Thursday, April 29, 2010

Liberals Should Address Quebec

If you want to pinpoint the recent Liberal lag in the polls, Quebec is the region that draws my attention. The latest EKOS poll comes on the heels of this week's Harris Decima offering, confirming a new bottom for the Liberal in Quebec. I don't sense much urgency, but the fact of the matter, numbers have been eroding for months and have now reached a critical state.

First the national numbers:
Conservatives: 31.9 (+0.2)
Liberals: 26.6 (-0.5)
NDP: 17.6 (+1.3)
Green: 10.9 (-1.7)
Bloc Quebecois: 9.7 (+0.2) (38.5 in Quebec (+0.1))
Other: 3.3 (+0.6)

Interesting, the Libs are back to 2008 election levels, but the Cons are a full 6% below their tally. And, although the NDP are showing signs of rebound, they are just shy of 2008 levels. I'd hardly fear the big blue machine, garnering 32% and 29% in polling this week, and one has to wonder why they aren't capitalizing on Lib weakness(of course the reverse is true as well). There is nothing here to justify Con bravado, we're at Dion levels and they are down considerably.

The Quebec numbers:
Quebec (MoE 4.40)
Bloc Quebecois 38.5 (+0.1)
Liberals: 19.3 (-3.4)
Conservatives: 16.0 (+2.2)
NDP: 12.6 (+2.8)
Green: 10.4 (-1.6)
Other: 3.1 (-0.3)

As Kady points out, the first time the Libs have fallen below 20% support in AGES. More concerning, this poll isn't a one off, we've seen consistent erosion from others and the trending is clear. I'm not reacting to this result, I put my Quebec concerns to a few people at the Thinkers Conference and wasn't overly moved by the lack of urgency. To be fair, I believe Quebec will largely be a campaign consideration, but at the same time I can't say I denote a coherent strategy. People will note, that the Bloc score is stagnant here, other federalist parties benefit, which suggests a ceiling does exist.

On the leadership front, although Ignatieff's numbers are dreadful, Harper's are concerning, with a much more rigid feel. Layton does well, part merit I suppose, but equally a by-product of after thought considerations.

I've been pretty impressed by the policy thrust we've seen recently. Although the announcements haven't garnered considerable attention, they will serve the rebrand well moving forward. That said, we clearly need an aggressive strategy in Quebec, Ignatieff needs to do another round of television/media interactions, a more visible presence, because part of this drip, drip, drip is a lack of catalysts.


DL said...

Interesting that among LIBERAL voters - 51% approve of Layton and only 45% approve of Ignatieff. what are we supposed to conclude from that?

Anthony said...

Jean Charest is hitting some all time lows here in Quebec right now.

Liberal is a dirty dirty word even in Montreal these days

Steve V said...

That most Liberals really are liberal DL, despite your wedge politics.


I'm sure that isn't helping, but I recall the downward trend starting when Charest was riding high, so the co-orelation isn't as neat as people assume.

Tof KW said...

" isn't as neat as people assume.

Indeed, Ignatieff had already dropped into the 22-24% range when Charest's provincial numbers were still quite strong. That said, the additional 3-4% drop probably does have something to do with the Quebec Liberal Party's current woes.

Steve V said...

I'd agree with that KW.

william said...

I try, oh but do I try...

RuralSandi said...

DL: Interesting that among LIBERAL voters - 51% approve of Layton and only 45% approve of Ignatieff. what are we supposed to conclude from that?

Not much. People forget that Trudea polled very low in opposition and Chretien polled so low he was referred to as "yesterday's man" - then won 3 consecutive majorities.

Harper polled between 10 and 15% from April to June 2004 - where is he now?

I don't go by the leadership/popularity crap.

RuralSandi said...

Whoops - Harper polled between 10% and 14% - sorry

Tof KW said...

Well said Sandi,
and while on the subject my comments from last week bear re-posting:

"...this 'likability' factor the media goes on about is a farce. You don't have to like a leader, you just have to respect them. Regardless of what his cheerleaders say, Canadians don't like Harper much at all, but somehow he still got the CPC in power didn't he?

Putting that whole 1968 Trudeaumania spell aside, old Pierre was really an arrogant SOB who was out of touch with the middle-class. But he sure commanded everyone's respect, no matter if you voted for him or not.

For there is another term Canadians call arrogant SOB's ...they call them Prime Minister. Diefenbaker, Mulroney and Chrétien all fit in this category.

And frankly, you have to be if you want to get involved in leading a political party. I think this was a huge part of Dion's leadership problems; he was an honest, intelligent person who wasn't an arrogant SOB.

