Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Down, Down, Down

A new Strategic Counsel poll, which follows the same trends as others, Conservatives down:
The results of a new wide-ranging poll for The Globe and Mail-CTV News finds Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives a scant three percentage points ahead of St├ęphane Dion's Liberals, 34 to 31. Mr. Harper's government has fallen from a height of 39 per cent in February, when the party was inching into majority government territory. NDP 16%, Greens 10%

Last month's Strategic Counsel poll had a gap of 6:
Cons 36
Libs 30
NDP 15
Greens 10

The month before that, the gap was 11 points, before that 12. The last national poll that constituted the Conservatives high water mark has fallen in line.

In Ontario, the "life is good, be happy" approach is a decided loser:
The survey found that 64 per cent of Ontarians agree that the federal government hasn't done enough to help the province through its current downturn. More important, Mr. Lyle said, only 22 per cent of those surveyed said they disagreed. The figure is a concern because it suggests that a good portion of Tory supporters in Ontario either believe the government has not done enough or are neutral on the issue.

In Canada's most populous province, the Liberals lead with 40-per-cent support, compared with 35 per cent for the Conservatives.

In Quebec, more bad news:
In Quebec, the Tories have seen their support drop to 20 per cent from 25 per cent, which is five points below the 2006 election. The Liberals are up five points to 25 per cent. Bloc 38%

The disparity between the national polls and the Quebec only polls remains, but as I've said before, in the last election, this pollsters were fairly close on Quebec, so the results are noteworthy. ADQ? One note, the pollster says the Tories dropped 5% in Quebec, but there last offering was actually 27%, so the drop is 7%. The good news for the Liberals, the Tory drop comes with a Liberal rise, which might suggest they really are the "second" choice for some.

The article, for some reason, throws in the findings from another pollster (Innovative Research) on the environment. I thought this a telling quote, considering all the recent Liberal debate on the environment:
will provide an opportunity for a party that wants to address it.

“It's an agenda waiting to happen for someone wanting to grab it,” Mr. Lyle said. “It will hit a responsive chord.”

This poll, and the trend, is nothing but bad news for the Conservatives, and while they can take comfort in a statistical tie, slight lead, depending on your bias, the breakdown actually points to a possible Liberal government. With the numbers now down to almost core Conservative support, the key for the Liberals to come up further, winning back the soft center-left voter. If, the Liberals can get their environmental policy right, that release might just be a catalyst.


Steve V said...

The pdf has been released, other interesting items. In Quebec, NDP are in fifth at 8%, one point behind the Greens at 9%. In the "west", the NDP is in second place at 23%, the Libs 22%.

James Curran said...

Have a link to the pdf Steve?

tori said...

so last month:

cpc: 36
lpc: 30

cpc: 34
lpc: 31

I'm assuming the MOE is +-3 ??

James Curran said...

and perhaps the MOE is 7 in Quebec.

tori said...

"and perhaps the MOE is 7 in Quebec."


Anonymous said...

There is a very simple reason why there is such a difference in the Quebec numbers between the big province-wide polls by CROP and Leger and the small Quebec sub-samples by Ipsos and SC etc...

I have looked into this and it turns out that they do not ask the question the same way. The national polls just say "Would you vote Conservative, Liberal, NDP, BQ or Green?" The Quebec polls ask "Would you vote for the Conservative led by Harper, the Liberal led by Dion, the NDP led by Layton, the BQ led by Duceppe or Green led by May (qui??)?"

I think it's pretty indisputable that Harper and Layton each personally have very high approval numbers in Quebec and probably pull their parties up a lot - whereas the opposite is true of the Liberals and in the case of the Greens - 99% of people in Quebec wouldn't know an Elizabeth May from a six foot hole in the ground.

People can debate which approach is more accurate

Gayle said...

KW - posture all you want, but there is no getting around the fact that recent polls are bad news for Mr. Harper.

Sadly for him, all that energy he put into mocking the liberals for abstaining has not paid off in the polling numbers.

No point in the liberals going to an election now, when Harper still might scrape out a win. I know that like Harper, you hope Dion takes the bait and kills this government now, while Harper still has a chance. Unfortunately Dion is not biting.

Time will tell if he is doing the right thing for the party.

Anonymous said...

Finally, the Conservative government is seen for the empty shell that it is. When you look at the major issues of the day, it is clear this government provides no answers, no leadership, just partisan ranting.

Anonymous said...

"Finally, the Conservative government is seen for the empty shell that it is."

Is that what you call all parties being within 1% of what they got in the last election??

Steve V said...


That is very interesting, on the question phrasing. I suppose you could argue it either way, but seems strange to ask a party question with the leader attached. Your point here, actually makes me take the national results more seriously, sample size aside.


I just delete kaipup, and the funny part, I don't even read it :) I'm sure it was something at a grade 1 level.

Here's the pdf.

tori said...

"KW - posture all you want, but there is no getting around the fact that recent polls are bad news for Mr. Harper."

what fact? CPC is still around the mid 30's and the LPC is around the low 30's/high 20's...just like the 2006 election. Any change from SC's poll from last month till now is within MOE.

tori said...

"but seems strange to ask a party question with the leader attached."

I agree. I'm curious if anon knows if this is a recent development.

That said, question phrasing has a HUGE impact on the outcome of a poll.

tori said...

