What you should know about the Trudeau poll numbers - Macleans.ca

What you should know about the Trudeau poll numbers

Paul Wells compares new numbers against real-world results. Spoiler: Justin Trudeau has rocketed to Stéphane Dion-like heights

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau operates a crane while touring a crane operator training facility Thursday, August 27, 2015 in Oakville, Ont. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

Building momentum? Justin Trudeau operates a crane while touring a crane operator training facility last week. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

Is it time to call Justin Trudeau the Comeback Kid of 2015? Sure, if only to watch the way it gives the Liberals’ opponents conniptions. But while this morning’s Abacus poll features disquieting news for the still-leading New Democrats and continued lousy news for the governing Conservatives, it should encourage Liberals only insofar as they are doing better than their appalling 2011 result. Trudeau still has a long way to go.

This morning’s poll shows the NDP down in every region of the country except Alberta since Abacus’s last poll two weeks ago. A four-point increase in NDP support in Alberta, from distant second to distant second, won’t help them much. The largest decline was in Ontario, which counts for the most seats, both because it has 121 ridings and because it’s home to so many close races. For the Conservatives, it’s pretty much status quo across the board since mid-August.

For the Trudeau Liberals, the poll has a number of encouraging trends: The party is up in every region except B.C., where the story seems to be a Green party jump to 15 per cent.

But polls jump around, and it’s not super-helpful to measure gains seven weeks before the election against polls nine weeks before the election. How do these numbers compare against real-world results?

To find out, I compared the latest Abacus numbers against the results of recent elections. I concentrated on results in the three largest battleground provinces, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. (I assume the Conservatives will substantially hold Alberta.)

For the NDP, today’s Abacus numbers are within two points of the vote that party obtained under Jack Layton in 2011 in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. For the Conservatives, the news is lousy: down 11 points from their 2011 score in Ontario, down four points in Quebec, down 14 points in B.C. The Liberals are up nine points in Ontario, nine points in Quebec, and seven points in B.C.

But so what? The 2011 election was, by far, the worst ever for the Liberal party. Michael Ignatieff may not be around much anymore, but he’s still working hard to make Trudeau look good by comparison. Looking a little further back, we see the Liberals did about as well in today’s Abacus as in our three battleground provinces: Trudeau is within one point of Stéphane Dion’s 2008 score in each of Ontario, Quebec and B.C. And Dion lost big.

Trudeau is still six points short of Paul Martin’s 2006 score in Ontario, and eight points below Martin’s B.C. vote. And Paul Martin lost in 2006. He’s 19 points below Martin’s Ontario vote in 2004, 11 points below Martin’s Quebec vote that year, and nine points below the result Martin obtained in BC in ’04, the last time Liberals won an election.

Related reading:
Election race tightens as NDP support slips
This or that? Find out where you stand this election with the Maclean’s Policy Face-Off Machine

The modest reversal in Liberal fortunes since this long campaign began is, I think, real; it’s reflected in other recent polls; and it begins to reverse a 10-month trend in Liberal fortunes. I think it’s one of the stories of the campaign so far. It comes despite the fact that many observers must have assumed Trudeau had fallen so far, he couldn’t get up. He’s running against two formidable campaigners, Harper and Mulcair. He’s had some bad days on the trail, such as when he said in Saskatchewan that he wants to run economic policy “not from the top down, but from the heart out.” That one put Trudeau on the front page of several papers, sounding goofy. His closing statement in the Maclean’s debate was so lethargic, the hapless moderator accidentally talked over Trudeau’s conclusion. Yet he is the clear winner of the past two weeks.

For his pains, he is now doing about as well as Dion did when the latter lost the 2008 election. The NDP are still winning, and the numbers suggest the Conservatives cannot keep their majority and will need a lot of luck, if they are to have any hope of winning the largest number of seats. Today’s numbers won’t hold. But where they’re going, I would not want to hazard a guess.


What you should know about the Trudeau poll numbers

  1. I don’t go by pols, I go by the attacks, when your attacking personally like has been going on with the cons and dippers this past number of weeks, going after Trudeau, personally, it’s a sign pols are moving around, means you have nothing to govern on, and it also means your policy can’t stand up to your competitors, so you have no other choice but to attack, again not on policy, because it’s your weakness, but personality. When you attack another parties policies, it’s good for debate, when you attack a leader personally, it means as a government, you would attack your voters and citizens, meaning stifling debate, when in power. If Trudeau wasn’t really ready, why would so many qualified candidates stand behind him, because he is the only one ready to take this country into the next generation. If Trudeau and the Grits are elected to government this election in Oct, I don’t think they will ever make the same mistakes as they did when turfed in 2006, when they felt they new the pulse of the electorate, but in return they ended up paying dearly in the long run for it, for being complacent like this government presently. And I still say, there will be a Liberal government in October, just not saying whether it will be majority or minority.

