Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Poll

EKOS released a poll yesterday which has got people's attention. Lately, the polls have been meandering within a fairly static range, but this EKOS poll breaks that trend line, giving the Conservatives a very large lead, so much so "majority" would be conceivable:
National federal vote intention:

¤ 37.3% CPC
¤ 24.8% LPC
¤ 14.2% NDP
¤ 10.7% Green
¤ 9.9% BQ
¤ 3.0% other

Direction of government:

¤ 44.0% right direction
¤ 43.3% wrong direction ¤ 12.7% DK/NR

A 13.5% Conservative lead, close to their 2008 total, both the Liberals and NDP below their numbers. Of note, for the first time since last summer more Canadians think the government is moving in the right direction.

We see a large Conservative lead in Ontario, on the edge of the fluctuating high water mark, punching above 40%:
Cons 41.5%
Libs 30.3%
NDP 13.6%
Greens 12%

The NDP and Greens statistically tied, the Liberals at their low polling floor. Before anyone gets overly excited, this is the point where we need to remind people, that we've seen this dynamic before, it's never held and it's also flipped back wildly. Not discounting this result, just a caution that we need to see if the trend holds before panic is justified. EKOS does have a very good track record, but one poll is just that, so let's wait for more. I note this tweet last night:
RobertFife: Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker writes of Ekos poll: " We've got almost the same. No anomaly."

That really doesn't mean much to me, apart from the fact it could provide the perceived statistically backing for the media to run wild with the changed dynamic. Nobody bothers to entertain past accuracy records, but that's another story and it's actually irrelevant, sadly, to how numbers are perceived. In other words, Ipsos does have similar results, making EKOS that much more concerning I suppose.

EKOS has the Liberals trailing the Conservatives in Quebec, 20% to 16%, another finding which I'm certainly sitting on before trying to translate.

The obvious search for "answers" leads right to attack ads, and just as important the blitz of EAP ads, congealing into an full on assault. Is EKOS evidence that the attack ads have worked? Quite possibly, but we've also seen previous offering showing no move while the ads have ran, so the jury is still out. Attack ads do work, but do they work over and over and over again? If people looked at the Dion era, you'd have seen "diminishing returns" with each subsequent salvo, some evidence that the effect waned over time. However, we have the ads, now we have a poll that shows a new political reality, of course people will connect the dots.

From the Liberal perspective, I would just carry on like we were on Thursday. I sense a party getting a compelling narrative together, on the issues we are pushing, polls also show a HIGHLY receptive audience, so don't lose the plot. The ankle biter crowd, the bitter margins, take great pleasure in bad polls, but really that says more about them than their target, so ignore the background noise. Fair to point out, the government quickly contacted their membership to warn them not to believe EKOS, their own numbers don't mirror.

Lets wait and see, and even if we see more evidence, remember we've been right here, these numbers, about a dozen times in the last few years. Everytime, outside of a writ, they've settled back, so that may well be the real wide angle shot to remember.


Kev said...

The cons are telling their people that this poll doesn't jive with their own polling and to be careful when discussing it

Steve V said...

Hey Kev. I mentioned that in the post.

Kev said...

oops, need more coffee

Anonymous said...

I've done research on political negative messaging and what I've concluded is that the affect of attack ads are more contextual than absolute. They work best in the absence of an opposing attack. Two sides attacking actually increase political engagement among partisans. It appears that, though most people don't admit it if asked directly, we like our leaders to be fighters. So when one side fights and the other doesn't, the fighter gets the lift. In rare occasions an attack's message might be so effective as to gain effect regardless of an opposing attack, but I would say that's pretty rare.

So the benefit Harper has had for the past 4 years is being able to attack without opposition, and thus gain a lift. Even the recent Liberal ads aren't sufficiently negative in order to offset the attacks. I conclude the general perception among Canadians is that when Harper punches Ignatieff, Iggy's response is to say "ouch," and not to hit back. Though Iggy endlessly attacks through his media engagement and town halls, that is only reaching maybe 5% of Canadians at best.

Steve V said...

Ryan, thanks for the insights.

