Stephen Harper is winning (UPDATED with late-breaking uncertainty)

It’s worth taking a look at the poll numbers for today and the whole campaign to date


I haven’t written about polls much here on the blog during this campaign. I take polls as significant but transient: they give useful information about the state of play today, but of course the state of play can change. Trends need time to change, however, so the closer you get to election day, the less time trends have to change. You can load a .pdf of all that here.

Salient points:

• The Conservatives have polled above their 2008 election-day share of the national popular vote on every day of this campaign. The stability of the Conservative vote is simply extraordinary. It went from roughly 29% to 36% over the Christmas holidays in 2005-06, notched up a couple of points in 2008, and is now a couple of points higher. That growth is very slow but as a rule of thumb, it doesn’t reverse.

• Regional numbers have bounced around more than that, but not really all that much. The Conservatives have been trending down in Quebec, where they don’t have all that much to lose; arguably trending up in Atlantic Canada, where they haven’t got loads to gain; and recovering from a mid-campaign slump in Ontario. The Liberals trended up fairly steadily in Ontario for the first week, held steady for a while, and have been declining since April 11, the day of the English-language leaders’ debate.

• “Slump” is relative: the Conservatives have polled below their 2008 election-day share of the Ontario popular vote precisely once, on April 13. (Yeah, yeah, it’s a tracking poll, so that’s the day the slump of the previous couple of days was reported. Yeesh. Sticklers.) They’ve been above 2008 levels in the most seat-rich province for the rest of the campaign.

• The Conservatives are polling 9 points higher than their 2008 score in Ontario, the Liberals 5 points lower than their own 2008 level, and the NDP a point lower than theirs. Even with a few losses in Quebec, that will surely be enough to put Harper within a few seats of his majority. My hunch is it puts him over the top.

• Oh-ho! But if he misses his majority, don’t opposition parties have a shot at taking him out in a Parliamentary confidence play? Only if they can present a coherent alternative. Jack Layton will have a really good Tuesday night if he wins, say, 70 seats, but he’ll have a hard time presenting for prime minister. And the more he grows, the more he’ll want a say in the composition of any Liberal-led coalition-collaboration-thingie. Opposition deadlock, to Harper’s advantage, seems likely even if Harper falls just short of a majority.

• But here’s what’s most striking. What’s the biggest obstacle to a really transformative NDP breakthrough? It’s Ontario. NDP support there is 4 points lower than in the Atlantic, 7 points lower than in the Prairies, 10 points lower than in British Columbia, 13 points lower than in Quebec. This is looking less like a Quebec-led NDP wave than like a national wave from which Ontarians are opting out. Ontario is the only region of the country where NDP support is no higher than on the day of the English-language debate.

• Why? My strong suspicion is that Bob Rae’s 1990-95 government has left a lingering bad taste in the mouths of many Ontarians who might otherwise consider an alternative. When I test-flew this hunch on Twitter this morning, some people wondered why Ontarians would be generically mad at New Democrats after Rae, and not at Conservatives after Mike Harris. Well. Leave aside any subjective evaluation of the quality of the two provincial governments, because that would just cause pointless shouting matches (No, your guy sucked worse). Look at the numbers. Bob Rae’s NDP lost nearly 18 points of popular vote to lose with 20.6% of the vote in 1995. Ernie Eves’ post-Harris took an 11-point reduction to lose with 34.6% of the popular vote in 2003. That is a much less severe rebuke from voters. Since their respective losses, the provincial Conservatives have more or less stabilized, while the provincial NDP is, I’m sorry, a basket case. I haven’t heard anecdotes from the door in this election, but in other recent federal elections, federal New Democrats were still getting their ears bent by voters about Rae Days. The man may have moved on; the brand is still in difficulty.

• Still, my explanation for the NDP’s much weaker showing in Ontario can only be conjecture. The facts are stark. The Harper Conservatives are in good position to improve their showing in this election. I’d appreciate a fact-check on this, but I believe that in so doing he would become the first prime minister since Confederation to increase his seat standing three elections in a row. (UPDATE: good thing I asked. Colleague Coyne reminds me that Wilfrid Laurier went from 118 seats in 1896, to 132 in 1900, to 139 in 1904. The Liberals grew from 1963 to 1965 to 1968, but they had to change leaders to do it.) If he does not win a majority he will probably face a divided opposition poorly positioned to take power from him through parliamentary manoeuvring.

This can all change. But the most important feature – steady support for the Conservatives – has now held for four-fifths of this campaign.

UPDATE, Monday evening: Ekos has numbers so different from Nanos‘ that you can argue all night over who’s right!


Stephen Harper is winning (UPDATED with late-breaking uncertainty)

  1. The reason the NDP isn't polling well in Ontario is because it's the NDP. Nothing more, and nothing less.

    Discount Quebec's political leanings for a second and just consider a cold hard fact – The NDP has never been anywhere near the levers of power in Canada since its inception. If the brand hasn't taken off in fifty years to at least give them official opposition status, this speaks more to the fact that outside Quebec at least, the NDP is popular within its own base but for people outside its base, namely pretty much everyone else in English Canada, a vote for the NDP means a vote for the NDP and Canada doesn't elect NDP governments – we just don't.

    • I should also clarify – Canada doesn't elect national NDP governments. My error.

    • I tend to agree, but let's not pretend this attitude comes from real examination of its policies, rather than simply "it's the NDP" The other two party's have spent decades simply deriding the party based on reputation, because it works better than having to address their policies, which for 20 years haven't been outside the mainstream.

      So while you're right to an extent, it's nothing to be smug about.

      • I'm not being smug so if that's how it comes off, that's not my intent. I suspect that most people outside the NDP base have explored NDP policies over the years and decided there was no way on earth we could ever afford them. The NDP has consistently been an "also ran" – nowhere near the support needed to make them a genuine political force in the country. Canada is a centrist nation – the NDP is not centrist. Hell, even Tony Blair had to bring his Labour party to the center in order to win in 1997.

        • Canada is a centrist nation – the NDP is not centrist


          See, this is simply received wisdom.

          • No, it's a fact. The NDP has never even come close to forming a national government let alone the official opposition. Their record of failure is epic. Were voters buying what they're selling, they would have bought long ago.

          • I feel it's telling you responded to a question about ideology by citing numbers which form something of a circular argument.

      • The NDP's policies are outside the mainstream.

    • But that just isn't so.

      Draw a north-south line just west of London, Ontario. West of that line, the NDP is the clear second-choice party, in votes and seats — the Liberals hold only eight seats in Western Ontario and the West.

      Ontario is what shuts the Dippers out — for now.

      • Ah, so its Ontario's fault. Here's a thought – maybe by being the clear first choice party, they would win elections. They've never even formed the official opposition in Canada. If they can't even win that, they are effectively a drain on Liberal votes. Before this election, the Liberals were a party of the center. Canada likes to be governed from the center – we are a mushy middle country. We go to committee and look for consensus as opposed to delivering clear vision. No, there's a reason the NDP is stuck – it has less to do with Ontario and more to do with the fact that overwhelmingly, Canadians in english Canada reject their vision for the nation.

        • I agree that we Ontarians are mushy middle-of-the-roaders who reject the NDP vision, and that's happening again. It may even give Harper's numbers an extra upwards spike, as Ignatieff's comments about possibly supporting a Layton government get circulated.

          But "English Canada" is not just Ontario. The NDP does fine in most of the rest of English Canada.

          • Has the NDP ever swept a province in a federal election? Have they ever won 90% of the seats? 80%? 70%? 60%?

            (cricket cricket)

          • They took 19/32 seats in BC in 1988.

            In 1957, the CCF took 10/17 in SK (against the Chief!):

            And in the various Pearson-early Trudeau elections, they had strong (often plurality) caucuses out of BC.

            It gives my cold Ontarian heart great joy to crush the dreams of the socialists, but they do have lasting English Canadian support — just not here in the province of the United Empire Loyalists.

            Right now, they're doing well in BC, the Prairies, and Quebec.

            The Liberals are the second party in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.


            Thing is, in Ontario (minus Toronto proper) and all parts West, Stephen Harper's Conservatives have been crushing the opposition. So being the second party west of London, ON, doesn't get you too far.

          • The CCF couldn't even sweep the province that gave birth to the party in 1957 – that speaks volumes, frankly.

            At any rate, welcome to the refrain that western Canadians have been saying for decades – everything is decided in Ontario and Quebec.

          • As an Ontarian, I'll take it!

            But I'll concede to the other provinces that the federal government should stick to the 1867 division of powers…

          • As a fellow Western Canadian, all I have to say in response is that maybe we should have more babies.

            Only thing I find worse than BQ'istes is Bloc Westerners.

    • Wow- that was a calmly written observation, in the middle of an election campaign no less. Well done!

      I posted last week that I think it's time for the Dippers to reconnect to their small business roots- they were founded, after all, by a group of farmers- essentially self-sufficient, small businessmen (well, 90% men at the time). If the Dippers (or cripes, ANY party for that matter) started speaking smartly about economics and not populist idiocies like capping credit card rates or refunding home heating GST or lowering consumption taxes rather than income taxes, I think they'd win a lot more support.

    • are the parties suffering because of the leaders

  2. Nanos hasn't been right since the 2006 election. Wonder why everyone calls him God. The Ontario numbers look strange: Harper is polling above Hudak's provincial cousins, which is absurd. And who polls over Easter? Better question: who answers pollsters over Easter?

