Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Abstaining Costs Liberals?

A new Angus Reid online survey, with some depressing trends for the Liberals and Dion. The Liberals are polling at their lowest level for this outfit, and Dion has also hit a new bottom. The party numbers:
The Conservatives enjoy the support of 36 per cent of Canadians – roughly the same level as the 2006 election – but the Liberals have dropped to 26 per cent, down two percentage points in the last month and four percentage points from the 2006 vote, according to the poll.

The New Democrats are at 18 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 9 per cent and the Green party, which enjoyed a strong showing in the March 17 by-elections, is at 9 per cent, double its support in the 2006 federal election.

A decent number for the Conservatives, pretty much the same as their showing in the last election. The real reason for the 10 point gap is clearly erosion on the Liberal side, down from 31% at the beginning of February to a new bottom of 26%. One caveat, Angus Reid's Ontario numbers show no relationship to any other outfit, a deadheat, 35% each, with the NDP at 21%. That result, which seems to overstate NDP support relative to others, plus the questionable tie scenario, might have contributed to the unusually low Liberal score.

However, that question aside, Dion's numbers are abysmal. Only 11% of Canadians approve of Dion's perfomance, down a full 6 point since February. Equally concerning, Dion's disapproval numbers have reached towering heights, a full 57% disapprove, a rise of 7 points:
Reid said voter dissatisfaction with Dion appears to be reaching levels rarely seen in Canada.

"I can't recall a time when an opposition leader had a disapproval rating as high and an approval rating as low," he said.

Before Conservative supporters get excited, when asked who would be the best Prime Minister, "Neither" beats Harper 42% to 36%.
"I can't remember a period when we had a prime minister who generally was not liked and a leader of the opposition who was as weak as Dion is," he said.

Political support is sharply divided along gender and age, with older men likely to back the Tories while women gravitate to the Liberals.

People can criticize this poll, but using the past offerings for reference, you clearly see real erosion for Dion and the Liberals. In fact, to see such a drop for Dion is particularly worrisome, because his numbers were already very bad, a "bottom" by any measure. It would appear we have a new low, and if I'm looking for cause, seems pretty intuitive that demonstrating weakness, negative press day after day, is the obvious culprit.


Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that 42% of Canadians would say "neither" when they are forced to choose a best PM between Harper and Dion. I mean 37% of decided people in that same poll say they would vote NDP, BQ or Green or other (they don't tell us how many are undecided) - I think that if you plan to vote NDP, BQ or Green - it is at least partly because you reject both Harper AND Dion - ergo you will refuse to choose the least of the two evils. What if I think Jack Layton or even Gilles Duceppe or god forbid Elizabeth May would make the best PM?? How am i supposed to answer a question that implies that i have to choose between bad (Dion) and worse (Harper)??

Steve V said...


I think the question is put that way, because those are the only two capable of becoming Prime Minister.

One other point I forget to mention, when asked if their opinion of Dion has improved or worsened in the last month, a whopping 36% said worsened, while 4% improved, the rest no change. That is easily the worst trending recorded for this poll.

Anonymous said...

Given the weird news that has been put out today, I will take this with a grain of salt.

Steve, this is an online poll :)

Do you really think that losing Desnethe and barely winning Quadra had hurt Dion even further? This poll seemed to confirm it, despite the victories of Rae and Hall Findlay.

Then the mutiny attempt in Quebec did not help either.

Still, it is an online poll. Done at a time when the Cons were attacking the McGuinty government as a means to link his policies to Bob Rae.

JimmE said...

One line poll? April 1st?

Anonymous said...


By that logic, I think one could argue that only one person is currently "capable" of being PM - Harper! So maybe they should pose the question as follows: Who would you rather have as PM, Stephen Harper or "none of the above".

Maybe they only give people Harper and Dion to save Dion the embarrassment of finishing behind Layton as "best PM" and in in danger of falling behind Duceppe too!

bigcitylib said...


I assume you would argue that the best antidote to the Libs piss-poor showing here is to call an election over an issue nobody cares about and then pray to jesus the whole party doesn't go down in flames?

Steve V said...

I know it's an online poll, but it uses the same methodology from poll to poll, so you can still comment on the trends. The British government only uses online polls. I've watched this poll for quite some time, and it seems entirely "normal", compared to other outfits. This online poll predicted the Quebec results, as well as the Manitoba results, pretty much bang on. Some might want to dismiss it, but the record is actually pretty good, and I'm keeping an open mind.

Steve V said...

"I assume you would argue that the best antidote to the Libs piss-poor showing here is to call an election over an issue nobody cares about and then pray to jesus the whole party doesn't go down in flames?"

No, I'm saying we should have moved when we had the chance, and now we are paying the price for our weakness. If you want to get out this cycle, then an election is the best chance.

BTW, did you read the economic indicators yesterday? "Canadian Economy Bounces Back", another indication that those waiting for the great depression to cure Liberal ills are putting their faith on a game of craps.

bigcitylib said...

1) And what cycle would an election result of 26% Libs 36% Tories put us in?

2)January is so yesterday. Stats Can is 2 months behind. Wait until they start producing numbers re March April.

Steve V said...

One more thing from this poll, the Conservatives have moved well ahead of the Liberals in Quebec, they were previously in third.

Steve V said...


I've said it before, and I have NO doubt, whatever gains that THEORETICALLY could be gained on the economy, will be offset by our own performance. I'm not prepared to put my faith something which may not happen, or if it does, might not be bad enough to get out the pitchforks, and storm the Bastille.

Steve V said...


