Friday, May 23, 2008

The "Guru" Speaks

The new NANOS poll provides some good news for the Liberals. First the results, but then a word of caution in allowing these numbers to act as the leadership security blanket.

Libs 34
Cons 33
NDP 15
Bloc 11
Greens 8

Not really much difference from NANOS' last poll, small erosion for both the Libs and Cons, Bloc up, Greens up, NDP the same.

What has changed, NANOS' Ontario numbers are now more in line with other pollsters, the Liberals 18% lead is now reduced to 10%, which is far more believable. The Liberals at 50% in Ontario was nice, but that always seemed a tad high:

Libs 43%
Cons 33%
NDP 17%
Greens 7%

A bright spot for the NDP, their numbers recovering from a dangerously low 13% last month.

However, the Quebec numbers now show the NDP in a distant fifth place, using a slightly bigger sample size than the last NANOS offering:
Bloc 40%
Cons 23%
Libs 22%
Greens 9%
NDP 5%

That represents an 8% drop for the NDP, from their high water mark, and much of that erosion seems to benefit the Bloc and the Greens. The Liberal numbers tend to mirror all the other polls, while the Conservative total is somewhat less than the Quebec only polls. All I can say on that score, these national polls that understate Conservative support, relative to the bigger Quebec only polls, actually had a good predictive record in the last election, so their findings shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

In the "West", whatever that is, the Conservatives are down considerably, Liberals up, NDP to a lesser degree. I suspect some of that is related to British Columbia, but that conclusion is buried in this irrelevant "West".

So, if you do the regional breakdowns, you could actually argue the Liberals would win more seats, this tie looks slightly better on an electoral map. A stronger Bloc hurts the Conservatives, a strong lead in Ontario is obvious gold for the Liberals, and the east is positive, looks to be pockets in the west.

My friend Scott Tribe, refers to this poll as the pepto bismol of polls, helping to quell the nervousness that comes from reading other results. That sentiment seems to be fairly common, NANOS makes everyone feel better, it tends to overshadow other results that are less positive. I have a couple thoughts on this score.

I didn't really get excited about the Angus poll yesterday, in terms of the national numbers, it looked like the gap was more just margin of error noise, than any trend. Maybe this poll understates the Liberal support, but you could argue problems with other outfits, so it is more a question of their own internal trends, than objective read, relative to others. People can question the result, but I'm frankly tired of the typical "online" comment, which never brings any factual evidence to the table, ignores the concrete counter, based on real results, and just repeats the baseless bias. In other words, put up or shut up. Please :)

Where my caution lies, and I don't mean to highlight Scott, but I think his comment on the post speaks to a wider problem:
throw in leadership polls that show Dion doing poorly, and predictably, we get some Liberal bloggers getting heartburn and demanding either the leader resign or else be upended in a palace coup or else claim this shows Canadians won’t listen to Dion’s message in an election - specifically on a carbon tax. The next day, Nanos polling comes out with much more close numbers, and that usually calms the “nervous nellies”...

"As I said over here in comments, people elect political parties in Canada - they don’t elect presidents."

Scott argues that NANOS is the leadership elixir, but in reality, the opposite is true. The last NANOS leadership poll had Dion at an abysmal 11% on the competency question, completely in line with Angus, completely consistent with EVERY other poll. While you can correctly argue the national numbers, don't extrapolate NANOS as some reason to stop worrying about leadership. In fact, NANOS says the Liberals should be worried about leadership, his findings completely reinforce other findings.

I say this, because I think it a dangerous mistake moving forward to not recognize the challenge ahead, to not accurately understand just where Dion is at, and how ultimately that could make perceived strong party numbers less reliable. Yes, we elect parties, but every party has a face, and if you don't like that face, you are less likely to vote for that party, especially outside of the core brand support. Better to admit that Dion is at a worrying bottom, than console yourself in the horserace numbers. That isn't to say the numbers aren't good news for the Liberals, worrying trends for the Conservatives, only it isn't the only question, the only part of the equation.

What this poll tells me, if Dion can get his act together, nothing exceptional, just a measure of projecting confidence and leadership, the Liberals are poised to win the next election. If Dion remains at such a low leadership score, then any perceived brand strength is part mirage, or flimsy. A national campaign demands a credible leader, so I argue this to make sure everyone remains focused on the achilles heel, we don't get comfy, because a real problem still exists.