Skinny Dipper said...

I will agree with Ryan.

Ignatieff seems to look better when he is on the attack. The same holds true for Layton. Making Parliament work will help achieve a government policy change; however, it is likely to hurt an opposition party in the polls.

CK said...

No question that Harper's attack ads have been working. Truth is most love these attack ads, as I've mentioned in a previous post of mine, they're a guilty pleasure.

More to the point, we've been dumbed down and slogans for the most part should be kept monosyllabic. Rule of thumb, if it don't fit on a bumper sticker, it won't fly.

Taking the high road never works. Ask Stephane Dion and John Kerry over in the States when he ran against Dubya.

Steve, I agree with you that the Liberals have been getting their act together. They've even started getting. This is what makes these latest numbers all the more troubling.

Plus, I'm having a hard time believing my province is starting to warm up to social conservatism of the Harpercons (yes, it is true, one of Harper's goals is to turn Canada into a social conservative state--Chapter 18, page 245, para 1--Harper penned an article about that in 2003Harperland)

With numbers like that, particularly from EKOS, it does look like Gerry Nicholls' prophecy is about to be realized.

Another thing that has to happen, NOW, is that Iggy must go. It's been 2 years and nobody likes him still. There is a rule of thumb in business, if it doesn't turn a profit in 2 years, you never will; or in the case of broadcasters, if they don't like you in 2 years; they never will. And no, Bob Rae would be worse as he is unelectable in both Ontario and Quebec.

I think being rid of Iggy may be a great start to improving fundraising fortunes to airing more attack ads with slick bumper sticker slogans.

Kirk said...

10% of Liberal supporters decided they no longer support the Liberals?

I doubt it.

Rotterdam said...

Send Ignatieff back to Harvard, replace him with Manley.
Then you have a good shot.

ottlib said...

Hmmmm, we are only a few weeks away from a budget and a possible election and we are now beginning to see public polls stating the Conservatives are taking a lead. We have never seen that before have we?

Public polls are next to useless and they are only taken to provide the media with something to fill column inches and TV time. So, we should ignore the poll and observe how the media react to it and the Ipsos one over the next few days.

A few years ago their reaction would be Stephen Harper would be thinking about putting a poison pill into the budget to force an election. My guess this time is their reaction will be that these polls will cool the Liberal desire to have an election.

As you say Steve the Liberals have been effective in pointing out that the Conservatives are on the wrong side of several issues that would be election issues if it occurs this Spring. So, the Conservatives would prefer to avoid one and the media knows it.

So I agree with you on the course of action the Liberals should follow.

CK and Rotterdam, replacing Mr. Ignatieff now would be the dumbest thing the Liberals could do.

Tomm said...


The poll is certainly interesting. I sort of knew your would blog about it.

I think your premise that it relates to attack ads is not that likely. They weren't very good and in fact ran the embarrassment of some pull back. The back room boys needed a talking to as you recall. Secondly there were responding attack ads from the LPC. The media also made great hay on how unfair and scurilous they were.

The other premise that the CPC messsaging has been 4 years of relentless campaigning without response that is causing this, is also unlikely. The opposition gets more air time in the news than the CPC (often 2:1).

The most likely reason is the opposition responses to media questions that leave the public thinking they will vote down the budget. The public hears the election tomtoms in the background and they have an immediate negative reaction to it.

The opposition is hooped. They have to wait for some scandal to catch the public attention, or to make headway with their views that the government are bad fiscal managers. In my view those are the only two things that would give the LPC an edge.

On the bright side, I also think this is an anomaly and that the LPC will be back to trailing by 7% within the month... IF election speculation diminishes.

Dylan said...

I am speechless. Dumbfounded. More importantly, I feel dejected with numbers like these.

I am becoming more convinced that the MSM isn't generally biased towards the right or left; rather, the media and pollsters would rather be seen on the "winning" side of a debate. Not so much to save face but to be recognized as credible. And for all intents and purposes, the LPC even with good numbers at 30-32% will probably not make up a minority government come the next election. Why come out and support a "losing" cause?

