Category Archives: polls

18% in Ontario, and Counting

As we approach election day on March 17th, some people I talk to want to be reassured that their vote is going to go towards a successful party with momentum. Well, it is.

The [federal] Green party, which has never elected an MP, rose to 13 per cent nationally and was actually a point ahead of the NDP in Ontario — 18-17.

This confirms the positive signs we’re witnessing every day, and there’s still two weeks to go. Interesting how Bruce chooses to editorialize:

Bruce Anderson, the president of Harris-Decima, says the Green support may simply reflect voters parking their support in the absence of compelling alternatives.

Or, you know, they’ve decided that we are a compelling alternative. Just maybe. (Also, my campaign manager Jeff points out that “parking” isn’t the best metaphor to use when describing Green voters, though there are admittedly precious few comparable biking or transit-related options.)

Early Momentum

Sorry for my lack of frequent posting over the past week. With a by-election call due by the end of the year (apparently Stephen Harper is the type to leave things to the last minute), my volunteers and I have been busy distributing a letter, from myself to citizens, door-to-door here in Toronto Centre. It’s been a very rewarding experience in a number of ways, not the least of which is the positive response we’ve been getting so far. For example, Kenn Chaplin, a former member of the local NDP executive, has publicly endorsed my campaign:

Whether or not hardcore partisans of the elected parties can imagine it – and I’ve been with the New Democrats most of my thirty years of voting – I like the Greens’ self-styling as “fiscally responsible, socially progressive”. That’s not inconsistent with the evolution of the federal New Democrats and yet I’m feeling like I want to be part of something new.

I’ll be voting Green in Toronto Centre, for Chris Tindal, the party’s Democratic Reform Advocate…My decision to align myself with The Green Party of Canada is one which has grown on me and I have gone from being a card-carrying New Democrat of those thirty-odd years to an electronic card-carrying member of the Greens. (With most Canadians not bothering to even join a party, I admit to being an all-or-nothing sort of guy.)

Kenn joins a growing number of endorsers from across the old political spectrum, including a former Tory (meaning Progressive Conservative) provincial cabinet minister and a former director of communications for Pierre Trudeau. Plus, according to a poll done this week the Green Party is at 14% in Toronto, just one point behind the NDP. Given what’s been going on with the Conservatives in this riding, I wouldn’t be shocked if we’re actually ahead of them here, which would put us one point behind second place. And hey, we’re just getting started. It’s going to be an exciting campaign.

Green Party Has Boost In Support

Their headline, not mine. News Staff
The Conservatives and Liberals remain locked in a tight race but the Green Party has shown a slight boost in support, according to a new poll.

The latest Strategic Counsel survey, conducted between Dec. 6 and Dec. 9 for CTV and The Globe and Mail, found that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have managed to take a strong lead.

When respondents were asked who they would vote for, the results showed little difference from a few weeks ago (percentage-point change from a Nov. 12-13 poll in brackets):

  • Conservatives: 32 per cent (-2)
  • Liberals: 29 per cent (-2)
  • NDP: 16 per cent (same)
  • Green Party: 13 per cent (+5)
  • Bloc Quebecois: 10 per cent (-1)

In other words, we remain the only party with momentum, and we’re pulling support from all of the status-quo parties. The regional breakdowns are also interesting to note. Check out the huge jump in the west, where we appear to have hit the Conservatives where it counts.

