Conservatives -- at least those who are capable of sustained thought -- are beginning to wonder if now is the time for Stephen Harper to exit, stage right. The immediate cause of their inquietude is the latest EKOS poll. Tasha Kheiriddin writes:
EKOS finds that the Liberals continue to ride high at 38.7 per cent overall support, while the Tories and the NDP jostle for second place at 25.6 and 23.4 per cent, respectively. The Greens take 7.1 per cent, while the Bloc has 3.7 per cent, representing an anemic 16.4 per cent of the Quebec vote.
And, though they keep trying to pull the same stunt that worked on Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, it isn't working against Justin Trudeau:
So while its ‘Reefer Madness’ campaign pulls in cash from the Conservative base, the Conservative party itself still can’t pull in votes from its rivals. As with other attacks on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, the campaign succeeds in hitting everything apart from its target: Criticizing Trudeau for supporting marijuana legalization appears to be hardening the base, not growing it. And that is a pattern the Tories will have to reverse before the next election if they want a fourth term in office.
The Conservative strategy from the beginning has been to energize its base and pull in votes from key ridings across the country. Now those key ridings are unimpressed. EKOS reports that the Harperites are behind in eight of the ten provinces.
And, so, the Conservatives face an existential crisis:
The biggest unanswered question, however, is whether the Tories can win with the leader they’ve got. The Conservative base certainly seems to think so: eighty-six per cent would like Prime Minister Stephen Harper to remain as leader, while only 9 per cent want him to quit and 5 per cent don’t know or didn’t answer. These levels dovetail with Harper’s approval rating among Conservative supporters, which sits at 89 per cent in favour, 8 per cent against and 4 per cent undecided or unresponsive.
Among supporters of other parties, it’s an entirely different story. Overwhelmingly, they disapprove of Harper’s performance; 86 per cent of Liberals, 90 per cent of New Democrats, 81 per cent of Greens and 88 per cent of Bloquistes think he is doing a bad job. But when it comes to whether he should resign, the numbers are lower. Sixty-three per cent of Liberals, 71 per cent of New Democrats and Greens, and 67 per cent of Bloquistes think he should quit.
Still, when your approach to governing is "my way or the highway," inevitably, there will come a moment when the voters tell you to hit the road.