Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Canadians Reject Dion/May

Hardly surprising, in fact I've been waiting for this finding, given the negative media barrage. Canadians have an unfavorable impression of the May/Dion agreement.:
In the online survey of a representative national sample, 45 per cent of Canadians disapprove of the leaders’ decision of not running candidates in each other’s ridings in the next federal election, while just 29 per cent approve.

At least four in every ten respondents in each region is against the Dion/May agreement. In Atlantic Canada, the number of people who reject the deal reaches 50 per cent. People in Alberta are the most inclined to reject it (52%), while those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the most prone to support it (34%).

Among Liberal voters, 37 per cent disapprove of the pact to support May, while 52 per cent think otherwise.

The controversial deal will not encourage many people to vote for the Liberals in the next election. Two thirds (65%) of respondents say the agreement does not make them more likely to support the Liberals in the future. However, in Atlantic Canada about one-in-five (22%) do say the pact makes them more inclined to vote for the Liberals.

The Dion/May pact is perceived by many Canadians (44%) as a sign of weakness on the part of the Liberals and their leader. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents who voted for the Liberals in the last federal election agree with this perception. Respondents in Atlantic Canada feel particularly strongly about it, with 56 per cent of them saying the deal projects weakness.

Is anyone really surprised? There are a few, scant findings that are favorable, particularly the one in five Atlantic Canadians that are more inclined to vote Liberal, but objectively this online survey is bad news for the deal. However, because I've already braced myself for the initial reaction, I'm taking a long term view of this pact, and it may play better over time.

I've never believed that May has a great shot at MacKay's seat, so that isn't really the barometer to gauge if this pact will be effective or not. The real test will be the closely contested ridings, you don't need to win over many people for the deal to pay dividends.

I'm sure NDP supporters will trumpet these finding, but I think people are in error if they take anything out of this poll, besides the fact that it shows how perception is mostly a media construct. I would say 90% (I may be kind) of the punditry trashed this agreement in a knee jerk fashion. Given the overt lack of balance, I say again, is anyone really surprised?


More detail provided here. Very strange results, as it applies to party affiliation. NDP supporters are the only ones to give the Dion/May pact a favorable grade, 43% support, 40% against. On the question of who would you vote for in MacKay's riding, NDP supporters actually pick May over Loriface, 29% to 20%.

There may be a tantalizing nugget in those NDP voter impressions. If the goal was to pickup some soft left supporters, then the devil could be in the details.


Anonymous said...

It was clearly not a great call - against the wishes of the NS ridings, no less.
Yet Garth brags about the open collegial atmosphere M Dion brings.
Better get an election going before he blunders again.

knb said...

I think this is one of those issues that needs to play out, before people can truly judge it.

By that I mean, in the heat of an election and actually listening to what the two Leaders have to say could make this poll moot.

It was a blip on the radar
screen and people really heard more from the punditry than they did the Leaders, (which tells you something doesn't it?). Proof of that is in this response, The Dion/May pact is perceived by many Canadians (44%) as a sign of weakness on the part of the Liberals and their leader. Who said that? A conservative pundit and I think it was echoed by an NDP pundit.

Steve V said...


What is striking, almost 1/3 of people have no opinion. Also interesting, NDP supporters actually favored the deal 43% to 40%, go figure.

Sheeple said...

Blunders? Anon, you're a fool.

There's nothing in this poll that suggests anything particularly negative for the liberals or for the Greens. Some may not like the deal, yet there is no indication that this will lead to any lost votes. At the same time, there ARE signs that it might have led to gained votes.

I'm not putting much stock into this poll either way.


You make a good point about the echo chamber effect between the NDP and the CONS.

Jason Cherniak said...

This is the same Angus Reid that said the Liberals were at 22% nationally. Get your head out of the sand.

Steve V said...


You will notice I highlighted "online", so spare me the sand comment. Having said that, I'm inclined to believe these results, because the coverage was so negative. Does anyone dispute that?

BTW, have you every posted any poll that isn't positive for the Liberals? Enjoy the beach.

Scott Tribe said...

Online polls, and particularly the Angus-Reid one, are inaccurate gauges of public opinion I have long contended Steve (and shown the Zogby online polls in the US as proof).. and I agree with Jason (though not a harsh as he is) that you should have added more of a disclaimer then saying it was "online" before passing judgement on it.

Get me a traditional poll from someone like SES (whose own Nik Nanos claimed this would play very well with the public), and I'll take it more seriously.

Angus-Reid online, I dont even consider as an accurate gauge of public opinion.

UWHabs said...

I'd need to look closer at the actual numbers before commenting, but it doesn't sound too bad. I mean, sure half the people don't like the deal, but I'd guess most of those half probably won't have their decisions affected by it. It only really matters for the swing voters. And if NDP voters seem to favour it, and we can steal a bunch of them, then it will be worth it.

