Saturday, February 25, 2006

Harper's Mandate

Now that I've stopped giggling about the title of this post...SES has finally come out with poll results worth reporting (unlike previous silly polls that asked voters for their 'mood' on questions they were unqualified to answer). The findings are very interesting.

On the first question, 12% of voters said they made up their mind in the voting booth. In the voting booth! The results of the second question have more serious implications. Asked why Harper won the election, only 6% said it was because he was the best leader and only 11% said it was because of his platform.

Question: When did you make up your mind about who you were going to vote for?

Before the campaign started 39%
Before the holidays 19%
The last weekend of the campaign 19%
In the voting station on Election Day 12%
During the leaders' debate 9%
Unsure/No answer 2%

Question: In your opinion, which of the following statements best describes the main reason why Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won the recent federal election?

It was time for a change 46%
The Liberals needed a "time out" 25%
The Conservatives had the best platform 11%
None of the above 8%
Stephen Harper was the best federal leader 6%
Unsure/No answer 3%

"With three of ten voters making their voting decision in the last three days of the campaign – the election was really up for grabs. A minority of voters cast their ballot based on the Conservative platform (11%) and on Stephen Harper himself (6%). Change and the need for a Liberal 'time out' drove support in the federal election. Polling clearly shows that the Harper mandate is founded on change and punishing the Liberals." -Nik Nanos, President, SES Research

So what is Harper's mandate? Not that this government seems to be particularly beholden to their pre-election ethics and principles, but one can argue that Harper doesn't have much of a mandate at all, particularly when it comes to dismantling the child-care deals established with the provinces. But this is exactly how they are operating: Jim Flaherty was on the radio on Friday stating that they had a mandate to dismantle the Liberal child-care plan and institute their own, because that is what the voters said on election day. The SES poll makes clear that this is an argument built on shaky ground.

Fine, take a Conservative vote as a vote for the Conservative platform, they've got to do something. But they do so at their peril. If anger voted them in, anger can just as easily vote them out.


JD said...

I agree with your thesis. I've been saying all along that Harper only got his shakey minority by default. I'm actually starting to wonder if Martin will make a comeback if/when the Liberals get absolved of any wrongdoing wrt the Income Trust fiasco. Harper is in a very precarious position. If Harper was as smart as he thinks he is, he would work out some type of hybird agreement wrt child care.

IslandLiberal said...

Is this poll of all voters, or just of those who voted Conservative? Of course, I think it was always fairly obvious that the Liberals lost this election more than the Conservatives won it.

As for Paul Martin, I can't imagine him being allowed to stay on for another election. The executive would jury-rigg some kind of emergency leadership vote, or else ask Graham to take over.

Anonymous said...

With Harper's 60% approval rating from Canadians I'd take his "shakey minority" and his "precarious position" anytine.

Anonymous said...

Mr.harpers' 60 percent approval was assessed by not believe their polls...they make them up to suit the cons...remember the pre-election polls....what we call B.S.