Saturday, November 10, 2007

Harper And Quebec

It would appear, the Conservative fortunes are rising in Quebec. I missed the new Leger Marketing poll, which mirrors the CROP and Ipsos findings:
A Léger Marketing poll published Thursday showed the Tories are now nose-to-nose with the sovereignist Bloc Québécois in the province – each with about 31 per cent support – and the Liberals are a distant third at 20 per cent.

Some of the other polling shows different results, but the fact that two Quebec specific polls, with low MOE show the same result, is persuading. If these type of numbers were to hold, then the Conservatives would be looking at a possible pickup of anywhere between 15-30 seats.

I don't claim to have intimate knowledge of Quebecers opinion, but since every other commentator from the other solitude has a perspective, I might as well add mine. People are right to say that voter preference is volatile, and I would argue that while trends are positive for the Conservatives, the support is softer than Harper's abdomen ;) Quebecers may be flirting with the Conservatives, in the absence of another credibile alternative, but there remains a fundamental tension between the policies of the Tories and the Quebec mainstream.

If you believe issues matter, then there is reason to believe the Conservatives will suffer during a pointed campaign. The counter to that perspective is the idea that the Conservatives have appealed to the soft-nationalist, with their overtures to Quebec. However, and this sentiment seems to be taking hold in the media class, for all the pronouncements, the Conservatives have done little in terms of substance. The "nation" resolution has no practical application and the federal spending limitations formalize the status quo. Some mileage on the fiscal imbalance, including Quebec in UNESCO, but that will be weighted against the Senate stance, which will be wildly unpopular in Quebec. Chantal Hebert had a good quote, "Harper talks a good game in Quebec, but he has delivered nothing". I would translate that perspecitve to mean people are still suspicious of Harper's true motives, it is principle or is appeal?

The Conservatives should be happy, because there is the possibility of a real breakthrough in Quebec. However, I don't think the Conservatives are anywhere near to "closing the deal" with Quebecers, flirtation does not a marriage make.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

This poll was before the ressurection of the detainee issue, the death penalty issue and Mulroney, the lenght of time in Afghanistan.

I await the next poll.

liberazzi said...

Stop being so obsessed with Quebec and Ipsos. I believe the difference btw a majority and a minority for Harper will be decided in Ontario. If SES starts showing similar Ipsos numbers then we can all start collectively freaking out, but not yet. I think announcements like yesterday about poverty and maybe some backlash over the Mulroney affair might start to work in the Libs favour. Keep the faith.

Steve V said...

lib

Who's freaking out? I'm citing two Quebec polls, this isn't about Ipsos. I'd rather gauge the challenge, the real landscape, then wave the Liberal flag in delusion, putting my fingers in my ears if anything suggests anything but glee and utopian like existence.

liberazzi said...

I am not being delusional, but I am not going to freak out everytime there is a poll showing the Cons doing well in Quebec. I think we concede that the Libs prospects in Quebec are around 10 to 15 seats. We need to stop pandering to the Quebec wing that wants to topple Dion with their chicken little routine. Quebec quite frankly is irrelevant now to whether the Cons get their majority or not. The battle will be won in Ont and to some extent BC. What are really discussing here when we talk about when we keep obsessing over the Que numbers? What we are really talking about is the Dion question again. Enough already. Its not productive.

Steve V said...

lib

If you want pom poms, you picked the wrong blog :) I like polls, that's my perogative.

"Quebec quite frankly is irrelevant now to whether the Cons get their majority or not."

Good grief.

deno said...

"If you believe issues matter, then there is reason to believe the Conservatives will suffer during a pointed campaign."


Do I detect someone whistling pass the graveyard?

Deno

liberazzi said...

Good grief? Elaborate. Do you really feel the Bloc vote is going to collapse that badly? The Libs support is not going to hold in Montreal? How many seats do the Cons stand to gain in Quebec at this point? Will this put them over the top?

Steve V said...

"Do you really feel the Bloc vote is going to collapse that badly? The Libs support is not going to hold in Montreal? How many seats do the Cons stand to gain in Quebec at this point? Will this put them over the top?"

