New (huge) Angus-Reid poll: Conservative majority

I think for the first time since I'm doing projections on this site, we have a new Angus-Reid poll (with a massive sample size, online though) giving a majority to the Tories when used in my model. While the overall votes intentions are somewhat similar to other recent polls, the big difference is the big lead the CPC enjoys in Ontario (43% vs 30% for the Liberals). Moreover, the Tories could get an even bigger majority by winning a lotof close races.

This poll also has the merit to provide estimates for every province, even the four Atlantic ones. This is nice information but not really helpful for my model since this one works at the regional level for the Atlantic or the Prairies (because usually we never have polls for PEI for instance). I'm still a little bit skeptical of some of the numbers in Atlantic Canada. For instance, the NDP would be 10 points below its results last election. That's a huge drop. Also, please remember that I'm assuming that all the "weird" efffects of the 2008 campaing (the ABC, St-John East for NDP, Cumberland for the Tories, etc) are either gone or halfway gone (for ABC for instance). It does affect the number of seats, especially for the Conservatives.

Overall this poll is just more bad news for the Liberals. And I now think that Harper must be thinking of the best way to not pass his budget. It's not that easy, because he needs an issue that would force all three opposition parties to vote against and take him down, but this issue has to be defendable during a campaing. If you ask me, coming back with abolishing public funding to political parties is probably the best way for Harper. Not only would all parties have to take him down, but this policy is not impopular if you look at the polls.

New model, with Alberta/Prairies split

Until now, my model was merging Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan together. I was alllowing the coeffecient to vary depending on the province though. I decided to change that and to estimate the model for Alberta and the Praires separately. I used to merge the two because I was favouring the polls from Nanos and this pollster combines Alberta and the Prairies. But since I'm now using an average of all the recent polls, I don't need to do that anymore. Moreover, while Alberta seems pretty stable in recent years (with a complete domination of the Tories), Man/Sask experienced bigger variations from the other parties, in particular the Liberals. The new model is projecting more seats for the Liberals in the Prairies. SOmething that makes sense since the LPC increased from 17% to 24% in this region, while both the CPC and NDP fell

The new model is thus used for those projections and you can also use the new model yourself. Let me know if you find a problem.

Some comments about those latest projections. It's almost sad: more than 2 years after the last election, a lot of talk, a lot of ads, and where are we now? At almost the very same situations! Of course, the difference being that the Conservatives would start a campaign projected at 10 seats shy from a majority, something that hasn't been the case in the past. But still, things are pretty stable. However, this overall stability hides some real variations at the province-level. For instance, the CPC is now stronger than ever in Ontario but has declined a little bit in the West.

I'm still predicting no elections this spring. There will be a lot of noise around the budget, but at the end, one party will pass it along the Tories. Or this party will simply not have enough MPs for the vote. I'm predicting this party to be the NDP who will jump on the first measure they could back.

New Nanos poll: comparison with 308

We finally got a new Nanos poll and the numbers are good (again) for the Conservatives. Overall, if added to the average with the other recent polls, the results remain similar: CPC around 146 seats, with a potential majority if a lot of close races won. The Liberals and NDP would basically not change much as opposed to the current House of Common.

But what if I only use the Nanos poll? The results are displayed as the picture of this post. The CPC would be very, very close to a majority. But the NDP would end up with 36 seats. How is that possible? after all, with the same poll, 308 would predict only 28 seats NDP seats. Well, again, two models, two methodologies. But in this case, I have to wonder: how on earth could the NDP lose seats with this new poll? After all, if we compare this poll to the 2008 results, we see:

- The NDP is up nationally.
- More importantly, in Ontario: the Tories are down (slightly), the Liberals are down and the NDP is up to 23.4%! Yet, according to 308, that would translate into only one gain for the NDP?? This seems pretty low to me.
- The Liberals are down almost everywhere. In particular they are down in Atlantic Canada, a region where they won a lot of seats. They are down in Ontario, and we know that you win elections by being high where the people are. Then they are up in the Prairies and BC, but still way too far from the Tories to expect to make bug gains. So there too, I have a hard time believing the Liberals would actually gain 7-8 seats if this poll was true.

