Tuesday, August 14, 2007

19 Times Out Of 20

Even the most respected pollster, statistically is bound to miss the mark. I would characterize polling guru Nik Nanos' latest SES offering as curious. The horserace numbers:
Cons 36% (+4)
Libs 33% (unchanged)
NDP 13% (-4)
Greens 8% (-2)
Bloc 9% (+1)

This is the only poll I have seen in months that puts the NDP this low. As a matter of fact, every other polling outfit has shown the NDP to be the only party with any momentum. I also am somewhat puzzled at the SES regional numbers for the NDP, particularly Quebec and Ontario:
NDP 7% (-6)

NDP 12% (-7)

Again, SES appears to be an outlier, because other outfits show no such erosion. I have a hard time accepting such a big dive for the NDP, in such a short time, given the lack of a crisis or negative coverage. Again, other polls show the NDP fortunes on the rise in Quebec, and no downfall in Ontario. When you apparently stumble this bad, there should be a glaring, rational explanation. What that could be eludes me, hence my scepticism.

There is some good news for the Liberals, particularly Dion's leadership numbers on the question of best PM (up 8 to 23%). Having said that, I have a hard time buying this outrageous surge in support:
33% Dion best PM (+18)

This figure screams fishy. If you take SES as fact, you could reasonably conclude that Dion has closed the leadership gap. Let's hope Liberal strategists put this poll to the smell test. Phew.

SES is the most historically reliable outfit, but on this release something just seems wrong IMHO.


No surprise, which blogger smells a rose, a big, red one :)


Oxford County Liberals said...

Ok.. so the pollster who is most widely regarded as being the most accurate for trends and polling is fishy, but the Angus-Reid online polls with questionable polling data are somehow indicative of trends?

Be consistent, Steve.
;) (Don't take it personally.. just pulling your chain).

By the way., its 33% Liberals unchanged, not 32.

Steve V said...

Oops :)

Anonymous said...

The interpretation according to Nanos is that Dion is gaining popularity at the expense of Layton. People are now blaming Layton for putting Harper in power. As Harper's popularity erodes further, there is no doubt that Layton takes some heat.

Steve V said...

"People are now blaming Layton for putting Harper in power. As Harper's popularity erodes further, there is no doubt that Layton takes some heat"

I think that applied to last fall and early this year, when Layton seemed more content to usurp than the Liberal than oppose. It was at that time that the NDP seemed to be fading, but since then the NDP has been far more critical of the government, which seemed to coincide with an uptick. I don't see the co-relation in this poll.

Anonymous said...

"I think that applied to last fall and early this year, when Layton seemed more content to usurp than the Liberal than oppose."

It was at that time that some Dipper voters were moving to the Greens. Nathan Cullen's parliamentary moves with regards to Kyoto helped the Dippers somewhat in the spring. Now Dion is gaining from Layton.

I subscribe this to a quiet summer for the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The NDP needs the anti-war vote and opposition to Security and Prosperity Pact to carve its political niche. Liberals gain if these issues are somewhat neutralized.

Steve V said...


Fair enough, but I'm choosing to dismiss the NDP findings here, until someone else substantiates them. Same thing, as it applies to Dion, although I don't doubt some upward movement.

Jason Cherniak said...

The support numbers are in the same range as they have been for the past few months. That isn't out of the ordinary at all.

The explanation for the NDP seems simply to me - without Parliament sitting, Layton hasn't been getting media and people are reverting to their more traditional party preferences.

Jason Cherniak said...

By "support numbers", I mean vote intention.

Steve V said...


I didn't mean to single you out, but do you really believe Dion has surged, using the same logic of summer recess? If the NDP stalls because of lack of exposure, how is then that Dion more than DOUBLES his numbers, even though conventional wisdom assumes a L of O has a hard time being heard during recess? It just doesn't jive, particularly when you look at other polls, which show nothing of the sort, both on the NDP and the Dion front. Dion's numbers might be up, but this is just outlandish, relatively speaking. I wouldn't put any stock in this poll, SES or not, it looks an outlier from here.

