Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Liberal brand takes 10-year beating

In business, branding is an integral factor in getting your product sold. Done correctly, it helps keep existing customers loyal and attracts new ones. It’s no different in politics – and over the last decade the Liberal brand has declined in the face of its more successful Conservative competitor.

The rest of the article can be read on The Globe and Mail website.

The connection between a federal and provincial party can sometimes be very weak. As I point out in my piece, it can sometimes by in name only (I'm looking at you, BC Liberals). In many cases, voters completely differentiate their provincial and federal voting habits. In other cases, a Liberal voter in Quebec, for example, is a Liberal voter at both levels of government.

At the minimum, I think there is an undeniable sub-conscious effect of seeing the Liberals, Conservatives, or New Democrats doing badly at either the provincial or federal level. Being used to voting one way provincially would undoubtedly have some effect on federal voting habits, perhaps even without realizing it.

I usually keep to a one-a-day schedule, but not today. Don't miss this morning's post on the new Abacus Data poll, and stay tuned for an afternoon post after Angus-Reid's latest findings. With EKOS coming tomorrow, it will make for a very busy week.



    Boy, that AR poll is really troubling for the Liberals. While the overall numbers are the same as in 2008, the regional breakdown suggests that the Tories may be poised to gain more seats than they won in 2008.

    The Tories seem to have lost support in BC, Alberta and Quebec. But Tory support was so high in Alberta and BC in 2008 that that loss in vote isn't likely to translate into a corresponding loss in seats. Same in Quebec, while the Tories are less popular than they were in 2008, they won 6 or 7 of their seats in 2008 by hefty margins, so, maybe only 4-5 seats are vulnerable.

    In contrast, in Ontario, the AR poll gives the Tories a 13% lead over the Liberals. That's the sort of lead Dalton McGuinty had in 2003 and 2007 when he took 70-odd seats in the Province (in the same or similar ridings). Picking up an extra 20 seats in Ontario would probably more than offset any losses in BC and Quebec and could put the Tories into a majority.

    I had figured that the Tories would be happy to coast in power until 2012 (if only so that they could keep appointing Senators), but if these polls keep up, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Tories do something provacative in the spring budget. And equally, I could see the Liberals rolling over on it to avoid triggering an election.

    The AR poll suggests that the Tories have also made significant gains in the Atlantic provinces. Obviously, it depends on how those gains are spread out amongst the Provinces, but if I had to guess, there's been substantial Tory resurgence in Newfoundland (since that's where the greatest opportunity for growth for the Tories was), so I could see them retaking the 3 seats they won there in 2006.

  2. I have to disagree, Eric.

    Not that the Liberal brand has taken a beating - of course it has. But often I find that in quite a few provinces, a Liberal voter provincially may vote differently federally, or vice versa, and this is the norm. In Ontario, I think the gap is closer, but provinces like Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and on and on, most people will vote differently. Ontario ends up closest because so much Liberal support comes out of the GTA for the feds and the provincials, and we share so much data here.

    Yet, in a weird twist, people end up voting differently in the provincial elections that they've voted federally. You look at the history of governments in power in the provinces and in power federally at any given point in history, and more often than not you'll find Conservatives in power in more provinces when the Liberals are in power federally, and vice versa. The brands fail, renew themselves, then fall again, and the cycle repeats.

    The same can often be seen in the US. People like some opposition, and when you have multiple levels of governments, you'll find that time after time, people will vote differently in order for some semblance of opposition. The formula changes during wave elections and etc., but there are always exceptions.

    So maybe its not so much the brand, maybe its just a cycle.

  3. You may well be right. But wouldn't that argue that we'd see the provincial Liberals on the upswing since 2006?

  4. They have been, sort of. They won 2007 despite McGuinty not being the best of leaders, and they did this coming off of severely bad polling during their first term in government with all the mess that accompanied it. They're just starting to slow down now.

  5. Volkov what you're saying is highly speculative.

    Federal and provincial elections are months and months apart.

    This could easily explain any splits in voting behaviour while supporting Eric's thesis because:

    a) Voters got their anger out at the brand in the previous election (provincial before federal or vice versa)

    b) Opinions and arguments often come in cycles and waves. In the space between a provincial and federal election things could have shifted.

    (I think there's actually an academic study somewhere that debunks the myth of Ontario voters prefering divided government.)

  6. Shadow,

    I know it's speculative, as is this site in general. ;)

    But there is definitely a trend, at least one I've noticed, where the party in power at one level of government, often seems to be counterbalanced by another party in power at another level of government.

    I could be right, I could be wrong, but its simply something I've noticed in my research. Maybe someone could look into it more deeply than myself. I don't know. It just seems very coincidental.

  7. But arguably that is changing, or is at least different right now.

    Alberta, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland & Labrador are currently run by Progressive Conservatives.

    Saskatchewan and British Columbia are run by conservative parties.

    Ontario is set to elect the Progressive Conservatives next year, while Manitoba might also find itself with a PC government.

    That's 7 out of 10 provinces with or about to have a government that wouldn't be considering in opposition to the federal government.

