Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Themes

A new Angus-Reid online poll reiterates what others have said- if Harper can't capitalize in this climate, it speaks volumes about his appeal:
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.


Oxford County Liberals said...

I'm glad you emphasized the online nature of this poll.. or I would have ;)

Steve V said...

I know, I know :) Seems to mirror others, you must admit.

bigcitylib said...

I've just glanced at this. How does it compare to previous and does it show any effects of the Mulroney thing?

Steve V said...


The last one I remember was taken at the end of the summer, with the same spread (33-29), NDP 19%, Bloc 9%, Greens 9%.

Anonymous said...

One thing to consider - as I recall all opposition party leaders have done poorly in the polls.

The fact that Harper isn't resonating is telling to me.

Steve V said...


Especially when you consider the economy, the massive surpluses, taxcuts....

Scotian said...

This poll tells me that Dion is in a significantly better position than Harper even though Harper had a year to run a series of unprecedented attack ads ouside of the election cycle from the outset of Dion's leadership race win throughout his first year, the inherent difficulty/inability of any new opposition party leader even the LOO to generate headlines for positive news/events (it is always easy to find stories of them making their mistakes though, what some CPCers claimed was media bias when it was Day and then Harper's turn in that chamber as it has been Dion's turn to date) and the massive tools of economic power this federal government has to use to try and purchase voter support with. That Harper cannot crack any higher despite all these advantages and all the resources he has placed into making Dion supposedly unelectable speaks volumes for his failure to connect with any outside his core base, while Dion has a lot of room to grow, especially as the sentiment of Harper must go solidifies and he is seen as the best tool to accomplish that.

This poll, granted with the inherent limitations of an online poll (I am no more trusting of them than Scott Tribe when you get right down to it, if this poll was not in reasonable accord with the phone ones I would not be giving it any credence as for me any online poll that also looks like an outlier is to be treated as such until proven otherwise) shows a major problem for the CPC. Harper has solidified his appearance in the public as a mean nasty and exceptionally partisan PM whose first priority is to get his majority and all his legislation is shaped accordingly. He has reinforced his thin-skinned nature and all the whining about the unfair media bias/conspiracy out to take him and the Cons down only will further underscore this in the public mind, not aid in reducing it. He has shown himself to be far more dictatorial in how he operates his government than any leader anyone appears to remember, as in the total information clampdown he has run through the PMO right from the outset and his inability to trust the vast majority of his ministers to act without PMO supervision in all things.

Dion's quieter and far less angry partisan style and clear willingness to trust those he invests authority (including/especially his rivals in the leadership race) in strikes a very resounding contrast against this image. What has been perceived as weakness within Dion by so many of his detractors now shows itself to have the potential to be one of the main deciding factors in his favour if he wins the next election. Dion also while not exciting people is not alienating them in droves either unlike Harper, and that element cannot be overlooked in terms of the intensity of dislike each has in this. I strongly suspect that the intensity of dislike/opposition regarding each is far stronger on Harper's side than Dion's and is also significantly stronger in the swing (uncommitted non-partisan voters, those that usually decide elections in other words) voter segment of the electorate, and if I am correct in that then Harper's CPC is looking at far more trouble than they are willing to believe come the next election.

In many ways I think Dion's weakness in breaking 20% on the leadership numbers may be a long term advantage to him, especially as Harper further and further solidifies his negatives at high intensity. It makes him far more of a sleeper and will make it harder for Harper to respond when he catches on. For, as we have seen just last week Harper does not do well when things are not operating according to his schedule/planning and when that happens he becomes even more nasty/aggresive/partisan as Chalk River showed/reminded Canadians.

