Friday, April 25, 2008

Down, But Not Out

They released the pdf for the latest Decima leadership poll. Bad news all around, for both leaders, but a few things stick out. The basics:
Harper:

Opinion improved 43%
Opinion hasn't improved 53%

Dion:

Opinion improved 27%
Opinion hasn't improved 61%

Dion's numbers are worse, which isn't surprising given his present circumstance, plus the normal challenges of opposition leader. However, I find it quite interesting that the gap between Dion and Harper is largely because of the difference in partisan opinion. Almost 80% of Conservatives, within the sample, say their opinion of Harper has improved, while a mere 40% of Liberals say the same about Dion. Even more striking, 50% of Liberal opinion on Dion hasn't improved, which translates to the majority opinion.

I would argue that these feelings amongst identified Liberals are largely a function of perceived weakness. The problem isn't regional, first blush might point to Quebec, but you see the same negative impression in Ontario:
Improved 26%
Hasn't Improved 58%

A interesting result, in a province with relative strength of the Liberal brand. Others might offer different reasoning, but I see these numbers as further proof that abstaining and hiding are costing Dion personally, the rank and file aren't impressed. Sometimes this reality gets masked in favorable horserace numbers, but there is no question that Dion's image must improve, to have any chance in an election.

The good news, thank-god for Stephen Harper. Opinion on Harper is far more rigid, outside of Quebec, a much more known quantity than Dion, and decidedly disliked. Harper's numbers might look better than Dion, but they should, history provides countless parallel examples. What should really concern Conservatives, Harper's lacklustre numbers are worse, when you consider his ability to gain traction outside of Alberta, outside of his base. If you look at the numbers, Harper has done little to expand his support, make a positive impression on swing voters. The majority negative opinion of Harper helps explain why the Liberal brand remains strong, despite Dion's challenges.

If Dion can get his act together, or more fairly, present an image of strength, he actually has more potential than Harper. Harper is pretty much cemented in our minds, there is little in the way of re-invention, Harper is the known. What voters do know of Dion they don't seem to like, in overwhelming fashion, but most of this is largely superficial (Quebec aside), the numbers aren't terminal.

Nothing an election couldn't remedy ;)

5 comments:

ottlib said...

I notice that Decima has not released any horse race numbers.

When the sponsorship scandal broke the news organizations were falling all over themselves to release polls within days of it.

The same was true after the Breault testimony and the release of the first Gomery Report.

The Mounties raid the CPC national office, high ranking CPC officials are seen running down emergency stairs and the Conservatives have just had the week from hell.

What do we hear from our MSM about the effects of these events on public opinion. Crickets.

Damn the Liberal media!!

Steve V said...

ottlib

There was one line in a CP article, which put the Liberals at 33%, Cons at 32%, but that was it.

Antonio said...

give it time on those poll numbers

the house isnt sitting right now.

The Liberals can hammer the Tories hard on the multiple scandals, make Harper look dumb, and proceed to throw him out the week after.

They never voted for the budget, just waited til they could pass something better.

The blood is in the water. It is now or never for Dion

Steve V said...

"It is now or never for Dion"

I agree, the fall won't present this opportunity. Others argue, let the economy tank, but Flaherty will hide any possible deficit until the budget (if then ;)).

I'm not attacking Dion here, just a friendly reminder, that our strategy is somewhat demoralizing, even to the base, and these Liberals speak to that. Dion is still in fluid form, these numbers aren't reversable, in some quarters, the danger in waiting, it allows impressions to gel.

liberazzi said...

I am also wondering when the next batch of horse race numbers are coming out. I would be astounded if the Cons numbers did not go down at least a little bit. If the numbers have dramatically changed in Libs favour, then they have to go for it. However, regardless of the numbers, they really cannot allow this immigration legislation to pass, as it would cause even more damage to their brand.

Having said that the "r" word is starting to get used in certain parts, so maybe it might be worth it to wait until the fall? I'm just saying...