Thursday, July 20, 2006

What Majority?

If you listen to most of the media commentary, the Harper government generally gets a passing grade for their performance. Pundits point to the fact that Harper has largely followed through on his promises, hasn't had any serious blunders and looked far more certain and steady than his predecessor. Big splash taxcuts, a fractured Liberal Party, further incursions into Quebec, all converging to paint this picture that Harper sits in an advantageous position. This mindset plays out everytime we hear mention of an election, as if Harper has the cards and can dictate the terrain. Someone should remind the pundits, the Harper government, despite all the favorable conditions, hasn't moved at all:
How would Canadians vote today?*

JULY, 2006

Liberal 26%
Conservative 37%
NDP 18%
Bloc Québécois 11%
Green Party 8%

These results, from the polling outfit that massively overstated Tory support in the leadup to the last election. The reality, Harper is exactly where he was on election day, which translates into another small minority. I suggest the opposition keep these numbers in mind, because I would argue that this government may have a natural ceiling, with no where to go but down. All this supposed leverage that Harper enjoys over the opposition, the threats and bullying, nothing but smoke and mirrors. The Conservative's are not on the cusp of majority, in fact their numbers are disappointing, given the circumstance. The Liberals are without a face, and yet Harper is static? The Liberals have lost some support since the election, but quite telling that voters haven't moved to the Tories. I hope the media, and the opposition, remembers the numbers when the chest thumping returns this fall.


CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

This is the "phony war" stage of the next election. Harper is acting in a vacuum – Layton is giving him a free ride on many issues; the Bloc is lying low hoping he will not deliver on massive transfers of cash and taxing power which they (despite the fact they know this is a man who parses each sentence he utters and who will weasel out of things he finds uncomfortable) have convinced themselves he agreed to give to Quebec; and the Liberals are engaged in navel gazing in order to elect a new leader.

So, despite having total control of the agenda since the election, despite having kept his wild and crazy members under lock and key, despite all his revolving-door PR flacks working to hard, and despite the vacuum, Harper is still not surging in the polls.

Why? Because most Canadians do not trust him. Because most Canadians do not buy into his or his party's policies.

Once the Liberals have a leader (assuming they do not shoot themselves in the foot by choosing a polarizing or inexperienced one), the dynamics will change dramatically. The vacuum will have ended. The agenda will be contested. Battle will be joined, and instead of political froth such as the five priorities, there will be a hard-edged political debate begun.

Especially if Bob Rae is the leader of the Liberals: he will run circles around the plodding Harper.

Steve V said...


"Why? Because most Canadians do not trust him. Because most Canadians do not buy into his or his party's policies."

I think this government has a ceiling. The current conditions all favor Harper, the feel good budget, yet his numbers are stagnant.

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