All intriguing questions, hence the interest. Mark the day, this is the first time since confederation that Quebec is irrelevant to the Liberal Party of Canada. Harper might need more than Quebec to get a majority, although it puts him in the conversation, but the Liberals will never go anywhere without Quebec. If you discount the province, you admit that the Liberals will lose the next election. Is that your position?

Anonymous said...

"Do you really feel the Bloc vote is going to collapse that badly? The Libs support is not going to hold in Montreal?"

Never mind the polls. We had a gigantic poll in September when about 100,000 Quebecers voted in three byelections. BQ and Liberal support plummetted. The CPC were the big beneficiaries in the two rural seats and the NDP was the big beneficiary in the urban seat. These polls just confirm the pattern we saw in those byelections - NDP and CPC up and Liberals and BQ in a state of collapse.

Anonymous said...

Afghanistan, Kyoto, Gun Control, and now we can add the death penalty. The Conservatives will pick up very few seats in Quebec if any during a real campaign. He's just getting a free ride right now and the BLOQ will have no trouble reminding Quebeckers about these issues.

Anonymous said...

And yes the chicken little routine in the Quebec actually the Ignatieff wing of the party is getting very tiresome. The rest of us should ignore them.

Anonymous said...

Weel, I'm not the first anon but i am the last two. Bi-elections have notriously bad turnouts, are ususally protest votes and often their results are overturned in the next general writ.

Steve V said...

"Afghanistan, Kyoto, Gun Control, and now we can add the death penalty. The Conservatives will pick up very few seats in Quebec if any during a real campaign. He's just getting a free ride right now and the BLOQ will have no trouble reminding Quebeckers about these issues."

Anon, which is why I say:

"If you believe issues matter, then there is reason to believe the Conservatives will suffer during a pointed campaign."

This is not Mulroney's PC party, the philosophical chasm is large.

liberazzi said...

My feeling is that things will remain pretty much status quo in Quebec despite recent polls. Therefore, for the Libs to try and win a minority and that's is all they can hope for at this point, they must make their gains in Ontario and BC. That's where the battleground really will be in the next election. There are not enough seats in play on the praries or the atlantic to make a difference and Alberta is a lock as usual for the Cons. It will be a combination of good results in BC, Ont and Que that will put the Cons over the top not just Quebec. If the numbers start increasing and holding in those provinces then I will start to worry, but we are not there yet. The reality is that things are still pretty much status quo, but maybe getting to be a little ominous for the Libs.

liberazzi said...

And for a little pom pom waving, if the public starts paying attention to what the Cons have really accomplished and for what they really stand for then there is hope for the Libs. Those Harpers are crafty buggers though.

Steve V said...

lib

Pardon the defeatist tone, but I've run the numbers too and as a result, I'm operating in the "hold them to a minority" scenario. I'm leaving a 5-10% "you never know" sleeve, because there are no guarantee's, as we all know.

Rick said...

Steve, I said it before and will again, but if the Libs had people like you running the party, the Libs would be in much better position, now and for an election campaign.

The Torie numbers are holding in Quebec, heck, CROP even had them within a few points of he Libs on the island!

The Tories will pick up seats in Quebec in the next election, unless something drastic changes. If they can hold these numbers around 31%, they will pick up 20-30 seats in Quebec, and that alone would put them close to a majority.

Hoping that their stance on the environment, Afghanistan and gun control leads to a drop will not happen. Those topics are there now and are having no effect on polling numbers. They had spun a story, accurate or not, that they are the new federalist force, with a type of fedelarism that appeals to Quebec.

Steve actually acknowledged the problems the Libs have and is thinking of ways to fight the Tories effectively. A lot of Liberal supporters on blogs have the glassy eyed view that things will get better as soon as the media starts playing nicer with Dion.

That and 50 cents won't even get you a coffee anymore.

Steve V said...

"Those topics are there now and are having no effect on polling numbers. They had spun a story, accurate or not, that they are the new federalist force, with a type of fedelarism that appeals to Quebec."

