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.


  1. This poll was conducted on March 14 and 15, which was before the budget.

  2. Have to add one more comment. Was I not mistaken or did Martin & Co. run attack ads against Harper in the previous 2 elections? Your only argument is that one should not run ads outside of an election writ period.

    I still have time to read your blog and post before this weekend, which is expected to be VERY busy. I look forward to seeing ads and hope that they illustrate that Dion decided to vote against my good things for Cdns even BEFORE he actually saw the budget.

  3. Harper sent so many pre-budget trial balloons out the Budget itself was practically a sequel to prior media coverage.

    No one is saying you can't run ads outside the elections. But aren't campaigns restricted by law as to the amount of money they can spend on such ads within the election period?

    If so, doing party based personal campaign style attack ads geared to influence an election but outside the election period is legal - I guess.

    It just lacks something. A trifling little thing - as least in the minds of the Con strategists - INTEGRITY!

    Doing indirectly what you can't or should not do directly does not engender trust, respect or confidence.

  4. You are correct. There is no spending limit outside the writ period. Thus, if you have excess financial resources, you tend to use them before the writ is dropped (similar to the EDA level).

    There are attack ads because they work; I don't know what else to say. I don't think there is a qualitative difference of these ads either before or after the writ is dropped (if they don't work, the CPC would be wasting a lot of resources).

    I notice that your recent posts have indicated that the Cons should be wary about an election. If you keep it up, you might scare them off the trigger! There are 3 possible election scenarios: June 4th, another Dec election, or Feb of next year. The debate is on.

  5. The party that is seen to cause an unwanted election at this time will be punished at the polls. Not enough of a sense of where the public is on the parties or th eleaders never mind the policy right now either.

    Dec is the 2006 all over again, meaning a very short election cycle in reality because nobody will pay attention until after Christmas. That means a much less informed electorate..a good thing for Harper perhaps.

    February next year is the best timing because it gives time for the Budget to have impact and to just to be the rheotric of a speech and media coverage.

    That timing ought to help Harper in Quebec too especially then he can figure out who he wants to be his next "best friend" in Quebec...Charest or Dumont.

  6. I agree with much of your analysis. However, perfection is not required; you just have to be better than the other guy. Right now, we see Dion as week and the LPC disorganized and lacking in funding. A long campaign is more likely as it will suck the LPC's funds thin.

    Depends on how you view Dion. Personally I think he is not going to get much better and knives within the party will be even sharper after one year. Given that, the CPC should stand back and allow Cdns to get more familiar with Harper. But some (not me for sure) think Dion could turn things around after a year - organize the Party, figure out how to control his caucus, and simply beef up on his English. If that's the case, go now!

    Re who pulls the trigger. Harper has said he will not call an election. If the opposition votes down a confidence matter, they have effectively triggered the election (there is spin the other way of course - that the CPC set itself up to fail, etc.).

  7. Good points eric.

    Who gets seen as becoming better over time in the public's mind - Harper or Dion? Dion can only go up (I hope!!!). Harper is what he is...not going to change much over time.

    Layton will pull the trigger if you want him to. He has to worry about the Greens and the sooner he goes the better. May can only do better with time.

    Go now before Duceppe can decide to go to the PQ in the pending purge of Boisclair.

    Do it eric - pull the trigger - call and election - but if no CPC majority then Harper will be the next Diefenbaker.