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May 23, 2006
The Tory Revolution

Stephen Harper has led perhaps the quietest revolution in Anglosphere poliitics. In just four short months, he has vaulted the Conservative Party -- only a couple of years past a difficult merger with Reform -- into a movement that now threatens to swamp even the Bloc Quebecois in the fractious province of Quebec. A new Ipsos poll shows that the Tories now have enough voters to get a majority in Parliament if elections were held today:

According to a new Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of CanWest/Global, the current Conservative Party government is enjoying their highest levels of federal vote support in nearly 20 years, since Brian Mulroney’s majority in November of 1988.

Currently, 43% of federal voters support the Conservative Party (+5 points since a mid-March Ipsos Reid poll), giving them an impressive 18-point lead over their chief federal rival, the Liberal Party (25%, -3 points). The NDP (15%, -4 points) trail the Liberals, while the Green Party (5%, unchanged) remains much further back.

The poll holds bad news for all of the Conservative rivals. Liberals, who held power for the past thirteen years, now trail the Tories by almost twenty points nationally. Part of this may be the extended transition of Liberal leadership, but undoubtedly it has something to do with the exposure of their previous smear jobs on Harper as falsehoods. The Grits under Paul Martin continually painted Harper as an extremist with a "hidden agenda", but Harper has proven them liars with his straightforward, center-right governance.

Nowhere has this phenomenon shone through better than Ontario. The seat of power and a longtime Liberal stronghold, the Tories now lead by four points, just within the margin of error. The gain comes from the Liberals but more from Harper's parliamentary partner, the NDP, which has seen its support halved, losing eleven points to fall to 11%. Considering the usually leftward bent of the government bureaucracy in Ontario, this result should stun politicians in the province.

The Conservatives now lead in every demographic category, including young voters, as well as in every province but Quebec. However, even here the Tories show their strength. BQ had long enjoyed majority support within its home province, which caused worry about separatist intent. Now BQ only leads the Tories 38-33, demonstrating not just Tory momentum but a significant shift in support for the Canadian Union. Liberals, who usually picked up the few remaining non-BQ seats in the province, now have fallen behind the struggling NDP in fourth place.

Harper appears to be uniting Canada behind the Tories and setting a course for long-term center-right rule. The Liberals have only been saved so far by a lack of choices for the thinning ranks of Tory opponents in Canada. If these numbers continue to show this kind of strength, the Tories may want to hold elections soon to get a majority government in Parliament.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 23, 2006 5:31 AM

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