As it turns out, Harris-Decima used household income not individual income for weighting the poll they did for NAPE. Keith Dunne, NAPE’s communications co-ordinator tweeted the correct information on Thursday morning.
Your humble e-scribbler thought it was individual income and therefore concluded – wrongly – that there was a skew in the poll toward higher income urbanites. That didn’t invalidate the survey results but it might have explained the strength of the rejection of the provincial government’s budget. The Tories might have had a chance to bounce back politically, especially among the lower income types out there.
Turns out that hope was pretty much dashed.
That correct also gives us a chance to go back and look at the poll results again.
An overwhelming majority of of respondents rejected the provincial budget. The poll shows that people believe the government’s forecasts are wrong and the cuts are, as it seems, unnecessary. People seem to be optimistic that the provincial economy is strong and will continue to be so in the future.
That’s still a complete failure of government communications on the budget.
Or, well, half of it.
As SRBP has noted before, the provincial government had two contradictory messages in the one. On the one hand they claimed they had a financial problem in government and therefore needed to cut but at the same time the provincial economy was going gangbusters and everything was fine.
Not surprisingly, people heard the happy message and got pissed off at the one that gave them stomach aches.
Now that benefits the people inside the Conservative caucus who have designed their budget policy around the idea that they only need to have some sort of restraint for a couple of years. After that, well magic happens. In this case, they think oil revenues are coming back in such quantities that everything will be just fine again.
Maybe it will.
But what happens if it doesn’t?
People have huge expectations.
More importantly, government’s spending plans are based on the oil money coming back. If it doesn’t come back, then government will be have to cut more.
And people will suddenly realise those stomach aches they ignored three years ago were real.
The Tories might be able to win another election in that scenario. That would depend very much on the other parties imploding and the Tories surviving the departure of upwards of two thirds of their caucus to retirements and persuading people that all those cuts aren’t their fault even though the Tories are the ones who already admitted they mismanaged government finances and caused the mess in the first place..
Not pretty at all.