I'm somewhat optimistic, actually moreso than I have been in months, because I think this tax shift plan is a real opportunity. But, let's not forget where Dion is, because that will, in the end, in my opinion, be the make or break factor in the next election.


liberazzi said...

This is more encouraging, but once again the real poll is coming in October. However, the Reid poll was simply strange, giving what has been going on.

liberazzi said...

I meant "given what has been going on".

Steve V said...


We can quibble about the overall results, although it is more likely bouncing around MOE, but the leadership numbers are validated by everyone else, which is my only point.

Dr. Tux said...

I honestly believe that we're turning the corner with the latest policy announcement.

Yes, Dion's leadership abilities have been seriously put in question. It hasn't helped that Dion's had not one, but two vicious partisans working overtime against him (Jack and Harper). It doesn't help that there's been a media more interested in seeing their story about a divided liberal party continue than in listening to what Dion's proposing. It hasn't helped that there have been "anonymous senior liberals" undermining Dion since day one. And it hasn't helped that people expected the party to be election ready since Dion became leader.

But it seems to me that things are starting to change. The new policy is being portrayed as gutsy, bold, and is the right thing to do. Pundits are actually listening and debating the merits of the policy. Sniping in the party has continued, but Dion is now working from his strengths and when he does that, he's a fierce competitor, a real leader even. The vicious partisans will never change, but the narrative is starting to change. The ball is now in our court.

Blue Magic said...


The bottom line is no one is paying attention.

It will all come down to the election.

And as a Harper supporter I would not sweat Dion's leadership numbers intill an election.

Harper's numbers sucked before the last election. Let's be real who besides poltical junkies pays attention to politics outside of a writ drop?

What I don't understand about the liberals is why they don't have a policy convention to reset Dion and the liberal parties image. I guess it comes down to money.

Anyway good post on the poll.

Steve V said...

"I honestly believe that we're turning the corner with the latest policy announcement."

That's my sense too.

"The bottom line is no one is paying attention.

It will all come down to the election."

Yes, but impressions are being made, so I don't think we can discount them. If Dion's numbers were credible at this point, I suspect the Liberals would actually be up in the polls outside of MOE. Not paying attention, but not oblivious either, especially the 50% that bother to vote.

Mike said...

Seems like people dislike the Tories and Liberals equally and that the NDP isn't really a serious threat to anyone.

It will be interesting in the next election.

I'll have fun watching from the sidelines...

Blue Magic said...

Steve says...

"Yes, but impressions are being made, so I don't think we can discount them."

True, but these are the impressions.

Harper scary
Dion weak leader

The only thing that will break these is an election.

I'am againts a carbon tax and fill in the blank_______ for other partisan stuff.

I have to say it has been a good idea for Dion to come out with a carbon tax now. Even with no plan.

1.arguments are about policy
2.The CPC can frame the issue, but the liberals can tailor the carbon tax againts the CPC spinning right now.
3.Talking about policy weather right or wrong that seprates the libs from the CPC.
4.Not talking about internal party dissant.

Anyway at least we might actualy get a debate on policy out of both parties on this.

Steve V said...

"Seems like people dislike the Tories and Liberals equally and that the NDP isn't really a serious threat to anyone."

I vote "least objectionable"!

"Anyway at least we might actualy get a debate on policy out of both parties on this."

No doubt, it's a clear point of distinction.

Anonymous said...

This poll says what every other poll has said for the last year and a half.

The Liberals and the Conservatives are tied and stalled in the polls and only an election will change that.

29-36 for both parties over that time is a tie in electoral terms. Canadian elections are apt to swing polls much more than 3 points either way over the course of 6 weeks.

It's a tie, has been a tie, will be a tie until the next writ is dropped.

Blue Magic said...

Steve says

"No doubt, it's a clear point of distinction."

Bang on. good blog, even if I am a little nutty Harper supporter.

PS: Look forward to your blog comments when Harper is kicking your liberal bout in the polls.;)

Steve V said...

"PS: Look forward to your blog comments when Harper is kicking your liberal bout in the polls.;)"

Man, that could be a long wait ;)

liberazzi said...

Dion is not going to make any points with regards to his style, so he has to make it on policy instead. I like Dion's Tax Shift proposal and I think he is boxing the Dips in. How can the Dips claim to be "green" now?It is a major gamble, but he might need a hail mary to win this thing so why not. On a side note, it is a bit much that WK comes off as a rebel, but wants to play it safe? Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

now imagine how high we would be if dion was replaced...