    • If one compares past performance and party policies, Trudeau comes out ahead. Add in he is the only one of the three leaders that is actually telling the truth to Canadians. I believe Canadians can handle the truth!

    • Carpet bomber,

      These are LIBERALS we’re talking about. they are hovering around Trudeau, like vultures hover around a dead wildebeest. they are waiting to take him out and take his position.

      remember General Leslie?

      Do you REALLY think that a man who was charged with REAL leadership, in charge of thousands of soldiers actually looks at some lightweight underachiever like trudeau and sees Leadership?

      Sorry……Liberals are just positioning themselves to take over when Trudeau fails.

      • Listen pal, before you go ragging on me about Trudeau and his team of expert candidates, you should start looking in your own back yard. You, and others who comment your tripe about the cons, and especially this author, who thinks it’s fine to have a corrupt PM in charge of a corrupt PMO, and senate, as long as it’s not a liberal. General Leslie is a man of honor, a man with conviction, you should feel proud of a man who has the courage to speak up for veterans. As much as I am not a con, I still respect all armed forces members on the tory side, don’t always agree with them but I respect them, my father was a veteran and would have a lot of respect for this man. Justin Trudeau took a party that was on life support and built it into a modernized party, in order to bring it in line with the 21st century, not the 20th century(old outdated ideas), where we are stuck now with both the NDp and the Cons. Harper and Mulcair are selling Canadians yesterday’s campaign policies and ideas, and not taking our country ahead, the direction it’s supposed to go. If a harper or mulcair are elected to government in October, you can be sure Canadians will be handcuffed for another generation to come, with this balanced budget crap.

        • Lesile was lucky to get out of Theater alive. His own troops (I was there) had a hate on for this low life, self involved loser.

          • Les….

            I have had conversations with folks who were also working with the “General” and the opinon you share above, is shared by pretty much everyone who’s ever met the man. He’s an arrogant prick, and treats people like shit.

            he’s a perfect candidate for the Liberal party. he will fit right in.

        • Carpet Bomber wrote:

          “who thinks it’s fine to have a corrupt PM in charge of a corrupt PMO, and senate, as long as it’s not a liberal”

          And here we have a fine example of partisanship that blinds Liberal adherents to reality. Only a Liberal would think it is a scandal when a PM orders someone to PAY BACK the taxpayers. I know this is the exact opposite of the Dingwall stratety “I’m entitled to my entitlements”……

          Carpet bomber goes on…

          “General Leslie is a man of honor, a man with conviction, you should feel proud of a man who has the courage to speak up for veterans.”

          Actually carpet bomber, General Leslie is an arrogant man who thought it was perfectly acceptable for the taxpayers to cover his move from one house in the same city, to another house about 4 blocks away for a total of over $72,000. I must say, he must have some pretty fancy furniture (and a lot of it) if it costs twice as much as the salary earned by most of his junior subordinates.

          Carpet bomber again:
          “my father was a veteran and would have a lot of respect for this man”

          Carpet bomber, I have spoken to folks who have worked for General leslie, and the general consensus is that he is an arrogant, self-important and petty boor who treated his subordinates like crap. Apparently, he joined the right party for his demeanor and attitude.

          More Carpet Bomber:
          “Justin Trudeau took a party that was on life support and built it into a modernized party, in order to bring it in line with the 21st century”

          No. In fact, it was the backroom boys of the Liberal party who decided to capitalize on their “glory days” by selecting the oldest Trudeau son and building him up to the point that even he decided he should be the PM of the country. Trudeau didn’t bring any “smarts” with him………just his name. In fact, the next time trudeau gives a speech, listen to it as though you were not a hyper-partisan. Even the most dull-minded Drama student could recognize the tone and inflection of an actor practicing lines he doesn’t really understand. It is about what one could expect from a former drama-teacher without any real intellectual accomplishments to date.

          More carpet wisdom:
          “Harper and Mulcair are selling Canadians yesterday’s campaign policies and ideas”

          I suspect your lack of economic understanding is the meaning behind your argument. Trudeau not only wants to run deficits (as he knows that a budget will balance itself; as if by magic) but wants to “invest” more money in Green infrastrcuture projects. You know…….sort of like what the Provincial Libs under McGinty and Wynne are doing. think of it…..trudeau could take the entire country down the same road as Wynne has taken Ontario. If you’ve been following the economic performance of Ontario, even you may consider this to be an ineffective course of action. But hey..at least these ugly, loud, animal-killing blenders would soon dot the landscape across Canada. (but only in NDP or Conservative ridings – as per Ontario)

          More bomber genius:
          “you can be sure Canadians will be handcuffed for another generation to come, with this balanced budget crap”

          Yeah….balanced budgets. Who needs them. After all, it’s not a problem when a normal citizen doesn’t pay their bills, or take responsibility for their financial decisions is it? Tell me Carpet bomber…..since you don’t seem to care about keeping expenses in line with the revenue you take in…….how many times have YOU filed for bankruptcy?

