Friday, March 23, 2007

Another Poll

Another poll, showing a bounce in the budget aftermath:
Prime Minister Stephen Harpers' Conservatives have surged to 40% in popular opinion and entered majority government territory, a new poll says.

The poll, conducted exclusively by Ipsos-Reid for CanWest News Service and Global Television after the Harper government delivered its new budget, shows the Tories have opened up an 11-point lead nationally over St├ęphane Dion's Liberals.

Grit support plunged to 29% from 34% in a survey conducted a week earlier.

Moreover, the poll indicates the Conservatives have opened up a 10-point lead (43% to 33%) over the Liberals in Ontario, the crown jewel of Canadian politics with 106 seats. They also are locked in a virtual tie with them in Quebec, 26%-25% for the Liberals. Quebec has 75 federal seats.

"The compelling part of this is that they have actually tied the Grits in Quebec, and they've got a 10-point lead on them in Ontario. With that 10-point lead, they can clean up." Mr. Bricker said.

The poll put NDP support at 14%, up two points from the last poll.

The Green party slipped one point to 7%.

Opinion of the budget:
found Canadians are twice as likely to give the budget "two thumbs up" than "two thumbs down." The split was 24-12. Half of those surveyed said it was neither good nor bad and opted to "symbolically shrug their shoulders."

That 40% number must have Tory strategists ITCHING. The most troubling finding of this poll, the Ontario numbers. A 10 point lead is significant, and is clearly the key to a solid majority.

Should we be worried? Call me a partisan hack, but while somewhat concerning, I'm not inclined to put a lot of stock in a poll done in the budget aftermath. As I stated prior, the initial hours of budget coverage are usually the media puppeting the government. It takes a few days for complete digestion, which is why any polling next week might be a better indicator.

Two curious parts of the poll. In Alberta, everyone seems relatively happy with the budget, yet the Conservative lose 7%. In British Columbia, with a mixed reaction, so much so Harper took to the airwaves, we see a 10% surge. Both those results make little sense.

Angus-Reid online poll with more to chew on:
Overall, do you think the proposed federal budget will be good or bad for the country / for you personally?

Country Personal

Good 52% 36%

Bad 22% 29%

Don’t know 26% 35%

Based on what you have seen, heard or read about the federal budget, are you satisfied with its provisions in these particular topics?

Offering help to Canada’s working families 55%
Restoring the fiscal balance between the federal government and the provinces 49%
Providing support to the Canadian Forces and its members 48%
Encouraging the people who use welfare to work again 46%
Safeguarding the environment and fighting global warmin 41%
Delivering authentic tax relief to Canadian 39%
Assisting Canadian students with their debt loa 36%
Eliminating waiting lists for health care treatment 35%
Developing an efficient anti-drug strateg 29%
Addressing the needs of Aboriginal Canadians 27%


ottlib said...

Steve: As you say a poll taken right after the budget is suspect. You have to see how things shake out in the coming weeks. Despite the negative coverage in the aftermath of the budget I still expected the Conservatives to receive a bump.

As well, despite the budget this is the second poll that shows a rather modest increase for the Conservatives. They needed a bigger boost than this from this budget.

All in all, these polls are not surprising and now the Conservatives have blown their wad. They have no more big announcements to come before the next election, which will still not likely be called for at least a month. By then the budget will be forgotten.

I would also point out that sitting governments lose support during an election so the Conservatives need to be above 40% to even guarantee a election victory, let alone a majority government.

A budget week is always a good week for the government. It is inevitable and the only thing the opposition can do is wait it out.

Steve V said...

"A budget week is always a good week for the government. It is inevitable and the only thing the opposition can do is wait it out."

I agree, nobody should be surprised that there is slight bump, especially with a huge surplus. Having said that, I still see the divisive character of this budget manifesting itself down the road.

Dennis (Second Thoughts) said...

I'm not sure what comforting yourselves like this achieves, but I guess if the band played on during the Titanic, Liberals can keep dreaming during this electoral slide.

There is more on the way. It's called a revamped Clean Air Act, with possible NDP endorsement.

Harper controls the agenda. His party has the cash and the election machinery. They were ready to go this week. Is Dion? Are the Liberals? Hardly.

Then again, I suppose I don't mind the Liberals being complacent before a period of great tragedy. They've been out of power a year, and they still act like nobody has a right to govern.

Maybe they need what's comin' to them. I guess every party does once in a while. I believe it's the Liberals' term to taste complete and bitter defeat. It's what I think will happen.

ottlib said...

The bump will fade as much as the bump that the Liberals enjoyed after the convention faded. That is the nature of these things.

