Saturday, April 11, 2009

Liberals Lead "Second Choice"

When the Liberals were well back in the polls, one glimmer of hope was the "second choice" component. Even though we trailed, there was still possibility, because pollsters concluded we had the most room for "growth", best placed to siphon off opposing party voters. That never materialized, obviously, even worse we couldn't seem to manage to get our own identified voters out to the polls. Now that the Liberals have gained substantial ground, it's interesting to see if that dynamic is still in play. One could assume, that since we've poached a few voters here and there, that our "second choice" preference would have waned, those inclined more in the fold, so the reservoir lessened. However, data from the last NANOS poll, which gave the Liberals 36%, shows that despite the uptick, we still lead on "second choice", and the numbers tell us a centrist approach is the best strategy to grow from here.

The overall numbers for second choice, amongst identified voters:
Liberals 18.3%
NDP 14.8%
Cons 14%
Greens 13.9%

Not a huge advantage, but outside the margin of error. What is even more relevant, just where the various parties draw their second choice support from. The Liberals are the preferred second choice for Conservative, NDP and Green supporters. The highest percentage comes from NDP supporters, a full 40% pick the Liberals. A strong number, considering this poll has already seen a bleed in NDP support to the Liberals. That number would suggest the Liberals are wise to appeal to the left flank, but the percentages only tell half the story. 33% of Conservatives pick the Liberals as there second choice, but because the Conservative support is much more than is NDP support, the raw numbers tell us the voter pool is twice that of the NDP. In this sample size we have 44 NDP supporters picking the Liberals, but 91 Conservatives, so the percentages are misleading, in terms of true harvest.

When you see where Liberal support could go, the Conservatives lead with 28%, the NDP 20%, Greens 18%. This suggests the Liberals are most vulnerable on their right flank, particularly if one doesn't make the erroneous calculation that all Green support is "left".

The first conclusion, the Liberals are still well placed for further growth, relative to the other parties; a fact which is particularly encouraging given this poll already places the Liberals at a high water mark. The more telling analysis, in terms of party strategy, the Liberals best odds come with a centrist approach, that is were the additional votes are, that is where they best shore up their own support. Hardly a surprise, given that the "center" is nothing more than terminology used to describe mainstream society.


Éric said...

If the voting intention numbers are accurate, then the 36% to 32% Liberal lead over the Conservatives is not only a high-watermark (the Liberals have been at 36% already recently), but it represents the largest lead the Liberals have shown since the 2008 election. At 4%, that is no longer the margin of error.

What iss also interesting in this poll is the amount of people who wouldn't choose a second party. While the Conservative voter pool is larger to dip into than the NDP pool, energy used on attracting Conservative support will have a higher chance of being wasted. Fully 44% of Conservatives would seem to be unwilling to even listen to Liberal overtures, compared to only 22% of NDP voters.

That Liberal voters could go to the Conservatives (28%) or the NDP (20%) in equally significant numbers tells me that if the Liberal Party tries to go right or left in an attempt to gain some votes, they could lose a lot as well.

Definitely a tricky spot to be in. The NDP and the Conservatives are lucky in that they don't have to worry about one wing of their party, and the Bloc has an assured base as well.


Steve V said...

I think these numbers are from the last NANOS poll.

You're right about Conservatives being less willing to consider other options, but I suspect there might be some regional discrepancy. One thing to note, this second choice calculation leaves out the 12% undecided vote.

Steve V said...

Just to clarify, it is from the March poll. I suspect you did what I did and added up the totals to get the 36%-32% spread. The poll itself came out 36-33% so that is a slightly curious difference.

burlivespipe said...

i expect sissy boy Harper to sulk and very possibly 'explore his options' and creating a possible leadership race if things continue down this path... He'd probably hope that a similar situation as 1979-80, when his former idol PET was resurrected from the political graveyard to win a surprise majority. But there's a major flaw in that possibility...