Another poll, that provides further evidence of a simple fact- Canadians, overall, HATE the idea of a coalition. The Ipsos poll isn't a one off, I believe we've now seen four separate outfits present the same theme, in overwhelming fashion. Ignore at our peril:
65% of those surveyed said they believe Mr. Ignatieff should try to find a compromise with Mr. Harper, compared with 27% who said he should "stick with the Liberal-NDP coalition." Eight per cent said they didn't know how Mr. Ignatieff should proceed.
The coalition does find support in Quebec, a fact which shouldn't be ignored, but also a result which isn't enough, looking at Canada as a whole. As a matter of fact, this support in Quebec means the results are even more negative in rest of Canada. Some quick math, you are probably looking at a maximum of 20% support in the rest of the country, a disasterous total by any measure.
People would also prefer an election, over the possibility of a coalition:
Poll results also suggest Canadians are so uncomfortable at the prospect of a Liberal-NDP coalition government, backed by the Bloc, that a majority -- 56% -- would prefer going to the polls again early in 2009 if Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean is forced to choose between the two options.
The obvious counter, principle should trump opinion polls, you don't govern with your finger in the air, testing the breeze of the day. If the results were mixed, I might agree, but when you have such a decided rejection, it is almost silly to argue politicians should ignore the will of the people they represent, especially when the idea of a coalition demands public legitimacy to thrive. If it comes to a head, expect Harper to remind the GG of public sentiment, as she weighs her options, and don't think for a moment that sentiment is a meaningless consideration.
Conclusion, unless we see a change in public mood, the idea of a coalition is political suicide. I suppose if Harper introduces more poison pills in his budget, that transparent partisanship could change some minds, so you can't be entirely absolute, but you also must recognize where we are and react within that knowledge.
On the subject of party support, which our Conservative friends, and this pollster, see as good news for Harper, I would offer a serious caution. You commission a poll, wherein you ask a host of questions surrounding the coalition. Respondents are decidedly against the idea of a coalition, express their views, but within that poll you also ask a party preference question. I hate the coalition, I want another election, rather than that coalition, but if I had to choose, I think I'll vote Liberal or NDP. Huh?:
Those surveyed favoured the Conservatives over the Liberals by 45% to 26% when no leaders' names were mentioned. The 19-point gap was repeated when the question was rephrased to name Mr. Ignatieff. The New Democrats trailed at 12% and the Green party came in at 7%. The Bloc scored 39% in Quebec, and 10% nationally.
I'm not surprised to see the above, nor am I particularly concerned, unless of course the Liberals actually do end up supporting the coalition. The Liberals are currently woven within the idea, respondents aren't about to separate the two questions, if they reject the coalition, they will also reject the parties that support it- it's as simple as that, and it's disappointing to read the following horrible analysis of the pollster:
Mr. Bricker said he is surprised the Liberals didn't get a bump from Mr. Ignatieff's selection
How can anyone be surprised, especially with the tone of the questioning? Come on Mr. Bricker, you're the pro, pretty shoddy stuff to reach that conclusion when you can't separate the coalition from leadership, when you rile up the respondent. I read a recent poll, last week, that showed Canadian opinions of Mr. Harper have deteriorated considerably. It's pretty self-evident to conclude that Harper's games have cost him, tarnished his image. But, wait, look at the numbers, the Cons are riding high? Again, the crucial point here, recognizing that any "boost" is in reaction to an unpopular idea, it doesn't translate to genuine support. Remove the irritant, and we may get a better gauge of where we really are with the public. In other words, consider me entirely unmoved by a large gap between the Cons and Libs, it's expected, given the coalition question. And, as I've argued before, because of some shrewd positioning, Ignatieff has given himself room to walk away from the concept and position himself as sacrificing a lust for power for the greater good of the economy. I'm just not concerned, nor do I buy for one second that Harper is "stronger" now. The opposite is true, but the coalition provides cover for Harper's preformance, so offensive it trumps everything else.
Another poll, that is "pure" in the sense that the leadership question isn't confused within the question of a coalition. This result supports my theory that you can't get a clear read of Ignatieff when you pepper respondents on the coalition too, as well as the idea that Harper really isn't "stronger", the coalition masks his problems:
Ignatieff tops the list of party leaders Canadians would prefer as prime minister, with 28 per cent of respondents naming him the best head of government, according to the Toronto Star/Angus Reid survey.
Harper came in at 27 per cent – a virtual tie because it's within the margin of error, but the first time the Conservative leader has polled below 30 per cent in two years.