Poll shows Tory budget bounce may have sagged
Published Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:05PM EDT
OTTAWA - Despite a budget designed to dazzle voters into voting blue, a new poll suggests it wasn't immediately enough to push the Conservatives into majority government territory.
Yet the Decima poll provided to The Canadian Press shows the Tories are making gains in Quebec, a province that pollsters will be watching closely after Monday's election. ADQ Leader Mario Dumont's surge to official opposition there is viewed by some as evidence that there is a sizable reservoir of conservative-minded voters to tap.
The poll suggested the Tories surpassed the Liberals there for the first time in five months, sitting at 25 per cent. The Bloc Quebecois came in at 34 per cent, the Liberals at 20 per cent, the Green Party at 10 per cent and the NDP at 5 per cent.
Nationally, the Conservatives sat at 35 per cent in the poll, versus 31 for the Liberals, 13 per cent for the NDP and 10 per cent for the Green Party.
The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted between March 22 and March 25, the same week of the federal budget.
Decima President Bruce Anderson said the long-term trend for the Conservatives is a good one, and the bump in Quebec can be attributed to work the party has done to remove obstacles to their support.
"The Conservatives have made a number of moves designed to get the attention and support of Quebec voters and it looks like that's starting to pay off a little bit," Anderson said in an interview.
"It's been evident that Stephane Dion has had trouble getting his voice heard in the contemporary political debate. That's probably most difficult in Quebec given the election."
Conservative party strategist Tim Powers says that while Quebecers, like many other Canadians, might not be enthralled with Harper personally, they appreciate what he's accomplished.
"You're seeing that reflected in the polls," Powers said. "They see that Harper's kept his promises to them."
But Anderson also notes the volatility inherent in the Quebec election vote this week, and in polls over recent weeks. Decima's last poll earlier this month put the Liberals at 29 in Quebec and the Tories at 17.
And in Ontario, the Liberals were ahead in the most recent survey at 41 per cent to the Conservatives' 33 per cent. The NDP were at 14 per cent and the Green Party at 11 per cent in the province.
Expect volatility: pollster
Anderson says too much has been made of "relatively modest" improvements in the polls for the Conservatives lately.
"Because there are so many choices and permutations, and so much clustering around the centre for the two main parties, there's going to be more volatility and there has been more volatility over the past couple of years than we've seen before," Anderson said.
Harper was among those few in Ottawa who were not interpreting the Quebec election results as a greenlight to dissolve Parliament and strike out on the campaign trail.
"We've got a lot of stuff before Parliament that still has to get passed and that's the first job of this government, to get things passed and I hope the opposition will heed some of these results and help us get some things done in the next few weeks," Harper said.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe told reporters that the prime minister delivered that same message in private on Monday.
With none of the opposition parties interested in an election, Liberal MP Denis Coderre said Harper would have to arrange for his government's own demise and that would carry risks.
"If the federal government would like to have an election right now they'd have to pull their own plug," Coderre said. "It would be perceived as arrogant. People want us to our job right now."
Powers cautions against reading too much into the Quebec election results and the rise of the ADQ. He says many ballots may have been cast in protest against Liberal Leader Jean Charest and Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair, as well as for a host of other factors.
"It's important that before everyone gets carried away assuming there's going to be an election, people should understand why Quebecers voted the way they did."