Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What do Quebec and the GOP Primary Have in Common?

There seems to be a new frontrunner every week.

Well, maybe that's not exactly what's happening in Quebec, and no longer now with the GOP primary as conservative voters line up behind Rick "Don't Go To College Kids" Santorum, but the situation is eerily similar.

Like Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry, the centre-right Coaliton Avenir Québec (CAQ) was dominating, then started to fall, and now completely in panic mode as the traditional two (Parti Québécois especially) re-assert their authority in la belle province.

The last three polls from CROP, Léger, and Forum Research*, have all put the CAQ behind the Parti libéral (PLQ) and the péquistes, with Forum giving by far the biggest gap and the traditional pollsters Léger and CROP having the province in an essential three-way tie. Here they are:

The biggest correlating factor with the CAQ's drop is the rise of the PQ, following their last party meeting in which, I guess, Pauline Marois rallied the troops and is now reaping the benefits after having such a terrible few months.

But it's obviously a bit more complicated than "Marois got popular." One commenter here, CK of Sister Sage's Musings, said this in another post:
"It could simply be that old 'now that they're real, they ain't that great' thing. You know how polls often reflect the popularity of a leader or party simply due to the fact they're seen to never govern or at least hold any responsibilty. It's a fantasy. Now that CAQ is now not only a reality, but they swallowed up another party, they ended up with instant seats without working too hard for them. This tends to put people off..."
I agree with this assessment. François Legault, the former PQ MNA and minister who started the CAQ, then had it swallow up the old ADQ along with several former péquiste members, became the frontrunner by default because the two traditional parties had a pile heaped on them - especially the governing Charest PLQ. Now that Legault's CAQ is a reality, it's got a voice in the legislature, and there will likely be an election in the next half-year, certain by the end of the year, he's got to have policies, actions, and a plan. This all means scrutiny by the media and the public, and I suppose the CAQ doesn't look so nice up close.

While the PQ is so far the beneficiary, the Liberals have a clear advantage in that their polling has remained relatively consistent (an upward trend). The PLQ may have a floor in and around 25-30% in the current situation, though that is still lower than their lowest ever result (2007's 33.1%). Sort of a good news/bad news situation, I guess.

My current rolling average after all these polls is 32% CAQ, 30% PLQ, and 27% PQ, good for a literal three-way tie in seats (with the above order, 41-44-38), a far cry from the majority just earlier this year. Is the PQ rise a sure trend, or will the frontrunner's torch pass to someone new by the time of the election?

*Forum Research's poll is out of whack with other pollsters, and this is their first poll ever provincially in Québec. I include it because while its numbers are whacky, they're not necessarily wrong, and reflects a growing trend (momentum for the PQ, stable PLQ, dropping CAQ).

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