Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Harper Gets to Surge in a Poll...Bush is Still Waiting to Surge in Iraq

A BANNER HEADLINE IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL PROCLAIMS A TORY “SURGE.” Is anyone still surprised that Harper’s political hero and mentor is George W. Bush? Now Harper is intent on outdoing the “Dubya” by having his “surge” first… while the “Decider” is still waiting for his “permission slip” from Congress so he can have his Iraq troop “surge.”

This new Globe and Mail / CTV poll is just daring Steve to call an election. Let’s look at the ploy. The poll of 1000 Canadians done between Dec 15-18, with 3.1% margin of error, shows Harper has 36% versus Dion’s 18% indicating he “would do the best job of Prime Minister.” Layton is a respectable 16% but the real story is 23% undecided. Let’s put some context on this support.

Harper has been a federal party leader for almost 5 years, since March 20, 2002 when he took over the Alliance Party in a decisive first ballot victory from Stockwell Day. He has been Prime Minister for over a year in some of Canada’s most uncertain times. When this poll was taken Dion has been the leader of the Liberal Party, winning on the fourth ballot for a grand total of 75 DAYS, including political hothouse times of Christmas and New Year.

Smilin’ Jack Layton has been the NDP leader more than four years again winning with a first ballot victory on January 25, 2003. He is Mr. Charismatic winning that most meaningless of political questions at 36% nosing out Harper by a point. Harper has to be asking himself, “What is a poor economist to do to after five years to make people warm to him?”

The recent performances of the Liberal party under Chr├ętien and Martin have not been confidence builders by any stretch. The 36% support for Harper is amazing…amazingly low under the circumstance. The 18% for Dion is also amazing…amazing he has that much support at all when he is virtually unknown, leading a disgraced party who is still in the political penalty box in the mind of Canadians.

On name recognition alone one would expect Harper to be a big winner…”the devil you know.” The most important number on this question…again the 23% undecided. That should scare the “beejeezez” out of Harper and give Dion a glimmer of hope. Remember campaigns matter.

The headline reporting on this poll is a pure ploy to bait Harper into an ego driven early election. I say this because the headline is a misdirection of the poll results as a whole. The real story was on A7 of the Globe and Mail. Taking the 3.1% margin of error in context the critical political questions show a statistical tie.

The key question of “…how would you vote today” has the Cons (34) and Libs (29) still in a statistical tie. “Who do you identify with the most,” Cons (27) Libs (28) another statistical tie. The statistical tie story is the same on questions of who would govern best, manage the economy best and deal with the environment and global warming. About 25% of Canadians are undecided on each of these questions…that is the real story here.

Harper’s five years in leadership politics and focus on only five political promises in the past year has given him the clear edge to where 50% see him as having “…the clearest vision of where HE (emphasis added) want to take the country. He is also seen as the most decisive by 53% of respondents.

The real question these numbers beg is do we share HIS vision of the country…it is not decided yet – just look at the size of the undecided voters. Being decisive is not helpful if we don’t trust you or your decisions or your agenda. What if the voter’s true sense of Harper is one of a man often wrong but never in doubt! That will not win an election.

As for the personal characteristics in this poll, it is old news. We have already seen them from Nik Nanos at SES in his February 12 poll. Read my post of Feb 12 for my take on it then too.