November 30, 2006


The Liberals should remain leaderless

(I wrote most of this post a couple weeks ago, and figured I'd better post it before the convention is over and done with...)

A fun exerpt from the SES poll results on how the different candidates would affect votes
A victory by Michael Ignatieff would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 16%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 20%

A victory by Bob Rae would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 20%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 24%

A victory by Stephane Dion would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 14%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 23%

A victory by Gerard Kennedy would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 12%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 21%
Note that every candidate has a higher negative effect than his positive one. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the Liberal Party will be better off if they never choose a leader at all. :)

Seriously though, this is a good example of how an leadership race tends to boost a party's poll numbers above what any individual candidate could receive. The supporters of each party each believe their guy can/will win, so their support for the party overall is firm. After a winner is declared, however, many supporters of the losing candidates are likely to leave. For example, a win by Ignatieff would drive the most left-wing Liberals to the NDP, while a Rae victory would drive away... well, pretty much anyone who set foot in Ontario between 1990 and 1995.

The artificial boost from having multiple potential leaders, combined with the extra media attention from the race and upcoming convention, have boosted the Liberals' poll numbers over the past few months. Once the reality of leading the Opposition sets in, I suspect those support levels will drop.

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Macleans had Innovative Research Group poll the standings of the Big 4 contenders (1,495 Canadians between November 23 and 27, margin of error plus minus 2.5%).

Some snapshots:

Ignatieff had "relatively unimpressive showing" in answer to the question "is he the kind of leader who will protect the interests of people like me". Bob Rae and Dion came out on top (25% agree he is), Kennedy (21%) and Ignatieff only 17%. Bob Rae and Ignatieff had the same total of those who strongly disagreed or did not know (41% and 42% respectively).

"One striking finding for Mr Dion is that he is the least liked Liberal candidate among Bloc supporter. This no doubt relates to pas role as a federalist champion and his leadership on the Clarity Act." 66% of Bloc respondents disagreed that Dion would protect the interests of people like them (for Rae it was 54%, Kennedy 48% and Ignatieff 53%).

"The assumed leadership front-runner, Michael Ignatieff, only holds his own with current Liberal supporters and has little appeal with supporters of other parties and those currently undecided".

"Bob Rae also does well with current Liberal voters. He also polls very strongly amongst supporters of his former party, the NDP."

Only 31% of Liberals believe Ignatieff is the kind of leader to protect the interests of people like them (Rae: 51%, a sizeable 20% more than Ignatieff).

Amongst the NDP, only 11% think Ignatieff will protect their interests, while 39% thought Bob Rae would (28% more than Ignatieff).

A whopping 53% of NDP disagreed that Ignatieff was the kind of leader to protect the interests of people like them (Rae only 26%).

The news for Harper is not good either: just over 35% of voters say they are more comfortable with the idea of a Conservative majority now then they used to be (virtually the same number who voted Tory in January), while 49% are NOT more comfortable. That Harper pond just is not growing any bigger ...
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