Thursday, November 12, 2009

Conservatives still lead Liberals by ten percentage points.

The movements do not seem large towards any party although the Conservatives seem a bit better in Quebec. In some of the western provinces the NDP seems to be picking up a bit. Within a week however there is not likely to be much change. Certainly the Liberals are now as quiet as can be about bringing down the Conservatives! Ignatieff just does not seem to be doing anything much to improve Liberal fortunes. The strategy must be to rely on Harper defeating himself by some missteps. But Harper is a seasoned politician and perhaps he has learned a little from past missteps. He hasn't as yet used his lead to taunt the Liberals into a position where they cannot back out. This is from CBC.

EKOS Weekly: Ooh, look - it's a perfect ten!
By Kady O'Malley
A perfect ten point lead that the Conservatives have over their nearest rivals, that is, which is still the Liberals, just to be clear. We've almost hit that point in the narrative cycle during which the occasional pundit will start to predict that within a year, the prophecy will have come to pass and the NDP will leapfrog the Liberals to take over second place -- which, of course, as far as certain western provinces go, has already happened in the recent and not so recent past, is happening right now, and will almost certainly keep happening, on an on again off again basis. So far, it hasn't yet resulted in an irreparable rent to the fabric of the political universe, but hey -- you never know.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, the top line numbers, so often imbued with grave portent despite the fact that they may as well be the product of a random pi sequence generator without the accompanying regional breakdowns:

Conservatives: 36.6 (-0.8)
Liberals: 26.6 (-0.2)
NDP: 16.8 (+0.5)
Green: 11.2 (+1.2)
Bloc Quebecois (in Quebec): 35.6 (-2.0)
Undecided: 16.6 (+0.6)

Yeah, not much change from last week, really. Both front-runner parties went down -- the Conservatives by nearly a full percentage point, the Liberals by a more modest, but undoubtedly still slightly Donoloian hope-deflating 0.2 percent. The NDP fortunes, meanwhile, rose by a half percent pickup, although like every other change between this week and last, that is, of course, well within the margin of error. Still, you know which side of that MoE a party would prefer to be on, given their druthers.

To find out just where the various parties are losing -- or, in a couple of cases, gaining -- steam, we have to turn to the regional breakdowns, of course. Therein, presumably, lies the tale -- or a tale, at least:

British Columbia (MoE 5.53)
Conservatives: 36.8 (-5.0)
NDP: 25.3 (-)
Liberals: 24.1 (+4.0)
Green: 13.8 (+1.0)

Alberta (MoE 5.59)
Conservatives: 58.2 (-4.6)
Liberals: 17.9 (+0.4)
Green: 12.3 (+2.4)
NDP: 11.6 (+1.8)

Saskatchewan/Manitoba (MoE 7.13)
Conservatives: 44.2 (-4.1)
NDP: 28.8 (+5.6)
Liberals: 16.3 (-3.3)
Green: 10.7 (+1.1)

Okay , let's interrupt this fascinating series of numbers to point out that -- hey, do you notice what may be the start of a trend out west? I mean, last week, we were all snickering -- yes, I said 'we', don't feign innocence, fellow armchair pollcrunchers -- over those soaring Liberal numbers in Alberta, but honestly, if you were to present these results to a just-arrived interplanetary delegation of intelligent alien lifeforms, and ask them what their first thought was, they'd politely observe out that these "Conservatives" appear to be on the verge of maybe possibly eventually having a teeny tiny problem out west.

Although really, given the geographically quirky nature of Canadian politics, and the way the votes split, the fact that both the NDP and the Liberals are gaining, and holding, respectively does not necessarily augur future electoral unpleasantness for the government. Well, except in those ridings -- like, for instance, decent-sized chunks of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba -- where the Liberals are firmly out of contention, and a configuration like this could actually result in the Conservatives losing a few seats to the NDP. (I'd advise against explaining all this to the alien delegation, by the way; it's hard enough for the rest of us to get our heads around the concept, and we haven't even gotten to Quebec.)

Really, though, Alberta. Oh, Alberta. What's gotten into you lately? The Conservatives have been consistently polling below their usual 60 percent for weeks. Are you taking your discontent with Ed Stelmach out on poor Stephen Harper? Have you confused the Green Party with the Wild Rose upstart, given that both have botanically-themed names? If you keep this up, Alberta might actually become interesting on a federal level, which hasn't happened in -- possibly ever.

Alright, back to your regularly scheduled stream of raw numbers, followed by my thoughts:

Ontario (MoE 3.00)
Conservatives: 39.2 (-0.4)
Liberals: 33.8 (+0.2)
NDP: 15.5 (-0.3)
Green: 11.6 (+0.6)

Quebec (MoE 3.45)
Bloc Quebecois: 35.6 (-2.0)
Conservatives: 21.7 (+2.1)
Liberals: 21.3 (-3.0)
NDP: 10.7 (-0.3)
Green: 10.6 (+3.0)

Atlantic Canada (MoE 6.93)
Conservatives: 36.5 (+3.1)
Liberals: 32.8 (-0.1)
NDP: 25.3 (+0.4)
Green: 5.5 (-3.3)

Not much going on in Ontario, really -- a barely imperceptible decline for the Conservatives and the NDP; a statistically insignificant upward blip for the Liberals and the Green Party.

Quebec is, at least, a soupcon more interesting -- the Conservatives are back at the high point of their traditional high teens/low twenties territory, and the Liberals have slid again, but the most noteworthy number is that of the Bloc Quebecois, which -- what with this, and that unfortunate byelection result in Riviere du loup -- may be forced to start actually campaigning, instead of just showing up on election day to collect their winnings.

That said, remember how mercurial the splits can be out west? Well, it's sort of the same in Quebec, only the rule of thumb tends to favour Team Sovereignty when there are two (or more) federalist options of relatively equal strength, so perhaps Gilles Duceppe can keep doing whatever it is he does while the other party leaders are fretting and fussing.

And finally, there is Atlantic Canada, which, up until fairly recently, appeared to be the last bastion of stalwart Liberal support in the country, yet now seems to be a three(ish) way race. Without more detailed provincial breakdowns -- and yes, I know that's not feasible, what with the incalculably huge margin of error that would result -- it's impossible to know whether this represents an overall warming of sentiment towards the Conservatives out east, or if New Brunswick is turning into a tiny, Maritime-themed Alberta, but still. Any way you slice it, there's no good news for the Liberals here.

Alright, those are my musings -- you can rebut them, or post your own in the comments, with bonus points for not being boringly partisan!

Oh, and just an administrative note: this week's bonus round is all about H1N1. To be honest, I'm not sure if it really tells us anything new -- Canadians seem to be distinctly underwhelmed by the performance of the government their governments thus far, and are split on whether to be vaccinated or not -- but if you find anything noteworthy in the data, feel free to share it.

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