People will remember Paul Wells rebuttal to the Ipso poll that found alarming questions about Dion as leader:
Paul Wells pointed out the followiung:
The polls are illustrative. Here's one now, comparing the prime minister's performance numbers with the opposition leader's. It's pretty grim for the opposition leader. Here goes:
• On "Trust," the PM gets 24%, the opposition leader 15%.
• On "Vision for Canada," the PM gets 29%, the opposition leader 18%.
• On simple "Competence," it's worse still: 33% for the prime minister, 14% for his leader of the opposition. A 19-point gap on the most fundamental requirement of political leadership.
So why not write Dion off? Because this poll isn't about Dion. It's the SES tracking poll for Dec. 6, 2005. The "Prime Minister" in the poll was Paul Martin, the badly stumbling "opposition leader" Stephen Harper, and the poll shows a massive character and leadership gap for Harper — six weeks before he became prime minister.
The poll Wells uses to make his point, show Martin with a large lead over Harper on all the internals, mirroring the latest comparison between Dion and Harper. The difference, if we look at the party polling numbers from that time, we see the following:
SES CPAC 06/12/2005
Con 28 Lib 40 NDP 17
The internals are manifested in the party support numbers- Martin outpaces Harper, which is mirrored in the party results. This situation is natural and logical. What isn't expected, the Ipso duel polls reach two different conclusions. Despite outpacing Dion by a considerable margin, the two parties remain virtually tied in public support. An objectively strange phenomenon, but one that tells us a great deal.
Despite the slick presentation, the message control, the concerted effort to paint themselves as moderate and reflective of Canadian society. Despite the full government coffers, taxcuts, a host of policy initiatives and what one reporter refers to as "a perfect political storm", Harper has gone NOWHERE. The disconnect between Harper's numbers and party support further suggest a hard cap for the Tories. Canada's Stale Government has failed to expand it's base, win over soft supporters and remains stuck in minority terrority. Barring a complete Liberal meltdown, Harper's Conservatives can only dream about ultimate control.
Dion's numbers can't fall much lower, reasonable to call them bottom. Bottom suggests possible improvement, and now that the issues are clearly identified, it is realistic to believe they will be dealt with to a certain degree. In other words, Dion has room, while Harper is already at his high-water mark in the head to head. If Dion can make any headway, it erodes at the Harper ceiling. Both parties have concerns, but nobody at Tory headquarters should be handing out high fives, when they can't seem to translate "leadership" numbers into actual support.