The Strategic Counsel poll found the Liberals under Mr. Ignatieff closing the gap with the Tories on the issue of who is best to deal with the economy, with 38 per cent picking them as best managers, compared with 40 per cent for the Tories. The Tories held a 12-point edge in the area in a poll taken during the 2008 election.You can't understate the implications of a leader of the opposition now running neck and neck with a sitting PM, on the crucial issue. That number represents the first signs of serious erosion for Harper, it should give the war room shivers.
On the horserace front, another poll showing Harper returning to earth, from the false coalition bounce. A 21% lead in December is now down to 7%:
The Tories still lead the Liberals in voter intention – 36 to 29...The poll saw no change for the NDP, at 18 per cent. In Quebec, the Liberals surged well ahead of the Tories, with 29 per cent, compared with 17 per cent. The Bloc continued to lead in Quebec with 36 per cent.
The numbers indicate the Tories have failed to hold on to the increase in popularity they gained after the announcement last year of a Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc. Within days of the coalition announcement, the Tories had a 21-percentage-point lead over the Liberals.
We see different gaps, depending on the poll, but all the trends are similar.
This poll also asked questions on an election and the coalition. For coalition backers, a ray of hope:
Of those surveyed, 49 per cent said they would prefer an election over a coalition government if the budget failed and the government was defeated. However, 44 per cent preferred a Liberal-NDP coalition government, with 66 per cent of Quebeckers liking the idea.
The closest breakdown we've seen, and the first one you can credibly claim any degree of public support. One caveat, voters would rather the Liberals vote for the budget, EVEN if they "don't like what they see":
The poll found 49 per cent said the Liberals should hold their noses and vote for the government even if they are not satisfied with the budget. Forty-three per cent, however, advised the Liberals to bring down the government if they don't like what they see.
A slight majority want Liberal support, no matter, rather than a vote against, but if there is a vote against we'd rather have an election than a coalition. That's the way it translates, so when you factor in the want for budget support, even with the not satisfactory label, then the want for an election, it's still quite a stretch to argue high support for the coaltion. That said, the coalition stench seems less pungent than it did in early days, others have shown a similar narrowing, so it's clearly somewhat positive.