Anonymous said...

Dion's "surge" may have to do with the fact that Parliament is no longer sitting. Besides, he has done a lot of local media. I saw him on a Quebec talk show one evening, and he was rather entertaining.
Dion is better in non-adversial formats. Question period kills him.

Anonymous said...


Jason Cherniak said...

Dion's been traveling the province, meeting individual groups and earning local media.

Anonymous said...

Summer polls can always be a little funny. Perhaps the intelligencia have left the building so to speak. I believe SES's methodology to be quite good. On line polls are just plain junk. They should never be quoted or used. Absolute drivel. I can go to ten different computers and vote ten different times or just erase my cookies repeatedly. Even if they aren't abused they only oll people who are online and chose to participate, not a reflective cross-section of the pop at large. Utter garbage. They mean nothing.

Steve V said...


The NDP hasn't exactly been silent in Quebec recently. If, these numbers are accurate, this is the most successful summer tour for an opposition leader since confederation. It's a bad, fishy number, and I say that so no one gets complacent.

Steve V said...


There is a difference between a dumb poll on a website, and online polling. I don't want to get sidetracked (Scott :)), because I actually agree about SES, I just think this is the one that got away. As the title suggests, they don't say 19 out of 20 on the poll just for kicks.

burlivespipe said...

I don't quibble with your questioning, and no doubt Nanos is equally possible for a whiff poll; however, i believe the ndp numbers in Ontario may take a drop through the confusion factor, especially with a provincial election on the horizon.
More people may be just dismissive of the ndp in that province because they are thinking at the same time of Queen's Park, not Ottawa.
As to Quebec, it could be possible that Dion's work en francais is building momentum that us anglos wouldn't know about.
But like you, i'll take this with a few grains of sand.

Anonymous said...


ottlib said...


This poll is by no means surprising or extraordinary. Neither is it fishy. It is a typical late summer poll.

The rise of the Conservatives can be explained by the incumbent advantage. I knew it would rear its head eventually and so it has.

The loss of the NDP can be explained by the fact the NDP has all but disappeared since the House rose. It is a fact in Canadian politics that the NDP needs the constant attention it can garner when the House is sitting to maintain its support. When they lose that they fade. It has happened more times than I can remember. They will benefit from an upsurge again in the Fall.

With regard to Mr. Dion's upswing I would submit that his numbers were artificially low to begin with and they were bound to go back up as a matter of course. As well, another fact of Canadian politics is Canadians generally believe that there are only two Parties that can form the government, the Conservatives and the Liberals. (A fact that makes NDP partisans have a conniption.)

So combine those two facts and you have a slide in NDP fortunes and an upswing in Mr. Dion's fortunes despite no startling event that would cause such a situation. Indeed, I would argue that it is the lack of that startling event that had lead to the situation this poll demonstrates.

All in all, this poll indicates that not much has really changed on the Canadian political scene since the last election.

Steve V said...


If you look at the SES poll for the same period last year, the NDP didn't fade, the Liberals actually rose and the Conservatives tailed off. Last year, we had the leadership campaign, an actual "new" government, sucking all the political oxygen, and yet the NDP held statistically firm. If we take the same period, 2 years ago, the NDP support rose, 3 years ago steady, 4 years ago rose.

ottlib said...

Last year we had the Lebanon fiasco which allowed everybody and their brother to get face time with the media.

The two years before that were election years, the media was hot and bothered throughout both and they never let any federal leader have any peace.

The Dippers faded during the last recess in the winter. The reason is Mr. Layton was competing for the attention with the Green Party.

When there in no extraordinary event during the Parliamentary recess to spark the media and the public Canadian politics reverts to it old forms. That includes the fading of the NDP. It is usually temporary and I expect the NDP to bounce back this Fall.

Steve V said...

We agree to disagree :)

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

SES is actually one of the most accurate and was the closest on the mark the last election. The low NDP numbers compared to others could be based on methodology as many people may have the NDP as their first choice, but if the election is close they will go for their second choice, to block the other guy.

I also believe that Dion's personal numbers will rise as more people get to know him.