I’m not one to slavishly follow public opinion polls. Generally speaking the public ones don’t have large enough sample sizes, or are on-the-cheap online polls. The January 7’th Nanos Poll was a proper telephone interview with a large sample size. This poll showed the Green Party’s support dropping rom 10% nationally in December to 7%. The January 14’th Strategic Counsel Poll showed Green Party suport steady at 8% between Dec. 3 2008, and Jan. 14. The sample size was 1000 by telephone interview. The Jan. 15’th Angus Reid online poll showed Green Party support dropping from 8% nationally on Dec. 12, 2008 to 5%. I don’t 100% trust the Angus Reid methodology, despite it’s remarkable success, and I remain convinced that they will be caught out big-time when voter behaviour changes, but all three polls will have exercised consistent methodology over the 1 month period discussed. I guess that the news is that, in my opinion, the Green Party support is being eroded below a level I would have considered base support 6 months ago.
If you follow my Blog, you’ll know that I am not surprised at all by the Ignatieff Liberals big comeback. I think he’ll build on it in fact. What really worries me is that the Liberals have not done a thing to target the Green Party, but the Green Party of Canada support level has fallen pretty dramatically when compared to most intra-election polls from the past two years.
Yes, I know that the Green Party of Canada got roughly 7% of the vote in the election. These polls show around 7% GPC support amongst the electorate right? Well the difference is that a large chunk of the whole electorate doesn’t vote. The Green Party of Canada gains a disproportionate number of it’s supporters from Canadians who don’t expect to vote. Ipsos Reid has been pretty good at publishing this kind of analysis in the past, but it’s not isolated to Ipsos results. Other pollsters have shown the same thing. I do not know the methodology that Nanos uses to adjust for this factor, and they certainly predicted pretty accurately for the 2008 election, but remember folks that our support levels are really only a smidgin above 2006 levels, and next time around we won’t have the Liberal Party leadership pulling for us.
So what’s the message for the Green Party here? In a word, TROUBLE. The lack of strategic direction in Elizabeth May’s, ‘anything but the Conservatives’ message is coming home to roost. The Green Party is not really differentiated in the eyes of the electorate, because over the past two years they have not been staking out any ground of their own. “Anything but the Conservatives” now means “Vote for Ignatieff and the Liberals”. Make no mistake, the Liberal Party is not blind, and they know as well as anybody that they must bury the Green Party if they ever want to form a majority. When they actually start their machine rolling, they will craft the most telling positive message they can think of to appeal to Green Party supporters. I genuinely fear what impact this will have on the GPC in the next Federal Election.
It’s not a foregone conclusion though. Elizabeth May still has some cachet left, and if she spends her considerable talents promoting a positive message all about the Green Party, then she can possible forestall the slide. She must NOT forget that we need to appeal to Progressive Conservatives no less than Liberals, so a return to the neither left, nor right, but forward message would do very nicely thank you. Let the other Party’s bash each other while we stand above the fray. Continue to build the pressure by growing our tranche of habitual supporters across the spectrum. It’s worked for 4 years without a really visible spokesperson, so why wouldn’t it work when we actually have national media coverage?
I believe that we can actually turn the tables on the Liberals, and grow again at their expense. The
Conservatives will be vulnerable amongst their progressive supporters. We can so easily double our support levels over the next year. This pre-supposes that Elizabeth is paying attention, and won’t simply shrug this off as the vagaries of public polling. This is a wakeup call for Elizabeth May.
The Green Party elected Elizabeth May as leader for the simple reason that she would be capableof bringing much needed publicity, and increased membership to the Party. I personally convinced hundreds of members, and EDA executives to support her leadership bid for these very pragmatic reasons. Given that her popularity is sliding fast amongst her own membership and the electorate. Given that membership levels are not increasing. Given that the media is starting to back away from their previous adulation, Elizabeth May is approaching some rocky shoals. There are no magic bullets to turn it around. The Green Party of Canada must begin a systematic campaign to win members, volunteers, organize, and make a mark in the public mind. We might yet be hearing Elizabeth May say: “I meant to do that”
Filed under: election readiness, Greens In the News, Political Strategy | Tagged: Canadian Election, election readiness, Elizabeth May, green party canada, Green Party of Canada, internal green party politics |