Monday, February 12, 2007

More SES

I don't want to post on polls 24/7 here, but there's some good debate about the new SES poll on the other thread and many of my favourite bloggers have said these numbers are not at all good for Dion. So I decided to dig a little deeper...

I think the problem stems from people comparing Dion's numbers to Martin's on election night and Harper's to Harper on election night. In reality, the dynamics have completely shifted since then. We're not in a campaign and the Liberals are now the opposition party while the Tories are in power. The sitting PM always does well in these polls because Canadians are more exposed to him than the opposition leader so they're more aware of his vision and naturally more trusting. And, of course, they'll see him as a better leader because he...is...their...leader. Here's an SES poll from 2005, showing that everyone thought of Martin as a better PM than Harper...mainly because he was the PM.

So the real comparison should be between the positions, not the parties. Ideally, from some time like September 2005 when people weren't in "election fever". The oldest poll I could find asking the "leadership questions" was from Nov 30/Dec 1, 2005 (I averaged the two), right at the dawn of the last campaign.

Here's the comparison:

Dion 2007/Harper 2005
Trust: 20/20.5
Competence: 22/18
Vision: 21/19.5

In other words, Dion is viewed exactly the same way as Stephen Harper was before the last election. But before Liberals rejoice, here's the PM comparison:

PM Harper 2007/PM Martin 2005
Trust: 35/21
Competence: 41/31
Vision: 39/28

So while Dion is as strong as Harper was in 2005, Harper isn't the crippled PM that Martin was in November 2006. And that figures, given that this poll was done with the Gomery Report still fresh in the minds of Canadians (Gilles Ducceppe was the most trusted of all leaders!).

So my take home message would be that there's no need for Liberals to panic or for Dion to re brand himself, but that Harper should not be underestimated. With that in mind, rushing into a spring vote would be a foolish move on the part of the Liberal Party in my opinion because, despite some mis-steps, Harper hasn't been crippled enough yet to move in for the kill.

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12 Comments:

  • I think a spring vote for the Liberals would lead to a 1984 style rout for the party. In fact the only thing that would help the Liberals would be a recession and the Conservatives would be able to pull the plug on themselves if they see that coming. The Liberals would actually benefit from fixed election dates in the current situation.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 9:23 PM  

  • I say he rebrands for the sake of not being seen as a rodent or as a beaver in the local editorial cartoons lol. On a more serious note, we keep hearing how Dion is green, but I can't recall him doing much for the environment as minister for it, so I don't know much about his vision... the flip side is that I do know Harper's vision on the environment is just that he needs to become more green because that's what Canadians want - it's not something he has a particular vision about the way he has a vision on taxes etc.

    The flip side of that flip side (I'm stealing from Dilbert here) is that our leader is having visions... lol

    By Blogger lecentre, at 9:32 PM  

  • I couldn't agree more, Dan - people generally like PMs, and there's no point in comparing non-campaign polls to election-eve polls -- anything can happen.

    I think you're right about a spring vote -- but then, one never knows. Dion could easily mop up the floor - you just don't know. Or, the Liberals could be decimated. Polls mean nothing when there's not a campaign in the air, in my mind.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:39 PM  

  • BTW - I don't believe for a second Dion is stupid enough to walk the Kyoto talk he's all about now. I've been baffled listening to him the last week - but I've come to think he's bluffing. If elected, he'll do the sensible thing, and forget all about meeting short-term targets.

    I think it's pretty lousy of him (I imagined him quite recently to be this ultra-ethical, honest Stephane type), but it probably is quite clever, I guess. Clever is perhaps better than honest.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:44 PM  

  • One could almost say that Harper hasnt been crippled at all. The income trust decision didnt affect a large enough group of people to change anything, and he hasnt done anything that the general public disagrees with enough to get mad at him.

    What people are enjoying is the lack of pretentious rhetoric that accompanies Liberals like flies do garbage. Harper answers questions with answers and not bullshit. If he doesnt have an answer he says so.

    The man is impressing the hell out of canadians who became frustrated with the lack of clear answers in answer to a simple question. The country tired of the grand world vision crappola that Liberals spread like manure. Liberals will start to come back when they ditch the "vision" thingy. People hate that shit. They want solutions to daily problems and they dont want govt to try to lead the way in everything.

    Newsflash: Most people HATE the govt. Less govt makes people happy. Face it guys the worm has turned and you are out.

    By Blogger renegadejet, at 10:40 PM  

  • When simple facts back up the general feeling that Dion is an abject failure as a politician and a leader, no amount of re-jigging of "statistical approaches" will obscure this self-evidency.

    However, it will ensure you a treasured spot on the "Kyoto Forever" support team, along with all the other data manipulators.

    Oh well, I guess that it keeps you off the streets.

    By Blogger Erik Sorenson, at 11:40 PM  

  • The other element is that, where as Harpor has used a lot of energy at disarming the opposition, branding himself in almost every line of every breathe. While there have been missteps, he has an amazing ability to hit back almost immediately and make it sound as tho' every little problem is part n' parcel of those bad ol' Liberals. Take the Arar case -- he got off scott free, yet his actions during those days were exceedingly greasy examples of a witch hunt.
    There needs to be a concerted strategy to work under the current to break the Cons' hold of the agenda -- difficult to do when one's out of gov't -- or at least find some media who are willing to do their jobs instead of coasting.

    By Blogger rockfish, at 2:27 AM  

  • I think that if the Liberals care to avoid an election they probably shouldn't be supporting Pablo Rodriquez' private member's bill during tomorrow night's vote. It's a dangerous game of political chicken.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 5:35 AM  

  • yes

    By Blogger s.b., at 8:01 AM  

  • ''There needs to be a concerted strategy to work under the current to break the Cons' hold of the agenda''

    Libs handed PMSH the agenda.
    They attacked what appeared to be the Cons weakness, PMSH fixed it.

    You want more reconstruction in Afghanistan? Announcement coming soon!

    By Blogger wilson61, at 11:28 AM  

  • I'm really really curious to see what a regional (e.g., intra-Ontario) seat breakdown would look like. I think the polls that did that in the early days of the last campaigns which first projected the possibility of a Tory government created their own positive momentum. While the polls show Harper as being surprisingly low in the polls (something every columnist in the land has written about) there are only three issues: are the Tories threatened in their a) soft Ontario/ SW BC / Quebec Beauce seats and b) can they expand deeper into suburban TO/Mtl.

    I also don't think Harper is "crippled," and am thinking of what Wells points out re his personal numbers. To echo a poster above, sort of, I think a near-term election would be akin to the '88 election in which Turner campaigned kind of ok (save for a slow start and the Chretien backstabbing, etc), won the debate and led in the polls until the last week. It was knock-down fight over a substantive binary issue that forced the public to choose. They did, in the government's favour, winning the regions that Harper aspires to presently.

    By Blogger matt, at 4:29 PM  

  • Solid reasoning and some good analysis - nice work CG.

    Matt - to be pedantic, in '88 the public actually chose against the government but not by a large enough margin to overcome the distortions of the electoral system.

    By Blogger Declan, at 2:19 AM  

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