Monday, November 13, 2006

This Race is Far From Over - But Who Gets to the Second Ballot?

Ipsos Reid has done an interesting poll on the PC Leadership recently. They have not been asking who you would vote for but rather how favourable or unfavourable is your “impression” of each candidate.

Asking who you will vote for is so changeable and volatile and influenced by extraneous and often meaningless influences. Name recognition and recent media coverage can drive impulse answers and not necessarily reflect actual voting behaviours.

Asking favourable or unfavourable impressions generates more reflective, qualitative and evaluative responses about candidates. Not perfect but more informative of what people are “feeling” about candidates.

Our web based Policy Channel Survey “Send ‘Em a Message” asks for a deeper level of your thought about candidates. We ask how likely is it that you would recommend each candidate to friends and family. Now participants are more invested in their answers because they reflect back on themselves not just the candidates. Not perfect either but we get more than impressions and feelings, we introduced a personal reputation risk element when we ask for candidate recommendations

The comparison in results is difficult to make but here are the findings from each survey. Remember the Policy Channel “Send ‘Em a Message” results are not scientific because it is web based with self selecting participants but not random.

The first number is the Ipsos Reid Very Favourable and Somewhat Favourable aggregate percentages.

The second number is the Policy Channel Somewhat Likely, Very Likely and Extremely Likely to Recommend aggregate percentages.

Dinning: 56% 56%
Hancock 40% 65%
Stelmach 39% 43%

Norris 35% 25%
McPherson 30% 20%

Oberg 44% 17%
Morton 34% 13%
Doerksen 28% 19%

Dinning has the same level based on impressions and the likelihood of recommended to friends and family. Hancock and Stelmach are more highly regarded when one risks personal reputation by making a recommendations to friends and family. All other candidates are not as likely to be viewed as favourably when one has to “invest” or “risk” personal reputation through a candidate recommendation.

When the Ipsos Reid’s “Not Very Favourable” and “Not At All Favourable” impressions are aggregated then Oberg, Doerksen and Morton leave bad impressions with the most people, 38%, 36% and 35% respectively. The “best of a bad lot” winners are still Dinning, Stelmach and Hancock with Norris and McPherson in the middle again.

If Albertans start to think seriously about this campaign and about the characters of the people to whom they should grant their consent to be government then we could see a different outcome. Different at least than the conventional media wisdom and pundit wizardry is now suggesting.

Will that happen? The earlier Ipsos Reid poll said only 30% of current card carrying PC’s intended to vote in this selection process. Scary at so many levels. Nobody really knows what is going to happen. Citizens can show up to vote with $5 and a drivers license and decide on the spot who to support.

There is obviously a real potential a high jacking of this leadership selection process by a well organized special interest group if ordinary citizens do not engage. But that is democracy and we always get the government and governors we deserve. The Progressive Conservative brand is at stake here as well...just as it ought to be in a leadership contest.

Next posting will be on strategic voting and what group of candidates going through to the second ballot will be best for Alberta.