Thursday, August 13, 2009


The new EKOS poll focuses on the approval/disapproval numbers for the various leaders. The trendline isn't good for Ignatieff, improving for Harper:

While Harper has a higher approval rating, normally you combine this with disapproval, and when you do, Ignatieff still retains a hardly noteworthy edge:
Harper received a 36 per cent approval rating, followed by Layton (34 per cent) and Ignatieff (29 per cent). Conversely, 47 per cent said they disapprove of Harper’s job performance, with Ignatieff getting a 38 per cent disapproval rating and Layton 33 per cent.

That means the net positive scores are worse for Harper (-11) than for Ignatieff (-9).

What do these numbers mean? First off, it's a given that a new leader's numbers will wane over time. This is particularly true on the negative front, because it takes time for a new leader to generate their own "baggage", as well as opportunity for their opponents to smear. The historical context considered, you can still see a decided change in June, further evidence that the Liberals badly handled their strategy prior to the summer break. That isn't news to anyone.

If you look at Harper's numbers, the trend is actually positive, his negatives slowly dropping over time. Combine that with the reverse trend for Ignatieff, and concern is warranted. There's no much available to move the numbers this summer, but the key will be a revamped Liberal approach come the fall, that clearly addresses a growing problem.

If it were up to me, I'd be using some of that new found fundraising wealth to get out some positive leadership ads. People don't know Ignatieff, which means we need to be proactive, rather than leaving this vacuum available. Combined with that, and I really do suspect it's coming, issue specific frames that give voters a sense of the party and what it wants to do. It is so blatantly obvious that Liberals and Ignatieff aren't "drawing" voters, most of the improvement is a default consideration, that by it's nature is very weak and feeble support. If we want to move the numbers upward, we need more "pull" rather than relying on the "push" to date. In fairness, when you're in the midst of a economic meltdown, it's pretty shrewd to adopt a conservative approach. But it's an outdated consideration at this point, a nimble strategy requires a wholesale rethink.

The good news, the problem is easily identified, there is no mystery here, so the response seems straightforward. We don't need a platform, but we need borders, we need a definition, that's the thrust and nothing will change until it's addressed. If a snap election is in the offing, then we can probably wait until the campaign (my suggestion on ads now aside), because you can't do much in the short intermediary anyways. However, that logic still brings a danger- can you define yourself in 6 weeks, particularly when campaigns are fluid and you don't control the ebb and flow?

These numbers don't constitute panic time, but they do demand an urgency. Period.


Morgan said...

I agree with your post. Good analysis.
Big problem for Ignatieff though is when he is focussed on he shoots off his mouth making big promises without thinking of the consequences.
Today for example he wants to give a "permanent federal subsidy" to the Digby Ferry. So now will every provincially run ferry in the country be demanding the same?

And then he said small municipal airports will get more federal subsidies.

He is getting very Paul Martinish where he promises everything to everybody wherever he goes and does not understand the meaning or municipal, provincial and federal jurisdiction.
In other words he is acting like a wimp who could be manipulated by every squeeky wheel or special interest group to get good press and votes.

Not good leadership traits in my opinion and his handlers really should clue him in on this don't you think.

DL said...

Let's not forget the latest political numbers:

Conservatives: 32.7 (-2.2)
Liberals: 31.0 (-0.9)
NDP: 16.5 (+2.7)
Bloc Quebecois: 9.7 (+1.1)
Green: 10.1 (-0.7)

Its all pretty consistent with what we've seen over the past few weeks - Tories and Liberals deadlocked in the low 30s and the NDP in the 16-17% range (sorry Steve) - but it does look like the BQ has been on an upswing in Quebec in a few recent polls.

One oddity in the EKOS poll is that they ask people if they would prefer a two party system in Canada instead of a multiparty system - and 50% of BQ voters say they want a two party system - I wonder if that means that they envision the BQ being one of the two parties with the other being the Conservative-Liberal-Democratic-Green alliance?

Steve V said...

Is than an oddity? I seem to remember an earlier poll that showed Bloc supporters wanted a majority government, something which you took issue with.

As for the "sorry Steve", is this what it's come to? Below 2008 totals, amounting to a loss of many seats and a concerning 14.7% in Ontario is now something to crow about? Still translates to very concerning from where I sit, but take what you can I suppose.


I hear you on the Martin front, trying to be everything to everyone is a loser.

DL said...

I think we agree of the BQ thing. We see that half of BQ voters want a two party system and I also remember seeing a poll that showed that BQ voters were even more likely than supporters of other parties to want majority as opposed to minority government - and yet they are voting for the one party that guarantees minority government in perpetuity and they are voting for one party that would have to disappear for Canada to have a two-party system. Even with the NDP you could hypothetically say "I support the NDP and i also want majority government and a two party system" - it just means ideally wanting an NDP majority government and the NDP to be one of the two parties in a two party system - but where is the logic for a BQ supporter??

DL said...

Not that I want to overanalyse one poll - but for the same of argument, if the EKOS poll were dead-on in every region, the NDP would gain seats in BC and Atlantic and lose a few marginal seats in Ontario and probably end up with the same seat total as now. But as we know polls are just snapshot that represents how the oil and vinegar in the salad dressing bottle separate when sitting in the fridge overnight. Once an election campaign gets underway - the bottle gets agitated and the results of that are anyone's guess.

Steve V said...

Eric does the regionals, and comes up with a 7 seat loss, if they numbers held true. Anyways, it's whatever at this point. I just think these results only look okay in a relative way, worse to bad, as opposed to expanding support.

Steve V said...

I do wonder if the convention helps? If anything it's get the NDP some ink, which is generally quite hard in the summer.

