Monday, June 1, 2009

Two New Polls, One of them a Monster

Two new polls were released today, one by EKOS Research Associates and the other by Angus-Reid Strategies. The EKOS poll is a monster: 10,896 interviews taken between May 7 and May 28. The CBC has apparently signed a major deal with EKOS, as they will be releasing polling data every Thursday starting on June 11. Lots of fodder for the projection! Apparently, the polling data swung hard against the Conservatives when the news of the $50 billion deficit came out. It will be interesting to see what the polling numbers will be on June 11.

The Angus-Reid poll was conducted between May 28 and May 29 and included 1,002 interviews. The dominating headline on May 28 was the deficit, but on the 28th and the 29th the media was also reporting on the veiled Harper "tape" threat against Ignatieff, the wrong-doing of CTV in the Dion gaffe affair, and continued questions about the deficit and how much it would grow. To sum up, two bad days for the Conservatives.

Here are the results from the two polls, with EKOS first and Angus-Reid second:

Liberals - 33.5% / 33%
Conservatives - 32.3% / 31%
New Democrats - 15.1% / 17%
Greens - 10.4% / 7%
Bloc Quebecois - 8.7% / 9%

I love EKOS and their decimal-point polls. The consistency between these two polls is very good. But Angus-Reid was taken on the 28th and 29th while EKOS polled throughout the month. Considering the news that was hitting the Conservatives during the Angus-Reid poll, we shouldn't be surprised that the Conservatives have a worse result there. It is even possible that the NDP has benefited in the Angus-Reid poll from disaffected Conservatives who can't bring themselves to vote Liberal.

One thing seems clear: the Conservative attack ads haven't worked. The Liberal number might be a point or two lower than we've seen recently, so it is possible that the attack ads have managed to stop Liberal growth and maybe push some people away from the party. But two low numbers for the Conservatives demonstrates that the attack ads did not send anyone to the Tories, which is understandable. An attack ad doesn't necessarily, and in this case not at all, push people towards the party on the attack. Nothing in those Ignatieff ads tells the viewer to vote Conservative. Attack ads can, however, tell the viewer that the attacker plays dirty politics. It is quite possible that some viewers were turned off by Ignatieff because of the ads. But there is no indication that those viewers went to the Tories in droves. On the face of it, the ads have changed nothing.

EKOS also asked who would make the best Prime Minister. Unfortunately, it seems they limited the answers to Harper or Ignatieff, so I can't add it to my Best PM tracker. In any event, Harper edged out Ignatieff 30% to 26%, with the rest saying "neither".

The regional breakdown in the Angus-Reid poll is spotty, but what has been released is a Liberal lead in Ontario (43% to 36%), a Tory lead in British Columbia (45% to 26%), and a Bloc lead in Quebec over the Liberals (36% to 33%, with the Conservatives at 10%).

Unfortunately, because I don't have the complete details, the poll can't be updated just yet. However, both EKOS and Angus-Reid are relatively quick with posting new information, so hopefully I can have an update before the end of the day or tomorrow.


  1. Éric, isn't it too soon to say that the ads haven't worked? How quickly would we expect to see results, and what results were we expecting?

    The assumption seems to be that the desired result was to immediately depress the Liberal horse-race numbers and increase the Conservative ones.

    But, I don't believe that was the intention at all. I think the Conservatives wanted to achieve some longer-term objectives, including limiting some of Ignatieff's positives, enhancing some of his negatives, and perhaps even reinforcing anti-Liberal arguments that would resonate with NDP and Bloc supporters to prevent their support from bleeding to the Libs.

    You're certainly right when you saw that attack ads don't necessarily work to the advantage of the attacking party. Sometimes that's by design (perhaps in this case?), and sometimes by accident (e.g., the first NDP french language ads of the last campaign, at least according to Paul Wells).

    These new very large sample Ekos polls are going to be very interesting to follow, aren't they!

  2. er, that should read "when you SAY that attack ads don't necessarily ..."

  3. The ads have been out for a little while, and people tend to forget things like this after they've been off the air. So, we should expect to see movement while the ads are on the air and perhaps a week or two after they are off the air. We haven't seen any movement that would lead us to believe the ads have had a particular effect.

    But you're right, they could have long-term influence. And what's worse, we wouldn't know about it. Would the Liberals be at 36%-40% if it weren't for these ads?

    The polls that have specifically looked at the ads show they've been inconclusive at best. Money well spent? Hard to say. If I had to bet on things, I'd say the Tories would have been better off, and richer, without the ad campaign.


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