Friday, October 10, 2008

Trends, Value Drivers and a Mood for Change is in the Air!

The crunch time for citizens is fast approaching as we reflect on who we will grant our consent to govern us. What are the dominant value drivers we will use to make this decision? Will it be the comprehensiveness of the party platforms, the character of the leaders or a major issue like health care, the environment or the economy? Will it be a feeling of anxiety over jobs and protecting savings or traditional voting habits? Will it be a strategic vote to block a poor option or bad outcome?

Trends indicate momentum and in the final four days those elements become all important as candidates and leaders try to get traction. Traction is needed so voters will take the time and actually show up and show their support at the ballot box.

Strategic Counsel has been tracking 45 tight battle ground seats in Quebec, Ontario and B.C. The sentiment of if Canada is on the right track has been trending down since Harper called his election. In B.C. it closes at 48% positive dropping significantly from a high of 57%. Ontario is now even more uncertain with a positive trend sentiment of 44% of significantly form a high of 57% a month ago. Quebec is the worst with only 46% positive sentiment dropping from 60% at the start of the election.

Other pollsters are saying Harper is coming back into potential majority government territory.

In B.C. the voters are shifting to the Liberals in the final stages and have the same 33% support they had at the 2006 election. The Conservatives and NDP are both 4% lower than last election.

The Greens are up 9% and it will be interesting if they vote strategically for Liberals to stop Harper given there is only a 2 point spread. Green votes for Liberals would make a big difference in B.C. outcomes.

In Ontario the Cons lead but are 10 points off their high and 1 point behind last election results. The Liberals are a full 6 points off the 2006 election results and all that support has gone to the Greens who are up 6. Again one has to wonder if the Ontario Greens will vote for local Liberals for strategic purposes.

Quebec’s story is the Bloc beating down the Conservatives down to the same levels as the unpopular Liberals. NDP and Green voters are the most likely to switch their votes, 28% and 32% respectively.

The mood for a change to a new government has increased significantly in the three battle ground provinces too. Since the election call B.C. voters who want a different government has jumped to 49% from 40%. Ontario is also in the mood for a change in government now at 54% up from 43% from when the election was called. In Quebec, the place where Harper really blew it, the mood for a change in government in Ottawa jumped to 63% from a mere 45% when the election was called.

These levels of people hunkering for a change do not bode well for Harper – unless he can position himself as the candidate of change in the next 4 days. So far his messaging has been just the opposite as he campaigns on he is the stable status quo guy who will Do Nothing to respond to the market meltdown. Layton and May are not in the game and Dion is struggling but the Liberal Team is making a difference.

I am not taking bets this election and don’t know anyone who is.