Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Polls and New Coalitions

A pretty amazing result from CROP for the Liberals, which gives added weight to the new coalition talk. The numbers, particularly the francophone breakdown, are beyond anything a Liberal could have hoped for, at this stage (last poll in brackets):
Libs 37 (plus 7%)
Bloc 31 (minus 4%)
Cons 15 (minus 3%)
NDP 12

Those numbers are almost too good, in the sense that the Bloc will look to avoid an election (more on that dynamic later). Another poll that shows the Conservatives on life support, a real danger now of perceived irrelevance, all current seats in play.

The Liberals are now in a virtual tie for francophone support, which would have been a laughable want just a few months ago:
Bloc 37% (minus 4%)
Libs 34% (plus 7%)
Cons 13% (minus 4%)
NDP 12%

I'll defer to those more intimate with Quebec seat distribution, but it's fair to say this movement with francophones puts many ridings into play for the Liberals.

On the best PM measure, Ignatieff enjoys a massive edge:
Ignatieff 45%
Layton 20%
Harper 17%

Quebec is a wasteland for Harper.

Right on cue, Gilles Duceppe is putting out signals that his party is ready to work with the government, much like the NDP pivot last week. We also hear talk that the Conservatives are going to do everything in their power to avoid a confidence vote prior to the 2010 Olympics. The strategy will also delay release of next year's budget, so that the government rule through the feel good Olympics. As far as that tidbit goes, with the economic situation, a general consensus that no rebound will really take hold until later in 2010, one has to think the Liberals can capitalize on any perceived budget delay for partisan advantage. That dynamic brings me to the new coalition of socialists, seperatists and sell out federalists.

From the Liberal perspective, if the other opposition parties want to make backroom deals with the government, prop up Harper, it puts us in a strong position. There does seem to be some strategic consideration in trying to force a fall election, the reasonings for the Liberals are obvious. However, it is a serious error for anyone to conclude that postponing any election "thwarts" the Liberal ambitions. The biggest danger for the Liberals moving forward, is a sense developing, wherein Canadians start to see the party as Conservative enablers, diminishing their stature, as well as arming the other parties. If the new dynamic gives the Liberals free reign to push an agenda, knowing full well the other parties are afraid of an election, it's hard to see how that hurts us in the polls. The key word here is "afraid", and that's exactly why the Bloc and NDP, as well as the Cons, are starting to play footsie under the table. No amount of spin detracts from a simple concept that denotes weakness. Liberals know the perils of perceived weakness, if others want to do the propping, one can think of a myriad of ways to be aggressive and capitalize on the wide berth.

In addition, time is the Liberals friend here, when you consider building organization, fundraising, candidates, etc. It's not like Liberals are DYING to have a vote, if one of the main concerns within the calculus is eliminated, I think people might be quite comfortable with watching others scurry while we build. I don't see how the Liberals fall considerably in the polls, especially when we will look a strong and aggressive opposition. If other parties are content to hide from the Liberal juggernaut, I am left with the clear impression that things have changed DRASTICALLY. Harper working with the Bloc, too delicious for words. The NDP propping up the government, tasty as well. Factor in the Liberal freedom as a results, works for me.


Gayle said...

I completely agree. Frankly I do not want an election and if the Bloc and the NDP are keeping tabs on Harper then I doubt he could do too much damage while the LPC waits it out.

Steve V said...

I just don't see how that dynamic hurts the Liberals. There's also the sheer hypocrisy of Harper working with the Bloc, although the Liberals are probably wise to let others point out the duplicity.

Éric said...

Beware of CROP polls. Out of all of the firms, they are the ones who have rated the Bloc lowest. The poll is a sign of improvement for the Liberals in Quebec, but it is difficult to believe that the Liberals are actually that far ahead, if they are ahead at all. The Bloc has been at 40+ for quite a while.

Steve V said...

Duly noted. However, it is also the biggest sample size, and it has a reputation for accuracy in the province. Maybe the Bloc number is low, but AR just gave the Libs a 35%, EKOS 33% and Leger 33%, so while higher, not double take terrority. If anything, this might be more evidence of a steady march upwards. Given the Bloc shift in strategy today, I would posit their own polling and sense isn't too far off these results.

Éric said...

I don't know CROP as having a good reputation in Quebec. In fact, it is my lowest-rated polling firm.

Steve V said...


Many other people hold this poll in high regard. In fact, during the last few years, if we saw any evidence of a Lib uptick in Quebec, that was generally put aside until CROP weighed in. Maybe it's the sample size, the regionals within the province, but people seem to put some faith in the results. I'm open to your thoughts, as to accuracy?

Éric said...

CROP is the favoured poll of La Presse, while Léger Marketing usually works with Journal de Montreal and Le Devoir. At least from one side of the spectrum, CROP is seen as a very federalist polling firm. CROP was the farthest off during the last provincial election, and especially under-estimated the PQ vote.

