Monday, February 21, 2011


The latest Nanos poll tends to confirm what others have found. In the last week, we've now seen four separate outfits, with almost consensus results, each showing a wide Conservative lead, majority support within reach, while the Liberals are mired at recent historic lows.

Nanos puts Conservative support at their highest level for this pollster. The Conservatives are at 39.7%, a high water mark only matched the last time Ignatieff threatened an election. What makes this poll more pronounced, while the Conservatives have "touched" 40% during the aforementioned period, Liberal support never ebbed this low, 26.6%. In other words, from the Liberal perspective just about the most brutal NANOS finding recorded.

Poll to poll, the Conservatives are up slightly, but the real story is cratering Liberal support, down a well outside MOE 4.6%. Across the board erosion, but a particularly odd 15.6% dip in the "Prairies", almost 50% support loss. That numbers smells fishy, and the high MOE makes it virtually irrelevant. That said, this incredibly low total does impact the Liberal national number more than most "Prairie" findings.

A decent poll for the NDP, up to 18.9%, from 17.2%, particularly healthy at 23% in Ontario, something we haven't seen recently. Layton also bests Ignatieff on the leadership index, as he hovers in Dion terrority.

Okay, so we now have a slew of polls telling the exact same story. Rather than dismiss, important to digest and understand. I still see soft support moving here, nothing written in stone, step away from the ledge but note the breeze. A combination of attack ads and election sabre rattling might be the real movers. I'm inclined to believe attack ads, as WELL as the bombardment on the EAP ads, are having an impact. Canadians still don't want an election, but we've seen evidence that we're resigned, so I don't know how much of the shift is due to the Liberals appearing eager. One other factor, we've also seen more comfort with the direction of the economy, a core issue that might also be contributing.

The polls are what they are, I don't see any need for the Liberals to reaccess their strategy. I've watched to many campaigns, here and down south, to know the pre-writ is just that, particularly with a new leader, writing off and being conclusive, an amateurish pursuit to be honest. That said, one does wonder how the Conservatives amend their stance, because they must see some enticement now, the elusive majority at least a possibility. This new reality may explain why the Conservatives seem less responsive to deal making, outright rejecting some NDP demands, their internals might now be showing similar possibilities.


Kirk said...

Nothing the Liberals can really do about the attack ads and the EAP ads except run a big budget attack ad campaign of their own.

As for potential negative fallout from acting as an actual opposition, well, they get bad marks for not opposing the Conservatives (they have no policy!) and bad marks for opposing the Conservatives (they are forcing an election). Much of that comes from the media all too willing to adopt Conservative and NDP attack lines but overall I say it's better to oppose the Conservatives than roll over for them.

Steve V said...

Ignatieff is damaged goods, but I'd say we are still dealing with a very superficial impression. The other leaders are beyond known quantities, so I take his numbers with a certain grain of salt. Not saying he will turn around impressions, but the opportunity is clearly there come a campaign, the low expectations we have of him may just work to advantage.

CK said...

Time to stop with the analysis and look at what is.

Harper's ultimate goal is to decimate the Liberals to oblivion as both Gerry Nicholls pointed out recently and as Lawrence Martin pointed out in "Harperland" and it is also that of his base, Conservative Canada, particularly out west, and it's growing in Ontario. Judging by those poll numbers, he is succeeding.

What will it take for the Liberal party to simply cut Iggy loose once and for all? It's not working!

No matter what sins any of those Harpercons commit, they'll still come out on top.

And the difference between now and the past (when Harper polled low as opposition when running against Martin in 2005), there wasn't "a big bad lefty coalition" for the Timmy Horton's crowd to fear.

Sorry to post like this, but the truth hurts and wishful thinking is not getting us anywhere.

Yep, the choices for the Liberal party are quite stark and clear; get rid of Iggy now, or cease to exist as a party and a Harpercon majority takes over this spring.

Steve V said...

I guess we should have cut Dion loose too? Crazy talk. Now is about the last time people should even entertain.

The Mound of Sound said...

Steve, sure you're not whistling past the graveyard? MI really isn't a "new" leader, not now that he's entering his third year at the helm. If Harper gets a majority he'll owe it to Ignatieff and his loyalists. The man's political instincts and aptitudes are appalling. This is twice in a row the Libs have gone the professorial route and come up empty handed. At least Dion, for all his failings, was sincere.

Harper turned the last election into a referendum on Dion. The next will be a referendum on Ignatieff. I expect the Liberal turnout at the polls will be very meager.

