Thursday, October 08, 2009


All the usual caveats aside, the polling numbers are beyond BAD for the Liberals. The latest EKOS poll brings the extraordinary, Liberals now behind the Conservatives in Quebec. Nationally, a massive 14% gap:
Cons 39.7%
Libs 25.7%
NDP 15.2%
Greens 9.7%

Further erosion:
Conservative support was up 3.7 percentage points from a poll released last week, while Liberal support was off by four points. The NDP's support was up by 1.3 points, the Green Party was off by 0.8 points and the Bloc slipped by 0.1.

What is particularly noteworthy for the Liberals, the Coderre mess has clearly hurt the party in Quebec. Whether it is a temporary blip remains to be seen, but I can't remember the last time the Liberals polled this badly, behind the Conservatives:
Bloc 38.7%
Cons 22.2%
Libs 21%
NDP 9.7%
NDP 8.4%

Let's wait a few weeks to see if this is a real trend, but no matter, it's alarming to say the least.

Ontario shows a large Conservative lead:
Cons 43.8%
Libs 32.5%
NDP 13.9%
Greens 9.7%

Bad numbers for both the Liberals and NDP. I will say this about Ontario, a belief I've articulated for sometime- it's volatile, support is soft. It wasn't to long ago that the numbers were the same in reverse, a dynamic that held for a couple of months. What this shift tells us, there is a large pool of voters that are easily swayed, no party commands "solid" support. It's for this reason that the Liberals can regain their footing with the right strategy. However, that potential doesn't distract from the present reality, these numbers mean a Conservative majority, amazing when one considers Ontario as economic ground zero.

The Liberals have clearly faded in British Columbia, they run a close second in Atlantic Canada, in fact they lead nowhere in the country.

Ignatieff's approval/disapproval numbers are Dion-like, while Harper is actually getting more traction. What once was an asset, Ignatieff is now a drag on the Liberal brand. Safe to say, the ad campaign wasn't effective, or maybe more correctly, completely overshadowed by events in Ottawa and elsewhere.

A snapshot in time, but it's an ugly landscape to be sure.


Steve V said...

To any one octave haters or Con apologists, let me just give a hearty YAWN in advance.

Top Can said...

I know YAWNing is a popular reaction for Liberals every time they are down in the polls. But poll after poll so far has shown the Grits to be behind. Sooner of later, those YAWNs are going to be replaced by cries of concern.

DL said...

"What is particularly noteworthy for the Liberals, the Coderre mess has clearly hurt the party in Quebec. Whether it is a temporary blip remains to be seen, but I can't remember the last time the Liberals polled this badly, behind the Conservatives"

I remember it very well - during the entire period from after the 2006 election to about the end of the 2008 election campaign, the Tories were consistently ahead of the Liberals in Quebec.

Its really extraordinary what a total fiasco the Liberal strategy has been - starting with saying "we will vote down the government and force an election" without having any issue - followed by how the Outremont nomination kefuffle was allowed to go from being a tempest in a teapot to being a category 5 tornado!

...and whatever happened to the "trial balloon" that some Liberal bloggers were trying to float about major splits in the NDP and Mulcair plotting to seize control?? Was it ever true in the first place or was it a projection metaphor for all the fratricidal conflict in the Liberal party?

Robert McClelland said...

let me just give a hearty YAWN in advance.

Just a thought, but perhaps you should do a little less yawning and a little more listening.

Unknown said...

I think Liberals are down in Ontario and BC due to the HST plans. I don't think most people separate the provincial and federal parties, which is quite understandable.

For about 2 months now I've been expecting a poison pill from the government. It's coming, and soon. There's never been a better time. And I don't put stock in any argument that a poison pill will work against Conservative popularity.

DL said...

So just to play with hypothetical situations, what if Harper goes ahead and brings in enabling legislation for the HST in the coming weeks. The Liberals support the HST, but Iggy says that no matter what the vote is about, the Liberals will vote no on any and all confidence matters (which an HST vote would have to be). Do the Liberals vote down the government over something that they support? or do they make an exception to their rule? If Iggy commands the lemmings in the Liberal caucus to run off a cliff do they all follow???

Gayle said...

Not surprising given the relentless negative media coverage these past few weeks.

Biggest concern for me are the internal divisions being made public - again. You would think they would have learned their lesson last time.

Hard to pity Ignatieff given his conduct while Dion was leader, but maybe the caucus could just support the guy - considering they were the ones who wanted Ignatieff in the first place.

