Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Liberals Beware

Last month, I had a entry which wondered if the NDP was due for a breakthrough in Quebec. The by-election in Outremont, part of the remaining Liberal powerbase, is poised to be a interesting battle, with the NDP running a star candidate, that is garnering considerable attention. I would still characterize the NDP's chances as decidedly uphill, and much will depend on the Liberal candidate, but this recent poll, with the publication title "Layton On A Roll", would seem to support the thesis that people underestimate the NDP at their own peril:
Whether it's due to "the Mulcair effect" or his out-front position against Canada's military mission to Afghanistan is unclear, but NDP leader Jack Layton is on a roll in Montreal, a new opinion poll suggests.

Montreal was the only place in the country where Layton wins when respondents were asked who would make the country's best prime minister, said Derek Leebosh, a senior associate with Environics Research Group, which conducted the survey.

Among Montrealers polled, Layton scored 24 per cent, compared with 19 per cent for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 16 per cent for Bloc Qubcois leader Gilles Duceppe and 12 per cent for Liberal leader Stephane Dion

In Quebec, the Bloc was at 31 per cent, down a healthy 11 percentage points from its level of support in the January 2006 federal election. The Liberals were pegged at 17 per cent in Quebec, down three from the last Environics poll conducted in March, while the Tories sat at 28 per cent, up two percentage points from the last poll and 3 points higher than they scored in the election. The NDP nudged up to 12 per cent from 11 in the last poll and the Green Party moved up 2 percentage points to 11 in Quebec. The undecided rate was pegged at 10 per cent.

The poll surveyed 2,021 Canadians across the country for a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points 95 times out of 100. The Quebec sample was 500 people for a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, while the Montreal sample was 217 respondents for a margin of 6.7 percentage points.

Why the surge in Montreal?:
Layton's newfound strength in Montreal is "probably a result of two things," Leebosh said. "It might be the Mulcair effect (former provincial Liberal environment minister Tom Mulcair is the NDP's star candidate in the soon-to-be announced Outremont by-election) but also the city may be more left-wing than the rest of the province" which suggests dispirited Bloc and Liberal voters may be turning to the NDP in the urban area.

"The Tories (at 17 per cent) are still so much lower in Montreal than in the rest of the province," Leebosh said. "If the Bloc Quebecois were to vanish tomorrow, the NDP would have tremendous potential in Montreal."

I don't claim to have intimate knowledge of the "street" in Quebec, but I think it is fair to say that Layton and Mulcair have been receiving a nice wave of coverage in the province. I have also heard some grumblings about Mulcair, but all in all, he has done a great job of getting in front of the media and creating a certain buzz. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the Liberals are on the ropes in Quebec and this by-election could well prove to be a watershed moment, that has lasting impact, unusual for a simple by-election.


Anonymous said...

Mulcair is a bit of a nasty piece of work when on TV. A little smug too.

I guess Harper will have to trash and bash the NDP now.

I guess Montreal aren't aware of how bad the NDP has done in other provinces when in power.

Anonymous said...

Unless Harper does something bold and runs Michael Fortier or Bernard Lord in Outremont, he will be delighted if Mulcair wins there.

Steve, don't forget about Phil Edmundston. He was the first NDP MP in La Belle Province in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, his impact was shortlived, but the message does resonate well in by-elections.

Steve V said...

Good point on Edmundston, although I'm not sure there was the same malaise with the Liberal Party.

Anonymous said...

I notice nationally the poll puts the Conservatives at 37% and the Liberals at 28%. Some interesting numbers not mentioned in your analysis.

C4SR said...

Edmondston was elected in early 1990, a period of great malaise in the party and an ongoing ugly leadership race.

Mulcair, on paper, is a good candidate, if those people who vote NDP in Quebec are looking for a recycled Liberal to represent them.

Alternatively, a recycled Liberal may be appear a safer choice than the friend of Chavez who ran as the NDP representative in Outremont in the last federal election.

Alternatively, the small sample in the Environics poll in Montreal may mean the poll means absolutely nothing statistically significant.

Hey, does anybody know if Mulcair remains a federalist or did he give that up when he joined the NDP too?

Anonymous said...


