First week poll numbers: Good news for Conservatives and Greens, BQ is in trouble

By Harold Jansen on Sep 14, 2008

All right, a disclaimer before we begin discussing the latest poll numbers from Decima-Harris and Nanos. There's a lot of trouble with how the media reports polls: they tend to do a horrible job of reporting margins of error on regional poll results, as Melanee Thomas detailed in her recent blog posting. Also, in a country with a heavily regionalized electorate like Canada, the national poll numbers don't mean a whole lot. If the Conservatives are up nationally because they the remaining 35% of voters in Alberta who haven't already succumbed to their charms have now decided to join the majority, it won't mean much for seats because the party can't win any more seats there. The key battlegrounds are British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.

Having said this, though, it's still interesting to talk about the poll numbers. These two polls were conducted on the same few days. They have a few differences, but they give a bit of picture of what's happening, if we don't get hung up on specific numbers. The big winners? The Conservatives, who are well out in front (38-40%). There is no sign that any of the gaffes in the first week stuck to them. As usual, these kinds of things affect people who spend a lot of time looking at politics, but don't do much to the average voter. The Liberals are well behind with 26-30% of the vote. The Conservatives are well out in front and there's not much sign the Liberals can make up that kind of ground. So far the question is whether the Conservatives will get a minority or a majority, not who will actually win. Jack Layton is talking about becoming prime minister, but that doesn't look likely. The NDP is stalled at 15-17%.

The big news is how poorly the Bloc is doing: they are at 6% (Nanos) or 8% (Decima-Harris). And remember, that's their number nationally; provincially, it's a lot worse than that. That's a decline from 2006 that will have real electoral consquences, likely leading to the party's worst showing since it started contesting elections in 1993. The Greens are at 9% on both polls, which puts them ahead of the BQ. This is a huge increase over the result in 2006 and shows that allowing Elizabeth May a place in the debate was the right thing to do. Likely, though, the Green's impressive numbers will leave them with no seats on the night of October 14, as their vote doesn't seem regionally concentrated enough. Should that happen, it will kick off a debate over electoral reform, as the BQ will presumably earn a decent number of seats with fewer supporters than the Greens.

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