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July 19, 2005
Tories Still Polling Badly In Canada

Despite having one of the worst political scandals in Canadian history as an albatross, the Liberal Party continues to outpoll the Conservatives, building up strong leads in BC and the Atlantic area. The reason? The Tories still have not done a good job of showcasing their party leader:

The gift of scandal and voter fatigue with the four-term Liberal government have done little for Stephen Harper's Conservatives, a new poll suggests.

A Pollara poll gives the Liberals a commanding advantage - 11 points ahead of their arch-rivals, with staggering leads in battlegrounds like B.C., the Toronto area and Atlantic Canada.

Michael Marzolini, who heads Pollara, says the Canadian electorate wants to punish the Liberals and there's only one explanation for such a large lead.

"The whole thing is Stephen Harper at this stage," said Marzolini, who was once the Liberals' pollster.

Once again, the lack of standing for Harper remains the Tories' biggest stumbling block. Whether this comes from a lack of political skill on Harper's part -- which might have been reflected in his being outmanuevered this spring during the Adscam controversy -- or a malicious political smear campaign from the Liberals doesn't really matter in the end. Harper obviously has a problem that needs immediate addressing, or the Tories will have to consider other options.

As I've said before, Harper needs to find ways to communicate over the heads of Canadian media and directly to the electorate. He needs to connect personally with Canadian voters, engaging them and making them feel comfortable with Harper on a personal basis. Right now, his biggest problem seems to be that the opposition has been able to get out in front of Harper and define him on their terms, making him into a Conservative bogeyman with "hidden agendas". If Harper can pull a Reaganesque speaking tour and find that connection with Canadians, it not only helps him build confidence in his leadership, but it will also destroy what remains of Liberal credibility after their assaults on Harper.

He has a summer and an autumn to make his case. If he hasn't convinced Canadians of his honesty, forthrightness, and leadership qualities by then, the Tories may need to make some changes.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 19, 2005 12:12 PM

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