Thursday, July 16, 2009

Something To Watch

The new EKOS poll gives the Conservatives a slight edge, up a couple points since last week, the Liberals virtually unchanged. What might be more noteworthy, the Conservatives get their highest marks on the "direction of the country" question, which is probably a more key finding.

Nationally:
34.1% CPC
32.4% LPC
15.2% NDP
9.6% Green
8.7% BQ

Mildly surprising that the Conservatives gain slightly, because last week wasn't a stellar one for the government. NDP down, Liberals unchanged, mostly just moving around within the margin of error. Of note, the Conservatives score a relatively high 18% in Quebec, more evidence that they're up slightly from the previous abysmal trend.

We can debate whether or not the economy has truly turned the corner, but really it's the voter psychology that's important. This EKOS poll puts confidence in the government at its highest since they began their weekly sample. We also see the lowest score for the government on the "wrong direction" percentage. Although it's minor changes, I would suggest this measure is one to watch, a very important indicator for the government:
Right direction 49%
Wrong direction 39%

To put that finding into context, a month ago the numbers were evenly split, slight edge on the "wrong" side. What might be even more telling, even in the economically ravaged province of Ontario, the Conservatives have a 50% right direction, 40% wrong direction. With a very volatile electorate, those numbers may prove quite important moving forward.

The Conservatives still lag behind overall views on direction of the economy, but that gap is narrowing. With the Liberals stalled, their numbers virtually identical week to week, the Conservatives seem to be capitalizing on higher confidence and a sense that things will improve. That is an entirely new dynamic, that wasn't present throughout the last session of Parliament, and it's one the Liberals should adapt to quickly.

When you've witnessed mind boggling negativity in the economy, it's only natural that any relative pause or the most miniscule of signs are seized on. I think we have a natural inclination to want to believe things will improve, once the numbers fail to keep us sober and negative, there's more room for optimism. I would suggest that is where we are now, uneven indicators will be enough to keep that sense alive and it will probably only improve. With that in mind- the numbers starting to support this thesis- the government can now move from raw knuckles damage control to projecting a "over the hump" argument, their stewardship no longer a liability, but a testament to ably seeing us through a economic downturn, not of our making. The question then becomes- what is the attractive counter argument for the Liberals to move the numbers back in their favor?

33 comments:

DL said...

I think that in the dog days of summer in particular, vote preference trends are often nothing more than a measure of who is in the news. Over the past week, Harper has been all over the news what with the G-8 and even the communion wafer controversy (ever heard the old saying "there is no such a thing as bad publicity"?). But with Parliament not in session and the other party leaders either on holiday or re-tooling - it's as if Harper is getting a standing ovation from a two-thirds empty stadium. I think people are also getting lulled into thinking that things are turning around because the stock market made a big comeback etc...but by Fall there will be more bad news - and a lot of people who have been managing on EI or on lines of credit will start having to use the welfare system etc...

John said...

I think we just need to go in the fall, the dynamic is NOT going to get better for us to wait beyond that - Harper will have the Olympics and an election friendly budget and the only thing that could possibly bring up NDP numbers would be us continously propping them up.

Stephen Harper was as much as 14 points beind in the polls in the summer of 2005 and down as much as 10 points even two weeks into that election campaign but he still won. He pulled the plug then because he knew that waiting longer would only make things better for the Liberals (they would have passed more popular legislation and brought in reforms for Gomery's second report).

If we run a strong disciplined campaign we can win even if we start out many points behind, but waiting until our polls numbers are good just guarantees that Harper will force an election when it best suits him.

But really we should have gone in June, imagine what Harper's numbers would have been like if all the G8 stuff happened in the middle of an election...

Marie said...

Big problem for the country is an election is triggered in the fall.
Economically speaking Canada would lose it's momentum as we are weathering the recession better than pretty well any other country.
Creating instability is suicide.
The other is the Royal Visit in November. Charles and Camilla are scheduled for a cross country tour.
They will not and cannot visit a country while there is an election going on and all of the plans would have to be scrapped.

