The CPAC-Nanos tracking over the closing weekend of the campaign showed a positive improvement in the individual performance of the Prime Minister and a spike in Conservative support Thanksgiving Sunday.
A look at the individual nightly tracking showed support for the Conservatives at 32.6% and 32.8% on Friday and Saturday respectively. On Sunday, however, the individual daily tracking conducted by Nanos showed a Conservative jump to 37.1%. The final election result for the Conservatives was 37.6%.
This compares to the Nanos nightly trend for Liberal support – 26.7% on Friday, 26.8% on Saturday and 26.7% on Sunday. On election night the Liberals registered 26.2% support nationally.
Between the turkey hitting the table and the pumpkin pie, Stephen Harper ramped up his margin. My sense is that Canadians did not focus on which leader they liked or did not like. The election was not a popularity contest but more of a reasoned pragmatic choice.
Faced with uncertain economic times, Canadians opted for Harper - the prudent economist.
Mid campaign, the economy became the growing issue of concern and conversation as the bad news poured out of the global financial markets. Volatility in the value of savings and investments led to election volatility. By the closing weekend a number of factors helped the Conservatives regain the economic high-ground.
First, Stephen Harper’s admittance, that neither he nor his party were perfect but they were the best choice for the economy likely rang true for many Canadians.
Second, his closing message that Canadians were likely to face another minority government minimized strategic voting.
Third, a series of external positive news stories validated the message from Harper that Canadians should not panic and that the fundamentals in Canada were indeed better than in other countries. In the last four days, Canadians heard that our banking system was more resilient, that job creation was up and on Monday saw the markets in New York post large gains.
Harper’s strong personal campaign close and the external good news both helped buoy the Conservative campaign in its closing days.
The other outcome of the holiday weekend political chat was that many Canadians opted not to vote period. Preliminary results from Elections Canada showed a dismal 59.1% voter turnout – among the lowest in Canadian election history. Only for a referendum in 1898 has Elections Canada registered a lower turnout at 44.6%. This at a time when Canada has troops in Afghanistan and the world is facing a financial crisis.
For Stephane Dion and the Liberals, the holiday chatter rendered a negative judgment the Liberal Party has not seen in over 100 years. Under Dion, support for the Liberals hit 26.2%, worse than what was considered the other low water mark – John Turner 1984 (28% Liberal support).
Stephen Harper and the Conservatives can rightly claim victory. They increased the numbers of seats in the House of Commons and improved their showing in battleground Ontario where they surpassed the Liberals in popular support for the first time in 20 years.
The one missed opportunity for the Conservatives was Quebec where the musings of the Prime Minister on culture and crime galvanized opinion in favour of the BQ. Indeed, this election surely could have resulted in a sweeping majority Harper mandate.
Regardless, with his 144 seats, he does indeed have the stronger mandate asked for.
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