New Mainstreet poll shows a huge Conservative lead

The fact that Nanos is the only firm providing daily updates is annoying. It means they effectively dictate a lot of the coverage about the horse race in this campaign. And this is a little bit absurd because Nanos only polls 400 respondents every day. So really, there is no point in comparing Nanos' numbers of yesterday and today. I have nothing against Nanos - I consider them as one of the best polling firms in this country and regret they don't poll more often. But it can create a false narrative. [Note: I didn't mean to imply that Nanos only has 400 observations. They do a rolling average. What I meant is that every day, they remove 400 and add 400. So it's pretty pointless to compare Nanos' numbers on a daily basis. You need to wait every three days before it makes sense. Unfortunately, that's not what a lot of people do and they'll compare the Liberals in Ontario yesterday and today for instance]

Why am I talking about this? Because Nanos has shown an important (and increasing) lead nationally for the Liberals for a few days. Therefore a lot of people believe that this is the current trend. A lot of people are discarding the polls showing a big CPC lead (namely Angus-Reid, Forum and Ekos) because they are slightly older.

This is correct if there was really a quick shift in voting intentions. But Ipsos yesterday and Mainstreet this morning show that it's most likely not the case. Ipsos actually shows the CPC slightly increasing, albeit not significantly. Mainstreet's numbers are more shocking. The Conservatives are ahead with 37% of the votes among leaning and decided voters. Liberals are at 29% while the NDP is now far behind at 24%. [Note: some have rightly pointed out that the Mainstreet poll was conducted on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. They thus waited a very long time to publish it. When I ask the CEO on Twitter why they did this, he said that was the schedule... So technically, if the Liberals are really up in the last few days, it's possible Nanos is actually the only one right]

Not only do the Tories have the lead, they would be 10 points ahead in Ontario! This means that a majority couldn't be excluded. Specifically, using this poll only, I'd get 153 CPC, 87 Liberals and 96 NDP. The probability of a Tory majority would be 6.6%. Yes, that's right, we have a poll showing a chance for a majority. It's only one poll, but still. And while some polls can sometimes look like outliers, it's still nice that they are published. At least we can avoid surprises like in the UK last year.

Look, I'm not saying Mainstreet is right and Nanos is wrong (I believe the truth is in the middle). All I'm saying is that the poll average doesn't and shouldn't show the Liberals in first place. Also, yes some polls show a close race or a small lead for the Grits (Leger, Innovative) but others show a large CPC lead. It's possible one group of pollsters is right and the other is off. We had a similar situation in Ontario last year. It remains that even polls that are favourable to the Liberals at best show a close race in terms of seats. While polls favouring the Tories show them close to a majority.

Mainstreet also shows, unsurprisingly, that Conservatives voters are the most committed.

If you want to pick your polling firm, go ahead. I'll personally keep averaging. And doing so shows me that Stephen Harper is really well positioned to win the most seats. I would advise against discarding polls simply because the results don't please you.

I'm also covering this Mainstreet poll because it contains a lot of questions beside the voting intentions. For instance, we learn that 61% of Canadians are against being allowed to wear the Niqab for a citizenship ceremony. And no, this isn't only in Quebec. Although with 70% of people against it, this is the province the least tolerant of wearing this religious sign.

I'm especially interested in the questions regarding what should happen if Harper doesn't win a majority. We learn that public opinion is evenly split (42% on each side, 16% unsure) regarding a Liberals-NDP coalition. Support is the highest in Quebec (50%) and the lowest in Alberta (18%). In Ontario, it's a tie.

The follow up question is even more interesting. If Harper forms the government and is defeated at the House of Commons, 47% of people would want another party to try, while 26% would prefer another election.

So, people seem to think that whoever wins the most seats should at least get to try. And if it fails, then the other party(ies) can try. This is, quite honestly, a position that makes a lot of sense.

We'll likely get a new Forum tomorrow and a new Ekos soon. Throw another Abacus in and we'll be able to better judge the current situation. I think the only thing pollsters agree on is that the NDP is falling. But beyond this, and especially in Ontario, there is a lot of disagreement.