Is there any chance April 25 EKOS poll is straw in the wind we’ve been waiting for (well some of us anyway)?Apr 26th, 2011 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief
[UPDATED MAY 1]. Monday, April 25, 2011 was a strange day in the history of the Canadian federal election campaign that will end with the actual vote one week hence, on Monday, May 2.
The day began, like almost every other in this campaign (there was a time out for Good Friday) with the results of the daily Nanos poll. The report in the Globe and Mail was headlined “Strength in Ontario puts ‘squeaker of a majority’ within Harper’s reach.” It went on: “Jack Layton’s New Democrats continue to hold on to their new-found strength in Quebec — and as a result are showing strong numbers nationally. There is even some speculation they could overtake the Liberals and become the Official Opposition.” But “another story is emerging out of Ontario.” Canada-wide “ the Conservatives are 39.2 per cent support compared to 25.6 for the Liberals and 23.6 per cent for the NDP.” These numbers put the Conservatives “on track to squeeze out a majority government” in the Canadian House of Commons.
Other reports seemed to flesh this story out: “Confident Harper says Tories would ‘hit the ground running’ May 3” (Canadian Press) ; “Size matters: History shows stronger NDP could accomplish more in a minority” (Calgary Herald) ; “Harper ‘confident’ of election victory” (Toronto Star) ; “Le NPD gagne du terrain au Québec; le Parti conservateur continue sa progression” (Le Devoir) ; and “Tories would ‘hit the ground running’ on May 3” (Halifax Chronicle Herald).
Then, around the dinner hour, we started hearing about the April 25 EKOS poll — based on a more than two-and-a-half times larger sample size than the Nanos poll, and presenting a radically different picture of evolving opinion trends among Canadian voters. (As the “Too Close To Call” polling website put it: “the latest Ekos numbers are crazy.” And, discussing seat projections derived from the same April 25 EKOS results, “Canadian Election Watch” reported: “These numbers leave me speechless, so I’ll let you do the commenting.”)
The April 25 EKOS report itself is provocatively entitled “ORANGE CRUSH: ARE JACK LAYTON AND THE NDP REDRAWING THE BOUNDARIES OF CANADA’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE.” Canada-wide, it gives the Conservatives 33.7%, the New Democrats 28.0%, the Liberals 23.7%, the Greens 7.2%, the Bloc Quebecois 6.2%, and Other 1.2%.
The seat projections that EKOS President Frank Graves and his colleagues derive from these numbers are even more striking: “With the current splits, these levels of support would produce 131 Conservative seats but the NDP would have 100 seats while the Liberals would hold 62. Together, the NDP and Liberal Party would have a majority and 31 more seats than the Conservatives, as well as nearly 20 more points in popular vote. It is hard to imagine how these totals would not produce the once unimaginable outcome of a Jack Layton led coalition government deposing Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. Unless of course, Stephen Harper could convince Michael Ignatieff that the Conservatives were more appropriate political bedfellows for the Liberals.”
Conservative uber-partisans have complained about Frank Graves and EKOS in the past. And such current poll-averaging sites as “ThreeHundredEight.com” and “Canadian Election Watch” are continuing to report seat projections much closer to the April 25 Nanos poll.
At the same time, Mr. Graves did successfully predict Rob Ford’s victory in the Toronto mayoral election last fall. And his April 25 Canadian federal election poll is being reported across the country. See, eg: “NDP leapfrogs Liberals to land in second spot in ‘astonishing’ twist” (ipolitics.ca) ; “Poll: NDP moves ahead of Liberals in ‘astonishing shift‘” (Vancouver Sun) ; “Surging NDP has opponents scrambling” (Vancouver Sun) ; “Poll: NDP moves ahead of Liberals in ‘astonishing shift’” (Calgary Herald) ; and “‘Terra incognita’: Poll projects 100 seats for surging NDP” (Globe and Mail).
Of course, no one should be jumping off any bridges just yet — in any part of the country or either official language. There is still a week to go. And who knows just what may happen next? It may be that a “squeaker of a majority” for the Harper Conservatives is still the most likely card in a complex deck. It all seems to depend on a lot of tortuous political arithmetic in 308 somewhat unique constituencies (with three and sometimes four or more parties competing — and the Liberals and New Democrats competing much more equally than in the past). We certainly don’t have a handle on all this, and we wonder if anyone else does either, really?
It seems clear enough, however, that there have been some almost contradictory or at least rather diverse polling results over the more recent past. And that does suggest that no one should be too surprised if the results on May 2 are a little more surprising than many of us were thinking only a few weeks ago. Or something like that, etc, etc, etc!
UPDATE MAY 1: See the counterweights editors on “Nothing dead certain about end of surprising and unsettling Canadian federal election campaign of 2011.”