The latest poll, while striking, isn't necessarily unexpected and/or irreversible. The source is dubious, but the conclusions are reasonable given the circumstances. What should give Liberals some solace is the fact that this snapshot is fluid and conditions are bound to improve. Why do I believe people shouldn't take this poll too seriously:
1. Historically, all new governments are afforded a certain amount of latitude and time before people form a concrete opinion. People voted for change in droves and are willing to give the alternative a chance to thrive. The Tories are primarily the beneficiary of good will that is more a reflection of Canadians fairness, than it is some passionate endorsement of policy.
2. With all due respect to the NDP, we are currently in a situation where we are oppositionless. The Liberals are largely a non-factor as they re-tool, which is reflected in the largely negative press coverage. Almost every piece that mentions the Liberals finds its way to characterizing the party as a dysfunctional mess. This situation is temporary- no one should be surprised that the party is reaching the low-water mark, in fact many predicted it months ago as part of the process. Looking forward, the Liberals can expect a great deal of positive coverage as the leadership race heats up. A vision needs a face first and foremost, something which is obviously hindering the Liberals at present. I will bet anyone that the polls tighten in the post-leadership phase as the new honeymoon begins.
3. Much is made of Harper's gains in Quebec, and I have also expressed concern at this surprising development. However, even the latest poll acknowledges that the Liberals are now below their historic basement. This fact suggest the current situation is more a temporary anomaly than permanent position. The situation in Quebec is extremely fluid, with Harper benefiting from the political vacuum at present. It is hard to believe that Harper enjoys firm support, considering that six months ago he was a non-factor. I see the current surge as a flirtation, and we all know how fleeting that emotion can be. The Liberals are almost sure to elect a leader without the taint of prior scandal- if they craft a progressive agenda they can win back the pragmatists. Also, there will always exist a philosophical chasm between mainstream Quebecers and the Conservatives on policy. Harper's Kyoto stance, his hawkish nature and his social conservatism will forever provide opportunities for the Liberals.
4. We are still in a transition period, where this government can absolve itself of much responsibility by blaming the previous government. Eventually, bashing the Liberals as justification won't wash and Canadians will focus more on the future. The Conservatives still operate in the shadow of the former government, which they use at every turn to deflect and twist. This powerful tool will wane, without the standard whipping boy, the policies will finally see the objective light of day.
One of the more interesting findings I read in a recent poll showed, that while Canadians presently support this government, they also see that they operate with political consideration first, greater good second. This reality is important, because it suggests a certain suspicion of motive and in turn very soft support. I don't expect this sentiment to change, because afterall the government freely admits that they do operate in this manner. This philosophy is a vulnerability that can be exploited by the right set of counter-policies that are borne out of need, not self-interest. In fact, I see the Conservatives pre-occupation with attaining a majority as the key achilles heel, primarily because the ideal isn't rooted in anything substantive, just simple marketing and manipulation. Contrasted with a "real" agenda, with politics a distant second, and you have a great opportunity to expose a rather superficial agenda.
One of Martin's biggest failures was his tendency to pander and operate with questionable motives. An encouraging sign for Liberals, none of the top leadership contenders come across as seasoned political creatures. If the Liberals can present a genuine flavor, that isn't focus group tested, it will look quite attractive juxtaposed against Harper's hyper-politicism.
5. All honeymoon's end.