Imagine where the Conservatives would be today if they had a good leader? A guy like Trudeau would have shredded Harper but, then again, he knew what it meant to be a Liberal and he knew that a leader has to have clear beliefs that resonate with the public and that he has to fight for them. Even at the end, when Canadians rejected Trudeau, they deeply respected the guy. Who respects Michael Ignatieff beyond a core of the Liberal faithful?

Kirk said...

CK wrote: No matter what sins any of those Harpercons commit, they'll still come out on top.

And how will changing leaders change this?

A new leader means new attack ads. Bring up a policy and you'll get an attack ad. Have a past and they'll attack it. Have a personality and they'll attack it. Hell, bet they'll attack having a new leader as well.

Changing leaders doesn't change the Conservative's strategy and the issue is overcoming that strategy, not just changing their target.

CK said...

If Harper gets a majority he'll owe it to Ignatieff and his loyalists.

Wrong. It'll be because of the voters themselves from every side.

redgranite said...

There's no one better than Ignatieff available. And polls aside he's been doing well lately. Too bad attack ads get about 100X more coverage than what an opposition leader is doing.

Steve V said...

I just don't share the apocalyptic perspective. I predict we win more seats in this election, these polls do nothing to dissuade. Feel free to save this to throw back at me at a later date.

CuriosityCat said...

Note that Tory support dropped in Ontario, Maritimes and BC.

CuriosityCat said...

Note that the Tories lost support in Ontario, BC and the Maritimes. The loss of Liberal support in the prairies is suspect but inconsequential in election terms.

Gayle said...

Oh please. I am no fan of Ignatieff but all this wailing about changing leaders is pure lunacy.

We need an election. Every time we approach one Harper is going to pull out the attack ads. The only way to counter is to get to the election asap so the spending limits kick in. Then the LPC rides it out with the leader they have and sort out leadership (if necessary) after the fact. Changing a leader now is going to be messy, ugly and very bad for the LPC fortunes.

Steve V said...

"And polls aside he's been doing well lately."

Yep. He has found his voice, even former critics are starting to acknowledge. We have a message, the party has moved to the center left, he's abandoned this Con-lite routine, I feel more comfortable now than in quite some time. All this time on the road has altered Ignatieff, I notice the difference and I think voters will see something attractive as well. Does that mean the Libs can win? I doubt it, always have, the mountain is enormous. That said, once the writ is drop, I like our message, and I think this guy will at least surprise somewhat. I'm not running with my hair on fire because of a rash of polls. Report them, don't deny them, but realize it's a moment, not a concrete reality.

Tof KW said...

Holy shit people!!! Has everyone's long term memory completely evaporated, even from 5 years ago? Can anyone other than I remember Harper's popularity numbers from 2005? They were absolutely awful. This is what probably prevented the CPC from winning a majority in 2006.

Fine, there's little love for Iggy across the land. However there is little love for the Liberal brand in general, which is what is really killing you. Work on that and attack Harper's lies and cloaked government ...then you'll start seeing poll number move your way.

Dumping Ignatieff would be about the stupidest thing the Grits could do right now. How much time it there for a leadership convention? Would the Libs rather spend money on that than on a campaign? Or are you just going to appoint someone to the job again? Seriously, the only people who could be suggesting this must be supporting other parties.

Steve V said...


You're right. I also don't quite buy the Prairie result, which does drive down national numbers, with such a huge change.

CK said...

Kirk, changing the leader would be a start. Something has to give somewhere. For one, perhaps a new leader could improve fundraising so the Liberals can perhaps afford to put their own attack ads on TV.

Certain folks, themselves would do well to think about this, if they're so afraid of Harper (as they should be), then it's a no brainer, they should know what to do and work with what we have.

Another observation; if Harper is so scary and Iggy is so objectionable, how come the NDP numbers are still in third place? How come their numbers aren't soaring above the other two parties?

A Harpercon majority is so close right now and wishing it away won't work.

Steve V said...

"However there is little love for the Liberal brand in general, which is what is really killing you."

Exactly, it really is a brand issue, which is why I've continually argued that references to the past are counter-productive. You can like or dislike Ignatieff, but any leader would be subjected to the attack ads, so I'm not convinced our fate would be improved. Imagine what would have been directed towards Rae, heck that's why I couldn't back his bid? Again not saying Ignatieff doesn't deserve some blame, but it's just to simplistic to say "change leaders", that's your problem.

Tof KW said...

