Friday, August 01, 2008

Tough Guy Rhetoric Shows No Relationship To Reality


While Harper did his usual tough guy routine, taunting and flexing for the faithful, full of bravado about forcing an election, another finding, from a friendly source, that paints a different picture. These numbers would actually mean a more likely Liberal minority:
A new poll shows the Conservatives just slightly ahead of the Liberals, but behind their Grit rivals in Ontario and Quebec, two provinces where the Conservatives must make gains if they hope to one day form a majority government.

The Ipsos Reid survey finds that 34 per cent of Canadians support Harper's Conservatives, an improvement of one percentage point from the last Ipsos Reid poll six weeks ago, while Dion's Liberals are sitting at 30 per cent, a drop of two percentage points.

In the latest poll, the NDP was the preferred choice of 14 per cent of voters, an improvement of one point since the last poll, while the Green Party has the support of about 11 per cent of Canadians, up two points.

Ontario:
In Ontario, 37 per cent of voters would pick a Liberal candidate while 33 per cent would choose a Conservative.

Quebec:
In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois leads all parties with 37 per cent of support, but the Liberals are in second place with 27 per cent and the Tories are well back of that with just 18 per cent.

The article speaks of a Conservative minority, but then gives reason why that prognostication is dead wrong:
they have a considerable challenge because their national popularity is skewed by overwhelming support in Alberta, where they already hold every seat.

A four point lead nationally is essentially a dead heat, but when you consider that Alberta's over the top Conservative support is included, you could easily make the case, that seat wise, the Liberals may have the slight advantage.

Ipsos tends to find a closer race in Ontario than other pollsters, so people should consider that in the numbers. The Quebec numbers are somewhat surprising, if they were to hold, it represents big problems for the Cons, possible pickups for the Libs.

I put Ipsos at the bottom of the heap for true predictability. When you have reporters from papers that commission the polls saying they "tend to overstate Conservative support", it should demand a grain of salt. That said, if this pollster shows these sort of results, then it is reasonable to think it might actually be worse for the Cons, but even taken at face value, the regionals present a real problem, an election looks a crapshoot. The paper tiger roars.

36 comments:

bigcitylib said...

So the Green Shift doesn't really move the horse-race numbers, but does kind of blunt the "Dion's a wimp" charge.

The Libs should be less afraid of killing Tory legislation this time out. If it is a war of attrition, watching base-friendly legislation like C-484 die will demoralize the Tory troops. Or let the Tories make it a confidence motion.

Steve V said...

"So the Green Shift doesn't really move the horse-race numbers, but does kind of blunt the "Dion's a wimp" charge."

I'd love to see some leadership numbers, to see if Dion is getting any traction. If the Green Shift is a draw horse race wise, at this point, that's pretty good for the Liberals, nobody is running in droves. Time is the Green Shift's friend to my mind, the initial period, the most critical to get it off the ground. Now, it comes down to "sales".

knb said...

I knew you'd be on it. I heard it announced earlier this evening.

You're bang on in terms of who this firm is, but that said, indeed the Alberta numbers do make a difference.

I'd like to see the internals to determine their percentage weight.

Quebec? Telling to me, even though we are in the midst of summer, Harper is not striking the right chords. Indeed, he may be tone deaf. Good news, no?

Of course other polls will follow so we shall see, but overall, I agree with your assessment.

Steve V said...

knb

Ipsos was always the poll Cons supports would throw at you, when you mentioned other findings. It was the delusional comfort blanket, now even it looks shaky. That said, if it shows an uptick in the fall, I still won't take it too seriously.

knb said...

The Libs should be less afraid of killing Tory legislation this time out.

Fair, but C-484 brings out all the crazies. Oh, I get it, lol.

That said, you can hear the Con braintrust putting together 'Liberals are for killing babies' idiocy.

Anonymous said...

In the 2006 election, the popular vote was CPC 36%, Libs 30% and that produced a 28 seats lead for the Tories. I don't see how narrowing the popular vote gap from 6% to 4% suddenly produces a Liberal minority. It all just adds up to the status quo with a couple of seats traded back and forth.

See the results of the 1963 and 1965 elections for a similar story.

Steve V said...

"I don't see how narrowing the popular vote gap from 6% to 4% suddenly produces a Liberal minority."

I do actually, or the possibility at least.

ottlib said...

Anonymous:

It is all about the efficiency of the vote.

The Conservatives often poll in the high 50s to low 60s in Alberta. The result is their national support is skewed so that they are actually polling much lower outside of Alberta.

Of course the same is true of the Liberals to a certain extent with their support in the GTA. The key advantage for the Liberals in that case however is the GTA has twice as many seats as Alberta. As well, the Liberals usually do well in the rest of Ontario so they usually win the majority of seats there.

