Monday, July 18, 2005

The Numbers

God bless pollsters for throwing some fodder to bloggers during the dog days of summer. Two polls came out this weekend which, while not overly surprising, are likely worth talking about (at least until Harper’s next trip to the tickle trunk).

Allan Gregg’s Saturday poll reconfirms what everyone has known for a long time. Mainly, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper are hugely unpopular. The numbers for each leader and whether Canadians’ opinions of them have improved or worsened are:

Martin 15-42
Harper 14-41
Layton 32-15
Ducceppe 17-17

When it comes down to a dump or keep vote, it’s similar:

Martin 48 (keep) -52 (resign)
Harper 41 – 59
Layton 78-22
BQ 76-24

More alarming is that fact that 37% of Conservatives and 20% of Liberals want to remove their own leader. Given that 76.2% wasn’t enough for Bernard Landry to stick with the PQ, it’s abundantly clear that both leaders are skating on thin ice. It also means that both will be very desperate come the next election campaign. Which could make the campaign kind of fun, or really sickening.

The second poll is on same sex marriage and it shows that 55% of Canadians believe the government should keep Same Sex Marriage while 39% believe they should repeal it. While the media is spinning this as a sign Harper needs to drop the issue, we should all remember that his party is well bellow 39% in the polls. So I fully expect the Conservatives to keep the issue alive during the next election campaign, even if it might scare a few NDP voters back to the Liberals.

In a related question, 46% said they favour gay adoption while 51% oppose it (presumably the same individuals who believe gays shouldn’t marry because they can’t have children).

There was also this tid-bit on Paul Martin’s biggest accomplishments:

When offered a list of options, 39 per cent chose same-sex marriage as the most notable achievement; 28 per cent picked the health-care accord. The tsunami relief effort was next at 14 per cent, while a series of preliminary daycare deals was chosen by 10 per cent of respondents.

However, when asked to think of an achievement without the prompting of a list, 60 per cent could not come up with one.

Personally, I’m a little surprised that the Health Care Accord fared so well. I know, I know – it’s difficult to get the provincial premiers to accept billions of dollars with next to no strings attached. And, in the words of Steve MacKinnon, it’s “courageous” to tell Quebec they don’t even have to meet those standards. But, if nothing else, the PMO will be pleased that it's not only Chretien legislation on Paul's achievements list.


  • Do you know what the margin of error was on the first poll?

    By Blogger daveberta, at 6:37 p.m.  

  • Wooing Belinda across the floor isn't an achievement? Damn, Canadians are a fickle bunch.

    By Blogger andym, at 7:06 p.m.  

  • You're right when you say that both leaders are on thin ice. After the next election:

    1) Paul Martin will face substantially more pressure to leave if he can't reclaim a majority, or least come very close.

    2) Stephen Harper will leave voluntarily if he doesn't bring in a least a Conservative minority.

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 7:12 p.m.  

  • Anyone know what the polling - if there even was that kind of polling - Pearson had during his tenure? Maybe he only succeeded because no one knew just how unpopular he was. Lucky for him, I guess, considering he's now considered one of our better Prime Ministers.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 8:01 p.m.  

  • Cerberus; Pearson got 42% of the vote in '63 and 40% in '65. Not sure what his approval/disaproval numbers were, though. Martin is definitely ahead of Mulroney and behind Chretien on those but I have no clue what Trudeau or people before him had for those kinds of numbers. A lot of people who like Martin are definitely trying to push the Pearson comparison right now...

    Toronto Tory; Ot's pretty obvious that whoever loses (Martin & Harper) will voluntarily leave. If Martin wins a reduced minority, the pressure is definitely going to build for him to step down and he'll face a tough leadership review.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:34 p.m.  

  • I was actually called and participated in this poll last week. It started out as most polls do, a bunch of completely unrelated questions, mostly about the media. Then it launched into the political stuff, whether to keep leaders, whether I view them positively or negatively. Who should stay, who should go. What the greatest accomplishments were. On the whole my response seem to be fairly in-line with the rest of Canadians. This is either a fantastic coincidence, or the CPC is in a shit load of trouble come the next election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:13 p.m.  

  • Canadians do not vote representitives, they vote representitives. The only people this will effect are those men. My district will continue to vote Bill Matthews until he retires, at that point its anyone's game and then they'd always vote in that person, most constituencies work that same way.

    By Blogger Paul Vincent, at 1:06 a.m.  

  • I never been a Paul Martin fan and Ann McLellan, Volpe, Lapierre, drive me around the bend. However, it looks like I will be holding my nose and voting Liberal again. The only two candidates with any chance where I live are a Conservative and a Liberal.

    All of this got me to thinking. Who would I like to see run for the Federal Liberals locally? I came up with three names, Vancouver Sun Columnist and former lawyer and philosophy professor Peter Mcknight, Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell, and SFU Criminology professor Neil Boyd.

    By Blogger Koby, at 5:33 a.m.  

  • I hope you recognize that if 20% of Liberals want to replace Martin, then he has 80% support. That, of course, is higher than 76%.

    I am also 99% sure that it is much higher than Chretien would have received from Liberals in the end.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 10:20 a.m.  

  • Jason, you are so right, i completely agree with you again. Your political acumen is uncanny.

    At the end though, Chretien won 172 seats and 41% of the vote, I am pretty sure fat Paul Martin will never get that.

