Sunday, January 10, 2010

The demographics around the anti-prorogation anger

In an interview with Kathleen Petty yesterday on CBC Radio's The House, pollster Frank Graves of Ekos Research made some interesting points about what his research is showing him about the growing discontent with the Stephen Harper Conservatives around the decision to shutter parliament for two months. The short of it: it's not just the usual suspects that are annoyed, and it goes deeper that the prorogation.

Here's a transcript. Emphasis is mine:

Well apparently, Michael Ignatieff is not alone; In a national poll released by the firm EKOS, two thirds of respondents didn't think the move was crazy, necessarily, but they did know the Prime Minister shut down Parliament, and of those, nearly 60 percent were opposed to the prorogation. Frank Graves is the president of EKOS; he joins me in the studio. Good morning, welcome to "The House."

Good to be here.

So, is it the number or is it the demographic behind that number that really tells the story, here?

Well, I think they're both interesting, but perhaps a more interesting thing, which hasn't really been discussed at this point, is the demographic. There's another very interesting feature to the demographic, but I think the most striking one is the... how much this issue has caught the attention of the most educated portions of the electorate and the "baby boom" cohort, which as we know, has been an extremely influential and large portion of the electorate, ones that all show up to vote, ones who have an inordinate level of influence. You could argue that this particular group has exerted almost a stranglehold over the political system for a long time. This group has been pretty solidly onside with Mr. Harper for some time, now. They came onside in the last election and were one of the keys to this success which almost propelled him to a majority victory. So, the fact that they're now having second thoughts about this particular issue... I think this particular issue has become a bit of lightning rod which is capturing a broader sense of disaffection on a number of other issues which have occurred previous to it, but it is something that probably signals greater importance as time goes on, or it could potentially do that.

It also speaks to whether it can be sustained, it seems to me. Because if you're talking about people who are influential and who are opinion leaders, then the ability to sustain a dissatisfaction or unhappiness with prorogation... it seems to me that the likelihood is higher in that case.

Absolutely, and I think just to add further credibility to that thesis, it's my sense that we've seen a bit of a turnaround in some of the elite intelligentsia coverage of Mr. Harper, which has moved from this very fawning applause that we saw concurrent with the NAC performance - which also, coincidentally, coincided with him moving into majority territory, he was around 42 points, then. Today, he's around 33 points, but it does seem that there's now... We have front page editorials from the Globe and Mail, we have him pilloried by The Economist -

And we've got a trend, and that's the other interesting part. You talk about the NAC performance, but as you take a look at your polling over a period of time, the gap between the Tories and the Liberals used to be wide.

Almost insurmountable; You had a daunting 15-point lead which was understating the Conservative edge, because the Conservatives have a much more committed voter base, so in fact, when they were running 41-42 points, our calculations are that they would have produced a very decisive majority in the neighbourhood of 180 seats at that point. Today, these numbers would suggest that they're at least as close, probably... no they are closer to actually sitting on the wrong side of the House than they are to that goal of forming a majority.

But these numbers aren't just because of prorogation; it's a cumulative effect to which prorogation has sort of added an extra push, in your view.

Yeah, but it seems to me that now, this latest issue shouldn't be judged just in terms of, "are people really that upset about prorogation?", or has it become something which captures a broader critical mass of concerns about -


Yes, and you're quite right. The decline that we'd seen in sort of... "propeller head" terminology was a monotonic progressive straight-line decline. It was up here or... it wasn't oscillating up and down, it was on a very well- behaved statistical pattern. It seemed to have stopped when Parliament recessed, and this newest episode... remember, over the Christmas period, there's really. .. nothing else happened that would explain why we saw a further three-point drop, which in our samples, which are very large, was highly statistically and substantially significant. So, the only thing that plausibly explains it, and when you link it back as well to concerns about this and look where the attrition occurred, it was this same group that we were talking about before, the "boomers", the educated, and so forth, who seemed to have had some serious second thoughts. That may not be permanent, but it's something which is perhaps more important than the usual sort of three-point fluctuations that you might see on a day-to-day basis.

Okay, well you've given us stuff to watch for, and we will watch for it. Frank, thanks very much.

Okay, my pleasure.

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Skinny Dipper said...

People who are well educated (formally or informally) want to have a say in the direction of this country. When we have a prime minister who does not trust anyone and wants to run the country himself, why would the educated want to put the trust in Stephen Harper when he cannot trust his fellow Canadians?

rockfish said...

Timing plays a huge part in whether or not this snowball gets bigger or is melted on the sidewalk. As you've been harping on, its crucial that Ignatieff gets in front -- touring university campuses and being 'amongst the public' is good, a moment like that great scene in the daycare wouldn't hurt either... still, a lot depends upon Harper's reaction. We've heard CON Mps talk about how this arrogant holiday allows them time to go to the Olympics. Now that is something our members should be underlining and shouting out about in the local newspapers, talk shows etc. The fault lines exist. Perhaps this 'prorogation' will end up to be similar to Chretien's last one, too (ie. ushering in a leadership change).

