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Friday, March 30, 2007

Polls Show Canadians Prefer None of the Above for Prime Minister

The polls continue to point in every direction as to the wisdom of a spring election. The policy issues are not making any difference in poll results because the polls are not asking about them. They are focused on the "beauty contest" aspects of the leaders only.

Leadership is a driving value for citizens today but there is so much more on our minds these days that will also have a significant influence how we will actually vote when an actual election is called and it all becomes serious and meaningful. These beauty contest polls are mere media fodder and mostly serve as PR for polling firms. Much ado about nothing when it come to the real world concern of citizens.

So for the "entertainment value" lets look at some of the more interesting findings of recent polls. An SES poll showed Harper’s Budget actually can best be described as having a lukewarm impact in Quebec. It showed only 27% seeing him more favourably, 33.5% not changing their minds and 36.6% thinking less of him.

Charest was not the benefactor of the Harper Budget largess either in Quebec. Only 20.9 improved their opinion of him, 38% were the same and 37.8% say him in a less favourable light. No big confidence booster the for the Charest leadership. The Quebec election results showed the consequences of these numbers in spades.

This poll is important because it focuses on something that is really framing the one of the dominant value drivers for elections right now. It is the quality and character of leadership as well as trust and respect. The overwhelming policy issue is the environment (except for Quebec where health care still runs #1) but leadership is also very important.

SES deserves serious consideration because it was the only pollster who called the 2006 election results accurately. The rest of the polling industry embarrassed themselves with just how far out of touch they were with the voter reality on election day. Could this be happening again given the wide range of results emerging from the various polling firms?

Ipsos Reid yesterday concluded no bounce for Harper out of the Budget last week and commented “…the numbers should stand as a warning to all major parties that an election is not in any of their interests.”

Angus Reid, on the other hand, a day earlier claims Harper’s Cons have a 17 point lead and the Dion Liberals “plummet to 22% nationally.” Harper apparently has a 49% post budget approval rating in Quebec. Given the cash he promises to pour in there what do you expect? Will he sustain these numbers is the question.

This poll is being touted as another proof Harper should go to the electorate now. His approval ratings reflect a tepid support for his leadership also found in the SES poll.

The real interesting number in the Angus Reid poll is the fact that a full 43% say they are Not Sure or that Neither Dion or Harper is the right guy. Couple that with 64% saying the country is on the Wrong Track or Not Sure you have a recipe for volatility and change. The volatility is everywhere too from a high of 71% in BC to a low of 54% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Leadership, character, respect and trustworthiness are key considerations. Given an earlier Ipsos Reid poll showed about 65% of Canadians still feel they don’t know what Harper stands for as a person and you can see why he wants to wait and not be facing the country any time soon. Dion is in no better shape in earning the trust and confidence of Canadians yet.

Campaigns matter and it is not time for Harper to go yet. So it looks like the Cons will settle for calling Dion names in another round of attack ads instead. Proving once again they are good at political tactics but deplorable at good governance.