    • Agree that holy days may not be the best time to be conducting 'business' (including polling) but given what seems to be high turn-outs at advance polls (nice weather, Friday off work etc. at least where I am in eastern Ontario), polling people over the weekend may not have been a bad time to get people's attention.

    • What's been reflected in Nanos has been reflected in other polls as well. As for attacking an Easter poll, re-read the article – it's about trends revealed by polls going back to 2008, not about one poll over Easter. Attacking the underlying data by suggesting they "look strange" or are "absurd", without explaining what is strange or absurd about them, is the argument of a wishful thinker. I'd stay in bed, if I were you, on May 2.

      • Is that you, Nik Nanos? Seriously, if it is you, how come you never picked up on the Layton Quebec surge until almost everyone else had? And aren't you L. Ian MacDonald's favorite pollster? Thanks.

    • Hasn't been right since the 2006 election means: wrong in the 2008 election?

      Elections don't happen often, so trying to determine anything empirical about them at all is tricky business. The Nanos reputation was built on a sample size of two elections with virtually dead on numbers, which even Nanos himself would have to concede is an anomaly, which is why he provides a margin of error. Numbers that are dead on right are no more "accurate" than numbers that fall anywhere else within the MoE. So it was a bit silly to inflate his reputation based on two elections, and just as silly to write him off based on one.

      It's also a bit silly to try and spin polls on internet comment boards. Our comments here have no effect on the results, and in a week we'll know for sure.

      • Two things you should know about NANOS.
        1) Last year – the Harper government purchased pretty well all of NANOS' polling capacity – so Nik became – as do all who serve a single client – a little more dependent then before!
        2) For some reason (maybe related to #1) NIK isn't counting Undecideds – he's doing the same as other pollsters right now. Trouble is – when he tracked them – especially since the 2008 election – they made up some 18-23% of the households contacted. Since we know conservatives are pretty well committed and locked in – it is fair to assume that these "undecideds" are former Libs or Dippers sitting on the fence. When they have an incentive to get off – as they do in blocking Harper – they will represent a net new set of numbers i.e. they won't be shifting from one party to another – they will simply boost the total voting numbers – on either the LIBs and NDP (maybe Green) side – but not appreciably moving Harpers numbers. In fact net efffect will be to drop Harper's percentage of the total count.

        • Yeah, I think he is jerking around with the samples. We'll see on May 2 how right or wrong Saint Nanos of Pollsterville was.

        • So if Nanos ends up underestimating Conservative strength or getting it right, can we safely write off your credentials as reader of tea leaves for next time?

          • Well, if the Twitter exchange between Inkless and Ekos is correct, the Liberals plus NDP are 18 points ahead of the Tories. So very un-Nanos numbers.

          • Wacally has some logic. Personally, though I vote Conservatives, I project myself as a Green party supporter (in fact voted them twice, when the Conservative in my Calgary riding was sure to win). That way I keep NDP or Libs numbers low and and raise Conservative numbers on the final day.

    • Well, could it just possibly be because it's a week ahead of the election? When would you suggest they do polling, Thanksgiving? A bit late then, wouldn't it. Or perhaps it was the fact that the opposition took down the government and forced an election no one wanted except Iggie and Jack and it went though Easter. I will bet the farm they were out campaigning during the Easter weekend, so was Harper. They would be crazy not to.

    • Ipso is the one I follow, they have Harer polling way higher and Iggy way lower

  3. "Brring, brring, “Do you plan to vote Conservative, Liberal, or NDP?”

    Notice anything missing from this question? That's right—the Nanos, Ipsos Reid, and Angus Reid polling companies never include the Green Party as a voting choice. This explains why the Green Party numbers are so low in print and television news. Only the EKOS poll includes the Green Party as an option and we regularly show up at double the numbers in this poll."

    • They don't prompt any names, period. Open-ended question — whom are you voting for?

    • Just to clarify: Nanos doesn't name any parties as an option. So there's no list from which Greens are excluded; it's just tell me who you're planning to vote for. But it's true that a ballot constitutes a list of candidates with party affiliation, so it's possible that being reminded that Greens are an option increases their vote.

      • I've had some pollster call and ask me to just press a number and they do list the parties. I'm pretty sure I voted Green on one of their calls – I give them different answers.

        • Based on this election, I think your approach may now be the new national game. Lying to pollsters is slowly becoming a Canadian citizen's responsibility!

          • I'm always happy to be responsible while throwing a wrench into the works! :)

        • Yeah, you might have had some pollster call, but it wasn't Nanos. His shtick has always been that he doesn't name names when calling.

    • "we regularly show up at double the numbers in this poll"

      But the Green's don't show up at anywhere near the numbers indicated by Ekos (and others) in the one poll that matters, namely the election (when Ipsos, Nanos and Angus reid are generally pretty close on the Green numbers). The Green numbers are low in Nanos, Ipsos and Angus polls because the green numbers amongst actual voters are low.

  4. Totally agree with you on the residual affects of the NDP government in Ontario. If I want to get a sense of what "average" Canadian voters think I test run them by my parents (who live in Ontario) and my in-laws (who live in Quebec City). My mom is still bitter about the Rae Days 15+ years later and will never vote NDP (provincially or federally again). The notion of a liberal-"socialist" government is frightening to her, and she thinks that the 2008 coalition was "illegal". I tried to explain the nuances to her and she was having none of it. She also can't stand Michael Ignatieff nor can she pronounce his name. My in-laws on the other hand are very excited about the NDP surge in Quebec, even though they are probably more conservative in nature, they really like Jack Layton and they like the idea of having a "new" party to support.

    • That is a fascinating set of observations. I must admit while I will probably not vote Conservative in this election, I would be completely intrigued by a Conservative majority, and I would certainly be happy to give them a 'mental' chance at governing. Mind you, while I did NOT vote for them in 2006, I thought the Prime Minister's victory speech was gracious, positive, and even somewhat exciting. It was neat looking forward to some new faces in government. I was looking forward to giving them a chance too.

      Bloody shame they lost me on Day 1 with Emerson and Fortier.


      • You nailed it. I didn't know that much about that guy. But will rest of NDP people will agree to mortgage the party to Quebec?

      • er.. Mulcair is a montreal anglo, like his boss, like Paul Martin Jr…

    • It is hilarious that people are so bitter about "Rae Days". In Manitoba, there were "Filmon Fridays", yet the Filmon PCs won majorities in the subsequent elections after that era.

  5. I think Ontario just moves more slowly than the rest of Canada. By week's end I'd wager the trend for the NDP will show here. Even if it is a small gain, it will be enough to turn over several TO ridings where the race is between red and redder. I don't know if the Liberals will hold onto more than a handful of seats outside the three mega-cities.
    The play by Duceppe to bring in Parizeau and get harder on nationalism is not going to gain him anything above where he is polling now- it can only stop the bleeding of hard core separatists. This is a major admission of downsized ambition for the Bloc.

  6. Nanos, Ipsos, Forum research are all pointing to a Liberal implosion in the GTA. It seems the threat of an NDP led coalition is scaring the bejesus out of the centists in Ontario. Iggy openly musing about working “with an NDP led government” over the weekend, was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

    Finally, the region appears to be showing a visceral dislike of Iggy – as the two minutes of angry booing by 4000 fans there showed.

    I suspect the CPC will pick up many of the Liberal held seats there, giving Harper upwards of 170 seats.

    • Actually, it was 30 seconds of booing from some of the fans at the arena.

      It is interesting the way this booing gets longer and longer and louder and louder every time a con supporter describes it.

      • I was there! They booed him for EIGHT DAYS. They stuck around the arena just to boo, and would still be there booing if the Liberal-biased police hadn't evicted them.

        Tories get 371 seats this election. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST

        • Obviously a Liberal strategist.

      • Doesn't matter if it was 5 seconds of booing by 12 people – it's what was played on every national newscast across the country last night and it's what stuck in everyone's mind. Iggy should have watched the game from home.

        • I am not disagreeing the optics are not good (it is what happens when you campaign outside of a bubble). I am just a stickler for those little things called facts. If the truth hurts him then let it be the truth that actually does the hurting.

          • We're talking PR, what's the truth got to do with it?

          • So would Harper get booed if he had the courage to go out in public, or pelted?

        • Let's see the Cons bring Harper out in public. And by that, I mean a place where the attendees haven't been pre-vetted.

      • It was just a flesh wound.

        • A fResh wound.

    • Charles this is the best news I have heard all day! If I hear another person say, "I think minority governments are good because they have to learn to work together!" Lala land … obviously they don't follow politics and have no idea what is at stake in this election. I would rather be facing a referendum on national unity than a coalition between the left leaning political allies. Of course it looks like national unity would be first on the list as Quebec hold PM Layton hostage for putting him in power, and the West rallies against cap and trade and the federal government trying to crush the oil sands!

  7. Many Ontarians aren't voting NDP because they've been falsely told that they HAVE TO vote Liberal to stop the Conservatives. If we got with the program and joined the NDP surge that's happening in the rest of the country, we could help elect a truly progressive government and send Harper packing.

    • Where the NDP poll strongly, vote NDP, else the split vote goes to Harper.

      • true.

      • Ah, Canadian Liberals – does the world know any group that shows greater strength of their political convictions than they? If I were Layton, I'd make it an NDP policy to rebrand everything named "Trudeau" in the country, just to mess with y' all!

