In politics it is rarely the knock-out punch but an accumulation of factors. The research suggests that although there was no clear winner in the leaders debate Stephane Dion was able to exceed expectations for a number of voters. As a result, his personal impressions have improved, as has support for the Liberals. However, we will need to see if this is a trend or a short term improvement. The CPAC- Nanos tracking has shown an incremental slide in the number of Canadians who would pick Stephen Harper as the leader who would make the best PM. With last night being the first full night of tracking in Quebec following the French language debate, the Liberal numbers are picking up - not enough to challenge to the BQ but the Grit numbers are improving.
Many times managing expectations is the key to political success. My sense is that although Dion did not necessarily win the debate, his performance did exceed expectations driven by months and months of negative advertising from the Tories. Add together the puffin, the veteran’s father being attacked, Gerry Ritz, Lee Richardson, Harper asking for a stronger mandate, the Iraq speech and a Dion getting through the debates without major gaffe and we get numbers very similar to the last election - Conservatives 35, Liberal 30, NDP 18, BQ 10, Green 9. The factors onto themselves are not ground shattering. However, together they may be reshaping the campaign and the perceptions of Canadians.
Looking at these numbers, expect a new intensity of attacks from all sides. For the Tories the French debates have not vaulted them into a position to make a major breakthrough in Quebec. From a research perspective, I will focus on closely watching the numbers outside of Quebec to see how the debate reshapes the Conservative drive for a majority.
Dion, personally, had a good day yesterday moving into second place on the CPAC-Nanos leadership index, and is now trailing Stephen Harper by only eight points. The next few days will be important to see if Harper’s numbers bounce back from the Iraq speech issue or if this is the start of some momentum for Dion and the Liberals coming out of the debates.
Tune in to Prime Time Politics with Peter Van Dusen tonight at 8 pm (EST) on CPAC for a discussion of our latest polling results. For more detailed information on the methodology and the statistical results visit the Nanos Research website at www.nanosresearch.com.
Methodology and Results
A national random telephone survey is conducted nightly by Nanos Research throughout the campaign. Each evening a new group of 400 eligible voters is interviewed. The daily tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling sample comprised of 1,200 interviews. To update the tracking, a new day of interviewing is added and the oldest day dropped. The margin of accuracy is ±2.8%, 19 times out of 20 for 1,200 random interviews.
The numbers in parenthesis denote the change from the previous Nanos Research Survey completed on October 1, 2008.
Question: If a FEDERAL election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences? (First ranked reported)
Committed Voters - Canada (N=1,006, MoE ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20)
- Conservative Party 35 (-2)
- Liberal Party 30 (+4)
- NDP 18 (-1)
- BQ 10% (NC)
- Green Party 9% (+1)
- Undecided 16% (+3)
Question: Of the following individuals, who do you think would make the best Prime Minister? [Rotate] (N=1,200,MoE ± 2.8%, 19 times out of 20)
- Conservative leader Stephen Harper 32% (-1)
- Liberal leader Stephane Dion 18% (+3)
- NDP leader Jack Layton 17% (-1)
- Green Party leader Elizabeth May 5% (NC)
- Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe 5% (NC)
- None of them 8% (NC)
- Unsure 17% (+1)
Question: Which of the federal leaders would you best describe as:
- The most trustworthy leader
- The most competent leader
- The leader with the best vision for Canada’s future
[Leadership Index Score - Daily roll-up of all three measures]
- Stephen Harper 79 (-16)
- Stephane Dion 71 (+40)
- Jack Layton 48 (-12)
- Elizabeth May 15 (-3)
- Gilles Duceppe 11 (-3)
What do you think?
Remember to rate the views of others - to allow us to recognize the opinion leaders in our national conversation.
Individuals with the top ratings make it to Nik’s Leaderboard