Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rae On A Roll

For some of us it's possible to separate the dueling Bob Rae story lines, acknowledging success doesn't necessarily equate to rationale for permanent jobs, whatnot. In fact, in reviewing my posts when we were debating Rae for interim Leader, much of the benefits seem to be playing themselves out, he is providing exactly what we all hoped, demonstrating why he was best suited to take the temporary helm and guide Liberals through these tumultuous times. In other words, for myself, and other Liberals I've spoken with recently, not many are terribly surprised that Bob Rae is performing well.

With those qualifiers in mind, I'd like to digest some very encouraging polling for the Liberals, more specifically Bob Rae. A Forum Research poll out today shows the Liberals up modestly to a semi-respectable 25% in the polls, pretty much within the MOE of the NDP at 28%. The Conservatives sit at 35%, slight erosion, but still within their normal fluctuation range. The pollster credits the little Liberal uptick to Rae's performance, which seems entirely plausible, given his high profile and steady leadership.

Perhaps more instructive, the Frank Graves series for iPolitics which looks at approvals for various leaders and finds some remarkable results for Bob Rae. Graves finds:
Rae shows surprising strength for a caretaker presiding over a party with one foot in the grave, at least according to Peter Newman. With 44-per-cent approval, he eclipses the prime minister’s rating and with only 25 per cent disapproval.

A Liberal leader, interim or otherwise, with a high approval, eclipsing the Prime Minister, it's been YEARS since we've seen this dynamic, and even then it was fleeting at best. More remarkable, look at these Rae numbers for Ontario:



Given all our assumptions about baggage in Ontario, that Rae scores so high, his disapproval's so low, really does surprise. Stephen Harper has a full 35% higher disapproval than Bob Rae in Ontario. Nobody can claim Rae is an "unknown", so these numbers are all the more remarkable.

Bob Rae is on a roll, and within that the Liberals are clearly still on the Canadian political radar. Also true, it will become harder and harder to separate the fortunes of the Liberals and Rae, a great job in one capacity will support arguments for the permanent role, the two are now intertwined. I believe Liberals must tread carefully with the overlapping stories and just enjoy the encouraging signs.

31 comments:

Dan F said...

Are Conservatives telling pollsters that they like Rae as leader because they believe it will lead to another defeat of the Liberal Party in the next election?

Steve V said...

No.

Proud Canadian said...

the poll doesn't say when it was conducted! If it was done just after the liberal convention it's understandable they would have this up tick. Don't forget most of the NDP key peoples are out campaign to become their next leader and it shows in question period. So before liberals start opening champagne bottles they should look at all these factors! Mr.Rae is an easy target for conservatives all they have to do is remind peoples of the Rae days,just ask Mr.Kinsella!

Jerry Prager said...

Mike Harris would poll far lower than Bob Rae.

Jerry Prager said...

Jim Flaherty remains in contempt of the Ontario legislature for lying to it about 5.6 billion in debt he concealed from the electorate before Ernie Eve's lost the government. It's all about how you fight back.
Kinsella isn't interested in helping to fight back, he works for the Ontario Liberals, put a Liberal government in Ottawa, and down go the liberals in the province.

Steve V said...

Thank you Proud Conservative for your weak tea.

Proud Canadian said...

"Thank you Proud Conservative for your weak tea." You're welcome! It's why I'm here :-) My favorite brand is "Salada!"


Now to JP:

Mr.Flaherty isn't the leader of the party. In a campaign leaders have the spot light and secondly attacking Mr.Flaherty record as Ontario's finance minister didn't work. Conservatives attacking attacking liberal leaders did work.

sharonapple88 said...

the poll doesn't say when it was conducted! If it was done just after the liberal convention it's understandable they would have this up tick.

It was conducted on Jan. 13, 2012, the first day of the convention. So, this wouldn't explain the uptick. Nothing happened on the first day. Plus, die-hards wouldn't be there to pick-up their phone (this if the company was using landlines as opposed to cell numbers.) Hey, if you can spin, why can't I? :D

Proud Canadian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proud Canadian said...

thanks Sharron I wasn't sure! The NDP not having most of their key peoples in question period makes a big difference.

sharonapple88 said...

Mr.Flaherty isn't the leader of the party. In a campaign leaders have the spot light and secondly attacking Mr.Flaherty record as Ontario's finance minister didn't work.

I agree with that last part. His record as federal finance minister has been a disaster. They've added $100 billion to the national debt -- about 20%.

Here's how farcical it gets with
Flaherty.

From the article:

"Like its predecessors, the 2010 budget (“Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth” — the rhetorical inspiration here comes for once not from Australia, but from Paul Martin circa 1994) features a few killer charts that seek to tell the whole story. One of the big ones this year is titled “Rapid Decline In Deficits.” It begins with a rapid increase in deficits, from $5.8 billion in 2008-2009 to $53.8 billion in 2009-2010, wafting gently down to $49.2 billion in 2010-2011, then to $27.6 billion, $17.5 billion, $8.5 billion, and finally to $1.8 billion in 2014-2015. Hey, that’s a rapid decline in deficits.

