Michael Ignatieff chose to demonstrate his commitment to defeating the Conservative government by starting his campaign in the riding of Outremont - held by the NDP. Waiting for him there was news of an important new public opinion poll, conducted by the respected Quebec polling firm CROP (1,000 respondents, conducted between March 16th and 21st, reported in La Presse here.) Let's take a look:
Best Prime Minister among national party leaders: Jack Layton 22% - Stephen Harper 17% - Michael Ignatieff 5%
Voting intentions in Quebec, all respondents: Bloc Quebecois 38% -Conservatives 23% - NDP 20% - Liberals 11%
Among Francophone voters: Bloc Quebecois 44% - NDP 21% - Conservatives 21% - Liberals 7%
Quebec City area: Bloc Quebecois 36% - Conservatives 33% - NDP 22% - Liberals 8%
There are no typos here: that's 11% (eleven per cent) for the Liberals province-wide in Quebec, a bit more than half the level of NDP support. That's 7% (seven per cent) among francophones (one-third the support for the New Democrats). That's 8% ("eight") in Quebec City (a bit more than one-third of the NDP vote).
And that's 5% - five percent, many fewer than believe Elvis is still alive - of Quebeckers who would rate Mr. Ignatieff as best prime minister. Less than one-quarter of the number of Quebecers who rate Jack Layton that way.
These abysmal numbers help explain the notably low overall Liberal polling numbers going into this campaign. This CROP poll suggests that Mr. Ignatieff and his party have collapsed into single digits in Quebec - dragging down his national numbers.
A poll is just a snapshot, just one data point. The trends are what matter (and, in many ways, the most interesting thing about this poll is that the Bloc is lower than in many other recent samples). But if Mr. Ignatieff and his advisers really believe their rhetoric that all anti-Conservative voters (at least, the federalist ones) are obliged to vote for the party best positioned against Stephen Harper, then his next campaign stop in Tom Mulcair's riding should be to endorse him - along with 74 other NDP candidates in Quebec.