Monday, January 02, 2006

Shooting Up

It's been a tough 48 hours. With SES on vacation again, political junkies everywhere have been breaking into cold sweats and suffering from the shakes. How will the Income Trust Leak play? Are there any post-Christmas polls out there? It's a wonder Greg Staples hasn't hung himself.

Luckily, 2006 has started off with a barrage of poll numbers and, for once, they're all consistent - it's a dead heat.

(NOTE: I'm not even going to bother with the BQ numbers because it's become abundantly clear that the BQ will win around 60 seats and those numbers won't be budging at all)

Liberals 32
CPC 30
NDP 18

(Liberals up 40-36 in Ontario)

Liberals 32
CPC 33
NDP 18

(Tories up 38-36-19 in Ontario)

Presumably, Allan Greg and SES will have new polls out tomorrow as well. In addition to the raw numbers, there are also two positives for the Tories and one for the Grits.

-Tory support is the strongest, with 68% of their supporters sure to vote, compared to 60% for the Liberals. If you factor those numbers into the Ipsos poll, that leaves the Tories up 22.4 to 19.2 among voters who are "absolutely certain" they will be voting come rain or shine. As I've said all along, we should be paying closer attention to the weather forecast than to the polls in the week leading up to the vote. A freak snowstorm in Ontario would probably be good for an extra 4 or 5 Tory seats.

-Ipsos also has this info:

Currently four in ten Canadians agree with the statement "I'd be comfortable voting for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to form the government in the next election because we'll probably have another minority which will keep them in check" - 44 percent of Ontarians agree with this statement.

Just one-third of Canadians now agree with the statement "I'd be comfortable voting for Paul Martin and the Liberals in the next election because they will govern very differently next time due to the lessons they learned from the Gomery Inquiry"

-Finally, some good news for the Liberals. Fickle NDP voters seem poised to jump back to uncle Paulie's arms to stop that mean Albertan from becoming Prime Minister. 27% of NDP supporters said they'd shift to the Liberals if Harper looked like he was heading to a victory (probably leading to more Tory MPs in Saskatchewan and BC...). That's a 4 or 5% boost the Liberals could be getting again unless Layton and Harper can convince people that a Tory minority isn't the end of the world.


  • About that 4-5% shift from NDP to Lib...

    I'm a suburban Tory voter, and I don't think that my misguided NDP voting neighbours are afraid of the Tories at all.

    I would expect that this potential 4-5% shift would occur mainly in urban ridings, since an urban NDP voter would tend to be way more afraid of Harper than the suburban NDP voter. Therefore the Tory seat count wouldn't be affected by this potential shift. It would just tip urban ridings to the Libs instead of the NDP. I hope that Tories and NDP make a majority in the Commons, but it isn't absolutely critical.

    Plus, if the NDP is motivated to fight this phenomenon, they'll have to get out there and assure people that they'll keep a Tory minority in check. Jack ends up encouraging right Lib votes to take the plunge with the Tories; he'll remind them that scary Harper will have play nice with the secular-socialist NDP.

    By Anonymous Mark Hiebert, at 3:53 AM  

  • CG, I agree with what you say, but fortunately snowstorms in late January are anything but freakish. What scares me is freak benign weather.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:08 AM  

  • The polls may be close, but the trends aren't.

    There's no escaping the rise of the CPC and the fall of the Libs. What I think is good news for the CPC is this appears to be a real shift, and not an erratic jump - characterized by the fairly steady rise, since about the beginning of the third week in December.

    By next week if the trend continues there's little chance the Libs will recover.

    What's most shocking is the "momentum" numbers for the CPC in Quebec are skyrocketing.

    By Anonymous Biff, at 9:30 AM  

  • Just when the shakes had stopped and I had beat my addiction the polls come out again.

    Everytime I get out, they pull me back in (in my best Pacino voice).

    By Blogger Greg Staples, at 9:50 AM  

  • So much for not being a poll whore, eh CG? :)

    Does anyone really know what these polls mean? ... They're probably pretty good measuring sticks for how the parties are running their campaigns, but they can hardly be used to predict outcomes.

    The minute all those people who were polled have their ballot in front of them, everything goes out the window.

    Biff made a good point on the "shift" that's going in the Tories favour last time. The 2004 campaign was a mad dash for Harper — make the Liberals look bad long enough and maybe you'll eek out a win — but this time around he's offering substance, a real alternative.

    Being in Ontario, I can attest to this shift. The "scary" Stephen Harper is dying and the prime ministerial Stephen Harper is taking shape.

    By Blogger reporterbrock, at 11:17 AM  

  • I can't find a link to the original article, so here's the text itself.

    Harper keeps talking like this, he's gonna make a dent in Toronta.

    Idle talk won't save lives
    30 December 2005
    Publication: National Post
    Page: A18
    Byline: Stephen Harper

    The Boxing Day shooting tragedy in Toronto has shocked and saddened us all. As a father, I cannot imagine a worse nightmare. As one raised in Toronto, I see a different city than the one in which I grew up.

    The brutal end to a promising young life should be a wake-up call to all in positions of authority: a call to crack down on gun crime and gang violence. For years, Canadians have been urging their governments to get tough on crime. The time is long overdue for their leaders to respond.

