Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hurts So Good

I understand the thesis that voters aren't particularly impressed with any of the federal options, but the latest NANOS poll is NOT bad news from the Liberal perspective. First, the national numbers, change from last NANOS in brackets:
Cons 33.3% (-2.3%)
Libs 32.8% (+3.6%)
NDP 15.6% (-5.1%)
Greens 6.2% (+1.1.%)

On quick note, a finding which I find a bit bizarre. NANO pegs Bloc support at 40.7% in Quebec, which represents a 2.1% rise poll to poll. How that translates to 12.1% in the national numbers, a rise of 2.7% I don't understand for the life of me. The national rise higher than the provincial tally???

Okay, hard to find the bad news here. The Conservatives polling at the lowest level we've seen in over a year, mirroring the height of the recession. The NDP taking a huge hit poll to poll, the Liberals clearly benefitting, particularly in Ontario. And, the Liberals up a noticeable amount, another pollster showing a statistical deadheat.

Let's see if we can find the "bad" news culprit in the regionals. Ontario:
Libs 43.2% (+8.8%)
Cons 36.2% (-7%)\
NDP 13.2% (-5.9%)
Greens 7.4% (+2.2%)

According to yesterday's Harris Decima poll, they found the gun registry support changing, particularly in Ontario. This finding might possibly explain the large NDP drop. In addition, the Liberal resurgence indicates that voters are more comfortable moving back to the fold, there is some new confidence in the "official" opposition. For months, the NDP and Conservatives have benefitted from relative Liberal weakness, rather than any great independent draw. It would appear Ontario is as volatile as ever, and the Liberals more palatable once again. We go from a 9% Conservative lead, to a 7% Liberal lead, with the added bonus of reduced vote splitting because of NDP weakness. Nope, still not seeing the "bad" news.

A quick peruse, another pollster showing some evidence of a marginal Liberal rebound in Quebec, both the NDP and Conservatives down. A bit of a fishy result in Atlantic Canada, but given the margin of error, one can never say anything definitive based on one poll. NANOS puts the Liberals well up in British Columbia, now tied with an apparent cratering Conservative party. More caution, with the higher MOE here. Hmmm, nothing "bad" yet...

Oh, okay, those leadership numbers. Here we see the impetus for the narrative I suppose. NANOS finds no movement for Ignatieff's numbers over the summer. NANOS also finds that Harper enjoys a 2 to 1 advantage over Ignatieff. This is "bad", right? I mean, here we have Ignatieff touring the country and his numbers haven't moved. Conclusion is clearly FAIL.

As a quick aside, I would note that both Angus Reid and EKOS have found some evidence of marginal improvement for Ignatieff over the summer. However, with reference to this finding, I would say these numbers only tell part of the story. In the past, one could argue that Ignatieff was a drag on the Liberal brand. It would appear that effect has lessened here, so whatever these leadership numbers, something positive has happened.

I would argue, that if the Liberals are tied with the Conservatives, despite this leadership gap, it bodes well for the future. Let's not forget, that when we've seen similar gaps between a sitting PM and opposition leader, the PM's party is usually ahead by a WIDE margin. The fact no gap exists here, should clearly concern the sitting government.

This summer was about Ignatieff getting election ready, showing everyone he had the stamina to run a full campaign. It was also about providing confidence, that this Liberal leader wasn't a gaffe machine, he could connect, he could appear competent and his team perform well. By all accounts, Ignatieff has passed these tests, which means when can have certain reasonable expectations come the glare of a real campaign. Whatever Ignatieff's numbers, they are not cemented in any sense, particularly when comparing him with his more well known opponents. The campaign will be an opportunity, and the summer provides some optimism. If you isolate the trendline, then the "bad" news is evident. However, when you step back, and put those numbers in historical context, as well as identifying the real goals of the summer, it's a bit more subjective. Factor in a much improved horserace, which is the bottomline afterall, it's pretty much all good relatively speaking. I doubt you'll find a long face in the OLO this morning. Can you say the same in other camps? That should tell you all you need to know on the "bad" news front.


RuralSandi said...

You know what really annoys me - this whole leadership numbers thing.

