THUNDER BAY – The Conservative Party maintains the upper hand in Canada’s federal political scene, and support for the Liberal Party has dropped as negative perceptions of its leader have increased, according to the findings is a new Vision Critical / Angus Reid poll. The news is also bad for Michael Ignatieff as the approval rating for the Liberal leader is at 14% and remains less popular amoung Canadian voters. To a great degree, both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff are not loved by voters.
In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,021 Canadian adults, 39 per cent of decided voters and leaners (unchanged since February) would support the governing Conservative Party in the next federal election. The Liberal Party is second with 23 per cent (-3), followed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 17 per cent (-1), the Bloc Québécois with nine per cent (=), and the Green Party also with nine per cent (+3). Three per cent of decided voters say they would vote for other parties, including seven per cent of those aged 18-to-34.
Only the Conservatives and the Greens are ahead of their 2008 federal election totals, and the Liberals have fallen below the 25 per cent line for the first time since December 2009.
Approval and Momentum
The first nine weeks of the year have been good for both Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper and NDP leader Jack Layton. Harper’s approval increased by six points since December 2010 to 32 per cent, and Layton gained nine points (34%). The approval rating for Liberal Party and Official Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff remains stagnant (14%), and his disapproval numbers increased by eight points (55%).
Ignatieff also has the worst momentum of all three party leaders at -26, while Harper stands at -16. Layton has managed to post a positive momentum score (+2), a feat that had eluded all leaders for the past six months.
In the Vision Critical / Angus Reid poll, Canadians were asked to select up to six words or expressions from a list to describe the four party leaders sitting in the House of Commons. The top five results for each one of the leaders are:
• Stephen Harper – Secretive (39%), arrogant (38%), intelligent (33%), dishonest (30%), out of touch (29%)
• Michael Ignatieff – Arrogant (44%), out of touch (38%), boring (32%), inefficient (31%), dishonest (28%)
• Jack Layton – Intelligent (32%), down to earth (29%), honest (28%), compassionate (27%), open (27%)
• Gilles Duceppe – Arrogant (30%), out of touch (24%), intelligent (20%), boring (18%), inefficient (16%)
One third of respondents (32%, -1 since December 2010) approve of the way the House of Commons is handling its job, and a similar proportion of Canadians feel the same way about their provincial legislatures (33%, +5).
Only one-in-five respondents (19%) approve of the Senate of Canada (Approve 19%, -4, Disapprove 51%, +4).
The Conservatives remain within striking distance of the 40 per cent mark at the national level, and have maintained the upper hand in Western Canada and Ontario. The Liberals are at their lowest level in more than a year, and their leader is not making headway on approval. Compared to December, there is a sizeable increase in the proportion of respondents who believe Ignatieff is dishonest (+11) and arrogant (+6).
The Greens are the main beneficiaries of opposition movement at this point, and there is a marked jump in the proportion of young males who are willing to vote for other parties other than the five major ones.