Monday, March 30, 2009

"There Is No Good News In This Poll For The Conservative Party"

And, the pollster isn't kidding. About the only solace for Conservatives these days, despite losing their edge over the Liberals, is that the government has maintained some advantage on the critical question of economic management. Although recent polls have shown the Ignatieff led Liberals have made a sizeable dent on which party can most effectively deal with the economy, this measure is still seen as Harper's best, and last remaining advantage. The new Leger poll provides the first sample, which gives the Liberals a distinct lead on the economic front, along with confirming recent trends in Ontario and Quebec.

On the economy, these type of numbers would translate to a devastating blow to the Conservatives credibility:
Approximately 48% of citizens said they were "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with the measures adopted by the Government in these times of recession. In contrast, 40% of Canadians said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the measures taken by the Harper government. The "very satisfied" are only 6%.

When we look more in depth questions about the economy, we realize that Michael Ignatieff Stephen Harper dominates in all categories. Thus, the question, "between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff, in which you trust the most to implement effective measures to address the economic crisis?" 41% of Canadians preferred the Liberal leader, against 32% the Conservative leader. Same scenario for "helping Canadian workers through economic crisis", since 41% of citizens have more confidence in Michael Ignatieff, against 33% who prefer Stephen Harper.

Previously, I've argued that an opposition party and leader are well placed, so long as they remain within striking distance of the governing party, on these type of questions. Given that Harper is the "economist", Ignatieff largely unknown in terms of detail, that we see a poll with such a wide gap in favor of the Liberals, at this stage, is frankly devastating for the government.

In terms of the horserace, we see a tight race:
Libs 35%
Cons 34%
NDP 14%

Another poll which shows faltering NDP fortunes, as well as a decided uptick for the Liberals. The regionals provide even better news, clearly the Conservatives are benefitting from regional bloat, rather than a true "tie" in terms of electoral prospects.

In Ontario, a large Liberal lead, as well as further evidence of the NDP well down:
In Ontario, where 106 seats (of 308) make it an essential battleground, the Liberal Party is now well ahead with 45% of the vote, followed by PC (35%), NDP (12% ) and the Green Party (8%). La marge d'erreur du sondage dans cette province est de 4 %. The margin of sampling error in this province is 4%.

These numbers are quite similar to last week's NANOS poll. Particularly noteworthy, if this trend for the NDP continues, vote splitting will no longer be as much of a factor for the Liberals in Ontario, making a potential seat shift all the more pronounced.

In Quebec, another poll that gives the Liberals a strong number in the 30's, although Leger gives the Bloc a higher percentage, and the Conservatives are nowhere:
Bloc 42%
Libs 33%
Cons 12%

This might be on the low end for the Conservatives, given other findings, but this isn't the first poll to show a barely double digit finding, so it's not outlandish.

Leger concludes that "winning conditions" exist for the Liberals under Ignatieff. Of course, it's the campaign that matters, but given the recent spate of polling, we are well placed. Those economic numbers are beyond anything one could reasonably expect, even if they are in error to some degree, it's still a discouraging brew for the government. Swallow hard.


Gayle said...

Now I know why Janke is obsessing about Rae's leadership debt.

Steve V said...


I guess the good news, Steve will be well schooled when his party has their leadership race ;)

RuralSandi said...

O/T but I thought it fitting. The "Style" section of HuffPo says bushy eyebrows are coming back.

Tof KW said...

Not entirely scientific, but if you punch these Leger numbers into the Hill and Knowlton seat projector these are the results:

Lib - 137
Con - 106
NDP - 17
BQ - 47
Ind - 1

If this isn't bad enough news for the Reformatories, the seat projector really doesn't do a good job of the regional differences. If the Leger numbers are accurate, I would expect the Libs to do much better in Quebec than the H-K projector shows, meaning even with their national 35% the LPC could possibly get up to 140-145 ridings if the election was held today. These are definitely good numbers for the Libs if they can maintain this trend.

The only real bad news here is the Bloc really doesn't lose their overall seat numbers. The ones the Libs pick up from the BQ around Montreal & the southern counties are countered by the Con ridings around la ville du Quebec that the BQ would likely win.

I'm also happy to see the NDP's numbers drop to almost half their seats in the current parliament. I know Layton enough from his municipal days in TO, and it is good to see the rest of Canada now sharing my feelings about him. I hope these NDP numbers hold true whenever the next election is held.