So even when accounting for the drop of this party in the Prairies and in BC, I really fail to understand how the NDP could be projected so low (the NDP is down in the Atlantic as well, but all their seats won there were with a big enough margin). But of course, the problem for both our models is that we never saw the NDP as high as 23.4% in Ontario, so we don't really know what would happen. Still, I have a hard time explaining a 5-points gain in the great Ontario and only one more seat won. Especially when we know that with our current electoral system, the "winning-zone" is when a aprty approaches the 25% mark.

What do you think? Would the NDP gain more than 1 seat in this province with 23.5% of the vote? By the way, here is the pdf for every riding. Let me know if you find mistakes (again, especially for Ontario, we are in extrapolations territory and the model is thus more likely to make mistakes).

Latest federal projections (and a note about the NDP) [Updated with HD poll)

More good news for the Tories (or more job for them to dismiss the polls in the medias). After the Ekos poll showing a big lead for the Conservatives, we now have some kind of confirmation with the latest Ipsos poll showing a very similar lead. Those projections use those two polls. Here are some comments.

[update for the Harris-Decima poll]: 10 points lead for the Conservatives, but the NDP lower in this poll. If I use this poll along with the other two, it gives me: CPC 145, LPC 75, NDP 32, 0 Green (but two races now, including one in BC where HD puts this party really high) and 52 Bloc. The same story remains true though, with the CPC now in reach of a potential majority. Btw, funny to see that Ipsos has the NDP at 30% in BC, while HD has this party at only 19%. I know this is the margin of error, but it shows the importance of averaging polls, especially at the province-level.

While not in the "majority territory", the Tories are getting incredibly close. In particular, if you sum the safe wins (more than 5% margin) and the potentials (within 5% of the leader or leading by less than 5%), you have this party ata max of 162! Of course, for a majority, they would need to win approx. 70% of the close races. This would be a really, really high conversion rate. But let's not miss the big picture here: the polls are really positive for the CPC and really bad for the Liberals. And this is BEFORE being in an actual election. I think it might be important. Let's look at what happenned at the beginning of the last election. The source is the SFU study group on elections.

Prior to the elction, believe or not, Stéphane Dion was actually neck-to-neck with Harper. But then the election started, people started paying attention and the Liberals dropped. And they never recovered. Now let's look at what happened last year when Michael Iggnatieff saif he wanted elections as soons as posible. It happened in the fall:

Again, a surge of the Tories and a drop of the Liberals. Why am I showing you that? Simply because I wouldn't be incredibly surprised to see the same thing happening again. So imagine the potential lead for the Tories if they already are 15 points ahead now? Of course, the opposite is also possible: people will start paying attention to Iggy and will like him. But if the former event happens, remember this post lol

Ok more comments. The Liberals are low everywhere in those two polls. Ipsos is hard on them even in the Atlantic! If I were to use only this poll, the Liberals would hit a low of 67 seats! With those numbers, I really wonder if this party will vote against the budget or not.

Ok let's talk a little bit about the NDP. My competitor (308) always projects this party to be really, really low. On the other hand, DemocraticSpace (not active at the moment though) or myself consistently project this party at around 30 seats or more. Why this difference? Well many things. First of all, even by using simple models such as a uniform-swing model (which, if you read my methodology, is less efficient than my model but still gives a good idea of the overall results), you also get the NDP at more than 30 seats. All that to say that the NDP at 17% today is not the same as the NDP at 17% in 2004. Things have changed, the NDP votes is more concentrated. This is something that 308, without a proper model at the riding-level, cannot take into account.
Secondly, yes the NDP is lower in the votes intentions, but who benefits from this? Not the Liberals, and this is the key here. The party stealing most of the votes is the Green party. And because, as I showed here, the NDP became much more efficient in his votes, this party can afford to lose some votes to the Green. It isn't costing them actual seats, yet. It would be another story if those votes were going to the Liberals. Especially in BC and Ontario. At the end, I believe 308 underestimate the NDP and I overestime it. So just do an average of both.