    • Scott, we need to fix the big problem now. We can fix the little problems later. Only a strong opposition can help. A fractured opposition is more of the same, and the same as a majority for Harper. A Conservative minority means there will be another election soon enough. At least we know we can look forward to that.

      • That line may have worked better 5 years / 3 years ago.

        • Five years ago, Stephen Harper as the big problem, wasn't evident.

          • Really. What elections have you been watching? In every election he's run he's been depicted as the big problem.

          • Dennis, you consistently seem to delight in finding a way to misunderstand something.

          • And some of my detractors consistently seem to delight in providing one-line knee-jerk responses that don't address the points I have made. Thank you. Next.

          • But why give two or three intensive paragraphs on how you've misunderstood, probably deliberately so, when your response to that is going to be more deliberate misunderstanding? Maybe your mom feels different, but to just about everyone else, you're not usually worth more than a quick one liner. And would you look at that? I've overspent on Dennis_F.

          • With Stephen Harper as the 'big problem' what do you see as the "little problems" stopping the Liberals from playing for first place?

          • Stephen Harper is not the problem.

      • Unless you think the big problem is the under-representation of the NDP in the House of Commons…Look at threehundredandeight's projections based on current polls. If the NDP vote doesn't break away, the opposition in Parliament is just as strong as under the Liberal best case outcome. If the NDP vote strengthens, that will only strengthen that opposition.

        If you're really worried about being strategic, check the CAW/Catch-22 recommendations. I think they're supporting too many Liberals, but if you're in one of the 36 ridings where they recommend voting Liberal, you can console yourself that you're being strategic by voting Liberal (except for Mississauga South, imo, where you really aren't doing anyone any favours by sending Paul Szabo back to the House). If you're in one of the other 272 ridings, vote NDP.

        • As above, the big problem is Harper. Voting strategically for the candidate best able to replace or defeat a CPC candidate is, I feel, our best chance.

          • Even if you believe in strategic voting, it only recommends voting Liberal in 36 of Canada's 308 ridings. Basically, if you're in the 905 belt of Toronto, and you aren't Conservative, you might want to vote Liberal. If you're in BC, it generally means vote NDP. For the vast majority of Canadians, this issue is irrelevant and they should vote their consciences.

          • Even if you believe in strategic voting, it only recommends voting Liberal in 36 of Canada's 308 ridings.


            Basically, if you're in the 905 belt of Toronto, and you aren't Conservative, you might want to vote Liberal.


            If you're in BC, it generally means vote NDP.


            For the vast majority of Canadians, this issue is irrelevant and they should vote their consciences.

            So this only disagrees with "Voting strategically for the candidate best able to replace or defeat a CPC candidate". Vote your conscience, but vote with your eyes and ears and sense of history.

          • Sure, make an informed choice. Don't be duped by Liberal calls that only they can replace the Harper government. Unless you know you're in one of the 36 strategic ridings, vote based on party platforms, leadership, trust etc.

          • best chance for what, exactly?

          • Responsible government.

          • CPC = responsible government

        • So now the CAW tells you how to vote…so much for democracy. It's too bad they support NDP candidates that run on the record of the Conservative government and back benchers like Jeff Watson who saved the auto industries. I dare say some union members may say to your face they follow the Union line but will be casting blue votes May 2.

          • No, the CAW tells us that voting strategically does not mean voting Liberal. Outside of the 905, you should feel free to vote NDP. Not sure why CAW members would oppose an auto bailout.

      • I believe a strong opposition gets nothing done for the country… Even when the gov't in power has a great idea, it is the oppositions job to oppose it…

    • >>Many Ontarians aren't voting NDP because they've been falsely told that they HAVE TO vote Liberal to stop the Conservatives.<<

      That's insane. Your statement implies Ontarians are incapable of forming their own political opinions. Perhaps the reason that Ontarians don't vote NDP is because they believe the NDP doesn't represent their political viewpoint. I'm all for deferring to the wisdom of the electorate. People aren't stupid – they can spot BS from a mile away.

  8. Good argument about the NDP in Ontario. You might be understating it a bit – Bob Rae's NDP were a single mandate government, defeated under his leadership after alienating the base with flip-flops and Rae Days and were replaced by the distinctly different Harris Conservatives (which means Rae could get some of the blame for that government too). Harris won re-election, mostly annoyed his political opponents, passed the leadership to Ernie Eves who was then replaced by the not entirely different McGuinty Liberals. Hopefully the provincial NDP are improving now that Hampton and the anti-Rae faction have moved on – I mean, Rae screwed some things up but he's able to talk positively about his record, his party should be able to do the same…

    • By any reasonable standard, McGuinty has governed to the left of Rae, which is hardly like Harris or Eves. McGuinty spends twice as much per capita in real terms. Ontario is now in worse shape than under Rae, but the difference is that McGuinty has a lot more teflon – indeed, more teflon than any other poorly-performing government leader I've seen in decades.

      At least Rae eventually learned from experience and reversed course – something not in evidence with McGuinty.

      • We have a terminology problem, I think. We either understand “to the left” or “reasonable standard” very differently.

  9. Ontario really seems like the outlier here. The Conservative bump in Atlantic Canada makes sense because Danny Williams is not actively campaigning against them. Beyond that, every other region of the country seems to show an increase in the combined Liberal-NDP vote. I have no idea why Ontario would seem to be uniquely opposed to a Liberal-NDP coalition, if that is what is moving the polls, but it seems like it is.

    Was there any regional breakdown for the poll that showed a majority of the country in favour of a coalition? If it showed Ontario having markedly different results than elsewhere then these Nanos trends make a great deal of sense.

    With the regional breakdown in this poll, Ontario really is the Conservative's only hope if it proves accurate. They stand to actually lose seats in the West. With the wildly different results in Quebec it is hard to guess how the splits might play out but I sure wouldn't feel comfortable if a third of my vote disappeared. Atlantic Canada might give them a seat or two but there is a lot of room for vote growth in Newfoundland before more MPs appear. Ontario, though, could foreseeably deliver them a majority.

    • The CPC won 71 of the 92 seats in the West in 2008—-they may drop a couple of those but I would think they would be more likely to increase that total. Having said that, you might want to rethink the notion that Ontario is the only place that is " uniquely opposed to a Liberal-NDP coalition ".

      • Ha. I think the point is that the West doesn't matter. Ontario decides elections. It's part of why the West loathes Ontario so much. Conservative governments inevitably ignore their western roots in courting Ontario and blow apart.

    • "The Conservative bump in Atlantic Canada makes sense because Danny Williams is not actively campaigning against them."

      Several factors are contributing to the bump in Atlantic Canada:

      Newfoundland and Labrador – As you have stated Williams is not actively campaigning against the CPC and Premier Dunderdale has thrown her support behind the Tories.

      New Brunswick – Just threw out a very unpopular provincial Liberal government electing a Tory majority.

      Nova Scotia – A province divided over the broken promises of its first NDP government.

  10. I'm a westerner but I'll never forget Bob Rae telling Ontarian's he would spend them out of recession during his first run for Premiership, (and that he new what he was doing). Then a few short years later, he was asking for re-election, on the basis that three years of reality had now taught him the correct way to Govern. All the NDP knows how to do is spend, spend, spend, and tax, tax, tax. Health care, senior care, any care, just because the Government offers to pay for it, don't mean it's free. No wonder Ontarians aren't voting NDP.

    • Real people learn from mistakes.

    • I'm baffled that conservatives still like this argument given that Harper produced record deficits this past year. Is asking for logical consistency too much to ask?

      • You want both consistency AND logic?

        Hell, most days it seems I'd be happy if only one of those was in evidence.

    • Brian – how do you apply this to the three western provinces that have had fiscally responsible NDP governments?

      • BC went from #1 economically in Canada to nearly last under the NDP, and Saskatchewan spent years as a have not province under the NDP, only to climb to #1 under a conservative government. The record speaks for itself.

    • You know, it's funny. When Rae spent to combat a recession that was the worst Ontario had experienced since the Great Depression, it confirmed our worst fears of his tax and spend evil ways. Then along came the Great Recession 3 years ago and conventional wisdom (led by a Republican President and his Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary) was to spend government money to ward off a Depression. It would be amusing if it wasn't so hypocritical. Oh, I've never voted in NDP in my life, but I have something called empathy for the man (Rae) who found himself in a sh*t starting position.

  11. There seems to be a problem brewing for the Conservatives in the Prairies. Hard to say what it means though, because the polling covers 3 provinces.

  12. I love how partisans can go on and on about Bob Rae's time as Premier of Ontario but never once mention the recession that occurred during it. Does that sort of blindness take years of training or does it just come naturally?

    • Sort of like how partisans go on about Stephen Harper putting us $50 Billion in the hole but never once mention the global economic meltdown that made the 1990's recession seem like a fart in the breeze by comparison. Does that sort of blindness take years of training or does it just come naturally?

      • I think the criticism is more towards how the recession stimulus was almost a year late because Harper waited he won the election, prorogued Parliament, and the US enacted its big stimulus package, before even admiting that there was a Global Economic Meltdown, and that after the big Meltdown, while running a 50 billion $ deficit, his Cabinet refused to divulge how the Government intended to finance the F35 Jets (because they were underestimating the cost), the Prisons, and the Corporate Tax Cuts.

    • "Does that sort of blindness take years of training or does it just come naturally?"

      Naturally. Confirmation bias or somesuch.

