Poll suggests Stephen Harper attacking Canadians

The latest AR poll, reveals some serious vulnerabilities for this government, particularly as it relates to the title soundbite used by Ignatieff today (h/t Jeff Jedras). Impolitical has already digested this finding, but it bears repeating. Rarely do you see such a one sided response to question, but Canadians overwhelming believe that Ottawa is more partisan and Harper bears the bulk of the responsibility:

-28% believe Ottawa is more partisan than it was 5 years ago, only 10% believe it less partisan
-of those that see increased partisanship, 61% believe the Conservatives are responsible, 16% blame the Liberals, 2% the NDP and Bloc, 14% give shared responsibility

Every time we see another attack ad release, we receive the standard analysis- attack ads work, period. While I support the general thesis, this automatic reaction fails to incorporate circumstance, that doesn’t allow for blanket conclusions. Yes, attack ads work, and yes, the may damage the Liberal leader. But, it is also true that with a Prime Minister already carrying "hyper-partisan" perception baggage, a clear cut picture isn’t readily available. In other words, "more about the messenger" is a reasonable counter effect here, the above poll only serves to support this perspective.

If the question centers around the mood in Ottawa, Canadians generally aren’t impressed. This sentiment, coupled with the obvious conclusion that Harper shares much of the blame, is a ballot question- this guy wants a majority, do you reward a toxic atmosphere in Ottawa with ANOTHER mandate, with a STRONGER mandate? The Liberals would be wise to hammer this angle, because Harper is entirely vulnerable. The terrific soundbite in the title is the perfect response, you highlight Harper’s shortcomings, while pivoting to your own focus, a clear contrast, one that feeds their negatives.

This idea of a man solely focused on the economy, contained within attack ads is an amazing disconnect that can be exploited. The reason it can, polls of this type, because we clearly have a receptive audience, the impression is built in, we just need to remind and entrench.

Nobody is particularly enamoured with Ottawa these days, that is an objective fact no reasonable person disputes. The key is to make the government wear the environment, make it their responsibility, make them the central obstacle to good, clean government. This poll just highlights the potential on this score, and succinct, snappy soundbites like the above are an excellent way to turn these attack ads into a verdict on the sender, not the target.

Click HERE to read more from Steve Val.

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