Whoever triggers an uneeded opportunistic election this fall will be crucifed.

It is already common knowledge that the Liberals are "afraid" the economy will get better so they have to crate havoc and chaos and instability to better their own chances. Putting the party first over the country is bad politics don't you think?

Steve V said...

"The other is the Royal Visit in November. Charles and Camilla are scheduled for a cross country tour."

That is so laughable, it really speaks to a very WEAK argument against.

As for crucifying, didn't seem to hurt Harper when he went against his own law and manufactured a crisis. Fact of the matter, any risk doesn't diminish over time, we could have the same arguments NEXT summer.

Éric said...

An election would cause the cancellation of a Royal Visit?

Another good reason to call an election!

RuralSandi said...

A Royal Visit? Well, that changes everything - keep the country on hold for Charles and Camilla - I don't believe what I just read LOL. Like that's going to create jobs, fix the isotope situation, etc.

I still maintain that Harper always does better when parliament is out - more photo-op opportunities, etc.

Steve V said...

If it sounds nonsensical, it might help to divulge that Marie is actually "wilson" ;)

RuralSandi said...

That explains why "Marie" instead of "Wilson" has been all over the blogosphere with her silly nonsense.

Steve V said...

Wilson is adamant that she is not Marie. I'll take her at it her word, but the lame spin similarity is just eerie. And, you guys are from the same town! Should get together, then you'd have half a clue in combination :)

Anonymous said...

Big problem for the country is an election is triggered in the fall.
Economically speaking Canada would lose it's momentum as we are weathering the recession better than pretty well any other country.
Creating instability is suicide.
Another Marie said that and that's not me. I couldn't disagree more Marie. Fall would be an execellent time, June would of been better but that did'nt happen. If we don't do it in the fall, I am afraid that Ignatieff will lose a lot of his support. Damn it, do it soon MI while you still have some support.

Steve V said...

The big question I have for the fall, what's the trigger? It won't be EI, I'm almost certain. Harper will adopt his platform positions, add a few Liberal wrinkles, just enough so any move to an election will look unwarranted. It will be the Afghanistan debate redux. So, beyond that, it has to be something compelling.

Éric said...

Afghanistan is a difficult topic to go to an election on. The Tories have committed to leaving in 2011, and the Liberals are happy with that. In any case, while support for the mission is probably a minority opinion, there is only one party on that side of the issue, and three crowding the other side.

I was under the impression that there was going to be one of those financial updates at the end of September. If the economy hasn't taken off, it should be easy enough to say that the Tories haven't done enough. The NDP and Bloc will sign on to that.

Steve V said...

Eric

Sorry, I should have been more specific. Conventional wisdom is that this opposition day we received, within this EI panel, will be a trigger. I view this panel, in the same light as the Manley group on Afghanistan. Harper has built another bipartisan mechanism to diffuse the EI issue. In the end, he will move enough so that the Liberals lose the issue as a real point of irritation.

Anonymous said...

Fall election please. The libs will lose base support if they continue to support this gross incompetence. Just pick a file any file they blew --isotopes or the 156 billion deficit.

If they don't they have nothing to say to Canada about saving this nation from the scourge.

Steve V said...

anon

You might be able to go on the deficit, because Harper looks increasingly dishonest. Demand a plan, if they hold this "everything will be fine" line, then you say we can't continue to support a dishonest presentation to Canadians. If you go that route, then you need to be armed with a comprehensive plan to get us out of deficit, you need to address the elephant in the room.

Big Winnie said...

I'm hoping the Liberals are working on a compehensive plan to get out us out of deficit and present it just before the house resumes...I still want an election to get this "sorry excuse" for a government out of Office.

Anonymous said...

Well, the update and a report on how much and "where" the monies have been spent could trigger it.

Couldn't the Libs use EI by saying Harper won't go far enough to help.

Anonymous said...

No becuase the Liberals are the ones who broke EI in the first place. It is a great issue for the NDP becuase they have been fighting the fight for 15 years, not for the Liberals.