"People can debate which approach is more accurate"


Whereas I can understand what they are trying to do (gauge voter intention/party affiliation AND leadership numbers in an efficient manner) they've basically stated a double barrelled question.

A person could affiliate themselves with the CPC, yet dislike harper. Say this person said "no" to the question, "would you vote for the CPC under Harper?". CROP would not be able to tease out why the person said "no"...is it because they would never vote CPC? Or is it because they would normally vote CPC, but under someone else's leadership?

Best to keep questions single barrelled.

Steve V said...

"Any change from SC's poll from last month till now is within MOE.'

Tori, I think if you take the average's of the polls now, the Cons are below 2006, and the regional distribution would mean a loss of seats.

Does anyone have the actual questions from the CROP poll??

tori said...

May 2008


CPC:34% (31-37%)
LPC:31% (28-34%)


CPC:34% (31-37%)
LPC:29% (26-32%)

I can't seem to find a decima poll done in may, and nanos' poll in may dealt with leadership numbers, not voter support. This was a pretty cursory glance...if there are other polls in may, please let me know.

So the most you can say is that somewhere in the brackets lies the answer-at this point in time. I can say that the CPC is still around the support of the last election, since it's within MOE, but is it right? Only an election would be able to tell us.

Steve V said...

The last Decima poll had the Cons at 30%, the last Angus Reid poll had them at 33%.

I suppose if you want to take the high end of the MOE, you could make a case the Cons are at their 06 levels, but the fact that no poll puts them outright suggests it's lower.

ottlib said...


It is true that the Conservative drop in this poll is within the MOE of the last poll but you cannot ignore the fact that this very same polling company had the Conservatives at about 4 times the MOE just three months ago.

If the Conservative numbers were bouncing up and down by the MOE or less then I would say your any assertion that the change could be the result of polling error as opposed to actual level of support would be valid.

However, the that is not what is happening. The Conservatives have shown a steady decline in their estimates from this polling company over the last three months.

That would seem to indicate that the change in the estimates cannot be dismissed as polling error.

tori said...


I do find it interesting that when an ipsos or a decima polls and finds the CPC "within majority territory", many libloggers poo poo the survey and say it is an obvious outlier. But the same people will use the same dismissed poll to suggest that there's been a greater drop. I just don't see how one can summarily dismiss and accept the same poll when it suits.

like i said, I have no idea of what the "true" CPC support is...the only way to find out is with an election.

But I'm guessing (and I don't mean to come across as partisan) that since the LPC has more or less decided to hold off on bringing down the govt, that their internals suggest either another minority CPC government at the very least. If the LPC had any chance of winning a minority govt, they would pull the plug...as would any party in that position.

ottlib said...


By and large I ignore polls on their own. Instead I look at the differences in the estimates from the same polling companies over time.

Generally speaking a company will use the same methodology for each of its poll so you cannot expect big changes in the estimates and often times those changes are within the MOE so you cannot say a party is gaining or losing support with any level of validity. It could be the result of change in support or it could be the result of polling error.

What I try to discern are trends. It is true that these polls are all cross-sectional as opposed to longitudinal polls so drawing any solid conclusions on a perceived trend is problematic. However, you can usually get a rough idea of what is happening out there, albeit a very incomplete and possibly wrong idea.

What I have seen in the last couple of years was the first 18 months of the Conservative government saw movement for the parties that could be called glacial. It did not matter what the actual estimates stated. With few exceptions the change in the estimates from one poll to the next was next to non-existant. This was true of all polling companies although the polling companies could have markedly different estimates from each others polls.

However, in the last six months there has been a noticable movement of the Conservatives downward. It has not been dramatic drops but it has been steady and virtually all of the polling companies are now indicating that.

Again, drawing concrete conclusions stating the Conservatives are losing support are not valid because of the nature of these polls. However, there is no denying the steady decrease in the Conservative estimates, from all of the polling companies, over the last six months. So, it is equally invalid to summarily dismiss the idea that the Conservatives are losing support. Something is up. We are going to have to gather more data to find out just what it is.

As well Tori, speculating on why the Liberals have not pulled the plug yet is a mugs game. We do not have access to the inner workings of decision making process so we do not know what the reasoning is.

You gave one possible explanation but there are many other possibilities.

Steve V said...

"But the same people will use the same dismissed poll to suggest that there's been a greater drop."

Tori, that's simply not true. Feel free to go back and look, but you take the trends within the polling outfit as indicative, moreso than the actual numbers. Ipsos tends to overstate Conservative support, a point which Don Martin himself from Canwest made, so if we "poo poo", it has some basis. What is important, when an outfit like Ipsos shows the same trends, Cons down in Ontario, relative to their own previous findings, Cons down overall, relative to their own previous findings. The actual numbers can be disputed, but when you consider the same methodology from poll to poll, then you can draw conclusions.

Like ottlib said, SC had the Conservatives well ahead, which seemed a bit of an outlier. My comment in this post:

"The last national poll that constituted the Conservatives high water mark has fallen in line."

The poll that Cons could selectively cite to support their majority illusions is now in line with others, they have mirrored the same trends as others, starting at different points.

I will "poo poo" an outlier, for example when Ipsos had the Cons ahead in Ontario, when every other outfit had them down well outside of MOE. That doesn't pass the smell test, it's not a partisan consideration. You can ask ottlib, because we have argued about polls before, when I've pointed to Liberal weakness, I think I am pretty fair overall.

Steve V said...

I see ottlib beat me to the same point :)