Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coalition Supporters, Here's Your Poll

A new EKOS poll that provides bad news for Harper, but finally gives coalition supporters a positive finding. Actually, this poll may be an extension of a trend seen in the last two releases, which did show signs the coalition was gaining some acceptance. There seems to be a a co-relation between sagging confidence in Harper and acceptance of the alternative:
Polls conducted late last year showed a high level of opposition, especially outside Quebec, to a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition in the event the minority Harper government is defeated in the House. The new poll suggests Canadians' feelings have evolved, with 50 per cent of respondents favouring a coalition government, while 43 per cent are happier with the current Conservative government.

“This is a huge change from the period right after the coalition agreement was struck in Stéphane Dion's last days as Liberal leader, when the Tories took an apparently unassailable 20-point lead,” Mr. Graves said. “Clearly much of the recoil against the idea of a coalition really had to do with alarm at the idea of Stéphane Dion becoming prime minister so quickly after having been rejected so decisively at the polls.”

This is the first time any pollster has provided a coalition number which starts to reflect voter intention. It's always troubled me that 62% of voters didn't want the Conservatives, but a full third or more of those opposed a coalition. This result is good news for coalition supporters, the first time a majority has supported the concept. One caveat:
In addition, the poll suggests that 49 per cent of Canadians want to see Governor-General Michaëlle Jean send the country to the polls if the Harper government is defeated on its budget, instead of allowing a coalition government.

Canadians don't want an election, in fact they loathe the very suggestion. The fact they prefer one over a coalition is still reason for concern. That said, overall, it does appear that resistence to the coalition is lessening.

On party support, EKOS shows a tight race, Liberals on the rise, Conservatives down:
Conservative Party continues to lead in overall voting intentions in Canada, with the support of 36.2 per cent of respondents, compared with the Liberals at 32.6 per cent and the NDP at 14.3 per cent.

Even worse for the Conservatives, the pollster actually compares Harper to Bush, as his popularity wanes badly:
The Ekos/Globe and Mail poll suggests the Liberal Party is gaining momentum as economic concerns grow, with a majority of Canadians now holding a negative view of Conservative Leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Of the 1,000 respondents, 55 per cent disapproved of Mr. Harper's handling of his responsibilities, while 35 per cent offered their approval.

“That is a very bad number,” Ekos president Frank Graves said of the disapproval rating. “That is getting up into [former U.S. president] George W. Bush numbers. Not quite, but 10 more points, and you're up to as bad as it gets for elected leaders.”

Opinions of Ignatieff were quite favorable, although people have a limited opinion at this point.

These are the type of findings which speak to a sense of "legitimacy" for a coalition, imperative in my mind. A positive result, no question.


Ian said...

Although I support the coalition, and like seeing acceptance, I hate seeing pollsters make statements like this: "Not quite, but 10 more points, and you're up to as bad as it gets for elected leaders."

10 points is a hell-of-a-lot in terms of polling. This is just plain bias against Harper in favour of the Liberals (I say this as one who would compare Harper to Bush, just not while reporting supposedly unbiased polls). Really makes me question the whole findings.

Steve V said...

"10 points is a hell-of-a-lot in terms of polling. This is just plain bias against Harper in favour of the Liberals "

What the pollster is saying, that over time Harper's numbers are eroding, now to the point where he's in the same neighborhood as Bush.

I don't question the finding, because every other poll has showed the same negative trendline for Harper. These numbers are not an oddity, by any means.

Mike said...

Alright Steve so you said the GG would listen to public opinion this (yes it's just one poll) shows a MAJORITY support giving the coalition the reins of power.

So how can you say the coalition is off the table now as you've been doing in your past few posts?

Even all the recent polls show 40-45% support which is equivalent to the support needed for a MAJORITY GOVERNMENT so what gives Steve why are you still so insistent the GG wouldn't allow a coalition to take power?

Steve V said...


