The federal Liberals have not been able to capitalize on image problems that have plagued Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to boost their standing in the polls, a new survey suggests.
The proportion of Canadians who would vote for the Liberals is 36%, up a notch from a previous survey in June, and still only eight points ahead of the Conservatives, whose support also edged up a point to 28%, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll provided exclusively to CanWest/Global.
The Liberals will need to do something -- such as give voters a pre-election budget of tax cuts and other goodies -- if they are to escape minority status in the next election, said Ipsos Reid President Darrell Bricker.
The poll results are are not much different from those released prior to the June, 2004 election, when the Liberals took 37% of the vote, the Conservatives 30%, the NDP 16%, the Bloc 12%, and the Green Party 4%.
"But the poll also indicates that this summer has a rare occurrence -- a substantial rise in the proportion of undecided voters," Ipsos Reid said.
Nearly one in five Canadians -- 19%, up from 13% in June -- say they are undecided, refuse to say for whom they would vote, or would not vote if a federal election were held tomorrow. That includes 22% in Quebec, up from 13% in June.
Stephen Harper has had everything thrown at him since Paul Martin's government survived its near-death experience back in May. The media turned up the heat when it appeared he might bring down the government, then cranked it to 11 in the hope his failure might lead to him being forced out.
But everything that might have been expected to lead to a complete collapse--Belinda Stronach's defection, Tapegate, OLO staff purges--has passed from the public mind as swiftly as Adscam and the Gomery inquiry did once testimony wrapped up.
But none of these things can come back to haunt Harper in meaningful way when Parliament reconvenes and the public drifts back from the cottage to focus on politics again.
Adscam will, as Gomery gets closer to issuing his report and the opposition hammers on it.
Paul Martin was effectively MIA during the summer, except to empty a clip in his foot with the appointment of Michaelle Jean as governor general. He could have used his absence to allow the Liberals to build up the usual soft summertime default lead, then called an election on a feel-good fall budget.
Stephen Harper's barbecue circuit tour was effectively a wash; it did nothing to hurt or help him. The media exaggerated its importance (when did such a tour ever send a leader's approval ratings skyrocketing?) and it was rather foolish of us to think that it would have made the public as a whole think better of him.
Nothing has really changed, and while it's bad news for the Tories today, it's even worse news for the Grits in the longer run.
The Bloc Quebecois stands athwart hopes for a Liberal majority, and will be fixed there once Gomery finally reports. There are no seats to be picked up out West, and they will never win more than what they currently have in Ontario and the Maritimes; the Tory seats there form the unshakable core.
Jack Layton, having extracted his pound of flesh, will not stand by when the proverbial hits the fan from Gomery, not for another confidence vote, not for another budget.
Paul Martin has nothing new left in his bag of tricks. There is nowhere left to go, but down.
Source: National Post