          • Huh?

            It’s always a laugh when a Conservative says we should balance a budget when the Conservatives have had 7 straight deficits.

            Also comparing household budgets with a large complex budget like the Federal government that requires it take into account the needs of millions of citizens is very poor analysis and shows a very limited and shallow understanding of complex issues.

          • Cristo,

            The deficits were the result of the global meltdown, and if you recall correctly, they were forced on the Government by the opposition parties; who didn’t think the government spent enough money at the time. Please note, they have been going down steadily ever since and are now gone.

            Also, a Government is more complex, but what is not so complex (and even you may be able to grasp this point) is the reality that you cannot spend more than you take in repeatedly without consequence. that is what the Greeks did, and how did that turn out?

            Of course, if you follow the Liberal or NDP mantra, this isnt’ a problem because they have the power and the taxpayers have the resources to solve the problem. Governments will just take it from you. In effect, you have to pay for their bad decisions. See Ontario if you would like a prime example closer to home.

            In reality, I am well aware of complex financial issues….that’s how I earn my living. I don’t know who many times I’ve tried to explain it to folks like you; and they still can’t grasp it on most occassions. That is why I “dumb it down” when explaining it. If you still don’t get it……just keep voting NDP.

  2. As I said ages ago, we’ll go through months of an excitable media trying to make stories out of minor variations of the starting gate numbers…to no avail..

    Paul is just more hysterical than most.

    • What’s wrong, Emily?

      Still ticked that Mr. Wells had the temerity to point out the pathetic nature of your obsession with posting ridiculous arguments on this site?

      • You saying others post ridiculous arguments? Your arguments are incoherent and pointless, you’re the master of pointlessness.

        • Cristo,

          If you can’t understand what you are reading, then it is your failing not mine. Pick up a book…it may help you.

  3. I think Mr Wells forgot an important variable in his comparison. This is a three-way race and it has been for a while. Whoever wins will win with a much lower percentage than in previous elections. So comparing percentages is pretty meaningless.

  4. Sure, the Liberals numbers are nothing historic but this is not an election like any other with 3 parties being very close to equal.

    Historically the Liberal numbers aren’t good, historically the NDP numbers are very good and the Conservative numbers aren’t good for a sitting majority government. The result of these 2 bad and one good positions? A three way race. In the past bad numbers would put you out of it, today bad numbers leave you in contention. In the past one party doing, historically, very well with the 2 others doing badly would point to a clear winner of a majority government. Not this time.

    Looking at past elections won’t help you at all in accessing this one. (Unless Wells is saying the Liberals have a fair bit of room to grow given past results and I’m pretty sure he’d rather bite his tongue off than say that.)

  5. Mr. Wells

    There is a disconnect with your poll to election result connection. The Liberals and NDP have not done as well as the polls said they would AND the CPC has done better at election than the polls have had them.

    In 2011 the last polls right before election taken by Forum, EKOS, Nanos and Harris-Decima had the CPC as low as 33.9 and as high as 37.1 with the Average 36.0 … On election they got 39.6

    The 2011 liberals poll range: 18-21 .. average 19.5 actual: 18.9

    the 2011 NDP poll range 30-33 average 31.6 actual: 30.6

    • One thing the voice of no reason misses is that Harper cheated at the end to win several seats he should have lost. it also misses the fact that every three time winner lost votes as their tenure wore on.
      Thirdly it misses the fact that Trudeau is running a very disciplined and well orchestrated campaign. He is on message always and is now looking and acting more stately. His youth is the change we need. Old fat Tom is just another wannabe with an ego and personality not unlike Harper. He likes to cheat and this will play out in the weeks to come.

      • “Old fat Tom.” Yes, I agree. I also vote for people who are lean and youthful-looking. Why vote on principles or policy?

        I would also add balding. People don’t like balding men. No one wants a bald (or balding) man as prime minister.

        • Mike514,

          You should have guessed by now that people dont’ support Trudeau for his wisdom or ideas. Shallow folks are like that.

          In fact, the Liberals should pick a 15 year old to be their leader………then folks with Terry Quinn’s view would have a really easy choice.

