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A couple arrives to vote in the federal election in B.C.'s Saanich Gulf Islands riding on Oct. 14, 2008. (Deddeda Stemler/Deddeda Stemler for The Globe and Mail)
A couple arrives to vote in the federal election in B.C.'s Saanich Gulf Islands riding on Oct. 14, 2008. (Deddeda Stemler/Deddeda Stemler for The Globe and Mail)

Morning Buzz

Coalition fear-mongering falls on deaf ears, poll finds Add to ...

Harper government scare tactics warning a big-spending Liberal-NDP coalition government would mess up an already fragile economy is not working, according to a new poll.

In addition, the Nanos Research survey - released Thursday - reveals an increasingly volatile electorate, pointing to turbulent times ahead for our federal politicians.

Despite the Tory foreboding about a possible coalition government, nearly 51 per cent of respondents believe a change in government would have no effect on the stability of our economy. In comparison, about 30 per cent believe change would be risky.

"In the past, one of the key messages of the Conservatives has been that changing a government in time of economic instability would be risky," pollster Nik Nanos told The Globe. "This messaging is not likely to resonate in a significant fashion because the narrative for the past number of years has been political instability and Canada has generally weathered the Great Recession."

The poll also investigated Canadians views about their MPs and how well they feel they are being represented. It reveals some important findings about the so-called incumbency factor.

"Provincial and municipal politics has witnessed a rough ride for incumbents and front runners," the pollster said. And now it is moving into the federal sphere.

Thirty per cent of those surveyed said they do not feel their MP is "in touch with the views of people in my riding." And when asked whether they felt they were "well represented" by their MP, 41 per cent said they were not.

This compares to 47 per cent who believe their MP knows what is going on in the riding and 46.6 per cent of poll respondents who feel they are well represented by their MP.

And party loyalty does not seem to be something that political leaders will be able to count on. Just over 30 per cent of survey respondents said they would vote for a different party in the next election compared to nearly 50 per cent, who said they would not.

"This is a possible precursor to a significant level of voter volatility," Mr. Nanos said. "Only about one in two Canadians will be sticking with the same choice as last time."

The poll of 1,017 Canadians was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

"In my experience, when the economy is strong the voter message to politicians is 'don't mess things up'," Mr. Nanos said. "Now, in uncertain economic times it is shifting to 'what have you done lately?' This emerging sense of political immediacy should be a clear message to incumbents and candidates: Past accomplishments may be good but one will likely be politically judged on what you can deliver now."

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