Monday, August 15, 2005

The Strategic Counsel Poll: Have A Look For Yourself

Campbell Clark writes in today's Globe and Mail that the sponsorship scandal is currently off the public radar, which equals bad news for the federal Tories. You can actually find the poll in question at the Strategic Counsel's website; it's the one dated August 7th. If you look at the poll itself, there are somethings that the Globe story doesn't cover.

First, it's not surprising that the sponsorship scandal and the Gomery inquiry have faded. Since the judge is in analysis / final report writing mode, there are no new revelations and no new discoveries. Furthermore, since Parliament hasn't been in session since June, there's been no real opportunity for the Tories to keep the issue alive.

Second, the ability of the media to set the public agenda is still pretty strong, particularly when it comes to international news. Immigration and cultural integration have become an issue, mainly because of the immigrant crackdown that was introduced in Britain during the polling period. (One thing that's been underreported from this poll: Canadians have become disillusioned with the "multiculturalism" policy that has been a traditional mindset of the federal Liberals. If the Tories publicize reforms to immigration based on cultural integration, that could be a clear alternative come election time.)

Third, one needs to be careful about describe issues on the agenda. While health care is rated as the most important issue facing the country, only 16 percent of the sample said so. This is hardly dominant, and in fact the number is down from polling back in May.

Fourth, although terrorism isn't high on the issues list, what people do know about it isn't encouraging for the Liberals. 67 percent of the sample don't believe this covernment can deal with a terrorist threat. (Anne McLellan needs to do a lot more work.)

Finally, this poll does identify one significant Tory electoral weakness: as bad as the numbers are in Ontario, they've gone into single-digits in Quebec. Plainly, some recruitment and outreach is needed if the Tories really want to be competitive on a national level.

But perhaps you'd better have a look at the poll for yourself.