A cautionary tale about polling. La Presse is on fire this morning with news of horrible performance by the NDP in Quebec. A CROP poll has the party down to 29% in Quebec, its lead over the second-place party diminished from 14 points to 5 since December. This would seem to make my blog post from December germane again. The one about how the NDP, which has more than half of its caucus in Quebec, now has to pick a leader to “consolidate” a “hold” on Quebec that is becoming less and less of a hold.
But then I note that the December blog post was based on a Harris Decima poll that had the NDP at 26%. Three points lower than their current low-water mark in the CROP poll.
Now, polling methodology varies from firm to firm, so comparing one firm’s December results with another firm’s January is a shaky business. It does seem like the NDP’s “free fall” in Quebec may have stabilized in mid-air, still a little ahead of the other parties. All of this can change, of course, and certainly will many times before an election.
The other thing that strikes me is the Conservative party’s numbers. There’s a very strong consensus among Quebec commentators to the effect that Stephen Harper is doing everything he can to tick Quebecers off, with his gun registry repeal and his Royal this and Royal that and his pictures of the Queen and the rest. But CROP has the Conservatives up seven points since election day, a larger rise than any other party’s.
UPDATE: To confuse matters further, here’s yesterday’s Harris Decima, which puts the NDP at 32% and the Conservatives at 19%.