THUNDER BAY – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has delivered a budget that the opposition parties say they won’t support but that the public sees as benign. A series of non-confidence votes on the budget and ethical problems dogging the government are scheduled to be held before the week it out. An election seems inevitable at this point, but a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on the heels of the budget has found that the Prime Minister and his Conservatives are in an enviable position heading into what will likely be a campaign beginning this weekend.
If the election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper would receive 43% of the vote among decided Canadians, up 3 points since two weeks ago. Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party would receive 24% support among decided voters, down 3 points. Jack Layton and the NDP, who hold the balance of power in the upcoming budget showdown, would receive 16% of the popular vote (no change), while Elizabeth May and the Green Party would garner 6% of the vote (up 1 point). The Bloc would receive 10% of the vote nationally (down 1 point), while nearly one in ten (8%) voters remains undecided.
Over one half (54%) of Canadians say that they would be ‘absolutely certain’ to vote in a federal election if it were to occur in the near future. When the vote data is examined only among those who say they’re certain to go out and vote, Conservative support strengthens to 45% (+2), while Liberal support softens to 23% (-1) and support for the NDP at 15% (-1) also softens. Support for the Green Party strengthens to 7% (+1) while support for the Bloc (10%) remains unchanged.
The election will be won or lost in three key regions of the country. Below is an analysis of vote intentions in those regions:
In Quebec, the Bloc would receive 41% of the vote, while the Conservatives (25%) have moved into second position, followed by the Liberals (18%), NDP (13%) and Green Party (3%).
In seat-rich Ontario, the Conservatives (46%) have opened a commanding lead over the faltering Liberals (30%), while the NDP (16%) and Green Party (8%) lag behind.
In the key battle-ground of BC, where a majority government could be won or lost at the end of a long election day, the Conservatives (50%) hold a solid lead over the Liberals (22%), with the NDP (20%) not too far behind. The Green party (7%) trails.
The data reveal that the Conservatives lead the Liberals among many other key demographics studied, including: those aged 18 to 34 (33% Cons vs. 25% Libs), those aged 35 to 54 (44% Cons vs. 24% Libs), those aged 55+ (51% Cons vs. 24% Libs), men (47% Cons vs. 22% Libs), women (39% Cons vs. 26% Libs).
Canadians Indifferent on the Budget, But Don’t Want it to Trigger Election…
On the whole, Canadians appear to be indifferent on the budget, and don’t think that it should trigger an election. In fact, one half (50%) believes that the opposition parties should ‘vote for the budget to avoid an election’, while four in ten (40%) believe the opposition should ‘vote against he budget and trigger an election’. One in ten (10%) don’t know whether the opposition parties should vote for or against a budget, understanding the implications associated with either choice.
Asked whether they thought the budget was good or bad, nearly one half (48%) of Canadians believe it’s ‘neither good nor bad’ and they’d symbolically just shrug their shoulders. Two in ten (19%) believe the budget is good and they’d give it two thumbs up, slightly higher than the proportion that is of the opinion that the budget is bad and deserves two thumbs down (16%). Two in ten (18%) don’t know what to think about the budget.
One in ten (10%) Canadians — disproportionately those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (16%), those aged 55+ (14%), and those whose family earns less than $30,000 a year (18%) – believe the budget will personally help them, while slightly more (13%) think the budget will personally hurt them, including 20% of Quebecers who think so. Most (62%), though, believe the budget will neither help nor hurt them, while 14% are unsure of how the budget will impact them.
While some might argue that there is too much spending in the budget and there isn’t enough emphasis on deficit reduction, others would argue that there is too much emphasis on deficit reduction and not enough spending. One third (32%) are of the opinion that there is ‘too much spending’, while two in ten (22%) believe there’s ‘too much emphasis on deficit reduction’. Three in ten (31%) believe the budget has struck ‘just the right balance’, but nearly two in ten (15%) are unsure of whether the budget is well-balanced between spending and saving.
The poll has Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella commenting in the Toronto Sun, “So, is Michael Ignatieff this generation’s John Turner?”
These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Postmedia News and Global Television from March 22-23, 2011. For the survey, a representative randomly-selected sample of 1,001 adult Canadians was interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population of Canada been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample’s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.