Let's take a look at the last three CROP polls. The most recent has the Liberals at 37%, compared to 35%, 31%, and 33% from other recent polls. So it isn't out of the ordinary, though higher. For the Bloc, they have them at 31%, while those three other recent polls have the Bloc at 40%, 40%, and 39.5%. That includes a 500-person poll.

The previous one had the Liberals at 30%, compared to 30%, 33%, and 29%. Again, within the norm. But for the Bloc, CROP had them at 35%, when other polls had the Bloc at 42%, 41%, and 36%.

The earliest one this year had the Liberals at 31%, compared to 28%, 26%, and 21%. The Bloc was at 34% in their poll, compared to 38%, 31%, and 33.4%. So, at least there CROP was a little within the norm for the Bloc, but you can see the Liberal number was a little high.

For the Bloc to lose about 10 points and the Liberals to gain as much as 8 points is a bit too much of a trend change to take seriously until we see another poll that looks like this.

I'm not familiar enough with Liberal and Conservative crowds to know whether any of the pan-Canadian polling firms are considered biased, but in Quebec it is well-known that CROP polls better for federalists and Léger Marketing for sovereigntists. Whether that is on purpose or not, who knows.

In any case, at ThreeHundredEight, CROP is rated about half as highly as Léger Marketing, based solely on their past performances.

Steve V said...


Thanks. See, I've heard people say be weary of Leger. The number might be a touch high, but my point it really isn't out of line, nor does it differ from the trend we've seen elsewhere. As an anecdote, Paul Wells commented today on this polls past accuracy, which I mention just as an example of how some give it weight, probably because of the sample size and the regionals within the province. BTW, do you know the breakdown?

Steve V said...

Another aside, Ignatieff has been in Quebec quite a bit since the last poll. Apparently his television appearances have gone over quite well, and he's had favorable press. Don't know if that matters too much, but he's putting in the effort and Harper is invisible. It looks like they're drawing support from both parties, so this move away from Harper and slight pullback with the Bloc makes the rise look more pronounced.

Éric said...

I'm afraid I have as many details as you do about the poll.

My view is not that the Liberal number is unnaturally high, it is that the Bloc number is unnaturally low.

As to Wells' view of it, I think we all have a natural tendency to give less credence to bad news than we do good news, so I would imagine that polls that are more friendly to federalism are going to be considered more highly in Canada.

Ignatieff has been in Quebec a lot recently, and he was on Tout le monde en parle on Sunday. But, polling ran from April 16 to April 26, and TLMEP was on TV on April 26. The two other most recent polls that put the Bloc at 40% were taken on some of the same days as the CROP poll.

I'm not saying this poll is wrong. Just to wait and see, and not draw too many conclusions from it. Remember when the Greens were at 26% in Quebec?

Steve V said...

Agreed. We need more, all I'm saying, it's more evidence of a strengthening Liberal Party. I'll say it again, the move by the Bloc today tells me they see it too.

Steve V said...

BTW, your insights are much appreciated :)

Éric said...

That's a possibility. They definitely know that the Liberals are in striking distance, and that the Bloc doesn't stand to gain more than 2 or 3 seats overall in the best of cases. They'll pick up virtually all of the 5-9 seats the Conservatives will lose, but they could also lose the same amount to the Liberals. Why spend all that money for nothing? If the Bloc was comfortably over 40% and the Liberals below 30%, they would be raring to go, because they could get back up to their historical ceiling of 54 seats or do even better.

Also, you have to remember the provincial aspect of the Bloc Quebecois. Virtually every member is also a Parti Quebecois member. So, Bloc volunteers were busy in September and October for the federal election, and then were busy during November and December for the provincial election. So the Bloc is loathe to ask more from its membership.

Scott Tribe said...

It's funny we're having this discussion.. because our friend Anthony in Quebec pays specific attention to CROP.. because of its larger sample size, and no so much to the others.

900 ft Jesus said...

I agree on all points. There's another thing contributing to this big change, I think. I've noticed a change in the number of articles focusing on policy and change rather than just political strategy.

Possibly caught up in the Obama wave - wanting change, being inspired to take a broader, long term view. Ignatieff and the Liberals are the closest to delivering a similar message. Overall, people are tired of the political agendas taking precedence over policy changes, and what's happening south of us is showing that we don't need to just put up with it. After Martin lost, the Liberals were very slow to pick up not just because of Adscam, but because they didn't seem to offer anything that could capture people's hopes, imagination, etc.

The timing is helping the Liberals as well with the desire for change sweeping North America.

That makes me happiest of all - that there is a shift from people thinking "well, that's politics, ya know?" to realizing that we don't need to settle for politics before policy. Change for the better is less likely to happen if people do little more than grumble in a resigned fashion.