POLITICS

Canada Election Polls Show Conservatives As The Favourite

08/15/2015 08:28 EDT | Updated 08/17/2015 06:59 EDT

Although it isn’t by much, the Liberals have edged their way back into the game. The odds are heavily against them at this point, but a series of polls released this week at least gives them reason to hope almost two weeks into the campaign.

It took a long time before we finally started getting polls, but the floodgate seems to have opened, with four released this week. We’ve got new numbers from Forum, Ipsos, Ekos and Mainstreet. You can find the details about each poll at the bottom of this article.

The graph below displays all the polls of this campaign. The date is the mid-date of when the data were collected.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of movement (outside of the Forum poll of Aug. 2, which clearly appears to be an outlier at this point). There is a slight upward trend for the Liberals, something we talked about earlier this week.

election poll august

Notice that our numbers can look slightly different from those published by each polling firm. This is because we do not allocate the undecideds proportionally. We instead allocate more to the incumbent Conservatives and split the rest between the NDP and Liberals (so “small” parties receive none). We do so because polls have a tendency to underestimate incumbents and overestimate smaller parties. This method has been very successful in Quebec and in the recent Alberta election.

If we use these numbers (for each province) and transpose them into seats, we get the following projections. You have, in order, the voting intentions, the seat projections with confidence intervals, as well as the chances of getting the most seats.

election prediction aug15

The big picture is still similar to what we had two weeks ago, with mostly a race between the Tories and the NDP. The Liberals of Justin Trudeau, who were projected with zero chance of winning the most seats, now actually have one, albeit only at 0.1 per cent.

Remember that these probabilities are calculated by running 5,000 simulations that account for the uncertainty of the polls (a party can be overestimated or underestimated) as well as the efficiency of the vote and the electoral system. In other words, we simulate 5,000 possible outcomes given our current information.

For the Liberals, it means the only chance of victory depends mostly on outperforming the polls and getting the vote out where it matters.

The Conservatives are now the favourite. There is also around a three per cent chance of a virtual tie between the CPC and the NDP. In this case, our parliamentary traditions dictate the leader of the incumbent party would be asked first to form a government, so the model gives the win to the Conservatives.

So you see that, really, this is as close to a 50-50 race as it gets. It remains to be seen if this will hold until Oct. 19.

If it does, this would be the first election with so much uncertainty in a very long time. Indeed, recent provincial elections all had a clear favourite by the end of the campaign (90 per cent and plus chances of winning). If we go to the riding level, we can find even more uncertainty. You can see the detailed projections here.

Regionally, the Atlantic is still red, and the projections say Trudeau would win a majority of the seats from the four provinces. In Quebec, quite frankly, this might be the quietest province so far. The NDP would easily win more than 50 seats.

Ontario remains the battleground of this election. And we aren’t saying this just to continue the cliché. In term of votes, all three parties are very close to each other, and they have been in every poll. As for the seats, the Conservatives appear to have a slight edge there.

The Prairies and Alberta would largely remain blue, but the Liberals and NDP would fare better than in 2011. Finally, B.C. could well be the kingmaker this year. If B.C. were the decisive battleground, it seems the NDP would be favoured. Thomas Mulcair and his party have been polling ahead for a while there, and that could translate into many gains.

In conclusion, the current projections show a close race between the Conservatives and the New Democrats. The Liberals are third and Trudeau is currently a long way from becoming the next prime minister. However, the trend is at least positive for his party. His relatively good performance at the debate might have helped.

We’ll see in the coming week if the observed trend continues. If it does, this three-way race will become even more complicated to project than it currently is.

Information about the polls mentioned in this article:

1. Forum poll conducted Aug. 10 and Aug. 11. 1,392 respondents contacted by phone (IVR). Margins of error are 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Question asked: “A federal election has been called for October 19. Which party are you most likely to vote for in this election?”

2. Ipsos poll conducted between Aug. 7 and Aug. 10. 2,022 respondents from the Ipsos online panel. A probabilistic sample of this size has margins of error of 2.5 per cent , 19 times out of 20. Question asked: “Thinking of how you feel right now, if a federal election were held tomorrow, which of the following parties' candidates would you, yourself, be more likely to support?”

3. Ekos poll conducted between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11. 3,055 respondents contacted by phone (IVR). Margins of error are 1.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Question asked: “If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?”

4. Mainstreet research poll conducted between Aug. 10 and Aug. 11. 5,401 respondents contacted by phone (IVR). Margins of error are 1.35 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Question asked: “If the federal election were today, which party would you support?”

Bryan Breguet has a B.Sc in economics of politics and a M.sc in economics from the University of Montreal. He founded TooCloseToCall.ca in 2010 where he provides electoral analysis and projections. He has collaborated with the National Post, Journal de Montreal and l’Actualité.

He will provide analysis and updates for The Huffington Post Canada throughout the federal election campaign. For riding by riding projections, visit his interactive simulator.

Like Us On Facebook

Also on HuffPost

Best Quotes From Maclean's Canada Election Leaders' Debate