That rant aside, I have a hard time swallowing that the LPC is down by 10% in Ontario and trailing in the federalist vote in Quebec.

On the policy front it seems that Liberal ideas put forth by Ignatieff are resonating with Canadians. Two days ago the Canadian Cancer Society released a poll on home health care and Canadian families - which strongly sides with the Liberal Family Care plan.

Another question I have is: did the "Pucapab" campaign blow up in Ignatieff's face? If attack ads work, how is this campaign not working for the Liberals in QC? Perhaps we need more time to see the fruits of that labour (after all, the campaign launched in the middle of the EKOS' polling).

However, when all is said and done, I remain convinced that when a federal election is held people will see the leader in Igantieff that many LPC members know he is. Removing Ignatieff right now would be signing a death warrant for the party - not just for the next election, but perhaps forever. Nothing would solidify the "flip flop" narrative pushed by the CPC than a rotating door of leaders in the Liberal party every time the polls are unfavourable.

Give him an election. All he needs to see is a reduction in CPC seats. Even something token - a moral victory - and he'll have earned himself keep for another election. Think of Diefenbaker. Think of Pearson. Think of Trudeau. They weren't 1 election leaders. They spent time in the Opposition and their experience in the party and on those benches paid off when they moved into 24 Sussex.

We cannot view this as a get rich quick scheme. This cannot be a "lose 20lbs in 1 week program" type of promise to the party. The playing field has to level off in an election... it has to.

Steve V said...

Pucapab was a great idea(although lets remember what it is, the reach), frankly I don't buy these Quebec numbers.

CK said...

I disagree. Two years is the magic number as I've mentioned for make it or break it in anything. It's been 2 years Iggy is leader and he is as disliked, perhaps even more so than before, and given the numbers appear to be even lower than Dion's in 2008,well, if they don't like him by now, they never will. His approval numbers are still far lower than Layton and Harper's.

Iggy must go sooner rather than later. And no more intellectuals. A scrapper is needed. A beer and pretzel type. Someone who can get down in the gutter with Harper. A Rob Ford type.

This is a climate of anger and fear and that is not going to change any time soon. A leader who understands that and knows how to play to it the way the Harpercons do and be better at it is required.

Dan Delmar, the only talk radio announcer on CJAD under 30 says Iggy is not 'sexy' enough. He wasn't impressed with the "PUCAPAB" ads to say the least. He also holds a panel of 20 and 30 somethings every Sunday evening and they all pretty much agree with him to date. They may not like Harper, but not enough to vote for Iggy or Layton or even the BLoc.

Delmar practically dared Iggy to do worse to react to Harper's first set of attack ads.

Like I said, the more vicious and American styled the ads, the more people like 'em, no matter what they say--they're a guilty pleasure, the same way folks stand around watching a burning building or a car wreck.

Tomm said...


It is this sort of internal division that knee caps the LPC. It is this sort of division that turfed Chretien, then Martin, and then Dion. It has to stop.

For example, not everyone in the Reform movement liked Preston Manning, but you "dance with the girl that brung you". The same with Stock Day.

It is the path, the direction that the leader points to and ensures everybody they have common cause.

The LPC has quit defining a path for itself. See Mercer's latest political "drive by" for the perception this leaves.

Regardless of the leader, it has to define a path for itself. Ignatieff is actually your best chance to do that. Let Ignatieff build a playbook. A set of directions that the party agrees at a significant policy convention and then bring in your "Rob Ford type".

Forget the posturing about bringing down the government and work to build a set of core paths. Even better, invite the CPC or NDP to join in. If you recall, the Reform Party encouraged and applauded when Martin brought in greater fiscal controls and debt reducing measures. This is still paying back dividends as the people see "that" as seminal to what Harper brings to the table.

Look at the NDP. Even under some tremendously weak leadership they survived just fine. It was because they had a path and a core constituency.

Since you think of me as some knuckle dragging neanderthal, you won't listen to this... but you should.

Omar said...

Somebody pass me the rock salt shells.

Steve V said...

"I sort of knew your would blog about it."

