Thursday, February 11, 2010


The new EKOS poll offers a curious result- Liberals down noticeably, but the Conservatives remain stagnant. Hard to draw anything definitive trend wise, this could be a one off setback for the Liberals, but you could attribute it to the uneven press from last week.

Conservatives: 31.0 (-)
Liberals: 29.0 (-2.9)
NDP: 15.5 (+0.1)
Bloc Quebecois: 10.3 (+1.9)
Green: 11.3 (+0.4)
Other: 2.8 (+0.4)

A significant change for an EKOS poll, the Liberals down a full 3%. Neither the Conservatives or NDP capitalize, which is interesting. On the face of it, not a great result for the Liberals, but equally bad for the Conservatives. We see a negative trend on the "direction of the government" score for the Conservatives, and we see no rebound in their numbers, despite the Liberals down tick.

The Liberals are down in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. Ontario is interesting:
Ontario (MoE 3.08)
Liberals: 36.2 (-4.4)
Conservatives: 31.0 (-1.4)
NDP: 16.7 (+2.7)
Green: 13.6 (+3.1)
Other: 2.4 (-)

Rarely do you see both the principle parties down at the same time. Despite the Liberals dropping noticeably, the Conservative vote maintains the same downward trend. A very sizable Green vote from EKOS, which seems high, relative to other pollsters. Pegging Green support seems to show the widest divergence between pollsters, EKOS tends to give them high scores, while others point to relative irrelevance.

You don't want to infer to much from one poll, but you can speculate. I'm not sure it's a coincidence that the Liberal momentum suddenly stalled and reversed itself, just after the child care commitment. The press reaction wasn't kind, a mixture of cynicism and downright mocking, one has to wonder if these pie in the sky assertions don't feed a previous "say anything" narrative that plagues the Liberal brand. I would argue that the Liberals have performed exceptionally well in the past few weeks, with the exception of this policy. It is fair to wonder if the child care issue has had some effect. I'd hesitate, but wouldn't exclude.

For the Conservatives, down in Ontario, down in Quebec, static in British Columbia, no region where they show any signs of turning it around. Couple that with the perception of the country's direction, and there is nothing here for Conservatives to crow about. If anything, isolating their support, it seems the Conservatives numbers are stabilizing at a low point.

I remain convinced that a crucial portion of the electorate is decidedly soft, anything can sway them back and forth. These are the people who will ultimately decide the next election, so no party can take any comfort, they will remain up for volatile until voting day.


Tomm said...


Interesting read.

You said:

" has to wonder if these pie in the sky assertions don't feed a previous "say anything" narrative that plagues the Liberal brand."

Succinct and well said. When the Liberal's nail together their policy planks they can't be looking like a 4 year old's tree house. The public is expecting (dare I say "hoping") that they have a real plan and are a legitimate option.

Steve V said...

The media crack me up. CBCNN anchor just said TWICE that the Conservatives are up in the polls. Goodness.

Tomm said...

people spin things any number of ways.

Way till the Green Party website tells us the meaning of this new trend.

Steve V said...

Forget to mention the "second choice" findings. For the first time I can remember, the Liberals don't lead on this score, second to the NDP:

NDP 18.5%
Libs 16.6%
Greens 13.3%
Cons 9.3%

No second choice 37.4%

A concerning number for the Cons, as they appear to have the least growth potential.

DL said...

I'm a bit sceptical about these second choice figures. When you ask people who their second choice is - it always SEEMS like almost no one has the Tories as their second choice - yet when the Liberals screw up like they last September - Tory support surges - and it has to come from somewhere.

In addition to the child care stuff - I think that the way Iggy was seen to handle the "abortion" issue seemed a bit ham-handed. But when all is said and done - all this poll really show compared to last week is that the BQ has gained from the Liberals in Quebec.

Steve V said...

Obviously, they can gain at others expense, but the second choice denotes political leanings more than anything. Is it really hard to believe that parties have a bigger pool to draw from on the center left? I know the NDP actively tries to poach soft Lib support, and that's because Lib voters see the NDP as their first "second choice", and vice versa for that matter.

As for the poll, it's not a Quebec only consideration. When you add up the federal drop, statistically Ontario plays a bigger part.

Sandra said...

I think the liberals have profoundly underestimated the degree of cynicism that exists, at least here in western Canada. Cynicism is what keeps Harper in, and frankly, it's what keeps the liberals out. They have to go back to the beginning and talk about core values again. Right now, they are an empty shell. The long-term resentment out here toward chretien and the sponsorship scandal, and feeling ignored for x number of years, means no one looks at the liberals as anything other than power mongers, and so why not keep the power mongers we have that at least pay lip service to the west.