This whole 'have-a-beer' thing is a pox on the governance of this nation. I don't want to have a beer with any of the people I vote for; I just want them to know at least as much about the world as I do (preferably more), to be competent at their jobs, and hope they follow through on at least some of their campaign promises."

Steve V said...

I don't think leadership numbers are the most indicative, particularly when it comes to Layton, but there is some use. For example, we see very rigid views on Harper, and they are decidedly negative. We also see that Ignatieff isn't popular, but there is evidence that perceptions lack a firm opinion- this provides hope in an election campaign, particularly on the diminished expectation front.

Sadly, who you want to have a beer with does matter to some voters, if they don't like you or relate to you, it doesn't matter much.

DL said...

so far it is sounding like the Liberals are going to cave in on the Afghan detainee documents and let the Tories keep everything secret.

Tof KW said...

Steve V said...
"Sadly, who you want to have a beer with does matter to some voters"

True, and I hazard to guess these would be Jacques Parizeau's idiots...

"We are elected by idiots. In Quebec, 40 per cent are separatists and 40 per cent are federalists - and 20 per cent don’t know who is prime minister of Canada. It is that 20 per cent that makes and breaks governments."

I absolutely detest the man, but I grudgingly admit he has a point there.

Gene Rayburn said...

"so far it is sounding like the Liberals are going to cave in on the Afghan detainee documents and let the Tories keep everything secret."

Oh yeah DL. Got any proof?

Steve V said...

I guess DL missed Harris today. You're such a joke commentator.

Steve V said...

Don't forget this fella:

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin said the Conservatives' tone in the meeting "was much, much better than what we were getting in the House yesterday."

"The attitude was quite dramatically different," he said. "They were open to resolving this. They were expressing commitments to resolve it in a collegial fashion."

Instead of trying to score cheap points, maybe you might want to realize that the opposition will get pretty much what they've demanded for months, compromised solutions have been on the table since before prorogation. Quit being such a wiener.

Gallahad said...

DL, is harmless.

He/She figures if they keep repeating the same thing over and over again, it must be true.

Let him/her make a fool of themself.

Just the flip side of the coin, of all the con idiots.

Omar said...

Rosemary. Barton. Has. Got. To. Go.

I don't want to hear any more bellyaching in regards to the job Evan Solomon does on Power and Politics after enduring 60 minutes of this twit and her inability to control a debate combined with her incessant giggle-festing.

That is all.

Steve V said...

I like Barton :)

Tof KW said...

I don't mind Ms Barton so much, and Evan isn't too hot at controlling debates either. Now Jane Taber has to be the most annoying journalist we've got, on camera or in print.

Steve V said...

It's hard to be as in control as an old pro like Newman. Actually Clark is pretty good at keeping guests in check, he cutoff a Con today for not answering a question and went to commercial.

RuralSandi said...

I suspect Barton's giggle is a nervous giggle. She trained under Don Newman, and it shows. She didn't put up with Tory Teneycke's BS and she made sure the other got a chance to talk.

But, she's a woman, like Susan Bonner and didn't get the job.

Speaking of the drink a beer with question, that originated with Frank Luntz - Bush won the votes on that over and over and we know how that went.

Omar said...

I want to have a beer or three with Pat Martin. And get loud. Real loud. :)

Jerry Prager said...

I think people need to read Ignatieff to understand him.
He has such a profoundly Canadian personal story to tell that the idea that he has been out of touch with this nation because he has been away from it is absurd. His family story is Canada's story on both the Grant and Ignatieff sides of the equation: once he starts talking policy in a comprehensive way, the Quebecois will respond to his intellect, and his depth of place. He'll be fine. Just keep him near the bone, in fact, so near the bone, that he begins to speak from his marrow: that will do more than Chretien speaking from the heart, because of all the personal-family history: get him talking about his family, in response to "just visiting." 30 years away is nothing compared to his Grant history. Family values magnified into national ethos.
It's all communications strategy, and timing. In the end, Ignatieff strikes me as a man of destiny, but like all men of destiny, his time to arrive onstage is very precise, not a moment too soon, not a moment too late.

Jerry Prager said...

Steve: I find polls annoying myself, but I have to give it up for you, you have a very sober, and deeply mindful way of analyzing them, that pretty much makes you and Kady the only people whose poll analysis I bother to read.

Steve V said...

Thanks Jerry, that's very gracious of you.

Steve V said...


I think that belief is part of the mentality, once Quebecers see him in a campaign, he'll resonate. As I said, I don't really disagree with that assessment, I guess I'd like see the foundation put in place as a springbroad- right now, can anyone say what the Liberal narrative is to Quebecers? Ignatieff did well when he did that media blitz in Quebec, he should do more. I agree with the marrow analogy, and I believe Ignatieff has yet to marry the political identity with the straight from the cut, so careful and consulting, doesn't have the edge that made him such a formidable figure. That's where the Ignatieff spark will come from, that's where he can succeed, don't be afraid to be provocative and challenging.

