Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't celebrate yet: Ignatieff is under-performing Dion

Jeez, another positive poll and the Liberals are already celebrating their impending conquest.

Allow me to provide two data points for what I hope will be sober reflection.

1) From December 13th of this year:
OTTAWA–Newly appointed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is in a virtual tie with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the person Canadians think would be the best to lead the country, a new poll exclusive to the Star reveals.

Ignatieff tops the list of party leaders Canadians would prefer as prime minister, with 28 per cent of respondents naming him the best head of government, according to the Toronto Star/Angus Reid survey....

The survey also shows the Liberals rise to 31 per cent in voting intentions – an increase of nine percentage points since earlier this month, and the Conservatives drop five percentage points to 37 per cent in the same period.
Okay, so that's right after Ignatieff's selection and people haven't gotten to know him, right?

2) From December 4, 2006's Globe and Mail (no link, it's from Lexis-Nexis.)
The Liberals have moved six percentage points ahead of Stephen Harper's Tories, while a sizable majority of Quebeckers say the Liberals made a good choice, according to the survey conducted by the Strategic Counsel for The Globe and Mail and CTV.

The poll was taken in the hours after the dramatic convention, where Mr. Dion, teaming up in an alliance with fellow candidate Gerard Kennedy, surged past front-runner Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae to claim the Liberal crown.

It shows that if an election were held today, the Liberals led by Mr. Dion would garner 37 per cent of the vote, compared with 31 per cent for the Conservatives. The NDP polled 14 per cent, the Bloc Québécois 11 per cent, and the Green Party 7.
Just to clear that up:

Early Dion poll -- Liberals 37, Conservatives 31.
Early Iggy poll -- Liberals 31, Conservatives 37.

This is called data, people. If you've got numbers of your own, by all means bring 'em. But I think the bar Ignatieff needs to clear is a poll showing +6 Liberal support.

Now, I think it's fair to say that this is an apples-and-oranges comparison, seeing as Dion inherited a party with a much shinier brand than Ignatieff has. Nevertheless, the point is this: the new guy always looks good. Dion looked good. John Tory looked good here in Ontario. Both have found the results of elections to be disappointing.

Maybe Ignatieff will display more political acumen than I've seen thus far, and help re-build the badly tarnished brand that he's inherited. But -- so far -- there's absolutely zero evidence that Ignatieff has repaired anything. Liberals jumping for joy at the arrival of their saviour need to put their heads down and take a few deep breaths.


janfromthebruce said...

John, great insight and data comparison. It is only when you compared this data side by side that the obvious speaks to itself.
It would be also interesting to see the polling questions, particularly when both polls were commissioned by newspapers with private interests at stake.

Progressive Maritimer said...

The two are impossible to compare precisely for the reasons you state. At 31%, the Liberals got as 9 point boost, whereas Dion only received a 5 point boost when he was elected leader (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061203.wlibspoll1204/BNStory/LiberalBackgrounder/home). So in terms of a boost in public support, one could argue it's point Ignatieff (and he is an unknown quantity to some extent, but unlike Dion, he can match Harper in leadership numbers which is good).

The party itself is in a much worse state than before Dion was elected. It is now in serious financial trouble and the base has partially collapsed. So far in tough economic times people trust the Conservatives (which is ridiculous for obvious reasons but what does the average voter know), yet despite all of this, the Liberals are suddenly within striking distance again. It will be very interesting to see what kind of fund raising numbers come out. That is going to be a crucial test.