Thunder Bay – The wake of the Conservative attack ads has resulted in a 13 point national advantage for the Tories over the Grits. Of note, Conservative support significantly increased in the Prairies (AB, SK, MB) which suggests that the ads served to ramp up Conservative support in areas where the Tories were already strong. Those are the findings of a national poll conducted by Nanos Research.
Impressions of Harper as the federal leader who would make the best Prime Minister have also noticeably moved up six points since the fourth quarter of 2010. The percentage of Canadians who said “none of them (the party leaders)” would make the best Prime Minister has hit a four year high at 14%, with a particular increase in disaffection with the party leaders in the province of Ontario.
Leadership Index scores (based on trust, competence and vision) for Harper have significantly moved up in this wave of tracking, while scores for Michael Ignatieff have dropped behind Jack Layton.
The Conservative ad campaign has had an impact – increasing positive impressions of the Prime Minister, driving down impressions of Ignatieff and turning off some voters. What is interesting is that the national ballot suggests the Tories are moving into majority territory, but the regional distribution indicates that the ads have more likely consolidated support in core Conservative areas. Although the Liberals did have ads to respond to the Conservatives, the Liberal earned media strategy was not enough to counteract the bought media of the Tories. Of note, the results of the Tories do not necessarily translate into a permanent shift in their favour: “Rather, these results are more likely a temporary advantage in part gained by the absence of opposition ad campaigns to counter attacks from the Tories,” according to Nik Nanos.