Steve V said...

"It is a great issue for the NDP becuase they have been fighting the fight for 15 years, not for the Liberals."

It's such a great issue, they've managed to relegate themselves to IRRELEVANT on the discussion. Instead of being actively engaged in reforms, the silly strategy has left you guys nowhere. It's a shame really, because if the NDP were at the table here, we could probably get more out of the government. Instead, it's just bitchin from the bleachers, and you'll have no stamp on anything, but the issue will largely disappear. Nice job.



"Couldn't the Libs use EI by saying Harper won't go far enough to help."

I'm sure, in the end we don't get everything we want, so there will be criticisms. The problem, Harper will have introduced some reforms, so the issue will cease to be a rational trigger for an election. Think this through. Harper will find some common ground, take the mics and say he's implementing this and that, EI for the self employed, national standards. It will be significant, and the Liberals will be left to quibble, but will lack the moral justification to force a vote. It just won't fly.

As for the stimulus angle, we'll have to wait and see. That could work with the deficit on an overall theme of incompetence.

Mushroom said...

"The problem, Harper will have introduced some reforms, so the issue will cease to be a rational trigger for an election."

It could be if Iggy is bold enough to pursue a fundamental change in the social safety net. Junking EI in favour of a Guaranteed Annual Income as a means to pursue a War on Poverty may be the key to do this.

Mind you, Dion's promise to pursue a War on Poverty was the bright light in his leadership of the party. Too bad that it was sidetracked by the Green Shift.

Anonymous said...

"It's such a great issue, they've managed to relegate themselves to IRRELEVANT on the discussion."

Yah can you believe the sameday Iggy and Harper announced their "blue Ribbon" thing Iggy and some liberals missed a vote on the third reading of an NDP EI reform bill. Thus killing the bill. Don't worry though we are saving that one for the election. The Liberals are full of crap and are going to get it from all sides this election for acting as they have.

Steve V said...

"Don't worry though we are saving that one for the election."

It won't even register. You don't get it, the story has passed you by and it was voluntary. It's so freaking obvious, and that ain't spin. The NDP have been a strategic disaster since the coalition. Canadians don't even see you as part of the conversation. Layton's whole thrust the final weeks was to try and get something done on EI. Now, with the pre-emptive non confidence crap, he's sidelined with NOTHING to show, and I mean nothing. You actually think Layton came off well at the end? I mean, geez, at least I can admit the Liberals blew it. A disaster for months now, and that's why Lavigne was kicked up stairs, that's why your fundraising blows, that's why you can't get any traction, that's why every indication says you'll lose seats, maybe a lot. But, the good news for the Liberals, you guys are to busy patting yourselves on the back to notice. Fine by me :)

DL said...

I get the impression that our resident Liberal here is fulminating because he keeps on hoping and wishing and pining for the NDP to make a deal with the Tories so he can accuse the NDP of propping up Harper etc...but instead, every single time the NDP outfoxes the Liberals and forces them to pathetically prop up Harper in exchange for NOTHING, NADA (Did you hear that? NOTHING!!!!). This isn't just about spin. Real live human beings are facing financial ruin because EI is such a crap program (largely thanks to what the Liberals did to gut the program in the 90s). In the next election, the NDP will be free to call for massive reform of EI, while the Liberal are stuck having to limply support whatever Pierre Poilievre and the rest of the so-called blue ribbon panel cook up - and i can assure it won't be much.

Calgary Junkie said...

Hey anon and Steve, you guys gotta work together to knock off Harper. It's too late, and probably too hard, to get a formal merger, ala the CA and PCs. But some kind of non-agression pact in various ridings is doable.

Look at it this way ... Harper has already telegraphed that he is going to campaign against the Coalition. You guys can deny it until you are blue in the face, but it will come down to a question of who is more believable. Harper has Iggy's signature on the document, and the tape of Layton informing his caucus about the secret coalition talks. Pretty powerful hard evidence.

