Corporate Research Associates and the provincial Conservatives played up the change in government satisfaction in the release of CRA’s quarterly advertising poll on Wednesday.
But CRA’s satisfaction numbers don’t mean anything, as regular readers of this corner recall from last month. CRA doesn’t explore “satisfaction” to see what it means and, as you can see from the party choice numbers, voters don’t think it means much either. The Conservatives get high government satisfaction numbers but they still indicate they’d vote for another party by a wide margin if there was an election tomorrow.
Essentially the Conservatives today are in the same spot the Liberals were in before the 2003 election. That is, the same spot, with one difference: the Liberals were polling higher. That should send a shiver up the spine of a few Conservatives. Either that it would spur them to all sorts of imaginary crap like pretending that the Liberal vote is soft or that people are just waiting with bated breath for the real Coleman to emerge and unleash his “vision” on them.
Rather than fantasy, let’s see what the CRA numbers might tell us if we try to keep both feet on the ground.
For starters and as regular readers know by now, the first thing to do is take the distortion out of the CRA party choice numbers. The chart shows the numbers as a share of all responses, not a share of decideds. The colours of the line correspond to the traditional party colours. The thinner grey one is the undecided, no answer, and will not vote all added together.
In case you can’t quite make it out, the poll shows these changes:
- UND + 3
- LIB – 1
- CON - 1
- NDP +1
The numbers won’t add up to 100% because these calculations were done using the figures CRA released, not the ones they actually got.
The changes are really small from February to May. They are so small, in fact, as to be meaningless, in themselves.
Longer Term Big Changes
Compared to November 2011, the numbers change dramatically. The Conservatives and New Democrats are at half today what they were then. The Liberals are more than triple what they were. (10 percentage points then to 34 percentage points now)
UND is about 12 percentage points above where it was. That doesn’t mean there are actually 36% worth of voters out there waiting to decide. CRA doesn’t poll voters so you can’t reliably translate these numbers that way.
What’s more, CRA always has a UND level of something around 20 percentage points. In order for the Conservatives to go head to head with the Liberals based on these numbers, they’d have to take all the 16% or so of the UND that notionally are available as potential voters. That isn’t likely to happen.
Short Term Steady
The Liberal numbers have been holding steady since last November. The Conservative numbers are pretty much where they have been since then as well. The variation is within the margin of error of the poll.
The New Democrats are doing better than they have historically. But note that they are currently at one third of what they polled in February 2013. That shows you how far they have fallen. Christopher Mitchelmore and Dale Kirby didn’t destroy the NDP. That was happening long before the boys left the party.
The fact that the NDP and Conservative numbers haven’t moved should cause both parties some concern. By the time CRA polled in May, both parties had pretty much settled their leadership uncertainties. The bad news is that none of the changes moved the polling numbers up. The good news – potentially – is the crap Frank Coleman has been dragging behind him didn’t drop the Conservative numbers downward either.
Bad news is that unless both the Conservatives and New Democrats can change the current numbers, they are both staring at a pretty miserable time after the next general election.