Monday, February 21, 2011

The recent poll shift

The recent Conservative ad blitz has shifted the polls in the direction of the Harper Conservatives.  However, TC does not perceive this success as foreshadowing a Conservative majority. With all their wealth the Conservatives have had the paid media airwaves to themselves and have reportedly been spending a great deal of money. It moved the polls a few points in their direction. However, the opposition parties, while quiet today, will all be on the air with paid media during the next campaign.

A recent American comparison recommends itself. Meg Whitman, the former CEO and founder of EBay, was defeated in her effort in 2010 to be elected Governor of California despite spending a record $177 million on her campaign, compared to the $36 million spent by her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. Despite being outspent overall Brown matched Whitman's spending on television advertising at the end of the campaign. Her loss was about much more than just money, but the point stands that Conservative television advertising will be much more evenly matched by their opponents during and especially towards the end of the impending Canadian campaign. And other factors will be important as well.

I have averaged three recent polls and came up with a seat estimate of C - 152, L - 78, NDP - 26, BQ - 51 and Other -1. This suggests to me that the opposition parties are likely too far behind for any of them to pull ahead of the Conservatives, but it also doesn't look like we should be anticipating a Conservative majority. We also shouldn't forget that strange and dramatic shifts have happened in the middle of previous campaigns (it is what makes them fun to watch): a Liberal lead in 1984 turned into a PC landslide; Turner almost caught Mulroney in 1988 before falling back; David Peterson started the 1990 campaign way ahead then proceeded to lose to the NDP led by Bob Rae; Jean Chrétien was labeled "yesterday's man" before proceeding to three consecutive majorities. And there have been many other examples of unexpected upsets.