Steve V said...

Those are great numbers. As far as reliability, these Leger numbers aren't much different from last week's NANOS.


Good to know :)

Anonymous said...

The numbers offered by Hill and Knowlton are realistic in that the Grits feast off the Cons and the Dippers in a re-run of 2004. It will not be a good campaign for Harper on the buses.

I will focus on the NDP losses on this blogpost. 17 means that Olivia, Jack Harris, Savoie, and the whole Northern Ontario caucus with the exception of Angus lose their seats. It means the Grits win head to head races against the NDP in the Lower Mainland. The BC organization needs major rebuilding after the carbon tax debacle in 2008 and it may take two elections for this to happen.

Still the Cons deserve to be worry but like Peterborough and Accidental Deliberations would say, too early to write off Jack. This from a guy who is turned off him.

Steve V said...

There's a difference between writing someone off and simply recognizing their obstacles. It's just a simple fact, Layton is now the least popular he's been since he took the reigns. The NDP are currently invisible in the national dialogue, as a result of the horrible budget handling. The NDP attacks are not resonating with anyone, besides hardcore partisans. Those are objective facts, borne out in the numbers and the sentiment we hear. Having said that, the NDP and Layton have proven time and time again to be resilient, and they've been written off before, so they could turn it around. The one problem moving forward, they no longer have the benefit of a perceived weak official opposition, rightly or wrongly, that dynamic doesn't really exist at the moment. If I could highlight one possible strategy, it would be to try and position the Liberals as Harper lite, siphon off our left flank. By all accounts, it's NDP support that's drifting to the Liberals, which is interesting, given the supposed move to the "center". Whether that can change, once we get into focus and people really look at direction, remains to be seen. I would categorize it as down, not out, but don't pretend the down isn't real or a threat.

Gayle said...

I am not sure it is all about the way the NDP handled the budget. I think people are just tired of Harper, and recognize they have to vote strategically in order to get rid of him.

Couple that with the fact that Iggy is perceived as being more competent than Dion, and the NDP lose support.

Steve V said...


Layton's negatives soared after the budget debate. Also, every sample I saw that asked about the budget, gave the NDP very poor marks for their handling.

Some of it might be strategic, but I don't think there's any question that the failure to read the mood of the country is a primary reason for this drop. It also serves as Ignatieff's starting off point, in terms of credibility.

Tof KW said...

I dunno I have to agree with Gayle, the NDP's drop is due to a number of factors. Though there is no doubt that panning the budget without even reading it was a terrible move by the NDP, it was definitely against the mood of the nation. Ignatieff being perceived as a stronger leader than Dion is part of the equation too.

Another factor which I don't think is mentioned much is simply that the NDP isn't the party most people would consider to be tops in getting the country out of a deep recession. Really, does anyone (other than partisan NDPers) think the best solution now is to collect more taxes from the banks and give the CAW more power? It sure brings back memories of Rae-days for me.

No offence meant to Bob Rae, who I thought had potential to be a great premier. His main problem was the lack of depth in a caucus filled mainly with die-hard NDP automatons. Kinda like Harper’s problems finding good help within a party filled with Neanderthals.

Regardless of why, the NDP is being brought down to earth, but I fully agree they should never be written off. The NDP has been around 12% and lower in the past, and they always boost their numbers whenever the actual ballots are counted.

Anonymous said...

"If I could highlight one possible strategy, it would be to try and position the Liberals as Harper lite, siphon off our left flank."

The Dippers have been successful siphoning our left flank since 2006 against a rightist Paul Martin and a leftist Dion. Layton is now playing with diminishing returns because the Grits can't get worse than 70 something seats.

"I think people are just tired of Harper, and recognize they have to vote strategically in order to get rid of him."

If voting strategically is in the equation, then the Cons could win a slight minority in a hung parliament. Similar to the 1999 election in Ontario where Harris won a razor thin majority because the NDP support went to boost Dalton.

"Really, does anyone (other than partisan NDPers) think the best solution now is to collect more taxes from the banks and give the CAW more power?"

To kill off Dion, Layton attacked one of the most progressive piece of policy in recent times, the carbon tax. Now there are more working class, 4X4 driving moose hunters than ever before. That the Dippers are trying to attack the more urbane Iggy than trying to outflank the agrarian so-cons Harperites remain a surprise for me. No wonder the Dippers are running fourth in some areas of commuter belt Southern Ontario.