Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Love In The Land?

It's fair to say the Liberals aren't exactly a juggernaut these days. However, what we find is exaggerated analysis, wherein weakness on the one hand, strength on the other, is over stated. Politics no different than sport, in the sense the fine line between winning and losing becomes a gigantic chasm when you read the post mortems. A seasoned viewer knows a play here, a break there, an untimely gaffe, is really what largely separates, things are far more competitive than the accolades of winning and the scorn of losing suggests.

Abacus has released more data, and what they clearly show- as others have as well- is that there really isn't any deep affinity for the Harper Conservatives. I know, hard to believe, if one relies solely on the almost daily praise that comes from certain conduit quarters. Here was a key finding in my view:

Only 32% have any affection for the Conservative messaging, most of that weak, whereas a whopping 62% agree with the Liberal frame. People simply don't agree that Canada is stronger, that only Harper's leadership is what Canada needs. Interesting that the Conservative message can't even mirror the party support number in the poll, which is also the case on a host of competency questions in the same survey.

On the question of the economy, only 30% give the Conservatives a "good" rating, 27% on defending Canada's interest, 23% on creating jobs, 21% on the environment and an absymal 16% on working with the opposition. It's only when we see comparative studies, that Harper looks strong, the most natural of occurences, a sitting PM besting a opposition leader on clear either or questions. Those type of findings mask weakness, they are predictable, but not insightful. It is numbers like above, clear commentary on the government, where we see vulnerability, where this "chess master" that is on the cusp of majority looks a farcical proposition. Truth be told, divided opposition is the only real strength, Canadians really aren't enamoured with this government, in fact they don't like the Conservatives much at all. And, it is this objective fact that allows for some cautious, still long odds, optimism come a campaign, because the Liberals don't face an opponent that enjoys inspired, widespread support.


Tof KW said...

I’ve this before and I’ll post it yet again…

A minority government, in power for years, and plagued with scandals that never seem to stick. The PM is seen as a competent, proven manager of the economy, giving the government a Teflon coating against a divided opposition. All polls continually show that his party would win an election, the only question being the actual number of seats.

Meanwhile the leader of the opposition continually posts poor personal numbers, and poll after poll shows there is no love in the land for him. The official opposition continually hammers the government over this supposed scandal and that supposed scandal, but they never gain traction in the polls for any sustained time. The media constantly write obituaries for the opposition leader; ‘no chance in winning an election’, ‘the party picked the wrong man’ and ‘he’ll be gone after the next election’ are common remarks.

Does this sound familiar?

It should…

I’m writing about the Paul Marin government, and opposition leader Stephen Harper - circa 2005.

Tof KW said...

1st sentence should be "I've written this before..."

Steve V said...

Exactly! Well played.

Tof KW said...

Thanks! Just wanted to show how useless our media is (and with 'journalists' like Taber, it won't get any better) in that they can't even figure out the obvious - elections work in predictable cycles. The CPC and LPC are about to re-fight the Martin vs Harper election, but with their respective rolls reversed. The only question is will it be 2004 (government wins, but a reduced mandate) or 2006 (opposition wins minority).

And no it will not be a replay of the 2008 election. This time, Harper will be the one playing defense; a new role for him as he's always been on the attack.

bubba said...

There is no "scandal" that has the traction of ADSCAM.Each scandal has proven less than the media made it out to be. Even the A.G. has coommended the gov't on the action plan spending. There are not the number of convicted(future) people involved in the cpc that were invoved in the Lib party of 2006. The house cleaning we have discussed has not happened yet. The Libs may still have success next election which I think will happen this spring. Their biggest hurdle is still the unwillingness to look inward.Dennis Corderre,McCallum,Goodale,The team that recruited Iggy,Like swimming with a bag of bricks. Have they unloaded enough bricks yet? I dont think so. Next election 2015 then probably.

rockfish said...

I fully expect Harper now to try and steal the most popular message: "For 5 years, Stephen Harper hasn't listened to Canadians. His priorities of $21B stealth fighters, super prisons, and tax breaks for big corporations are out of touch with real Canadians. But what can you do -- he loves Tim Hortons! Vote Harper."

