Michael Ignatieff is seen as starkly less patriotic than Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a new poll that suggests the Tories accurately put their finger on the Liberal Leader's vulnerabilities with a series of recent attack ads.
But while the survey comparing the two leaders reveals chinks in Mr. Ignatieff's armour, it also shows the public finds fault with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who voters say is more divisive, nasty and partisan in his approach than Mr. Ignatieff.
The Globe and Mail-CTV News survey shows opportunities abound for both sides to take advantage of the other's weaknesses among regions, gender and income groups.
The general mood of all the answers paints Harper as a more down to earth common man, and he does get the edge with the all important middle class. On the ad front, this poll confirms why the Conservatives chose this line of attack, as Ignatieff trails badly on patriotism. Interestingly, and this plays into something I've argued, these ads tend to feed the negative narratives about Harper, he is seen as far more partisan, nasty and political. It's an fascinating dynamic, while the ads could highlight an Ignatieff weakness, these findings show considerable risk for Harper, reinforcing his own achilles heel.
Generally, we've seen the Conservatives hold an edge on the "economic manager" front, although the Liberals have chipped into this advantage the past few months. It's natural for the governing party to hold an edge on this measure, because they are in charge, whereas the other party is simply theoretical. When you start to see the opposition party even with the government, it represents a serious problem:
When it comes to party preference, the two parties are close in who is viewed as best able to manage the economy, with the Tories ahead 26 per cent to 24 per cent, a gap that has narrowed from 11 points last August.
Even more than the Liberal number, the very low score for the Conservatives tells us they are really losing credibility with Canadians, on the most crucial of files. A full 50% didn't pick either party, which speaks to a real uncertainty. Given the pessimistic economic news we have been bombarded with, it's noteworthy that Ignatieff leads when it comes to ability to inspire. When Canadians see a pretty bleak outlook, challenges ahead, Ignatieff edge on this score could be an asset, as he might best be able to convey a better reality for the future.
One part of this poll omitted from this link, was an intriguing finding on where Canadians think Ignatieff sits on the political spectrum:
I would categorize the above as optimal positioning for Ignatieff moving forward.