With another day of action against tuition hikes planned for this afternoon – the sequel for similar actions on the 22nd of March and May – I spent the June 21 combing few some of the recent polls to try and get an idea of where all this madness has left us politically.
It’s been polarizing. After surviving a rash of discontent within her party ranks and rumours of her being replaced by political veteran Gilles Duceppe, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois consolidated PQ ranks around the tuition hike issue. Marois and her fellow PQ MNA’s even took to donning the student movement’s symbolic red square – until recently, that is.
The PQ have also been energized by surprisingly favourable results in recent by-elections, taking Argenteuil from the Liberals last week, and almost doing the same in the Montreal riding Lafontaine, a perennial stronghold of the ruling Liberal Party.
The Liberals on the other hand, led by Premier Jean Charest, have recently found themselves on the back foot. Mired in controversy over both the ongoing student conflict and the Charbonneau Commission into corruption and collusion in the Quebec construction industry – which some predict could have unsavory results for Charest’s Liberals – the party has been trying to protect its image in the past month. The party debuted a new slogan on its website – “Governing: it’s not always easy” – a month ago, and released a new ad this week with Charest defending his “political courage.”
And in the midst of the traditional PQ-Liberal back-and-forth, the wildcard Coalition Avenir Québec – despite plummeting back to earth after leading polls for months earlier in the year – lingers as a possible seat-stealer for both main parties in a future election.
Nor has it been a boring few weeks for Québec Solidaire, the provincial party most sympathetic to the student movement. Amir Khadir, their co-leader and MNA, was arrested during a student protest in Quebec City.
So without further ado, onto the numbers (given the well-documented meaninglessness of polls, I’ve attempted to give as clear a picture as possible by amalgamating various polls, namely Léger Marketing, Angus Reid, Forum Research Inc., and the invaluable ThreeHundredEight.com).
Liberals up by a hair
The Léger/Le Devoir poll released this week has the Liberals narrowly ahead of the PQ, 33% to 32%, indicating the Liberals have actually made a slight gain in public opinion.
As far as other parties go, the CAQ has dropped two points to 19%, but remain the strongest third party with Québec Solidaire down a point to 9%.
ThreeHundredEight’s weighted poll averages have the Liberals edging the PQ by 0.4%, with the CAQ at 19.6% and Québec Solidaire at 9.4%.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the poll (depending on how cynical you are) is Charest’s personal ratings. 26% of respondents find Charest to be the best choice for premier – up eight points – compared to 21% for Marois (a two point drop) and 19% for CAQ leader François Legault (a four point drop). Khadir, on of Québec Solidaire’s two leaders, dropped five points to 6%.
ThreeHundredEight predict an election for September, pointing to the 55% of Quebecers who agree, a number which “sounds eerily close to a likely turnout rate.” Either way, says the blog, “with the numbers where they are, it could go down to the wire.”
For ThreeHundredEight’s full breakdown of the Léger/Le Devoir poll, including the numbers by region (teaser: Montreal is looking less Liberal), click here.
Tuition hike numbers
The Léger/Le Devoir poll included the following question:
The government has decided to increase tuition fees by $254 per year for the next seven years for a total increase of $1780. Students dispute this decision and request a freeze on tuition.
Are you more favorable to the government’s position, or more favorable to that of students?
Of the 1000 Quebecers surveyed, 56% favoured the government’s position, with 35% favouring the students.
Broken down by voter intention, respondents who said they intend to vote Liberal came out strongest in favour of the government at 94%, ahead of CAQ voters with 76%. Respondents who said they intend to vote for Québec Solidaire were most in favour of the students at 86%, with PQ voters second at 63%.
NDP, Justin Trudeau make big gains
At the federal level, both a Forum Research Inc. poll and an Angus Reid/Toronto Star poll from this week show the NDP ahead of the ruling Conservative Party.
Forum Research have the NDP with a seven point lead over the Conservatives with 37% of decided voters favouring the NDP. The Liberal Party came third with 22%, with the Bloc Québécois and Green Party coming a distant fourth and fifth.
To put the numbers in perspective, if an election were held today, those numbers would give the NDP a minority government with 136 of 308 seats (a 33-seat increase). Conservative seats would drop from 166 to 114, and Liberal seats would climb from the current 34 to 53.
Angus Reid, however, has the NDP at 35% (up two points) to the Conservatives 34%, and the Liberals at 19% (up one point).
Forum Research found that 53% of Canadians expect the Conservative government to be defeated in the next election, including 21% of Conservative supporters.
Finally, Justin Trudeau leads all contenders for Liberal Party leadership by a mile with 23% – 33% of Liberal supporters also picked Trudeau. Angus Reid had 42% approving of Trudeau, with Westmount-Ville-Marie MP Marc Garneau a distant second with 23%. In a hypothetical scenario where Trudeau is Liberal leader and an election is held today, NDP support would drop to 32% of the electorate, with the Liberals drawing even with the Conservatives at 28% each, according to the Forum Research poll.
“It is clear that Trudeau draws support (about 5%) from the NDP,” writes Forum Research.