Sunday, October 05, 2014

What's in a Trend?

Probe Research has been busy collecting and compiling data over the last couple weeks.  According to their Omnibus schedule, they were set to deliver the Fall omnibus results to clients last week.  Very soon, we can expect the Winnipeg Free Press to publish the quarterly provincial political party standings.

We know.  No politician pays attention to polls and, yes, only one poll matters.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Despite what politicians say, polls and research data do matter, and politicians do pay attention to them (well, at least most of them do...).

In preparation for the upcoming quarterly release, we have gone back and compiled almost every single quarterly Probe poll result available to illustrate what a 15 year trend looks like for the NDP and Progressive Conservatives.

Not surprisingly, the NDP is clearly on a downward trend, and recorded their lowest level of provincial support over the 15 years in December 2013.  Even though, at the moment, the NDP continues to linger in a nasty funk, the linear slope for a political party that's governed for 15 years is remarkably, well, flat.

Also not a surprise is the Progressive Conservatives are clearly on an upward trend, and recorded their highest levels of support over the 15 year period in March 2011 and December 2013.  Despite choosing a leader who appears bitter his inheritance included just a watch and hates it when people click their pens in meetings, the Progressive Conservatives continue to enjoy high levels of provincial support.

Even though the Progressive Conservatives continue to enjoy high levels of provincial support, as they illustrated in the 2011 election, their vote continues to be incredibly inefficient.  You don't have to be Paul Thomas to know that Kelvin Goertzen winning with 80% of the vote instead of 60% brings their party no closer to forming government.  They need to win seats, remember, they need to win a lot of them, and to win government they need to do in a little over a year what it took the NDP ten years to do.

Does any of this matter?  Isn't this just the natural life cycle of politics, a phenomenon no political party can reasonably be expected to resist or counteract?  Isn't it all, well, simply inevitable these two trends will intersect?

Time will certainly tell.  In the meantime, our hope is that the NDP is not assuming this particular trend is going out of style anytime soon.