The Greens are still projected at one seat, in Ontario. But we all know they are overestimated in the polls. So we'll have to wait and see. Finally, not a lot to say about the Bloc. They are still below 40%, but because the federalist parties are almost evenly split, they manage to gain a lot of seats.

The riding-by-riding projections are available here. Don't forget to let me know about the changes for the Atlantic provinces.

Notes about the Atlantic provinces (and why they are tricky to forecast)

Notes about the Atlantic provinces (and why they are tricky to forecast)
I've got a lot of comments for one of my previous post. Those comments were mostly about the Atlantic provinces and whether or not I was right in my forecasting. So I went back to the drawing board and made some (actually needed) adjustments. At the end, I believe my projections are more realistic. But at the end, because of various reasons, forecasting those 4 provinces is still less reliable or accurate than Ontario or Quebec for instance. Here is why:

- One of the problem is that the polls are conducted at the regional level. But the variation is usually different in every province (for instance, it is totally possible that one party increased in one province but decreased in the other one). So right from the start, we are facing a problem hard to overcome. On top of that, even at the regional level, the sample size is usually quite small.

- The big, big problem is the 2008 election where so much things were going on. In NF-L, you had the ABC (Anything But Conservatives) campaign of the former Premier. A campaing that was indeed very successfull. Thus, while the Conservatives did pretty good overall in the Atlantic, they dropped by a lot in this province; Other riding-specific things happened. For instance, the fact that Elisabeth May was running without a Liberal opposition. Or still in NF-L, there was the return of a NDP candidate in the riding of St-John-East which boost this party.
My model (as opposed to the other ones) is able to take into account and estimate those riding-effects. But the real question is more: are those effects still present? For instance, is the ABC campaign gone or not? Will the NDP still enjoy such a high level of support in St-John-East? Or are those effects gone?

- The answer is not clear and almost impossible to really assessed. So at the end, after many tries, I decided to go with a compromise: the effects are halfway gone. Therefore, if the Conservatives were (say) down 30 points in NF-L, they are now down only 15 points. The only effect that is completely accounted for is the Elisabeth May effect, for obvious reasons (for the Liberals, I use the level of support that the model would have predicted if they had run a candidate). Those are arbitrarily choices, I know it. But it seems to work better than assuming that all the effects are still there or that they are completely gone. If you think I'm mistaken, please feel free to let me know by commenting.

- While I use my estimated coefficients for those effects, I decided to go with a uniform-swing model for the remaining of the projections. After many tries, it appeared to me to actually work better. On top of that, for past elections, the Atlantic is one of the region where the uniform model actually performs quite well. I might switch back to a fully-estimated model later on, but for now on, I'll stick with this hybrid model.

So check the lastest projections (there will be new ones later today, using the latest Ipsos poll) and let me know if you think the percentages are more realistic.

New Ekos poll: Conservative majority?

Ekos has released its new poll and it's bad news for the Liberals. They stand at only 24.8%! The Conservative would enjoy pretty much the same level of support as in 2008, but with a bigger lead in Ontario. The NDP would lose votes and seats, but thanks to the drop of the Liberals, they remain mostly constant in term of seats. The Green are projected to win a first seat (Guelph). Before some of you remind me that the Greens are overestimated in the poll, I know that. But I take this poll at face value, simply for a curiosity exercice. Actually the real question is more: how could the NDP win so many more seats than the Green in Ontario, with almost the same percentages? The answer lies of course in the fact that the NDP has established forteresses in this province, something not enjoyed yet by the Greens.

Anyway, for these projections, I'm using only the Ekos poll just to show how high the Conservatives could go with such a favorable poll. They would be really close to a majority. And actually, for the first time since I'm making projections, the total Safe+Potential clearly exceeds 155 for the Tories. They would need a very high ratio of wins in close races though to achieve that. Note that with a uniform swing model, the projections would be 155 for the CPC.

If we see more polls like this one, I would have to re-evaluate the prospect of having elections this spring. Although Harper would need to trigger the elections himself since I don't see the LPC and NDP bringing the government down with such bad numbers.

