Friday, November 17, 2006

One last note on Quebec

Before I head home for the evening, I wanted to briefly revisit the assertion by Hebert and others that Stephane Dion just can't win Quebec.

I will grant that Dion, although he polled a strong second in delegate selection, is not popular with a certain wing of the LPC(Q). You'll recall, neither was Jean Chretien, he of three consecutive majority governments. These are the folks behind the Martin/Lapierre Quebec strategy; I'll let the history books speak to that one.

When it comes to winning elections and building support in Quebec (which Chretien and Dion did in 2000, after the Clarity Act, and which those other guys, well, didn't) the more relevant question is who do Quebec VOTERS like? Particularly, those federalist-inclined people that might actually vote Liberal?

Well, there was an interesting Gandalf Group poll in September that offers some insights on this question.

Since we're talking Quebec, I'll pull-out the Quebec numbers (page 23 of the pdf). Likely voters in Quebec were asked how likely they'd be to vote Liberal with each of the candidates. Let's start with the negatives (certain not to vote Liberal). I'll just include the top four candidates, the others are in the pdf if you're interested.

Gerard Kennedy: 39 per cent
Stephane Dion: 38 per cent
Bob Rae: 37 per cent
Michael Ignatieff: 33 per cent

So, slightly less negative on Iggy but statistically not a wide gap. Certainly, the assertion that Dion is radioactive to Quebec voters doesn't hold water.

Now, let's look at the positives. This is certain/more likely to vote Liberal with each candidate as leader.

Dion: 31 per cent
Rae: 26 per cent
Ignatieff: 19 per cent
Kennedy: 8 per cent

This puts Dion as the most popular of the leadership candidates among likely Quebec voters. Interesting, no? It's worth noting that in this same poll the LPC polled at 20 per cent in Quebec, meaning Dion was 11 per cent more popular than the party itself.

What about growth potential, you ask? Well, factor in Possible To Vote with the Certain and Likely numbers, and here's how they play out.

Potential voter pool
Dion: 51 per cent
Rae: 47 per cent
Ignatieff: 45 per cent
Kennedy: 36 per cent

Even by this measure, Dion attracts the widest possible pool of potential Liberal voters of any of the major candidates in Quebec. Now, we can debate potential performance elsewhere in the country, and I'm happy to have that debate. But when we're talking about Quebec, isn't it time to put these myths to rest, mes amis?

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petroom said...

here, here

Steve V said...


The Globe and Mail has a nice puff piece on Dion today, basically arguing that in fact he has been able to re-invent himself.

Jeff said...

You say puff piece Steve, I say sage political analysis. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm getting really worried here. I am for Ignatieff, but if he doesn't win I could live with Dion first then Kennedy.

I cannot live with Rae as the leader. He says he's learned. To me, he was given a chance as Premier of Ontario and proved he can't.

If Rae wins, and I know this is a bad attitude, I cannot vote Liberal. He doesn't deserve to win. He joined at the last minute. Whatever baggage you people feel about Ignatieff, at least he ran for MP and has alwayse been a liberal, Dion has been there and Kennedy always a liberal.

Please God don't let it be Rae.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, glad you're dusting off an ol' poll to present your argument. I'll dip into a recent one -- yesterday, in fact -- to show my preference... (but don't worry Anonymous12:23, we've got 3 people to replace you. Enjoy the Christian Heritage Party!) ~ burl

Updated Fri. Nov. 17 2006 6:20 PM ET

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- As the nine-month Liberal leadership marathon entered its final days, a new poll suggested the party would fare best in an election with Bob Rae at the helm.

The Decima poll, released to The Canadian Press on Friday, suggested Rae had slightly more drawing power than his main rivals among Canadian voters in general.

He appeared to have pull even among Ontarians, who've apparently forgotten or forgiven his rocky tenure as NDP premier. And he was more appealing to those who voted NDP and Liberal in last winter's election.

The telephone survey of 1,123 Canadians was conducted Nov. 9-13, just three weeks before Liberals are to gather in Montreal to choose a new leader on Dec. 2.

The margin of error for a sample this size is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

The results could be influential in the close-fought contest, where the deciding factor will hinge on delegates' assessment of who is best positioned to lead the party back to power.

Given the margin of error, the Decima survey suggests there was little significant difference in the national appeal of the top four leadership contenders.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents said they would vote Liberal or consider doing so if Rae was the leader, compared with 34 per cent for Stephane Dion, 33 per cent for front-runner Michael Ignatieff and 31 per cent for Gerard Kennedy.

But Rae's edge was more pronounced among respondents who voted Liberal and New Democrat in the last election, although the margin of error for the smaller samples in the poll are larger, ranging from five to seven percentage points.

Among Liberal voters, 68 per cent said they were certain to vote Liberal again or would consider doing so with Rae at the helm, compared with 63 per cent for Dion, 61 per cent for Ignatieff and 59 per cent for Kennedy.

Among NDP voters, 41 per cent would vote or consider voting Liberal under Rae's leadership, compared with 31 per cent for Dion, 28 per cent for Kennedy and 27 per cent for Ignatieff.

Respondents who voted Conservative in the last election were most likely to rule out voting Liberal under any circumstances; none of the top four leadership contenders had a statistically significant edge with this group.

Twenty-one per cent of Tory voters said they'd consider voting Liberal under the leadership of either Dion or Kennedy, 20 per cent under Rae and 17 per cent under Ignatieff.

Decima's Bruce Anderson said the poll results suggest Rae would best hold on to the Liberals' base of support from last winter's election and would have the greatest success in expanding it to include NDP voters.

"Over the course of this campaign, our data have been getting worse for Michael Ignatieff and better for Bob Rae," he said.

Moreover, Anderson said the poll suggests there is little basis to predictions that Rae would be unelectable in Ontario, where he presided over a recession-ravaged economy with soaring deficits, taxes and unemployment from 1990-95. Among Ontario respondents, 46 per cent said they would or would consider voting Liberal with Rae as leader, compared to 45 per cent for Kennedy, 40 per cent for Dion and 38 per cent for Ignatieff.

Moreover, 47 per cent of Ontarians said Rae's record as premier is a non-issue. Another 19 per cent said his record is actually a positive factor, while 25 per cent said it's a negative factor.

Among Quebec respondents, there was no statistical difference between the drawing power of Dion, Ignatieff or Rae. Twenty-eight per cent said they would or would consider voting Liberal under Dion, 26 per cent under Ignatieff and 25 per cent under Rae.

Kennedy, a former Ontario education minister who speaks awkward French and is little known in Quebec, was a draw with only 16 per cent of Quebec respondents.

Decima also tested the appeal of Ignatieff and Rae, the first- and second-place contenders, against that of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. When respondents were asked who would make the best prime minister, neither candidate came out ahead of Harper, although Rae fared considerably better than Ignatieff.

Respondents preferred Harper over Rae by a margin of 44 per cent to 32 per cent. Against Ignatieff, Harper's margin improved to 48 per cent to 24 per cent.

Jeff said...

Burl, I hadn't seen the decima poll when I wrote the post. I went back to the Gandalf poll for two reasons:

1. It broke out the Quebec numbers and provided lots of detail
2. It supported my argument :)

But the decima numbers support the argument as well. In fact, if there was a cp story on just the decima quebec numbers, and the same tourqued headline writer was on the job, the headline would be:

Dion has most appeal to Quebec voters: poll