Dr. Dawg

Polls, spin, and the Canadian body politic

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A new poll informs us, according to some pundits, that Harper has retained his base after Roboscam hit the news, so nothing has changed, move along, nothing to see here, Harper’s still the man.

Darrell Bricker of Ipsos-Reid, whose poll it was, opines that the opposition parties should have stuck with the old age pension issue. Roboscam is a “bright shiny object,” he insists.

Well, shine on.

Yes, Harper has a lead in that poll that would give him a minority government if people voted tomorrow—37% of them would still cast a ballot for him. Only in one of the last remaining countries in the world that uses the first-past-the-post electoral system, of course, would support from barely over a third of the electorate be considered “comfortable.”

But Mark Kennedy of the National Post—or his editor there—spins a little, to put it charitably. Here’s what his story reads in the NP:

The poll suggests that Canadians are deeply split over allegations the federal Conservative party ran a “co-ordinated” robocalls campaign in the last federal election to deceive voters — but most seem to agree that byelections should be held in ridings where the practice occurred. [emphasis added]

And here’s what his story reads in the Calgary Herald:

The Ipsos Reid poll suggests there would be strong public support to hold byelections in ridings that saw narrow wins, and where claims of vote suppression may have tainted the results. Sixty-eight per cent of those polled said if the Conservatives are found to have conducted the misleading robocalls, there should be new elections “in the ridings where it happened.” By comparison, 32 per cent disagreed with that course of action.

“Seem to agree?” 68% want those by-elections—more than a two-thirds majority. “[S]trong public support,” indeed.

At this point, as well:

The survey found that 50% of respondents believe the accusations against the Tories, while 47% disagreed with the statement that the governing party was behind a coordinated robocalls campaign in last year’s vote.

So fully half the country already thinks the Cons illegally messed with the May 2011 election.

And Kennedy forgot, somehow, to mention this:

Canadians want to see an independent judicial inquiry established to get to the bottom of the robocall allegations rocking Ottawa….

A full 75 per cent of respondents said they want to see the government establish a special, independent commission of inquiry, with full judicial powers, to find the truth about what happened in the past election and to make recommendations about the rules for future elections.

Other pundits are spinning madly as well:

Tom Clark, Global’s chief political correspondent and host of the network’s weekly political affairs program, The West Block, says the poll exemplifies that the robocalls scandal hasn’t really hurt Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s popularity. “If they liked Harper before, they like him now regardless of what’s gone on.”

Those who already dislike Harper “will never like him,” according to Clark.

…Clark doesn’t think Harper will resist the idea of byelections, because it will keep Conservative supporters happy and the party will likely stay on top. “Even if there are byelections and the Conservatives lose one or two seats - so what? They maintain their majority.”

One can just see the complacent smile of satisfaction on his face. “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

But wouldn’t the outcome of those by-elections—or of a general election—hinge to some extent upon the findings of the full public inquiry that three-quarters of Canada is demanding? And if the accusations against the Conservatives are proven, and those by-elections take place, a heck of a lot more than one or two ridings are involved.

The fact that half of the electorate already thinks the Conservatives were up to no good last May, and the additional fact that most Canadians want a full public inquiry, do not bode well for Harper’s party.

Do Ipsos-Reid’s Bricker and Global’s Clark seriously believe, were the inquiry held and Conservative electoral dirty tricks established, that all their other numbers would remain the same?


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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 11, 2012 7:07 PM.

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