Gene Rayburn said...

huh? there's 7 years between elections in Bubba's world? Well he was the guy that said he voted conservative because they bought him lunch so why am I surprised.

rockfish said...

As for scandals, true. Lets forget that a good number of those charged in AdScam were conservative people.
Harper has got away with plagarising, supporting the attempt to bribe an MP, and even the tape scams he and grewal did in opposition. He's repeatedly been able to shuck off past statements and efforts (his own coalition attempt, his 'tough' talk on the economy, deficits and afghanistan, complete intentional footdragging on the environment) and skate on perception. That perception now also includes no hidden agenda, even when the ground is showing that the seeds and salt he's thrown is producing a strange crop (the census, atomic canada, etc)... In one way, it is true all these tangible items are failing to stick -- it doesn't help that boneheads in the media (here in BC Bill Good comes to mind) have failed simple math (1+1+1=?) when it comes to Harper's ethical 'failings'... But just as Harper has relied on in-campaign advantages (the RCMP investigation announcement in 2005-06, the Dion interview of 2008) i'm wondering when his next mistake will prove to be poorly timed, and too big? Right now the stakes aren't very high for the Liberals, most pundits saying mid-90s as their best case scenario. Meanwhile, Harper courts Quebec city voters by implying quietly that he'll fund a hockey rink, stands 'tall' for poor CEOs of corporate canada). I see opportunity there, and Ignatieff's star could still rise a little.

Tof KW said...

Bubba, I actually like your post, but your logic is flawed in the following:

”There is no "scandal" that has the traction of ADSCAM.”

I’d say spending $1.2 billion on one weekend pales in comparison to a $140 million scandal where the inquiry and two additional supreme court cases cost the taxpayer more than the actual scandal. By the way – look at the total spending costs of Harper’s EAP advertising over the past two years. Not saying the Liberal’s spending scandal wasn’t a big deal (in 2005), but the Harper government is sure spending a lot of our money on shameless self-promotion in the here & now.

”There are not the number of convicted(future) people involved in the cpc that were invoved in the Lib party of 2006.”

Total number of convicted Liberal party members from the sponsorship scandal = 0.
Look it up.

Also we’ve had an inquiry + AG reporting + 2 supreme court cases on this scandal …it’s over now. The Harper government can yell ‘Adscam’ all they want in the next election campaign, but it’s very old and doesn’t carry the same traction as it did five years ago. Only among Harper’s base does it work, but then so does the NEP. It’s akin to the Liberals yelling ‘Airbus’ and thinking that will do anything anymore. It’s just silly at this point - as Harper has as much to do with the Mulroney government as Iggy does with the Chretien administration.

BTW - if there is any inappropriate EAP spending (renogate, kickbacks to QC contractor friends of the CPC, etc) I expect the total number of convicted CPC members found would also equal zero. That’s the way these things work Bubba. The government is only guilty of shoveling money out the door too fast and not employing full safeguards; the contractors used are the ones who are guilty of any actual criminal activity.

” The Libs may still have success … Their biggest hurdle is still the unwillingness to look inward”’

I fully agree with you on this Bubba. I think Steve would too. He’s written about the need for new blood a few times now. A CPC majority win would have been good for the Libs in that they would have been able to act as an opposition party for a full 4 years without the worry of needing to be election ready. And it would have given them time to truly rebuild.

To finish; I personally do not think the Libs would win a possible election this spring. However the media are totally off in regurgitating the CPC’s strengths – they are much more vulnerable than they are reporting. Therefore the Conservatives are very, very unlikely to win a majority unless a complete breakdown in the LPC occurs. The most likely outcome is a reduced CPC minority. The only question is the final seat count.

Steve V said...

I think the average voter will find giveaways to massively profitable companies, while we have a massively large debt, scandalous.

Tof KW said...

Thanks Steve, that sums it up nicely.

I in fact like Bubba, so I gave him the benefit of a very detailed answer on how fighting past election battles is a recipe for defeat. You need to fight elections on issues in the here & now.

Tom said...

I wouldn't pin your hopes on the findings of the latest Abacus poll.The pollees are so few that in some provinces, one person changing his mind would be the equivalent of at least a 4% swing, but they still have the Conservatives with a healthy lead.

Kirk said...