So just ADMIT beforehand, that the LPC and NDP are working together, so as to end up with a majority of MPs. The last thing you want is spending all your time denying Harper's charges that you have a "hidden agenda"--a secret plan to re-form the Coalition.

Steve V said...

Junkie

Just because Harper wants it to be about the coalition, doesn't mean we have to play on his chosen ground. Like we discussed earlier, the Liberals need a succinct soundbite response, but move it back to ISSUES.

DL

Your comments again show how clueless you guys are at the moment. Again, works for me. Outfoxed, man what a laugh. You've outfoxed yourselves, and you don't even see it. Good, it will help us peel off more seats in Ontario.

DL said...

Harper can try squawk all he wants about a coalition - it won't work. In fact, i hope Harper spend the entire election campaign nothing but fear-mongering against the coalition, that way when a majority of seats go to parties that were accused of wanting to form a coalition - they will have all the more legitimacy to go ahead and form one.

Mushroom said...

"they will have all the more legitimacy to go ahead and form one."

DL,

As long as the Bloc do not have the right to topple the Liberal-NDP coalition.

Calgary Junkie,

"So just ADMIT beforehand, that the LPC and NDP are working together, so as to end up with a majority of MPs."

This may be the only card that Iggy can play with. However, the non-aggression pact requires one thing. The immediate removal of Layton as leader to be replaced by Libby Davies. A non-aggression pact is only effective if the NDP is willing to take on Harper out west, while leaving Quebec and Ontario to Iggy. Not going to work with Layton, as long as he is currying favour to soft Quebec nationalists with his friend Thomas Mulcair.

DL said...

That is totally ludicrous. Libby Davies as leader to appeal to the west??? Come on. She's a great lady, but I suspect that her electoral appeal is limited to a few "metrosexuals" in downtown Vancouver. I hardly see her as the one to lead the NDP into a commanding position in rural Saskatchewan! The NDP and Liberals are under no obligation to campaign as coalition partners. I don't recall the Liberals running in the last election on a platform of propping up Harper on 79 straight confidence votes.

Steve V said...

"Libby Davies as leader to appeal to the west??? "

As opposed to Toronto Jack. What are you taking about? Oh, nevermind...

Steve V said...

I predict Paul Dewar takes the helm after the next election.

Éric said...

He's a good man, that would be a decent move, though I think the NDP is better off with Jack Layton in place. Anyone who can bring the party back to Ed Broadbent levels is no liability.

Steve V said...

Eric

I see it as probable that the NDP lose seats in the next election. And, Layton has had some success by default, the Liberals under certain people optimal. I think the act is wearing thin, and Layton's plummeting numbers support this fact. After the next election, if there is a pullback, I can see people wanting a change. We'll see, I'm not counting him out, but all is not well in NDP land, despite this blind pom pom routine we hear from their supporters.

Mushroom said...

"I hardly see her as the one to lead the NDP into a commanding position in rural Saskatchewan!"

DL,

It is NOT rural Sask that the NDPers are hoping to destroy the Harper-Cons but rural BC!!! Large native population, declining prospects in mill towns, and increasing disaffection towards the dominance of the oil patch economy out west. Libby Davies is the ideal woman to capture the future gains that the NDP needs to make.

Besides many of these disaffected end up dying in the streets of East Vancouver. This is the major social problem for Canada until the year 2020.

"I predict Paul Dewar takes the helm after the next election."

Steve,

Not another Ontarian, unless your name is Charlie Angus. The North is where the Dippers will remain strong with declining fortunes in mill towns.

If Layton has his way, it will be Thomas Mulcair in a coronation. Wanting the NDP to make a breakthrough in Jack's native province is his final objective.

"We'll see, I'm not counting him out, but all is not well in NDP land"

What is the effect of destroying Stephane Dion and bringing forth Michael Ignatieff? Should the Grits give Layton a free pass for toppling Martin in 2005? The answer is a flat "NO". All Layton got out of bringing in Harper as PM was the residential school apology. I think all NDPers expect more.