For Quebec most of their support is in the 20 to 30 seats around Montreal, the Eastern Township and the Pontiac. So, here the support is focused enough that they would be competitive in all of those ridings. With their support in the high 20s in Quebec and the Bloc's support only in the high 30s the Liberals would probably come close to doubling their seat count in that province. As well, once a party goes below the 20% mark in that province they are in trouble of being shut out. Although, I do not think that would happen since most of the Conservative support is around Quebec City. In fact it is mostly focused around Maxime Bernier's riding and its neighbours, or about 4 ridings.

Throw in the Maritimes and some seats in the West and you have the makings of a slim Liberal minority.

Of course, this poll does not actually say this is what is going to happen. Polls are a snapshot of what opinion was during the polls reference period, which in this case, was earlier this week. They are not a predictor of how people will vote in the future.

However, I am pretty certain that no Conservative is looking at this poll tonight and getting a warm, fuzzy feeling all over.

ottlib said...

As for the Green Shift, I would say that it has been firmly planted in the consciousness of Canadians and that is all the Liberals can hope for at this point.

Anybody expecting it to push Liberals support upwards at this time has expectations that are way too high.

Anonymous said...

An incumbent government polling in low-30s usually don't win re-election. The Green vote at 11% won't hold on election day.

kody said...

The Libs have suddenly shot up past the Cons in Quebec?

This poll doesn't even come close to passing the smell test.

Then again, if you believe these numbers,

I guess we'll be seeing Dion take down the government at the first opportunity, right?

Steve V said...

kody

Actually, most of the national polls show the Libs consistently ahead of the Cons in Quebec. The Quebec only polls have different results, but the national polls were pretty accurate last election.

You guys just assume Harper has traction in Quebec...maybe it's because you're trying so hard. Sort of like the ethnic outreach angle that pops up every few months, and yet no evidence of anything.

ottlib said...

Actually kody the Liberals have been sneaking up in Quebec for the last few polls.

All of the polling companies have released polls in the last few months indicating the Liberals were climbing into the mid to high-20 range.

So this poll is not indicating a big and sudden shift. Maybe it is showing that a happy trend may be forming for the Liberals in Quebec.

Of course, with a sample numbering only about 250 you cannot really trust those numbers overly much so I am not holding my breath with regards to any trend, positive or otherwise.

Steve V said...

"Of course, with a sample numbering only about 250 you cannot really trust those numbers overly much so I am not holding my breath with regards to any trend, positive or otherwise."

The only slight caveat to that, it's been a bunch of polls with these sample sizes, so the replicating factor is relevant.

Antonio said...

The Libs are strong in and around Montreal

The Tories are stronger in and around Quebec City

Every polling firm that has gone out and studied the regions has showed this trend.

By that logic, if the Liberals are truly 9% ahead of the Liberals Roxane Staners in Saint Lambert should trounce her Conservative opposition...

Antonio said...

we also havent really had a quebec only poll since the ADQ meltdown

I dont buy the Libs at 27% in Quebec for one second.

Why?

Because at these numbers the Liberals should have thrown Harper out a LONG LONG time ago

Trevor said...

"If the Green Shift is a draw horse race wise, at this point, that's pretty good for the Liberals, nobody is running in droves."

"As for the Green Shift, I would say that it has been firmly planted in the consciousness of Canadians and that is all the Liberals can hope for at this point."

Nobody is running away in droves? you call that good news?

The Cons are supposedly mired in one scandal after another, have very little policy announced and haven't presented anything resembling an election platform. The Libs are supposedly rejuvinated with a superior team and have rolled out the major policy plank that they hope will get them reelected. You would think this would give the Libs some sort of upward trend but instead they drop in the polls and you folks are talking about how great this news is?

Talk about lowered expectations!

Steve V said...

trevor

You miss the point entirely. Everyone agrees that the Green Shift needs time, for people to understand, beyond the easy negative soundbites. The fact that, despite Harper and all his minions trying to frame this as "a tax on everything", the Liberals have maintained, is a good sign moving forward. At the moment, there does seem to be some confusion as to what the Green Shift is, and I would argue time is an ally, when trying to sell a complicated initiative. That's not spin, that's just common sense, but I don't expect a Con to get that.

jarrid said...

Why am I not surprised that a poll showing the Tories up a percentage point and the Liberals down two percentage point from the previous poll, showing the Conservatives ahead at 34% to 30%, is spun here as being good news for the Liberals.

Also as Antonio said, the Quebec numbers (Liberals 27%) are just not believable.

So to answer knb's naively hopeful question "Good news, no?" Sorry knb, the answer is no. No amount of wishing and hoping and spinning will make it yes.

This comment thread is less about serious or semi-serious political analysis, and more support-group therapy.

Steve V said...

jarrid

This poll is within the margin of error, the Cons up one irrelevant in the grand scheme. What your biased mind fails to grasp, if you look at the trends over the past months, you will find the Conservatives fading, in every poll, particularly where they need to do well. Group therapy? Please.