At the same time, Ignatieff simply has to make some changes in his advisors. It is now beyond whether or not they should take some of the blame - the problem is they are taking the blame. Time to move on.

Gayle said...

Did the liberals say they support the HST, or did they say they would honour Harper's arrangement with McGuinty?

I seem to recall Ignatieff speaking out against these piecemeal deals between the feds and the provinces

Mark Richard Francis said...

I agree that people tend to have a hard time differentiating between the Federal and provincial Liberals, even in BC, where the Liberals there are really the Conservatives.

Martin was handed a minority government in part because Liberal McGuinty introduced the health tax on top of a federal election.

In my many 'donut shop' discussions, this is what I have found.

This may also help explain the tradition of Ontario mainly keeping a different party in Ottawa than it keeps in Queen's Park.

A Eliz. said...

I think it is a mixture, Harper's Ringo tune, people going ga ga.
Coderre, may be part of it, but the media is a great fault. To be lower than Dion, with the media blasting him, it does no seem right, that Ignatieff should be lower, although the Con ads are getting to people..also the ads about their Stimulus spending.Anyone can tell it is from the Conservative party.
The ottawa media are greatly at fault

Robert McClelland said...

Biggest concern for me are the internal divisions being made public - again. You would think they would have learned their lesson last time.

You can't learn until you first admit there's a problem. I mentioned to several liberal bloggers in the early part of this year that this was going to happen to Ignatieff just like it did to Martin and Dion. Steve was one of them and his response was to call me a moron. While Steve and I are relative nobodies in the grand scheme of things, his response to my warning is indicative of Liberals in general these days.

sharonapple88 said...

Just a thought, but perhaps you should do a little less yawning and a little more listening.

Steve V made it clear he's yawning at the partisan supporters. There are obvious biases involved. Let's face it, a new party could arise with a Frankensteinish combination of Jesus Christ, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Buddha, Abraham Lincoln, Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and Martin Luther King at the helm; but Liberals, NDPers, and Conservatives will probably stay with their original party and start cursing out the new guy.

Back to the topic at hand, there was an interesting point in the Age of Empathy by Frans de Waal that the Liberals should take to heart -- people are interested in justice because they want peace, and it's peace that people want above everything else. It's hard to trust a party can maintain order when it seems happy to self-destruct. To stop the bleed, the party has to stop shooting itself in the foot and work together (anyone feel like singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream").

As for the HST... thankfully it's a poison pill that can hurt the Conservatives as well.

Jennifer Smith said...

I'm probably going to get fired for this, but I'm really starting to wonder if the best thing for the Liberals might just be to resign itself to being in opposition for a few more years.

I'm not trying to be defeatist (really!). It just seems to me that the constant obsession with strategy and positioning and polls is killing any sane, long-term policy ideas as soon as they surface.

That, and saddling us with leaders chosen on the basis of 'winnability' instead of leadership.

If the party just covered their collective ears when the polls came out and (temporarily) gave up trying to 'win', they might start coming up with GOOD ideas instead of just the ones they think they can sell.

THAT would be a party Canadians could get behind.

ottlib said...

Gee, the Liberals find themselves in a similar position as the Conservatives were in October 2005. The media is saying the same things about the Liberals now as they were saying about the Conservatives then.

It is the same media narrative as then just the names have changed.

Jennifer, for the first time in a very long time the Liberal Party brain trust has actually put aside short-term political strategy. Adopting a strategy that could have resulted in an election less than a year after the last one was bound to be unpopular in the short-term. But it will pay dividends in the medium to long-term.

I have actually been quite impressed with the Party during this month. They have finally stopped trying to impress a media that has been hostile to them for years. Instead they are going about the business of preparing for the next election.

Hopefully, these recent polls do not spook them into changing that.

MKL said...

I’m reminded of something I read from Eddie Goldenberg.

“Reaching out to Martin was an essential first step. But an Opposition-party needs more than just caucus unity to present to the Canadian public. Its policy positions are fundamental to establishing the credibility necessary to have a chance of winning an election. When I joined the office of the leader of the Opposition at the end of June 1990, I was profoundly disturbed by what I found. The Liberal Party had assumed a classic Opposition party mentality, whereby everything, at least superficially, was black and white and consequently easy. The government of the day was the adversary; it was always wrong, and a change in government was all that was needed to reverse direction and make the country better once again.”

Seems like the party has the same problems today.

Give us some policy!

RuralSandi said...

Steve V - Ignatieff isn't yawning. When asked by the media - he admitted having problems and is going to work harder to change that.