Steve V said...


Everyone has argued the "online" aspect to death, which is why I felt a simple highlight was enough of a disclaimer- I assumed it was a given.

There is some merit in the party affiliation results, because online or not, they are party people, so their opinion is relevant.

As UWHabs just pointed out, it's not all doom and gloom in the poll. You start with the premise that Conservatives will say it's a bad idea, and take your results from there. The update shows some positive in the NDP numbers, because that might be the draw.

Gayle said...

I agree with sheeple.

There are no numbers indicating how many people who would have voted liberal before the deal changed their minds because of this deal.

Assuming that political partisans are naturally going to dislike the deal, 40% does not concern me. The undecided number is pretty big.

I do not think the liberals should care if the majority of conservatives do not like the deal. Most liberals approve - and that is WITH all the negative comments from the media and those mysterious anonymous senior liberals.

Steve V said...

"There are no numbers indicating how many people who would have voted liberal before the deal changed their minds because of this deal."

Gayle, that is a good point. Even if some Liberals disagree, that doesn't translate into abandoning the party.

Jason Cherniak said...

I try not to talk up the bad ones, but I don't deny things like the SES leadership numbers.

Anonymous said...

The NDP numbers is what the Dion spin doctors should be smiling at.

This shows Layton's disengagement with the grass roots. A large number wants to be a part of Dion and May's coalition of progressives, rather than Jack's message that only the NDP can defend the interests of working families.

Anonymous said...

What this poll really puts the boot to is the notion that environmental considerations are going to be anything remotely resembling a vote driver in the next election. If they were then more Canadians would support any initiative on anyone's part to put the environment front and centre.

knb said...

dana What this poll really puts the boot to is the notion that environmental considerations are going to be anything remotely resembling a vote driver in the next election.

I'd hold off on that thought until we've seen what Baird has to offer.

Steve Marsh said...

I'm with Mushroom on this one. Angus Reid and the ConDipper talking heads can spin this however they want, but the most significant aspect of these number is the extent to which left-leaning Canadians, who are far more interested in results than they are in partisanship, seem to be viewing the deal as a genuine attempt to put the planet ahead of party considerations.

Jack should be very worried. At his request, a lot of people lent him their vote in 2006. In the next election, we're going to be asking for those votes back, and I think we're going to get them with interest.

Scotian said...

I think Steve March is right. Layton has not delivered on that better more progressive fighting option that he promised in the last election when he asked for those Liberal votes. Indeed, by going on such a concerted attack on the Liberal brand and everything it stood for it is probable he has alienated almost every usual Lib voter that he got last time out, and I think his focus so much on the Libs instead of the governing CPC has also impacted on many of the soft usual NDP voters as well. It may be ironic indeed but the next election could see the Libs borrowing what are usually NDP votes because of Layton's obsession with placing supplanting the Libs ahead of defeating Harper and the CPC.

Yes, I know, my critics, I have said this many times and in many ways previously. That does not change though my conviction that we are looking at this dynamic playing out in the next election barring some unforeseen and fairly drastic/major change on the federal scene. Take the opposition to the Lib motion to set 2009 deadline on Afghanistan in Kandahar. The NDP said they opposed it and would vote with the CPC because they wanted out now only and not 2009 despite it being something Canda formally committed to (yet argue Kyoto is international law which cannot be broken, another inconsistency perhaps?). This is an absurd position for them to take unless their primary concern is to deny the Liberals any successes they can for the partisan purpose of further weakening their ability to argue for why they should be elected. Or possibly and more ugly, be doing so to continue to claim the Libs want war and the NDP are the only party that does not, and that only the NDP care about the lives of our soldiers, a theme we have heard echoes of from Layton from time to time. Layton has been using his position to attack the Libs with as one of his core arguments as to why progressive Canadians should support him/NDP instead of Dion/Libs so he would if acting partisanly first want to deny them anything which might weaken that ability which the passing of this motion would certainly do.

Now, before someone tries to claim I am asking Layton and the NDP to breech their "principled position" on Afghanistan, that is *NOT* what I am saying. OK, the NDP want the troops out while the Harper CPC wants them there and is unwilling to commit to pulling out at the end of this mission as agreed to with NATO. So why aid the CPC? By defeating this motion they defeat a majority of Parliament insisting upon this deadline being followed placing Harper and his CPC at greater political risk if they try to disregard it. Just because something is not legally binding does not mean it is ineffective, especially in the political realm. Instead of doing this the NDP could have voted for this motion stating that while they want the troops home sooner/immediately, this is at least a step in the right direction and at least tries to place limits on what the Harper CPC government appears to be leaving as an open commitment, especially to hear the Defence Minister speak over the past few months. That this was a step in the right direction towards getting out altogether as soon as possible if not all the way and that they would continue to press for that goal even with the passing of this motion with their support. That is all it would have taken to stay within the “principled NDP position” and still support this bill and put more political pressure on Harper not to commit to any more time there.

