Thursday, April 14, 2011

Et Le But!

I've only had a chance to watch bits and pieces of last night's debate, where the leaders exchanged hockey metaphors as freely as hockey players exchange body checks. So far be it from me to try and make sense of who won or lost, especially when the clips I saw featured a charming Scottish translator voicing Jack Layton.

So here's a sampling of what regular CalgaryGrit commenter, and genuinely undecided voter, Jacques Beau Vert thought:

Layton: In terms of surprising me out of my apathy, I thought Jack Layton won. His attitude was best all night, enthusiastic and feisty but never out of control. If I beamed down today and didn't know the NDP (and mistakenly believed the people here were able to vote for their executive branch), I'd say he won.

Duceppe: Duceppe was angry and lost his composure (he certainly got mad and lost his cool and expressed himself with angry conviction - so if you're a separatist, he won). Also I think he's deluded in his separatist ambitions, and it came across tonight.

Ignatieff: His answers were weak and uninspiring and canned. His constant repetition of "democracy in Canada" was dreary. However his "It's 2011, Mr. Duceppe. 2011. It's 2011" act was a highlight. He didn't go far enough to make a very strong impression on anyone's ideas about the federation, yet it was good "theatre", which is what "debates" are fought on on TV.

Harper: Harper was great! I know, many Liberals and NDPers see "a phony robot", but if I beamed in from another planet tonite, I'd have seen a Walt Disney family movie Central Casting recruit for "Prime Minister of a Westminster-style Parliamentary System". I guess that really, he "looked the most like a Prime Minister" - so, perhaps he was the winner after all.

That's one review. Le Devoir offers their thoughts en francais here.

The poll numbers coming out of this suggest little movement, but indicate Ignatieff may have helped himself the most. Via Ipsos, the pre-debate expectation of who would win and the post-debate judgement:

Duceppe 31% / 42%
Harper 19% / 12%
Layton 16% / 19%
Ignatieff 15% / 22%

More importantly, on the Best Prime Minister question, Ignatieff went from 10 behind Harper before the debate to one ahead after. So, on that score, mission accomplished. From what I saw in the debate, Ignatieff did a much better job selling the Liberal alternative Wednesday than Tuesday. He won the exchange that got the most media play ("It's 2011"), so he came out of this one quite well.

Layton didn't improve his stock but, from that same poll, it's clear he's the most popular leader in Quebec right now, and the debate probably served to re-enforce that feeling.

Harper showed again how frustratingly on message he has been this campaign. During the aforementioned Ignatieff-Duceppe exchange, he calmly cut in, shook his head, and mused about how difficult it would be for the other leaders to agree in a coalition government. Well, yes. That's why there would never be a coalition. But, his point was made - if you're sick of all these elections, debates, and bickering, then give me a majority and a 4 year reprieve of all these unpleasant side effects of democracy.

I hate to comment on Duceppe, because I know Quebecers have a much different attitude towards him than I do. It's an emotional connection - they see him as the Quebec's guard dog, there to protect them.

So I'm not at all surprised to see the instant polls showing he won. But, to me, Duceppe looked like a man who has lost his raison d'etre. He prattled on about the 2004 coalition deal that, quite frankly, no one cares about. He demanded to know why the other parties wouldn't ask Quebec to sign the constitution, even though he later admitted he didn't want to see Quebec sign the constitution - he wanted them to separate. As I said after the English debates, he's an angry man without a reason to be angry.

Sadly, that's it for the debates, though I'd love to see more, be it with 2, 3, 4, or 5 participants. Over ten million Canadians watched at least some the English debates and, thanks to some stickhandling on the scheduling, I'm sure a few million more tuned in last night. Clearly, the interest is there, and it's a shame we won't get another opportunity to size our leaders up.



  • Harper's leadership score went up by 27.9 last night. That is huge, almost impossibly huge.

    I think it's clear who won the debates.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:25 p.m.  

  • "Harper's leadership score went up by 27.9 last night. That is huge, almost impossibly huge."

    First-off its not impossible, or even close. Nanos's index is based on who is best on three different indicators (each of which add up to 100). So an increase of 27.9 simply means that he rose an average of 9 points on all three. This was mostly because the number of undecided voters went down.

    In fact, if you look at Harper's pre and post debate numbers as a proportion of voters with an opinion (ie. not undecided), his increase was more modest.

    Lets compare Harper's increase on the three indicators among all voters, and among decided voters

    Trust: +5.5/+3.85
    Competence: +12.9/+9.5
    Vision for Canada: +9.5/+8.3

    However, by that token, Ignatieff's seeming increase masks a decline on some categories. Indeed, this really challenges the usual post-debate media narrative that everybody is a winner (something that is impossible in a zero sum game, like an election):

    Trust: +1.7/+0.83
    Competence: +0.1/-1.92
    Vision for Canada: +1.3/+0.21

    Secondly, it isn't clear what kind of coat-tails this has for Harper. He improved in categories where he already did well, but much less so in trust. There may be diminishing returns to being viewed as the most competent, since only so many voters consider that to be the basis upon which they vote. Indeed, the Tories are slightly down in the polls since before the debate (possibly the impact of the G-8 report).

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 5:08 p.m.  

  • With all this talk of how "popular" the NDP are in Quebec, are *any* experts suggesting they'll win a second seat in La Belle Province?