You can't fix a problem until you admit you have one

By the way folks - read Norman Spector in the Globe and Mail today - very interesing.

DivaRachel said...

Are we not exactly where we were exactly 1 year ago @ the last election? This does not mean a Con majority. It just means status quo.

Steve V said...

I'm not yawning at these numbers, I believe the "yikes" speaks for itself. However, what Robert the loon, or kneejerk Iggy haters, or Cons apologists think is really irrelevant. What I mean by that, when the polls showed us doing well in the spring it was either ignored, scoffed at or not credit was given. That lack of balance- I comment on all of it, GOOD and BAD- makes this type of commentary and or ADVICE worthless. Liberals needn't concern themselves with small minded partisans that run around the blogs like they actually matter. I don't take it seriously, nor do I manage to read entire comments, it's a waste of time. I can't express how intellectually boring I find it all.

What I do think, the Liberals had better heed these numbers and do some sober second analysis. It sounds like Ignatieff is under no illusions, which is good, but the status quo won't do it. We need bold ideas, we need to stop fearing how the Cons will react, we need to make our own news and fiercely fight to protect our ideas.

Steve V said...

On the bored out of my skull front, here's a perfect example. Uber conservative apologist Janke linked to my post concerning "bold ideas", to further his own view that the Liberals are in trouble. So, here you have an honest assessment, that doesn't simply want to parrot partisan rhetoric, and it's seized on by a parrot partisan to score some points. Then the question becomes, do you self censor because you know the pool you swim in, or do you speak your mind? Is it better to act like an NDP hack, and not admit the most obvious of strategic decisions, even when it betrays the most basic of logic and is embarrassing in it's denial, or is a bit of honesty more refreshing? Why in the world would anyone take the criticism of any complete HACK at face value, why is that worthy or consideration? Being called a hyper-partisan by a hyper-partisan, that has demonstrated ZERO capacity to show the slightest objective analysis, is both hilarious and BORING.

I await one post from Steve Janke where he dares question anything the Cons do. If memory serves, last spring when every pundit was writing Harper's obituary, no ONE comment that appreciated the reality.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Way I see it, the Grits gotta jump on a horse an' ride it if they wanna win the race. Right now, most Canajuns couldn't tell you the difference between Grit an' Con policy. The Grits spent the last year proppin' up the Cons an' their policies so most folks figger they're sorta like peas in a pod... an' who can blame 'em? The Grits ain't been stumpin' on Grit policy or on how Grit policy is different (and better) than Con policy.

The Libs gotta good opportunity comin' up. An article just went up at the Globe: 'bout how the HoC is gonna debate Canada's post 2011 role in Afghanistan.

Canajuns are sick an' tired of this senseless war. Shee-it! Even the war-lovin' Merkans are danged skeptical about gettin' more involved./ Canajuns figger we've done our part. Canajuns ain't gonna believe the Cons sayin' we can shift over to development and training roles come 2011. That's what we been tryin' to do fer years. Manley's report said we should be shiftin' an' we been trryin' to shift but securrity is so low that we just can't get out of the shootin', killin' an' dyin' part of the mission. That ain't about to change when the calendar says 2011.

If the Grits wanna win, they gotta latch on to a winning issue tha the Con's can't ridicule, dismiss or steal out from under 'em. From where I'm sittin', that issue is haulin' ass outta Afstan completely in 2011.

Canajuns is bored with economics... all them numbers an' we know we're at the mercy of the world economy anyways. Canajuns ain't been too keen to jump on the Con's shortcomings. The Con's been dumbasses on the environment, on human rights, on the economy, on climate change an' the Grits have tried and failed to make hay.

Personally, I don't think we should ever have gone into Afstan but we did. Even those who did agree with the mission figger we've done our share. The Con's wanna keep us there for a few decades and it's time a credible party draws a line in the sand an' sez enough is enough.

Too bad for the Grits that you got such a hawk fer a leader but even Iggy should be able to see the futility that a majority of Canajuns has accepted. It's a big issue. It's a winning issue.


Gayle said...

I agree with JB.

Steve V said...

Can't really see that tract with this leader, he comes by his commitment honestly. I do agree though JB.

Omar said...

"Read our lips, the mission ends in 2011!" That little ditty, repeated ad nauseum by the Conservatives, will likely be enough to subjugate the mindless masses into complacency regarding this Afghan excursion. Canadians supposedly say they are against this war, but we don't seem terribly up in arms about our participation in it. When was the last demonstration against it? I personally don't believe it is the 'line in the sand' issue JB makes it out to be.

Steve V said...


