NDP in first place, Bloc up thanks to Duceppe

As previously discussed on this site, the NDP is on the rise federally. We got a new Ekos poll, as well as a Forum and a rare Angus-Reid. They all confirm Mulcair and his party are first and would be favorite to win an election tomorrow.

Forum and Ekos also agree that the Bloc is up after the return of Gilles Duceppe. However, his comeback doesn't make everyone happy. I'll get back to this late further down.

Doing projections outside of an election period is tricky. We have few polls, they are released with gaps in between and not all firms provide some. In particular, Forum and Ekos are more active and these are two firms who tend to have the Liberals and/or NDP slightly higher. All that to say that you need to remain cautious. Nevertheless, let's average these three polls and see what we get.

Voting intentions; Seat projections with 95% confidence intervals; Chances of winning most seats

The detailed, riding-by-riding projections are here. As usual, you can use the simulator.

As you can see, the NDP would be favorite to win the most seats. A majority is still out of reach and it's mostly because of Ontario. While the party is definitely higher there than in the past (including 2011) and actually first in some polls, its vote is still too inefficient to win the most seats. If I only use the Forum poll (more favorable to the NDP), I get that the NDP has a 0.2% chance of getting 169 seats or more. Using the average? 0%.

If there isn't much uncertainty regarding a majority (for any party), the race itself is wide open with all three parties potentially capable of forming the next government (assuming whoever wins the most seats gets to do that, which isn't a sure case this time around). It's obviously a very long shot for the Liberals right now, but not impossible.

Quebec in particular is a battlefield with the Liberals, Bloc and NDP pretty much all tied statistically and the Conservatives not that far behind. The Bloc is definitely up and is now sitting around 25% thanks to the return of Duceppe. The question obviously is to know if this party will remain there (or even climb higher). Ekos has interesting data about that. When asked in they were more or less likely to support the Bloc, you actually have more people who said less likely (38%) than more (27%)! This might seem contradictory with the fact that this party is up. Breaking this down by party, we see that Bloc voters are much more likely to vote Bloc with Duceppe as leader (63% more, 20% less). On the other hand, Conservatives are significantly less likely (56% less, 10% more). So are the Liberals and NDP. What this shows is that the people for whom Duceppe's return could influence their vote have already switched back to the Bloc. Also, keep in mind that there is a difference between being less likely to support a party and actually not supporting it. Some voters might have preferred for Beaulieu to stay (and/or Duceppe not to return) but they'll still vote Bloc.

These numbers do show however that Bloc supporters shouldn't expect this bump to push them much higher than 25%. There isn't that much potential left, if at all. I suspect that the Bloc will be back to 20% relatively soon but this is purely a guess.

The Bloc is now projected with between 7 and 28 seats. They are back to being competitive in many ridings (if you look at the pdf, there are only 21 ridings where this party has 0% of winning). The NDP is still favorite to win the most seats in la Belle Province (over 90% chances) but their lead is shrinking. Some ridings have a four way race. For instance Louis-Hébert.

The NDP is clearly feeling the impact of Duceppe's comeback. Indeed, Quebec is now their worst province! They are above 30% in every other one, which is pretty crazy if you think about it. Over the last few weeks, they have in particular increased significantly in the Atlantic and in Alberta. The former being really bad news for the Liberals as it means they are losing ground in the one region they were dominating.

Speaking of the Liberals and Justin Trudeau, the situation isn't hopeless. At the same time, there is no denying that they are losing steam and it remains to be seen if the recent announcements of comprehensive reforms (including the electoral system) can really change their fate. At least the fall appears to have stopped if we are to believe Ekos.

The Conservatives have been running negative ads against Trudeau for some time now. I'm really curious to see if they'll start attacking Mulcair more. Right now, Harper and the CPC are still in a relatively good position. They could well win the most seats thanks to a vote that is more efficient.
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One has to wonder how they could realistically govern with such a small minority (under 120 seats) and with LPC+NDP having a majority. We already know (from other polls) that the NDP and LPC voters are okay with a coalition and their second choices explain why. Indeed, among Liberals, 42% have the NDP as second choice and only 11% have the CPC (36% have no choice). For the NDP voters, it's 40% Liberals as second choice, 15% Green and 31% none. So really, Liberals and NDP do share a pool of voters. Notice however a big difference between these two groups. Forum consistently shows that while Liberals supporters have a positive perception of Mulcair, it's not the same for Trudeau and the NDP voters.

In conclusion, the NDP continues to confound expectations by being first. Gilles Duceppe's return might mean less seats in Quebec, but thanks to increases in other provinces, that might not matter much. BC in particular looks very promising for Thomas Mulcair.

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