The fact that this was not the approach taken is just the latest example of where when the choice has been to damage the CPC or the Libs since the last election the NDP has tended to place the Libs as the higher priority, indeed have shown willingness to consider the CPC a de facto ally listening to the often identical sounding Lib bashing rhetoric from both parties. I think this is not going unnoticed, be it subconsciously or consciously, in the voting public and I think it is going to have a greater impact in the next election than many from all sides appear willing to consider. While I do not think it is a given, I do think the odds are above 90% based on all that I have seen, know, and experienced regarding politics.

wayward son said...


Here is why I don't think that this survey really means that Canadians reject Dion/May:

The Conservative and NDP numbers in this poll either match previous polls exactly or are worse (with one exception), meaning that neither the Cons or NDP has made any gains from potential angry Libs or Greens.

When asked which candidate they would vote for Mackay, Loriface, May or none:

Nationally 35% said MacKay matching the lower end of national Conservative polling numbers.

In BC 32% said MacKay matching the most recent BC polling for the Cons (ie the latest poll I have seen had the Cons at 30% on Apr 19th Ipsos-Reid confirming a slide from the 39 - 45% range a month ago).

In Alberta 69% said MacKay vs 70% Ipsos-Reid on the 19th and 68% in the April 12th Ipsos-Reid poll.

In the Prairies on 36% said MacKay which is lower than recent polls which had the Cons in the mid 40s.

In Ontario only 34% said MacKay which is down from the average of about 40% that the Cons had been polling over the last 3 months.

In Quebec 30% said MacKay which is around average. 4 out of the last 5 polls had the Cons at 28% or better in Quebec.

In the Atlantic region the Cons had been averaging 30% for the last month and 40% for the month before that. In this poll only 21% from the Atlantic picked MacKay.

So that shows that no votes are going to the Conservatives, in fact the Cons are in worse shape then ever.

In the case of the NDP (I will speed these up):

Nationally 16% would vote for Loriface same as national polls.

BC 23% Loriface, slightly less than the average polling for the NDP.

Alberta 6% Loriface, worse than average polling for the NDP.

Praries 22% Loriface, exact average of last 4 polls.

Ontario 14% Loriface, exact average of polls.

Quebec 13% Loriface, average polls 12% NDP

Atlantic 30% Loriface, average polls in April 24% for the NDP.

So it does not appear that voters are turning to the NDP either and the only place where either party is doing better is the NDP in the Atlantic region where NDP polling numbers seem to be all over the place anyways with a large margin of error. (for instance March 28th Angus-Reid had the NDP at 28% in the Atlantic region. The same day Ipsos-Reid released a poll with the NDP at 12% in the Atlantic provinces.)

Quite frankly considering the widespread negative publicity this received, and the fact that Canadians are "supposed" to be opposed to deal making I was expecting the initial polling numbers to be bad with them returning to normal in a month or two. If this poll is any indication there will be no initial drop, but I will need to see several polls before I will be more comfortable.

The other thing to mention the voter preference (for MacKay, Loriface and May) based on party affiliation is crap. Angus-reid must have screwed up the numbers. For instance the Liberal voters preferences add up to 138%, the Conservative voters 111%. The NDP BQ and "Other" numbers are off too. So I wouldn't put too much thought into more NDP voters choosing May (29%) over Loriface (20%). as I expect AR to correct all of those numbers. The rest of the poll looks, at least on the surface, to be legitimate, just the party affiliation voter preferences do not add up.

Oh and one more thing. The MacKay/Loriface voters in Atlantic combine to 51% with is about normal for that region (over the last 2 months the NDP and Cons have combined for anywhere from 49% - 57%) so what it shows is that even in the Atlantic region Liberals are saying that if they can't vote Liberal they do not wish to vote NDP or Conservative. Some would vote Green (lets be honest, 16% of them saying they would vote Green is a big jump for the party as 5 out of the 9 polls done in March or April had the Greens polling at 1 - 3% in the Atlantic).

My take on this poll is it says two things:

1) Liberals and Greens who against "the deal" are not angry enough to switch to the Cons or NDP. At the same time disapproval seems to be similar to most political disapproval, most people consider it minor in the big scheme of things.

2) Extrapolating the Atlantic numbers to Central Nova (which is risky, but still the only thing of use that might come out this poll) shows that Liberals are saying "my vote is not free, win me over or I will stay home." That is exactly what I was expecting them to say, and I have confidence that May will win a lot of them over. I certainly did not expect her to win them over by now.

So that is my take, I was expecting the first poll to be aweful, and surprised to find it to be business as usual.

Steve V said...


Great points, I actually didn't notice the party affiliation number problems. Thanks for the input :)