I think you raise a valid point on the passive indifference. Sure, we say we want out now, but there is really no debate, nor does there seem to be any passion. The issue barely registers on any survey, despite the supposed resistance. It's a very strange dynamic.

Unknown said...

as long at the Montreal Gazoo & english talk radio is pro-Harper (groan!) - the Liberals will have a hard time even getting the english votes.

DL said...

Well, well, well, what a difference a couple of weeks and a couple of polls make. Just two weeks ago, Ignatieff was bragging that the Liberals wanted to fast track the EI bill so that the NDP would have no "alibi" for not supporting the Liberal confidence motion. Today all of a sudden, the NDP was trying desperately to have the bill fast-tracked as quickly as possible and guess who refused to agree to the fast tracking and instead wants to bill to take as long as possible to pass? - The Liberals!!

What happened? Surely the Liberals aren't having second thoughts of forcing an election this fall?

leftdog said...

Still want an election?

Steve V said...


You can hardly fault the Liberals for doing exactly what the NDP have done. What you fail to recognize, nobody was necessarily criticizing the NDP strategy, or the validation, just the hypocrisy of the holier than thou, we do "principle first" nonsense that side spews. It was always about being the same, so if the Libs are playing the same game, well we already acknowledge that reality(unlike some people)


About as much as you clowns ;) At least we can admit it, cough, cough. Hack away boreasaurus, hack away.

Gayle said...

Maybe the seeming indifference to the war is because people are happy with the committment to 2011. Will they be happy with an extension though?

Steve V said...

Maybe, but even that debate was pretty low key overall. It never seems to get to a visceral level, it's just superficial non-support. I don't really get it frankly.

Omar said...

Maybe soldiers are not dying in significant enough numbers to significantly harden our feelings against the war? 130 combat deaths in 8 years? In the grand scheme of things (and compared to our past wartime involvements) that number is miniscule. When confronted with news of soldiers deaths in this particular conflict, we momentarily share the obligatory grief, collectively yawn, then get on with our lives. It's beyond sad.

Steve V said...

As an aside, what an amazing hoot, to watch NDP hacks publicizing this poll, in some bizarre attempt to show Liberal weakness. For the record, this poll equates to 24 seats for the NDP, a loss of over a third. The Liberals stay where they are, any losses are offset by gains at the NDP expense.

The laughs keep coming.

Tof KW said...

leftdog said...
Still want an election?
. . .
If it bankrupts the NDP, you betcha. As an added bonus, maybe the thought of Harper winning a majority and killing all that the NDP holds dear will teach you to start attacking the real enemy and stop this stupid p!$$ing contest you've got going with the Grit bloggers. BTW, re-read Steve's post above ...the numbers in that Ekos poll do indicate a drop of up to 10 NDP seats.

Tomm said...

On Afghanistan Jim Bobby is right, but it is likely that Omar is even more right (?).

The Tories got the Manley Commission to give them a recommendation (smart) put the thing to a vote in the House (smarter) and now say ad nauseum that the House has spoken and that is what they will do. They have taken a foreign war, which should be a government killing issue and neutralized it.

In fact, because of the CPC photo ops with the military, are even basking in the glow of the patriotism.

So to summarize, they have taken an issue that should have destroyed them and turned it inside out.

Harper will be consdiered a hero for setting the precedent of making soldier deployment decisions so important that they should be enacted by parliament and not the Cabinet.

And who said the man can't play chess.

Tomm said...

My advice to the Liberals.

1. Don't replace Ignatieff, just hunker down and weather the storm.

2. If things don't rebound quickly, look humble and hunker down and weather the storm.

3. Hold a policy conference, a real policy conference and build platform planks from the results. Nobody should care what the planks are as long as they are universally fair and different from the Conservative planks. They should cover a range of issues.

4. Quit trying to drop the government. Be conciliatory and helpful with amendments and suggestions.

5. When the brand has rebounded in 2010 or maybe even later, then quietly wait for the one issue they want to run an election on, set a trap and pounce. They may still be behind by 5% or even more, but its all the Liberal's can expect on short notice.

6. Don't worry if you lose. Just continue to build saleable policy. Depending how Ignatieff has matured and if he still wishes to be leader, consider keeping him. Revolving door leadership is not a winning idea.

7. Liberal's sell the year off as the year they wandered in the wilderness as per Canadian's wishes. The penance will play well with the people who will likely be less pleased with a Conservative government if there are scandals or some hardline right wing shadows.

For what its worth.

Jennifer Smith said...

Tomm - Sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

Good Advice, Tomm.