Friday, May 11, 2012

On tectonic shifts

I haven't spent much time discussing the spate of recent polls showing the NDP with a modest lead on the Cons, as those top-line results can easily enough be considered an expected consequence of a tired government trying to force through controversial legislation against a popular new leader. But CARP's latest member polling demands some comment - as it reflects that the NDP isn't merely holding roughly the level and type of support it had around the time of the 2011 election, but instead adding a potentially decisive new set of voters to its camp.

By way of comparison, even at the height of its campaign support in 2011, the NDP faced a double-digit deficit compared to the Cons among older voters. In effect, the election came down to a clash of younger and change-oriented voters on the side of the NDP against older, stability-oriented voters on the side of the Cons - and a turnout advantage among the latter group allowed the Cons to emerge with a majority.

But now, CARP's poll shows the NDP with a lead approaching double digits among its members (who were substantially more aligned with the Cons as of 2011 than older voters in general). And if the NDP can add that group to its 2011 edge among younger and newer voters, then there may be rather little support left for the Cons to pursue.

And what's more, a strong majority of CARP respondents are outright expecting a change in government in 2015. Which means that even leaving aside the doubts respondents have about the Cons' choice of policies and tactics, the case for "more of the same" looks likely to fall flat among the voters who accepted it just a year ago.

Of course, I'm sure the Cons will come up with some new strategy to scare voters back into their corner. But the fact that the senior base is even in play looks to be awfully dangerous for the Cons - and may serve as the first particularly strong signal that the NDP is in fact well ahead of where it was a year ago.

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