WesternGrit said...

Yeah... Love the references to the educated intelligentsia - the "elite", if you will. Harper and his low-brow, underachieving minions HATE the elite "educated classes". So... what gives?

There was a brief flirtation period, but the college professors and teachers, and nurses, and doctors, and nuclear regulatory scientists, and real economists, and Parliamentary historians certainly cannot "close the deal" with Harper. It's just not "natural".

Igg-ster will fill the void...

CanadianSense said...


The media are giving a great deal of free publicity because they need the ratings and the angry facebook members can't count.

Negative, sensational stories win ratings.

Will this latest media driven story have legs?

Remember H1N1? Polls before during and now moved several points.

Gene Rayburn said...

Good to see CS is keeping the denial strong!

That's right CS Canadians just don't care. /sarcasm

CanadianSense said...


I have no illusion with the MSM trying to boost rating have overplayed another story.

I can list 10 fake news stories. I can point to posters like you claiming this story is going to sink the government.

I can list the dates from 2006-2010 with this dance.

GR, your problem is not mine. I am simply correcting a myth that your frustration amounts to anything.

Follow the money and history of the Liberals since 2000. Take a hard look and the numbers don't lie.

The latest leader has added how many new contributors to the party?

Denis Coderre, Kreiber are they canaries or disloyal?

Please link the calendar that shows months vs 17-22 days for prorogue.

To date no one has provided evidence.

EAP too big, too fast, okay
GM bailout too big to fast okay

2-4 months does not add up

Tof KW said...

Yup, as CS wrote its all faux outrage and the story won't have legs.

1) Two polls since the deed was done showing Canadians strongly dislike Harper's prorogation (both showing even the majority of conservatives don't agree with Harper).

2) Latest Ekos poll which shows support for the CPC down to only 5 points above the LPC - authors admit prorogation the only likely cause of CPC downturn.

3) Facebook group now over 150,000 (only 127,000 joined the anti-coalition group last year)and continues to grow by 10-20,000 people daily.

4) Media continues to criticize Harper about proroguing Parliament over the past week, even CPC-friendly National Post & Calgary Herald.

5) The Economist (that pinko-commie UK rag ...not!) launches an assault on Harper (stronger than any Canadian paper dares) - same influential publication that branded Paul Martin 'Mr Dithers'.

6) Ron MacLean even making prorogue jokes on Hockey Night in Canada over the weekend.

CanadianSense is absolutely spot on, this will not register with Canadians one bit.

Jeff said...


Harper has been making good inroads with that group with some moderate and smart targeted policies, by keeping most of the so-con stuff in check, and by not being as scary as we had feared. If he is indeed losing that group, then the next race could be a toss-up. At the very least, he needs them for growth.


Indeed, Harper's reaction will be telling. I think the one-on-ones with Canwest and CBC last week show he knows this could bite him. Even if it doesn't right now, there is a cumulative effect, but I'm saving that for a future post.


Let's hope so.


You can blame the media if you want. I will make a few points.

*How large and effective it is remains to be seen, but there is a growing discontent out there around prorogation.

*If you try to claim media bias I'm going to laugh. I can give you a list of media things negative for the Liberals as well. If there is any media bias it's not for or against any party, it's for a good story.

*Media management is a key task for any government. Harper created a vacuum with prorogation. The beast must be fed. They should have had other news to feed it.

*I've written at length about the problems and challenges facing the LPC. I'm not in the business of evaluating at length the challenges of the other parties (well, I kind of am, but you know what I mean) but I will say this: the CPC has benefited greatly from LPC weakness, and is not the monolith some of its supporters like to pretend to think it is. It has serious issues of its own, and should those remain unexamined and, should the LPC ever get its act together, they will be exposed quite quickly.

CanadianSense said...


You are one of the few progressive bloggers who allow criticism. Thank you.

-->If<-- this stunt has legs it will require a serious effort on all coalition parties to sing from the same song sheet until March 3-4, 2009. (Vote non-confidence)

Jeff, The media bias exists.

Groupthink-See Susan Delacourt article.

Democrats, Liberals call Fox tv?

Mainstream is called the Liberal news.

I posted a reply on BCL (combined with Sharon post)

Tof KW said...

To add to my above points, I just got personal confirmation this morning that this issue has hit the public's radar. Out of the blue a co-worker just cracked a joke to me that I should prorogue discussion and just do whatever I wanted. Not sure where this is going, but I figure this story has registered with the public once ‘office-talk’ is affected.

