With the federal budget moving through the stages before it receives Royal Assent, it is interesting to see the continued widening of the poll results of Prime Minister Harper and Liberal Leader Dion. These figures have just been put together via a SES Research National Survey:
“Of the following individuals, who do you think would make the best Prime Minister? [Read and Rotate]
Stephen Harper 42%
Stephane Dion 17%
Jack Layton 16%
Gilles Duceppe 7%
Elizabeth May 4%
None of them 7%
Although the Conservatives are short of the committed support necessary to form a majority government, Stephen Harper has a clear advantage over Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. At this point in time Stephen Harper personally may be in majority territory but his party is not.
What is emerging is a situation where one leader is ahead of his party (Harper) and another leader trails his party (Dion). Of note, Harper is the second choice as the best PM among committed Liberals, New Democrats and BQ voters and the first choice as Best PM in the province of Quebec.
As shown in the previous research conducted with CPAC, Harper does well on leadership factors. From a polling perspective, Liberal ballot box support is being maintained by entrenched party support. The Conservatives are more likely to be encumbered by residual concerns on social issues (code – abortion / same sex marriage etc.).
Even with these numbers, one should exercise caution. Perceptions of leaders can turn quickly. All it would take is for one attack ad on Dion to go too far to potentially turn the numbers and change the environment.
Here are the results from a subsequent SES poll regarding minority/majority comfort and the overall question of election timing:
No major national shift occurred in the number of Canadians comfortable or somewhat comfortable with a Harper majority government over the past 60 days. However in the province of Quebec the number of Quebecers who said they were comfortable or somewhat comfortable with a Stephen Harper-led Conservative majority has risen from 48% in February 2007 to 61% in the latest wave of research.
Forty-nine percent of Canadians said that they opposed or somewhat opposed calling a federal election at this time while 45% said they supported or somewhat supported a federal election being called at this time.
Respondents were also asked why they supported or opposed Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling an election at this time. The most common responses among those who supported an election call were “we may get a new government/change” (15%) and “because he thinks he can win” (14%). “Election not needed/just had one/it’s opportunistic” (38%) and “elections are expensive/cost a lot of money” (24%) were the two most common response among those who opposed an elections call.