The Conservatives appear to be losing ground in Quebec and are now slightly trailing the Liberals, although the Bloc remains a dominant force (percentage-point change from a Nov. 12-13 poll in brackets):

  • Bloc Quebecois: 40 per cent (-3)
  • Liberals: 20 per cent (+4)
  • Conservatives: 18 per cent (-7)
  • NDP: 11 per cent (+3)
  • Green Party: 11 per cent (+3)

The Liberals have fallen the same amount of percentage points in Ontario as the Conservatives have in Quebec, although they remain ahead of the other parties (percentage-point change from a Nov. 12-13 poll in brackets):

  • Liberals: 37 per cent (-7)
  • Conservatives: 33 per cent (+3)
  • NDP: 17 per cent (same)
  • Green Party: 13 per cent (+4)

Possibly hinting at voter displeasure with the government’s performance in Bali during the United Nations climate change conference, the Conservatives seem to have bled support to the Greens in the West (percentage-point change from a Nov. 12-13 poll in brackets):

  • Conservatives: 41 per cent (-7)
  • Liberals: 26 per cent (same)
  • NDP: 17 per cent (-3)
  • Green Party: 16 per cent (+10 per cent)

Greens Ahead Of NDP

Despite all of the standard disclaimers about why it’s a bad idea to pay attention to polls, it’s still notable that this Strategic Council poll (which has not traditionally had the Greens as high as some other polling companies) has the federal Green Party ahead of the NDP for the first time, with 13% to their 12%. Among other things, this is yet another argument that we need to be included in the next televised leaders’ debate. There’s also an argument to be made that this puts us in seat territory, since, as Jim Harris points out, the NDP elected 9 MPs in 1993 with only 6.88% of the vote.

One NDP blogger reacted to this news in the following way:

And I guess the near dead heat of the NDP and Greens shouldn’t go unacknowledged on an NDPers blog. To that I offer this, I greatly doubt the Green’s could sustain these numbers in a national election. However, it behooves the NDP to start giving some attention to a party that seems content on allowing the mis-conception that they are somehow equivalent to the NDP on the political spectrum.

To the first point, it’s true that in the past we’ve had difficultly pulling our vote out in numbers that some pollsters have predicted. That’s less true today, however, for two reasons. One, our party is better organized than it has ever been, with competent riding associations and experienced campaign managers establishing themselves in increasing numbers every day. That helps with the problem we’ve had of not “getting out the vote,” something the NDP excel at. Two, we’ve now passed a threshold of support where people consider us a serious party capable of electing MPs, as opposed to just a protest vote. That helps with the problem we’ve had of people entering the polling booth intending to vote green, but changing their mind at the last second for “strategic” reasons. If you don’t believe me, witness the results of the Ontario provincial election. Right up until polls closed bloggers and pollsters were predicting the provincial Greens would only pull 4%, maybe 6%. When the ballots were counted, however, we’d topped 8%, achieving the high numbers we’d been polling at.

To the second point, hopefully the author will be happy to learn that I am not content to allow any misconception that we “are somehow equivalent to the NDP on the political spectrum” to exist because, of course, we’re not. If we were, there’d be no point.

In fact, if people in general were under the impression that we were equivalent to the NDP, then it seems to me they’d be more likely to support the NDP for the oft repeated reason that “they have a better chance of winning.” (Note to any NDPers thinking of making this argument at my doorstep: if I wanted to blindly vote for the party with a good chance of winning, I’d vote Liberal.) No, quite the opposite is true: our support is as high as it is because people recognize that we are different from the NDP in many of the ways that we’re different from all of the status quo parties. (In short, and without trying to start a debate, we move beyond the old left/right spectrum and approach problems from a pragmatic, holistic perspective, while remaining the only party to acknowledge that there are limits to growth.)

Does that mean I’m cheering for the NDP’s demise, secretly hoping to wipe them off the map completely? Absolutely not. The NDP have a legitimate and important role to play in Canadian politics; I just can’t understand why they’re not playing it. If I were to offer some unsolicited advice, it would be as follows. Be true to yourselves. Stand up for traditionally “left wing,” socialist principals. Put away the focus groups and the talking points, the negative tone and the overly partisan rhetoric. Let Layton be Layton: think back to his excellent work as a city councilor in Toronto, when he was committed to getting things done instead of “getting things done,” if you get my meaning. That, in my opinion, is a recipe to get your supporters excited and believing in your party again.

Whatever you do, stop trying to become the new Liberal party. Please. We’ve got one of those already, we don’t need another one.