Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yaffe: nearly a quarter of NDP voters are now supporting Ignatieff's Liberals

A column from the Vancouver Sun's Barbara Yaffe today that discusses the recent Angus Reid polling numbers and paints a dire picture for the NDP, and highlights positive growth for the Liberals. It's news many of my NDP friends will likely dismiss as biased corporate media nonsense Liberals bad yada yada, thus compounding the trend. An attitude I'm fine with, incidentally.

Polls show the NDP's loss in popularity is the Liberals' gain

Party's surge is hard to explain, given that Michael Ignatieff has yet to put forward a vision of where he'd take the country

By Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun March 19, 2009 1:08 AM

Federal New Democrats need to find some way to get their mojo back.

As Canadians adjust to a new political map featuring reinvigorated Liberal leadership, it is becoming clear that the big losers are New Democrats, although Conservatives also should be looking over their shoulders.

Not only are Liberals -- with Michael Ignatieff at the helm -- stealing support from the left-wing party, but a just-released Angus Reid poll suggests, at a time of financial crisis, Canadians don't believe the NDP has the answers.

Only 13 per cent of 1,002 poll respondents believe Jack Layton "can manage the economy effectively."

The party no doubt was discredited by its January decision to reject the Harper government's stimulus budget before it was even presented.
(read more)
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Chrystal Ocean said...

Likely it's more that former Liberal votes "loaned" to the NDP in 2006 are returning to the fold. No core NDP votes would move to a party lead by Ignatieff.

If the NDP wants to survive the shift, it's going to have to rediscover its roots. Canadians want options, yet with the NDP moving rightward in sync with Ignatieff moving the LPC to the centre-right, more Canadians are finding themselves abandoned in an unrepresented political wilderness.

Pearce Richards said...

I posted this over at my blog, but it fits well in response to Yaffe's analysis:

Yaffe states:

"The Liberal surge is hard to explain given that Ignatieff has not put forward any sort of vision of where he'd want to take the country. Nor has his party's parliamentary performance warranted such a significant boost in popularity."

This misses the point. Sometimes you just need to let a government stand by their actions. Michael Ignatieff is wise not to distract Canadians away from the performance (or lack thereof) of our Conservative government. Ignatieff has always come across as the kind of politician who believes the people get the government they deserve. He is just showing Canadians what they bought into during the last election, and is counting on voters to realize their mistake.

Harper is the one who needs to be distracting people... I wonder when the next routine Russian bomber "incident" will make news?

Éric said...

During the month of March, four polls have come out giving the NDP an average of 14.5%. Saying that a quarter of NDP voters has gone to the Liberals is not completely inaccurate, since over the same period the Liberals are averaging 32%. But that puts the Liberals up by 5.8 points from the election, while the NDP is only down 3.7 points.

So, about 1 in 5 NDP voters have gone to other parties. Whether that is the Liberals we can't really know, and of course the Conservatives (average 34.8%, down 2.8 points) have lost some support to the Liberals as well. If you want to go even further, the Bloc is up as well, as are the Greens (by less than 1 point).

To sum up, the Conservatives and NDP are bleeding support to the other parties. Who is going where is harder to tell, but it is probably accurate that about 15%-20% of NDP voters are now supporting the Liberals.


Skinny Dipper said...

I think both the NDP and Greens will have a challenging time in the next election. Ignatieff's Liberals will probably campaign on competent government. Ideology will take a second seat. This could hurt the NDP. For the Greens, the environment won't be as important as the economy. No matter how much they will want to campaign on Green jobs, Canadians will just want to have jobs, period. Also, Ignatieff won't be making any side deals with the Greens this time. The Greens will have to run on their own by competing against the Liberals and Conservatives in every riding.

While I can see a televised debate among the five leaders. I can also envision another debate between Harper and Ignatieff. Layton, Duceppe, and May will complain. There would be nothing they could do about it. Essentially, Harper and Ignatieff's teams could organize the debate; the media would be invited to broadcast it and possibly ask questions.

