Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CROP Quebec Poll

Robert's post on CROP reads like a kid with a blackberry out on recess. James notes that the Bloc is falling, the Liberals stable. My take, after the numbers:
Bloc 28%
Conservatives 27%
Liberals 20%
NDP 17% here or 18% here
Greens 9% here or, you guessed it 7% here

The Liberals occupy a distant fourth with francophones, a full 5% behind the NDP. In the Quebec region, the Liberal numbers have reached a new low at 10%. However, if you look at the regional breakdowns, the Liberals are still in position to maintain their seat totals, still the possibility for pickups.

Both the Bloc and Conservatives are down 2 points since the last survey, the Liberals unmoved, the NDP up 3 or 4 depending on the source (strange that). As James notes, the erosion of the Bloc and Cons seems to benefit the NDP, but unlike him, I think Liberals should take little comfort in that dynamic. What that situation really tells us, voters are bypassing the Liberals as a second choice, a viable alternative. I would also argue that this dynamic might be the reason why Conservative numbers remain high, as voters don't see much choice, apart from the unproven NDP. That said, the Conservatives are clearly in position to pickup seats.

The NDP has ever right to be gleeful at these numbers, if they were to hold, then the Quebec caucus would surely grow, a beach head established, piercing through the most important hurdle- the perception of viability. The only caution, these numbers are softer than the Maple Leafs defence, a long way to go before they translate to the voter booth.

From the Liberal perspective, I would take these findings as opportunity. The Bloc are clearly on the wane, the appetite for seperation at a very low ebb. The Conservatives have established a base of support, but I suspect their policies still keep people at arms length. There is clearly a void here, and rather than the NDP winning "hearts and minds", I see the surge as more voter "fishing" than fundamental breakthrough. Whether that flirtation translates to concrete results is still largely a function of the Liberal reaction.

The Liberals desperately need to update their language in the province, present a progressive policy vision that appeals to mainstream Quebec, and above all, make Dion relevant to the discussion (Charest's astounding turn around does offer some hope, both are known quantities). Right now, it would appear as though voters, outside of the last bastions, don't even consider the Liberals, a distasteful afterthought. If the Liberals do take a pass on a spring election (the horror!), then I expect Dion to live in Quebec for the entire summer, all energy focused on this albatross, some innovative ideas, confronting his image in a forceful and focused way (unlike the quick hits, here and there, with no sense of gameplan, that we have seen to date), anything less than urgency denotes delusion.

22 comments:

A BCer in Toronto said...

If these numbers do gain the NDP seats in Quebec, and that's a big if given the peculiarities of the FPTP system, other regional polling would seem to indicate it would merely be replacing seats they're currently set to lose in the rest of Canada, ie. Ontario.

As for the Liberals, I'd reiterate again this is another opportunity for the party to solidify and establish itself as the strong federalist, pro-Canada party, a mantle not being taken by the CPC, the BQ, or the NDP in Quebec. Staking out a strong position on this reasonable accommodation hysteria would be a start.

Steve V said...

Jeff

Very true, for all the high fiving amongst NDP supporters, this should be offset by shrinking support elsewhere, areas more traditional. IF, the NDP were to gain more seats in Quebec, then the danger is the recipe is changed forever. I've argued this since prior to Outremont, the Liberals are at real risk of irrelevance, should the NDP actually become credible in Quebec. More than Mulclair, the NDP is well positioned moving forward, the Liberals can't take the "fringe" support for granted.

Anonymous said...

As much as Liberals might want to believe that people in Quebec are just parking their votes with the NDP - there are reasons to believe that this is (or at least could be) "real". For one thing, the poll also has Layton doing very well when Quebecers are asked about who would make the PM - he gets 24% - way ahead of Dion's anemic score in the low teens. Also, Mulcair has been the point man for the NDP in the Quebec media and is getting a lot of attention, the NDP in Quebec has been unveiling high profile candidates and they are apparently planning on spending MILLIONS of dollars in Quebec in the next election on organization and advertising. This is a whole different kettle of fish from suspiciously high Green party numbers in some national polls - despite no money, no MPs, no known candidates and a leader that hardly anyone has heard of.

One interesting sidebar to this poll:

Over the course of 2005-2007 one of the (many) excuses for the very poor federal Liberal showing in Quebec (in addition to the sponsorship scandal) was the fact that Jean Charest and the Quebec Liberals were incredibly unpopular and this was supposedly creating some "collateral damage" to the federal Liberal brand.
What's interesting about this CROP poll (and also the recent Leger poll)is the fact that it shows a huge rebound in popularity for Jean Charest and now gives the Quebec Liberals numbers that could give them a majority! - And yet, despite this provincial Liberal renaissance - federal Liberal support in Quebec is still stuck in the toilet at 20%
(13% among francophones).
Even when the Liberal Party brand no longer has to suffer from any
"guilt by association" with Jean Charest - they are still going nowhere.

Steve V said...

anon

Is it really different from the Greens as you argue? Afterall, in the last Ontario election, the Greens actually did translate support in the polls to the ballot box. In that sense, they are miles ahead, if that is your measure. Are you actually trying to make the argument that the NDP has this great organization in Quebec, chalk full of money and candidates? I would argue that dippers like yourself that heap scorn on the Greens, are actually lending credence to the view that the NDP in Quebec shouldn't really be taken seriously. I, on the other hand, take both seriously.

