If I were to make a list of all the adjectives I could use to describe Canadian politicians and political parties, “self-aware” would rank pretty close to the bottom—down there with “fun,” “witty,” “discerning” and “charismatic.” That’s what makes this poll so interesting.
Angus Reid Strategies asked 1,003 Canadians to pick six qualities out of a list of 17 that they would attach to each of the four major federalist parties and then broke down the results to compare how supporters view their own party to how Canadians view it. To the extent that supporters overwhelmingly tend towards positive qualities to describe their favourite party, the results aren’t shocking by any means. What is interesting, though, is just how sharp the divide can be between how supporters view their party compared to the way other Canadians do.
Below are the qualities for which there was the highest levels of agreement and disagreement between a party’s supporters and Canadians as a whole. (The numbers in parentheses represent the percentage of Canadians who attributed the quality to the party vs. the percentage of that party’s supporters who did the same.)
Agree: compassionate (5% vs. 9%), weak (17% vs. 7%), exciting (3% vs. 7%)
Disagree: arrogant (55% vs. 25%), uncaring (37% vs. 8%), out of touch (43% vs. 14%), intelligent (24% vs. 56%)
For what it’s worth, even if they’re less likely to describe themselves as such than Canadians as a whole, Conservatives appear to have embraced their inner arrogance. They also appear comfortable with the notion they’re not particularly compassionate or exciting. However, when it comes to convincing Canadians the party cares about the same issues they do, the Tories evidently have their work cut out for them.
Agree: honest (10% vs. 22%), weak (27% vs. 17%), exciting (5% vs. 14%)
Disagree: inefficient (42% vs. 19%), dishonest (38% vs. 7%), in touch (14% vs. 37%), out of touch (41% vs. 18%), intelligent (27% vs. 58%)
Liberal supporters were the least likely of any political formation’s to pick out “honest” as an appropriate descriptor for their party. They were also the party most often described as “dishonest” by Canadians. The stench of Adscam is a persistent one.
Agree: secretive (13% vs. 4%), uncaring (12% vs. 3%), weak (37% vs. 28%), exciting (7% vs. 16%)
Disagree: down to earth (25% vs. 57%), in touch (21% vs. 48%), intelligent (20% vs. 47%)
The NDP doesn’t appear to have much trouble convincing Canadians they care. Their problem seems to be convincing them they can do anything about all those issues they care so much about.
Agree: secretive (8% vs. 3%), dishonest (9% vs. 4%), strong (2% vs. 5%)
Disagree: down to earth (35% vs. 73%), open (22% vs. 65%), intelligent (20% vs. 64%)
So, Canadians view the Greens as a bunch of well-meaning flakes. Who knew?
Unfortunately, the poll doesn’t include Quebecers’ perceptions of the Bloc. Here’s what I think would come up if the poll had been taken in Quebec:
Agree: secretive, compassionate, exciting (that is, folks would agree they’re decidedly not exciting)
Disagree: out of touch, down to earth, weak
I’m assuming here that the poll would show the Bloc is doomed to fight yet another existential battle in the next election campaign, even if it comes across as broadly competent.
How do you think the results would come out? Before adding your two cents in the comments, remember that the point of the exercise isn’t to crap all over the Bloc but to try and come up with their perceived strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s the list of words that are available: Down to earth, Arrogant, Open, Secretive, Efficient, Inefficient, Compassionate, Uncaring, Honest, Dishonest, Strong, Weak, Exciting, In touch, Out of touch, Intelligent, Foolish.
Have at ‘er.