Josh said...

The Liberals should be building organization in Quebec and clarifying their message - figuring out what they (want to) represent there as a federalist alternative which isn't thoroughly incompetent and shallowly ideological. But I think these numbers wouldn't really reflect election results, especially if things started trending away from the Cons nationally.

Another general point is that these polls invariably overstate Green support. They have never come close to winning as many votes as they typically poll, and rumblings of organization problems coupled with May's seeming one-woman show do not bode well for them in the next vote. It's also reasonable to expect that the overestimation of Green support corresponds closely to an underestimation of Liberal support. Either way, Harper will never has his majority, and I'd go so far as to predict his departure from politics by 2012 (or earlier).

Steve V said...

"Another general point is that these polls invariably overstate Green support. They have never come close to winning as many votes as they typically poll"

Actually they have a few times, that's a fallacy. I think a good 1/3 is as soft as can be, but people underestimate the protest component at their peril. Alive and growing.

It did seem like we were building a good organization, and we probably still are, but since Coderre we've clearly been off balance in Quebec.

Annie... said...

Did anyone know that Ignatieff and Nick Clegg are cousins through their Russian side?

RuralSandi said...

I think the quality of the people around a leader is very important. Look at Harper's caucus - disaster.

Look at Ignatieff's caucus - smart.

Look at NDP's caucus - smart, but they were all activists, union members, union leaders, etc. Also, they are not very diverse other than women. They absolutely hate corporations and would like to see unions more in control. I saw a panel discussion last year on Steve Paikin's, The Agenda, and the union representatives actually said so. That scares me. I remember in Britain how unions (prior to Thatcher) almost brought the country down.

Look at Greece - broke and in deep financial trouble and unions are out there making demands - unbelievable.

I'm not against unions when it concerns workers' rights - but that's as far as it should go.

CK said...

I don't think the liberals' low numbers have anything to do with charest' woes neither.

My explanation is that Quebec sovereignty is making a comeback and instead of that idiot Pauline Marois campaigning for it all by her lonesome, Gilles Duceppe appears to be doing the heavy lifting. Duceppe is far better respected than Marois ever was or ever will be.

Even during Charest scandal with his all time low numbers, she still proves to be far less popular than her own party.

Like Brother Steve, Charest is quite the tactician and will bounce back more than likely, unless, of course the PQ kicks Marois to the curb and replaces her with someone like Bernard Drainville.

Not for nothing Charest isn't going to invoke the not withstanding clause regarding Bill 104 Supreme court decision.

As for Fed Liberals: they really shouldn't pay attention to Charest's issues these days.

Much of the separatist base has one thing in common with Harpercon cheerleaders: they too haven't forgotten ADSCAM and are likely to use it to promote their cause. There are many who believe that if not for ADSCAM, the yes side in the 95 referendum would have won. (Yes, many of them really think that).

Makes me wonder if they should really bother that much in Quebec; at least, Outside of Montreal and Outaoauis regions anyhow.

Chretien managed to get majority governments without Quebec.

Gene Rayburn said...

"Did anyone know that Ignatieff and Nick Clegg are cousins through their Russian side?"

Shh.... don't tell Vic Toews. He'll take out a full page ad in his local paper saying Nick Clegg hates Ukrainians...

Tof KW said...

Chretien managed to get majority governments without Quebec.

Mr. Chretien also had the luxury of a divided opposition. If you combined the polling numbers between the Reform/Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives in each of the 1993, 1997 and 2000 elections; you will find a very sobering number in each case. This is why Harper's number don't go below 30% - that's his base.

That actually should also ring alarm bells over at CPC-central. The combined Reform-PC numbers never went below 35%, even in 1993. Obviously the right is not completely united, and I am here before you are part of that missing 5%.

Steve V said...

The Libs will never recapture the Chretien coalition. Unless the right fractures again, Ontario will forever be a battleground, not a romp.

Tomm said...


I think your comments are good ones. I think people should be paying attention more to the Conservative floor than their ceiling. Their floor appears to be about 30-32%

Considerably higher than the Liberal floor.

Steve V said...

You call that "considerably" more, 3-4%. My goodness.

Tomm said...


You have the Liberal floor at 26-29%.

Funny, that seems to be their normal polling range...

Steve V said...


Tomm said...


You didn't find my comment funny?

Funny thing that. Neither did I.

chortle, chortle...

Möbius said...

Obviously the right is not completely united, and I am here before you are part of that missing 5%.

It's definitely not completely united. They've certainly lost my support on their economic record, but their really is no alternative offering a real "conservative" economic plan.