A BCer in Toronto said...

You said the magic word, organization. The key to translating any support at the polls into votes, and seats, is organization, and GOTV.

I won't deny the sorry state of the Liberal machine in Quebec. But with all this NDP euphoria, I wonder if there's an organization to back it. If there's not, it may not amount to much.

After all, in a general election they can't ship in busses of organizers from the rest of the country like they did in Outremont. They'll be busy in their own ridings.

ottlib said...

As you say Steve Jean Charest's rehabilitation should both offer hope and act as a warning to all of the federal parties.

The volatility of voters in that province is legendary so a party's support or lack thereof is as soft as "the Leafs' defence". (Great characterization btw) :)

As well, as you say the Liberals do have an opportunity as a result of the virtual tie in support for the Conservatives and the Bloc. Both are going after the soft nationalist vote, essentially ceding the federalist vote to whomever wants it.

If the Liberals could come up with policies and ideas that appeal to those federalists they have a chance of making it a three way tie in that province. As well, such an approach would be rather popular in other parts of the country, particularly Ontario and the Maritimes so it could pay dividends nationally.

Anonymous said...

Any party theoretically has the potential to convert strong polling numbers into actual votes on election day. But, I think that a party with a very popular, high profile leader, a large campaign war-chest and a well-known Quebec spokesperson has a greater potential to get those votes than a party with an unknown leader, no money and no high profile local spokespeople.

Of course anything can happen. I'm just saying that I think is likely.

Steve V said...

anon

That's true, and I don't discount that. All I am saying, the criticisms levelled against the Greens, the soft support, lack of organization, erosion come election time, as the same things you could argue about the NDP in Quebec.

Steve V said...

ottlib

All I want to see in Quebec is some evidence that we are coming off the mat. We've been at bottom for quite sometime, I'd like to hear more about our strategy to win back voters, and I don't see urgency the same as panic.

You are right about volatility, which is why I retain some optimism, not that Liberals can sweep the province, but that they can start to claw back. I just looked at a Harris Decima poll, which asked various questions about Harper. On the question of issues which are important, Harper scored lowest in Quebec, a full 2/3 felt he didn't speak for them on issues that matter. Some argue how well the Conservatives are doing, but I think a lot of it has to do with lack of alternative, rather than some deep affinity for Harper. The Liberals can still shake loose some of that support, because despite the problems, the issues are much more in line.

Antonio said...

when the NDP has a candidate 10% as popular as Mulcair, I will believe those numbers. Those NDP votes are likely Liberals who wont vote for Stephane Dion or Bloc voters not happy with the right wing turn of the PQ

Bloc under 30%, that isnt good for them at all

Sean S. said...

bcer....you would also need to factor in the seats the NDP is just as likely to gain out West (Man, Sask, BC)... out here the Liberals are DOA in most ridings. Heck, even the target seat of 2004/06 here in Sask (after Goodale of course) doesn't have a candidate yet.

Robert McClelland said...

Robert's post on CROP reads like a kid with a blackberry out on recess.

What else are polls good for if not to taunt your opponents. They certainly aren't useful as the basis for a 600 word polemic like the one written above.

Steve V said...

"What else are polls good for if not to taunt your opponents."

So, is this where I say the NDP is life and death with the Greens for a distant third in Ontario, and will be lucky to maintain official party status in the next election, pipe dreams aside? Oh okay, got it.

Robert McClelland said...

So, is this where I say the NDP is life and death with the Greens for a distant third in Ontario

Didn't you already do that?

Steve V said...

Actually I said:

"The NDP has ever right to be gleeful at these numbers"

But anyways...

Robert McClelland said...

Sorry, you didn't say, you just had someone else say it for you.

"When you look at Ontario, the Green party really is edging ahead of the NDP in critical parts of the province," Anderson said.

"That's pretty big news."

Steve V said...

That is big news. Sorry for noticing.

Mushroom said...

"The Bloc are clearly on the wane, the appetite for seperation at a very low ebb."

In-and-out may revive the Bloc the same way that sponsorship does. They both go after the same constituency, rural redneck Quebecois.

Steve V said...

mushroom

You may be right. The Bloc is hammering this as hard, if not harder, than the Liberals.

The best line for me today in QP was the Bloc's response to "everybody does it", when the Cons referenced former Bloc practices. Paraphrasing:

"Do the Conservatives expect Canadians to believe that Elections Canada gave preferential treatment to a separatist party"

I thought that put all the absurdity into focus.

Anonymous said...

"you would also need to factor in the seats the NDP is just as likely to gain out West (Man, Sask, BC)... out here the Liberals are DOA in most ridings."

Big Mustel BC poll released here last week had the Liberals and CPC tied in a dead heat in BC.

The NDP is treading water in BC at 22%, which is a loss of almost 1/3 of their vote from 2006. They could well lose half their seats in BC.

Heck, the standing of the provincial NDP is almost at where the federal NDP was in 2006 and they are usually ahead of the fed NDP by 10% or more.

Sean S. said...

My West includes more than just BC....here in Sask and Manitoba the NDP leads all other parties with 46% (if you want to believe the poll and really small sample size). Especially here in Saskatchewan, where you never hear from the Liberals....

Steve V said...

sean

Come on, you actually believe that Angus Reid result? A tad high maybe?