Thursday, February 3, 2011

Potluck polling from Ipsos-Reid

Since horse race numbers can get dull (never), earlier this week Ipsos-Reid released a series of polls conducted for Postmedia News and Global Television that covered a plethora of other political topics. So, let's get right into them.

We'll start with the polls concerning the five party leaders.

The most relevant question asked of the respondents to this online poll was who would make the best Prime Minister. Ipsos-Reid provided three options:Not surprisingly, Stephen Harper came out on top with 48%, with a peak of 67% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and a low of 29% in Quebec. Jack Layton got 35%, highest in Quebec (54%) and lowest in the Prairies (24%).

Michael Ignatieff rounded out the three with only 16%. His highest score came in Ontario (19%), while his lowest was in the Prairies (9%).

This would only be remarkable if it was any different from the numbers we've been seeing for months and months. But according to a recent poll from Pollara conducted for the Liberal Party, only 15% of Canadians are paying attention to politics. A campaign will certainly attract more eye balls, and the test for Ignatieff will be whether he can improve his numbers when people are actually paying attention to what he has to say. My gut tells me he will be able to do that, but the question is how successful he will be. Bumping his "Best PM" numbers up to 25% wouldn't even do him that much good.

Ipsos-Reid also asked whether Canadians thought each leader should stay or go if the next election ends in a defeat or a poor performance for their party. The result for Michael Ignatieff is bad, but Harper's is a bit of surprise.The biggest vote of confidence goes to Gilles Duceppe. Fully 66% of Quebecers say he should stay on even if his next election goes badly (43% said so in Canada as a whole), while 60% of Canadians think Layton should stick around even if things don't go well.

Elizabeth May got 57% on this question.

Next was Stephen Harper, with 51% saying he should stay. That's relatively low, and it is likely that those who said he should stay are those who named him the best man for the top job. But his welcome only seems to go as far as his ability to win, whereas Canadians seem just fine with having Layton, Duceppe, and May in the news indefinitely.

Only 27% of Canadians said Ignatieff should stay if the next election goes badly for him. Without any crosstabs of party support, we can't really say much about that. If that number comes 100% from Liberal voters (but surely it does not), then it isn't all that bad. If 100% of Liberal voters want him to leave if he doesn't win, then that would be significant.

Now, what about the various characteristics and traits the leaders are perceived to have by the Canadian public? Ipsos-Reid asked a similar type of question as Angus-Reid has done in the past, listing some traits and asking whether each leader embodies them.

In Quebec only, Gilles Duceppe scored highest on "experienced" (54%), "in it for the right reasons" (41%), "honest" (40%), and "competent" (40%). He scored far worse outside of Quebec, but that isn't really relevant.

Jack Layton's best was "experienced" (43%), and he also scored 39% on "competent", "sincere", and "in it for the right reasons".

Stephen Harper's top three were also positive: "experienced' (59%), "competent" (47%), and "good manager" (42%).

Michael Ignatieff's were not. Ipsos-Reid gave respondents the chance to parrot back the Conservative advertisement slogan like some mattress store jingle, and 50% agreed that Ignatieff was "not a leader". Another 34% said he was "tired", but 23% said he was "competent". Those were his top three, and that 23% was his third highest score might indicate that a lot of Canadians don't know much about the Liberal leader (except that he isn't a leader).

On to other issues, like the Senate!

Almost a majority of Canadians (49%) would like to see the Senate reformed. Ipsos-Reid mentioned making senators elected as a possible reform. This scored highest in Alberta at 59%, but lowest in Quebec at 39%.

One-third of Canadians (33%) want to see it abolished outright. This was most preferred in Quebec (45%), but least preferred in Alberta (23%).

Another 18% wanted no change, but there was no significant geographical difference in this opinion.

Finally, what about an election? Apparently, and this will be news to you I'm sure, we might have one soon. But according to Ipsos-Reid, only 36% believe that we need an election to "clear the air", an opinion most prevalent in British Columbia and Quebec. The remaining 64% think there is no need for an election at the moment.

This doesn't jive completely with some of the other numbers we've seen, but it isn't far off.

And so you're now up to date on a bunch of different things. I'm not sure what we can take from any of these polls, as the results are not very surprising. Perhaps most remarkable is how effective the Conservative "not a leader" campaign has been. Whoda thunkit?


  1. Perhaps the Tory "not-a-leader" ad campaign succeeded because Iggy is not a leader. Just a thought.

  2. Wait, wasn't "not a leader" for Stephane Dion ?

    "Just visiting" and now "he didn't come back for you" are Ignatieff's tag lines.

    Lol, n/ a leader is a zombie meme!

    The attack ads were so effective that they carried on against the next Liberal leader.

  3. "Not a Leader" - because tearing down other people on a personal level shows how much leadership you really have.

    I mean, really, I get that they're effective and whatnot, but is there no Conservative out there that finds issue with attacking another human being on such a personal level? Policies are one thing, but attacking someone's loyalty to his birth nation, questioning the decisions he made for his career and family, and putting that forward as something legitimate for people to base their decisions on.... that's what you, or anyone else, Liberals included, are reduced to? And then it gets cheered on (while you lash out at the other side for doing the same thing)? I never thought our political scene was as pathetic as that.

