Quite a change from the last Angus offering, and the authors of the poll attribute much of the swing to the "in and out" scandal. Angus Reid March 28:
A 10 point lead for this firm, has become a statistical tie. The culprit:
A majority of those polled – 58 per cent – believe that the Conservatives' credibility has been damaged by their ongoing dispute with Elections Canada over the so-called "in and out" financing of the last election, which resulted in the RCMP raid of party headquarters more than a week ago.
I've argued for quite some time that Dion is hurt within this current strategy. This poll confirms a sense of "weakness", but it also offers a interesting statistic, which could be used in a future campaign:
The Prime Minister was rated by 51 per cent as strong and decisive, for instance, compared to only 8 per cent who see Dion that way.
An absolutely abysmal number, which translates to killing Dion slowly by abstaining. However, this finding offers a possible narrative for Dion, one that might be considered surprising, given the previous Liberal challenges with ethics. Dion's major strength, his integrity, nobody questions his honesty (see quotes from all the other party leaders). Could Dion run on a return to honest government?:
Dion does outrank Harper on being honest and trustworthy, though, with 38 per cent of respondents seeing him that way compared to 33 per cent who said they'd describe Harper that way.
That finding is all the more striking, given the overall low opinion of Dion, it shows that he has political capital when it comes to the basic question of trust. Clearly, this is Dion's strength, and if any Liberal is capable of arguing this line, it's Dion. I've always thought an election ad, with old quotes from the other leaders commenting on what an honorable man Dion is would be a powerful symbol.
The regional numbers show the same trends in Ontario others have found. The Liberals lead by 8%, when just last month Angus Reid had a tie. Interestingly, in Quebec, the parties are also tied, when just last month the Conservatives were the clear second choice (in line with CROP and Leger). This poll also shows relative gains for the Liberals in British Columbia, the NDP in the Prairies.
It's still too early to gauge the fallout of "in and out", but it might just be the issue that works in concert with things like the Cadman affair, to chip away at the government's credibility. The conclusion of this pollster, it has had a damaging effect. The good news, unless you are a Conservative, it's far from over.