Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Québec: Who Supports the NDP in Québec?

So back to Québec. Leger Marketing / Le Devoir have a new poll out. Le Devoir's polls are cool because they're so comprehensive. They focus in great detail on a single province, and they poll federal and provincial intentions at the same time. They split the province into three, Greater Montréal, Greater Québec City and the rest of the province, and they divide results into Francophone and 'non-Francophone' (a three-way Franco, Anglo, Allo would be nice but the sample size would presumably be too small to be useful anyway). I'd love to see similarly detailed polling results for the rest of the country.

One thing that's interesting about the poll is the extent to which the appearance of near-hegemony federally by the BQ is not at all reflected provincially. Québec would stand to benefit from a more proportional method of representation at least as much as any other part of the country would. While they poll 36% province-wide, fourteen percentage points above their nearest rival, they have made little inroads mong non-Francos, who support them at 6% compared to 46% for the Liberals. They trail the Conservatives in and around Québec City, where Harper's party is polling a remarkable 37%. And yet the party polling first in one of Québec's two metropolises is polling fourth in the other. Averaging them out, the Conservatives are, bizarrely, at second province-wide and are currently the highest-polling federalist party. Incidentally, replace "BQ" with "PQ", "Conservatives" with "ADQ", and "Liberals" with, er, "Liberals", and you have rough provincial numbers too.

So Québec's all over the shop. Parties' support depends on region or on language. Yes, but with one very interesting exception. Let's look at the NDP's support in Québec:
  • Province-wide: 17% (of decideds)
  • Among Francophones: 17%
  • Among Anglophones and Allophones: 14%
  • In Greater Montréal: 18%
  • In Greater Québec City: 15%
  • In the rest of the province: 15%
Remarkable, isn't it? Looking at each of those six stats gives the BQ a range from 6% to 43%, the Liberals from 17% to 46% and the Conservatives from 16% to 37%. And yet province-wide in all of the above stats, the NDP's lowest is 14% and highest is 18%, a difference of four percentage points that itself undoubtedly falls within the margin of error.

It's an interesting statistic, one that further confounds the question of who exactly NDP supporters in Québec are. The answer appears to be 'everyone, in almost equal measure'.

By some standards, this is a bad poll for the NDP. Undoubtedly because of the long-gun registry issue, the NDP drop nationwide is certainly mirrored in Québec. The NDP remains fourth province-wide, which is no cause for celebration. When you're only polling in the high teens, even distribution of support is a terrible thing. It's tough, based on these polls, to see how the NDP can have any breakthroughs at all in Québec.

But the silver lining for them is this: it proves that the NDP are not merely a Montréal flirtation. It shows that their rather Anglo image seems to be dissipating within Québec, where their support among Francos is now higher than their support among Anglos: I saw a pro-Bill 101 poster recently and looked at the list of official sponsors and was pleased to note the "NPD" logo alone amongst federalist parties there, alongside the BQ, the PQ, QS and the ADQ. Their logo included the only maple leaf on the whole page. "Rest of Québec" is too monolithically large to be sure, but they seem to cross the urban/rural divide in Québec, while in the rest of Canada that very question is pulling at the heart of the party.

Most importantly, it means Québecois NDP seats, if they come at all, will not come one at a time in various parts of the province. If the NDP can see their fortunes rise in Québec, they might start to see seats being filled from all over the province. It's not a realistic idea at all at the moment, but one day? Well, stranger things have happened.

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