It's been a disappointing year – for the most part – for Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, veteran pollster Angus Reid says.
"If you look back at the springtime of the year he was sitting pretty ... and as we move to the end of the 2007 the big story is how badly Stephen Harper has dropped," the CEO of Angus Reid Strategies told the Toronto Star yesterday after releasing his polling firm's latest numbers showing the Conservatives with a slight lead over the Liberals.
Reid said with Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's lacklustre performance since winning his party's leadership just over a year ago, Harper should be soaring in the court of public opinion.
"This guy is now running a minus 20 in terms of political momentum, he is running a disapproval rate of 45 and the best he can do, notwithstanding all the problems with Dion and the Liberals, is eke out a little 5 (percentage) point lead over the Liberals," he said.
"I think Harper's own personality grates a lot of Canadians, who find him to be aloof. They can't find any warmth in this guy."
The online numbers mirror most of the other conventional polls:
With just over a month to the second anniversary of the Tories' minority government, 33 per cent of Canadians currently support the Conservatives, compared with 36.3 per cent on election day and the party's high of 39 per cent in March.
The survey puts the Liberals second at 28 per cent, followed by the New Democrats at 17 per cent, and the Bloc Québécois and the Green party both at 10 per cent support nationally.
The online survey of survey 1,025 adult Canadians is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Conservative supporters love to pound on Dion, and this poll, like many before, demonstrates that he has failed to resonate, his performance concerning. However, this theme works in tandem with another self-evident truth- Canadians don't like Stephen Harper or the Conservative agenda. If you reversed the roles, and a Liberal government was faced with such a opposition circumstance, I venture to say we would see them in the mid to high 40's. Conclusion, the more people mock Dion, the more it draws attention to the Conservatives inability to take advantage. All things being equal, Dion is far more of an unknown quantity(excluding Quebec) with Canadians, as opposed to Harper, which provides a glimmer of optimism moving forward. Dion is in a bad way, but there is an opportunity to shape, the same can not be said for Harper.
The Angus poll also mirrors other findings when it comes to issues. If the Conservatives think their abysmal performance on the environment isn't a concern, this suggests other wise:
Twenty-six per cent of Canadians said the environment is their number one concern, the highest-ranked issue for voters in the poll.
"The environment remains the most important issue in this country ... and this is an issue the Harperites haven't understood. Moving (Environment Minister) John Baird into that position I don't think has helped them," Reid said.
The fact that the Bloc scores a full 10% nationally means they are doing very well in Quebec, and the 10% for the Greens is also noteworthy.
Another poll(online), more confirmation that Dion has huge hurdles, but is still in the game, thanks to voter apprehension about the Conservatives.