          Of course, folks who actually pay taxes pay more attention and demand more than youth and good looks. We may even vote for a fat old guy if the policies are correct.

  6. I saw Mr. Dithers the other day, is Martin taking the Librano Campaign over from Junior??

    • I met Paul Martin at the Toronto airport after his defeat in 2006. He didn’t have a contingent of RCMP at his side, and he did look like a broken man. I felt sorry for him, actually, but he brought it upon himself.

      Watch him when he’s with Trudeau. You can tell he can’t believe he’s fallen so low that he has to shill for such an intellectual lightweight. Maybe he’s hoping for an appointment of some type if the Libs win…who knows.

  7. And add into the mix today’s budget numbers from Alberta and Saskatchewan showing defecits.
    The Tories are going to have a much tougher time sticking either Mulclair or Trudeau with the Decefit King moniker now.

  8. I dunno. Seems to me that with the Duffy Trial and all the bad news Harper has had to contend with, you may be overlooking the fact that he’s holding steady with very little in the way of a very heavy campaign strategy as yet.
    Just sayin’ as Yogi did ain’t over till…. etc.

  9. As I have said many times, I really do not think the LPC hoped to accomplish anything but hold Harper to a minority and regain Official Opposition status in this election. The first seems doable right now, the second not so much. (I doubt a potential NDP minority was not in their plans but I also doubt that makes a difference to them). Really, in order to stay viable they have to increase the seat count from 2011 – probably by at least doubling it. So I suspect Dion numbers do not look that bad to them right now. Their biggest concern has to be the loss of votes to the NDP if they appear to be consolidating their position as the only party that can defeat Harper, and the consequential loss of votes to Harper to stop the NDP from forming government. This is what happened last time.

    As for this:

    “His closing statement in the Maclean’s debate was so lethargic, the hapless moderator accidentally talked over Trudeau’s conclusion.”

    In light of Mulcair’s disappointing performance and Harper’s admission we are in recession, I do not think this stood out that much. Some people liked his closing statement and some did not. It is a wash, and therefore pretty meaningless as far as I can tell.

    • Forgot to add – last election determined in the final two weeks. I am making no prediction until October 20. :)

  10. That Paul Wells was as balanced (i.e. non-partisan) in moderating the Maclean’s debate was, for me and many others, somewhat of a surprise. In his arrogant manner, he has been nothing short of dismissive, critical, sarcastic and constantly ridiculing Mr. Trudeau from the day he was elected leader of the Liberal Party. As for the editors that create the twisted headings for his pieces – well, it is a Roger’s publication after all.

  11. Paul, I don’t honk things are as comparable. We know the Libs are in third. The difference is the incumbents are way down and the NDP have never formed government. So reading poll percentages for the Liberals outside of that context is missing the rub. Because as you say, much is in flux.

  12. Mr. Wells,

    You were the moderator of the Maclean’s debate. It is inappropriate for you to comment on the quality of a participant’s comments, especially as a way to excuse your own failure. The right and graceful response is to admit that you erred, make a suitable apology, and avoid criticism of the debaters’ performances. Your role as moderator introduces significant limitations on your ability to comment both during and after the debate.

    • No it doesn’t. Look! I’m commenting now!

      • You display both the manners and maturity that I have come to expect from Maclean’s.

    • I’mthinking:

      If he made the comments while he was moderating the debate, you may have a point; but for now, he’s back to “journalism-ing”

      All is fair game.

      • Fair game or not (and I don’t agree it is), I think Paul Wells might find that he’s given politicians legitimate concerns about agreeing to him as moderator for any future debates. I doubt if this was his first exploitation of that role since the debate.

        • DIJON…

          If you are so concerned about partisan politics disguised as Journalism, the CBC and other Canaidan media must drive you absolutely bonkers.

  13. So it was Trudeau’s fault that the inexperienced moderator stepped on his closing statement? That’s classy, Mr Wells, aka “hapless moderator”. It’s not really, I’m kidding, it’s a self-serving interpretation of a low point in the debate. I’m pretty sure opinions differ on Trudeau’s final remarks, and it’s not up to the moderator to define them for us. You just had to demonstrate some sensitivity to the moment. But thanks for raising the subject, because apparently you need to know.

    Many of those election wins were by a handful of votes, which suggests the ground game is going to be pivotal, if past data can be applied to this election at all. That’s what I’d like to look at.

    • I wouldn’t blame the mdoerator for “stepping on” Trudeau’s closing debate comments.

      I would blame Trudeau. he was so busy counting to 7 (dramatic pause effect learned in Drama classes) that he forgot 7 didn’t come after 15 and had to start over twice.