Sunday, December 02, 2007

SES Dion Poll

Nik Nanos polls Canadians on Dion, with the results essentially amounting to "tell us something we don't know". The numbers are concerning, but hardly surprising:
An exclusive Nanos Research-Sun Media poll reveals a scant 21.6% of Canadians think Dion has done a good or very good job of communicating his vision for Canada.

Another 32.3% rate his performance as average and 31.6% say he's done a poor or very poor job.

A full year after Dion won a hotly contested leadership race and pledged to mend old rifts, only 19.3% of Canadians praise him for doing a good job uniting the Liberal Party. Another 30.2% see his bridge-building skills as average, while a whopping 33.2% say he's fouled up bringing peace to the political family.

"The perception of how he's doing is anywhere from ambivalent to negative," pollster Nik Nanos said. "They've formed an opinion on how he's doing as leader, and the opinion is that he's not doing a good job."

The poll also reveals most Canadians think Dion has done a ho-hum job, at best, of keeping the Conservative government's feet to the fire. While 25.6% bill his Opposition leader tactics as good or very good, another 32.3% see him as average and 25.3% rate him as poor or very poor.

Assessments of Dion's leadership skills are most polarized in Quebec, where the Liberal leader is most well known by the electorate.

Nanos confirms everything about Dion, that is already widely held. Dion had a tough, to abysmal, first-year at the helm, generally failing to resonate with Canadians in any substantive way. That said, the problems well defined, while the Nanos storyline is entirely relevant, it may not be the death knell that first blush illustrates.

I'm going to be uncharacteristically optimistic here, as it relates to Dion's predicament. The signs are spotty, but I have noticed a slight revision occuring with the media's narrative of Dion. Passing the first year mark at the helm is symbolic in one sense, but it is also representative of making it past the historic tough spot for a new leader. There does seems some recognition of this reality in recent editorials and media commentary, which translates into an opening for Dion to push forward and leave some baggage behind. Much will depend on Dion himself, but I don't think there is any question that he has opportunity for new presentation.

Beating up on Dion, in unrelenting fashion, could potentially wane (Chantal Hebert aside), if there is a sense of progress, the optics of one finding his footing. The braintrust must turn "nice" into "sincere", "awkward" into "apolitical". The above poll is more confirmation, but it doesn't represent a permanent condition, with Quebec as a possible exception.


Gayle said...

Apply liberaly has a slightly different take on this.

I think Dion's bigget problem was high expectations coupled with a not-so-underground plot to undermine him within the party.

The story was all Dion, all the time, until the last couple of weeks. I have recently heard the media say the party is now united behind him (of rather, that the party accepts the fact he is the leader and is not going anywhere right now).

So long as the anonymous party members stop their whining, the focus can be on something else.

I also agree with Elizabeth May that Dion is uncomfortable acting as the scrapper. He is an intelligent and principled man, and he should stop trying to be something he is not.

Darren McEwen said...

The way this poll was covered by the Sun is a joke.

Dion scored almost or above 50% on all questions when people were asked if he performed average or above average on each statement.

Steve, you're right he's had his ups and downs but the focus has been only on him all year. Harper didn't have endure that when he was in opposition for the first year.

ottlib said...

It is fun to see different interpretations of the same poll.

You make some good points about it but so does Darren over at his apply-liberally blog.

Stephane Dion had a difficult year but despite the best efforts of the Conservatives and many in the media he is still around with a reasonable chance of winning the next election. The same is definitely true of the Liberals.

Now the big question. Where are the horse-race numbers from this poll?

This is the second straight poll, that The Sun has published that did not include the horse-race numbers. I wonder why that is?

On another note, there is no such thing as a permanent political situation in Quebec. The Conservatives proved that in 2006 and the ADQ did it this year.

Alberta, I would bet a years salary that nothing will change there but in Quebec no way.

Gayle said...

ottlib - as far as Alberta goes, I will be doing everything I can to ensure Jim Wachowich wins back Anne McLellan's old riding for the liberals. He is very well known and I think he has a good shot.

As for the rest of the province, sadly I must agree...

Dan McKenzie said...

Yah, I saw the headline and thought it was going to be another shitty poll. But the numbers weren't bad. I just hope things like this won't affect the media "revision", which I think is probably a happening a little bit too.

Anonymous said...


Note that no one took Harper seriously in the first year as Leader of the Opposition when he led the Canadian Alliance. Before the merger with MacKay's PCs that is.

Still, no one doubts that Dion's a good guy and he's sincere.

Steve V said...

"Apply liberaly has a slightly different take on this"

He is arguing that Sun media is spinning here, but what do we say about the guru Nanos comments, who apparently can do no wrong?


I hear you, but this poll is entirely in line with every other finding, spin aside. Dion has had troubles, hasn't connected with voters, seems completely intuitive to me, so I don't quibble with these results. That said, I think there is an opportunity to change the dynamics here, so acceptance doesn't translate to a concrete damnation.


"no one doubts that Dion's a good guy and he's sincere."

That last word has to be the centerpiece of all surrogates arguments moving forward.

Anonymous said...

Greg Weston "Sun Media" has come out with a scathing article on Dion this morning - at the edge of name calling. He used to be a little more independant.

Is he trying to save his job (Sun not doing well these days) and, owned by Quebecor - board of directors - Mulroney. Hmmm...

