Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nova Scotia Election Poll - Outcome becoming clear

There is a new poll out in Nova Scotia today from an unfamiliar name in polling: Nova Insights. The sample size is only 408 but the net outcome of the race is becoming increasingly clear. The NDP will win.

This survey says they are headed to a majority. Here are the numbers and the projection from my seat model (Nova Insights does their own calculation of 30 certain NDP seats with a possible 4 more):

Poll Seats
NDP 45 33
LIB 25 11
PC 24 8

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nova Scotia Election Poll

A new Corporate Research Associates poll out this week reports the NDP continues to lead, with the Liberals and PCs evenly splitting the remainder. The poll numbers translate (in my seat model) into a small majority for the NDP:

Poll Seats
NDP 37% 27
LIB 31% 13
PC 28% 12

A new release from CRA not on their web site yet, but reported in the Chronicle Herald, tells us that 40% see the economy as the leading issue, followed by 33% who say health care. The Liberals have a plurality of 25% as the party best able to handle the economic issue while the NDP is seen by 31% as the party best able to deal with health.

The question going forward is: will the poll numbers cause some PCs to switch to the Liberals to stop the NDP or will the PCs, who are still close to the Liberals, hang on to their partisans, allowing the NDP to win a majority with less than 40% of the vote?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

BC Election - TC's Explanation

There has been an abundance of commentary, much of it off-base, to explain the B.C. results. As it turned out there was almost no change from four years ago. In any event what determined the outcome in TC's view was largely the context, not the parties' campaigns: we are still mired into the deepest economic downturn since the thirties and we aren't getting out of it any time soon.

Indeed the polls confirmed that the economy (meaning the downturn) was far and away the number one issue. The polls also made it clear, for example this Mustel survey on page 2 and this Angus Reid poll on page 10, that the Campbell Liberals were seen as those best able to deal with the economy.

The local analyst who seemed best able to state the obvious was Vancouver Sun political columnist Vaughn Palmer, who wrote on the day after:
From start to finish in the 2009 election campaign, B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Campbell never wavered in his definition of the ballot box question.

“Ask yourself: Who is best able to lead us through troubled economic times?”

He pitched 100 variations on those words, but the message was always the same: Don’t risk a change of government in an economic downturn.

The polls, even those that put the New Democratic Party in a competitive position, suggested that voters agreed with the way the Liberals framed the campaign.

The economy was top of mind and the Liberals were the best choice to manage it.

In general small 'c' conservative parties have an advantage in perceptions of economic competence but it is not absolute. In BC's case the Liberal advantage was likely strengthened by lingering suspicions of the NDP dating from the Glen Clark era. What destroyed Clark was the fact that the fiscal situation of his government turned out to be much worse than he would acknowledge on the eve of the 1996 election.

It seems to TC that the shoe may now be on the other foot. The deteriorating economy could cause permanent political damage to his government. This downturn remains in its relatively early stages. Its full political consequences have yet to reveal themselves. When they do, don't count on Campbell being able to maintain a public image of economic competence, even if there is a strong economic recovery by 2013.

The Green Vote

A key error made by the NDP, although it probably did not have a material impact on the outcome, was their decision to oppose the carbon tax. TC discussed this earlier. The NDP faces potential negative consequences in the longer term because there is a large small 'g' green vote in BC that will continue to matter one way or another. TC did some analysis of the Green Party vote and discovered that, like NDP voters have done in federal elections, many Greens cast a strategic ballot this time, voting for their second choice in close races. The evidence for this can be seen by comparing the average Green vote to the margin between the top two parties, (in almost all cases the top two finishers were either Liberal or NDP).

This table tells the tale:

Margin Average Green Vote
0 to 10% 6.9%
10 to 20% 7.25%
20 to 30% 8.6%
30% + 9.1%

The closer the race, the smaller the Green vote. While there was considerable variation, the correlation evident in the table can mean only one thing. The second choices of Green voters matter a great deal - something for the NDP to ponder in the future in BC and elsewhere.