  8. Eric,

    Arguably, the BC Liberals are a liberal-conservative party, or essentially, they go both ways. I dunno how you count that.

    Whats more, if all those predictions come true, then PEI will be the only Liberal-run province. That's a comparable situation to about about 30 years ago, during the beginning of the 1980's, when there were zero Liberal premiers from 1979 to 1985. What happened in 1980 and 1984, again?

    If all these predictions come true, then maybe its a prelude to another Liberal win. Except the problem is, we're not exactly on track for it. But it has happened time and time again, so I don't know - if its not a cycle, is it just coincidence?

  9. VOlkov,

    It's hard to tell with Ontario because for 42 years there was no fluctuation at the provincial level. Ontarians elected provincial Tories for four decades regardless of who they voted for federally.

    That said, while I don't really buy the theory that voters consciously choose to have different parties at the federal and provincial level, I have a good theory why we might expect to see that pattern.

    Basically, let's assume that the supply of skilled politicians is finite. There are only so many people who would make good Liberal leaders and only so many people who would make good Tory leaders. Now, if the Tories are strong in Ontario (say), and you're a gifted Liberal politician, are you going to run provincially in order to sit as an opposition backbencher, or are you going to run federally, where maybe you have a better chance of forming the government? The same is true in reverse, if you're a skilled Tory politician, and the Liberals are running the show federally, why would you want to spend your days as a backbencher, when you have a better chance at Queen's park.

    It's hard to say, of course, but it's interesting to note the general lack of "talent" amongst the Liberals in Ontario provincially in the 1990s (Lynn McCleod, really?) and to contrast that with the lack of "talent" amongst the reform and PC parties in Ontario federally.

    Moreover, in 2000 we saw the reluctance of some of the Ontario heavy-hitters to make a move to Ottawa (presumably thinking that they were still on to a good thing in Ontario). However, after they got turfed in 2003, look how many of them promptly made the jump to Ottawa (Flaherty, Clement, Baird), which left the Provincial Tory talent pool somewhat drained, but played a key roll in strengthening the Tories in Ontario federally.

    If you accept that skilled politicians tend to flock to winners, you might expect to see a party flourish at one level (as it attracts all the talent) while it fails at another level (where it has to make do with the B-squad).

    That wouldn't explain the apparent success of conservative parties both federally and provincially these days. I wonder, though, if this might not be a fall-out from the Martin-Chretien wars, which arguablly killed off the political careers of a lot of the heavy hitters in the Liberal firmament, leaving the talent pool somewhat dried up.

  10. Ekos is out and blows all the rest of this twaddle away

  11. mmmm the same ekos that has the tories leading in every metropolitan region it polls in (you know.. where they don't do well). But still only scraping the top of 33%

    The same ekos that reports a four point gap, when the other 3 polls this week reported 11, 12, and 7?

    The same ekos that changed its reporting methodology (again) this week and is now reporting the first week, and then a 2 week rollup instead of splitting the weeks apart???

    The same ekos that reports the liberals at 58% in the atlantic,.. but at 42 percent for atlantic men, and 42% for atlantic women??

    The same ekos that declared this week that the Greens would get a majority if only under 25 yr olds voted? Most of whom don't seem to live in the big cities.

    The same ekos that reports a liberal lead of 30% in the atlantic when the other 3 polls this week give the tories a small lead? A 30-40 point swing against 3 other pollsters and you think this is the one that is right??

    The same ekos that gives the tories a 0.5% lead in ontario when the other 3 this week offer 7, 8 and 13?? That's not a rounding error.

    Ekos also made a show of "computer problems" a couple weeks ago. And they were 8-10 hours late releasing this one this week. It's not the first time they have changed their reporting methods, polled a 3rd sex heavily, or been heavily offside with other pollsters.

    Far from "blowing all the rest of this twaddle away", Peter.... Ekos is instead on its way to becoming a junk pollster.

  12. They weren't late. They announced a schedule change on an on-going basis. Expect it in the evenings from now on.

  13. I am waiting for Eric's seat prediction on the EKOS poll and if it is a CPC majority.

    The CPC won the Urban areas and women vote. Just the win of half the Toronto seats should be enough.

    We will see if he is as adamant about the CPC gains in Toronto as he has been on Liberals winning seats in Alberta.

    Urban areas

    Vancouver CPC 45% Liberal 20.7
    Toronto CPC 37.9 Liberal 36.9
    Calgary CPC 56.6 Liberal 29.2
    Ottawa CPC 48 Liberal 42.6
    Montreal Liberal 21.8 CPC 14.8 Bloc 42

    There is not one urban centre where the Liberals are first choice. The CPC leading in Toronto would be the eqivalent of the Liberals leading on the CPC home turf of Alberta.

    Surely the Liberal have to be leading with women? NOT!!!

    female gender CPC 30.8 Liberal 30.0

    This poll is an awful poll for the Liberals. Their bottom end/ bedrock support/ worst case scenerio is being eroded.


COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. PLEASE KEEP DISCUSSION ON TOPIC.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.