The pollsters and media make such an issue out of it - why? I know they have the attention span and memories of a fruit fly, but good grief - can anyone come up with a "leaders" of an opposition party that didn't have low leadership numbers?

Chretien, Harper were extremely low, for example. Also, NDP leaders generally poll high in the leadership category, but what the hell difference has it made to them? Ed Broadbent use to poll really high - but at election time when Chretien got his first majority, Broadbent and the NDP numbers plummeted.

I think they make too, too much of that.

Nanos claims people vote for leadership? It doesn't make sense at all given the history.

It's not enough - Hitler had leadership abilities, but we know how that went.

You almost wonder if media and pollsters are trying to lead the voters a little.

Steve V said...

I think the pollster just comes up with a thesis for each poll. I do believe no party is capturing the imagination of voters, but to lump the Libs in with the other parties, taking the entire poll in balance, well....

Glenn said...

I'm a neophyte politically speaking, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that a PM has a lot more opportunity to show "leadership" than an Opposition Leader. I mean, PMs are always doing stuff, making announcements, setting policy, coming out with budgets, right? Chretien and Harper's numbers as Opposition Leader weren't so stellar either, then that changed when they became PM and had opportunity to show everyone "leadership".

Right now his party's numbers are at the top of the bridge, with Ignatieff hanging down like a bungee cord. But if the Liberal party wins power, I suspect that cord will come to the end of it's line and snap him upwards.

Just my two cents. I*'m new at this political awareness thing, so I could be wrong.

Steve V said...

"I'm a neophyte politically speaking, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that a PM has a lot more opportunity to show "leadership" than an Opposition Leader. "

I think you're spot on.

It isn't until an election, that an opposition leader gets the opportunity to shine. The fact we are tied and Ignatieff is at bottom, should concern the Conservatives.

william said...

I think one of the issues in this poll is the Atlantic numbers. First, as you note, they look 'fishy' with regards to a Con 45%. Second, as I noted elsewhere, how the heck did the Bloc end up with 1.2% in the Atlantic Region????????

Steve V said...

Nanos doesn't prompt party names, maybe that's it? I would love for someone to explain my Quebec question for the Bloc?

william said...

Again, I think it's that 1.2 they got in the Atlantic that bugs the Bloc numbers. So it looks like an error.

Steve V said...

Thanks. Some quite math though, this doesn't account for the discrepancy.

Anyways, back to this poll..

Jeff Jedras said...

Re: leadership numbers.

Sometimes love don't feel like it should.

Tof KW said...

That 1.2% for the Bloc in Atlantic Canada should be an obvious sign that somethings off there, surprised Nik Nanos let that through.

However that does remind me of something I've mentioned in the past. With the Bloc's raison d'ĂȘtre, sovereignty, now polling at well below 40% and federalism showing a rebound over the past few years, even a PQ provincial win doesn't necessarily mean a referendum is happening any time soon. And even if it did, I fail to see how the YES side expects to win.

Keeping that in mind; Duceppe is always admired as a political leader, if only he wasn't a separatist. If the Bloc would admit that sovereignty isn't attainable in the near future, and would morph into a party to protect and promote Francophone interests - run some Acadian candidates and a few in Francophone Ontario ridings ... I bet they would have a good shot at becoming the official opposition.

OK I know the Libs wouldn't like that idea, but interesting to hypothesize in an alternate universe.

Back to this poll, regardless of the wonky regional numbers, I like Nanos' polls; I tend to think his methodology results in the closest numbers to reality at any given time. Ekos smelled a bit strange last week with the Greens at over 12% and actually polling in second place in Atlantic Canada.

Regardless who's polling work you prefer, take Nanos, Ekos and Harris Decima and there is no doubt that the CPC and LPC are tied right now ...and this is a bad position for Harper to be in at the start of the fall session. It will only get worse for him as parliament re-opens. As I've wrote before, this next session will be the roughest that Harper has ever experienced as PM. Looking forward to watching him sweat.

Steve V said...

:) Jeff.

Steve V said...

"and this is a bad position for Harper to be in at the start of the fall session."

