Skip to comments.[Canadian] Tories jump into clear lead
Posted on 01/05/2006 5:35:15 AM PST by Heatseeker
OTTAWAThe election campaign has taken a dramatic turn, with the opposition Conservatives jumping into their first real lead over the governing Liberals, a new poll shows.
The survey, conducted by EKOS Research Associates for the Star and La Presse, found that 36.2 per cent of decided voters say they will support the Conservatives, while 30.4 per cent favoured the Liberals.
The NDP is supported by 17.9 per cent of voters, while the Bloc is at 10.4 per cent nationally and the Green party is at 4.7 per cent.
If the numbers hold up, it would mean a Tory minority government.
However, the electorate is still volatile, with 40 per cent of respondents saying they could still change their minds.
Until now, polls have shown the Liberals in the lead or, more recently, the two parties in a virtual tie. The EKOS poll came on the same day an SES poll was released showing the Conservatives leading the Liberals 36 to 33 per cent.
The EKOS poll shows that an effective campaign by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has combined with a renewed focus on Liberal ethics to reverse the position of the two parties.
Results for Ontario and Quebec are eye-catching. In Ontario, where the Liberals have always enjoyed a big lead, a real dogfight has now emerged, with the Liberals at 38.5 per cent support and the Tories at 35.3.
In Quebec, where Harper has spent an unusual amount of time, the two parties are in almost a dead heat with the Liberals at 21.9 per cent and the Conservatives at 20.2. The Bloc Québécois is well ahead at 43.8, but the increased Tory support has come at the Bloc's expense. The shift shows Quebec voters are eyeing a federalist alternative other than the Liberals.
The poll will be a dispiriting blow to the Liberals, who have to rally their troops for the final push to the Jan. 23 vote.
But it will also hold dangers for the Tories, making them a target in a way they've escaped so far.
Many Tories are privately cringing at the prospect of peaking too early, as seemed to be the case in the 2004 campaign.
"It would be better not to be the target this early," said one senior Tory.
That danger was illustrated last night when NDP Leader Jack Layton lashed out at Harper, saying a Harper government would wreak havoc on the Canadian federation and team with Quebec separatists in a destabilizing move for the country.
"The Conservatives want to dismantle the Canadian state. So does the Bloc," Layton told reporters on his campaign plane.
The poll suggests that Canadians are looking at Harper in a new light, said Frank Graves, president of EKOS.
The trend is so bad for the Liberals that Harper has overtaken Prime Minister Paul Martin 28 per cent to 25 per cent as the leader respondents say is doing the best job of articulating a positive vision for Canada.
"I think we're seeing the lagged effects of a continued set of announcements that say `Here's exactly what I'm going to do. There's no hidden agenda here. Here it is. You may not agree with it, but there's nothing hidden about it,'" Graves said. "And so he's gone from having a major disadvantage with Martin on who has a positive vision for the country to actually having a modest advantage."
The Tory campaign has tried hard to strike a measured tone and shed the image from the 2004 campaign that Harper is a shrill ideologue who isn't ready for the country's highest office.
Graves said part of the explanation for the Tory resurgence lies in the renewed focus on ethics after revelations the RCMP is probing opposition allegations of insider trading resulting from information leaks from government officials.
"I think it's really produced some fertile ground for (the opposition) ... not only do people want a change, now they're willing to consider Harper in terms of what specifically change would mean with him," said Graves, who cautioned there remains "a lot of fluidity" in the electorate and "this thing is still very much up in the air."
The survey includes results from two days of polling, and is considered accurate to plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Ten per cent of respondents said they are still undecided.
The results suggest that Harper's largely positive press in the early going driven by daily policy announcements and largely reactive Liberal and NDP campaigns is beginning to sink in with voters.
Support has melted away from the governing Liberals over the last 10 days, and in a way that is likely to demoralize the Liberal campaign.
The RCMP probe also risks tarnishing the reputation of Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, the one cabinet minister who was praised by Justice John Gomery in his initial report into the sponsorship scandal.
The NDP's numbers, meanwhile, have stalled and the idea that many of its voters could migrate to the Liberals if a Tory victory seems apparent is a paramount concern.
While the party is seeing gains in some parts of the country, the NDP vote is fragmenting in British Columbia, and voters are showing a "fragile" attachment to Layton.
The poll showed that the NDP risks being squeezed out by the dogfight between the Liberals and Tories, and getting noticed is exactly the aim of two bold ads the NDP started running on television last night.
"There's lots of noise in election campaigns," said NDP strategist Brad Lavigne. "And to be effective in getting your message to the electorate you've got to punch through."
In one ad, a money-filled bag, marked Liberal, drops from the sky. The ad goes on to highlight the NDP's familiar accusations of Liberal corruption and large corporate "tax giveaways."
The poll's regional breakdowns, which have a higher margin of error, offer a glimpse into a shifting situation in British Columbia and Quebec.
In B.C., the Tories, at 46.5 per cent, are gaining at the expense of both the Liberals and the NDP, who both have around 23 per cent support.
