Saturday, January 24, 2004

New National Reid Poll

The Ipsos-Reid poll released today gives the Liberals an enormous lead: L – 48%, Cons – 19%, NDP – 16%, BQ – 10% (39% in Quebec) and 8% for others including 4% that is Green.

The poll still reports relatively strong support for the new Conservative party in Atlantic Canada at 37% compared to a PC + CA total of 41.5% in 2000. The new party is much closer to its 2000 total here than nationally where the current Reid national number of 19% is a huge drop from the Canada-wide PC + CA total of 37.7% in the last election.

This result, at first glance, seems counterintuitive. The likely explanation in my view continues to be (see my earlier posting on the December Reid poll) that the Conservative brand name is still strong in the Atlantic provinces, where one suspects many voters have not quite caught on to the idea being expressed widely that the new party is an Alliance takeover. This implies that the poll is overstating Conservative support here.

However, the new party’s numbers in some western provinces, notably B.C. (where they are only at 20%), are very weak, probably reflecting a negative impact from the Conservative brand name.

The Martin tilt to the right does seem to be bringing New Democrats home – after winning 20% in 1988 NDP support more or less collapsed in the 90’s partly as a consequence of weak leadership and unpopular provincial governments in B.C. and Ontario, but also as a consequence of fear of the Reform Party and the Alliance. My impression is that the Martin shift to the right combined with a perception that the new Conservative Party is a weakling is bringing NDP support home. My guess is that the poll overstates Green support and understates NDP support. Reid added the Greens to its ballot question about eighteen months ago for valid reasons (many respondents were volunteering the name), but since then Jack Layton has been busily wooing leading Greens into NDP ranks. The full effects of that strategy, however, won’t become apparent until after an election is called.

Using my forecast model based on the 2000 boundaries, I get the following results.

L – 208
Cons – 39
NDP – 20
BQ – 34

Once I have updated the forecast model with the transposed results I will post the new numbers.

Despite their large gains in popular support compared to the last election, the NDP’s gains are modest and will remain so as long as the Liberals’ popularity remains so strong.

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