"It had better be. For once I packed away a couple of old budgets to keep me company in the lockup. And here’s what those deficits were projected to be, only a year ago: $1.1 billion in 2008-2009, $33.7 billion in 2009-2010, then $29.8 billion, $13 billion, $7.3 billion and $0.7 billion in 2013-2014. So: over the six years where the two forecasts overlap, Flaherty is admitting he screwed up his forecasts last year by an aggregate total of $76.8 billion.

"That’s really bad.

You kind of need to watch this guy Flaherty. “We are going to eliminate the deficit,” he said, sternly, all serious-guy like. “I’m the guy who paid down $37 billion in debt in my first three years as finance minister.”

"And that’s true. The figure includes $13 billion in surplus from Ralph Goodale’s last budget. Flaherty had been Canada’s finance minister for six weeks when he cashed Goodale’s check. So Flaherty is the guy who swiped one-third of his bragging rights from the Liberals."

And from the article how Flaherty gets it wrong:

"These kinds of outcomes are to be expected because in the delicate work of projecting economic growth, Flaherty is out here commando. The hated Liberals used to use “prudent” projections, which meant they assumed growth would be lower, by a set amount, than the average of private-sector forecasts. Then they added a “contingency” fund of, typically, $3 billion a year, which would protect program envelopes if the growth forecasts were wildly over-optimistic."

"Almost every year the only surprise that resulted was substantially lower deficits or higher surpluses than expected. A high-class problem, especially in retrospect. Flaherty throws out both the belt and the suspenders. He takes the average of the private-sector forecasts, uses no contingency, gets it all badly wrong, digs the country a little further into the hole, rinses and repeats."


At the peak, the national debt was around $600 billion back in 1997. With no one expecting the government to balance the books in the next few years, we're guaranteed to blow past this -- especially considering that we're at $578 billion.

Economic headwinds and stimulus spending has hit the government hard, but so has bad projections and the idea to cut the GST.

No wonder the Conservatives continue to clash with the parliamentary budgetary officer (a position the Conservatives created).

Proud Canadian said...

Sharron how can the liberals criticize Mr.Flaherty's budget with a straight face when they were responsible for letting the budgets pass in the past minority gov't?

sharonapple88 said...

Sharron how can the liberals criticize Mr.Flaherty's budget with a straight face when they were responsible for letting the budgets pass in the past minority gov't?

Because they were scared of an election. And apparently for good reason seeing what happened to them in May? ;)

Seriously, it's amusing to see the NDP support the Conservative budget back in September 2009. Why? Because earlier in the year, they had made a lot of noise how crappy the budget was earlier in the year. What had changed? Why the Liberals were going to vote against it.

Government via the game of chicken. Who'll blink first. No surprise, the Conservatives fear nothing. They have a mighty war chest. The opposition -- disarray and with a fraction of the budget of the Conservatives. David may have won against Goliath, but there were a bunch of other guys Goliath crushed before David. :P

The NDP not having most of their key peoples in question period makes a big difference.

Or having Turmel in charge. :P <-- I'm kidding. (Or am I. ;) )

But really, they have 101 MPs right now. The bench is that shallow that missing six MPs will hurt them (Singh and Topp aren't MPs). The entire fortunes of the party are resting on six souls, one of whom is a back-bencher (Nikki Ashton)? Something like this should be an opportunity for the other ninety-five MPs to step up.

And I don't think Peggy Nash is that missed in the House. (Okay, I'll admit my bias -- I don't like Nash -- so take the comment with a grain of salt. But really, the motion was so vague....)

Vancouverois said...

Proud Canadian has a good point - the timing affects the results. Given that the poll was conducted around the time of the convention, when Rae and the Liberal party were getting a lot of news coverage, I wouldn't read too much into it. The next election is still years away.

As for Rae's leadership, he would still be the wrong choice. Nothing changes the fact that he would be going back on his promise.

So he's been doing a good job as interim leader - good for him. That doesn't mean he's the only person who could have done it. And let's not forget that the qualities required in a good interim leader are not identical to the qualities required in a good permanent leader. It's one thing to make a barn-burning speech to a large crowd of Party faithful; making a speech that will inspire the average Canadian voter to turn to the Liberals is something else.

I really find this focus on Rae disturbing. Even if he were able to run without making himself a liar, the Liberal Party should still be singing the virtues of other candidates - demonstrating that the Liberals are a team, with lots of skilled people ready to provide competent government.

Steve V said...

"The next election is still years away."

Appreciate the "insights", but can we assume none of us our drooling idiots.

