treat many seats in Canada as safe in the coming election.   A 1957 or 1993 result is not unrealistic for them.  Their weakness will come if the public thinks a Conservative majority is likely and in suspect many soft New Democrats will go the Liberals to try and stop that.  

What evidence do I have of this?   The NDP managed to lose Winnipeg North in a by-election to the Liberals last year.   This is to the supposedly weak Ignatieff Liberals.   Before this by-election, Winnipeg North (or Winnipeg North Centre) was held by the CCF/NDP in 22 out of 26 elections.   The Abraham Heaps, later of the CCF, won this three times before the CCF was formed.   This is heartland of the NDP and if they lose this, they have nothing safe.  

In Vaughn you can see evidence of the move of votes from the NDP to the Liberals to stop the Conservatives, not that it worked.   The NDP managed a pathetic 1.7% in that by-election.   They are a major party so one has to assume they try their hardest in all by-elections because you never know what can happen.   1.7% says a lot about Jack Layton and the NDP.    The public may not notice, and the party may brush it off, but the NDP has serious weaknesses.
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