And in Quebec, the poll showed a startling rise in fortunes for Harper, who has been busily announcing a series of Quebec-friendly policies in recent weeks while playing down his opposition to same-sex marriage and to the Kyoto accord on climate change, both of which draw support in the province.
If the numbers hold, they would suggest that Bloc support is soft and that Harper is succeeding in convincing Quebecers his party is a worthwhile federalist alternative.
The poll also revealed that women are increasingly supporting the Tories, and that older voters are leaning Conservative while younger voters simply aren't paying attention.
"The under-45 population, by opting out, may well inherit a government that will have an agenda, values, interests on issues from same-sex (marriage) to pluralism, to the military, to health care versus education and so forth, that may not be particularly resonant with their values and interests," Graves said.
with files from Andrew Mills and Bruce Campion-Smith
But beware of panicked Dippers defecting to the Grits in BC and Ontario!
THROW THE BUMS OUT, CANADA!
The horrid gun control laws in Canada may be part what is fueling this....
Please FReepmail me to get on or off this Canada ping list.
Thanks for the link, GMMAC!
Yesterday, in a Nationwide poll conducted by a VERY liberal thinkthank said that 59% of Canadians wanted a change in Gov't...
...that's up 12% points from November :D
Not only that, but panicking opposition Liberals defecting to the Conservatives, or leaving that sinking ship to sit as independents, in the next Parliament.
With these numbers, the Conservatives would get about 50 seats in Ontario, and so would the Liberals - almost all of them in the Toronto area.
It's quite breathtaking if you look at a map of Ontario with those results...despite the fact the province is almost evenly split, the map looks like solid blue from Lake Superior southward, until you see the red pockets represent the GTA plus a few other isolated seats in Hamilton, central London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Kingston and central Ottawa. Windsor is NDP orange, the rest is solid blue for the most part...
I just love this sentence.
Note the centre-right's lead about half a month before the poll?
Sep 6, 2005
The election campaign is heating up with National taking a commanding lead in the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll.
National has shot up six points to 46%, Labour drops five points to 38%, creating a eight point gap two weeks out from polling day.
The Green Party is down one point to 6%. New Zealand First steady on 5% - they polled just a little under that but the figures are rounded out.
The Maori Party is up one point to 2%, while Act is down one point to 1%. United Future and Destiny New Zealand both have 1% support.
How would this translate into seats if it was an election night result? Allowing for Jim Anderton, Tariana Turia and Peter Dunne holding their electorate seats, National would be the largest party with 56 seats. It would be five short of a majority, so it would need NZ First's six.
Labour would have 46 seats - it has one pledged from Anderton's Progressives. The Greens would offer seven, but even with two from United Future and two from the Maori Party, it's still not enough. Labour would need the Greens and NZ First - a combination that is simply not going to happen.
NZ First is technically polling just under the crucial 5% threshold and leader Winston Peters is behind in his electorate, so what would happen if NZ First didn't make the cut?
National with 59 could form a majority with United Future's two seats.
Labour on 49 would need every other party - the Progressive's one, the Greens' seven, the Maori Party's two and United Future's two seats then become crucial.
It's a combination that may not happen, but judging by this poll it's a scenario worth considering.
In the preferred prime minister rankings, Helen Clark drops five points to 40%. Brash is up four to 31% while Peters is steady on seven.
Note the description of the right having the basics right, but making a lot of mistakes in not marketing savily enough and the left in power with the inpeccible spin machine and the anti-American rhetoric that the right "will sell the country out to Uncle Sam"?
By Simon Hendery
The election campaign curtain comes down tomorrow as party faithful dismantle hoardings and remove billboards across the country.
The Electoral Act prescribes a few hours free of political advertising so the electorate can ponder its options in peace.
But before then, the advertising industry cast its votes on who has won the battle of the campaign.
The general consensus appears to be that - of the two major parties - National has run a slicker advertising campaign, making more effective use of an all-important tool: humour.
"It's been quite a bitchy campaign," was one marketing academic's assessment. "There have been some really good ads but I'm not sure if they've swayed my opinions."
Anna Chitty, media director at advertising agency FCB, said National's telethon take-off television adverts had made them appear "not so starchy and straight as they may have in the past".
"It's been clever and it's all about recognising that the people they are talking to are smart."
Chitty said the telethon theme was effective at grabbing viewer attention, something that was notoriously difficult to achieve in political marketing where people were either highly apathetic or extremely opinionated.
Labour's campaign had been more traditional and, therefore, less effective at engaging through humour.
Mike Cunnington, managing director of AIM Proximity's Auckland office, said the early executions of National's red and blue billboards had been particularly effective, although he thought the later versions had been a bit weaker.
"Good political advertising needs to be really simple," said Cunnington, who was head of marketing and fundraising for Britain's Labour Party in the lead-up to Tony Blair's rise to power in 1997.
"The real trick is to find the simple messages that tap on the underlying views of the party rather than trying to get into the details of the policies."
He said Labour's billboards had been too reliant on quoting Don Brash, a strategy which required a relatively high level of political knowledge and processing compared with National's "in your face messages".
Cunnington found the National telethon ads "a little bit silly" and questioned whether they portrayed the party as it would want to be seen in government. He said as the incumbent, Labour was right to push a "don't go back" message.
