Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ignatieff's Poll Dancing

It is safe to assume that Michael Ignatieff is feeling pretty good about himself right now, as recent poll numbers put him within striking distance of a majority government should the trend line continue. This week’s Ekos Poll has the Liberals at 37%, the Conservatives at 30%, and the NDP at nearly 16% nationally. If these numbers are accurate, it would suggest that that the Tories have lost nearly one million voters in only the past few months, many of those in the past few weeks. Most of that support has shifted to the Liberals, while the NDP has also lost some support to the fledgling Ignatieff juggernaut.

That which has me befuddled is what exactly has influenced this exodus? What happened? Ignatieff’s approval rating has gone up, Harper’s has gone down. Where the enigma presents itself is that Iggy hasn’t done anything! Sure, he gives wonderfully scripted press conferences proudly parading his extensive vocabulary and he seems quite comfortable in this idealess complaining. Call me a policy wonk, but I want to know what a political party intends to do if elected before I will even consider voting for them. At present, the Liberals have released no policy whatsoever, no suggestions, no ideas, nothing. On their website there is no link to any policy page. The NDP to their credit, at least have a page filled with vague and lofty platitudes. It seems counter intuitive to me that any political leader would experience such a dramatic shift in support without saying anything at all about what he would do if elected. Evidently this policy-free Rope-A-Dope is working.

If Ignatieff hasn’t really done anything, it is more likely then that the exodus is a result of Stephen Harper’s perceived failures. I just don’t understand what precisely Harper has done to persuade Conservative voters to switch allegiances. By all accounts, the Obama visit was a resounding success. The PM proved to be the superior orator in the Q&A with the media, as Obama without his precious teleprompter spent an unusually high amount of time mumbling and pausing. Did Harper lose a million votes for allegedly being in the shitter when the G20 was taking its team picture? Somehow I doubt that.

In this his 4th year as Canada’s Prime Minister, I think it is unlikely that a million people suddenly decided that they did not like him on a personal level. The perception of him as an icy and boring policy wonk was every bit as prevalent in 2006 as 2009. It is possible that this minor dust-up with Brian Mulroney has cost the Tories some support in the center, which would be ironic considering that Mulroney left office as one of the most unpopular leaders in a generation. Perhaps hindsight is 20/20 and his popularity has increased in retrospect as former PC’s reflect on the nostalgia of the 80s. If this is the case, it is elastic support that Ignatieff may not be able to sustain in the long-term.

The most likely cause behind the polling trends is the economy, as recessions are far more likely to punish the ruling government regardless of how much responsibility they bear for the crisis. In this case, the crisis originated in the United States and spread north of the border. Furthermore, the Canadian banking industry has been relatively insulated from the banking collapse in America and Europe. Many European economists are pointing to Canada as the model for how financial markets should be regulated. Of course I will give credit where credit is due and say that Paul Martin deserves some accolades for the state of our financial sector.

Unemployment has now reached 8% in Canada, which is still better than the United States. The Canadian job drop is due largely to a significant decline in consumer spending south of the border. As a result, Canada has experienced a significant decline in employment in both the manufacturing and resource sectors; two sectors that employ predominantly males, where men vote in greater proportion for the Conservative Party. This likely explains the significant exodus from a demographic that had previously voted Tory.

The good news for the Prime Minister, which seems lost on those answering telephone polls, is that the Toronto Stock Exchange is up over 20% since the beginning of March. Oil and other resources are back on the rise, which benefits the Canadian economy. If this trend continues, Canada could start adding jobs again in the near future. Equity markets always lead in front of employment statistics. We have yet to see what effect the massive Pelosi/Reid/Obama stimulus package will have on the American economy. I doubt that Mr. Ignatieff would openly cheer for its failure, but the truth remains that his probability of victory is significantly higher if the Obama Plan deepens the recession, keeping Canada in a state of economic melancholy.

"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor."

-Albert Einstein


  1. People just needed a reason to vote somewhere else. Iggy is the the reason. Most folks have simply tolerated Harper. Few actually like or respect him.

  2. From the Ekos poll
    Q. If you could choose, when would you want the next federal election to be held?
    9 % asap
    15% before the end of 2009
    25% next 2 years
    47% not until end of 4 year term

    So would this not entirely contradict the statement in the comment @ 8:54 am?
    It would appear so because what the comment DOES not reference is the polls, that has PM Harper, leaps and bounds ahead of the 'anointed one'in the handling of the economy.
    So it would seem that in fact, MORE actually like and respect him enough, to not want an election for, no less than 2 years and equal to and including,4 years.
    By then, the aristocrat will have defined himself as an aging, convenient Canadian, elitist.

  3. One thing that really "chaps my ass" is that in his many books, including his latest True Patriot Love, Iggy keeps telling us what Canadians want and believe. If he really had true patriot love, I'm assuming that he would not have spent 3 decades living outside of Canada. I am not yet 30 years old, but since my birth I have spent substantially more time living in Canada than the leader of the opposition.

  4. Polls in between election campaigns NEVER actually have any correlation with how people actually vote on Election Day.

    It's only when a writ is dropped that ordinary people who don't read political blogs actually start paying attention.

    There has been no significant or newsworthy policy-related news from any party recently that would have created or can explain such a huge swing in support. Just another left-wing CBC push poll to make the Liberals feel good.

  5. Too bad the TSE doesn't vote.

    I guess Harper is not the smartest guy in the universe.

  6. Perhaps the TSX doesn't vote, but a lot of people who do vote have their retirement savings invested there. Those people vote in far greater numbers than the young people Ignatieff is targetting.

  7. The current polling question:

    “Which of the 5 Federal Parties would you vote for if an election were to be held today”

    is IRRELEVANT with respect to the next election campaign.

    The next election will feature two choices; the Conservatives against the “Coalition”. None of the current leaders of the other 4 Parties have sufficiently clean hands to deny that they would not form a coalition should the Conservatives return with a plurality of seats but still short of a majority.

    So the Conservatives will hammer this theme during the election campaign; a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for stability in these difficult times while a vote for the Coalition is a vote for instability.

    No more 4 on 1 pile-ons like the last Leaders debate - all PMSH has to do is to enquire around the table from time to time as to whether each of the Coalition participants support the points of the others, or if not, which ones will need to be modified in order for the Coalition to govern with any modicum of stability.

    And all credit for this ball and chain so firmly affixed to Mr Ignatieff’s ankle rests solely with Mr. Dion - the gift that just keeps on giving.

    stephen p

  8. Nothing is personal in politics, because politics is theater. It is part of the job to pretend to have emotions that you do not actually feel.

  9. p.s. the above is a quote from Iffy, in his article Gatting Iraq Wrong, back peddling on his position on Iraq

  10. So Iggy "wrote" a book did he?
    When did he do this?

    The libs better make sure they keep the ghost writer under wraps. It would look pretty bad if the one selling point Iggy's intellectualism goes down like a lead ballon when its found out who really wrote that book.

    There's the scoop for anyone sharp enough to find it.
    MSM had better be quick before some blogger beats them to it.