    And Chretien probably would have got at least 80% if it was ever possible to get a membership form in the Liberal Party

    By Blogger fartcatcher, at 11:08 a.m.  

  • Good to see Jason taking comfort from the fact (well, the supposition) that Martin's support among Liberals is higher after 19 months than Chrétien's would have been after 13 years. Once again, it's striking to note how completely the Martinites' ambitions have collapsed. The proper test, of course, will be Martin's popularity after he's been leader for 13 years. I'll refrain from predicting whether we'll ever be able to apply that test.

    In other news, it's striking that 60% of Canadians can't name an accomplishment of the Martin government. That's not at all out of the ordinary -- I believe I've seen similar responses to similar questions about other leaders. It's only worth noting because Martin's *entire* national-unity strategy consisted of providing a government so exciting that Quebecers would forget they had ever flirted with secession. Here's a handy chance to measure how that's going.

    Once again: The moral contract Martin's people offered on behalf of their mute ringleader in 2002 was that giving Chrétien the heave-ho was acceptable because without him, the Liberal party would do better in Western Canada and better in Quebec while holding Atlantic Canada and Ontario -- and while offering a government so amazing it would, to coin a phrase, "make history."

    Those were the days.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:08 p.m.  

  • Jason; Even you've got to admit Martin has popularity problems, both inside and outside the Liberal party.

    80% approval isn't too surprising - he got 88% at leadership review and that was because most of the disgruntled Liberals stayed home while others felt they needed to rally behind the leader in a minority situation.

    He's definitely safe for the time being but I talked to two staunch Martin Liberals last weekend who basically said "The PMO keeps comparing Paul to Pearson and even Pearson didn't get a chance to fight for a third minority". So, yeah, there will be problems after the next election unless Harper keeps, well, doing what he's been doing.

    I also think the Chretien/Martin comparision is missing one key element. Liberals didn't want Chretien by the end because they believed Paul Martin would win 200 seats and be a far, far superior leader. I don't think Liberals who want Martin gone are saying that because they're big Joe Volpe or John Manley supporters...I think they're just dissapointed.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:44 p.m.  

  • Go "Big" Joe Volpe! Woo hoo!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:01 p.m.  

  • I think we are making history Mr. Wells, take a look at the following historic legislation that has been passed:

    Bill C-3 An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act

    (Passed under the stewardship of the great LaP)

    Bill C-4 :An Act to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment

    (Passed under the stewardship of the great LaP)

    Bill C-9 An Act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

    (the great LaP is the political minister for Quebec)

    Bill C-18 An Act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another Act

    (C-18, the most historic of them all, especially the "another Act")

    So while you sit lavishing in the luxury of your cushy job at Macleans, the government at Canada is hard at work on bills such as these.

    By Blogger iloveLaP, at 5:06 p.m.  

  • Anyone know what these sorts of polls said about Chretien after his first year and half as leader or as PM? I think Wells is right to suggest that it would be a more fair comparison. However, even if Chretien had 100%, I don't think 80% support is bad at all considering what has happened since the convention.

    On the larger question of political expetations from Martin, I don't think its fair to look at last year's election results without remembering that Martin would have had amazing numbers if he had taken advantage of his political situation by calling an immediate election. By waiting for the Tories to pick a new leader, he made a really horrible political mistake that I think was perfectly justified on the grounds of fair play. I don't think his team responded well to the Sponsorship Scandal and I was certainly unimpressed with the first two weeks of the campaign, but those are both media issues. I don't think that we should be measuring a Prime Minister on the basis of his media stick-handling. (Some of his advisors on the other hand...)

    As for policy, take a read of Jim Travers' article today. I can't tell if it's a compliment or an insult to the administration, but to me there is a clear message that things are happening slowly but surely. Child care, cities, SSM, foreign policy review, foreign aid, defence restructuring and more. Again, I think the problem is communications more than anything.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 5:37 p.m.  

  • Actually, the problem is that they're not doing anything.

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 6:47 p.m.  

  • It's completely unfair to suggest they're not doing anything. Of course they're doing stuff. Some of it is good. And some of it wasn't even Jack Layton's idea. Once again, that's not the point. The point is that your party cheerfully hoisted a three-time winning leader out the window on the certain knowledge that wings would start growing out every Canadian's back as soon as the Right Guy was leader. Modest progress, dammit, Just Wasn't Good Enough. Canada could Do Better. Go back and dig out your John Bethel talking points. You know you still have 'em around.

    And I *love* the idea that Martin delayed an election until the opposition could get their act together. He's*decent*.....sob.....

    In real life, he became prime minister in the second week of December. Calling an election in December and January is actually frowned upon in nordic countries. February 10 the auditor general drops her report. By Feb. 14 the polls are radioactive for the Liberals and they don't get better until late May. As soon as Drew Fagan writes a single Page 1 Globe story announcing the Liberals have finally nosed back into majority territory, Martin drops the writ. You could look it up. But that would spoil the fun.

    Nobody should be surprised at this kind of athletic self-delusion from the Martin amen corner. There was a wing of the Liberal party that built its politics around a recognition of things as they are, but that wing dropped its guard after 2000 and lost control of the party in 2002. Now the Liberal party is parked on Fantasy Island and it won't be going home anytime soon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:35 p.m.  

  • Yeah, I hate getting one word wrong in a rant. By 'your' party, I mean calgarygrit's and Jason's, not torontotory's. Carry on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 p.m.  

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