Monday, August 24, 2009

Opinion Polls on Voter Intentions Point in Different Directions

The polls are all over the place again just link a couple of elections ago. Only Nanos came close to reflecting the final election outcome. Opinion polls are OK but they don't predict behaviour and election DO matter.

Pollsters are out there asking the meaningless question about who you would vote for if an election were held tomorrow. The question is hypothetical, results in superficial answers and is no predictor of actual behaviour.

Ipsos Reid is out there showing 39% support for Harper up 5 point 2 months ago and Ignatieff is at 28% down 7 points in the last 2 months. Harper has had the media machine in full throttle in the past 2 months making stimulus funding announcements, delivering cheques, spending time at G8, meeting Obama and putting in a week in the Arctic as a media stunt. Hard not to get a bounce in numbers with that kind of media help.

Layton just went through a national convention with all the media focus on the petty possibility of dropping the word “New” from the party name. He only got a 1 point bounce to 14% and is deluding himself into thinking he is on the heels of catching the Liberals. The Greens under Elizabeth May had no publicity in the same timeframe and bounced up 2 points to come in at 10% support.

Ekos, with a larger sample than Ipsos, puts Harper support at 32.8, Ignatieff at 30.3, Layton at 17.3 and the Greens at 11 nationwide. These two polls done virtually at the same time have significantly different outcomes.

The more critical and relevant question is the “sentiment” index of the leaders. Ipsos found that 45% of Canadians believes that Harper has done a good job and deserves to be re-elected. 50% of us, according to Ipsos, don’t think Harper deserves to be re-elected. Nanos’ poll on the same question but a few weeks earlier said almost 60% of us don’t see Harper as good enough to be re-elected. More dissonance in the data

Harper is still leading Ignatieff on perceptions of leadership capacity to best manage issues. Again let’s get some context straight. Harper has been our Prime Minister for almost 4 years. Ignatieff has been leader of the Liberals since last December. We have not had the time to get to know Iggy nor do we have a clear sense of what direction he would want to take the country. As for Harper we are getting all too clear a sense of where he is taking the country and we are getting tired of his bullying, attack ads and strategic incoherence as he says one thing and then he does another.

We are starting to consider his total reversal on Income Trusts, the deceit he promoted last November that we were not in a recession and there would be no deficit and now he is courting China when he said he would not do that. He says the deficit will be $50B but his handpicked Parliamentary Budget watchdog says a more realistic figure could be a deficit 3 times that.

We need as much certainty and honesty and transparency as we can get in foggy times like a recession but Harper has trouble telling us the truth. He fabricates and misleads us on the facts so it is hard to know when and what to believe in anything he says.

The polls are all over the place and perhaps that is a true reflection of the uncertainty Canadians feel about their politics and politicians these days. Don’t get transfixed by the polling data about political intentions these days. Canadian fortunes can be gleaned just as well by reading Tarot Cards in these uncertain times.