If you breakdown the internals of this poll, and the pollster speaks to this, the supposed margin is erased, in fact you see the problems for the Conservatives. Scoring 75% in Alberta doesn't help in the grand scheme.

Get back to me, when you have a clue what you're talking about.

jarrid said...

"Get back to me, when you have a clue what you're talking about."

I'll get back to you when the next poll numbers come out reflecting a similar movement in the wrong direction for the Liberals and to read more black is white and up is down analysis from the Liberal blogosphere. (To your credit, it is usually less pronounced here than elsewhere.)

In analyzing poll data, where the trendlines are going is often a harbinger of things to come. We'll have to wait and see where the next one lines up.

Mushroom said...

Antonio,

Stanners will probably finish a full 9 per cent ahead of Clune in St. Lambert. Still it would take a 22 per cent swing to knock off the Bloc. This is something that will take another kick in the can to help boost the Grits on the ground.

"That said, you can hear the Con braintrust putting together 'Liberals are for killing babies' idiocy."

knb,

This demonstrates the so-called efficiency of the Con machine. Most of the campaign literature is scripted, but C-484 provides the Cons the chance to get down and dirty. Expect anonymous flyers appearing in Roman Catholic church parking lots in Guelph saying "Dion kills babies" etc. But the Grits will need to tackle this monster head on regardless, and it is better to take a pre-emptive strike now than never. Dion should be pushing the envelope to force Harper to defend the indefensible.

knb said...

mushroom, I don't disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

"Stanners will probably finish a full 9 per cent ahead of Clune in St. Lambert. "

Can someone tell me what the Liberals are doing running an anglophone from Alberta in a riding that is 90% francophone and that is largely made up of areas that are major PQ strongholds provincially? I know that the federal Liberals are almost non-existent in francophone Quebec, but surely they could have dug up SOMEONE French-speaking to run in St. Lambert.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, of all the candidates running for any of the parties in these three byelections, the one who has the most impressive environmental credentials by far has to be Richard Marois the NDP candidate in St. Lambert.

http://www.richardmarois.ca/en/about

knb said...

Anon, 6:42, do some homework.

Born and raised in the Franco-Manitoban community of Saint-Boniface, Roxane Stanners is pleased to put her 25 years of involvement with the Liberal Party of Canada to the advantage of the citizens of the riding of Saint-Lambert.

I know it's tough, but really.

Steve V said...

anon

To bad he will finish fourth in the riding. Such a waste, try another party.

Anonymous said...

Her links to Quebec seem very, very tenuous and according to her bio it seems that she has spent most of her life in Alberta. It isn't clear whether she actually IS a franco-Manitoban or if she simply lived in the environs of St. Boniface - and many anglos do live there.

I predict that the Liberal will come in fourth in St. Lambert. It will be like St. Hyacinthe all over again.

There is a reason why Marois is running for the NDP. He is enough of an expert on environmental issues to know that the the cockamamie Liberal approach to the environment is a non-starter, plus he knows that Dion is persona non grata among francophones. The Green Party only exists on paper in Quebec - and the BQ is a waste of oxygen.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

You need to give Anon at 6:58 a break.

Patrick Clune finishing fourth for the Cons is a possibility. If Richard Marois is really that good of a green candidate, he should be finishing no worse than third and running close at second.

This is where Thomas Mulcair's credibility is tested. No worse than third in Saint Lambert. Otherwise, no mileage for the second coming of Phil Edmundston.

Steve V said...

" He is enough of an expert on environmental issues to know that the the cockamamie Liberal approach to the environment is a non-starter"

What a freaking LOAD. Who the heck do you think is backing the Liberal plan, Dion just dreamed it up himself?? Enjoy another night of NO seats, maybe next election you can improve on your 267 third place or worse finishes.

Steve V said...

mushroom

second? Whoa.

jarrid said...

knb - parachuting a westerner, I don't care if she's more Albertan or Manitoban, in a Quebec riding smacks of desperation, even if Ms. Stanners was some kind of star candidate. A quick read of her modest bio on her campaign website shows she's no star. It's paper thin with no Quebec roots to speak of. Her apparent claim to fame is being Dion's convention co-chair in 2006.

A further example of the disconnect between native son Dion and his home province of Quebec.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

Mulcair won Outremont with a 18 per cent swing. A similar move will put the NDP close to the Liberals at Saint Lambert. So a good result there for the Dippers is almost necessary for Mulcair to have any more traction.

knb said...

jarrid, she was not parachuted, but nice try.

Steve V said...

mushroom

I think the NDP's night is entirely dependent on Westmount, that's where we see if Mulcair was a one-off. Maybe not a win, but very solid to spin anything.

jarrid said...

knb, she's the walking definition of a parachute candidate. That won't go over well with the locals, it never does.

Look, it may be as simple as the Libs determining that this riding is just not worth the effort at this juncture.