      Ontario has never voted for NDP. The one time they get chance at power, they take power during bad recession and public finances are dire. Rightly or wrongly, it seems our worst fears confirmed. NDP = Bankruptcy.

      And it is funny – maybe not to you however – how Rae Days are hated by everyone when all they were was part of attempt to restore finances. Admirable – wish our current pols would make same attempt – but NDP get it in the neck regardless.

      What do you think of Rae, McClelland? I have two good friends who are ardent NDPers and they think Rae is judas and I know they aren't the only ones. Think it would be interesting if Rae becomes leader after Iggy gets thrown under the bus in a few weeks.

    • Sure, but what is notable is how poorly Ontario did in relation to everybody else that was hit by that same recession. Rae tried to spend his way out of the recession, but it didn't work – in fact Ontario's recovery was slower than almost anywhere else (using other provinces and the US as a basis for comparison), and it left us with a large deficit and record levels of welfare dependency.

      • Of course, he wasn't helped by this by the banks and corporate leaders virtually going to war with him.

        Conrad Black, for instance, within the first year of Rae's term in office was publically saying he would never invest in Ontario. Barbara Amiel and Dianne Francis called his government that of a communist — right as the cold war was entering it's final days. Full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal by the landlords of Toronto stated, “Don't invest in Socialist Ontario." There were billboards comparing Stalin and Rae, for christ's sake.

        Yeah, Ontario did worse than everyone else, because everyone else was trying to make it worse for them.

        Seriously, Ontario and Alberta strike me as opposite sides of the same coin. Alberta caused it's own problems through lack of diversification and lazy governments, but blames pretty much everything except Albertans for their problems.

        Meanwhile, Ontario had its problems worsened, if not outright caused, by ideologues attacking them for daring to elect a socialist government, and they end up blaming their own government.

        • Do you honestly believe that Canada's largest province can be significantly undermined by a few ads in the Wall Street Journal? I think most Conservatives are stretching the truth when they talk about media conspiracies to misrepresent one. Asserting a media-driven recession in Ontario stretches even the barest modicum of plausibility. Do investors really make decisions primarily on ads? Or is it the content of those ads – ie. the policies being represented – that mattered?

          • In the middle of one of the worst recessions we've experienced?

            Why yes, I do think that bill boards, advertisements in the Wall-Street journal, and moves by major capitalists to drive business away from Ontario can do exactly that. When investors are extremely scared about their investments, it takes very little negative sentiment to sway them away from an area.

  13. If it does happen that Harper gets his majority, then the media can pat itself on the back for being so complicit for so long in the Harper charade.

    • Better send a memo to Wherry.

    • —Oh yeah, it has been pretty obvious those media guys are just favouring Harper.

      • Well, glad to see you can see it too finally.

    • Buddy, you must be on serious hallucinogenics if you think the media in this country favour Harper. Starting with the CBC who for years ran a promo for that arrogant airhead Stromboob every night with Suzuki ranting that Harper had his nose up Bush's a**. Let's not forget the "got ya" moment of sending his teenage son off to school and not hugging him enough. Here in Halifax we have had to endure columnists "fair and balanced" commentary saying things like "well I'm not saying Harper is Hitler" and then pretty much says just that. Another one screams that "democracy is in peril" if people vote for Harper…yet again. It seems reelecting him every 2 years is not good enough. Seems democracy is only "working" when the Liberals run the shop.

      • I read where Bob Fife 0f CTV said on camera that " we will get him" referring to Harper. Is this an accurate statement? If it is then it does show bias.Quit watching George S and several other CBC programs becouse they are so biased.

        • Hi Peterb – still pounding that drum? Give it up.

  14. The elegance of the Bob Rae explanation for the NDP's non-surge in Ontario is that it doubles as an explanation for the Liberal decline.

    • I think that at this moment in time, Ontarians are a little tired of leftist politics. On the provincial front, they're tired of Mcquinty and the ever-rising electricity bills. And in Toronto, everybody knows how the GTA went strongly for Ford, after the debacle of the city workers' strike last summer, the piling up of garbage everywhere only to see Miller cave in the end, and the imposition of new taxes by Miller. So I think there is a strong surge towards fiscal conservatism right now in Ontario, primarily in the GTA.

      • It's true that anyone who can vote for Rob Ford is unlikely to balk at voting for the federal Tories.

        • True, but the Rob Ford phenomena may not translate federally or provincially. Voter turnout is lower in municipal elections – only 814,000 people voted in 2010 (by way of comparison, I estimate that about 1,100,000 Toronto residents voted in 2008). In that sort of setting a motivated right can win.

  15. You forgot the hashtag in winning.

    Other than that, very solid analysis. I figure the CPC gains in Atlantic Canada and losses in Quebec will roughly cancel each other out. That leaves the CPC to gain roughly a dozen seats in Ontario and BC. If these Ontario numbers hold and the GTA is part of the surge, then a slim majority is probably in the bag.

    • You may be right about Quebec and Atlantic Canada, as long as they don't lose almost everything in Quebec.

      As for Ontario, I think that with the numbers in the latest Nanos poll, then Ontario will bring them a majority. Look at the latest Nanos numbers in Ontario: 48% C, 29% L, 16% NDP. To me that's easily 2/3 of the Ontario seats (Chretien won 99% of Ontario seats with 50% of the Ontario vote). Last election they won less than half the Ontario seats. To win 2/3, that would mean a gain of 24 seats. Enough to overcome losing every single one of their Quebec seats. They may be able to win a majority the same way Chretien did it.

      • Don't forget, CPC went 0 for 7 in Nfld in 2008. That won't happen again with the slate of candidates they are running and a more friendly relationship with provincial government. And I'm guessing that at least Bernier and Cannon are reasonably safe in QC.

        Toronto is the make or break. If CPC support is just increasing in areas they already hold, that doesn't help.

        • The projections I've seen show the Cons winning just two in Nfld. I think it's theoretically possible they could win 5 or 6 there, I just don't know if it's realistic in this election, so soon after Danny Williams and his ABCs.

          Yeah, you're probably right about Cannon and Josee Verner. The rest are vulnerable I think. Looks like even anglophone/allophone Quebec remains a bust for the Cons too, so no gains anywhere in that province.

    • Of course, this makes perfect sense.

      Culturally, Ontario is not a whole lot different than the four western provinces, which have gone 90% Conservative in the last election. There was no reason to believe they could not replicate that success in Ontario. All they needed to do was penetrate the suburbs of the GTA, which they appear to have done, if these polls hold up.

      Quebec, on the other hand, may never go Conservative, for cultural reasons. They still see the Conservatives as a part of the right, a party of English Canada, and it seems that will not be changing anytime soon.

      • The idea of a monolithic leftist Quebec is misguided. Witness the success of the ADQ, although short lived, based partly on ending the nanny state. A lot of the initial support for Charest came from his own failed promise to do that. The Cons have had plenty of opportunity in Quebec spoiled by their last minute blunders in 2008.
        Like Ontario or BC, Quebec has big cities and regions with different predilictions, a fact which is obscured in general topic opinion polling (eg on Afghanistan or the environment)

        • I respectfully disagree. Culturally, Quebec is a lot different. For one thing, they have the highest proportion of unmarried couples, and the difference is huge, it's not even close. Their food is different, their sense of humour is different (ever watched a Quebec TV sitcom?), they are much different across the board, culturally. Their politics is also much different. For one thing, they are the only province that has its own federal party, and that party tends to do very well. I grew up in Quebec, and I'm there frequently, so it's not like I'm speculating based on nothing at all.

          I never said they were monolithic, I said they were different.

          They are clearly not monolithic at all, considering there is currently four parties that are competitive in Quebec.

  16. Is there any sense that where the NDP are a credible governing option (BC, Sask, Manitoba, now Atlantic Canada) they do better? I am a British Columbian and I sense a different attitude towards the NDP than in Ontario (where I now live). Notwithstanding the Glen Clark foibles, the NDP are the option in BC – they are the (perennial!) government in waiting. This affects our mental image of them, for better or for worse. In Ontario in their one kick at the can, they screwed up (because they weren't expecting or ready for it) and they got screwed (both by their public sector allies and the impersonal economy). SO there is always that vestige of suspicion that is not present in the west.

    I don't even want to touch Quebec politics with this idea – they are, always have been, and likely always will be, explained by different analyses.

    • Speaking to the Atlantic Canada question, I think Premier Dexter, with his slashing and taxing, has only hurt the NDP cause in Nova Scotia.

    • It's not even experience so much as received wisdom of the NDP being "a) unelectable b) socialsists"

  17. .
    Land-line and web polls are for lemmings to read, and journalism-school drop outs to parse. They are not even interesting, except as a demonstration of one more form of teratoma on the democratic process.

    If you're into pathology, Mr. Wells, or helping pollsters Nik (the fixer) Nanos et al, turned pundits, go for it.

    De-electing Harper the slash/trim/cut-'stability' bean-counter, and un-electing Mr. 'dress-up-as-politician' and sending him back to Harvard to do his think-tank-talk seminars, symposia, etc. is the one task for us in May. It's that easy.

    • None of the major polling firms use land-line only polls any more.

      I'm not sure what the rest of your point was about, although I thank you for enriching my vocab with teratoma.

