Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nanos And Detainees

Nanos has a new poll out with a fairly static results, apart from a slight narrowing, resulting in a dead heat. A high water mark for the Liberals nationally, as well as some encouraging regionals. I'd like to look at this poll within the context of the detainee question, because I believe this offering, as well as other pollster findings (minus Oopsos Reid of course) provide leverage.

First the national numbers:
Cons 34.7(-0.9%)
Libs 34.6%(+.0.7%)
NDP 17.8%(+1.4%)
Greens 5.2%(-0.4%)

Nanos tends to show the Greens lower than other pollsters, which accounts for both main parties having a reasonably high percentage. When you look at the regionals, you see a "could go either way" electoral reality. The Liberals have a slight lead in Ontario, with a replicated 42%, but the Conservatives only lag 3% back. The Liberals assume a good lead in Atlantic Canada, and come out with a statistical tie in Quebec, over 30%. You do the math, minor quibbling aside and either party could form government with these numbers.

All the polls show a tight race, the numbers translate into a situation where NO party would enter an election with momentum and/or confidence. What is particularly noteworthy, a deadheat scenario isn't exactly the preferred starting point from the Conservative perspective. In fact, that situation presents a likelihood that no matter the eventual "winner", the Conservatives would lose seats. On the flip side, it's hard to see how the Liberals, minus a disasterous campaign, wouldn't add to their 77 seat total. I'd still give slight odds that the Conservatives would form gov't, but I'd also give long ones that it would be in a DIMINISHED position. If that seems a reasonable scenario, how an election now actually WORKS for the Conservatives escape me.

Harper has one more election, should he return with less MP's, we will undoubtedly start to hear whispers, Conservatives will look for a successor, he would likely retire at some point. In many respects, it's majority or bust for Harper in the next election, if he can't replicate or best the 38% in the last election, the natural political demise begins. There is ZERO motivation for Harper to force an election, unless the Conservatives have some confidence that a majority is at hand. Where's the upside, from the Conservative perspective to force an election today?

With the above in mind, and I believe the logic sound, the Liberals have little to fear from the shallow chest thumping from the Conservatives. In other words, the Liberals can be aggressive on the detainee document front, because I believe the Conservatives will blink. I also believe, if the Conservatives don't fold, that means the information is so damaging and explosive, they will do ANYTHING to avoid. Either way, we have the initiative and I'm sure a campaign would prompt more leaks and "put on the defensive" material.

These polls aren't great for the Liberals, but relatively speaking they're worse for the Conservatives. We should proceed on the detainee front with these considerations in mind. Ultimately, any "demands" the opposition make will only lead to an election, if the Conservatives CHOOSE. They have the power to avoid an election, this isn't non confidence, this is complying with the democratic will, Parliamentary supremacy, accountability and transparency. I don't fear any of those questions, and I don't fear these polls. How anyone can see the Conservatives "itching", when faced with 40-50 of their seats on the line, little hope of addition, probability of subtraction really, really doesn't compute from where I stand.


DL said...

Just out of curiosity Steve, if we had an election and we had a result that was a "reduce Tory plurality" - in other words, the Tories remain the largest party, but they drop about 25 seats and end up in the 120 or so seat range (which is a reasonable expectation right now) - how exactly do you see Harper staying in power at all? In that situation would the Liberals do what they did right after the 2008 election and let a Harper throne speech pass?? I doubt it. Would the NDP support a Tory throne speech unless it literally adopted the entire NDP platform and also would bring in proportional representation - chance of happening about 0.0001%. Would the BQ vote for a Tory throne speech after the Liberals and NDP make it clear they are voting NO and after a campaign where Duceppe positioned the BQ as the "bulwark against Harper" in Quebec...very, very unlikely. Not to mention that supposedly, the Tory platform in the next election will include stripping all parties of all federal funding - something that would send all three opposition parties as well as the Green party into bankruptcy court!

I think that any way you slice it - Harper either wins a majority in the next election or he and his party are out of power.

Steve V said...

Sounds reasonable to me.

Gayle said...

I really think the LPC have to take a stand on this issue just on principle. Last year they were crucified for pushing for an election with no real reason to have an election.

If Harper does not comply with his legal obligations, there is basis for an election.