…and no I’m not a dictator here in the office - (I was looking for honest opinions in case I missed something) - joke got some good chuckles anyhow.

Back to you CS - hey this will all be forgotten soon enough. Don't worry, Harper majority this spring right after the Olympics & good news budget. Just keep regurgitating those CPC talking points and it will all be good.

CanadianSense said...


When is it time for the adult conversation?

No policy or platform and you keep talking about personal stories?

I don't call the shots. How many "scandals" of the month have we had in 2009?

How many times you and others like your have repeatd the exact same talking points?

This is it, Harper is running scared.....yada yada.

On this planet adults are already back to work.

Unlike Liberals who are staying on vacation for three more weeks -Jan 25, 2009 to return (1 dead polar per flight 77 dead polar bears 400 kg carbon thingy)to do the stunt mocking CPC?

Than we break for the Olympics (agreed by all) and return on March 3-4, 2010.

In the meantime the Government is already back to work and MI is doing his farewell tour on Campus followed by a academia tour in Montreal.
The Ivory Tower Silo frame -you guys do it well.

Tof KW said...

When is it time for the adult conversation?

Impossible with intellectually-challenged, blindly-partisan, populist BS artists like you.

No policy or platform and you keep talking about personal stories?

I could care less about the Liberals problems, I'm a old-school Tory who's pissed at the reformers stealing my party ...or did you miss that in our past 100 or so discussions. And I mentioned ONE (1) personal anecdote, which doesn't mean much but was a good laugh for me.

Frankly the scenario I'm waiting for is for a CPC split with the western yahoos going off into their own delusional party again. I'll join whatever fragment the proper Tories (whatever are left) form. The longer Harper's the leader, the more likely that split will be.

How many "scandals" of the month have we had in 2009?

Plenty since 2006 actually, and they're all the Liberals fault. Harper had nothing to do with his government's performance and decisions.

How many times you and others like your have repeatd the exact same talking points? ...kettle ...pot?

On this planet adults are already back to work.

You're right, the adults are working. 145 CPC MPs and you are not.

CanadianSense said...


Hit a nerve?

I was Liberal until JC booted John Nunziata was not into Brian Mulroney!

Sux for you feel betrayed by them.

I left with John Nunziata GST promise and have never returned.

Where is the Liberal Platform?

A policy convention, 12 months after taking over?

Adults are not interested in chasing fake scandals.

Are you one of those wafer liberals?

Gene Rayburn said...

CS, I would hardly call myself frustrated these days. My life is on track and is going where I want it too.

I just don't buy your beef or subscribe to your false confidence.

I guess Im not so sure of things like you seem. Or bitter.

CanadianSense said...


An honest person would count the calendar correctly.

How many sitting days is parliament delayed?

Do we need to get Michael Mann to make a new calendar?

Tof KW said...

Hit a nerve?

Na, just waiting for Jeff to get rid of the trolls.

Mulroney served us well as PM, aside from his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber. Though I personally did not agree with the original Can-US Free Trade agreement, I understood we had no recourse against US protectionism otherwise and towed the party line. However the GST (right tax but rolled out at the wrong time), opening the constitution for Quebec's signature and meaningful senate reform, principled stand against South Africa under apartheid (unlike Reagan & Thatcher), and bringing about the strongest environmental laws of any PM to date are all bold moves made by a bold man.

I disagreed with a number of moves made by Chr├ętien, but I recognize he also served us very well as PM. I also credit the Libs with growing up and realizing the GST is a good tax.

In comparison to Chr├ętien, Mulroney, Trudeau, Pearson and Diefenbaker ...Harper is a paltry, imponderous dolt and an embarrassment to Canada. No wonder you vote for him.

CanadianSense said...


Another personal attack, your 3rd?

The Liberals' great strength in the 1990's was its hold on Ontario and Montreal. During the years of schism on the right, it enabled Chretien to compile successive minority goverrnents. But in 2004, a reunited Conservative Party began eroding the Liberals' base of support in Ontario. Today, the Liberal Party of Canada commands the political loyalties of voters in the country's three biggest cities - Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. -John Ibbitson

Gene Rayburn said...

Okay CS, nice job of staying on topic.

Tof KW said...

Gene, you expected CanadianSense to provide anything other than random, meandering, unrelated Harperbot talking points that don't address a single question posed here?

Ya that's a rhetorical question, I know you didn't.

Gene Rayburn said...

CS is far too bitter to make any sense. Heck she rambles on about John Nunziata all over the blogosphere more than anyone should in 2010.

Jeff said...

I'm about at the point where I tell you guys to get a room. If you want to get snippy with each other take it elsewhere, otherwise please keep it on topic to the post you're commenting on.

CanadianSense said...

My apologies Jeff for responding to them.

This blog is one of the better sites to have discourse.