BTW - discount ANY Ontario regional numbers from any poll. Ontario voters change opinions depending on which way the wind blows. Support for Harper right now might look like it's a mile wide, but it's only an inch deep. This is the way it's been in this province for over 6 years now. If I were the CPC I certainly wouldn't trust any sizable lead in ONT poll numbers unless the trend would stick over the better course of a year.

Steve V said...

Exactly, re Ontario! About 15-20% move on a whim, chasing them pre-writ will make you look a fool. I'm comforted to know this poll of voters is available in a campaign, that's all the matters. Cons bottom is about 30, same with us, and both top out around 40. Been doing that since the last election.

Tof KW said...

CK, what are you a Green? The only reason I can see for these stupid suggestions to dump Iggy is you want to see the Libs absolutely destroyed in an election 2 months from now.

BTW - the party who should be thinking of changing leaders is the CPC, provided Layton gives Harper a one-year extension this March. Harper stepping down and being replaced by either Bernard Lord or Jim Prentice would result in a CPC majority of 180-190 seats in a 2012 election.

Right now, Harper is the LPC's best friend, though it's tough for you to see that now.

rockfish said...

The 'attack mode' is what is reflected in these numbers: the typical Tory negative ads and the general sense that Ignatieff is eager for a vote. Once the campaigning begins, the latter will dissipate, i'm certain. What these numbers really do, and probably are skewed to do is beat down solid Liberal support, to the point where we get nervous, throw up our hands and run around like our hair's on fire.
I'm not buying it. We've got more fresh policy out there than any other party -- the NdP's line is the same and well-worn, if not tired. The CONs in an election will toss off some gimlets but will hide in a bubble and we need to go on the offensive. Accountability and openness are their achilles, along with the faux fiscal management skills that bleed when you talk F-35s, fake lakes, bloated PMO... Its getting above the din of lies that the CONs and their supporters want to spin so well that is the key. And Steve's right - Ignatieff's numbers are so low that he's a darkhorse candidate, who's performance over the past 12 months has shown very very well.
I'm suspicious of polls in general, extremely suspicious these days. Who's buying these polls? Big media corporations. Who benefits from government advertising blitzes? Big media. Who wants less stringent Canadian regulations to help increase their profit margins/permit outside investors? Big media.
You don't have to buy this scenario to agree with this scenario to know that when its 'expensive' to do real reporting, grinding out a poll and running on the fumes for a few days is lazy man's journalism. Unfortunately in today's world where people think in tweets, it's effective.
Liberals need to start working in that sphere, too.

Kirk said...

Worst thing the Liberals could do is dump their leader now which definitely result in giving Harper the advantage. That let's him put whatever he wants in the budget and the Liberals couldn't vote against it because you can't dump a leader and then go to the polls. That takes away everything from the Liberals.

The Conservatives have gained from the Liberals abstaining on votes more than anything. That robs the Liberal Party of it's definition and it's that loss of definition that has hurt them the most.

I think the Liberals should have added things they wanted in the budget along with the things they didn't want but that's water under the bridge now.

The Liberals need to positively stake out who they are. That doesn't need to be through big policy positions but it needs to come from a consistent, reliable narrative. It has nothing to do with polls.

Shiner said...

I'm not buying it. We've got more fresh policy out there than any other party -- the NdP's line is the same and well-worn, if not tired.

This is something to keep in mind. As much as I continue to believe that Ignatieff will see his numbers swing around once he gets his chance in the election spotlight across from the least charasmatic leader in contemporary Canadian history (and I include Joe Clark), we also should keep in mind that the Liberals are still holding onto the policy book. The most "substantive" critique (it still drives me nuts) of the Liberals at the moment is that they don't represent anything, have nothing to offer. I have to believe the Liberal brain trust has a good one or two waiting for an election.

That said, it certainly is going to be a tough fight and there's no doubt that the Libs are the underdogs going in. But I'll hold out hope that we can at least achieve another CPC minority and, God willing, the political death of Harper.

Nadine Lumley said...

Political Polls out themselves as worthless

OTTAWA - Canada's notoriously competitive pollsters have some surprisingly uniform advice about the parade of confusing and conflicting numbers they're about to toss at voters ahead of a possible spring election:

Take political horse race polls with a small boulder of salt.

"Pay attention if you want to but, frankly, they don't really mean anything," sums up Andre Turcotte, a pollster and communications professsor at Carleton University.