There are middle of the road people here, but they need to be led to believe that there is a liberal belief system that they can buy into. We need to talk about inclusiveness, and why it benefits canada, and compare it to the current Only My Clique Counts style. We need to talk about, yes, the need to respect ALL choices for reproductive health; we need to have an clear idea of how the liberals are likely to respond if a certain kind of incident shows up. We don't know. I thought I could count on the liberals to stand up for gun control in this country, but I can't. I thought I could count on liberals to stand up for economic fairness as in reasonable taxation with a fair offering of social services. Can I expect that? See, I KNOW what I can expect the NDP to say on these things, but these days, I have no idea what we'll hear from the Liberals. That's my take on why they can't seem to make gains even on such a hideous pm like Harper.

Steve V said...

"I think the liberals have profoundly underestimated the degree of cynicism that exists, at least here in western Canada."

I assure you, I don't. Even in central Canada, when support moves to the Libs it's not inspired endorsement, mere default and "lesser of two evils".

tjeerd said...

Conservative slide is over.

DL said...

If the best the Conservatives can say is - at least things are no longer deteriorating - its doesn't say much. If they actually dropped from the 38% they got in the last election to the 31% percent they have had for the last few weeks in the polls - it would be a catastrophe for them and they would lose about 30 seats including some high profile cabinet ministers.

Tof KW said...

Another great analysis of the polls Steve. You're assertions on the child-care issue is, I suspect, quite correct and I’ll side with Tomm on that. I know many Grits will question the guidance from a present conservative and a past one, but child-care (or for that matter starting any new large-scale federal spending programs) only feeds the conception that the LPC is that same old ‘big government - tax & spend’ party. The top three issues the Libs need to keep in mind are: 1) job creation, 2) the deficit, and 3) government transparency, accountability and overall competence.

On the first point Mr Ignatieff already proposed some good job creation ideas for Harper’s next budget, and if any are even half-ass added into the text the Libs can and should crow about that. Well played! It shows the Grits are working / cooperating for Canadians, and are a government in waiting.

On the second point, I agree with your previous posts that the Grits would do better by trying to start a grown-up discussion on the deficit rather than dredging up child-care. Mr Cameron and the UK Tories are doing this, and it seems at least the Brits acknowledge that structural deficits are a bad thing and raising taxes is the only real cure. The Libs should announce the need to raise the GST back to 6 the 7% once the economy picks up and pressure the Harper government to admit the obvious, that even deep and painful spending cuts on their own have never turned a deficit around – anywhere. The Liberals should say that child-care is a long-term goal, and only possible once the deficit is tamed. Remind Canadians that the LPC is not the ‘big government - tax & spend’ party of yesteryear, they fixed a staggering deficit before without gutting social programs or massive tax increases …and will do it again. The Grits got a lot of street-cred among real fiscal conservatives with Paul Martin – USE IT!

Finally, about government transparency, accountability and overall competence …well Harper’s handed plenty of ammunition for Mr Ignatieff on that front, prorogation is just the starting point. That Harper has become everything he once campaigned against and is now an even ‘dirtier Liberal’ than Chr├ętien ever was, is quite damaging to this government. Hammer it hard and make it stick. If they can continue to press on the three issues I’ve outlined and continue to offer solid policy alternatives, all those soft votes we’ve been seeing in the polls over the past 3-4 years will start to gel behind the Liberals.

Gayle said...


Personally, I don't think this had anything to do with child care or abortion. People really are not paying that much attention.

This is just normal now that prorogation and the LPC response is not headlining the news every night. I am still convinced Harper's plan was to prorogue, bask in the spotlight while the opposition sits in the background, and then force an election in March. The CPC always go up when the House is not sitting, and the LPC go down.

Sure, the prorogation response has not helped Harper's cause, but you had to know eventually the movement in the polls would level off as our attention turns towards the Olympics.

The LPC should be happy they prevented Harper from increasing his popularity while Parliament was prorogued. The number may level off, and the CPC may even get a bit of a bounce, but considering where they would have been if people had not protested the prorogation, I think the LPC should be pretty happy.

JF said...

I dunno, I don't really know what the Conservative Party is going to say most days on everything except two issues... Guns & Taxes.

Those are the only things that have really stayed consistent is that they want more guns and less taxes.

That's what the Liberal Party needs. A couple issues that they can just hammer on day in day out. Sure, you got to pay attention to the issues of the day but you need a signature issue or two. I suggest Government Transparency & The Defecit.

Steve V said...

"Conservative slide is over."

How far did you expect them to fall? As I've said repeatedly 30% is probably bottom, so yes you've hit it and are staying there. Woohoo!

I'd be pretty concerned, that the Libs fell 3% and you're still down in Ontario, no traction whatsoever. Couple that with the worst right direction/wrong direction numbers we've seen and it's a bad recipe for the government.

Tof KW said...

tjeerd said...
Conservative slide is over.

Agreed with DL - that's pretty lame. The 30% mark is Harper's base, and barring any major spending scandal can't really drop much below that level. So ...DUH!

Tof KW said...

Wow Steve - guess we're typing at the same speed :)

Steve V said...

"The Liberals should say that child-care is a long-term goal, and only possible once the deficit is tamed."