    While this incident alone should be enough to prompt action, the sad reality is that it continues a pattern. The number of gun murders in Toronto has virtually doubled in the space of one year. Across the country in 2004 we experienced a 12% increase in homicides.

    Canadians know that the growing violence and the proliferation of gangs, guns and drugs that accompany it are directly attributable to years of government lassitude and neglect.
    Failure to enforce drug laws (and high-profile attempts to weaken them), a revolving door parole policy, and a myopic fixation on registration of farmers' shotguns instead of penalties for gun crime, have all taken their toll.

    The federal government has left 1059 RCMP positions unfilled, it disbanded the Ports Canada Police that once patrolled and protected against gun smuggling, and it has no idea how many illegal guns are present in Canada. Cabinet ministers take pride in legislation that allows conditional sentences (basically, house arrest) to replace incarceration -- even for serious crimes involving violence, weapons and drugs. The law governing young offenders is weak and disrespected.

    Is it any surprise that these woolly headed policies have exacerbated the problems of gang, gun and drug crime? This is the current government's record.

    Little wonder that the federal government wants to turn the recent shootings into an abstract discussion of rights and values.

    Gang violence is not in the Charter of Rights. Gun crime is not a Canadian value.

    Equally shameful have been politicians' attempts to explain away what happened. Some have implied that perhaps the shooters themselves were victims of exclusion from society.

    Law-abiding citizens were outraged by such blithe rhetoric. When a young girl is killed and other innocent bystanders are injured while they shop, it is no time for idle talk about social theories.

    It is simplistic and naive to rationalize that young people turn to gangs, drug trade and gun crime because they feel excluded from society. More to the point, it is irresponsible for any leader to make excuses for gang violence.

    There is no making sense of senseless violence. There is no point trying to understand a criminal act for which there is no excuse.

    If feel-good sentiment were the easy antidote to gun crime, then there should be fewer shootings than a generation ago. If government hand-outs were a quick fix, then gang violence should be disappearing rather than rising.

    The law must impose mandatory prison sentences for weapons offences, violent crimes and drug trafficking offences. We must end conditional sentences (house arrest) for weapon offences and other serious crimes.

    The law governing young offenders must be strengthened to require that violent or serious repeat offenders 14 years of age or older be tried in adult court. Further, statutory release, the law entitling prisoners to parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence, must be replaced with earned parole.

    We must grant customs officers, who serve on the front lines of the fight against gun smuggling, full resources to execute powers of arrest. We must also re-establish the Ports Canada Police and allow them to renew the fight against gun smuggling.

    In addition to getting tough on crime, we must focus on prevention. This includes investing in Canadian youth, ensuring the presence of real opportunity, and offering positive role models. Federal, provincial and municipal governments must co-operate with one another and with police and community leaders to support programs that help young people to recognize the dangers of violence in their schools and community.

    Prevention is only effective, however, if it includes deterrence and strong law enforcement.

    The Boxing Day tragedy should serve as a wake-up call. We need to spend less time trying to rationalize gang violence, and more time trying to stop it.

    By Anonymous springer, at 11:31 AM  

  • Yeah, I wouldn't put a ton of stock in the polls since there are still three weeks to go.

    And I think "momentum" and "trends" are a little overated. Both parties have ceillings and floors and we saw during the last election the Tories jump in front, only to give it up in the second half of the campaign.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:32 PM  

  • Check out this devastating piece by the Candian Press (now running in the Tor.Star and likely in every major daily tomorrow.)

    In short, they're not buying Martin's rediculous spin that an official RCMP investigation is just NDP smear:

    By Anonymous Chester, at 12:48 PM  

  • (1) The Conservatives are up by a couple of points a few weeks before election day. Hmm. Sounds familiar.

    (2) A nerdy point about a pet peeve of mine: The fact that parties are within the margin of error on a poll does NOT mean that they are in a "statistical dead heat", as so many people like to say. If a poll number is 34% +/- 2%, 19 times out of 20, this does not mean that 36% is just as likely as 34%. It means that, given the poll results, there is a 95% chance that the true value is somewhere between 32% and 36%. But given the same numbers, there is about a 70% chance that the true value is between 33% and 35%. The point is that the probability that the true value is really at either end of the confidence interval (+/- 2%) is actually very small. You can get a feel for this in this graph:

    So, Decima has the Liberals ahead, and Ipsos-Reid has the CPC ahead, no matter what the margin of error is.

    If only basic statistics was a requirement for political reporters....

    By Blogger Dale, at 1:53 PM  

  • CG wrote:

    Yeah, I wouldn't put a ton of stock in the polls since there are still three weeks to go.

    And I think "momentum" and "trends" are a little overated. Both parties have ceillings and floors and we saw during the last election the Tories jump in front, only to give it up in the second half of the campaign.

    See, I actually think good polling is going to be very important for Tories going into the final week or so of the campaign. I've got at least five seats that only change hands if the Tories look to be cruising to victory in the last 72-96 hours of the campaign.

    But we shall see tomorrow. I'm sure SES is back in the field tonight and we'll get the December 28th, 29th and Jan 3rd rolling data.

    By Blogger The Hack, at 3:08 PM  

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