He has even more pointed advice for news organizations that breathlessly report minor fluctuations in polling numbers: "You should really consider what is the basis for your addiction and maybe enter a ten-step program."

And for fellow pollsters who provide the almost daily fix for media junkies: "I think pollsters should reflect on what this does to our industry. It cheapens it."

Turcotte's blunt assessment is widely shared by fellow pollsters, including those who help feed the media addiction to political horse race numbers.

Point 8:25 in the video:
Peter Mansbridge on CBC discusses story of the year: worthless polls

We invited Allan Gregg from Harris Decima (and the At Issue Panel on The National) and Paul Adams, assistant professor at the Carleton school of journalism. Adams covered Parliament Hill for the CBC and The Globe and Mail. He also worked for EKOS Research. Here's that conversation:

Nadine Lumley said...

Reasons why the Liberals and NDP haven’t been able to shut Harper down yet:

- if Ignatieff were to behave like Layton and vote against absolutely everything we would be into an election every six months

- the billionaire owned mass media in Canada support Harper as he represents the rich elite corporations and they help him by running false stories and polls for Harper and against Ig

- why are we blaming Liberals and NDP for the sins of Harper?

- Harper spends millions of your tax dollars every week attacking Liberals and NDP; not even Jesus or Mother Theresa could withstand that American style of dirty mud slinging

- maybe because Canadians didn't support Liberals and NDP trying to shut down Harper’s evil ways. Coalition anyone. Remember how many people screamed about that. Again thanks to Harper leading people to believe coalition was a bad thing

- the NDP is largely responsible for putting Harper in office in the first place, in 2006. You tell me is it normal for a supposed left winged party to be celebrating this 'big change' over a few extra seats, without much acknowledgement that the most ideologically right winged PM was about to be sworn into office?

- Big Ig tried to call an election to get rid of King Harper in September 2009 and Canadians BLOODY screamed they didn't want another election. Blame your freaking selves for the disaster that is Herr Harper.

'Mr. Harper, your time is up'
Liberals vow no-confidence vote in next sitting of House
Last Updated: September 2, 2009 5:13am

Rotterdam said...

It would be wise for Liberals to push for an election as puzzledcat
points out.

Fred from BC said...

TofKW said...

Work on that and attack Harper's lies and cloaked government ...then you'll start seeing poll number move your way.

So, keep doing what you've been doing for the last two years, then? Interesting...

As much as if pains me to agree with Gayle, she's actually correct this time (wow!). Cut your losses and go for an election now. You're just dragging out the inevitable here, I'm afraid. People have had two years to get to know Ignatieff, and they simply DON'T LIKE HIM. Period. It's not that they are so enamoured of Stephen Harper..they just like him better than Ignatieff.

(in fact, one woman I know (not a Conservative) describes him as "creepy", and I've heard others say the same. Shallow? Perhaps...but that's reality...)

Maybe Steve is right, when he says that Ignatieff will surprise you on the campaign trail. But better he do it now rather than later; he's not going to win (sorry), and the sooner the Liberals can pick a new leader and rebuild their party, the sooner they can get back to being a strong, viable Opposition...and that's better for everyone.

(I've said it before: a strong Liberal Party means a weak NDP...and THAT'S good for everyone.)

rockfish said...

I remember another Liberal leader polling poorly, being labelled 'yesterday's man'... Mulroney and then Campbell were riding high against him and the 'what do they offer?' down-in-the-dumps Grits. Chretien did ok then. I think it's mind over matter at this stage -- the team sticks together, works on chipping away at the CON meme (that means you and me, thru letters to the editor, blogposts, talking up our friends) and we'll be in the game. If we do what the CONs expect us to do, panic, pull in 40 directions, give up, then the writing's on the wall...

Möbius said...

Dumping the current leader...insane. And replace him with whom?

Dumping the NDP policies? That, I might agree with. Are NDP voters more likely to vote Liberal than are Red Tory voters, unhappy with the "non-conservative" CPC's, likely to vote Liberal?

Ignatieff has no credibility with leftist policies. At least let him run a campaign on his beliefs.

Tof KW said...

Fred, I know you disagree but the Harper government lies. Oda is just the latest example, before her it was Clement saying StatCan made the decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

Likewise it is also more opaque than the worst Liberal governments, with independent multi-nation studies even showing that Canada is now one of the least transparent western governments.

This is pretty damning when Harper won in 2006 in large part due to promising a more honest and transparent government. The CPC went in the complete opposite way. This isn't a problem with Conservatives, this is all Harper. But you guys don't seem to give a shit because this is your team in charge now.