"Possibly they haven't quite got on the front foot, despite the fact there have been some quite hairy media things for National to manage."
Whybin TBWA managing director Dave Walden said both parties campaigns had been "presidential" with advertising playing only a secondary role.
He was encouraged that both had used humour to connect with voters.
"A lot of political advertising has traditionally been someone talking at you, whereas this time, both parties have tried to be a little more entertaining, which is a good thing."
Walden said the billboards had been important to National because they had effectively crystallised the party's key messages in simple statements.
Two strange elements to the campaign were the billboard image of Winston Peters standing on the shore and the "highly retouched" images of Helen Clark "although you can't blame her for wanting to put her best foot forward".
Professor Peter Thirkell, a marketing specialist who is acting pro vice-chancellor and dean of commerce at Victoria University, said National's telethon campaign had been effective at gaining attention and reinforcing the party's central message around tax issues.
The party's billboard campaign had also been highly effective at getting across key messages, although the narrow focus of the campaign might have left them exposed. "I think a more proactive stance on two or three issues may have bolstered their position."
Labour's strong play on its experienced leadership team was a sensible position for it to have adopted.
The party's continued use of its pledge card was a useful tool, although the idea was "probably a bit passé now".
Labour had also lacked an element of excitement in its campaign.
Thirkell said: "Experience and credibility is a good platform but it has a tendency to be a bit backward looking."
And then? In the actual election on 17 September:
Sep 18, 2005
Minor party support will be needed to form a government after Labour held onto a 1% lead over National with all of the nationwide party votes counted in the 2005 General Election.
All but the special votes were counted just before midnight on Saturday with Labour sitting on 40.7% and National on 39.6%.
The results mean New Zealand has a caretaker government, leaving Helen Clark in charge as Labour and National look to form coalitions.
New Zealand First finished up on 5.9% and the Greens pushed above the threshold on 5.1%.
Transferred into seats in the house those figures would give Labour 50 seats, National 49, New Zealand First seven and six seats to the Greens.
With 5% of the vote counted National were ahead by ten points and Massey University statistician Hugh Morton said at that point things were not looking good for Labour.
"Labour would want to be much closer to National at this stage if they were going to hope to win," Morton said.
However, at that stage he said he would not want to call it and the election was still in the balance.
Morton was correct with the gap closing to just 3% with 40% of the vote counted.
The Labour Party continued to steadily creep up on National as returns came in from the major urban centres like Auckland and Wellington.
The two major parties are separated by just 1% meaning at this stage neither Labour or National can claim victory.
On Saturday night National Party leader Don Brash said he is certainly not conceding defeat.
"In the next few days and potentially weeks there are two stages to go through. First of course the special votes have to be counted... But secondly whatever the special votes say there is the small matter of building a coalition government and it is not at all clear who will be able to do that," Brash said.
He says he and his colleagues will work diligently to put together a National led government.
New Zealand First - who have secured seven seats - has vowed not to form a formal coalition with either of the major parties but has promised to support whichever party wins a majority on issues of supply and confidence.
The main option for National in coalition is the Act Party.
Act had been teetering on obscurity during the campaign as polls showed the party sitting on around 2% support, while leader Rodney Hide polled behind National's candidate in the Epsom electorate.
On those results neither Hide nor any of his eight MPs would have made it back in parliament.
However, Hide took the National-held seat of Epsom, with 13,075 votes. Act also has 1.5% of the nationwide party vote, giving Act two seats in parliament.
Labour leader Helen Clark said the result has been positive for Labour.
"When our parliament went into a recess about six weeks ago labour held 51 seats on tonight's results we hold 50," Clark said.
She said it is a result two points up on where Labour won in 1999.
"Today people have given us the opportunity to negotiate a government again. My objective now is to begin negotiations which will enable us to lead a government which brings New Zealanders together."
Clark said she looks forward during the next two days to talking to the leaders of other political parties, to take Saturday night's result forward.
The Green Party had been hovering around the 5% threshold for the last month and their six seats will be crucial to a centre-left coalition led by the Labour Party.
Labour will also have the support of Progressive MP Jim Anderton, who once again secured his seat by winning Wigram.
The United Future party said during the campaign that they could work with either National or Labour after the election. And after picking up three seats both parties will be fighting for United Future's support.
The Maori Party exceeded expectations taking four of the Maori electorates including co-leader Pita Sharples taking the Tamaki-Makaurau seat off incumbent labour MP John Tamihere. That result may force National and Labour to reconsider their comments during the campaign that the Maori Party would be a last resort for both in any coalition.
Professor Matthew Palmer from Victoria University says the constitutional rules are straightforward and in this case where neither party can claim victory the Governor General will look for which party or group of parties can command confidence in the House.
"The thing about that is it really puts the onus on the politicians. The politicians need to tell us who they are going to support and who is going to form the government," Palmer says.
The election has also resulted in what is known as an overhang, with 122 MPs - that is because of the Maori Party win in four electorates, while getting less than 2% in the party vote.
This happened in New Zealand just a few months ago. It will happen again in Canada.
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