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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Good News for Dion

More good news for Stephane Dion and his recent leadership victory! The recent EKOS Research Poll for LaPresse and the Toronto Star is reconfirming his early traction as the new Liberal leader and as Her Majesty’s Official Opposition.

Dion’s Liberals have 40.1% support, a 10 point bump compared to the 30.2% they had in the January 2006 election. The Cons are at 33.5% compared to 36.3 % they had at the last election. The NDP are down over 7 points to 10.2% and the Greens are up over 3 points to 7.6% today.

The post convention Liberal bump is to be expected given the media coverage these events generate. Will it last? Time will tell. The Cons better start hoping it is just a short attention span bump and not a change of mind and heart shift to the Liberals by Canadians.

The Cons can rest assured in Alberta where they dominate with 59.5% support. The Greens are strong in Quebec all of a sudden with 12.1%, putting them ahead of the NDP and only 6 points behind the Cons. We still have the Alberta Green support with a counterintuitive 7.2% almost a full point ahead of BC. Go figure!

Some of the details are interesting given the approaching election and the pre-Christmas political entry into the “Red Zone” of election preparedness. Last January when Harper formed government 49% said Canada was heading in the right direction with 26% saying the opposite and 25% saying they did not know. Today Harper is seen as on the right track by a consistent 48%. The dramatic change is today only 10% don’t have an opinion and a full 43% think the Government of Canada is headed in the wrong direction. Momentum is pushing up against the Harper Cons.

As for Driving Issues in an election, comparing the pre-January 2006 election period to now we still see the social issues dominate for health and education but it dropped 10 points to 23%. The #2 issue for Canada is still fiscal issues like the economy and debt and taxes now at 18% but that is down 3 points in the year.

The dramatic emerging trend change in the year is on the environment which is #3 priority, but jumping up 9 points to 15% in the past year. The really scary statistic for campaign planners is the startling changes in the vague “Other” issues category now at 18% up from 4% a year ago. Change is in the air.

The Gomery corruption issue is past. Canadians have moved on. Issues of ethics and accountability in a year fell from 15% to 3% saying it was the most important issue to them in deciding who to vote for. This does not take the Liberals out of the penalty box but the outlook for Dion is promising.

The opinions of who “gets it” in certain key policy areas is where the Conservatives have to worry. They dominate on the fiscal side which is the #2 issue with 48% of Canadians trusting them to offer the best solutions. The decision on Income Trusts I think really helped the Conservatives here. The Liberals trailing way back at 23% support on the fiscal agenda. Guess what the Conservatives will start to reinforce and try to make the ballot box question in the forthcoming election.

The #1 and #4 issues being social policy and foreign policy/Afghanistan, the Liberals dominate with 27% and 38% trusting them respectively. I guess “Steve” and “Dubya” being “an item” does not matter anymore to Canadians.

The #3 issue is the environment and it likely has momentum to grow in importance. Only 9% do not have an opinion on which Party they will support to solve environmental issues. Here the Greens win with 35%, followed by the Liberals at 31% and the Conservatives are at a mere 4% support as the guys who “get” the environmental concerns. The NDP have only 13% support and seem to have lost this issue to the Greens and the Liberals.

Based on perceptions Harper is still “The Man” beating Dion by 4 or 5 points on questions of making the best Prime Minister, best vision of the future of Canada, and best understanding of Canadians. What has to chill the blood of the Harper Cons is he has been the Prime Minister for almost a year and Dion is this close to him after only a week on the job as Leader of the Opposition. OUCH! Change is in the air.