Here is the pdf. I won't update the "latest Canada projections" because it's only one poll. I'll wait for more numbers from other compagnies.

New Quebec projection: Legermarketing (Feb. 7th)

A new poll from Legermarketing with some interesting questions about the hypothetical new party of Legault. Interesting ti read but I don't make projections for this party (it would be very difficult anyway since we don't have past election's results for that).

The PQ still has the lead but would get a very narrow majority. The Liberals are up 4 points since last time and would make the election night very entertaining. The ADQ is stable and is still the key to another minority government. As for QS, they are not as high as in some previous polls, but would still win a second seat.

I said it before and I'll say it again. To see that the PQ is not able to break the 40% threshold consistently when facing a Liberal party that has been in power for 7 years now and with a hated leader, this is really not a good sign for the separatist party. I don't know if the PQ would do much better with someone else than Marois, I doubt it. It could help in the short term, but nothing else. On top of that, if the members of the PQ thought that QS stole a lot of votes from them last election, imagine next time if QS actually gets as much as 8%.

Just a note: I use a single poll to make the projections for Quebec because of the lack of polls. As opposed to the federal level, we have usually only one poll every month. So I prefer using only this last one. On top of that, the main reason I use an average of all polls for the federal projections is because of small sample sizes by province. Here for Quebec, I don't have this problem.

Here are the details for the projections.

Close races: really not important?

Close races: really not important?
This Monday, the Hill Time online was showing how very few ridings are consistently what we call a close race, i.e: where the winner has a lead of less than 5% over the opponent(s). This is interesting but I do feel it's only half the story.

Of course, it makes sense that a close race last election won't necessarily be one this time around. The main reason? Parties' levels of support change between election. So if a riding was a close race in 2006 in Ontario between the Conservatives and the Liberals when those parties were at respectively 35.1% and 39.9%, it's only logical that the race is over when the same two parties now stand at 39.2% and 33.8%.

Nevertheless, I do think the Hill Time is too quick on dismissing the importance of being a close second during an election. I think what we should really be looking at is whether those close races changed colour the next election. So here are some table for the 2004 to 2008 elections.

2004 close races close win kept in 2006 close in 04, win in 06 net diff.

CPC 36 25 19 8 2
LPC 51 23 5 3 -15
NDP 22 7 7 7 7
Green 0 0 - - -
Bloc 8 2 2 6 6

2006 close races close win kept in 2008 close in 06, win in 08 net diff

CPC 33 18 17 11 10
LPC 44 22 7 3 -12
NDP 13 6 4 5 3
Green 0 0 - - -
Bloc 9 3 1 1 -1

2008 close races close win

CPC 31 17

LPC 29 12

NDP 12 6

Green 0 0

Bloc 10 5

A couple of interesting things here. First of all, notice how inefficient the NDP votes was back in 2004. High enough to put this party in the race in 22 ridings, but only 7 wins? That's a really low rate of convertion. It seems that over the year, the NDP has become much more efficient and that alone could explain why the NDP can actually lose some percentages but actually win more seats (kinda like in BC or Ontario).

Second of all, the Liberals just got destroyed the last two elections. Their losses in previously hot races are huge. By simply looking at those losses, we cna explain 27 out of the 58 seats lost between 2004 and 2008. If you ask me, this is significant. It shows that a lot of the action is actually happening in those close races.

That can also help explaing the rise of the Conservatives. Let's just look at 2008. Out of the 33 ridings where the Conservatives were in the race in 2006, they won 28 of them in 2008! On the other hand, for the Liberals, the numbers are 10 for 44. Don't tell me this didn't have a massive impact of the victory of the Tories.

So to sum up, I agree that being a close race in one election is not necessarily a good predictor of whether this riding will be a hot race next time. But those close races are important and should be watched closely because they are the sources of a lot of the action/changes. Moreover, looking at how the Conservatives are slighlty but surely grabbing more of those previously close races, I wouldn't be surprised if they actually manage to get a majority the next time around. I mean, look at the numbers for 2008. They lost 14 ridings by a margin of less than 5%. With a good riding targeting, this party won't even need to increase its level of support substantially to win this majority. But this is another story.