The next election will be the clash of the titans!

Skinny Dipper said...

I will agree with Chrystal that the core of the NDP will stick with the party. It's the 25% of the votes that the NDP got that the party will be fighting for against Liberals.

Steve V said...

One NDP counter I've heard, which has superficial merit, is this idea that the polls aren't that much different than in the past. We did see some polling in 2007 and 2008 that showed the NDP vote down, the Liberals around this level, a close contest. You could take comfort in that dynamic, but when you drill down further, you see the comparison fall apart.

The NDP's trump card was Layton's popularity, coupled with the Liberal leader's very poor performance. Layton would regularly beat out Dion on the best PM measure, and many other issue orientated scores. Harper was all alone, the gap enormous. Layton's popularity actually outpaced support for the party, which allowed for some optimism, despite the ebb and flow in the polls. NOW, and this has been shown pretty much everywhere, Layton's credibility has suffered. With a more credible option to Harper, coupled with some disasterous strategy, Layton's "I want to be PM" mantra now looks laughable. So, if you want to comfort yourself in the horserace meandering, it is really a shallow rationalization. The fact of the matter, in a campaign leadership is paramount, what once was an advantage, that the NDP bragged about, is now a liability, relative to the competition. Layton's falling fortunes, plus Ignatieff's positive impressions congeal to make these numbers look just as bad as they suggest, and no amount of spin can make it all okay.

It will be interesting to see how the NDP changes gears, I suspect more reliance on policy, as opposed to the Layton show of the past.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Chrystal, I'll agree that much of this may be "loaned voters" coming home. I wouldn't however dismiss the appeal of Ignatieff amongst a segment of the NDP support base, namely the academic intellectuals. Many of them are intrigued by Michael. I wouldn't advise the NDP to retreat to left-wing ideology though, but rather come at the issues of the day from their left/centre view but display more pragmatism in their positions.

Pearce, indeed, most often governments defeat themselves, and when they do it's best to get out of the way. Keep it on the economy, and keep the pressure on.

Eric, I don't know where he got the 1/4 figure from, but it does make for a catchy headline. I do thing her central thesis is correct though, and that's that the public has turned off the NDP since the end of the coalition, in my view because Canadians don't want an election, they want all the parties to try to make parliament work to help the economy, and they find the NDP's unwillingness to be constructive as a negative. In effect, they've marginalized themselves and allowed the Liberals to begin, at least, to coalesce the anti-Harper vote.

Skinny, a Harper vs. Iggy solo debate? Interesting, but I wouldn't bet on it. People would rebel, and the backlash could help May and Layton (remember the reaction when they tried to exclude May last time). Also, I don't think Harper would want to be alone on the stage with Michael. It acknowledges Ignatieff as the defacto anti-Harper choice, and marginalizes the NDP. Harper wants NDP strength to pull votes from the Liberals. And of course Quebec/the BQ would go ape.

Steve, I've never been someone who has understood Jack Layton's appeal, so I have no idea. He does seem to be an asset for them, even if he doesn't have the #s he did before. Who else is going to sell them though, besides Mulclair in Quebec?

A reader said...

Iggy is also having a big media honeymoon right now, which Liberals are either forgetting or ignoring because it doesn't fit with what they want to see (don't worry ... every party's partisans are guilty of that).

I would want to be seeing a much bigger sample, with big regional subsamples, to see just how efficient that 30-35% of the vote for each of the two major parties is, and where it's really located.

I do know that the NDP experienced a drop in the polls during the afterglow of the convention that elected Dion. And I know they bided their time, did some thinking about next steps, and came out with some pretty good countermoves later on.

Ignatieff has not really been tested terribly rigourously, and Canadians don't really know him yet ... they're just reading into the empty vessel whatever they want to see. So, the jury is still out for awhile if you ask me. Let's wait and see what happens when the pack journalism of the press gallery decides to try and poke some holes into Iggy, and how he handles it. Then we'll get a better idea of what's real and what's wishful thinking.