Bingo. I'd clarify, and say NO new big spending initiatives UNTIL we get our finances in order. Off it up as a "first thing to do" scenario, should we get out of structural deficit. People can say what they want, but it's a pretty basic contradiction to say we are in structural deficit while simultaneously offering up a big social policy. It cedes ground to the Conservatives, even though their credibility is in question, if people perceive them as the only "belt tightening" option, we will lose this issue.

Steve V said...



Didn't want the Con to get to excited.

Niles said...

I thought the childcare plan was about jobs, not 'new spending', unless you count stimulating the economy by an investment in 'vulnerable women and children' new spending. Universal healthcare was 'new spending'.

Wouldn't a national daycare plan open up a career plan where there really was none? Enhance early education and allow women otherwise being the sole caregiver to their children the option to get into the officially recompensed work force and/or education to better themselves and their families?

I agree with Gayle. I don't think the national childcare thing has to do with the drop. Or maybe I don't want to think there are that many shortsighted people who can't get their minds around a real investment in the country's future.

Whether I believe the Liberals would actually IMPLEMENT the plan? That's where my cynicism kicks in.

Steve V said...

I'm not saying anything conclusive, just pointing to issues in the realm during the poll. Please don't infer anything more than a proposition.

"Whether I believe the Liberals would actually IMPLEMENT the plan? That's where my cynicism kicks in."

And that speaks to the folly in thinking you're going to move votes by dusting off this policy. Come on, nobody buys it.

As for the economic upside, you can make that argument. Really, I don't disagree, there is an obvious pro. That said, those are tough optics, a specific argument, which will be obliterated by "big spenders". I'll say it again, the economy will be THE issue, and if we cede the fiscal restraint ground to the Cons, we're done. They don't deserve credibility, let's not give it to them by default.

JimBobby said...

Tomm, if you're looking to the GPC site to tell you the meaning of polling trends, you're looking in the wrong place. If you look at the GPC media releases, you'll find the topics are the same topics Canadians care about: prorogation, Haiti, KAIROS issue, Olympics, the Khadr case and, yes, the environment.

Steve, you note that the poll shows a drop for both LPC and CPC support: a pox on both their houses. Could it be that average Canadians are tiring of the principle parties' propensity to politicize practically every topic for petty partisan purposes. (Howja like that alliteration?)

I'm a wonk. I thrive on partisan politics and I've got to say that, even for me, the partisanship has become over the top and tedious.

The two big parties seems so locked in mutual brinkmanship that they spend most of their energy slamming the other guys and trying to score cheap points. How about spending more time on trying to make Canada a better place rather than trying to make the other guys look worse that you do?

Green Party support has been slowly but gradually growing. There are ups and downs in the polls but over the past few elections (you know, the polls that really count), GPC popular vote has risen steadily... largely at the expense of the LPC and NDP. I'm not saying the GPC doesn't criticize where criticism is due but if you look at those media releases, you'll see that criticism is generally aimed at the existing government and its policies.

WRT Ignatieff and the abortion issue, I think that although the issue has a certain amount of resonance with some voters, he made a mistake in raising it. He's played right into the hands of those who want to label him as an American. Abortion is a big issue for Americans but it's been mostly off the radar for Canadians. I think we've seen the toxic and downright violent side-taking down south and we've been thankful we don't have to contend with that here in Canada... until Iggy decided to make it more of an issue, that is.

If the Grits want to win, they need to win over soft GPC and soft NDP support; maybe some BQ, too. To do that, they need to play fewer political games that are good for the party and espouse more policies that are good for Canada. And, here's a big tip, if Iggy wants to win over soft GPC and BQ support, he'd better ease up on his love for the tar sands.


Steve V said...


I think you're right. Most people aren't particularly enamored with either party, and I'd through the NDP into the mix as well. A lot of support is default position, as opposed to true inspiration or conviction.

I hear on the tedious part, thought of packing it in on many occasions.

DL said...

We know from recent byelections that Green support is a mirage. Four federal byelections in November where they got 3% in each? A provincial byelection in downtown Toronto last week where they got 3%. If you want to know where support for the Green party is at - I suggest paying more attention to what happens when you count votes that were places in a ballot box and not the latest Ekos "robopoll"

Steve V said...

Spoken like a true NDP partisan. By-elections are a mirage, they're rarely indicative of anything that will happen in a federal election. I'd point to the expanded support in each of the last three elections, as well as translating accurately from the POLLS to the ballot box in the last Ontario election and the last federal election.

JimBobby said...

Well, DLfeller, I reckon Steve's right wrt by-elections.

As for general election results -- you know, those ballot box things -- the GPC has been gaining steadily.

In 2000, 104,402 voted GPC for 0.81% of the popular vote.

In 2004, 582,247 voted GPC for 4.32% of the popular vote.

In 2006, 665,940 voted GPC for 4.48% of the popular vote.

In 2008, 941,097 voted GPC for 6.80% of the popular vote.