Don't make fun of Lauzon. He is the Trotskyists' and the NDP grassroots'favourite candidate.

burlivespipe said...

mulcair has the ability to make a big splash but he could very much be a headache in the long run for jack'o layton. Had the Liberals picked anyone but Dion, mulcair would be running as a grit. He has a long set animosity towards dion over their heated exchanges while dion was intergovernmental minister. He is has very long liberal roots, but wants to be the front of the parade. He is very confident in his abilities to deliver what would be considered a big boost to NdP colours in Quebec, but Edmondston also carried similar hopes. If Harpor can get that ex-bloc, soft federalist rural and QC vote locked up, he might just be able to put the death knell to the Bloc. Dion, meanwhile, has much work to do. I'm betting he will be more in his element come an election.

Anonymous said...

Mulcair is not respected in QC. He was a poor cabinet Minister and did little in Laval.
If Lapierre can get elected as a Liberal in Outrement anybody can.
Look for a very high profile female candidate!

Steve V said...

"Alternatively, the small sample in the Environics poll in Montreal may mean the poll means absolutely nothing statistically significant."

The MOE is a touch high, but for the province overall it is quite low 2.2. Layton is up 3 (15-18) for best PM, Dion down 2 (12-10).

On another point, the Greens are up to 11% in the province, higher in Montreal, which could help Muclair again, if he can effectively siphon off some votes with his environmental creds. Resigning over a park development has to carry some weight, and if the fight looks close, those Green votes may be key.

The Montreal numbers might be suspect, but if you look at the party breakdowns, it lends some credibility. The Greens score higher than province wide, which you would expect in an urban center, the NDP is well above its provincial average, which follows the urban core we see elsewhere. The Liberals had better hope these numbers are wrong, because at the moment the NDP is tied in Montreal.

Canadian Tar Heel said...

I really liked the post, Steve.

Assuming that political votes are a zero-sum game, then the NDP is gaining at someone else's expense. The obvious choice is the Liberal Party. But I wonder to what extent the more left elements of the Bloc are defecting to the NDP. Are there areas in Montreal mostly in the West or elsewhere?

Steve V said...

"But I wonder to what extent the more left elements of the Bloc are defecting to the NDP."

With the new PQ leader clearly signalling that sovereignty is on the back burner, I wonder how this will play, possibly opening up an opportunity for left voters to flirt with the NDP.

C4SR said...

If you want to look at the party numbers at a granular level, the Tories' weak showing in Montreal, drags their province-wide support down.

As a consequence, if these numbers reflect anything of importance, it is that the Tories are leading or tied with the BQ outside of Greater Montreal.

With the weakness of the Liberals, the Greens and the NDP outside of la metropole, meaningful two-way BQ-Conservative races could develop. And if trends continue, the Tories could win a batch of seats.

Watch where Ministers are going in Quebec. It's not greater Montreal.

Watch where big investments are being announced. It's not greater Montreal.

The Tories know something is going on in Quebec's regions. Their numbers have likely shown positive trends for months.

And that really makes Mulcair an speed bump on the road to the next general election, whether or not that recycled Liberal can win as a New Democrat.

Anonymous said...

"But I wonder to what extent the more left elements of the Bloc are defecting to the NDP. Are there areas in Montreal mostly in the West or elsewhere?"

Note the last provincial election, particularly the ridings where Quebec Solidaire did very well in. These ridings show patterns of some disgruntled PQ-BQ voters moving more left towards the NDP.

Marois is now trying to loosen the ties with Quebec's trade unions in an attempt to shore up the rural vote that is being threatened by the ADQ-CPC. This rightward move of the PQ-BQ will provide ample opportunities for Dion-Justin Trudeau (sorry, can't resist) to consolidate the Quebec left. However, the Dippers will unfortunately get the first crack of this political dynamic.

Lept said...

The figures for the conservatives are what bother me! When will Dion notice that his constant (defensive?) praising of the much disliked Clarity Act are not improving his position in Qu├ębec (every bloody speech as far as I can make out)? The fact that he has surrounded himself with the 'old gang' isn't helping either.
I am becoming really scared that his arrogance is giving Harper his majority.

Anonymous said...

Outside Montreal the Conservative indeed are on the rise but not at the expense of the Liberals. It is the Bloc who are suffering.
Great news for Dion and crew.
Let the Conservs and Bloc split the franco sovereignist vote and the Liberals come up the middle.
Cha ching!

Anonymous said...

I would think more polls would have to come out to get the true picture.

I'm waiting for that, esp SES

Steve V said...

"Let the Conservs and Bloc split the franco sovereignist vote and the Liberals come up the middle.
Cha ching!"

With all due respect, that sounds like desperate spin from here. Can we not just acknowledge the problem, instead of making it sound like the Liberals are right where they want to be? Admitting you have a problem....