As we await the details of the federal budget this afternoon (it's all the buzz down here in Salt Lake City, I assure you) I found this latest data from everyone's favourite pollsters interesting. SES says the budget isn't likely to help Jean Charest or Steve Harper all that much in Quebec, at least in the short term.
With much of the budget details well-leaked by the Conservatives ahead of time (barring no doubt a few surprises later today) SES polled Quebecers on how the leaked and expected budget iniatives would influence their opinions of Harper and Charest. Here's the numbers:
Question - As you know, Prime Minister Stephen Harper supports the concept of “open federalism”. The Harper government has announced $350 million to support Quebec’s environmental plan. Likewise, there is expected to be additional new equalization transfers from the government of Canada to the province of Quebec in the federal budget.And the analysis from SES president Nik Nanos:
As a result are you likely to view Stephen Harper more favourably, about the same or less favourably?
All Quebecers (N=500)
More favourably - 27.0%
About the same - 33.5%
Less favourably - 36.6%
Unsure - 2.9%
As a result are you likely to view Jean Charest more favourably, about the same or less favourably?
All Quebecers (N=500)
More favourably - 20.9%
About the same - 38.0%
Less favourably - 37.8%
Unsure - 3.2%
Associate with Provincial Liberals (N=129)
More favourably - 48.0%
About the same - 29.8%
Less favourably - 18.9%
Unsure - 3.3%
The polling shows that Harper's open federalism, new money for Quebec's environmental plan and expected new equalization transfers for the province do not have a major positive impact on his image among Quebec voters. Indeed, Quebecers are more likely to look less favourably on the Prime Minister. The research does show that for Charest the budget will be good at firming up individuals who most closely personally associate with the Liberal Party of Quebec.Sounds like a fair analysis of the numbers to me. With the big cavet that something big and unexpected in the budget today could toss all this out the window, I'm not overly surprised Quebecers aren't buying into what Harper has been selling to them. Which has to be a sock in the gut, given the effort he has expended trying to build his, and Charest's, support in the province that could well make or break his majority dreams. Interesting the poll says the sales pitch is hurting him there though, I wonder what's behind that. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers
My sense is that for the federal Conservatives the budget strategy has a number of layers. First, the timing and likely budget configuration increases the likelihood for it to pass and thus further sustains the Harper government. Second, the federal Conservatives can wait and see what bump..if any...materializes from the budget.
For Charest, beyond Liberals, the traction of the budget and open federalism at this time is weak. This could be a result of the view that a number of Quebecers see the budget as a potential federal intervention in provincial politics.