The Conservatives need to find a way to sustain it but since they have left themselves with absolutely no fiscal room after the budget they will not be able to do it by continuing with funding announcements.

Budgets have very short shelf lives and the Bloc threw a monkey wrench into Stephen Harper's plan by supporting it.

This election budget was supposed to have triggered an election but now that has been delayed and with each passing day the positive effect of it will fade.

Will it fade enough to deny Mr. Harper a majority? We will see.

lance said...

ottlib, you're still thinking tactical instead of strategic.

The budget _was not_ meant to trigger an election. There is no possible way that one of the opposition parties was not going to support it. They _all_ knew their positions going into it. I'd, quite frankly, be surprised if they didn't communicate their intentions prior.

Now, given that, if not the budget, which you admit gives a bump in the polls, what could cause an election?

Clean air? I don't think so. As Dennis points out in his latest point there is evidence of movement between CPC and NDP. Interesting to note is that the Libs dumped _a pile_ of amendments onto the table a week before it wraps up.

Now, whom is playing politics?

Dion talks about "soft on crime" being the next tactic but he has the same problem as you . . . he hasn't had enough time at point to learn to not worry about tactics.

If you control the battlefield you don't have to worry about tactics.


Steve V said...

"I'm not sure what comforting yourselves like this achieves, but I guess if the band played on during the Titanic, Liberals can keep dreaming during this electoral slide."

Comforting? I'm just putting this poll into perspective. Harper gets a small bounce from the budget, hardly unexpected, and hardly something that is "Titanic". The previous batch of polls showed Harper stalled, Dion stabilizing, fragile minority terrority. Just like I didn't predict a Liberal victory in the post-convention polls, neither should we throw in the towel from some indicators taken a day after the budget release. Are the polls bad? Yes Is the bounce permanent? Like I said, let's just wait until we see results with a little distance.

BTW, if you actually think Harper gets a boost from intensity targets you're delusional.

Steve V said...

"The budget _was not_ meant to trigger an election."

It is the pre-text to an election, that's for sure.

Miles Lunn said...

I've always found polls to volatile and although I think they are accurate, they are a snapshot of where things are now, not how things will be after the next election. The only conclusion I can draw is both parties have a difficult time cracking the 40% and both parties generally stay above 30% so it is probably fair to say the Liberals and Tories will both get between 30-40%. Off course where they fall in that range could make a massive difference in terms of seat distributions. We are talking about anything from the tories narrowly missing a majority government to a strong Liberal minority government.

Sheeple said...

Second Thots,

With regard to your comment that Liberals don't want to share power... What if I were to tell you that I actually have respect for Red Tories, but tragically, that party no longer exists? What if I were to tell you that I don't respect Harper, because there's nothing there for me to respect.

Honestly, how do you see this man as a serious leader or country builder? Maybe I've missed the beauty for the madness?

What, in this most recent budget, should make me proud of my nation, proud to be Canadian? How exactly does it work on the international stage?

Seriously, I want to know. The ball is in your court.

ottlib said...


Perhaps the budget was a tactical move but it was the supposed to be the culmination of a strategy that brought about an election soon after the budget was presented. That was the point of all of the spending announements that the Conservatives rolled out in the past month. Make all of these big announcements, top them off with a nice generous budget and begin the election campaign within days afterwards.

That strategy failed. Now we are going to have to see what they have up their sleeve as a contingency plan. However, with each passing day those spending announcements and the budget will recede from the consciousness of the electorate reducing their future impact on the election.

Steve V said...


It seems the whole election will be about where the vaciliating 10-15% of the country moves. That support is soft, which disallows any firm reading of what will actually happen on election day. Fickle, may be the key word to remember.

lance said...

Ottlib, I completely disagree. You're still talking about tactics.

Strategy: increase the CPC popular vote.
Tactics: doing it.

I dunno, maybe it's the military in my history that makes me harp so much on the difference, or maybe that Sun Tzu has been drilled (literally) into me since I was young.

The budget, and therefore the announcements, wasn't designed to be the prelude to an election.

Look, how many people have called it a "liberal" budget, or compared it to a Martin budget, how many on the right have complained about the spending, or gone into detail about how much Alberta hates it?


(that isn't meant as derogatory, though it may seem so, it's simply a nudge to force you to look at Canada objectively, as opposed to viewing it through the filter of the Liberal Party of Canada.)


lance said...

As an addendum to the above . . . no election till fall at the earliest, most likely next spring.


ottlib said...


"Strategy: increase the CPC popular vote."

That is not a strategy that is an objective. ie, what you want to achieve with a strategy.

"Tactics: doing it."

Oh if it could be as simple as that.

