Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Canada - We Have a Horse Race.

Now that the media hype is off the Liberal Leadership contest and the post convention polling “bump” is past. The open question was, and still is to some degree, who is Stephane Dion and what is he all about? The polls showed that he has some benefit of the doubt as a potential leader but there was a significant amount of “Don’t know” like 24% in the post convention days. Those people could go either way over time.

The Cons have been able to garner attention as of late with the MSM coverage of the “pending Cabinet Shuffle” and the Libs have gone a bit quiet at the same time. That said there is a new Decima poll out today in the Toronto Star with some interesting and more realistic results because the field work was done between Christmas and New Years with 1012 participants.

The Cons and Libs are in a “dead heat” according to the headline because the standings are 34% and 31% respectively, which is within the 3.1% margin of error.

The breakdown tables are not yet on the Decima website because the story is the Canadian Press “exclusive.” The reported shifts are important with the Cons at 14% behind the Libs with 27% in Quebec where the Bloc reigns at 41%. Dion is not the pariah to Quebecers the Cons hoped he would be and so much of the MSM predicted.

The Cons at 35% are behind the Libs at 40% in Ontario too. The story notes the rebound of the Cons in the west and speculates they have overcome “the negative fallout” from the broken promise over Income Trusts. That was some of the best policy and political work the Harper Cons have done this year. It took courage and character to do the right thing and besides the markets overall have more that recovered the “Halloween Hit” for the Income Trust decision.

The demographic differences are striking. The Cons are supported by men and rural voters while the Libs are preferred by females and urbanites. Both parties have to broaden their reach and appeal without jeopardizing their base. The credibility of such efforts will be the key. Anyone can make policy announcements that attract the attention of a broader demographic. Can they do it authentically and with credibility? That is the trick.

For some more context, an Ipsos Reid poll last May pegged the Cons at 43% (down 9 points today) Libs at 25% (up 6 points) NDP still steady at 15% the Bloc with 9% (up 1 today) and the Greens at 5% (up 3points today). The sands between the Cons and Libs are shifting as they are between the NDP and the Greens.

Will the Harper shuffle get his team back on the up side or will it give him “a dead cat bounce” like the stock market…a short unsustainable up tick!