Monday, May 11, 2009

BC Election - A Conundrum

The BC election gives every appearance of being a Liberal win - all the polls have the Liberals ahead (although Angus Reid gives them a very narrow lead), and all the predictions forecast a Liberal majority save for the Election Prediction Project, which has the Liberals with a 41-37 seat lead but with 7 seats too close to call.

What started as a big Liberal lead tightened up, especially after the debate, which was clearly won by Carole James. Possibly the impact has not endured. There is some distance between all the polls and voting day. Although most predictions suggest a big Liberal victory, the anecdotal evidence suggests enough tightening to make the outcome close.

However, it would be unprecedented for all the polls and predictions by local observers to miss the direction of the election even if they are wide of the mark on the details.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Nova Scotia Election: Possible NDP Win?

The Nova Scotia election called for June 9 is an interesting contest. Polls and election returns in recent years have reported a more pronounced three way split in support than in any other province. For example, in the 2008 federal election the results were: Conservatives 26.1%, Liberals 29.8%, NDP 28.9%, Green 8% and the presence of independent Bill Casey, a former Conservative MP, gave Other an overall total of 7%.

The most recent of public opinion poll by Corporate Research Associates suggests a possible NDP victory. My seat estimate based on this poll is that, if it were replicated on election day, it would produce an NDP minority government just shy of a majority:

Poll 31% 30% 36%
Seats 13 14 25

Since the early nineties the NDP has been growing in strength here, boosted in part by the breakthrough made in federal politics made by Alexa McDonough in 1997. However, this is the one region that has never had an NDP government. It has long been dominated by the Liberals both federally and provincially while the NDP has been barely present. The NDP has established a significant Atlantic presence in the past 10-15 years including being the dominant party in the Halifax area. At a time when the NDP faces significant strategic voting pressures elsewhere, Atlantic Canada may be on cusp of establishing a new regional political dynamic.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ignatieff is the Liberal leader: when is the campaign?

TC has now put together an average of all the spring 2009 polls. These consist of seven national surveys each conducted by a different firm, and released between the March 30 and May 2. It also incorporates the CROP poll out this week that has the Liberals leading in Quebec.

The outcome tells us the Liberals have gained about nine points overall since the October 2008 election with about six points of that coming from the Conservatives and three points from the NDP. The Liberals come out on top, but would today fall short of the 2004 victory of Paul Martin.

Seven National Polls - Spring 2009

C.P.C. Liberal NDP Green Bloc Total
CANADA 32 35 15 8 10 100
Atlantic 29 42 23 5 0 100
Quebec 12 33 10 5 39 100
Ontario 34 42 14 9 0 100
Man/Sask 47 27 19 5 0 100
Alta. 59 19 10 11 0 100
B.C. 35 30 23 10 0 100

Constituencies Won

C.P.C. Liberal NDP Green Bloc Total
CANADA 107 128 25 0 47 308
Atlantic 6 21 5 0 0 32
Quebec 4 23 0 0 47 75
Ontario 35 64 7 0 0 106
Man. 8 4 2 0 0 14
Sask 12 2 0 0 0 14
Alta. 27 1 0 0 0 28
B.C. 15 11 10 0 0 36
0 2 1 0 0 3

It is clear that none of the opposition parties have any appetite for a spring election (and there are two provincial elections just ahead, one in BC on May 12 and another likely in Nova Scotia). While the Ottawa pundits have focused on the opposition, it is clear that Liberal strategy does not foresee an electoral contest before the fall. While all three opposition parties must cooperate to bring down the government, attention has now focused on the NDP and the Bloc.

The NDP would not support the government (NDP supporters despise Harper) and, while the Bloc has in the past voted once for a Harper budget, it is by no means certain they would vote to support Harper when the first confidence vote comes in the fall.

The government itself can postpone a confidence vote until late autumn. Even if they avoid one then, Harper will have to deliver a budget by February 2010. TC's guess is that, if they get that far, the government will fall on the budget, and there will be an election with Ignatieff the winner of the electoral contest but without a majority. The combination of the Liberals and NDP is two votes short of a majority in the table above. Although there hasn't been a sustained NDP-Liberal working arrangement, coalition, call it what you will, since 1972-74, that does seem to be the most likely outcome of the next campaign.