Poll suggests Harper Conservatives are at their lowest mark since 2009

·Politics Reporter

2009: The Hurt Locker was the top movie, the Toronto Maple Leafs sucked, and we were all embroiled in the Balloon Boy saga.

It was also the last year that the federal Conservative Party was this low in the polls.

According Nanos Research, the Tories have 31.5 per cent national support, the Liberals are at 29.1 per cent, and the New Democrats at 27.2 per cent.

"Polls are snapshots in time, but it’s the trend that counts," pollster Nik Nanos told the Globe and Mail.

"And when you look at the trend line for the Conservatives, over the last two years, it’s basically negative coming out of the election."

[ Related: Polling analysis suggests Liberals on the rebound, Tories slipping ]

Political analyst Gerry Nicholls says we shouldn't get too excited about the polls.

"We are still two years away from an election and the public really isn’t focused on politics," he told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.

"And so polls that ask 'Who will you vote for” often just reflect temporary moods brought about by recent news.' For instance, all the bad publicity about the Senate is probably hurting the Tories, while the Liberal leadership race is likely boosting the Liberals.

"Polls that actually provide useful insight are the ones that dig deeper into public attitudes. What are people worried about? What are their priorities? If for instance, people are worried about the economy, than that means the Tories are still in good shape, as the default position for voters (rightly or wrongly) is that Harper is a better economic manager."

[ More Political Points: Broadbent Institute bemoans Manning Centre inviting Ron Paul to speak ]

Nicholls adds that he doesn't buy into the narrative that political parties in Canada have a shelf-life of 8 or 9 years (ie: the Dalton McGuinty majority in Ontario and the Jean Charest reign in Quebec).

"Governments do have a limited shelf life. But there is no fast or hard rule about how long the self life will last. It depends on a whole lot of variables," he says.

"For one thing, people have a built in bias for the status quo that’s hard to overcome. Better the devil you know. And while voters might grow tired of the government, they will likely still prefer it to change if they think change will be scary or radical.

"We saw this in the last Alberta provincial election, where the Tories have been running things since before the pyramids! The Wildrose simply spooked some voters. Hence, watch for Harper to hammer the NDP for their “radical” economic agenda. And what will happen to the Liberals when the NDP and Conservatives unleash attacks on their new leader?"

I'm sure the Conservatives are hoping that Gerry Nicholls' analysis is correct.

(Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)

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