Friday, October 30, 2009

Canadians Side With Liberals On Stimulus

The pdf for the Harris Decima poll on stimulus spending has been released, and the Liberals are clearly winning the PR war. Reading the commentary by Anderson yesterday, I'm going to challenge his conclusion, that while Canadians agree there is a bias, we are "resigned" to this practice and accept it as "business as usual". The numbers:
A majority of Canadians believe the Liberal claim that a lion’s share of the stimulus funding is being directed towards Conservative ridings. 56% of
respondents found this claim very (18%) or somewhat (38%) believable, while 34% did not find the claim believable. Strong majorities in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan found this claim believable, while opinion was split in Alberta where 48% found it believable, and 47% did not. Interestingly, in Quebec opinion was split down the middle as well
with 42% finding the claim believable, and 42% saying it was not believable.

In terms of polling, that is a pretty one-sided support of the Liberal claim of bias. Even Conservative supporters are somewhat inclined to believe the Liberal position, 43% see a bias, while 50% do not. Also noteworthy, in battleground Ontario, the margin is even higher at 2 to 1, 61% see favoritism, only 30% do not. I would catergorize those numbers as problematic for the government, the Liberal message resonating.

Here's my quibble with Anderson's comments, based on this question:
The Liberals are saying that spending more in Conservative ridings is unfair and should be stopped. The Conservatives are saying that this is happening because their members are working harder to get new projects for their ridings and that just how things work. Which is closer to your view?

46% support the Liberal position, while 34% support the government argument. Because the percentages are slightly closer than the "fairness" question, Anderson concludes that Canadians aren't that concerned about PORK, this isn't a "political bombshell". I would argue, the fact, by a sizeable margin, Canadians side with the Liberal position is noteworthy, irrespective of the other findings. It's still quite a gap, only in Alberta do the majority side with the Conservatives. Half of Ontario votes support the Liberals, while 33% believe the Conservatives. In Quebec it's a 47%-29% gap. To be frank, how anyone concludes that Canadians are accepting of the practice, based on these numbers, ESCAPES me. The numbers seem pretty self evident, using the first question to lessen the impact of these findings is "half baked".

From the Liberal perspective, I would describe the above findings, particularly the regionals, as quite "pleasing". While the support numbers haven't moved, a seed of doubt has been planted, which may be exploited as time goes on.


Robert McClelland said...

Anderson is right, in the end it won't matter. Liberals and New Democrats are better off focusing on the misuse of government funds to promote the Conservative Party rather than imbalances in the disbursement of funding.

Steve V said...


I don't disagree, I think the use of our money for partisan gain is something that will resonate, it's offensive. That said, it's all tied together, where the money is going is part of the same narrative.

MississaugaPeter said...

Steve, the real problem is that the seed was planted way before either of us were born:

Most Canadians do not view politicians in a positive light to begin with.

Most Canadians believe politicians are egotistical and self-serving.

My experience with some is quite the opposite, but that's because I have been closer to some than most Canadians have.

The Liberals, who less than 5 years ago had their own PM open an Inquiry in their use of government/public money in advertising contracts, ARE successfully tainting the Conservative brand while at the same time REINFORCING the perception most Canadians have of politicians.

Unfortunately, recent polling reveals that pork-barrel politics is alive and well in Canada, and as it has been proven many times in the United States, it works.

Ted Betts said...

'tis but one seed in the soil that is sprouting roots.

Another is the Liberals calling the Conservatives to account for their horrible handling of the H1N1 crisis and vaccine. Remember back in the middle of the summer when the Liberals called for an emergency meeting of the health committee and the Tories went ballistic and said they had everything under control??? Canadians should have been getting alarmed back then. Now we have a Conservative assisted disaster in the making.

Another seed is the total mismanagement, obfuscation and lying about the handling of Taliban detainees. To accuse critics of siding with terrorists because they want an full and proper accounting of government action is dispicable.

Still another is the crisis they have created in healthcare on their mishandling of the medical isotopes and their push to dismantle a genuine Canadian international success story.

And others.

This is one half of the equation: how badly this government is doing. It doesn't reflect much yet in the polling though because the polling questions are inevitably a compare and contrast.

Which brings us to the second half of the equation: what are we offering.

It's been repeated countless times but let me repeat it again: Mulroney was way behind Turner when the elections started in 1984 and had had a very rough first year as leader; Chretien was way behind Campbell and entered the election year after a year or so of turmoil and OLO mismanagement; Harper's coffin was already being constructed by his own party after the summer of 2005 and was at 25% in the polls to Martin's 39%.

Two things happened to turn it around: (1) the government of the day was mismanaging things, suffering from multiple ethical issues, not addressing the needs of Canadians... all of which wasn't enough to throw out the government or turn the polling numbers until... (2) the opposition party provide enough of a sense of having it together and being capable of governing. They didn't need to fully convince anyone that they were the saviours of the nation (most Canadians in 2006 and now disagree with most of Harper's fundamental beliefs), but they did need to be convinced that the opposition couldn't do any worse.

And the Liberals haven't done that part of the convincing.


Steve V said...

"Harper's coffin was already being constructed by his own party after the summer of 2005"

And, don't forget it was being constructed just this last May. I recall all these same pundits, in roundtables, predicting a Liberal victory in the next election, Harper dead in the water.

Marpman said...

Where was BC. I assume we were pretty down on the believable scale as there are significant accountability issues with our present provincial government.
Significant were the prarie provinces as they tend to vote in a conservative way, so you would think they would believe their government.
I think people still believe that as long as money is getting on the ground it is is when it is not that they get riled. The massive spending on advertisements, $100M buys a lot of shovels is of concern, regardless of the tone of the ads themselves. Why do we need to advertise when the projects are initiated via our MP/MLA?

Steve V said...

Actually, the BC numbers were good. 57%-29% believed the stimulus favored the Cons. 42-35% said it was unfair and should be stopped.

rockfish said...

Watch for the results from the byelections -- typically an opportunity for voters (the few that show up) to get their beef out. It should be interesting but not pretelling of a theme.
My guess is that here in Coquitlam-New West, you will see Ken Beck Lee poll a minimum 25%, up from the party's dismal performance in the last election (despite having a terrific candidate then, too). The CON candidate is sticking to a predictable script, trying to tell anyone and everyone that all she's hearing on the doorsteps is about crime and the economy. When asked about education, she told the reporter: "that's a provincial matter"... unless of course you are talking about post-secondary education, about research and development, infrastructure etc. She'd probably stare blankly at her CON notes and run away when asked about health care, isotopes and H1N1...