New poll could cool election fever
[PoliticsWatch updated 4:55 p.m. April 10, 2007]
OTTAWA — A poll
released over the holiday weekend could cool speculation on
Parliament Hill about the possibility of a spring election.
Research poll released on Easter Sunday showed the governing
Conservative Party still short of the 40 per cent national support
needed to win a majority government.
The poll shows the Conservatives have the support of 36 per cent of
"committed voters." The Liberals have 33 per cent support,
the NDP has 16 and the Bloc Quebecois is at 10. The poll of 931
committed voters was conducted between March 31 and April 5.
The SES Research poll is the first to come out since several other
pollsters have released polls showing the Conservatives closer to or
over the magic 40-per-cent mark.
The new polling results are very similar to last year's federal
election numbers, which resulted in a Conservative minority.
Numerous reporters on Parliament Hill had been anxiously awaiting
the SES Research numbers in recent weeks because the polling firm
has been the most accurate in the last two federal elections. In the
2006 election, SES's final poll was off by just one-tenth of a
percentage point of the election results for each of the four major
"Our poll shows that the Conservatives are short of forming a majority government at this point in
time," Nik Nanos, CEO of SES Research, told
PoliticsWatch in an interview on Tuesday.
"They only have a three-point advantage. Mathematically it's a tie."
In recent weeks much of the journalistic narrative coming out of
Parliament Hill has been centred around a spring election campaign
which the Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of wanting to
force to catch Liberal Leader Stephane Dion unprepared.
The Conservatives have done little to counter that perception by
launching three sets of ads attacking Dion's leadership and last
week giving reporters a tour of a campaign war room set up in an
industrial park in Ottawa.
The hottest on hobby on Parliament Hill has been for reporters to
figure out what piece of legislation or issue will trigger the
government's defeat and force a spring election where the
Conservatives hope to win a majority government.
Two weeks ago, John Reynolds, a former Conservative MP who is
expected to be the national campaign co-chair in the next election,
caused ears to perk up when he openly suggested during a TV
discussion panel that if the Liberals held up Conservative crime
bills when Parliament returned from the holiday break then "you might see the prime minister say it's time to go to the people."
But according to Nanos, the poll shows an election at this point in time is a
"risk" for both the Conservatives and the Liberals.
SES Research also released another poll that was clearly good news
for the Conservatives.
Best Prime Minister poll showed Prime Minister Stephen Harper
with a huge lead over Dion.
The poll found that 42 per cent of respondents thought Harper would
make the best prime minister compared to 16 per cent for the Liberal
A further breakdown of this poll shows more alarming numbers for
Liberals. Only 40 per cent of Liberals surveyed said Dion would make
the best PM. Harper was second for Liberals with 26.4 per cent.
Harper was also the second choice for the NDP and the Bloc.
In Dion's home province of Quebec it's not that much better. The
Liberal leader is the pick of just 10 per cent of Quebecers as best
PM, compared to 43 per cent for Harper.
These findings created great concern from several Liberal bloggers
Liberal blogger Far and Wide highlighted Dion receiving just 40 per
cent of the best PM votes from Liberals and wrote that it "speaks to internal problems"
in the party because "if the rank and file aren't impressed, you can't hope to win over the
Nanos credits Harper's performance as PM over the past year and the
effect of the negative ad campaign against Dion as the two factors
showing a large gap for best PM.
"My sense is this is probably at the bottom of the cycle for Stephane
Dion," he said.
Nanos said the Best PM and the national support polls can't be
viewed in isolation.
"You can't just point to one part of a poll. If you look at the ballot numbers it looks tight. If you look at the leadership numbers
then it looks better for the Conservatives. It's a mixed bag for everyone."
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