Saturday, April 15, 2006

Harper's Honeymoon

It did not get much notice when it was released last week but this poll from Environics confirms that we are in the middle of the Harper honeymoon period.

The national results are: Conservatives – 41%, Liberals – 22% and NDP 21%. These numbers are echoed by a Strategic Counsel poll in today’s Globe that has things a little better for the Liberals: Conservatives – 39%, Liberals – 29% and NDP 14%.

Liberal support is depressed in part because they are leaderless and in transition. To me the most interesting aspect of the poll is that despite an enormous gap between first and second place, my seat calculation suggests the Conservatives still fall short of a majority, largely because although they are up in Quebec, the BQ remains far ahead – 44% to 29%. (The Bloc is also up in the Strategic Counsel poll.)

My seat projections based on Environics are: Conservatives – 152, Liberals – 57, NDP – 41, BQ – 57, Independent – 1.

Some other results from the poll: Harper’s approval rating is up to 60%, another indication of the honeymoon period. The NDP doesn’t get much attention, but this poll found that Layton’s approval remained high at 58%.

Of greater interest was another three part question which found that 91% thought the election result was a product of either dissatisfaction with the former government (54%) or a feeling it was time for a change (37%) rather than the attraction of Conservative policies (5%).

This strikes me as perfectly normal. The Liberals defeated themselves, and the Conservatives don’t really have a mandate for anything except good governance.

The Strategic Counsel poll also has numbers on the Liberal leadership that deserve to be ignored given that only 19% of respondents had an opinion. That makes the details unimportant. I would say generally that polls on the leadership race should be ignored especially at this early stage of the race. (The NDP released a poll this week with question they commissioned on Bob Rae but that appears largely to be a tactical move aimed at deflecting the embarrassment of Rae’s defection.) I plan to write more about the leadership race, which looks like it will be quite interesting.

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