Saturday, August 22, 2009

Minorities and Conservative Re-Election

Nanos has an interesting poll on their site today. It was taken between July 30 and August 2, so it is a little old, and involved 1,002 Canadians.

The poll had two questions. First, Canadians were asked if they had a positive or negative opinion of minority governments (they could also say somewhat positive or somewhat negative). Surprisingly, Canadians have a positive opinion of minority governments:

Positive - 53.9%
Negative - 37.3%

This sort of puts into question the potential Conservative strategy of asking for a majority. Of course, if the Conservatives had 37.3% of the vote they might get a majority, but obviously not every person who is against minority governments will vote for either the Conservatives or the Liberals.

Every region of the country has more positive views of minority governments than negative ones. In fact, only British Columbia did not have more than 50% with positive attitudes towards minority governments.

Atlantic Canada is most in favour of them, at 66.2%, followed by Quebec (55.9%). The strongest negative opinions came from British Columbia (40.8%) and Ontario (39.0%).

This demonstrates that asking for a majority for the sake of a majority is probably not a winning strategy. Better to ask Canadians to vote for your party because of the merits of your party and hope for the best. Canadians aren't so frustrated with minority governments that they will do anything to avoid them. To me, this says that the next election will be like the others: about the parties rather than the form of government.

The second question asked whether the Conservatives deserve to be re-elected or if a change is necessary. Not surprisingly, a majority believe a change is necessary (otherwise, the Conservatives would be at 50% or more in the polls!):

Change - 58.5%
Re-Elect - 31.9%

That leaves about 10% of Canadians unsure, giving the Conservatives good room for growth. But the amount of Canadians who currently want a Conservative re-election is too low to even give them a minority government.

Change is most desired in Quebec (68.7%) and Atlantic Canada (62.3%). This bodes well for the Liberals, who are the favourite option in Atlantic Canada and who are currently the favourite government-option in Quebec. Even in the Prairies (including Alberta), a plurality want change - 44.9%.

Those most in favour of re-electing the Conservatives can be found in the Prairies (including Alberta) and British Columbia (41.2% and 34.4%, respectively). Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, only the Quebec numbers for "re-election" would be a decent electoral result (24.5%). Otherwise, the Conservatives would be at lows of 26.5% in Atlantic Canada, and 32.6% in Ontario (especially troublesome).

What we've seen this summer is that no one is in a position of certainty. There have been no "slam-dunk" polls for any of the parties, and every party has a good chance of not reaching their goals. The Tories are virtually assured of losing seats, and maybe even government. The Liberals will certainly grow their caucus, but could find themselves in the opposition again. The Bloc is unlikely to increase their parliamentary representation, and the NDP is likely to lose anywhere from 20% to 50% of their current seat holdings.

Considering the situation, you'd think that they'd all be trying to avoid an election. But for the opposition the potential gains might be too much to ignore: the Liberals could form government, the Bloc could return to some of its traditional strongholds in the province, and the NDP could be in a bargaining position for power or influence. Throw in the fact that they have all been saying how horrible the Harper government is, it just might be enough to put us into an election come November.