A pair of polls, by Ekos and Forum Research, released in the last three days gives Steven Harper's Conservatives either a 7 or a 17 per cent lead over Michael Ignatieff's Liberals and the NDP trailing well behind. However a closer look at the demographic breakdown of the poll indicates that his lead will translate into even more votes on May 2 than revealed by the polls' totals.
When I looked at the polls more closely, it reminded me of an experience when I was a Strategic Planning executive for a major Hollywood production company. After attending a screening of a particular movie that was made for a primarily female audience, a head of production approached me and asked what I thought. I suggested certain changes that could be accomplished through editing, and he told me that he expected the movie as it stood to do extremely well. His assessment was based on the boast that the movie had received some of the best focus group responses from middle aged women he had even seen. "That may well be," I told him, "but middle-aged women don't go to the movies all that often."
He gave me a condescending smile following my observation, and then two months later, avoided me for a while after the movie tanked at the box office and ended up losing millions of dollars.
Looking at the poll numbers, the Liberals and the NDP have their strongest support in the under 25 age group, whereas the Tories keep getting stronger results as the ages of the respondents goes up. And it's always older voters who are more likely to turn up to cast a vote on election day. In the Ekos poll, which places the Conservatives and Liberals the closest, the Tories' lead over the Liberals is 3% in the 25-44 age group, over 11% in the 45-64 group, and a staggering 27% lead among seniors, the single-most dedicated group of voters.
As far as a 'gender gap' goes, there isn't one. Although men prefer the Tories by a greater margin than women, the Conservatives lead the Liberals among both male and female voters.
Another telling result from the poll that should make Conservative strategists very happy is that 51.6% of Canadians think the country is headed in the right direction versus 38.5% who don't.
When people think something is moving in the right direction, they're not likely to change course. The way things look, that majority of Canadians who believe their country is doing well now will translate into a majority of Conservative MPs in the House of Commons after the May 2 election.