Tactics are designed to achieve a short-term goal within an overall strategy but the overall strategy is what is to achieve the objective.

Part of the objective of the CPC is to certainly increase their popular vote, but another part of the objective is to be able to take advantage of the first objective before events and time cause it to fade, which is what happens to all sitting governments over time. They have been pursuing a strategy to achieve these two objectives since the morning of January 24, 2006.

Unfortunately the strategy has not been very successful. They have failed in achieving their second objective. It is an open question as to whether they have achieved the first part. These two polls seem to indicate that they have met with some success but it is of no use without success in achieving the second objective.

lance said...

Ahhh. I believe we've found a compromise.

I place objective below strategy but above tactics. In the military vernacular:

General thinks strategy (why), a Major is assigned an objective (what), the Lieutenant is all about the tactics (how).

So where you say 'objective', I say 'strategy'.

Now, to the meat.

You say that the CPC needs to take advantage of the the rise in popularity. The question I have is _why_ do you think that's necessary?

You make the assumption that the popularity will fade, that the CPC have to jump, and by-gods, jump now.

I don't see it that way.

I see PM SH's overall as defeating the negative attitude regarding the right. The only way he can do this is via time and actions.

Time in order to enact a paradigm shift. (roughly six months to change an individuals world-view, but only when continuously reinforced)

Actions to reinforce the paradigm shift.

He's _said_ that he doesn't want an election, action would therefore be not calling one. He's said the CPC aren't radicals, action would therefore be to prove it.

That's why the budget, that's why the environment focus (although this was unplanned for).

The entire point of this gov't is to prove to Canadians that the six-second sound bites were wrong.

That's the _only_ point.


ottlib said...


Whatever, it is getting late and I am getting too tired to argue semantics with you, so believe what you want.

As for Mr. Harper's desire for an early election it has been apparent for weeks that he has penciled one in for this Spring.

Perhaps he will change is mind but considering all of the preparation the Conservatives have been engaged in since the new year it is hard to believe he will.

His reasons are varied. There are many pitfalls in the future that could eat into his support. A bad summer in Afghanistan for example. As well, the Liberals are still getting back on their feet after a leadership race so if possible he will want to take advantage of that.

Most Canadians do not think in paradigms or along ideological terms. They generally react to the current events of the day. The goal of all politicians is to take advantage of those times when these reactions favour them.

If things go badly in Afghanistan, if the separatists become too militant in Quebec, if the recent troubles of Mr. Day takes on a life of their own and/or spreads, then no amount change in the attitude of Canadians to the right will matter.

Gayle said...

I took a couple things out of this poll.

First - I believe IR's previous poll said at least 30% of liberal voters would go conservative if there was a "good" budget. By my calculation that should have resulted in a 10 point drop for the liberals, but the actual drop was 5 points.

Second, one interesting stat was the fact that more than half the respondants wanted their MP to support the budget in order to avoid an election.

How does Harper deal with the fact he needs an election now in order to consolidate his support, but calling that election may actually alienate soft support.

No one wants an election, The liberals have taken some smart steps to cut Harper off (by saying they want to fast track non-contentious crime bills for example).

I expected a bump in support for the conservatives after the budget, but at the end of the day that bump was not terribly significant.

I think it would be a mistake to force an election that is more than likely to return another minority conservative government.

Steve V said...


That's a fair reading of the situation.

ottlib said...


Canadians did not want an election last year either but the Conservatives still gave us one.

Stephen Harper is desperate for a majority government, so if he sees an opportunity for one he will force an election. He of course will try to pin the responsibility for it on the other parties to insulate himself from blame.

As I stated in my last comment Mr. Harper finds himself in what will probably be the best position he can be in for the forseeable future and he has been preparing the election machinery for months.

He is primed and he is ready so I expect he will attempt to engineer the defeat of his government in the next month.

Anonymous said...

the so call bump is a manipulation of the polls, wheather its allens or anyone else, of course u'll have a bump if one calls for opinion at a certain time of day that favours the harpy, I say call an election and see reality, very few people in Canada wants this fool running our country, and with the big names in the liberal party at the next election, the harpy will be known as a blip...hes a fool of politics, a joke, I mean, flaherty the harlequin, passing himself off as a center left, people are insulted that he would think us like........americans...

Gayle said...

ottlib - I agree Harper will force an election, but I think any attempt to blame the other parties will fail.

The voters will see through any attempt to blame the liberals. The question is whether the voters will punish the conservatives. Every party leader is saying they do not want an election so obviously they all believe it will be an issue. Certainly the pollster thought it was an issue - otherwise why ask the question. How much an issue remains to be seen.