Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Decima: Attack ads hurt Harper more than Ignatieff

Submitted for your consideration, CP coverage of a recent Decima poll:

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll found that about half the respondents said the ads had no impact on their impression of the Liberal leader, with 30 per cent reporting a negative effect on their attitude toward him.

However, just over half of the respondents said the ads have a negative effect on their feelings about Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Tories.

``The effect seems to cut both ways,'' said Jeff Walker, senior vice-president of Harris-Decima. ``There is evidence that these ads are having a negative effect on Mr. Ignatieff, but an even greater negative effect on Prime Minister Harper.''
Interesting, as they say.

I'd add three things:

1/ It's too early to gauge the real impact, if any, of these ads. These things can take awhile to sink in. As long a Ignatieff doesn't play into the narrative however (and, indeed, perhaps turns it against them) then these numbers could well hold up.

2/ I don't buy theories about backlashes for negative ads. I think the backlash figure could be inflated just because people like to say they don't like negative ads. So they may well tell the pollster that to feel superior. They also tell pollsters they lots of vegetables. But they still eat more cheeseburgers than they do carrots.

3/ For any of these numbers to offer any insight the pollster would need to tie then to voting intention So your impression of Ignatieff or Harper is more negative. So what? The question to ask is, will this cause you to change your vote? That would be a more interesting question.

So, my evaluation would be the jury is still out, but the campaign isn't looking like a great success so far. Certainly not of "not a leader" levels at least. But time will tell.

Any-ho, Steve has more on a similar Quebec-only poll. And on this one.
PS. Check-out my entry for the YLC's positive politics ad challenge, "Is this your Canada?"

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1 comment:

Steve V said...


Just one point on "backlash". I would substitute that for "reinforce", because these ads do play into negative impressions of the Conservatives. If people had to point to one liability for the government, in terms of impressions, chief among them is the belief that this is a mean-spirited, hyper-partisan bunch. These personal attack ads play into that impression, so there is a real danger in reinforcing your achilles heel. Also, I distinctly remember "senior Conservative strategists" mentioning this potential a couple months ago, when the Cons were weighing whether to attack or hold off.