  18. Well said PW. It's hard to believe – what you've said is clearly true in this post (you've gone out of your way to avoid any subjective statements, except perhaps in the latter half of the post), yet I cannot recall any other journalists saying these things. Not that I'm doing the usual whining of media bias. I'm just saying it's refreshing to read something different from the usual BS journalists have been publishing these days about how Harper's third cousin's dog was not spayed, and how a former Conservative MP knew somebody who hired someone who knew someone who stole a child's piggybank.

    I think you're bang-on about the Ontario NDP. I would like to agree with you about the opposition being prevented from parliamentary maneouvrings, but I'm not sure that I can. Even yesterday, Ignatieff said this:

    “There's no question people want to change this government. Any way you look at these polls . . . they're saying we want to get rid of Mr. Harper.”

    Ignatieff was referring to opinion surveys which find the Conservatives in the lead but give a majority of combined voter support to the Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Greens together.

    “Now the question becomes: Who can form a government to replace Mr. Harper — that's the issue,” he told the media.

    Not only is is preposterous to be claiming that people want to be rid of Harper when in fact his support has been rising for the last three elections, but in addition, Iggy's clearly laying the groundwork for a coalition. He's not even bothering to pretend anymore. Knowing how the Liberals crave power, and how the NDP would do anything to end up in government, I would not put it past them to attempt a take-over no matter what the result. Recall that Harper had just won more support in 2008 compared to 2006, but that did not stop them from attempting the coalition then.

    • This thought process is baffling to me…

      Why does having the largest minority entitle you to run the government against a coalition of parties who have the willingness and ability to actually comprimise and work together? Why does winning a slightly larger minority than the last year have any relevance at all?

      And whichever way you twist it, the CPC's suppourt was under 40%, and the popular vote is not likely to change this election which means that over 60% of the population is completely unrepresented by his minority running without working with the other parties… how is it democratic at all to expect the other parties, representing a greater share of Canadians, to just let the CPC run over them? That is entirely undemocratic.

      The sad reality is he very well may gain a majority, due to the Lib/NDP split with well udner 40% of the vote and be able to run the country against the will of a substantial majority.

      • Ethos,
        The coalition of parties may collectively have 60% of the vote, but here's the rub. If they were to run as a Coalition, they would probably run much less than 60%. Most of the soft centre Liberal vote would go CPC, and the CPC may acutally poll over 50%. And its disingenuous to say that the Coalition parties – Libs, NDP and Bloc would actually work together for the good of the country. They have lots they DONT agree on. If it was so united, they would have formed the united left already. So, you're just out to lunch on this one, buddy.

        • We have among the least democratic systems in the democratic world and we are setting precedents that will erode it even further, effectively eviscerating the rights of Parliament and making it nothing but a rubber stamp for the PMO.

          Our democratically elected MPs are not permitted to serve the will of their constituents, but must tow the Party line.

          We have a multi-party system where coalitions are ruled out.

          And only the undemocratically elected leader of the largest minority may lead parliament, the opposition being obliged to step back and let them rule as they see fit.

          It isn't suppourted by our constitution, but this is what our democracy is being reduced to. It is bad enough our system could allow for a majority government that has potentially less than 30% of the vote. We elect oligarchs and tell ourselves its cool, because they only have up to 5 years. Our Parliament is being neutered.

          • Were you whining about the 62% that didn't vote for a Chretien government? Or do you just take issue with Harper?

        • Perhaps you should take a look at some of those polls on Canadian's views on coalitions Adrian. Nowhere do the tory numbers climb to 50%, and that's before the election. I'd say it's you who need to cut back on the tory spam for lunch buddy.

        • well said.

    • "Recall that Harper had just won more support in 2008 compared to 2006, but that did not stop them from attempting the coalition then. "

      Poor poor Mr Harper. How was he to know that proposing to cut the throats of his opponents would upset them enough to look to their future by attempting to from a perfectly consititutional coalition. Luckily for Harper they bungled it.

  19. Two thoughts:

    If the NDP gets a big chunk of voter support, but not many seats, the cries for proportional representation will be very loud. A result might be a part-PR system, where something like 10% of seats are chosen by PR.

    (This would be especially true if the NDP gets more votes than the Bloc in Qc, but the BQ winds up with the most Qc seats. Expect lots of cries for reform.)

    Final thought: I sense Paul is hinting that Bob Rae would be a poor choice for Liberal leader, because the Libs would poll poorly in Ontario given the association in voters' minds between Rae and his former party (Not that I disagree – I fully agree, but I suspect a subtle hint to that effect in this post.)

    • So you're basically saying that we need PR now because the left is no longer benefiting from FPTP. Back when Chretien was winning majorities with 38% of the vote, it was not a problem. But now it is. The NDP has always, always, always had a lower seat count relative to their vote count.

      Really, the only reason people want PR now is because Conservatives are winning elections. That's it, simple as that! Back when Reform and the PC party were suffering under the FPTP, nobody care much. Instead of whining about it, Harper merged their parties to be able to do well in the current system. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current system, it has worked fine for 150 years.

      I don't think it's honourable for losers to whine about the system. But the left always behaves this way, they are terrible losers. They don't like democracy. If their side loses, they want to change the system. Dictatorship is better if they cannot win elections.

      • What the hell are you talking about, scf? Where do I advocate PR? Give me the quote please.

        Nowhere do I advocate PR. I simply stated that if the NDP sees their vote share rise, but their seat count stalled, especially in Quebec, they will be screaming louder than ever for PR. I didn’t “basically” advocate anything.

        I voted Tory in the past three elections, and will vote Tory again this time.

        Save your tantrums for someone who deserves it.

        • Firstly, it was not a tantrum.

          You said: "the cries for proportional representation will be very loud"

          So now you are saying you are not one of those "cries". Fine. My first sentence was incorrect. No need to go bonkers over it, you failed to specify that you yourself did not advocate the position that you were describing. So I assumed incorrectly, and I take back the first sentence.

          You'll also notice that the only thing I said about you was the first sentence. The rest of the time I was talking about the left.

          • “The only thing I said about you was the first sentence”

            Yeah, but you thumbed me down! Admit it! The cursed thumbs-down!

            But seriously, I just wanted to state that PR might become a greater issue if the above happens. I wasn’t advocating it. Although I believe the UK is supposed to experiment in some PR implementation. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out. If it does, expect greater cries for the same thing here (not the same as saying I advocate it!).

          • No worries, I get plenty of thumbs-down. :-)

            I think there are some cries for PR but (apart from Andrew Coyne) they come primarily from people who are tired of losing, such as federal NDP supporters.

            Australia has it too, and lots of Euro countries.

            The downside to PR is that you can end up with perpetual minority governments, which as we have witnessed, tend to get bogged down with inanities and fail to address the big issues. I know the USA is not PR, but regardless, one of the biggest threats to the US is the inability for either party to address the issues of the day, namely the deficit. PR encourages this. It encourages more gridlock. It encourages tribal single-issue parties (eg the Greens). The biggest advantage to FPTP is that it's possible to get majorities, which mean it's possible for governments to address the issues of the day. PR proponents tend to overlook the good things about FPTP.

            So I'm not in favour of PR. Do I think it will catch on? I'm not so sure. For 150 years, nobody seemed to mind FPTP.

          • "The downside to PR is that you can end up with perpetual minority governments, which as we have witnessed, tend to get bogged down with inanities and fail to address the big issues"

            You're making a common error of mixing up minority govt in PR systems with minoritties in FPP. In the former you reduce the incentive to go for broke because a 2% swing only equals a 2% seat gain. Unfortunately this is not the case with minority govt's in our system. This pertains in particular to the Harper CPC who have no natural allies in Parliament, with the possible exception of the libs. Harper's in your face, my way or the highway style, only encourages the trend. Unfortunately it doesn't look as if Canadians are going to blame the right guy for the resulting toxic mix in Parliament.

          • Yes, Chretien was such a democrat, wasn't he? SERIOUSLY? Harper is no more, and probably far less due to minority government, "in your face" than either Chretien or Trudeau ever was.

            Sucks to be on the receiving end, doesn't it?

          • The liberals did it too whine. Proud of that are you?

            Harper is the only minority PM to have basically got nothing achieved of any lasting value, and pissed off all his opponents in the process too. He chose to be adversarial from the get go. So, yes he should wear it for his portion of just how toxic our parliamentry politics has become.

    • Rae is (IMO) done as a Liberal leadership candidate.

      He's too old, carries too much Ontario baggage, too PowerCorp, too Anglo (bucks the tradition of alternating Anglo/French leaders) and too polarizing within the party itself.

      I think Liberals will go "all in" and anoint Justin Trudeau as the next leader in an attempt to woo the youth vote.

      • If he can keep his riding, he is in for a fight, another guy who took it for granted, name and looks don't qualify anymore.

    • You are probably right about Wells` view on Rae—-I don`t know where the Libs will look for the next leader, but they would be wise not to look to the past.
      After Liberals see the popular support for the NDP in this election they may want to start gearing up for the 2019 Election.

      • Where should they look? England? (that's a joke)
        If the coalition/partnership thing happens, it won't be 2019 that they have to worry about. . .

  20. You don't understand. The West doesn't matter because they are locked in. The Liberals will never, under any circumstance, win more than a dozen or two seats there. I mean, look at Alberta. Are they honestly surprised when they get ignored? They make themselves irrelevant.

    • And my point is that the party that can consistently sweep the West will win most elections, and therefore the West will have the opportunity of being ignored by the Party of it`s choice.

      • What's "The West"? None of the western provinces vote like each other.

