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June 11, 2005
G&M Poll: Status Quo Ante Gomery

Today's new poll from the Globe & Mail contains mixed news for the Conservative Party and Stephen Harper. On one hand, the Decima poll appears to have been an outlier, as the new poll shows that the parties stand about where they did before the Gomery Inquiry broke wide open. On the other, it also shows that Harper has lost significant ground with the Canadian electorate during that period:

A Globe and Mail-CTV survey, conducted by the Strategic Counsel this week, also finds that, while Liberal support remains relatively stagnant since the week of the historic May 19 confidence vote, the Conservatives have dropped four percentage points and are the choice of 26 per cent of voters, eight points behind the Liberals at 34.

Perhaps the most significant results are those measuring Canadians' attitudes to their federal leaders, particularly Mr. Harper.

Compared with May 8, Mr. Harper's leadership has taken a significant hit leaving him with the highest negative ratings of all the leaders. A month ago, Canadians were exactly divided in their feelings toward the Conservative Leader, with 50 per cent viewing him positively and 50 per cent viewing him in a negative light.

The new poll finds that 60 per cent of Canadians have an unfavourable view of Mr. Harper, compared to 40 per cent who view him positively.

The Decima poll put the Tory disadvantage at fourteen points, and worse yet, into a virtual tie with the NDP. Those numbers suggested that not only would the Tories lose a general election, they could have lost their official Opposition Party status -- a disastrous result. The new G&M poll puts the relationship between the three parties at about what they were before Jean Brault's testimony became publicly known.

However, Harper and the Tories have to be concerned about the sudden drop in Harper's popularity. Going from even-up to a twenty-point deficit in favorability shows how difficult it will be for a Harper-led coalition to unseat the Grits. It also might reflect some Tory discontent over the missed opportunity and the fumbling of the Stronach defection. Given that all other numbers have reverted to status quo ante Gomery, it seems that the only real lasting effect of the spring battles has been damage to Harper.

Paul Martin, despite the numerous allegations and corroborations of Liberal Party corruption, only dropped two points in favorability -- from 58% to 56%. The gap between Harper and Martin makes it unlikely that Harper can beat the Liberals in an election, or even gain enough seats to gain minority control over the Commons. Don't expect any new confidence motions to be tabled under these conditions.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 11, 2005 8:57 AM

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