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Harper due for a 'charm offensive' in the fall with steady decline in approval ratings

Pollster Nik Nanos expects the Conservative Party to deploy a 'charm offensive' to bolster Stephen Harper's deteriorating approval ratings from Canadians. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister.

A series of unfortunate political mistakes and scandals connected to the Conservative Party has significantly damaged Canadians' confidence in Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said pollster Nik Nanos.

According to a Nanos Research Survey on federal leaders, Harper's leadership index score has fallen steadily since last fall.

Although Harper is still far ahead of his rivals in the House with a leadership score of 72.7 versus NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's 46.8, Liberal Party leader Bob Rae's 41.5, the Green Party leader Elizabeth May's 15.4 and the Bloc Québecois leader Daniel Paillé's 7.0, a review of his public approval from a year ago shows a steady decline.

A Nanos chart showing trends in Leadership Indexes over time for the federal party leaders. Nanos Research conducted a national random telephone survey of 1,200 Canadians 18 years of age and older between July 7-12, 2012. Results were accurate to within 2.8 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20. The data was weighted for gender and age to match the Canadian census results. Source: Nanos Research Survey Leadership Index.

Nanos said that the Conservative Party will likely go on a 'charm offensive' to bolster their leader because so much of the Conservative Party brand is built around him.

"A charm offensive is an event or series of events where parties look to reintroduce and renew the brand of their party leader," Nanos explained in a telephone interview with The Vancouver Observer. He cited Harper playing piano at the National Arts Centre gala in 2009, visiting sporting events or wearing a sweater vest as examples.

Robocall voter suppression scandal, F-35 fighter jets cost overruns, Bev Oda's mis-spending part of an 'accumulation effect' 

Nanos said that Harper's decreasing approval ratings are the result of an accumulation of scandals such as its implication in the robocall vote suppression scandal, underestimating F-35 fighter jet costs, and former International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda's mis-spending taxpayers' money on extravagant items such as $16 orange juice. NDP Thomas Mulcair's 'honeymoon' with Canadians shortly after his election also had a negative impact on Harper's image, Nanos added.

"Conservative support has been relatively stable, while a drop in Stephen Harper's brand has been quite noticeable," he said. "They want to make sure that brand of their leader doesn't translate into weakened support for their party.”

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