800 adult Quebecers were asked for whom they would vote if a federal election were held today. Half of the sample (400 respondents) was then randomly selected to watch several advertisements, including a recent Tory attack. The other group was not shown any ads.
Voting intention, with opinion taken before and after half of the respondents shown ads:
Bloc 40% before 39% after
Liberals 33% before 34% after
Conservatives 13% before 13% after
NDP 11% before 10% after
In terms of voting intention, absolutely no impact, if anything the gap between the Bloc and Liberals narrows, the Conservatives receive no benefit.
Beyond voting intention, AR used a series of leadership questions to see if the ads had any impact on Ignatieff's standing. The conclusion was interesting, because while AR noted "slight" impact for Ignatieff, he still towered above the other leaders, the only one with positive momentum:
People will note, that there was no change in the "worsened" number, with slight change in the "improved column" moving to "stayed the same". From the pollster:
Respondents who had seen the Conservative ad were also less likely to say their opinion of Michael Ignatieff had improved (30%, compared to 39% for those who did not see the ad).
Regardless of whether respondents had seen the ad or not, the overall proportion of respondents who say their opinion of Michael Ignatieff has improved in the past four months (35%) is three times higher than any other federal leader (Layton 11%, Duceppe 10%, Harper 4%). The findings suggest that Ignatieff’s positive momentum in Quebec will likely withstand the current ad campaign by the Tories.
In sharp contrast, views on Stephen Harper continue to worsen in Quebec. Most Quebecers (56%) report that their opinion of the Prime Minister has worsened in the past four months, and strong majorities describe Harper as uncaring (60%), out of touch (59%) and arrogant (58%).
The pollster concludes the ads may "slow Liberal momentum, but don't stop it in Quebec".
There are many different questions asked, on various traits. The pollster notes that Ignatieff falls 7% on "openness" before and after. Noteworthy on one hand, but then again Gilles Duceppe also falls 7% on the same question, and last time I checked he wasn't in the Conservative attack ads. That type of quibble aside, the impact of these ads is catergorized as "slight". That small impact is magnified when one considers people were asked their response IMMEDIATELY after viewing the ad. People can argue the scientific worth or bias in that type of structure, but even with that, there isn't anything significant.
AR also polled where the Liberal vote surge is coming from, and they've found the vast majority comes from the Conservative and NDP support, with little inroads from Bloc voters:
The federal Liberal Party’s growth appears to be coming in large part from its ability to consolidate the federalist vote in Quebec. One-in-three respondents (35%) who voted for the Conservatives in the October 2008 federal election say they would vote Liberal this time and a quarter of NDP voters (24%) feels the same way. The Bloc Québécois appears to be doing a better job of retaining its vote share, with 91 per cent of respondents who voted for the Bloc in the last federal election saying they would do so again today.
In conclusion, the fact that Ignatieff enjoys a very positive momentum score, even after the immediate viewing of the ads, means the impact to date is marginal at best.