Harper Re-election Question: [Rotate] Some people think that Stephen Harper has done a good enough job to deserve re-election. Others think that he has had his chance and it is time for a change. Which of these two opinions best reflects your personal view?
Time for a change 58.5%
Deserves re-election 31.9%
Interestingly, Harper doesn't even attain a plurality in the "Prairies", ever region of the country would prefer "change". The numbers are most pronounced where the Liberals need it, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario, strong support in British Columbia. I don't sense a "kick the bums out" sentiment with the electorate, at least not by historic standards. However, the Harper government doesn't enjoy widespread support, they are clearly vulnerable- there is a latent unease that can be exploited. The question doesn't even ask the "majority" angle, which makes the new Conservatives strategy floated even more suspect.
Nanos also finds Canadians warming to the idea of minority governments, another signal that Harper might be misfiring on his stronger mandate argument:
Impression of a Minority Government Question: Is your overall impression of a minority government situation positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or negative?
Somewhat positive 35.4%
Somewhat negative 21.4%
Given all the frustration with frequent elections, beyond that unending speculation, I admit some surprise that the negative impressions aren't higher. These weak numbers might be a statement on the alternative, and that doesn't bode well for the Conservatives. This sentiment also leaves room for the Liberals to argue that the minority option doesn't translate into a coalition arrangement, all that is required is some sense of co-operation without formal arrangements. Taken further, if we do head to the polls, and a desire emerges for co-operation, Liberals can make the argument that Harper has proven himself to be an obstacle in that regard- he "doesn't play well with others" can resonate.
Harper benefits from a divided opposition, but there should be some concern that almost 2 to 1 Canadians prefer "change" over Harper. There is an emerging pre-election narrative developing, and this poll speaks to the growing conversation about the nature of our government. While the economy is sure to be center stage, this whole debate about majorities, minorities, who can bring stability, who has the capacity to reach out and provide good government, this issue could be the 1A consideration. The preamble with the media suggests this will all be on the table, and from the Liberal perspective I would welcome it on balance, primarily because there is no striking downside. Unless the Liberals flop badly during the campaign, the notion of majority will evaporate, and if a "change" sentiment develops around the idea of stability, obviously we stand to gain and have the potential to siphon off other support. Harper vs Ignatieff on these questions, I love our chances and would actually be proactive to putting the discussion on the front burner.