06 October 2011

Environics releases second indy poll of campaign #nlpoli #nlvotes

The second independent poll of the provincial campaign – this time by Environics for the Canadian Press  -  turns up some interesting numbers.

You’ll find them below, in a table with the other recent polls results, all put on the same basis as a percentage of total responses.

Two things to notice from Environics compared to either MQO, CRA or Telelink:

First, Environics tells you how they conducted the survey and warned about extrapolating these numbers to the population.

“The non-random nature of online polling makes it impossible to determine the statistical accuracy of how the poll reflects the opinions of the general population.”

Second, they present their figures with all the relevant responses included.  Removing one of the valid response categories – the undecideds – distorts the poll results in a way that can be highly misleading. 

In the past, CRA polls have reported an increase in Conservative support when their poll actually showed a decrease.

In the table below, SRBP recalculated the numbers for MQO and CRA to show percentages of all reported responses, including undecideds.









S 20

S 30

Oct 3

Oct 5































The Big Story isn’t in these polls

While lots of people will focus on the decline in the Liberal polling numbers and the apparent climb of the NDP during the election, the more dramatic drop has been in the Conservative numbers since early 2010.

cra aug11 corrected

That orange line is the share of eligible votes the Tories got in the 2007 general election.

The blue line is the Progressive Conservative party choice number in every CRA quarterly poll from November 2007 until the most recent one in August 2011.  The number is shown as a share of all responses, not as a share of decideds.

Look closely.

The Tories peaked at 67%, according to CRA, in early 2010'.  Since then, it’s been a jagged ride downhill.  From May 2011, the drop has been precipitous, settling out at 40% in August 2011.

While the other polls show different numbers, they are all within the margin of error for the polls.

What does that mean for the Tories?

Well, when you look at real numbers it gets pretty easy to see why the Old Man skedaddled last fall in an unholy rush.

If you consider the discrepancies between CRA’s polling numbers and the 2007 actual voting result, the Tories might have problems getting their vote to the polls.  Even if you allow that the 27 percentage points the Tories have dropped since early 2010 was all Danny-loving over-reporting by super enthusiastic respondents who weren’t real Tories anyway, the Tories would have to get all their voters from 2007 to the polls and then some to avoid losing any seats at all.

That’s something noted here early on in the campaign and it still stands.  The Tories will likely lose seats.

The Murky Shifts

The variation in the Liberal and New Democratic Party numbers looks dramatic, even if you just look at the table above.

Just remember, however, that the variation in the Liberal result in all these polls done since September 19 is within twice the margin of error for the polls. That means we likely haven’t seen any shifts of any significance.

The Liberal number from Telelink could wind up being like their Liberal number in 2007: roughly half what it wound up being as a share of eligible voters once all the ballots had been counted. Averaging the Liberal result of the first four polls (excluding Environics) gives you a number close to the 2007 actual.

The Wild Card

The NDP results show a wider range of variation.  The four polls – excluding Environics -  range from a low of 15 to a high of 27, with the high and low actually coming from polls done within days of each other.  The average of the four is 21%.  That is three times what the NDP were polling in early 2011.

Anecdotally, it seems that NDP support is focused in St. John’s and one or two districts outside Capital City. The climb in NDP support appears to be related to the drop in Tory support.  That’s not surprising in St. John’s where the NDP and Tories are closely connected and where the major shifts are likely occurring.

In some respects that shift from Tory to NDP in St. John’s is the other half of the Big Story of this election.  The Race for Second Place remains an imaginary tale at worst, and a triviality at best.

Even moreso than with the Liberals, the NDP chances of picking up seats on October 11 depends on how effectively they can get their vote out.  That’s especially true in St. John’s where the Tories tend to rack up sizeable majorities.

- srbp -

Note:  CRA and the telegram have a new poll due Thursday.  Rumour has it that MQO is in the field again and may release another poll later this week or on Monday.