      • Usually the West's preferred party is in opposition. Remember 'the west wants in'? They got in for a couple of years, but their regional protest party has already been subsumed by Ontarians. Next CPC leader will not be from the west.

        • The current CPC leader is not from "the west". Harper is from Toronto.

    • Andrew (Not PorC) wrote:
      "I mean, look at Alberta. Are they honestly surprised when they get ignored? They make themselves irrelevant. "

      I see what you mean Andy…..having Alberta send tens of billions of dollars to the rest of the country (have-nots…mainly Quebec) to pay for Liberal promises is why they are ignored so often.
      they're ignored….because they don't vote Liberal. No other reason.

      • The Conservatives largely ignore Alberta, too, Jimbo. They don't have to earn your votes.

    • that was silly – waste of time, actually.

  21. If the drop in support is confined to one province, say Saskatchewan, that could put Conservative seats in jeopardy.

  22. Chretien did it when he capped private donations and replaced them with the per vote subsidy. So, it's not impossible.

    • That was specifically designed to give Liberals the same amount of money, not reduce their money. I find your analogy suspect at best.

    • and when exactly did Chretien do that?

  23. One other thing to consider here if the NDP "surge" actually holds in Quebec combined with a Conservative majority.

    It would be totally crippling to the Bloc who would get much less money from the federal vote subsidy over the next few years…then lose it completely assuming Harper stays true to his promise to eliminate it.

    Looks like we'll have seen the last of both Ignatieff and Duceppe on the federal scene come May 3rd.

    • A harper majority with less Quebec seats is absolutely the separatist dream scenario. If the PQ win definitely look for another referendum with Harper at a distinct disadvantage.

      • Harper has few seats in Quebec…but as of what I read today, is likely to hold on to them.

        Not long after Duceppe started to ratchet up the separatist rhetoric…the NDP surge started. I don't see there is a lot of support for separation right now in Quebec. Considering the current global economy people are a little more worried about getting/keeping a job and putting food on the table.

        Quebec separatism is probably as important an election issue right now as Global Warming…ie…not an issue.

      • They still have the Clarity Act to contend with. By the way, why don't we have any idea what New Harper (Old Harper supported it but who knows what that means now), Iggy, or Jack think of the Clarity Act. Kind of important in the next term of gov't.

        • Maybe if Dion decides to run again for the Liberal leadership come May 3rd it will be back on the table for discussion.

      • how would this be a separatist dream? Harper wants to give more power to the provinces. .

  24. I've been saying this for a couple of weeks. The Conservatives have never sustained this kind of high level of support for this long. They've been upwards of 40 percent since even before the election, and they haven't really gone down since. Everyone focuses on why they haven't gone up, but they already have, and have stayed there.

    Which also leads me to question some of these seat projectors. On the one hand, we have Tory support up from the last election. On the other hand, we have Liberal support down from the last election. Yet all these seat projections have Tories losing seats, and Liberals gaining seats. How in the world does that happen?

    Regarding regional breakdowns, are Mr. Wells' analyses based on Nanos polls, and aren't those regional numbers based on samples with very high margins of errors? I've said this before over and over. National polls give very poor regional breakdowns because of those margins of errors, yet these regional breakdowns are often given the same standing as national polls. Just another pet peeve of mine regarding Canadian politics.

    • Which begs the question regarding regional breakdowns: Why don't more polling firms do proper regional polls? They only seem to be done for Quebec. Why? Why not full polls during elections for Ontario, the Prairies, BC, Atlantic Canada, or any other breakdown you want? Why this incessant reliance on national polls to give us regional numbers?

      Or why not regular polling for the 30 or so ridings that are considered crucial in this election? If the parties do them, why not private media polls, too?

      These are just a couple of suggestions to make polling more relevant and informative during a campaign.

  25. "I haven't written about polls much here on the blog during this campaign. " not just not polls but anything. you are sitting on the fence as your favorite place and ridicule everyone who takes things a little more seriously… what a fatcat "jurnalist"!!! I blame you and your soulless Company for the perils we face now…

    • I write for a magazine called Maclean's. Between now and election day I will write 21,000 words for that magazine. Preparing that story has taken most of this campaign. Learn how to spell "journalist."

      • .
        You are both reading and parsing polls. I can't applaud Marta's spelling (or syntax). But if she takes polls less seriously than you, there's still hope for Canada.

        I will say for MacLeans: the freedom to comment here is much broader than that of most other outlets. I don't think even my most trenchant criticisms or comments have ever been deleted or marked. Half my CTV posts never appear, or the best parts (lampooning Nik (the fixer) Nanos, for example) are excised mysteriously from the rest.

        It makes the negative count on my bipartisan attacks on the blue-eyed Bean-Counter and the Harvard Shape-Shifter almost a badge of honour.

      • As good as your blog posts are, sometimes I enjoy your encountering your comment replies even more.

        @Marta: watch out, Statler and Waldorf are listening!

      • I think what Marta’s saying, with all due respect, is that we miss the old Blog Central where you, KO, AC and others would constantly post on Macleans blogs, with insight, wit and thoughtful commentary on the 2006 election. It almost became like a drug. 2008 was similar, but for some reason 2006 stands out more in my mind.

        This election? We’ve got Aaron Wherry the news aggregator, and a few scattered blog postings from others.

        It’s disappointing, is all. Obviously you have other priorities, but we miss it. We really do. We don’t news another news aggregator, we need insightful blogging during this election.

        • Probably a combination of the tightening of the media bottom line and a few whiny prima donna posters spoiling a good thing for everyone else. I miss the old Macleans too. It was a lot of fun.

          • On the other hand, the old Macleans didn't allow reader comments… It had its ups and downs.

      • Wow, Paul, did you used to date Marta? – lol

        And I am going to start counting, up to 21,000 :)

    • Me too! Me too, I blame you and your soulless Company.

      • A jazz article assume…

    • Atleast when he writes, he's worth reading. I'd rather have a hundred thoughtful words than a thousand words written to fill up a blog post.

  26. Harper doesn't care what the Liberals do, whether they merge, split or stay the same. All he wants is to win elections and make Canada a better place.

    That being said, vote splitting on the left may benefit the Cons, therefore he'd want both the NDP and Liberals to hang around. On the other hand. if they merged, a lot of votes in the center would bleed to the Conservatives.

    • Wrong. He wants to destroy the Liberal Party of Canada. He wants to neuter the federal government. He wants to make Canada a better place for him and his Conservative friends, and doesn't give a fig for anybody or anything else.

      • LOL
        Does he want to destroy the earth as well? Perhaps the entire universe?

        You know, it's possible to make Canada a better place for everyone. Sort of like how Canada is a better place than Bangladesh, for everyone. Liberals always think that to benefit one person, you need to put the screws to somebody else. That's leftist thinking.

        • It certainly is possible to make Canada a better place for everyone. Voters can start by voting for any candidate that has a reasonable prospect of beating a Conservative candidate. Don't give Darth Harper his much coveted majority.

          • Sort of reminds me of how Toronto stopped Ford, by doing that exact same thing. The media ran a million articles and stories telling people how to coalesce the anti-Ford vote. That worked wonders.

            Oh wait a minute…

            Ford won. And Toronto has never been the same.

          • If the Conservatives ran a goat for Toronto mayor and promised to undo Miller's leftard silliness, they would have won. That's not too far off of what we ended up with, although a goat would be smarter. Fortunately for Torontonians, Doug is there to do Rob's thinking for him.

          • Darth Harper will eat all our children for dinner, and grandchildren for dessert!! Yeah, and Canada will go to the dogs!

            The end of the world is May 3 2011!

            You liberals are the greatest drama queens

          • Meanwhile, Jack is about to drop that bomb in the Death Star. Jack! Use the force!

          • Mulletaur, are you STILL that sore about how Harper's visceral hatred for Canadians in general led to the deaths of 2.4 million of us during H1N1? Won't you ever let bygones be bygones?

          • They never heard about the 2.4 million deaths, because the cons run the media.

          • This doesn't even address s_c_f's comments. It is just another silly 'anybody but Harper' person.

            Can you folks start posting some facts, or even have an educated opinion?

  27. Oh brother, I'm only gone temporarily- I'm on a non-immigrant work visa.

    Mind you for a LOT of people out there, my time away makes me less Canadian than them.

    • Ha, your real name is Didn'tComeBackForYouDave!

  28. "When I test-flew this hunch on Twitter this morning, some people wondered why Ontarians would be generically mad at New Democrats after Rae, and not at Conservatives after Mike Harris."

    Ontario is a conservative province, there are twice as many Ontarians in Con caucus than there are from Prairies/West. Ontario not generically mad at Harris because they voted for him – Harris had two majority admins.

    NDP/Rae was seen as mistake, quirk of fate.

    • "NDP/Rae was seen as mistake, quirk of fate."

      Its looking like NDP/Dexter were a mistake, quirk of fate for Nova Scotia.

      • The Bolsheviks were a mistake too. That mistake was more difficult to correct.

        • And that's what Iggy is. Iggy's grandpa didn't get out of prison because he was a nice guy. He was used as a useful idiot by the Bolsheviks and the acorn doesn't fall from the tree's father.

          • Nope, Iggy's grandpappy was a white russian.

  29. The levels of deceit have never been deeper in an election!

    Iggy has sold the Liberal soul when he endorsed the privatization of health care relinquishing most of the federal controls. He is prepared to open the Canada Health Act take out those parts which prevent billing outside of the Canada Health Act eliminate the rules which prevent foreigners from coming to Canada for medical treatment.