I think it would be interesting if Nanos would do a comparison of Harper / Dion when new and in opposition. I've heard that Harper in 2004 polled as low at 10%.

wilson said...

When Harper became leader, the right was divided. The Dion/Harper comparision would have to be after the CA and PC united.

What were Chretien's and Martin's numbers when they became LPC leader?

IMO Dion is oblivious to realities, such as perceptions.
When one of his first 'shoot from the mouth' announcements was to bring Cote back into the fold, (reason: being booted from the LPC for a few years was punishment enough for admitting to handing out $125,000 in cash to Lib candidates as his part in Adscam) it was evident that Dion was living on another planet.
That hasn't changed.

Steve V said...

"When Harper became leader, the right was divided."

Wilson, and that is the only reason Harper stayed on the scene for so long, despite his atrocious performance.

Tomm said...

Throw the poll away. Dion can define himself.

He indicated that the time to sit on hands is over and the Official Opposition is ready to bring down the government. The session starts in late January. This is the Dion everybody hoped to hear from months ago.

If Dion is being honest, the Liberal campaign started yesterday.

What are the Liberal plans? How do they want to define the election? Would they prefer to block law and order bills in the senate? defeat a budget? Where is their line in the sand?

What about their platform? What is it? Rae in response to a Jane Tabor softball, indicated that the Liberal "vision" is out there. If so, why couldn't I disentangle it from what he said? Harper or Layton could both have laid out that "Vision" statement.

What about finances. Tom Flanagan made a good case for Liberal financial woes that require a "re-boot".

The short answer to all these questions is that the Liberal's this weekend secretly agreed to throw Dion under the bus.


Steve V said...

"What about their platform? What is it? Rae in response to a Jane Tabor softball, indicated that the Liberal "vision" is out there."

Tomm, in that exact interview, Rae said they didn't want to release the platform before the election.

"The short answer to all these questions is that the Liberal's this weekend secretly agreed to throw Dion under the bus."

Dion is the one pushing for an election, so I'm not sure how you conclude that?

ottlib said...


You do not know Liberals very well do you?

Liberals do not throw their leaders under buses because they do not like to lose. Indeed, it is pathological for them.

Mr. Dion weathered the storm that lashed him after the Outrement defeat and now he has clear sailing as far as the party is concerned.

Whatever concerns Liberals may have about Mr. Dion will be suppressed until the next election. If he wins all of those concerns will melt away. If he loses it will be a different story.

liberazzi said...

"When an election is called, everything is re-set. It all goes back to zero and you work from there."

Michael Marzolini, Liberal pollster

I am excited at the prospect of a Feb election. Dion's performance has improved and the channel has been changed from Dion to Shreiber. Plus, I think the media and the public are starting to bore with the "Dion" narrative, as they like to say, despite the best efforts of Taber, Hebert, Weston et al to keep it alive. Lets just get on with it and let the chips fall where they may. Plus, I was at the Ont AGM and there was a good buzz there.

Sorry Steve V, Ill put my pom poms down now.

Finally, Taber irritated me today with her jumping over Rae's point that Dion has the steak..., "but where's the sizzle, where's the sizzle?" Christ, calm down...The word shrill comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

The logistics of a February election needs to be considered.

Note that there are four by-elections vacated by Liberal MPs that need to be called by the PM.

This is something that needs to be considered. If Bob Rae would have his way, he would want to be in the House of Commons first before Dion pulls the plug.

To show that Dion is serious for a February election,I suggest he makes a half serious attempt to pull the plug before Christmas. This means advancing a motion of non-confidence in the next Liberal Opposition day. If Harper takes the bait, then it is game on and Dion's desired February election becomes a reality. At the same time, he should also offer the NDP an incentive to defeat Harper knowing full well that if Layton refuses to take the bait, he will be punished at the campaign trail.

Steve V said...

"This is something that needs to be considered. If Bob Rae would have his way, he would want to be in the House of Commons first before Dion pulls the plug."

What's the deadline for the by-election to be called?


"Plus, I think the media and the public are starting to bore with the "Dion" narrative, as they like to say, despite the best efforts of Taber, Hebert, Weston et al to keep it alive."

Hebert's last columns on Dion have come out of nowhere. No context, no relevance to any news, it was like she couldn't come up with a column, so she went back to her fallback position.

Anonymous said...

Bill Graham left the House effective July 2. The by-election needs to be called six months to this date.

Harper will probably want to get the two Toronto by-elections out of the way since he will want to target the Saskatchewan one, which the Cons lost by 68 votes. David Orchard is seeking the Grit nomination there and that is an added incentive for Harper and MacKay.

Still, the Grits should forget about the by-elections and use both Rae and Hall Findlay to get the message across nationally. This also leads to another factor. If the Grits want the government to fall within the next couple of weeks, it will not hurt to make some policy announcements before the writ is dropped. Then you can drop the whole caboodle once the campaign is on to build momentum.

Walks With Coffee said...

Stop failing into the CPoC agenda.

Dion was wise to let the Tory spin machine spin itself out. And, frankly the liberals that didn't see through the spin are of no help to the LPoC anyways. All the accussation against Dion have started with the CPoC, then echoed by the NDP and broadcase by Chantel H.

Have a plan, call the CPoC to account for doing nothing for Canada for nearly two years... other than hot air, fabrications, and bold face lies. Time to wipe on smoke off their mirros.