I have been more and more hopeful as this year progessed that the next election will be Harper's last as CPC leader and the end of the Harper/Straussian CPC government, but until I see it happen (and the louder that door is slammed shut the better, I don't just want him to lose, I want him to lose hard, not hard enough to wipe out the party but to make clear at least that it is old style Canadian rooted Conservativism that will get you government and not Harper's Straussian American approach) I am going to act as if he is still in good shape to get his majority. This man and his coterie are far too dangerous to the future of this nation IMHO to treat in any other way. Bad enough he is where he is now, at least Canadians were suspicious enough despite their massive Liberal fatigue to hold him to a minority, and I strongly suspect there is significant buyer's remorse from many of the voters Harper got last time out from the middle uncommitted/nonpartisans that simply felt the Libs had to be tossed out because they had been in too long.

I hope and pray that this is how it works out, because I do not want to see what happened to America and the reputation of Americans internationally happen to we Canadians, which especially after Bali will happen if Harper in reelected. At least unlike in the US though I know he won fair and square without any significant vote rigging (qualified only as a sheet anchor, not as an acusation/implication), and therefore can trust that the same will be true when he is bounced out of office unlike my American cousins whose electoral system is anything but trustworthy in its current condition.

Calgary Junkie said...

While I am disappointed that the Tory numbers aren't higher, I'm very confident in our chances, largely based on Harper's campaigning abilities, going into an election. He's gone through two leadership races and two national campaigns. And after each one, he's gotten better, and learned lessons from his mistakes.

On the Liberal side, I suspect that many of you are nervous about Dion's unknown campaigning abilities. My take on Dion is that his biggest weakness will be in delivering stump speeches, and pumping up the ground troops.

player_hater said...

Harper's campaigning abilities??? He blew a huge lead in 2004 and was about to be defeated again until the RCMP launched a mid campaign investigation and won the smallest plurality in Canadian history. Dion can only go up, like Chretien 15 years ago. Seat count wise the Conservatives actually trail the Liberals, barely though.

burlivespipe said...

Let's play Caljerkies game. Oh Harper is unbeatable, he's the master of his own domain, with a handshake to prove it. And look at that resume! Why he wasn't leading a 3rd world country before jumping into the G8 is anyone's guess.
And that personality! Who would have guessed he trained -- but fortunately avoided any kind of work in that area -- as an accountant is anyone's guess.
Yes, let's all follow behind this Pied Piper of Churl into our own League of Nation, where promises are used only as photo ops and action is only called upon as a distraction, letting the oil barons fiddle while the Canadian environment bubbles and toils into a great mess.

Tomm said...

Scotian is right. Harper's negatives keep hardening up in swing voters minds moving them to either a different party (Anybody but Harper) or to stay home on election night.

This is not good news for the CPC. However, the CPC can take comfort in the increasingly split left of centre votes. The strength of the NDP and the increasing exposure and apparent support for Green protest votes both badly hurt the Liberals.

Outside the 3 big urban city centres, and the atlantic provinces, the Liberal's are mushy soft with every seat either going somewhere else or with serious scares.

Dion cannot rally these voters. He has nothing to offer them.

That reminds me, where on earth is the Liberal platform?

Scotian is wrong about one thing, and that is that this present government is bad for Canada. It is a fresh perspective on running Canada and it is welcomed by many, including me.


Tomm said...


Nice free verse.

What's in your pipe?


Scotian said...

I love Tomm's assertion that I am wrong about this government being bad for Canada, as if his merely saying so without showing why that is the case made it so. One of the reasons I do detailed posts is to show not just what I think but why I think it, in math work it is called showing your proof. Tomm apparently has no problems with Harper's cult of personality, dictatorial approach to governing, repeatedly unprecedented negative partisan attacks (nuclear regulator being the latest) and his clear preference to taking the side of the elites instead of the people just as good Straussian does.

Sorry Tomm, but I find inherently anti-democratic political principles/philosophies a bad thing for a representative democracy like Canada. That you cannot see nor grasp this does you no credit in your claims that you are right and I wrong in terms how this government being a net negative instead of the net positive you clearly think it is. I just don't think it is a negative, I think it is actively dangerous/destructive to the fundamental structures of our political infrastructure, which I and I strongly suspect the vast majority of Canadians would consider a bad thing.