    This switch of faith is going to cost Canadian families between 150.00 and 400.00 per month for just a partial health care coverage. Most of us are not movie starts who can afford the elite insurance packages.

    If Harper gets back in, supported again by Iggy NAFTA will be re opened and bulk water exports (including our ground water) will be included. The NAFTA framework will force the price of Canadian utilities up massively (1000% depending on what is now paid)

    A Conservatives vote at this point in time in my mind is irresponsible.

  30. One other point Mr. Wells. For more than two decades there has been a consistent pattern where the actual election day Conservative results (previously Alliance/Reform/PC vote) exceeds their pre-election polling, and the Liberal vote is below their pre-election polling.

    The strengthe of this under/over polling varied form eleciton to election (in the 2%-5% range if memory serves). But it is remarkable consistent — regardless of the relative strength of the two parties.

    There are many theories as to why this consistent E-Day bounce occurs — but regardless, it does not bode well for the Liberals. As bad as things are for Ignatieff now — imagine how they will if there is a ‘surprise’ bonus 3% bounce to the Conservatives on Election Day.

  31. Canadians are recasting their Oct 14. 2008 votes,
    this time knowing for sure a coalition of losers is in the cards.

    Quebec was the only provinces that supported the coalition,
    and they choose jack to lead it.

    • Indeed. Good thing about Quebec, though, is that they don't give a rat's rear end what anyone thinks. That means they can take the long view while simultaneously staying in the moment: Long-term their goal is separation, but they will always choose according to what gets them the most satisfaction in the near-term.

  32. And er – if you hadn't noticed – several Canadian provinces have joined together with some quite large states (like California) and have implemented a Cap and Trade system – so – please do so superficial research before posting! Facts ARE facts!

    • Cap and trade requires a carbon market. In case you haven't noticed, the Chicago Carbon Exchange quietly closed its' doors last year after trading in carbon credits sat at zero for several months.

  33. Nice Try Dave – but those farmers were actively building cooperatives to give them some negotiating power with major seed / fertilizer suppliers and their markets. Conservative? sounds like a socialist move to me! And who was actively working to break down the successor to those cooperatives – the Wheat Board? Why the conservatives of stephen Harper – no less! you are losing on your ideological logic today bud!

    • Wascally Wabbit, don't talk about the Wheat Board. It doesn't concern you or your economic interests, and it really annoys the people who it does.

      For example, actual farmers who are screwed over by a private organization that wields the state power to enforce a monopoly.

      Why the left doesn't clue into the fact that rural areas have overwhelming Conservative support on the Canadian prairies baffles me.

      • The majority of actual farmers prefer to keep the wheat Board. The dishonest Harper Reformatories are working to reduce the farmerss control of the farmers' Wheat Board.

  34. Look it up, it was the NDP who helped the Conservatives raise it back up. Teh Google, it is wonderful, yes?

  35. Paul Wells, just admit it, at the core, you're a die-hard conservative, and would become orgasmic if Harper got his majority.

  36. You think the Conservatives who chum around with criminals like Carson care about "legal"? They will commit any crime they think they can get away with including stealing taxpewrs money to buy election ads with.

  37. I believe it was Ed Broadbent who coined the definition of a "region" of Canada being any place outside of a 25 mile radius of Yonge and Bloor.

    Unlike Northern and Northwestern Ontario, Southern Ontario is not a "region" and thus has no tradition of federal protest parties. In Quebec, the NDP seem to have taken on some of the policies of the Bloc Quebecois (e.g ending bilingualism for federally-regulated industries in Quebec). The Bloc is a protest party par excellence. And as Gilles Duceppe said to Jack Layton at the debate: "I will never be Prime Minisiter and neither will you!" which might be a reason for Layton's appeal for Quebeckers. The NDP seems to want to be the Bloc Quebecois protest party without the overt separatism. This will win them no votes in Ontario.

    Another factor is that in Southern Ontario, the federal and provincial NDP have been strongly tied to the labour unions, especially UAW (now CAW) and OPSEU. It was Rae's "Social Contract" (ie, the unilateral breaking of collective bargaining agreements in the public sector) that ended the public service unions support of the NDP for a generation, perhaps permanently. The Quebec public sector workers and labour unions have not had this experience with the NDP, hence their open-ness to support them now.

  38. I wish someone with credibility and skill in the media would publish before the election a clear, reasoned, documented, unbiased extrapolation on what the Conservatives are likely to do over 4 years with a majority.
    Base this on Reform and Conservative Policy, beginnings of long term policy during the minority years, ignoring everything Harper has said of course, but conduct extensive of the record interviews with party, cabinet and PMO insiders, just old time journalistic stuff.
    As it stands now we have only the word of Harper and his Peter Kent style servants to go by. And none of that is believable.
    It's getting late.

    • Why would you WANT the media to do the thinking for you?

      • Yes. I want a professional being paid for his or her ability and time to do his or her JOB and provide the people of Canada with fair and honest analysis of what the Conservative (Reform) Party has in store for the country if they get a majority, and a majority is a whole new ballgame.. Wilson, what do you think the media is for, regurgitating PMO spin and having fun with horse race, poll politics from the back pocket of the Conservative Party? Well that's just about what you got, so you must be happy with the current situation.

        • I think Heather Mallick wrote a piece on this subject that would satisfy you.

          • I want Wells!

  39. Say what?

  40. God help Canada if a DICTATOR like Harper ever gets a majority. I wish Jim Prentice was their leader, & a few others bullies out.

  41. NDP is essntially a communist party in sociallist's clothing. It has a well lubricated cadre based political machinery, promises the moon to the electorate, swears by its leader (party memebers every now and then talks some thing like "Our great leader Mao"), very foxy in its stands, very good in oratory power, and ruthless in crushing its opponents (yielded no ground to Green Party).

    Straight Talk

    • The past socialists governments in Canada defined Canada. Harper is about to change that. To hell with poor people, let them eat cake…

    • Nonsense.

    • Dude,

      (1) "well lubricated"? Apparently they barely have ground troops in Quebec, according to much better informed people than you or I.

      (2) "swears by its leader"? Not so much. I have friends who ran for the NDP and criticized Jack. Talk to folks before you make assumptions. You know what they say about assumptions….

      (3) "very good in oratory power"? Uh….I should hope so. That's part of the job of a politician – an ability to communicate a position. If they were bad, they wouldn't be running or elected, yes?

      (4) "ruthless"? More so than any other party? Why would it yield ground to the Greens? Did the PCs voluntarily yield ground to the Reformers?

      Logic, thy name is not Straight Talk

  42. How can the longest running minority govt in Canadian history be accused of NOT working with other parties?

    • No there were two different minority governments with an election between, and they had to prorogue twice to save the coward Harper's skin, and they accomplished less than most governments because Harper refused to work with anyone else for the good of Canada. He and his criminal fraud advisor Carson were too busy stealing taxpayer's money to buy election ads with.

  43. I don't think candidate quality should be that important a consideration, particularly for the Liberal party. Trained seals don't need many qualifications.

  44. Jim Prentice bailed because he knew they were heading for a majority. Sounds counter productive, but he knew he could not accept the level of repression and extremism in a 4 year majority mandate. Petter Kent may be wondering what he's doing for the next four years of his life.

    • No, he quit becuase he got a wicked job at a major bank.

  45. Excellent points, although I assure you Rae was a true NDPer.

    For whatever reason, the Ontario and national NDP parties are much less pragmatic than those found in some other provinces, particularly MB and SK.

  46. Stephen Harper: losing.

  47. I wonder if the Nanos nightly polls have had a big influence in keeping Harper momentum going, by daily reporting his near invincibility on CTV in a clearly partisan dialogue with Don Martin. The "daily" aspect of his system just keeps Martin and Jane Taber at the Globe pounding out the sure thing Harper message. You hardly get a chance to think and keeps the punditry in pro Harper mode day after day..

    • @ WB, yes I agree completely. Worse yet, the sorts of "daily shifts" that Nanos reports are statistically even less reliable than fixed time-frame polls. A general rule seems to be that the larger the sample size, the smaller the Conservative support.

      Regarding Don Martin, he just needs to lose a little more hair and he will essentially be a clone of Mike "puffy" Duffy. Don's chances of a senate seat are quickly evaporating methinks.

    • You think Don Martin has had a “huge influence” in keeping Tory momentum going? I don’t think the man is that influential. What are the ratings on his show, anyway? Can’t be more than half a million or so.

  48. Perhaps British Columbians are smart enough to realize that two parties with the same name can be worlds apart. After all, the so-called British Columbia Liberal Party is really a bunch of Conservatives.

    On the other hand, the provincial NDP ran balanced budgets, and their scandals were at least well-intentioned. The fast ferry boondogle was at least an attempt to help our ship-building industry after all.

    And besides, it all looks mighty tame when you compare it with a drunk-driving premier who dumped the HST on everyone 5 minutes after an election where he never mentioned it and then sold BC Rail in a highly questionable deal he promised not to make.

  49. The poll is already out. However Ekos is projecting 131 seats for the Tories, which isn't that huge a reduction from 2008 (especially when you consider that Ekos seems to undercount Tory support, relative to other pollsters, and to actual election results). What is really interesting is that they project 100 seats for the NDP and 62 for the Liberals. That would mean a fairly stable Liberal-NDP coalition is possible.

