Thursday, June 17, 2010

Conservative descent continues

There's more good news today as support for the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government continues to drop. Last week, the Conservative lead dropped to 31.4%, with 48.6% believing that the government is headed in the wrong direction. Now, Conservative support is at 30.5% and now 51.5% believe the government is headed in the wrong direction. In addition, if an election were held today, the Conservatives would lose 28 seats. A clear majority of Canadians, 56% of those polled, continue to support the Liberals, the NDP and the Green Party. That doesn't include the seperatist but progressive Bloc Quebecois, polling at 10.%. So, 66% of Canadians polled do not support the Conservative Party nor Prime Minister Harper's government. Also of interest and certainly a step in the right direciton, is EKOS pollster Frank Graves addressing the reality that the antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system is no longer suitable for Canada's diverse, multi-party (five federal political parties) political system. From the Globe and Mail:

The Harper Conservatives would lose 28 seats if an election were called today, holding on to 116 ridings and likely unable to sustain even a minority government, according to a new EKOS poll.

Released Thursday morning, the poll does not give much hope to any of the parties, none of which would break through to form anything near a majority government or even a “modestly stable” minority government.

“What a mess!” says pollster Frank Graves. “An increasingly muddled landscape has few points of clarity. Perhaps the only clear conclusion we can draw … is that Canadians have no party which would come even close to achieving a plausible mandate from an ever more disgruntled and fragmented electorate.”

It comes as the House of Commons is to preparing to rise today for its summer break; all parties may need this break to recalibrate – a word used by Stephen Harper when he controversially prorogued Parliament last winter.

This morning’s EKOS poll gives the Conservatives 30.5 per cent support from Canadians, compared to 26.3 per cent for the Liberals. The Tories have been sliding over the past few weeks, losing the 10-point lead they enjoyed over the Liberals not so long ago.

The NDP, meanwhile, are at 17.4 per cent, compared to the Green Party at 12.3 per cent; the Bloc is at 10.5 per cent.

“Their (the Harper Conservatives) current vote intention is the lowest since they took office and the leading direction of federal-government indicator is the lowest for any sitting Canadian government in the 11 years we have been tracking it,” says Mr. Graves.

His poll shows that 36.6 per cent of Canadians believe the government is going in the right direction, compared to 51.5 per cent who say it is not.

Even more tantalizing, perhaps, are his seat projections, based on calculations from this latest poll.

Last week, Mr. Graves had the Tories losing 23 seats – mostly from Ontario and British Columbia – if an election were held. His numbers were based on his poll that showed the Tories with 31.4 per cent, compared to 26.8 per cent for the Liberals.

In his latest poll, he has the Liberals winning 94 seats up from the 77 they currently own; the NDP would win 39 seats, which is an increase of three; the Bloc would see its fortunes rise from 48 to 56.

Elizabeth May’s Green Party would win two seats, according to Mr. Graves’ calculations.

There are 308 seats in the House of Commons.

“So just as Canadians say they are tiring of minority rule, the prospects of any party achieving a majority, (let alone even a modestly stable minority), have all but vanished,” says Mr. Graves.

“And to make this delicious irony even more discouraging, there is virtually nothing on the political event horizon to suggest that any of this is likely to change any time soon.”

The EKOS poll of 2,013 Canadians was conducted between June 9 and June 15; it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.18 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

A strange new political world
Frank Graves has come up with a provocative merger scenario based on his latest numbers – a coalition between the Harper Conservatives and the Ignatieff Liberals.

“Oscillating Conservative and Liberal majorities may have been the rule of the last century, but it appears we have entered a strange new political world,” says the EKOS pollster.

Inevitably, the dismal poll results are provoking serious thinking about coalitions and mergers. And the political chatter of late has been about a merger on the left as a way of breaking the political gridlock that has no party being able to form a majority government.

But Mr. Graves is thinking outside of the box, noting that the arithmetic in his poll shows that the Conservative and Liberal support – 56.8 per cent – is the same as that of the so-called traffic-light coalition of the red (Liberals), green (Green Party) and orange (NDP) – 56 per cent.

“For those who see this as preposterous, the current coalition in the U.K. looks more ideologically congruent with this mixture (Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) than the more oft-discussed centre-left coalitions.”

What is very clear, he believes, is that there will be a coalition of some sort – “an inevitable legacy of an electorate that is more fragmented than at any other period in Canadian political history,” he says.

Mr. Graves says that the first-past-the-post system is now unworkable because the “old parties are incapable of creating stable constituencies.”

“Boomers will lose their strangle-hold on power. Young voters are turning to new parties like the GP [Green Party]. Parliaments will be forced to become mosaics rather than monolithic, reflecting a more pluralistic and faster-changing society.”

EKOS poll, June 17

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