That's the difference between the left and the right Tomm, we take all the facts no matter, whereas you guys ignore everything you don't like and warp everything you do. Like climate change for example :)

Möbius said...

I've made no secret of the fact that I will not vote CPC again, until they begin to act like fiscal conservatives.

However, many Red Tories like myself look upon the corporate tax position of the Liberals with dismay. If these numbers mean anything, it may be the Liberals apparent shift to the left on issues like these. It's simply not credible, given Mr. Ignatieff's history.

If a pollster were to call me right now, I know what I'd be saying, even if unhappy with the conservatives.

Möbius said...


Polls, schmolls.

Tomm said...

"...Like climate change for example :)..."


I have never said "I" was against anthropogenic climate change, only... defended the CPC position that until the US, China and India came to the table we were hooped; that the "scientists" had become "advocates"; and that we were getting scammed financially by the Kyoto rules.

Good points all and also proved in the end to all have merit. The future looks fairly bright. It appears that Durban in December will see a new 5 year plan that everybody will have a piece of. With respect to the US, The snow storm before the Super Bowl isn't going to help the cause of congressional action.

Dylan said...

Mobius -- as a self proclaimed Red Tory myself, I couldn't stomach voting for a conservative candidate regardless of Ignatieff's position on them.

Quite simply, how does a government reject $4B in foreign investment one day, and then claim that we need to stay attractive to said foreign investment through cutting corporate taxes the next? How is potash considered a "strategic" resource one week and the next a CPC back bencher is putting forward a private member's bill to open up foreign ownership of Canadian uranium?

From cutting the GST and rolling back income tax cuts for low-income Canadians; to spending our surplus away prior to the recession; to point scoring on per-vote party subsidies; to sole sourcing F-35s; to the BHP Billiton rejection; to these corporate tax cuts -- I'll view Ignatieff's former support for those taxes at a time of record deficit as the lesser of two ideological inconsistencies.

Fred from BC said...

CK said...

Another thing that has to happen, NOW, is that Iggy must go. It's been 2 years and nobody likes him still. There is a rule of thumb in business, if it doesn't turn a profit in 2 years, you never will; or in the case of broadcasters, if they don't like you in 2 years; they never will. And no, Bob Rae would be worse as he is unelectable in both Ontario and Quebec.

Exactly what I've been saying for the last year or so. Nobody wants to hear it, though...

Kev said...

The problem with forcing Ignatieff out at this point is that the cons will exploit the fact that the Liberals will not be in a position to go to the polls for some time and will return to making everything a confidence motion once more, ramming through their agenda unopposed.

Like him or not Ignatieff is what you got, you either rally around him or not, but changing leaders at this point in time would be a disaster

Tof KW said...

Fred from BC said...
Exactly what I've been saying for the last year or so. Nobody wants to hear it, though...

Funny, I've been saying the same thing about the CPC dumping Harper since 2003, and no one wants to hear that either.

WhigWag said...

I wouldn't worry too much about that poll:

Graves himself admits that the political polls are "a dog's breakfast" now (and conveniently neglects to mention that his latest one only has half the sample size as all his other ones for the last year or so).

Möbius said...

Dylan - "I couldn't stomach voting for a conservative candidate regardless of Ignatieff's position on them."

I agree on the first half of this statement, but not the latter. One is no better than the other. I had planned to spoil my ballot in the next election, barring any really stupid policies from the LPC.

I absolutely agree with the position of "strategic" decisions like potash being incredibly stupid, but both parties have supported corporate welfare for the Bombardiers, et al., and I expect it will continue whether I like it or not. I'm not running for office, and I understand the need for flexibility to a (political) point. But you can't throw away your entire belief system just to get or stay elected.

Fred from BC said...

Tof KW said...

Fred from BC said...
Exactly what I've been saying for the last year or so. Nobody wants to hear it, though...

Funny, I've been saying the same thing about the CPC dumping Harper since 2003, and no one wants to hear that either.

So you're comparing a sitting Prime Minister who is poised to win the next election easily to a man who can't even get elected as leader of his own party (nevermind the country)?

There's a reason people don't take your 'arguments' seriously, T...