10 October 2005

Whither Harper?

Predictably, the relatively small rise of the federal Conservative Party in some recent polls has been enough for Connie bloggers to trumpet the results as proof of something.

The guy responsible for the supposed Connie rise in popularity is usually held out to be none other than former Chretien cabinet minister and notorious porker David Dingwall. Here's one such post from someone who finds it strange that I have called his blog Reflexive Grit-Loather Productions. Go figure.

RGL points to a Pollara poll, as reported in the National Post Lampoon, which shows a six point gap between the federal Liberals and the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper. The Pollara research report isn't on their website - something that always makes me suspicious - but here is a link to the Canadian Press story on the poll which gives more detail than the Lampoon story.

As well, for the sake of comparison, here are the results of a poll taken by Decima, one of their competitors.

Some observations:

1. It's pretty sad when you have to point to a dead politician from another party as the reason why your own popularity is going up. As I have noted here before about other politicians - notably the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador - the worst position to be in is the one where your fortunes are linked to the cock-ups of The Other Guy.

The people who say they are supporting you today will not be supporting you tomorrow, if the other guy doesn't screw up.

2. Don't get mislead by headlines: the polls don't show any substantive change in voter attitudes. Say what you will, the Liberals are still running about 10 to 12 points ahead of the Connies, the Pollara poll notwithstanding. If you look at the CP story, you'll see that Pollara stills has the Libs running ahead of the Connies by about the same margin as the last Pollara poll. That's no change, boys and girls.

This CP story is a non-story.


3. All polls show the Liberals way ahead of the Connies in Ontario. The majority of seats come from Ontario. Ya gotta win big here to win big everywhere.

So far the Connies just aren't doing it.

Just as they haven't been doing it there for months.

4. The ads had no apparent impact. Remember those glossy ads everyone was talking about two months ago? No? Gee, I wonder why. Maybe they just missed the mark.

All of this leads us inevitably back to wondering about the future of Connie leader Steve Harper.

My guess is that the Connies will just struggle through until after the Liberals get re-elected in the spring.

Then they'll boot Harper back to Alberta and poke somebody else in Stornoway and start planning a serious political campaign.