Sunday, May 13, 2007

Swinging votes

Decima has taken a look behind its voter intention numbers to see how party support has shifted since the 2006 election. And while the results don't lead to any strong conclusions, there look to be a few trends worthy of notice:
We've analyzed our last 7000 surveys on voting intention (between March 22 and May 7), and here's what we see:

* The Conservatives have done better at retaining the support of those who voted for them in 2006, losing only 15 per cent of their supporters. The lost points went to the Liberals (six per cent), the NDP (four per cent) the Green Party (three per cent) and the BQ (one per cent).
* The Liberals have lost 22 per cent of their 2006 voters. Ten per cent went to the Conservatives, five to the NDP, five to the Greens and just one per cent to the BQ.
* The BQ has lost 23 per cent of its support, with six per cent siphoned off by the Conservatives, six per cent to the Greens, five per cent to the NDP, and only three to the Liberals.
* The NDP has lost a quarter of its support - an even 25 per cent. Ten per cent went to the Liberals, seven per cent to the Greens, 5 per cent to the Conservatives, and 1% to the BQ.
Let's note initially that the percentage numbers are problematic since they don't account for the number of votes received to begin with.

For example, looking solely at the percentages, it would appear that the NDP had lost more votes to the Cons than it had gained. But with the Cons losing 4% of a 36% share of the total 2006 vote to the NDP while winning back 5% of the NDP's 17% share, the reality is that the NDP has won a net gain of .6% of all voters in the movement between themselves and the Cons.

Once that type of adjustment is made, it appears that a significant number of transferred votes among the Cons, Libs and NDP have led roughly to a saw-off overall - though with slight net transfers from Con to NDP, NDP to Lib and Lib to Con. And each has also shared roughly equally in the Bloc's decline. Which offers significant risks and opportunities for each of these parties in a number of ways, as they try to continue the inroads since 2006 while winning back voters who have switched allegiances since then.

The more obvious trends, meanwhile, involve the two parties which have been either successful or unsuccessful across the board. In the former category, the Greens have managed to pick up a substantial share from each other party...though unfortunately the study doesn't apparently track the Greens' 2006 voters to see if any of their existing base has leaked elsewhere.

And then there's the Bloc. Even before Gilles Duceppe's declaration of irrelevance this past week, the Bloc had managed to lose a substantial proportion of its support to each of the other four listed parties, while winning back next to nothing in return. And with a weakened leader and few obvious issues left to focus on, the Bloc figures to have trouble reversing that trend anytime soon.

Of course, the polls have themselves been fairly volatile lately, making it dangerous to draw many conclusions from Decima's snapshot of voter flow. But this finer analysis only seems to reinforce both the lack of many changes likely to significantly influence any election outcome, and the unlikelihood that many parties will see enough upside to want to gamble on an election in the near future.

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