"He pointed out that even if economic growth were to be flat in both February and March, the annualized GDP growth for the first quarter of this year should be near one per cent, close to matching last quarter's 0.8 per cent advance."

Nobody believes the "wheels are coming of", which is the only scenario that could benefit the Libs, and even that is just guess work. We need more than waiting for some unknown to save us from ourselves, that's just craziness.

Anonymous said...

I guess hope springs eternal. maybe some Liberals are praying for a total economic collapse on the assumption that in a time of economic chaos - even if people don't like Stephane Dion - there is Bob Rae sitting there are the obvious man to lead Canada during an economic meltdown!!

Oxford County Liberals said...


This is the same polling outfit who had the Cons up by 8 a month ago when all others show a dead heat. This is also an online poll. Enough said.

I sent a query to Nanos about when he was doing his polling, and his folks are out in the field this weekend, meaning a poll shortly.

Let's see what "a real poll" says before we get all doom and gloomy, notwithstanding I agree with you on the abstaining business.

Steve V said...


Actually, there were two other firms that had the Cons up when this had a 8 point gap. Like I said, rarely has this poll been obnoxious, or completely out of step. People can look at the superficial, online poll, but they never seem to deal with FACTS, that being, in the two recent provincial elections that they polled, their numbers were MORE accurate than anybody. Everyone just ignores that, and carrys on with there online bias, with really nothing beyond that. I'd like more, if you expect my opinion to change.

And, if you agree with me on abstaining, why do you dispute a finding that supports what you believe?

Steve V said...

Nanos on abstaining:

"What it does is that it validates perceptions that Stéphane Dion is weak or that the Liberals are afraid to have an election. In a way, it validates the messaging that the Conservatives are trying to put out there in regards to Stéphane Dion and the Liberals. Every time the Liberals abstain from a particular confidence measure vote, the question becomes, what won't they abstain from? What is the breaking point for the Liberals?"

This poll validates what Nanos said, I doubt he would be surprised, given the above opinion.

Steve V said...

One more thing, NANOS does plenty of online polling. The horror ;)

Here's a good read on online polling:


Anonymous said...

What about the thousands and thousands of flyers, sent out by the Con party at taxpayers expense. They depict Dion as a loser and a liar. This couldn't have helped

Blogging Horse said...

Angus Reid Strategies' analysis said "Stephane Dion had the worst month of his tenue [in March]. The approval rating for Canada's opposition leader is 11 per cent, down 6 points since February."

But hold on! Only days ago, Liberals were crowing that March had been among Dion's BEST months, since he kept 2 GTA seats and flamed out in the two western ones.

As for the Tribe's jibes against Angus Reid's "on line polls": the largest daily paper in the country paid for this poll and ran it on the front page today (albeit south of the fold). Liberal bloggers aren't saying that the Toronto Star is paying money for bogus polls, are they?

Steve V said...


I wasn't one of them "crowing". I believe my words were "so-so, bordering on disappointing".

Anonymous said...

As an average liberal voter since the Trudeau days), this poll is unfortunately not far off the mark.

My partner and I are of the opinion that the Liberal's performance thus far is abysmal. (And we had such hope.) The net result of their failure to stand and be counted leaves us with little choice but to do likewise next election.

Anonymous said...

It is only human nature that people will attack what they do not like, and Angus Reid has had results showing worse results for the Libs than other polling outfits, so I am not shocked that it has been mostly Lib supporters who have questioned Angus Reid specifically and online polls in general.

Reading about their success rates lately is impressive, so they do have that going for them. Also, this poll passes with the CROP test.

I always laugh when a national polling firm releases results around the same time as CROP does for Quebec, but with radically different results. It is plain to see that if CROP has the Tories at 29%, they cannot possibly be at 19% in a national poll, who query less than a third of the people CROP does in Quebec.

So this poll passes the CROP test (26% versus CROP's 29% for the Tories, 21% versus 20% for the Libs), and is therefore probably pretty accurate.

Since I have fallen out of love with the Tories, this actually makes me mad, since I want an election to get some new ideas,new campaigns, and at least one new leader(preferably 2)

JG said...

One more thing from this poll, the Conservatives have moved well ahead of the Liberals in Quebec, they were previously in third.

The online issue aside (we can't really judge it without more info about the methodology), if this is a valid probability sample, it's a small one - only 1,007 voters, of which decided voters is a subset, and which yields very high margins of error within the regional numbers. So I wouldn't pay much attention to those (in fact, one should never look at the strata numbers too closely in this type of poll!).

That being said, these numbers don't surprise me (apart from the Liberals falling to third in the Atlantic provinces). The party has ceded the agenda of Parliament to Harper, giving him a de facto majority - this is unconscionable, and should tell Liberals that fighting for your principles and for your policy agenda is always the way to go, regardless of whether it results in an election.

So, grow a backbone already - I don't blame Dion in particular, but the party bigwigs as a whole.

Steve V said...

"it's a small one - only 1,007 voters, of which decided voters is a subset, and which yields very high margins of error within the regional numbers."

Agreed. A small point, the numbers for Que and Ont do have smaller margins of error than other regions, 6-7% isn't outlandish.

Gayle said...

My belief is if the liberals wait until the fall of 2009 for an election this will hurt them more.

If they get their s**t together and force the government to fall on an issue of their choosing they at least can say they brought the government down when an issue important enough to do so materialized.

That may be a small point to you, but I think if the liberals are going to adhere to this strategy, and it appears that they will, they are going to have to have an end game - a way out that redeems them. Waiting to 2009 will not do that.