KW, it certainly isn't the way the incumbent expects to exit the summer break. I agree, this will be a rough fall for the gov't. Many, many issues and with little in the way of an agenda apparently, not sure how they drive coverage away. On the other hand, don't want to under-estimate their prowess at distraction, but there is much unfinished business that must be addressed.

Skinny Dipper said...

To RuralSandi,

I will agree with you on the leadership thing, especially Ed Broadbent.

Skinny Dipper said...

The reason why there may be one percent support for the Bloc in Atlantic Canada is because Nanos does not give fixed choices when asking questions. The questions are open ended. Heck, I could answer Democrat or Republican if I wanted because there are no fixed choices.

Tof KW said...

Steve V said... On the other hand, don't want to under-estimate their prowess at distraction

I agree, the Tamils couldn't have come at a better time for Harper. However the press (aside from the SUN) doesn't seem to buy the BS as much anymore ...add that to the calculus for the Autumn session.

Glenn said...

You know, I look at how certain Northern NDP MPs who were previously permitted to vote their conscience the last time out, but are suddenly and curiously changing their tune, and I go "hmmmmmm". For example Glenn Thibeault said he has had a change of heart. Claude Gravelle "won't comment" because he says he is it would be innappropriate to comment because his is not in his riding due to being on vacation. But this is the guy who had everything to say about the VALE INCO strike no matter when and where he was. I see "one hit wonders" all over these guys.

I caught that Jack Lyaton press conference where he says he now wants to add ammendments to the registry that might die anyway. How much sense does that make? Personally, I think that Jack Layton is now having an "oh shit" moment after realizing that he made a mistake not whipping his caucus. Layton got his pants jerked pants down and now he is trying to pull them back up with this "ammendment".

Problem for Layton though, is that there are a LOT of people in Sudbury and Nickel Belt that are not appreciating these little flip-flops on this issue. He is going to lose a LOT of votes from the sport shooters and the hunters who hate this registry but are strong unionist traditional NDP supporters. Where are they going to go? They won't go Tory, because they are not going to go that far right for one issue, even a big one like this. So what does that leave?

Look at the change in NDP support over the last few polls. How many MPs will they lose? Right now, the NDP is pissing away any chance it has for a strong bargaining position for a Lib-NDP coalition to get rid of Harper, even IF this is where we're headed.

ottlib said...

Remember that it is the media outlet that pays for the poll that drives the "analysis". That is why I always ignore what the media has to say about any poll.

The G&M gave Mr. Nanos his instructions and Mr. Nanos found the numbers in his poll to meet them. Simple really.

On a positive note the G&M has not decided to totally ignore the bad news for the other parties, which it has done alot in the past. Perhaps the media narrative is changing.

I have always found the estimates from a Nanos poll to be more reliable because of the methodology they use in taking the poll. However, it would appear Mr. Nanos now has a new and probably lucrative contract with BellGlobe Media so he is not going to screw that up.

I agree with you Steve. There does not appear to be any bad news for the Liberals here. They are up nationally and in every region they need to win an election while their chief opponents are bleeding. I would not want to be the Conservatives right now, looking at falling poll numbers before going into a Fall session.

The media would like to use the leadership numbers as "evidence" that the Liberal Express was a failure but as you say the purpose of that exercise was not to raise those numbers. The Express accomplished what is was supposed to and any rise in the leadership numbers would be gravy.

Dame said...

I just LOVE these poll numbers!!!period.
the "Analysis" is a blatant srew up.

Steve V said...

Someone should review what they were saying about the Liberals, Ignatieff, the NDP, the Conservatives, the last time NANOS released his poll. Then comeback and use the word "bad".

All I know, we head into the fall with a perceived united Lib party behind a reinvigorated Ignatieff, rising in the polls VS a gov't with zero traction, lost a big lead and bogged down in controversies. I'll take it...

WesternGrit said...

Glenn is bang on about why sitting PMs poll higher - just look at all the media/press/photo ops. In general WAY more people can name the PM than an opposition leader.