Perhaps you haven't visited the blog, but I have cautioned on Rae forever, I forever say take results with a grain, so let's not waste time advising us on all the obvious.

Vancouverois said...

@Steve V: Great - then you aren't one of the people I'm addressing.

Still, I get the sense that an awful lot of Liberals are stampeding lemming-like over a cliff - "Rae MUST be the leader! Only Rae is capable of facing Harper!". So please forgive me if I harp on the point a bit - there are obviously some people who still don't get it.

Steve V said...

Oh, I agree with that sentiment. My point has always been, that Rae would do well in this role, so it doesn't change anything.

As for this EKOS poll in Ontario, I do find it fascinating that Rae does this well, while I'm cautious, I'm not dismissing it out of hand.

sharonapple88 said...

After reading that poll, the only I'm sure of is that if Barack Obama was running in Canada, he'd challenge Mulroney for the most seat won in an election. ;)

liberal supporter said...

Rob Ford is helping to remind us that Rae wasn't so bad. Rae brought in the social contract, i.e. Rae days, inn which everyone kept their jobs. When the unions screamed about this, the people were so pissed off they elected Harris who promptly fired numerous civil servants, leading among other things, to Walkerton.
Similarly, Ford wants to pay for his tax cuts by cutting jobs, despite the union offering the equivalent of Rae days (no raises for 3 years).

We're being reminded that when the bad lefties are in power, they spend too much money. When bad righties are in power, people die. Take you pick.

Jerry Prager said...

so proud conservative what is your so proud of, that Harper lied about democracy accountability and transparency, the senate, that his PMO harboured gangsters,that he couldn't care less that the planet is warming because it benefits the only people he's ever worked for, Big OIL; or simply that you have no principles like the rest of you lying ilk and don't care and pride cometh before a fall?

Jerry Prager said...

Flaherty's incompetence and malfeasance began when he was Ernie Eve's Minister of Finance.

Steve V said...

sharon

Can't remember a US prez having such sustained popularity.

Fred from BC said...

Dan F said...

Are Conservatives telling pollsters that they like Rae as leader because they believe it will lead to another defeat of the Liberal Party in the next election?


Yes.

Steve V said...

Oh please Fred, you moonbats don't have that kind of sophistication ;)

Omar said...

That Bob Rae supposedly fucked Ontario some 20 years ago would be seen by some down here as an honour deserving of a badge. Not that I do or do not support him for leader (pretty much ambivalent on the Liberal leadership dilemma,) but a Rae led Liberal party would deliver red Maritime seats to Ottawa. I think that goes without question.

sharonapple88 said...

Can't remember a US prez having such sustained popularity.

Looking at the Republican candidates... I just hope that Obama wins the next presidential election.

liberal supporter said...

Rob Ford is helping to remind us that Rae wasn't so bad. Rae brought in the social contract, i.e. Rae days, in which everyone kept their jobs. When the unions screamed about this, the people were so pissed off they elected Harris who promptly fired numerous civil servants, leading among other things, to Walkerton.
Similarly, Ford wants to pay for his tax cuts by cutting jobs, despite the union offering the equivalent of Rae days (no raises for 3 years).

We're being reminded that when the bad lefties are in power, they spend too much money. When bad righties are in power, people die. Take you pick.

Vancouverois said...

@liberal supporter: From what I understand, the Walkerton incident occurred because an employee was lying, not because of civil service cuts. If so, it's hardly fair to blame Harris for it - it would have happened no matter who was in government at the time.

Omar said...

Careful, Vancouverois, your slip is showing.

liberal supporter said...

Yes, the municipal guy screwed up, but the provincial health inspection staff had been cut back, so nobody discovered the local guy was unqualified and incompetent. With the water testing privatized in 1996, nobody was enforcing the provincial guidelines.
To his credit, his successor Ernie Eves' government passed the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act which greatly tightened up the system.
But it serves as a caution about indiscriminate cutting and gutting of government services. In my view Rae days was the alternative kind of "smart" cutting.

Fred from BC said...

Steve V said...

Oh please Fred, you moonbats don't have that kind of sophistication ;)



True...just a (sometimes inconvenient) penchant for honesty. ;)

Seriously, though...Bob Rae? I'll say the same thing to you that I said about both Dion and Ignatieff: sorry, not the right choice right now.

(if he hadn't promised both the Liberal Party and his wife that he would *not* seek the permanent leadership, still a poor choice but not quite as bad..)

My opinion is that you still need to find someone who is not seen as being too connected to either Chretien or Martin. The division in your party will continue to exist as long as the same players are still involved.


I also think, reading between the lines and considering your very careful choice of words in this and previous posts, you already know this...but yes, enjoy the positive effects while you can. You've got plenty of time to get it right this time (and send the NDP back where they belong)...