Alarming Poll Results for Green Party of Canada

Green Party Canada trend

Green Party Canada trend

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

I meant to do that!

Elizabeth May: I meant to do that!

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”

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8 Responses

  1. This voter and hard-working volunteer for the GPC in 2008 may well not vote or volunteer for the party next time.

    I withdrew my membership in the GPC after learning there’d be no post-election leadership review.

    E May may be the darling of the media, but she was terrible during the election at conveying a consistent message to the party’s supporters. The GPC could have garnered more votes had May been clear on where votes were to go.

    Arguing that she was misquoted – time after time after time after time – just didn’t cut it. It simply wasn’t possible, especially when her own words refuted her, not to see the credibility gap. I got tired of apologizing for her.

    I sooo miss David Chernushenko!

  2. With Ignatieff, the Liberals will shift to rightward towards the centre. The Liberals first objective will be to take votes away from the Conservatives. This means that if an election is held in a year or two, the focus will be on the economy, not the environment. The Liberals will also not make any side deals with the Green Party. The Greens will need to campaign on their own two feet.

    While there are some liberal bloggers who do not like Ignatieff’s shift in foreign policy towards supporting Israel, for most voters, the Middle East will be a deciding factor in only 1 to 3 percent of them.

    The next election will be a battle between the two titans: Harper and Ignatieff. The other leaders will be on the sidelines whether or not they like being there.

  3. To re-energize the GPC and reverse the downward trend would take about 5 minutes and about $5 of gas money.

    All Elizabeth May needs to do is get in her Prius and motor over to Truro and announce she will be contesting the riding of Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley.

    This would not change the big picture battle you have outlined, but it would provide a realistic chance for the GPC to win its first riding. I am absolutely convinced that this must happen sooner or later. There is no reason to wait for later and if it doesn’t happen at all, then I fear a new Leader for the GPC, willing to try to win will be needed. That would be a shame and a waste of several years and enormous political capital and a crucial moment in human history.

    So mark it on your calendar, once the book tour “deal” is complete, Elizabeth May will announce her candidacy for the riding of Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley.

  4. Hi MasterU. See my previous post,

    where this is precisely what I was writing about. I don’t know if it’ll be a by-election, or if she’ll have to wait until the next general election, but I think I concurr. Just a caveat, if she announces early, then be damned sure that all three other Party’s will pull out all the stops to ensure the best possible candidates. I am pretty sure two at least would be prepared to collaborate to help ensure a loss for Elizabeth May. I’m not sure that there’s anything to be done, other than an extremely attractive offer to a real superstar candidate to oppose her.

  5. As one of those leaning on the fence and seriously looking at the greener pastures on the otherside I have several comments to make upon this post and the replys to it.
    Firstly this “E May may be the darling of the media, but she was terrible during the election at conveying a consistent message to the party’s supporters. The GPC could have garnered more votes had May been clear on where votes were to go.”
    Ah, a leader who expressed the view that for the good of the country it may be necessary to vote “strategically” and if by voting for a Green who had little chance of being elected you enabled the anti democratic Harper regime then perhaps you should consider the alternative. My god, an honest, pragmatic politician, whatever next!

    “While there are some liberal bloggers who do not like Ignatieff’s shift in foreign policy towards supporting Israel” This to me, has just proved that he like almost every other “leader” will say anything for political gain, even to the point of supporting this slaughter and destruction done in the name of “defense”. I liked Dion better but he was far to honest to win this political dogfight they call Parliamentary Democracy, never the less I do hope that Elizabeth continues to tell it like it is!

    “it would provide a realistic chance for the GPC to win its first riding. I am absolutely convinced that this must happen sooner or later.” And therein lies the key, having watched the number soar here in Grey Bruce when folks thought there was a good chance of actually electing a Green (in the provincial election) it is clear that the “wasted” vote syndrome is still alive and well throughout the country. Once the Greens get that first MP in the house just watch the numbers jump. In that regard I fully agree with “bluegreen”, Elizabeth, go for it if you get a chance!

    Whether a byelection will ever happen before a general election is another matter, the next few weeks and months are going to be a CF in the House no matter what.

    I do agree that the Greens must have any and all resources ready to go at any time and not wait until an election call is issued to get things organized. How far along they are with this would, I guess, be only know to insiders. That is how it must be for the other lot would make every effort to destroy such plans if the knew of them, however it does seem that they need more work on keeping the Green Party name in the public’s eye both before and during election periods. Blogging will I believe become one of the major tools in all partys “war rooms” and cannot be under estimated. Witness the debate debate!

    As I have not (yet) joined the Green Party and therefore cannot comment on that blog this forum makes a good substitute, thanks.

  6. Thanks everybody for your’ comments. Free and frank discussion rules!!
    I find it interesting that both Tidal Waters, and Rural are on/off the fence Green Party members. I’ve been in the Green Party on again, off again myself, for years and if there’s one constant, it is that Leadership does either adapt, or change. If the Leadership doesn’t pay attention to the membership, then it changes (Leadership that is). Members are generally pretty silent on their thoughts until a Leadership race happens. I do know from my own GPC networks that a lot of people were upset with Elizabeth during the election. A typical comment would be from somebody busting their hump going door to door, only to hear that Elizabeth appeared to be directing the votes another way. I haven’t dedicated much space here to discussing internal frictions, because that would detract from the purpose of this blog, but I will say one thing. Those frictions are there, and both Rural, and Tide Waters represent significant chunks of the membership. I encourage everybody with an interest to (re)join the Green Party, and to remember that it’s a long haul proposition. What we share in common is way way bigger than that which divides us. As a member, your’ vote will ultimately be counted, and in the interim learn from your’ own, and others mistakes.

  7. “What we share in common is way, way bigger than that which divides us.”

    So true, and good to keep remembering. That would make a good signature tag (mind if I borrow it?)

    I’m trying to convince fence-sitters like Rural to join in the GPC – I think the debating and differences in perspectives makes the party much, much stronger in the long run. And thanks to Rural (waving at you) for bringing my attention to this site.

    I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth’s voting message. I heard her say with my own ears that she supported people in voting for Dion, that she respected him and thought he was a good choice. While I appreciated her honesty, and while it did not affect my voting decision, I do suspect it worked against the party in the long run. I find myself hoping that she is very clear about voting Green in the future.

  8. Hi Monique,
    feel free to borrow the tagline. I will confess that when I first heard the Elizabeth had made public comments to that effect, it was like a gut blow. She should know, as a Lawyer, that her own opinions are not what she was ‘hired’ to promulgate. She has a duty, in my opinion not much different from a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of her party. This message was in a real sense a betrayal of this duty. I agree that it reads like honesty, but remember that as an honest spokesperson, she must represent her constituency. If a criminal lawyer exhibited such honesty, and advised a Jury to convict her client because she believed him guilty, she would be disbarred, not praised. It may have been a mistake, and if it was, it was a biggie! I suspect that it has scuppered her with the media, and with a large minority, or possibly even a majority of the Party membership. When she faces a review, she now runs the risk of defeat. If a good candidate steps up, she’ll get thumped.

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