DL said...

The NDP convention hasn't even started yet - but I've maintained all along that when parliament is not in session and its summer - the gyrations in the polls are often just reflections on who is making news or not. Sometimes all it takes are a few news items about whether or not the NDP will change its name etc...for some soft NDP supporters from the last election to be reminded that the party exists.

Éric said...

The polls have been so consistent that my projection has hardly budged for weeks.

I both long for and have fear of the day when the election is called and we get two to five polls per day.

Anonymous said...

and you are doing exactly what the pollsters want you to do...panic and turn on your leader...the same as you did to Martin and to Dion....gramps...they are conning you.You got a credible poll last week from Nanos. Don' get your shorts in a knot.

Steve V said...

"and you are doing exactly what the pollsters want you to do"

You sound like a complete CRANK.

The Liberals have an identity crisis. Anyone who can't and/or won't acknowledge that has their head up their ass.

Steve V said...

Oh, and for your "panic" crack, read the last line:

These numbers don't constitute panic time, but they do demand an urgency.

Hello in there.

Éric said...

A "approval/disapproval" poll is difficult to take at face value. The people who "disapprove" of Ignatieff might simply be disapproving of him not being more tough with Harper, or not defeating him. It doesn't translate into a willingness to vote for Ignatieff or not.

And when you look at the numbers, you see that Ignatieff has better approval ratings from NDP, Bloc, and Green supporters than Harper does. Tories approve of Ignatieff in equal numbers that Liberals approve of Harper, but the main difference is that while 79% of Tories approve of Harper, only 59% approve of Ignatieff. But if they're already committed to voting Liberal, it doesn't really matter.

A big issue, though, is that Harper has 24% approval from undecideds compared to 14% for Ignatieff. That could be trouble.

Steve V said...


Well put. Ignatieff's numbers aren't a drag, the way Dion's are, nor would they keep people home. However, there's no question that part of the Liberal stall in momentum is related to perceptions of the leader.

Éric said...

There's nothing really going on to cause momentum right now, anyway. Only the NDP have a chance of a bump in the next few weeks because of the convention.

Steve V said...

Agreed. I was speaking to our loss of momentum in June.

Demosthenes said...

You don't need positive leadership ads.

You need leadership. And fundraising prowess ain't it.

Steve V said...

That's just silliness.

Woman at Mile 0 said...

I totally agree on the advertising thing and have said this often but to no avail so far. Should have advertised back in the late spring.

Anonymous said...

At this point, i think leadership ads would be a waste of money. There may be a time for that, but right now it would just look foolish.

Like it or not, the meme is persistent that Ignatieff is missing in action. He has failed to comment on any of the issues affecting the nation or being reported except EI since June.

Not to rehash how wrong that may be or anything, but the reality is he isn't talking to the press in a way that gets his thoughts into the papers and thus into mainstream Canadian's psyche.

So if an ad came out right now, it would look weird and probably allow conservatives to reinforce their "where's iggy" theme. It would also spark a whole round of media speculation on ads and "worries" Liberals have in spending their still fragile resources.

All that is needed at this point is for Ignatieff to start speaking out, sharing, expressing his beliefs on how the current government is failing to perform and how he feels the situations should be dealt with. The polls are quite stable actually, with the Liberals nearly even or even with the Conservatives, higher than in the last election.

The only press needed right now is free press. Launch ads after he's back in the daily cycle. But right now, don't bother. Just turn up the visibility of Ignatieff and erase the haze that has settled in.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say speculation of election, not speculation on ads.

The last thing Liberals need is more "are these ads a prelude to a fall election," especially if they aren't.

Steve V said...

"It would also spark a whole round of media speculation on ads and "worries" Liberals have in spending their still fragile resources."

Joseph, I take the opposite view. By running ads, you show that the days of the broke Liberal Party are over, we now have the financial capacity to get our message out. I think the Liberals running ads would get such massive free media, the ad buy would only have to be marginal to be effective.

As for the prelude, a simple reminder of that the Cons, NDP and Bloc have all ran campaigns against the Liberals this year. Electioneering?

I actually think ads are a complete and utter no brainer.

Möbius said...

At this point, i think leadership ads would be a waste of money. There may be a time for that, but right now it would just look foolish.

Like it or not, the meme is persistent that Ignatieff is missing in action. He has failed to comment on any of the issues affecting the nation or being reported except EI since June.

Hence the need for leadership ads, and some policy. Where the heck do you think most Canadians get their political information from? Present company excluded, of course.

Geez, what are you saving your money for?

Anonymous said...

grin. I'm not saying the media ought to report ads that way . . . I'm saying I fully expect that would be how the would lead any reporting on it. I'm not exactly keen on the media reporting lately, a point on which we agree.

And I still think ads need a bit of a prelude, even if it's a short one.

I see Ignatieff actually commented on a couple of different lead news items this week. How refreshing to see his name in print on a major news story. It was probably mentioned on TV as well, though I didn't watch TV today.

I still tend to think those are the two primary sources for how most Canadians get their news.

Tell you what. He keeps that up for a week or two, then run the ads. I just imagined the strangeness of him not putting his opinion out there on ANY major news items juxtaposed with ads on his leadership skills. It just didn't jive in my head and still doesn't.

I am not advocating some massive build-up or lead-in, just a little consistency in messaging. And it's not like I'd be "bothered" if they started running ads so be a little gentle here . . . I think I'd get over it pretty quickly ;). Just offering my take on the current situation.

Steve V said...

I appreciate your take. I just think the Liberals have a natural buffer with the media, because the Cons have ran a massive smear campaign, so it gives us some latitude. I suspect we might see another round coming soon too.