“The Liberals certainly appear to have more potential to break out of this deadlock,” said Graves.
“There are some structural elements that should favour the Liberals. The recession for one thing. Another is the fact that the Liberals easily outstrip the Tories as the voters’ second choice.
However, the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, has failed so far to potentiate that secondary support, and the party has stalled.”
In fact the Conservatives lag not only the Liberals, but also the NDP and (very narrowly) the Greens as Canadians’ second choice. Almost every party apparently has more room to grow than the Conservatives do.
No choice 26.8%
Graves cites a Liberal inability to "potentiate" any secondary support, which basically agrees with my arguments about failing to "maximize capitalization". Still, the numbers suggest that the Conservatives are swimming in a far more narrow pool, we have more growth potential.
Along the same vein, this poll also shows the Greens doing quite well, for the first time leading all parties amongst the youngest demographic. The Greens also take third by a whisker in Ontario and Alberta, near tied with the NDP in Quebec:
But at the moment, no party is growing, except the Greens, who may be benefitting from general dissatisfaction with the political options Canadians have. Their support is near the top of the range they have enjoyed in the polls historically, and much higher than their 2008 election result.
In fact, the Greens may have crossed a new threshold in that they are now in the lead by the narrowest of margins in one demographic cohort that will grow in influence in coming years those currently under 25.
“It is hard to know whether this Green strength among the young is simply an expression of disenchantment with the existing political options, and whether the Greens can actually translate it into enduring political support,” said Graves.
You don't want to take anything away from the Greens, nor assume people aren't attracted policy wise, but Graves is probably right that their strength is also a sign of disappointment with the more traditional parties. This reality is further evidence that other parties, particularly the Liberals, are failing to make the sale with available voters, failing to attract or represent anything beyond the status quo. When you consider the second place choices, as well as the emergence of a "protest" vote, you see that we could be squandering a real dynamic at play with the electorate.
In addition, this problem seems to extend to the NDP, who in the past have capitalized on just this sentiment, but more and more are getting lumped in with the others. The Ontario result of 12% is a dreadful score. While people can comfort themselves in a differing poll here and there, I've checked the 2008 numbers and at no time did we see these low mark fluctuations (NANOS last gave the party a 11.5%, Strategic Counsel a 11% in Ontario). If there is dissatisfaction with our political process, the NDP are more part of the problem than a safe refuge for voters- the Greens are filling this space. Something to keep an eye on for sure, particularly when the high profile environment argument isn't such a glaring casual relationship.