French-speaking Canadians surveyed by Ipsos Reid immediately after Wednesday’s debate said the Liberal Leader won the night, and one in five viewers say they changed their mind.
TORONTO — Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion clearly prevailed in the French-language leaders’ debate, according to viewers surveyed by Ipsos Reid immediately after Wednesday’s telecast.
The online poll found 40 per cent of voters said Mr. Dion won the debate, compared with 24 per cent who gave the contest to Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper came in at 16 per cent, NDP Leader Jack Layton at 11 per cent, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at just 1 per cent.
A Crop poll for La Presse with a smaller sample size found Mr. Dion ranked second, trailing Mr. Duceppe by only 6 per cent among viewers who rated their performance as “excellent” or “very good.” Only 18 per cent said Mr. Harper had won the debate.
While there was no knock-out punch, Mr. Dion was at ease in his native tongue and set the agenda by promising he would implement a five-point economic action plan within 30 days of becoming prime minister. He may have also benefited from low expectations after a rocky campaign plagued by poor polling numbers.
First televised leaders’ debate of the 2008 election campaign turns into a wide-ranging and substantive discussion of policy.
The Ipsos Reid poll found 36 per cent of viewers rated Mr. Dion as the leader who sounds and acts most like a prime minister, ahead of Mr. Harper at 31 per cent. One in five respondents – 20 per cent – said they had changed their mind about who to vote for as a result of viewing the debate.
The debate, which took place at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, was seen as critical to Mr. Harper’s effort to win a majority government and to Mr. Dion’s efforts to revive the faltering Liberal campaign. The bout saw Mr. Harper raked over the coals, smiling thinly as his opponents did most of the talking. The multipronged barrage appeared to leave the Conservative Leader resigned to having to weather the onslaught.
• 41 per cent of voters said Mr. Dion offered the best policies and ideas during the debate. In second was Mr. Duceppe at 22 per cent, Mr. Layton at 19 per cent, Mr. Harper at 13 per cent and Ms. May at 1 per cent.
• Mr. Layton was ranked most likeable and the person voters would most like to go out with for a bear or coffee. Mr. Layton was also viewed to be the most visually attractive (33 per cent), following by Mr. Duceppe at 22 per cent, Mr. Dion at 19 per cent, Mr. Harper at 15 per cent and Ms. May at 5 per cent.
A total of 637 French-speaking Canadian voters were polled online immediately after the debate. The results are considered accurate plus-or-minus 3.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample’s age, sex, regional and party support composition reflects that of the actual French-speaking voter population. The sample was drawn from a pre-recruited panel of 12,000 voters from Ipsos Reid’s internet panel.