  4. Volkov one of the rules of politics is that people only complain about the rules when they're losing.

    Calls for civility are usually about disarming your opponents or making them less attractive to voters for the crime of being uncivilized.

    Very rarely do people actually want a nicer, kinder politics.

    Especially when it would mean their side would have to stop doing the EXACT SAME THING.

    The style of the attacks against Ignatieff are almost identical to the attacks against Harper that started in 2004 and continue to this day:

    Harper = control freak, proto-dictator, hates women, hates gays, wants to be an american, hates the east.

    I think both sets of attacks are fine - compared to history they're actually rather tame.

    If you want to object to attacks be sure to object to BOTH sets of attacks next time.

    Otherwise it makes you look more like a partisan Liberal trying to score points against Harper than a serious individual wanting to improve the state of politics.

  5. Volkov
    Policies are one thing, but attacking someone's loyalty to his birth nation, questioning the decisions he made for his career and family, and putting that forward as something legitimate for people to base their decisions on.... that's what you, or anyone else, Liberals included, are reduced to?

    And guess who stepped in as expected and said these were absolutely fine??

    I don't remember Pearson-Dief being this vitriolic, or Trudeau-Mulroney, or a whole bunch of other major players over the years??

    Seems to me these really surfaced when Reform arrived ??

  6. Volkov,

    Here's the thing, to misquote an old expression, the personal is political. The individual politician matters.

    Look, Canadian voters are savvy enough to know that, while it pays to look at what a party says they're going to do, once the election ends, they're probably going to do something else. And that's not because politicians are a bunch of lying rats (well, it's not ONLY because politicians are bunch of lying rats). The reality is that unanticipated events and circumstances will arise and politicians (and particularly the PM in our system) will have to make judgement calls.

    Given that reality, why wouldn't voters look at a potential prime ministers character, motives, experience, values etc? They want to know that, when push comes to shove, that person will "good" (as understood by the voter) decisions. And that's why the "not a leader" or "hidden agenda" type campaigns work, because they go to a core concern for voters.

    And, let's be fair, there's often an element of truth to these sorts of campaigns. I mean, take Stephane Dion and the "not a leader" campaign. Unfair, right? Except, in retrospect, Dion's judgement was attrocious. I mean, not only did he sign on to an agreement to form a coalition backed by the Bloc (which, had it happened would have decimated the Liberals in English Canada), but having done that, he promptly bungled the campaign to convince Canadians that it was a good idea by running the most amateur hour video possible (You'll recall, that it was both late to get to the networks and, when it got there, looked like it had been filmed by an amateur pornographer).

    And, I'm not partisan on the point, in 2004 Canadians were concerned about would do if he were prime minister, and the way he bungled the end of the 2004 election campaign gave them every reason to do so. Now, in retrospect, there wasn't any truth to the "hidden agenda" campaign the Grits ran, which became clear once people got more exposure to Harper (which is why it no longer works for the Grits). But in 2004 that wasn't neccesarily obvious, and it was a fair point for the Liberals to raise, because Canadians were asking it themselves.

  7. Attack ads work. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

  8. Peter and Volkov did you guys miss Ignatieff today ?

    He said Harper was betraying Canadian values and clinging to the dictator Mubarak. Oh the smell of sulfur is heavy in the air today!

    Suggestion: When you complain about negativity in politics don't blame it on the CPC or Reform.

    It happens on all sides and its been around forever.

    The flag debate, price and wage controls, national energy program, free trade - things got pretty ugly and heated on all these issues.

    Attack ads are nothing new.

    Dirty politics has been around since politics has been around.

  9. Shadow

    It happens on all sides and its been around forever.

    That's where you really betray your supreme lack of knowledge.

    I can remember back as far as the early 50's. There was none of this supreme nasty stuff. Nada Zip !

    So where does it first appear ?? When Reform surfaces in the early 90's !!!

    So the link to the kind of crap the Repigs have spewed in that period is obvious. BUT !!! This isn't the USA !!

    This is CANADA, get used to it !!

  10. Peter you don't think you're being negative by suggesting Conservatives are really American Republicans ?

    (As if anyone who's to the right side of things isn't a true Canadian.)

    Peter you don't remember Trudeau giving the west the finger ?

    Peter you don't remember the war measures act and the nasty fight during the first referendum ?

    By the way, it was the old PC party that ran an advertisement mocking Chretien's face. NOT the reform party.

    My suspicion was right. You're not concerned about the tone of our politics.

    You're just launching a hyper-partisan attack against Conservatives so that people won't want to vote for them.

    The idea they invented nasty politics is so ridiculous.

    At confederation they called JAM a drunk and a rake. That was over a century BEFORE reform existed.

  11. Peter,

    Maybe your memory is fading. Television attack ads may be relatively new, but attack ads of all sorts long pre-date the TV era, much less the reform party (see

    Nor, contrary to your partisan prejudices, are they a product of , or the exclusive doman of, conservative parties. The modern US television attack ad, after all, was a 1964 Demoratic attack ad on Barry Goldwater (, which you might be old enough to remember, which is credited with helping to sink his presidential campaign.


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