I guess that's the gist right there. If the debate centers around federalism, Harper might have some appeal, the Liberals dead to the world. If, and this actually could be the Bloc's initiative, the debate centers around policies and issues that do matter, then some of the that soft support might bleed away. I can hear Duceppe now, telling everyone how Harper doesn't represnt Quebecers values. It will be interesting.

knb said...

liberazzi, while I concur with some of what you say, I think you're reading Steve incorrectly.

I for one appreciate that he looks at polls, thinks about them and gives us his view. Few of us take the time.

For me, he keeps us current. I sometimes disagree, but I think you can do that and remain on the same side. Voices are good, shutting them down is bad, witness Harper and gang.

That said, indeed I'd like to shut the Quebec rabble rousers up.

You don't tell us what province you are from in your profile. Just wondering.

liberazzi said...

KNB, I am from Mississauga (formerly Nacho). I used to be a green supporter, but I like this new version of the Libs, so I got on board once Martin resigned. I still have a soft spot for the Greens though and I like this unofficial association they have with the Libs. However, I am now a full fledged Lib member, I attended the leadership convention and I am going to the Ont AGM next week.
Anyways, I have done my own amateur seat count based on recent numbers and here is how I see it give or take to try and clear this up.
Cons - 143 (gains in Qu, On, losses in BC, NL, status quo elsewhere)
Libs - 97 (losses On, gains in BC, status quo elsewhere)
Dips - 27 (loses in On, BC)
Bloc - 40 (loses to Cons)
PC - 1
I could not find updated numbers for AL, Sask, Mb, so the Libs and Dips could make gains on the praries. In any event, still no majority for the Cons and I do not see a scenario where that will happen at this point. The Cons are currently maxed out in the west and are vulnerable there. The Cons are not going to make gains in the Atlantic and will lose some seats. The Cons will make modest gains in Ont at the Libs expense, but I do not feel they can go much higher. Finally, the max the Cons can achieve in Que is about 20 seats, 25 if they are lucky. It will be very difficult for them to get to 155.

northwestern_lad said...

Wow... glad to see that good old Liberal unity is alive and well here. There are a couple of assumptions that are being made here that need to be dismissed. First of all, as the first anon commented, the Tories and NDP are up, the Libs and Bloc are down, consistently. There is no guarantee where any of that support is going to go, so to assume that it will just come back to the Liberals is folly.

Secondly, will this Mulroney stuff hurt the Conservatives some, yeah, more than likely. But what it will more than likely do is push Conservative voters to the undecided column, not towards the Liberals. There are reasons why Liberal voters have left their ranks, and just because all of a sudden the PM looks bad does not change what moved people away from the Liberals. Honestly, I think the big trap here for the Liberals in attacking the Mulroney file is that they are just going to be hit back with Gomery time and time again. That's a zero-sum play for the Liberals. I'm not suggesting that they don't attack the Tories on this, but I'm just pointing out that if and when they do, they need to realize that all this will do is hurt the Conservatives, not help their numbers.

liberazzi said...

Optimistic Lib scenario:
Cons - 125 (Slight loses in Al, Sk, Mb)
Libs - 117 (Slight gains in Al, SK, Mb)
Bloc - 40
Dips - 25 (Slight loses in Sk, Mb, BC)
PC - 1
This is why I say that Que is irrevelant to the Libs. The Libs must remain dominant in the Atl, regain their strength in Ont, Mb and split SK and BC in order to regain power. Basically, the Chretien formula.

liberazzi said...

Northwest: The NDP are stuck around 14-17, so they will stay where they are on go down on the fears of a Con majority as usual. Those votes will then go to the Libs. The Libs need to focus on soft Dip and Con support in order to make gains in On, BC and the praries. If Dion runs a crappy campaign then it could be the soft Lib votes that will start to bleed off to the Cons and Dips I guess, but I think we are looking at a increased Con minority at this point.

northwestern_lad said...

Liberazzi... "The NDP are stuck around 14-17, so they will stay where they are on go down on the fears of a Con majority as usual."

I would love to see nothing more than for the Liberals to assume such things. It will be to your own detriment.