Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Poll vindicates Liberal budget position (UPDATED)

Hot off the CP wire:

Ignatieff was spot on with budget compromise: poll (Fedbudget-Poll)
Source: The Canadian Press - Broadcast wire
Feb 3, 2009 15:28


OTTAWA - A new poll suggests Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff struck a chord with the public by compromising over the federal budget.

Ignatieff's offer to support the Conservatives' fiscal policies in return for a pledge for regular status reports on the economy won majority support from respondents across the country.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found that 72 per cent of respondents supported the idea of quarterly updates, with only 20 per cent opposed.

The poll also suggested the Conservatives read people correctly in drafting the budget, with 62 per cent of respondents saying they wanted it passed and only 20 per cent opposed.

Support for Ignatieff's decision cut across all political parties, with 85 per cent of Liberal backers, 75 per cent of Bloc supporters and even 64 per cent of Conservatives saying it was a good idea.

The survey was part of a national omnibus phone survey which interviewed just over 1,000 people between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2, and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

(The Canadian Press)

UPDATE: Now with analysis:

Jeff Walker, senior vice-president of Harris-Decima, said it looks as if Ignatieff hit one out of the park in this case.

``That's exactly what I saw when I got those numbers,'' he said. ``It seems that he struck the right tone ... he made the right decision.''

Walker also said the data suggest that the idea of an opposition coalition to replace Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is dead.

``Among Liberals, there was almost universal support for what he did and almost _ arguably absolutely _ no support among Liberals of going for the coalition.''

The survey also suggested that Canadians are more insistent than ever that their politicians put aside partisan bickering.

Walker said that sentiment has grown since Harper's ill-starred fiscal update before Christmas, which brought his minority government to the brink of defeat.

``Canadians were not really very happy with the way in which the Conservatives went about delivering that economic statement,'' he said.

``It seemed to have purposely poked the other guys in the eye for no reason other than politics and it didn't fit with where people feel we are right now in terms of the economy and the importance of getting government right, right now.''

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Barcs said...

Looks like he did make the right decision based on the new poll... but how can you not given the dozen polls the week before saying the same thing pre-event that this one does post-event.

And the amendment sounds really cool. I mean, who are the 20+%$ in the poll that didn't want to vote for more transparency??

But maybe you can tell me exactly what it does? (Does it do anything??) The government goes away for 3 months, comes back and reports that they are doing well with the projects,... hands out a few numbers. The #3 and #4 parties cry wolf.... again... and the liberals decide whether to support again.

I guess it is an automatic confidence vote at the time... but you can have one pretty much any week anyway.

So is it just another chance to complain??

The way I see this is all it amounts to is another fevered lead up to a possible defeat in the government that is probably not going to happen. (exactly what we need to help stabilize the economy. isn't it?)

Jeff said...

Barcs, here's my (practically) non-partisan analysis.

The Liberals decided this budget, while imperfect, wasn't bad enough to force an election over. As for the coalition option, it wasn't guaranteed, Canadians weren't onboard, and with an LPC gaining momentum, it may not be the best call for us anyways.

Canadians want to see parliament working, or attempting to work. So we decided to pass it, but we needed to do something. Policy-based amendments would give us a degree of ownership over the budget we don't want. The accountability provisions speak to a narrative of us holding them to account, for giving them a chance but keeping them on a leash.

Having given them a chance and making them report on their progress, if they fall short each report is a chance for us to say we have you your chance and you didn't deliver. Presumably we could then call an election on our own terms, having both satisfied the public desire to give the Cons a chance while also giving us time to hopefully get our internal ducks in order.

Of course, the tricky part will be managing the messaging each time we decide not to pull the trigger. Eventually, we'll need to on this, or another issue. For now though, the public looks to be onside.

Ted Betts said...

The Liberals decided this budget, while imperfect, wasn't bad enough to force an election over.

I would add that they decided "wasn't bad enough to force an election over in the middle of an economic crisis when political stability is needed".

Barcs said...


Pretty close to non partisan. and I agree with you mostly. Except for that link... the data is a little old, but given the opinion polling there (and recent articles about party fund raising) I would suggest that: "The Liberals decided this budget, while imperfect, wasn't bad enough to force an election over." read instead: "wasn't bad enough to RISK an election over."

I can agree that it puts the Liberals in a better position. (unless it can be deemed that the conservatives actually are doing a better job.) I just don't see that it actually changes anything parliament actually does in implementing or even in reporting the data. Maybe you will get a few more numbers in the quarterly updates there already is...

Ted.. you can add that, but the constant flipflap in Ottawa over the last several years (every couple months) caused by Dion, Layton, Duceppe, (and Harper) and now even Iggy with what the media called "being coy" kind of seems to put the lie to putting aside partisan ends to work on the economy and making things "stable"....

And Ted, now we have not only all the other reasons for creating the flip flap... Now we also have a quarterly update which is automatically a confidence motion.... No reason to hype up a confidence motion is there? Creation of stability....lmao.

Jeff said...

Ted, agreed.

Barcs, certainly fund raising and election readiness was one important factor in deciding whether or not an election was a good idea right now.

I think the accountability amendments were good messaging, but as I hinted at earlier I think there's also a degree of face-saving involved. We couldn't just let the thing pass without doing anything. This lets us say we forced a change, in addition to being a useful change.

As for there being more confidence votes, that's true, but Harper seems to make everything a confidence vote anyway. We're going to have to go at some point, and, circumstances depending, it may be better to go on a budget update than on an issue of Harper's choosing. Given his moving around of opposition days just before prorogation, this gives us a few more guaranteed chances to go on our own terms.

Iggy's Girl said...

What is also interesting is the follow up poll that shows while Canadians feel that Ignatieff was right to pass it, it would appear that the budget itself generated little excitement. "poll from Ipsos Reid, conducted exclusively for Canwest News Service and Global National, found that 58 per cent of those surveyed say they think the budget is "neither good, nor bad." Just one-quarter of respondents believe the budget is good and 18 per cent said it is bad."

Harper is not only on probabtion with the Liberal Party but also with Canadians. He's got to pull something out of the hat pretty soon. So much for strong leadership.

Jeff said...

a) That changes little. The Liberals have been saying all along it has some positives but it's not a fantastic budget. But we need some stimulus now.

b) The issue is do Canadians want an election triggered by the budget? The figure you quote indicates no they don't. Trigger an election over a so-so budget?

c) Saying you'll vote against a budget before you've even seen it? Canadians don't consider that strong leadership. They consider it stupid.