One of the things I will be doing over the next few months is tracking the polls in Canada, especially the regional numbers, in the run-up to the federal election. In my view, during the past six months the numbers have not meant much.
We now have two key changes in place: Paul Martin has become Prime Minister, and the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives have merged to form the new Conservative Party of Canada. Even this picture won’t be complete until the new CPC has a leader. (I suspect this is going to be current Alliance leader Stephen Harper.) I think it will still take some weeks until it has penetrated the consciousness of a significant portion of the public that the merger has really happened.
Indeed one of the first polls out of the gate by Ipsos Reid illustrated the significance of party brand name. The new CPC, an apparent Alliance takeover, initially seemed to perform better in Atlantic Canada, the traditionally strong region for the former PC party, than British Columbia, a bastion of Alliance/ Reform support since 1993 (the new Conservatives lead in Alberta). This should sort itself out early this year but for now, except in Alberta, the poll profile of the new party looks more PC than Alliance.