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April 27, 2006
Tories Pick Up Steam

After winning their last national election more narrowly than predicted, the Conservatives came into government with a restricted mandate and a short leash. Now, however, they have inspired confidence in their no-nonsense, professional manner and the Canadian electorate has responded accordingly:

The Conservatives have seized a commanding lead in popularity over the Liberals and inched into majority-government territory, says a new survey released Wednesday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Tories held a 15-point advantage over the Liberals and broke past what is considered the benchmark for winning a majority government, says the Decima poll. ...

The Conservatives stood at 41 per cent — one point above the mark that is traditionally considered the dividing line that separates majorities from minorities.

The Liberals held 26 per cent and the NDP, despite its continued efforts to chip away at Liberal support, remained a distant third at 19 per cent.

Decima's chief pollster says the Conservatives have been steadily gaining ground since the election. They won a minority government with 36 per cent of the popular vote on Jan. 23.

The Liberals set themselves up for failure and now reap their harvest. They painted the Conservatives as radical and PM Stephen Harper as a bogeyman with dark "hidden agendas" that would destroy the Canadian Union. Instead, Canadians see a competent and uncontroversial government proceeding professionally with the nation's business, pursuing moderate goals moderately. The Liberals will have to spend their time wiping the egg off of their faces, and so will the NDP that conspired with them to keep the Tories from rising to power for several months.

The new strength for the Tories comes in traditional Liberal stomping grounds -- urban areas, young voters, and women. They have even opened up a wide margin on the Grits in Ontario, the Liberal power base, with 40% of voters supporting Stephen Harper and his party. The Tories lead the Grits in every area of Canada except the Atlantic provinces, although they trail Bloc Quebecois in Quebec, of course. If Harper can nail down the softwood compromise with Washington, that will push Conservative numbers even higher.

With the Conservatives proving themselves as adept centrists, the Canadian electorate will be forced to re-evaluate the Liberals and their scare tactics. In fact, that re-evaluation appears to have already begun, and the rudderless Grits have already begun paying the price.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 27, 2006 5:51 AM

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