Monday, September 11, 2006

The Devil is in the Dynamics

There was another Ipsos Reid poll on the PC Leadership done for the Calgary Herald last week. Bloggers like Daveberta are “having at it” now.

Most of the comments on the poll results are valid but there is more to consider in any results analysis. For example the poll does not ask respondents if they are PC party members or if they intend to become one. William McBeath of the Morton campaign correctly comments on Daveberta saying who cares what non-party members say – they will not be making the final choices.

True enough but these results still have some inherent strategic value. One of the big ballot questions for PC members will about the elect-ability of the next leader. Ipsos Reid gives us some indication of the candidate elect-ability perceptions of Albertans. They do not predict by show some relative candidate preferences and perceptions.

To the public, this leadership campaign is just starting and we know campaigns do make a difference. Look at the changes in public perceptions between the “scary” Harper of 2004 vs. the 2006 guy who was seen worthy of taking a chance on. Mulroney lead the federal PC to largest majority in the history of the country and left a party able to retrain only two seats one election later. The last provincial election saw tens of thousands of PC supporters stay home and about 70,000 others voter for the Alliance Party. Campaigns matter. In election campaigns the devil is in the dynamics as much as the details

We can glean of some possible voter dynamics by comparing the two related Ipsos Reid polls of September 6 and June 23, 2006. Let’s look at the front runners and some of the results differences from both polls. The first number for each candidate is for September then June and the difference.

Dinning 54% 54% 0
Oberg 48% 48% 0
Hancock 44% 39% +5%

Who would do the Best Job as Premier?
Dinning 26% 28% -2
Oberg 21% 23% -2
Hancock 06% 09% -3

None of the Above
Or Don’t Know 29% 27% +2

The “best job” candidate confidence level actually falls for all three of the top choices and the uncertainty level grows to exceed any one candidate. Dinning and Oberg have been in the media virtually every day between June and September but show no growth in favourable perceptions. Hancock has been comparatively invisible in the media by comparison but his favourable perceptions jump 5 points.

One has to ask if all the hype, media fawning and big money of Dinning and Oberg are doing them any good. Apparently, not comparing these results! But two poll results do not make a trend line obviously. We know the Alberta voter is grumpy and potentially very volatile. They can, and do, turn quickly and can change dramatically. Look at the last Edmonton civic election when the distant third place long shot, Stephen Mandel come out winning handily against the two presumptive front runners. We can’t predict a damn thing on these current polls results. We can sense that change is in the air, campaigns matter - and this campaign is far from over.