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[Ottawa – February 11, 2011] – From a Liberal (or indeed NDP) perspective, this poll can be summarised as nasty, brutish, and short. The opposition is losing touch with an increasingly distant Conservative party. The Conservatives have advanced with virtually all groups and now enjoy a 12.5-point lead (the largest since October 2009).

This dramatically different political landscape is a far cry from the statistical tie that existed only last fall. Put another way, the Conservatives have hit a high at 37.3 points that they haven’t seen since October 2009. The Liberals’ miserable 24.8 points is below their dismal election performance of 2008 and is the third lowest number they have achieved in our post election polling program. The NDP is below 15 points and the Bloc is the only opposition party that can look with some satisfaction at these numbers.

So what on Earth is going on with a supposedly inattentive electorate who now seem to be showing some pretty distinct patterns and trajectory? First of all, the view that this is simply random churning can be dismissed as totally implausible. Since the early November period, there has been a very clear and statistically well-behaved progression where a scant two-point lead has steadily expanded to a very sizable lead of almost 13 points. There are no wild fluctuations that would suggest random play.

So if this is a real effect, what are the causes? We are on shakier ground finding the causal attributes, but there are some suggestions in the data. Before turning to the data, we offer up the reasoned conjecture that the Conservatives are faring better because they are not bearing the brunt of the serial controversies which dogged them from late 2009 up until late 2010. There is no Afghan detainee issue smouldering, Parliament hasn’t been prorogued, there are no personal scandals of ex-Conservative MPs, and the long form census controversy has faded out of sight. There is more direct evidence in the survey that may reflect this period of relatively trouble free management for the government. Confidence in both national and federal direction has been improving very significantly over this period. The absence of controversies, coupled with rising confidence in the country (and the economy) may be the key engine of this new large lead.

The demographic patterns are also suggestive. While the Conservatives are doing better with most groups, their new found advantage has been built in some specific and important constituencies. The Conservatives have strengthened their lead with boomers who are much more likely to actually vote. The Conservatives now have comfortable lead in seat rich Ontario and even enjoy a very significant lead in the census metropolitan area of Toronto. The Conservatives also now lead the Liberals in Quebec and among those born outside Canada, which is a major turnaround.

Interestingly, the opposition fortunes have taken a decidedly downward pitch since they started talking election. The supposedly somnambulant electorate is clearly underwhelmed with what they are hearing from the Liberals and the NDP and the two parties might want to consider an urgent rethink of their preliminary election framing, or perhaps even the idea of an election at all.

Click here for the full report: full_report_february_11


  • Puzzled

    The last poll you released surveyed 4,622. This one surveys only 1,652. What gives?

  • Kevin Price

    The People want the P.M. to keep a steady hand on the Ecomeny that is why you see these number. It is not in the best interest iof the Country to have a Election now.

  • Judith Carpenter

    I really don’t understand why Canadians are so enthrawled with Harper and his “power and Control” type of politics and especially the conservative lack of integrity in politics. I watched with discuss tonight Jamie Watt on Power and Politics, insult my intelligence by saying that the Bev Oda affair doesn’t matter to Canadians, well it does matter to me. he said people would not decide their vote on such types of dishonesty (not his exact words ) but I will decide my vote on the integrity of people. the first time I voted conservative was when John Crosbie crossed the house in Nfld, many years ago. I will not vote conservative ever again as long as Harper and his style of politics is in Ottawa