Thursday, July 27, 2006

Liberals Surprising Strength

Despite having no leader, largely negative press and no buzz surrounding its leadership race, the federal Liberals remain surprisingly strong. The latest Decima poll:

OTTAWA (CP) - A new poll suggests Stephen Harper's post-election surge in popularity has dissipated and dimmed his chances of turning his minority government into a majority...

Nationally, the Conservatives had the support of 36 per cent, the Liberals 30 per cent and the New Democrats 17 per cent.

In the two provinces that will determine whether Harper can turn his minority into a majority, the Conservatives had lost the ground they gained during a post-election honeymoon.

In Quebec, the province Harper has wooed most assiduously, the poll found the BQ had rebounded to 43 per cent, up five points since a Decima poll in May, while the Tories had slipped six points to 23 per cent. The Liberals had 18 per cent and the NDP eight per cent.

And in Ontario, where the Tories and Liberals had been neck and neck as recently as mid-June, the poll found the Liberals had pulled into a nine-point lead with 43 per cent support, compared to 33 per cent for the Conservatives and 18 per cent for the NDP.

The results mirror election night, demonstrating Harper's natural ceiling, despite the favorable conditions. I have always argued if the Liberals can just stay in the game until the convention they will be fine. The leadup will provide tons of positive coverage(minus Volpe), the convention itself an opportunity to shed the dubious past and create a new identity. Stephen Harper will never enjoy such advantageous conditions as he has the past months. The Conservatives inability to surge in the polls, coupled with the Liberals holding their ground, should be a worrying scenario for any strategist.

Particularly impressive, the Liberals now have a large lead in Ontario. If this is what bottom looks like, it would appear that the Liberals really are the natural governing party of Canada. With each successive polls showing the Tory stall, I become more convinced that Harper is vulnerable and all the Liberals need do is bring back the soft supporters. If I was a Liberal strategist, I would have a bounce in my step today.

11 comments:

cdntarheel said...

Hi Steve V,

Nice post. Although I'm not sure that Harper really needs Ont. He may be betting on the huge Conservative gains in Que. Moreover, Harper's apparent support for Israel may infringe on Liberal strongholds in Western Mtl and the West Island.

I agree that minus Volpe, the Liberals just need to hang in until the convention. But the Liberals need one of the candidates to come out strong.

Normally in close races, the strategy is to shore up your strongholds. But I'm not sure that will let the Liberals squeek by this time. Perhaps an attack in BC and Que is needed.

Watcha think?

Steve V said...

tarheel

Harper has stalled in Quebec and I am convinced his support is softer than a berry eating bear's stool. Despite the relative gains, Harper's policies are largely at odds with mainstream Quebec society, as his policies become known we see increasing tension.

I think the poll reflects this:

"In Quebec, the province Harper has wooed most assiduously, the poll found the BQ had rebounded to 43 per cent, up five points since a Decima poll in May, while the Tories had slipped six points to 23 per cent. The Liberals had 18 per cent and the NDP eight per cent."

Add to this the fact that Harper is destined to fall on his face over equalization, and Harper looks a paper tiger in Quebec. If the Liberals appeal to Quebecers with a fresh outlook, there is lots of room for rebound. On the issues, minus the recent scandals, federalist Quebecers have the most in common with the Liberals. Harper hasn't "sold" anyone.

I agree that BC will be a key battleground.

bigcitylib said...

Equalization is the killer in Quebec, I agree. They'll get squat out of it, after having been promised the moon.

The only thing that really annoys me is, couldn't the Libs have turned around this leadership race in less that a year? Bill Graham has his moments, but they really need a general to lead the fight.

Also confirms me in my opinion that Iggy's bad for the party. Why select a leader who promotes all the Con. Lite values that are going nowhere in Que./Ont.?

Anonymous said...

Go Bill Graham!

I know it's not for everyone, but I like Bill Graham's thoughtful diplomatic way of doing things.

Lept said...

(Weirdly, I just watched Bill Graham with France Beaudoin on 'Bons Baisers de France'- he actually has some personality and is nicely fluent in French... but he has that huge closet lurking behind him.)
However to the point in hand:
while I agree with your bear shit theory, the traditional Chretien/Dion type of 'federalist/separatist' polarisaion doesn't work on the ground here: I live two villages up from René Lévesque's home town, and the discussions are much more about finding solutions. I suspect it'd be a breath of fresh air if your new leader were to show a real understanding of the reality here, now - and not one based in the bad old days of "Le ciel est bleu et l'enfer est rouge": while the separatist baiting works well in certain other parts of Canada, it doesn't do much here where there is a huge crop of soft separatists to be harvested!

Steve V said...

The leadership race is too long, which may be why the media is largely ignoring it at this point.

Graham has done relatively well, but I still think he symbolizes the old guard, which is clearly a net negative. Graham did well today calling out Harper on Lebanon.

lept

I agree with you about "showing any understanding", that's what I meant by fresh outlook- not the same old arguments. As you have said, the "two solitudes" and all the respect that entails. If conveyed in equal terms, I suspect some openness to finding other ways to actually strength the federation- which afterall is just an extension of bringing people together(never a bad ideal).

cdntarheel said...

Hi folks,

While I remain aware of the separatist issue in Que, I think that lept has made a good point. In my experience in the province, many younger people, like myself, have questioned the point of the Bloc and look for resolution. Additionally, I try to keep in mind that the Bloc was carved out by Bouchard, a Conservative.

As for Graham, I think you're right, Steve V, that he does represent the old guard despite his eloquence. If the Libs are trying to distance themselves from the Chrétien/Martin days and revitalize, then Graham is not the guy.

Finally, with respect to Iggy/MI, I'm not sure that I understand the animosity towards him or at least his ideas. He's far more a liberal hawk (liberal plust strong foreign policy), than he is a conservative or con lite. Perhaps his séjour in the US or his strong foreign policy has inaccurately led people to think otherwise.

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