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[Ottawa – December 16, 2010] – In our final poll of 2010, both lead parties have fallen back slightly. The Liberals appear to have fallen further, but none of these changes are of much significance in a log jammed political landscape.

The Conservatives are ending the year at 32.0 points, virtually tied with their 2010 average of 32.2 per cent. Nevertheless, they enjoy a significant but modest lead of 5.5 points over the moribund Liberals who, at 26.5 points, are at their lowest levels of support since July.

The Conservative Party’s lead is largely built on a better performance with men and older voters. In fact, there is now a vivid straight line relationship between age and Conservative support. The Conservatives do worst of all national parties with younger voters but progressively improve to the point that they now enjoy the support of nearly half of senior voters.

The Liberals, meanwhile, hold a statistically significant lead with the university educated (but no other groups) and have relinquished their lead the with those born outside Canada to the Conservatives. They have also ceded their position as the lead federalist option in Québec and are now tied with the conservative there. The two parties are in a virtual tie in Ontario.

In any case, the Liberals are showing no ability to exploit the obvious opening with younger voters (they now do best with seniors) or women. These problems are severe and explain why they can make no headway against a pretty thin 32 points for the Conservative Party. The key conclusion may be that while the Conservatives are not doing very well at all at 32 points and only 38 per cent approval of federal direction, but the rising dissatisfaction is scattered ineffectually across four other choices. There is no evidence that the Liberals are providing a common ground for the large women’s and Gen X and Y votes that are unhappy with the Conservatives but not comfortable with the Liberals. The strength of the Green Party with both the Gen Y and Gen X cohorts is a new feature of the voter landscape and appears to be stabilising (but these voters are less committed).

So nothing much is very settled as Parliament adjourns for the Christmas holidays. It is very difficult to predict where things will evolve in the New Year, but with no party cracking even one in three and less than two in five happy with overall federal direction, there is no sense of pervasive Christmas cheer evident in voter outlook on this parliament.

The key question for the New Year will be if and how the under 40 vote (and the women’s vote) will engage and settle in an otherwise inert political landscape.

Click here for the full report: full_report_december_16

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