Please. Did I post this poll or not? Did I acknowledge we might be seeing a positive trend? I'm forever pragmatic, and will reaccess as the dynamics change.

One point, the other polls you speak of, you failed to acknowledge the MAJORITY opinion. Just the facts please, no need for biased spin.

Mike said...

Fair enough, just your post wasn't clear whether your fundamental opinion had changed or not. Your previous posts implied the GG would NEVER let the coalition take power. If you've revised your opinion great, the more who are like you who are also warming again to the coalition the better.

Steve V said...

I have nothing definitive to say, I'm just processing. I've said since day one, I personally support the coalition, so it's never been a question on that front. My concerns are based on legitimacy, and these type of polls do ease my mind, particularly because we are starting to see a trend, from multiple organizations.

Just to add, when I heard the Cons were ramping up negative ads on the coalition again, my first suspicion was their internal polling must be showing a change in public perceptions. This latest poll only confirms that rationale.

Anonymous said...

"My concerns are based on legitimacy, and these type of polls do ease my mind, particularly because we are starting to see a trend, from multiple organizations."

So this means that Canadians would support an electoral pact between Iggy and Layton if Harper is defeated next week. Especially one that shuts out Duceppe completely.

Maybe Iggy should do this. Decline the opportunity to form government and have Harper wear the recession on the campaign trail.

WesternGrit said...

"and will reaccess as the dynamics change" - I love that... lol. I agree. Pragmatism is the best way to go. A pragmatic and open politician chooses the moderate route to take from many. There are several ways to skin this cat (or Harper's kittens)... Harper's gotta be trembling in his shorts right now (probably the only action he ever sees down there...).

I heard their "wonderful" attack ads today. I was in a "Buck Or Two" store, and heard the people next to me in the stationary section start snickering and complaining about Harp. Anecdotal, yes, but good news just the same...

Anonymous said...

I think Western Grit's observations are about as accurate as a poll on the fact that Harper isn't wearing well as time goes on.

I think the poll reflects that as much as anything. And it is a good sign. But I still think the next few weeks will be tricky and have risks for the Liberals and Ignatieff.

Personally, I tend to think the coalition as a concept without Dion is a more palatable concept with the public, but I think that is because it does "feel" more conceptual at this point. I think a very delicate path would have to be in place to maintain any tenuous acceptance through a smooth transition to the public really "approving" an "actual" coalition government. Anecdotally, it seems to me the public today is "expecting" cooperation on the budget - the media certainly have sewn that expectation with little real evidence that it will really exist in the budget put forth (in my opinion).

If Harper really reverted to form and exhibits more fiction - with a touch of nastiness - in his budget, the public might accept a coalition alternative. But I suspect instead he'll put a budget together filled with lots of selective "goodies" in the form of a hefty slate of infrastructure project funds for "conservative friendly" or "conservative hopeful" ridings.

I found it interesting that Flaherty came to Vancouver last week - which means he really came specifically to North Vancouver (a purplish riding now Conservative). He spoke to their needs and wish lists specifically, really ignoring any other riding even though they are one small part of a large and diverse urban and suburban metro area. I took that to mean their project may be front and center in the line for funding while other NDP and Liberal ridings may be lacking when it comes to the money meeting the street (so to speak). I also expect some really sour pills such as more general tax "relief" that ultimately just creates long-term structural imbalances. Harper clearly belongs to the "we'll starve the beast" school of thought in which they empty the public coffers and then later complain that government has "failed" to deliver the services people need. I have no reason to expect he'll change on any of his fundamental beliefs - why should anyone else is beyond me. So for them, the "need" for deficit spending is just a means to an end to carve away at those government programs that do function well.

In the end, I think Harper will have just have enough selective goodies in geographical areas that might benefit them and then almost defy Ignatieff and the Liberals to oppose it.

I just don't expect Harper to be any less petty than he always is. He'll just do it with more money, claiming he's doing what the rough economic times demand.