    By Blogger Paul, at 8:13 p.m.  

  • It's a three day rolling poll, so his average went up by the full 27.9 points last night on three indicators, not 9% on three indicators. His total score had to go up by 84 over the night dropped to get an increase of 27.9.

    That's huge, almost impossibly huge.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:54 p.m.  

  • @ Paul: Nobody is talking about the Dippers winning more seats because they won't. Their support is a mile wide and an inch deep, and half of that polled support won't make it to the ballot box. They have a chance to pick up Gatineau in addition to Outremont, and that's it.

    If you look over at, you'll see a lot of deluded NDPartisans who are trying to convince themselves they'll make some big breakthrough in Quebec. They will not get more than two seats, max. What they will do is either split the federalist vote enough in certain seats to elect the Bloc, or split the progressive vote in certain seats and benefit the Tories.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:23 p.m.  

  • Dan, you make me feel so pretty.

    Everyone sees reality through their own perspective -- many people are passionate about Ignatieff's performance in the second debate.

    I know I'm cranky about people I perceive about partisans -- I'm working on it, however. With all humble respect, I think it's wishful thinking that "C'est 2011, M Duceppe" is such a watershed moment. But I absolutely see it's an opening towards such a moment, sure - and kudos to him for that.

    Though I feel he lost the debate*, he's a brand-new politician going up against deeply experienced campaigners & debaters. From that respective, he actually did a remarkable job that I have to commend him for.

    * "Won" as in the "TV Debate" version of reality in which facts and ideas and arguments mean nothing, while displaying a "leadership persona" is the goal.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:31 p.m.  

  • The other thing you need to consider about "winning" a debate is that most people have a tendency to believe that their party's leader won the debate. So unless someone is seen as victor by substantially more people than supported him going in, the "victory" probably won't be moving that many votes.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 12:43 a.m.  

  • I believe the NDP max in Quebec is 3 seats but the arguement is still the same. The total number of seats that could change hands in Quebec is 10-12, and those are between four different parties. The most even the BLOQ can hope to gain is about 5, COnservatives 2 Liberals 3 or thereabouts.

    So in essence the French language debate when you take away those who watched the English debate was of very little consequence.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 a.m.  

  • "It's a three day rolling poll, so his average went up by the full 27.9 points last night on three indicators, not 9% on three indicators."

    The leadership poll is not a 3-day rolling poll. It just says "April 13" below, instead of "3 days ending April 13" (as it does for all the other questions). Also, the sample size is smaller for the leadership index, at 5% instead of 3.1%.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 2:25 a.m.  

  • ajbeercroft - that's a good point. Even though the insta-polls showed Harper winning the English debates, Layton is probably the one who picked up the most ground beyond what he already had.

    And that's the point I was trying to make about the French debate. Even though Ignatieff didn't win, the Ipsos poll shows a net gain for him.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:39 a.m.  

  • And, Nanos had Harper's leadership index droping ealier in the week...yes, this still bumped him up to his highest levels, but a lot of the 1-day gain was simply Harper recovering what he'd lost. Or, recovering what the random fluctuations you get in a n = 400 sample showed him as having lost.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:42 a.m.  

  • Can someone explain to me why Gilles Ducceppe looks so mad in the debates. Even in the English debate he looked like an old curmudgeon who would unleash the pitbull on kids who accidentally walk on his lawn. What is he so angry about? Or is it just a Bloc Quebecois thing to be perpetually outraged.

    What do you think is the number Iggy neads to reach to stay as the Liberal Leader . I think he needs to better than Paul Martin's 90 odd seats from 2005 to have a shot but he is damaged goods. Even after a solid campaign his personal numbers ain't improving. I almost want the tories to win the majority just so the left can be united. There is no other way to stop Harper other than an NDP-Liberal merger. How is the Liberal leader supposed to bring down Harper when he getting cheapshots thrown at him by Layton. Liberal-NDP merger is the only solution to end the Harper regime. It would help us get the fundraising to decent levels so th conservatives don't have the monopoly in defining the Liberal leader. A unified Liberal-NDP party bring in the greens to some extent if you can, get a leader from Western Canada try to bring in Gary Doer if possible, he would appease the Dippers yet fit perfectly with the Liberal voters as his policies as premier were pretty much like a Liberal wrapped up in NDP clothing, maybe even Christy Clark!

    By Anonymous Nightcrawler, at 4:31 a.m.  

  • And Harper's leadership numbers at Nanos are back down again, so it looks like that was a blip.

    By Blogger saphorr, at 4:47 p.m.  

  • to the nightcrawler:

    Duceppe plays mad because his party's raison d'etre depends on there being unhealed/unhealable wounds. He can never be happy, except when in small gatherings of "his peuple". He is also probably mad because of all the party's, his is doing the absolute worst in the campaign having lost probably 1/4 of its support since the launch.

    Iggy is doing a good campaign job. If John Turner got a second shot, Iggy should probably get a second shot. So, I think Iggy, if he wants to, should be allowed to stay to fight the next election.

    If Iggy is as talented and committed as he pretends, let him have the four years to build a genuine and wise narrative. This would help Justin Trudeau as well.

    By Anonymous chuckercanuck, at 12:15 p.m.  

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