Thursday, January 07, 2010

Report From The Hinterlands

With all the usual caveats aside- as well as an acknowledgement that falling Conservative fortunes represent only part of the Liberal equation- these two polls today demonstrate that the prorogue issue is resonating to a certain extent. It also tells us that cynical people holed up in Ottawa offices, who make snap definitive pontifications, aren't always the best "gauge" of what is occurring in the "hinterlands".

The Angus Reid poll is important for a couple of reasons. First, we now can replace the most useless HD poll, done prior to the actual prorogue, that didn't incorporate the fallout. Many of the pundits, and increasingly desperate Conservative apologists, constantly referenced that outdated finding, despite the obvious, so at least this poll denotes more serious feedback. It's an objectively dreadful result for the government, even worse when one scans the regionals. By almost 3-1 Canadians disapprove of the government's decision, almost 40% strongly disagree. A pretty worrisome number, when a mere 19% support the government. Further, even Conservative partisans express noticeable displeasure, the government doesn't even enjoy majority support from the faithful. People have claimed that "process matters" don't translate to the general population, but these strong opinions in this poll suggest otherwise.

The numbers are even more problematic for the government, when you deal with the regionals. Particularly in Ontario, we see a rarely seen gap, 59% disagree, only 17%agree, a full 43% strongly disagree. The Conservatives have a clear perception problem, and this represents an opportunity, if we develop the narrative correctly.

Tied into these result, we get an EKOS poll, which brings a few noteworthy items, not the least of which, the once huge Conservative lead in Ontario has vanished(the last NANOS poll was the first to show the Liberals out front since September). When the gap was wide, I reminded people that Ontario is volatile, a large percentage of soft support ebbs and flows. Factoring in the strong resistance to this prorogue idea, some softening on the torture question, these numbers aren't particularly surprising. I suspect they would look worse for the Conservatives, if the Liberals had more credibility.

Overall, what was a 15% gap a few months ago has been whittled down to a mere 5%. The polls have been pretty static lately, this EKOS poll represents the first serious move, poll to poll, we've seen for months. Graves articulates the obvious, the prorogue question actually is hurting the government (that procalamation completely supported by AR). In fact, the Conservatives have lost all of the gains made last September, back to square one. The lead is only maintained, because the Liberals haven't full capitalized. In addition, a little discussed portion of this poll shows that disapproval of the government is now consistently the highest it has been since the brunt of the recession, right direction the lowest.

I would catergorize the above as an opportunity for the Liberals to develop the arrogant narrative, as well as a chance to reacquire the confidence of voters. There is a disconnect, wherein the Conservatives enjoy a voter "buffer" because the alternatives aren't attractive. More evidence of voters looking for a place to park, the fact the Greens score so high with EKOS, even above the more traditional "protest" NDP port in two key provinces. For the Liberals, build a compelling brand and we can maximize Conservative misfortunes.

As an aside, my first comment, when the idea of prorogue was floated:
Mark my words,if true this will be worst political move of Harper's career.

Non-prominent citizen- 11:00 PM Dec 14th, 2009

At least that prediction is still open for debate, at this point ;) Canadians HATE arrogance.


JimBobby said...

The prorogation issue is essentially a last straw and that is how it should be more effectively portrayed. Prorogation is the latest in a long litany of assaults on democracy.

The anti-prorogue sentiment and momentum should be channeled to a more generic "pro-democracy" movement. All the other dictatorships have pro-democracy movements, Canada shouldn't be left out.

Steve V said...

"All the other dictatorships have pro-democracy movements, Canada shouldn't be left out."

Great line JB.

Frankly Canadian said...

This sure does put a whole new spin on things. I certainly hope the Liberals can capitalize on this one and for that matter all the other parties as well. One thing I’m curious about that your blog doesn't seem to mention is if there may be a whole new demographics of people who are beginning to take a little more interest in what is going on in Ottawa. I am certain a large number of supporters/ members of that “Face Book” movement (surely one hundred thousand plus, by today anyways) did not vote in the last federal election (I know that from just some of the people I have invited to join), however I strongly believe that they will be voting in the next federal election. I wonder if some these increases to the Greens and the dippers numbers are not just a displacement of Conservative support, rather a growing concern with Canadians that we need a new government. Were people starting to take notice and show their discontent with Harper even before Christopher White started that “Face Book” page and does this poll reflect that?

Steve V said...

I should mention, the Liberals now outpoll the Conservatives with women voters, something we haven't seen for some time.

I think that Green number speaks to a general disgust with all traditional parties, at least part of it.

Tof KW said...

I think you're right about the Greens Steve. Because they are new and relatively unknown (aside from their environmental platform of course) the Greens are probably benefiting quite a lot right now from having many individuals project their values onto them.

Back to the main topic, it is good to see Canadians noticing Harper's arrogance on this. And again I agree the Libs have a lot of work ahead of them if they wish to translate any of this into any solid support. But it is a great opportunity for them to finally get ahead of an issue (for a change).

Omar said...

..if there may be a whole new demographics of people who are beginning to take a little more interest in what is going on in Ottawa.

And youngish people at that.
Now would be the time for the Liberals to announce something really daring in the policy department. Marijuana decriminalization would be a bold move that would resonate from coast to coast to coast. A 'green' initiative that will get massive attention particularly from the young voter and speaking for myself, the not so young voter. Of course the debate would be rather heated both pro and con, but what a debate it would be! I won't hold my breath on that ever happening though. I mean really, what has the Liberal brain trust managed to come up with in the policy department? A national vision for high-speed rail? Good luck with that cash cow.

Steve V said...

" Marijuana decriminalization would be a bold move that would resonate from coast to coast to coast."

It also has a certain deficit fighting component as well.

Kim said...

Elizabeth May just published a book on the Canadian Crisis in decomocracy. My son bought me a copy for Christmas. I think you have made a good point about the Greens being untarnished, also I think social media is giving many young people an opportunity to explore politics on there own turf.

Omar makes an interesting point. Imagine the public funds that could be diverted from the war on drugs and put to good use. Policing, Judiciary, prisons. BC Bud tm is bigger than the forest industry ans fishing together! Plus its SO green! Feeding children would be popular too.

Kim said...

Sorry decomocracy? really? Note to self, spellcheck!

Steve V said...

I'm the king of typoes ;)