How the Liberals face it, I'm not sure (and I usually have strong feelings, but I see risks either way at this point). But I expect fireworks, not cooperation.

Northern PoV said...

We've had too many elections.
The polls continue to be meaningless.

Let the MPs do their work (and let's hope that includes a coalition gov't)

Anonymous said...

Keep drinking the Kool Aid you Libtards.

Jymn said...

Anonymous has a point and not just the top of his head. 50 percent support for a coalition is hardly reassuring.

Anonymous said...

Only 43% prefer a Harper government over the coalition - that is even less reassuring.

WesternGrit said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep drinking the Kool Aid you Libtards."

- Typical example of the "dumbing down of politics - Conservative style". Nice to see the discourse in North America is going to be about intelligent solutions now. It was great to hear Obama talk about re-affirming science, so it takes it's important place... About time politicians listened to their experts (economists and scientists), not lied and distorted the truth to benefit their benefactors (Big Oil, and Big "everything else").

A liberal change is coming to the Western World, and Mr. Obama will be the precursor - for at least the next 4 years. Coalition, or not (coalition if necessary, but not necessarily coalition), change is coming up here to.

"Smart" is back in - time to push "stupid" out.

Jymn said...

Only 43 percent? That sounds promising.

WesternGrit said...

"coming too" (not "to")... Duh...

Jymn said...

WesternGrit - perhaps the Coalition is a path to enlightenment. I don't mean that in a spiritual way. I mean, uniting the Libs and the NDP is s possible escalation of the appreciation for science and its inherent progress. Obama is promising but so is the Coalition. But really, it unites two parties to defeat the Cons. Something has to be done and this it seems is the most viable option.

WesternGrit said...

Anon 12:31: Not sure if you understand this: If the coalition happens, there IS no election. If there is no coalition, there is an election - simple, really.

Believe me, no-one is going to be giving any coalition "photo ops" this time around. There will be a letter - sent in total confidentiality - to the GG. I know your boys in the backroom want to paint the Liberal Party as part of some coalition with the Bloc (a blatant Conservative lie), but you're going to get smacked around on this one, this time... As polls have shown (the all-important TRENDS) there is a CLEAR trend towards support of the coalition - including today's poll.

Good luck with your sabre-rattling.

Greg said...

Vote against the budget and let's go to another election, we'll see how well the coalition goes over with voters.

It's a deal. Two years after voting against the budget, the coalition will hold an election and we will see how they stack up against a Peter MacKay led Conservative Party.

RuralSandi said...

Anonymous said...
Keep drinking the Kool Aid you Libtards.

11:10 PM, January 20, 2009

Well, wasn't that an intellectual grown up statement - charming. This is what supports Harper? Scary.

Steve V said...


It's just fear:) Little boys talking tough.

janfromthebruce said...

thanks for posting it up Steve.

The Rational Number said...

It looks like Iggy's campaigning promotes the Liberals at the same time as a Liberal-led coalition.

I see this as good news. I was afraid that Harper would take Liberal support for granted, and add some toxins to the budget to "Dion-ify" Iggy's image.

I think the coalition threat is much more feasible now, and I think it'll come down to the budget itself on the 27th to see whether it passes, whether there's a coalition, or an election. It's too close to call.

And it is Harper's (confidence) to lose or not.

If Harper brings out a reasonable budget (and Iggy's criteria are pretty vague) there isn't much Iggy can do to bring him down without damaging himself, the Liberals and the opposition. I think some creative thinking might find opportunities to distance the Liberals from supporting a Conservative budget, rather than sharing their pain.

If Harper shows off a turd, he'll go down like (insert off-colour metaphor here), and there will be no possibility the Liberals will wear that budget (though they would wear the recession as part of a governing coalition).

Dame said...

It gives me hope Canadians are started thinking and opening their mind..
I did expect this but I was aftraid .
Good post .