    • If this did happen, we would not see a coalition. There is no way the Liberal party would be complicit in its own extinction by taking a junior role in a Layton government just because he got popular for a couple of weeks. Would not happen. They'd sooner prop the Tories up.

      • good point, but I still don't see this translating into seats. Quebec vote splitting, BC vote splitting. I see a CPC majority coming in quickly, especially when this poll startles the right leaning LIb voters to the conservatives. Ignatief is collapsing in a huge way. He's lost the left and the right wing of his party will spook.

      • It actually delights me to no end that somewhere, some Liberal officials HAVE to be talking about this, just to make sure they're ready if it does happen.

      • Highly unlikely. To join a formal coalition with the Conservatives would be just as suicidal as one with the NDP. The likely reality is the Liberals will ditch Ignatieff (a certainty) begin talks for a formal merger with the NDP into a unified Centre-Left party, which in theory, should easily capture 60% of the vote at any given time.

        We are witnessing a seismic realignment of the political landscape in this country and its extremely exciting for any political junkie.

        • I agree. The Liberals needn't join a coalition with anybody. They can prop up whichever party they liked on confidence votes without joining a formal coalition, all while waiting for a recovery in the polls (they would hope) before pulling the plug on the government. If they were going to join a coalition, they might as well merge. The junior party in a coalition tends to lose support (both to its senior partner, and from disgruntled supporters that dislike the senior partner).

        • I was referring to much the same arrangement as has existed for the last 5 years. Support/not defeat the Conservatives while waiting for a rebound. Obviously it has gone spectacularly badly but in this (unlikely, I agree) scenario, what choice do they have?

          As for merger, if the NDP finishes ahead of the Liberals, what's in it for them? You fight for decades for the things you believe in, and when the breakthrough comes, join the Libs and possibly become them?

          • True, but in many ways, Layton has already transformed the current version of the NDP into a slightly lefter version of the Liberals. The NDP certainly doesn't represent big unions anymore, which tend to teeter between endorsing the Liberals and NDP both federally or provincially. My sneaking suspicion is that backroom talks between the Liberal and NDP higher ups have probably been going on for months. Even Chretien was pushing the idea at one point. In any case, I think Layton has made the NDP considerably more centrist in comparison to Broadbent's days. Are we witnessing the birth of the "Liberal Democrat" party here in Canada?

          • At this point, I think a merger would involve the Liberals joining the NDP.

  50. Whoa, this is becoming really exciting and Jack's aim has always to become PM, he will do WHATEVER it takes to achieve that. I am not too comfortable with that, do not mind him as opposition though.

  51. yeah right, can anyone say rogue poll? if you drill into the results there are crazy things happening all over nonsense. although I can't wait to hear the Liberals explain this away.

  52. [OTTAWA – April 25, 2011] From time to time, EKOS offers seat projections based on its opinion polling. The projections are based on national, regional and, in some cases, sub-regional polling projected onto the results of the last election. They do not pretend to predict individual ridings.

    The last sentence is key. despite all the breathless speculation the NDP will NEVER get 100 seats. There just aren't that many in play unless the Liberal collpase is total and without precedent.

    • The NDP could have a very strong surge though if the Liberal collapse is as complete as the Progressive Conservative collapse of 1993. Essentially what would have to happen is that the Liberals lose their Ontario/Quebec base to the NDP the way the Progressive Conservatives lost their base in the prairies to the Reform Party.

      Ah, Reform Party… how I miss you.

  53. The only thing that could possibly surprise me is if the election outcome comes close to reflecting the overall will of the voters. Doesn't it strike anyone else as supremely flawed that national support levels of 40% can result in an overwhelming majority of seats in the legislature? How else could the Liberal party have ruled unopposed for over a decade? How else can anyone talk of Stephen Harper gaining an unstoppable majority when well over half of voters would not choose his party or his ideology?

    First-past-the-post needs to go. Australian-style instant runoff voting, proportional representation, mixed-member proportional, dumping the unelected Senate and replacing it with a proportional-representative body, dumping representative federal democracy as a whole and moving to various forms of local and regional direct democracy… we need to improve on this rotting mess of a system if the growing number of people dissatisfied with the present structure are to have any reason to feel empowered.

    • There is no way to fix that problem. We could switch to a PR/MMP system, but it also has problems. Since it is very hard for one party to win a majority in a PR/MMP system, the government and its program actually get put together after the vote. So votes are proportional, but less meaningful.

      And anyway, 40% is not that bad, when you consider that many may have the government as their second choice, and that some voters approve of the government but support other parties (eg. right track/wrong track polls tend to show a majority of support for the way things are going in Canada).

  54. I don't put much stock in polling[ particuarly after Gregg's comments].Nonetheless it is interesting to speculate what if.

    Would the libs dare enter a coalition after Ignatieff ruled it out? Does it actually count when you are no longer the senior partner? If he says no will the party ditch him?

    The libs could still work with each party on an issue by issue basis. The howler being the never likely even for a moment considered the possibility it would be from the bottom of the heap, not from second.

    Unreal! Still, kingmaker might sound better than coalitionist liar? Better for the long term health of the party too.

    If this were to pan out i'd be torn badly. IMO Harper is unworthy of his office – the man's a pathological liar. But Jack has some seriously unproven ideas. His promise to do what 5 previous PMs have been unable to do – get Q to sign the consititution is frankly bizarre…at least the question at what cost to Canada should be seriously posited. Hard times if you're a liberal like me.

    • If Jack becomes leader of the official opposition, I don't think we'll need to worry much about what Iggy will do vis a vis the opposition. I suspect Iggy won't be around long enough to be put in that position.

  55. +1

  56. Why would any Canadian in their left mind vote NDP?!…

    A party who has forced MEDICARE on every CDN?, only people who can pay out of their own pockets wile bleeding to death in a ditch should be able to get medical treatment or too bad!…

    A party whose founder Tommy Douglas was voted the GREATEST CANADIAN in the history of our country!, who does he think he is?!…

    A party who cares about the people?!?!, forget the people!, what about the oil companies, banks & big corporations?!, their only making millions in profits!, crap I'm out of bread & water again…

    A leader who thinks the credit card companies are charging us to much interest?!, who cares if Canadians are drowning themselves in dept!, keep the government out of the billionaires business!…

    I mean geeze baaa! The other parties & media etc keep telling me not to vote NDP baaa! they say the SKY WILL FALL! baaa! you'd be crazy baaa! to think for yourself! baaa! you know you can TRUST what baaa! the other parties tell you to FEAR baaa!.


    • I get a little sick and tired of the Tommy Douglas idolatry from the NDP'ers. Douglas was a eugenicist for heaven's sake. Do some googling and Wise up!

  57. Ontarians pay enough tax and have a massive provincial debt to manage. we don't want good paying tax generating jobs in Mississauga to go south just because Ignatieff hates jets and Layton corporations

  58. Paul,

    Ekos is an "interactive poll," i.e., the respondents don't talk to an actual person. These kinds of polls are known to be unstable and unreliable. Zogby destroyed his reputation with these down here (he predicted a Kerry win in '04).

    Stick with the live-person interview polls.

  59. LOUDER, i'm hard of hearing ….

  60. nothing ventured, nothing gained. It is about time we had a shake up in Candadian politics! Terese Casgrain will be loving this if she were here today!

  61. I'm young enough to not know about Bob Rae in Ontario, but I'm old enough to remember the mess Mike Harris's PC's made of Ontario!!!

  62. I actually approve of the NDP surge in quebec. I'd rather have the socialists get a seat that the seperatists. It doesn't really matter, as both parties' are economic basket cases.
    That being said, the idea of a coalition is greatly reduced if Layton beats Iggy in the final tally.

  63. Does anyone actually think the Liberal party (entitlement party) would actually form a coalition with Layton as the PM? Crazy talk.
    If it looks like that may be the result, you won't have to worry about NDP'ers voting for the Liberals, you'll see Liberals voting for the Conservatives.

  64. Joe Carbury would be proud. "And they're off"

  65. I think Paul Wells theory on the lack of an ON NDP surge only partially covers it. Yes, the 85-90 Bob Rae government has seriously damaged the party provincially and federally which still lingers. I would suggest though that Layton himself is a more known commodity in ON as a classic urban, left wing politician so his identity is cemented in the minds of ON voters more so than in places where his political history isn't as well known which lets Layton become a guy you can have a beer with in Quebec.

  66. I find that most Canadians do not understand the Parliamentary system – neither the people, nor the party leaders. (Hence the concern about coalitions.) We have been too influenced by the American system. We behave like we have a presidential system – but don't have the US checks and balances.

    We should dump the parliamentary system.

    • No we should dump the wannabe Americanslike Harper who show so much contempt for Parliament.

  67. First post!!!

    ….to mention that Angus Reid just blew the Paul Wells theory of how 2011 is going right out of the water. Looks like Ekos and Angus agree and Nanos is out of step with them.

    "I haven't written about polls much here on the blog during this campaign". Great strategy. These change all the time and tend to change the moment someone points to any poll to reach a definitive conclusion. It's got to be a law or something

  68. I would have to disagree with you on this. As much as I hated the years that Chretien was in power, he was able to move the country in a certain direction. It works. We have over 30 million people in this country. If we had to make every decision with the support of all of them, we would never make a decision. Every person who advocates PR has good intentions, but the actual ramifications would be negative.