Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Two new polls at a critical juncture

Two very interesting polls out today on a very critical day. I have been frustrated that the Telegraph-Journal hasn't yet put out any more regional data since they began their tracking poll, as regional data is much more helpful to me than province-wide data. However, with their poll today showing an 11-point (49-38) PC lead, it is time for an update. That number is eerily close to the 1999 result (51-37) which led to Bernard Lord sweeping 44 seats. This sets the stage as the leaders head into two days with four critical debates.

At the same time, Acadie-Nouvelle has released a poll from an Ottawa pollster called Abacus Data. It shows a nail-biter of a race with the PC's holding a lead of 34-33. The poll is just of "Francophone New Brunswick," though it excludes Dieppe and includes Miramichi. They used the boundaries of four federal ridings (Madawaska-Restigouche, Acadie-Bathurst, Miramichi and Beauséjour) as a proxy for that subset of the province. That gives us about half of the provincial ridings, with the following 22 ridings being entirely (or almost entirely) within those boundaries:
Madawaska-les-Lacs, Edmundston-St. Basile, Restigouche-la-Vallée, Campbellton-Restigouche Centre, Dalhousie-Restigouche East, Nigadoo-Chaleur, Bathurst, Nepisiguit, Caraquet, Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou, Centre-Peninsule-St-Saveur, Tracadie-Sheila, Miramichi Bay-Neguac, Miramichi Centre, Southwest Miramici, Miramichi-Bay du Vin, Rogersville-Kouchibouguac, Kent, Kent South, Shediac-Cap-Pelé, Tantramar, Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe.
What this tells as is that the Conservatives must have a massive lead in the rest of the province if they led by only one point in this portion of New Brunswick.

First, let's compare the 2006 vote in "Francophone New Brunswick" (as defined by the poll) to the poll result. The poll reads as PC 43, Lib 41, NDP 13, Other 4 with a margin of error of +/- 4.8 when the undecideds are removed.

 2006AN poll

That suggests that similar to the CRA/TJ poll, the Liberals are suffering to the NDP's benefit. However, unlike the CRA/TJ poll, this poll suggests that the NDP are riding a bit higher and while taking most of their support from the Liberals, they are also taking votes from the PCs.

At a micro level, the TJ has also polled the ridings of Grand Lake-Gagetown, Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak and 8 other "battlegrounds." The first of those polls is out today, with the second to come tomorrow. Today's poll shows the race in Grand Lake-Gagetown as a tie of 34% each for the Liberal and the Conservative, with People's Alliance leader Kris Austin coming in relatively close at 23%. It also shows the Liberals coming in third among people's second choice consideration. In my view, this supports the current projection of "leans PC" for the riding, as Austin will have the weaker organization of the three and will likely underperform his polling position on election day, with his voters not making it to the polls and breaking off in higher numbers to the Conservative candidate.

Now to dig into the CRA/TJ poll. First, to help me do that, I will add another layer to the Abacus/AN poll. That is, how did the vote turn out in that same region in 1999?

 2006AN poll1999

This suggests that the Conservatives are doing even better in "Anglophone New Brunswick" than they did in 1999. They are showing as 7 points off of their showing in the north and eastern part of the province, but overall they are only 2 points off of 1999. Therefore things must be looking very good for them in the rest of the province.

Nepisiguit: from toss up to leans NDP
Because the AN poll, I now expect that the NDP will win at least a seat, if not more than one seat in the north. This is for a number of factors: 1) the poll shows the NDP doing significantly better in the northern and eastern regions of the province than they did in 1999; 2) the NDP nearly won several northern seats in 1999; and 3) the NDP is now taking votes away from both the Tories and the Liberals on a net basis which is critical to their path to victory. This seat was the closest for the NDP in 1999 in these parts, and they are running a strong candidate here to whom they've been giving profile. It was also one of the closest seats in the province in both 1999 and 2006. All of this leads me to believe that this is a prime pick up opportunity for them.

Tracadie-Sheila: from leans PC to leans NDP
Again, if the NDP are able to get 13% of the vote across northern and eastern New Brunswick, they are likely polling in the 30s in the Acadie-Bathrust region. They are now taking support from the Tories who show as 3 points off of their 2006 result and 7 points off of the 1999 result. These are the kind of numbers Duguay needs to win.

Miramichi Southwest: from toss up to leans PC
I've received a lot of reader feedback suggesting that this riding should be in the leans PC column. It is a bit of a historical enigma. On paper, it should be a conservative-leaning seat, but it has been generally safe for the Liberals. But with what appears to be a massive surge of PC support in Anglophone New Brunswick it is difficult to see this seat not being within the PC's grasp.

Moncton East: from leans Liberal to toss up
With the PCs seemingly enjoying a 15 or better point lead in southern and western New Brunswick, urban Moncton seats seem likely to be at least in play, if not leaning Conservative.

Moncton North: from toss up to leans PC
With the PCs seemingly enjoying a 15 or better point lead in southern and western New Brunswick, urban Moncton seats seem likely to be at least in play, if not leaning Conservative.