I just finished perusing this poll before coming here. Very surprising. When asked to choose between good, neutral and poor the Cons never reach their level of overall electoral support with any "good" rating. To me that says that Harper's current ~35% support is not in any way his floor.

He will certainly have his avid supporters rating him "good" on these measures and even have some supporters of other parties giving him a "good" rating on some issues . Yet his best result is 30% rating his "managing the economy" as "good" and even that is equalled by the 30% rating him "poor".

Also, the biggest "neutral" numbers are on the very things Harper is pushing as achievements, crime, jobs, economic management and keeping taxes low.

On "Reducing crime" they are doing the best, relatively speaking, with 28% voting "good" vs. 25% "poor". Their second best "good" rating and the only time "good" is greater than "poor" but also their second largest "neutral" rating at 43%.

Now we don't have any history with these poll questions so maybe Harper has moved people from a "poor" rating to a "neutral" rating and is on his way to a "good" rating but after all the effort the govt made pushing them as good economic managers, lowering taxes, reducing crime and creating jobs you'd think that they'd have moved many more people into saying "good" already.

Steve V said...

I actually noted that in the post as well Kirk

"Interesting that the Conservative message can't even mirror the party support number in the poll, which is also the case on a host of competency questions in the same survey."

Not good from the gov't perspective.

Steve V said...


Actually, every poll that asks these type of questions find the Cons aren't very popular. Not pinning my hopes, just reaffirming.

Kirk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk said...

I'd also like to comment on Abacus's analysis.

They write: 'With the exception of its managing of the war in Afghanistan, Canadians gave largely neutral and positive scores to issues the government has identified as pillars...'

Now this is true but it begs the question of why add positive and neutral scores? Why not add negative and neutral scores? Negative scores are just as related to neutral as positive is, which is to say, not at all. Yet Abacus chooses to find good news in the Cons getting only a "neutral" rating on their "pillars".

Later Abacus writes: "Respondents were nearly evenly split in terms of agreement with the Conservative party statement. However, a majority (62%) of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with Mr. Ignatieff’s response."

It is interesting to note that their "nearly evenly split" is actually 32% vs. 46%. Try getting your spouse to agree that that is an even split of the last of your strawberry cheesecake.

Finally, EKOS has found that more Canadians agree that Canada is on the right track than agree that the govt is on the right track. Abacus doesn't ask the second question (deliberately??) and looking at the other results you can see that it wouldn't be a good result for the govt.

DL said...

Pundits often blather about the Tories having this "rock-solid" core vote of 30-35%. Well there is a huge difference between them getting 35% and them getting 30%. If the Tory core is just 30% - they lose the election!

WhigWag said...

re: "with their respective rolls (sic) reversed" -- yup, now it's Harper as the portly complacent fatcat Mr. Monopoly / Rich Uncle Pennybags, with Iggy being the lean & mean outsider spoiling to let the little guy be freed of the Bay Street Bankers! Bring it on!

bubba said...

I don't beleive Ad scam will have any effect on the next election. I never said that. I am saying no current scandal is going to affect an election the way that did.The libs would be better if the guilty people were convicted then they could say justice was done and it is over. There is no doubt that the Lib party got the stolen money and noone has paid the price and noone has said wher the $ went. Thus it lives on. Not to affect future elections, but in these conversations. If the cons are convicted of stealing taxpayer money through the various election financing schemes it may have similar consequences. It would definitely be in their interest to have someone held responsible and punnished. Not have the Doubt float around for a decade.

Tof KW said...

DL - their core is 30%, or just over 4 million votes to put a real number on this. This is what they received in the 2004 election immediately after the takeover of the PC party by the Alliance. Well 29.63% actually, but lets round it to 30 to keep things clean. So whatever is above this number are CPC votes that are fluid.

Tof KW said...

Sorry, mis-read your earlier post bubba.

DL - that base of 30% shouldn't be counted on unless there really is a scandal as severe as bubba mentioned. I think it's safe to say that the CPC popular vote would fall around the 34-35% mark if an election took place today.

Tomm said...


I know you wish us to discuss Statement #2, but please remember that Statement #1 is from the same respondents. The responses there would indicate that less than 50% of Canadian's disagree with it. This may make Harper feel quite comfortable right now.