I do understand the dangers in that, because not every Canadian can truly understand how Harper is undermining our democratic principles, but I still think the LPC have to draw a line in the sand here. It is the only way to look principled.

Steve V said...

Don Martin in the NP today:

"If you heard a Wednesday morning banging sound coming from inside the Prime Minister’s Office in the Langevin Block, it was just Stephen Harper hitting his forehead on the wall after reading the latest Nanos poll on his political fortunes.

If Nanos is reflecting reality here, it not only gives Stephen Harper reason to avoid an election, but must have strategists head-scratching themselves to figure out a salvage strategy."


Tof KW said...

DL, to add to your thoughts, with Nik's numbers from today here is the latest 1-poll projection from threehundredeight.com:

CON - 129
LIB - 113
NDP - 24
BQ - 42

It doesn't have to be a full coalition. Mr Ignatieff and Mr Layton need only a working agreement of support, like Peterson and Rae did in Ontario back in 1985. Right after a throne speech, Harper would be gone with such a result.

Hey if sweaterboy wants to call an election with these kind of polls, all to escape a contempt of parliament charge ...let him!

Steve V said...

I heard that CBC radio reported the NDP would not follow through on their Friday detainee document deadline, instead will pursue the issue in committee.

Tof KW said...

Interesting news Steve. There is obviously some sort of calculus at work here, something the opposition parties are not telling us. Hey maybe even the impossible and Harper is actually capitulating.

Nero Wolfe said...


Is that a for sure thing about the NDP?

When was it reported?

Steve V said...

Someone mentioned they heard it on the CAPP facebook page. I can't find any confirmation. I would say the fact the NDP asked NO questions on the detainee file today in QP is pretty indicative. I'll post something when I can find it.

Greg said...

Yes Steve, please let us know. Personally, I have a denunciation to write, if it is true.

Tof KW said...

Folks, before anyone writes any sternly worded emails to their local MP's - there must be a reason why the opposition seems to be backing down on deadlines at this time. Something's afoot.

49 Steps said...


No you really got me on this one.

So far just rumour and speculation.

However the NDP asked 0 questions in QP today on it.

I think there is probably a very good chance that NDP motion will not be introduced.

We will know Friday.

My apologies

Steve V said...

I agree, let's wait and see. That said between the ignoring in QP today and the prorogue legislation introduced today, it looks like channel change time for the NDP.

Steve V said...


Harris said yesterday that the NDP would decide "next week" how to proceed, so don't hold your breath on Friday. Looks like a bail from here, but it would be NICE to get to some clarity.

Steve V said...

Harris yesterday on CBC:

""We'll take action next week to seek to enforce what we've asked the government to do."

Calgary Junkie said...

I heard a similar report on CBC radio, that the Dippers are backing off on their motion.

And it looks increasingly like Derek Lee's "point of privilege" thing is dead in the water too.

So, the election hawks and hardball players will just have to wait patiently. But I don't think you guys should be that surprised, because, as Donolo said when he took over ... we are playing a long game

DL said...

I wonder how looooong Donolo can endure sticking around for his own looong game? At this rate it will be October 2012 and Donolo will still be saying "we don't want to peak too soon!"

Tof KW said...

I am not one of the ‘election hawks’ who really wants to see a campaign, but mon Dieu! This is a minority government and those can fall at any time. And where are we at? No one wants to tackle incredibly serious issues because everyone is gripped in fear of an election? The grits are spooked after last fall, are trying to find new ideas from their grass roots, and are in no shape for an election. The NDP is down from where they were in 2008, their leader is undergoing serious medical treatments, and are also in no shape for an election. The Bloc is too busy buried in Quebec politics trying to convince la Belle that sovereignty (and by association themselves) are still relevant, and likewise are in no shape for an election. And to top it off, the governing party is swamped with cash and itching to launch a campaign, except their polls numbers are dreadful and St Harpo & his minions keep shooting themselves in an alternate foot every day. There is a Shakespearean tragedy in here somewhere, just change the players names and place the setting somewhere in the 1500’s.

I’m still thinking there is something the opposition knows that we don’t. But if no one is defending parliamentary supremacy all from a fear that Harper would go running from a contempt charge, and into the home of the Governor General to dissolve parliament …then democracy in Canada has officially become a farce.