Moncton West: from toss up to leans PC
With the PCs seemingly enjoying a 15 or better point lead in southern and western New Brunswick, urban Moncton seats seem likely to be at least in play, if not leaning Conservative.

Moncton Crescent: from leans PC to safe PC
If the Liberals were to have picked up 5+ seats, this riding might have been in reach. With the current electoral situation, it is not.

Quispamsis: from leans Liberal to toss up
In the close elections of 2003 and 2006, this seat was a nail-biter with the Liberals barely losing in 2003 and the Liberals barely winning in 2006. It seems to be getting a reputation of something of a bell weather and based on these polls it should probably be in the PC column. Thanks to Mary Schryer's high profile, I'll leave it in the toss up pile for now, but if the current trends continue, it will be the next to go blue.

Saint John East: from safe Liberal to leans Liberal
If there is an 11-point PC win on Sept. 27, there will be very few "safe" Liberal seats in English New Brunswick.

Saint John Lancaster: from safe Liberal to leans Liberal
If there is an 11-point PC win on Sept. 27, there will be very few "safe" Liberal seats in English New Brunswick.

Fundy-River Valley: from toss up to leans PC
This seat is traditionally among the Conservative's safest. It went PC when they won only 6 seats in 1995, and survived the Liberal wave in Saint John in 2003 and almost did again in 2006. If there is a Tory wave, this seat can't stay Liberal.

Charlotte-Campobello: from toss up to leans PC
The Liberals' only hope in this riding is that the strong People's Alliance candidate splits the anti-Liberal vote. But if this poll holds, even on a big split it would be difficult for the Liberals to sneak up the middle.

Fredricton-Fort Nashwaak: from leans Liberal to toss up
If the Telegraph-Journal has identified this as one of its "battlegrounds" (likely based on the cumulative sample of its rolling poll which would be up over 2000 now), it is probably close. This one will be subject to revision based on the poll results released tomorrow.

Fredericton-Silverwood: from safe Liberal to leans Liberal
If there is an 11-point PC win on Sept. 27, there will be very few "safe" Liberal seats in English New Brunswick.

Grand Falls-Drummond-St. Andre: from safe Liberal to leans Liberal
I've heard from some quarters that David Alward has a strong presence here from his time as agriculture minister. This riding went big for the Liberals in 2003, but was closer in 2006. Despite being a majority Francophone riding, it wasn't included in Acadie Nouvelle's poll. I don't have enough evidence to suggest that this riding is in play, but I do have enough to suggest that it is worth at least a closer examination.

This election is now very clearly David Alward's to lose. The next two days of debates will be critical for the Liberals. If they can't do some damage to Alward while at the same time boosting themselves, it will be very difficult for them to draw a map to victory.

Also, if in the coming days, if the CRA/TJ poll continues to show numbers like these (it was 5 points yesterday by 7 points on Sunday), there will likely be more slippage of Liberal seats in Anglophone New Brunswick and in urban New Brunswick.

Projection summary - PCs are more likely than not to win a majority government:

Conservatives: 28 (13 safe + 15 lean)
Liberals: 20 (11 safe + 9 lean)
NDP: 2 (0 safe + 2 lean)
Toss up: 5


DL said...

I wonder why Abacus would do a poll that would include the federal riding of Beausejour but NOT of Moncton which is totally surrounded by Beausejour and which contains some very francophone areas?

nbpolitico said...

My bet would be that the outfit that paid for the poll (Acadie-Nouvelle) probably picked the regions where they get the most readership? I know that they have higher readership in the north than in Greater Moncton. That said, not sure why they would have done Beausejour in that case.

Anonymous said...

Good prediction: mine is close to yours with PC=31, Lib=19 and Toss-up=5. There are only 8 riding differences this time: Nepisiguit & Tracadie-Sheila are still Toss-Up to me although I agree that it is the NDP that are really putting the pressure, Moncton-East is still leans Liberal(PC candidate is not as well known in this tight race), Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak is still Leans Liberal(this would be truly an upset loss for the Liberals), Restigouche-la-Vallée is Leans PC(couple of neighbors whom are from there say that family members are stating that the PC candidate is now leading), Rogersville-Kouchibouguac is still Toss-up(this is a real battle between two heavyweight contenders but if the PC's take a provincial lead folks will stay with PC), Miramichi Bay-Neguac is leans PC(I have continously maintained this and it is heading for safe PC because former Minister and MLA became very impopular with local folks throughout the riding), and a new entry of Miramichi-Bay du Vin is Toss-Up(PC candidate veteran city councillor and former nurse Joan Cripss is on the rise and has popular MLA Bill Fraser on the ropes because of a series of false announcements that has gotten Fraser in deep trouble!).

Paul said...

I Live in Nepisquit, and while I see the NDP candidate taking votes, there are large populations of anglophone voters in this riding who are older, and more likely to choose a traditional candidate.

NDP strength is in the Allardville area, which is Yvon Godin vountry. The NDP candidate lives near the Robertville area, which is important in this riding, and where the Liberals won the last election.

However, your pollster might know more than I and I would be surpassed if they won, I wouldn't be shocked. The roots are there.