Friday, January 15, 2010

Surprisingly, there's still room to define Ignatieff

Perhaps wanting to make nice with the Conservatives after releasing horse-race numbers that aren’t overly positive for the ruling party, Harris-Decima released party leader impression numbers yesterday and, while they show sharp declines in popularity for Stephen Harper, Allan Gregg’s lede is that Michael Ignatieff isn’t capitalizing and is still the most unpopular of the Big Three.

First, the numbers. Stephen Harper scored a 44% favourable (down 7 from November) and a 48% unfavourable (up 7). Michael Ignatieff’s numbers were little changed from November, with 30% favourable and 48% unfavourable. No change numbers were provided for the other leaders, but Jack Layton had the best net score with 47% favourable vs 37% unfavourable. Elizabeth May scored 32% positive vs 28% negative.

They broke down the numbers for the big two by a number of demographics, as well as party supporters, which provided some interesting numbers, although not super surprising. For example, Harper’s base would appear secure with a 86% favourability from Conservative supporters. Ignatieff managed 56% favourable from Liberal supporters.

Interestingly, for a guy who is painted by his opponents as a fairly conservative fellow, Ignatieff’s best approval from other party supporters came from NDP supporters, who gave him a 32% favourable (vs 49% unfavourable). Greens really don’t like him, but there does seem to be more openness to him on the left than on the right, which is somewhat counter-intuitive to the narrative.

Anyway, you can dig through the PDF for more tidbits and data. Certainty, while I find Gregg’s choice of emphasis a little amusing I don’t disagree that Ignatieff hasn’t (yet) capitalized personally on prorogation, nor have the Liberals. These numbers aren’t surprising though; it’s too early for any of the work happening since Ignatieff’s prorogation presser to have paid the sorts of dividends that would show in such a poll. And nothing else has happened since November to move his numbers.

Growth Potential

The point I did want to make though is about growth potential, or more accurately the room still left to define and set impressions of the leaders, namely Ignatieff. Add up the numbers and you find 92% of Canadians have some sort of impression, good or bad, of Harper. He’s a known quantity. But just 78% of Canadians have an impression of Ignatieff. That means 22% have no impression of him at all.

We need to move that 48% unfavourable number, and I think we can if we do what we need to do (and there are signs we’re starting to, fingers crossed). But the fact that 22% is still greenfield also says there is still an opportunity to define Ignatieff with a good chunk of the population that hasn’t formed an opinion one way or another, despite the massive and expensive Conservative negative ad onslaught.

And that’s an opportunity.

(Photo: Radey Barrack)

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1 comment:

Steve V said...

Canadians don't have strong feelings about Ignatieff, unlike his more well established rivals. I have no doubt he can turnaround his personal numbers, work to do, but he's not written in stone by a long shot.

AR showed some rebound for Ignatieff in their numbers. The real key, and I'm seeing early evidence, the media stops pummelling him. They tend to tear you down, then give you some space and take a "second look". With Harper now reinforcing his negatives, the focus on him, I expect to see a gradual uptick for Ignatieff (assuming no more high profile "gaffes"). We've seen this game a million times. Already today, weathervanes like Taber are noting a new bounce in Ignatieff's step. Oh really?? Whatever, maybe it works for us now, for awhile.