Damned straight the Liberals should highlight Harper's hypocrisy, again the CPC won on this in 2006 with Martin thought of as the better economic manager. My advice is to hit Harper where it hurts.

As for the Libs my thought are McKenna for leader, though that won't happen until Iggy loses an election badly. As for the CPC I'm holding out hope they'll smarten up and pick Lord or Prentice as their next leader. The sooner Harper's gone the better because mark my words (something I said in 2003) Harper will eventually be the death of the CPC, just as Mulroney screwed the PCs.

Dame said...

These polls are signifying nothing only the campagn will make any real difference If it does..

people basically saying " i dunno ... leave me alone...

well the thin % of the real population who inclined to give any opinion. on the is totally unserious.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone take Iggy seriously who is basically conservative-lite and now spouting NDP rhetoric? Ignatieff would fit like a glove in CPC with his Bush style foreign policy. Infact it would have been better for him to try his hand in the CPC than in the Liberal party. At this point I think a harper majority might actually be a good thing. One of the problems with Conservative rule has been that they haven't really been that conservative, with a majority they would show their true right wing colors and hopefully people would wake up. It would also finally raise the prospect of a Liberal-NDP-Green merger or at the very least a Liberal-NDP merger. NDP needs to realize that some of their larger idealistic goals are impossible to achieve and to govern like the Liberals is the best you can from a progressive pov. NDP has been in power successfully here in Manitoba for more than a decade with big majorities and I challenge any dipper to point out how Gary Doer's NDP is more to the left than the federal Liberals! When NDP has tried to rule with their super left economic policy it has ended in disaster.

@TofKW: McKenna? Really? Why are we looking at the past instead of looking at the future? People like Bob Rae & McKenna are the cancer that is eating the Liberal party from the inside out. They are this big huge shadow of that past. We need to look forward not backwards, I'm talking about people like Gerrard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findley, Mark Holland, and this is going to ring alarm bells in Albert & Quebec Justin Trudeau.

Anonymous said...

Oh and this is off topic but when did Kim Campbell become such a flaming Liberal? I saw her on Bill Maher's show a couple of weeks ago and she sounded like a member of the NDP.

Tomm said...

Given recent Liberal stands, McKenna is more likely to support the CPC than the LPC. For example, listen to McKenna on The House talking about the perimeter argument.

The Liberal problems are not flesh wounds. They are deep and will ultimately need suturing. I agree with "the fight an election" camp. Take this medicine and begin the job of re-thinking what the party stands for.

Given the emerging demographics of Canada, the LPC simply has to find some in-roads into Western Canada and Quebec (outside Montreal). And like you, I have no idea how they can do either, let alone both. Perhaps they need to just dump all policies that relate to agriculture and rural Canada and re-think each and every one... I'm just spit balling, but regardless, this isn't a simple fix.

Don't expect miracles from Ignatieff, his Nanos marks for "trust" and "vision" are both so low that only 1 in 10 Canadian's are even likely to believe his messaging. But that being said, it would be un-fair and just wrong to not let him lead the party through a campaign.

Fred from BC said...

Tof KW said...

Fred, I know you disagree but the Harper government lies. Oda is just the latest example, before her it was Clement saying StatCan made the decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

Sorry, but Bev Oda hasn't told any actual lies. Not one. Tony Clement, IIRC, said StatsCan was "onboard", which wasn't exactly the truth but not exactly a lie, either.

Likewise it is also more opaque than the worst Liberal governments, with independent multi-nation studies even showing that Canada is now one of the least transparent western governments.

Might be the case.

This is pretty damning when Harper won in 2006 in large part due to promising a more honest and transparent government. The CPC went in the complete opposite way. This isn't a problem with Conservatives, this is all Harper. But you guys don't seem to give a shit because this is your team in charge now.

I'm like a lot of Conservatives, in that I am reserving my judgment for a majority government. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't wish we could be doing more on the transparency issue, because I do. But constant partisan attacks make this very difficult, if not impossible, to successfully achieve. This mindset that the Liberals seem to have where they must attack *every single thing* the government tries to do is childish and counter-productive, and a large part of the reason, I think, that the Harper government is so...(gee, what's a good word here?)..."harsh" in their treatment of the Opposition parties?

Give the man a chance to really govern before you decide that he can't do it. Canadians seem to be leaning that way, don't they? Nobody really believes the tired old "hidden agenda" accusation anymore...