As for NDP leaders? They have been the 3rd/4th party for years. As a result, they've found some pretty innovative ways to get attention. One is, the "never have to worry about repercussion" idea: Being 4th, they're not risking a lot by coming right out with a press conference on every issue quickly. Mistakes don't have the same impact on them. The other thing is their personalities. Say what we will, Ed B, Jack Layton, Roy Romanow, are great personalities. For Jack, being in 4th place gives him lots of time to gladhand. In a minority Parliament(s) he has been much more of a power broker - to the point (with some Liberal chaos the past few years) where the media often look to him for comments (and he makes himself very available). Remember, the Liberals have had 3 leaders in 5 years. So, consistency of product on the field makes a big difference. Add to this mix the core NDP support - which is out there, from the Unions, etc., and Jack gets noticed. Helps that he's been around longer than the other leaders too...

Overall? GREAT poll for Liberals. Mike should keep going with the great Liberal Express tour...

Tof KW said...

You are quite correct Steve. The Harper government has run out of any large-scale new agenda they need to introduce. Killing the long gun registry, building big new jails for imaginary criminals and $9 billion for interceptor jets who's purpose ended 20 years ago hardly inspires the imaginations of the Canadian public (outside of Alberta).

The day to day self-inflicted controversies of the Harper government have become the agenda now, and they are being judged accordingly.

Canadians may not love Ignatieff (they didn't love Harper either) but all Iggy and the Liberals need to do is ask sobering questions about the direction and competence of this government. Stay united, professional and act as a government in waiting ..and sit back and watch the Harper government hang itself.

Steve V said...


The gun registry is already on the table, the Libs have indicated they plan to introduce a "save the census" bill and this jet expenditure is sure to be on the agenda (LeBlanc put on this file no accident). Throw in the AG report on the stimulus money, and it will be raucous indeed!

rockfish said...

As you mentioned, the BC numbers have to be taken with a large dose of scepticism, like the Atlantic #s... Now if we started painting hard on that Harper-hst point, we could gain a lot of traction.

Tof KW said...

rockfish, I think if there is any area left in Canada where there maybe some good news for the NDP right now it's in BC. Likewise I don't see a big red wave happening in BC either - regardless of the BC Libs having little in common with their federal counterparts, they are still an anchor for the LPC. The Libs can't really drag Harper into the HST debate, even though they are the enablers, because both parties agree that fundamentally the HST is a good tax for the future economy ...which it in fact is.

Problem is Campbell introduced it the wrong way & at the wrong time and is now paying the price politically. Libs are hit directly and the CPC indirectly by that.

BTW - if the NDP wins the next BC election (my guess is that's inevitable now) does anyone really expect the HST to be repealed?

Steve V said...

"Now if we started painting hard on that Harper-hst point, we could gain a lot of traction."

Nobody really picked up on it, but Ignatieff sort of threw Campbell under the bus during the last visit. He said it wasn't the hst per se, but the way it was applied, citing a lack of trust and dubious circumstance. It was a clear shot at running an election without a word, then BOOM, a new tax. It was a good line, distance from Campbell, without contradicting past comments on the hst in general.

Jerry Prager said...

Since the party started backing him after the summer tour, leadership is now on an upswing among liberals, and creates a shine of lessons learned. The trend is all up.

Dylan said...

WesternGrit is spot on in their analysis of why NDP leaders rank high in popularity with respondents to polls. If the NDP was in the position to form the next government, Jack's popularity would not top Harper's. How does a party only grab 15-19% of the electorate and have the most "popular" leader in the country? It's easy to like Jack when the chance of him becoming PM and acting like "every other" PM is unlikely.

Back to the poll - these are good numbers. And while I agree that much of the rise in support for the Liberals is at the expense of poor CPC and NDP moves over the summer, I think the media largely misses the point of Ignatieff's bus tour if it believes his intentions were to boost party support nationally by any significant amount. I agree with Steve, the tour was to energize the party, pump up local candidates for an election, and prove to the media that he can stay on message for a sustained period of time.

I believe we have yet to see the best of Ignatieff. That will come out during an election and then, and ONLY then, will his leadership numbers matter as he is put side by side Harper not through speculation, but in debate and vision.