Opinion improved 43%
Opinion hasn't improved 53%
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:
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 ;)