05/22/2013 11:43 EDT | Updated 07/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Nanos Number: Few see positives in current political climate

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC New Network's Power & Politics to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: Few Canadians are confident their government will be able to accomplish anything positive in the current political climate, according to a recent poll by Nanos Research.

In a national survey, Canadians were asked if the current national political environment will lead to positive or negative policy outcomes.

Only 13.1 per cent said the current political climate will lead to positive policy outcomes, while 29.1 per cent said somewhat positive, 24.7 per cent said somewhat negative policy outcomes, 27.4 per cent said it would result in negative policy outcomes and 5.7 per cent were unsure.

The results are from a Nanos Research national random survey of 1,013 Canadians completed between April 6 and 9. Respondents were recruited by live telephone agents using a random digit dialled sample and did an online survey through the Nanos RDD Crowdsource sample. It is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

These numbers were taken before the controversy involving Senate expenses and before news broke that the prime minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, paid $90,000 to pay back expenses by Senator Mike Duffy. Nik Nanos told Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton Wednesday the numbers are likely even lower now.

There are two key takeaways for the government and the opposition, Nanos said.

"There's a bit of a pox on all your houses, so to speak, from all the parties," Nanos said. Canadians are seeing dysfunction in Parliament and in government from all parties when it comes to politicians focusing on positive solutions to problems affecting Canadians.

But these numbers are particularly troubling for the Conservatives. "If you're the sitting government, you're looking at numbers like this and Canadians are saying, 'you know what — you're not doing much for me right now in terms with helping me in my day-to-day life'," Nanos said.

The 13 per cent of Canadians who think the current political climate will result in positive outcomes is much lower than Conservative support, which has been hovering around 30 per cent. "[That] means there is a significant number of Conservatives also that don't think things right now are creating positive solutions. That has to be troublesome for the Harper tribe," Nanos said.

These numbers reveal a "potential vulnerability" in the government, Nanos said. The Conservatives' core supporters have been loyal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative brand through past controversies. The difference now is that "this current round of controversies actually comes a little closer to the prime minister than anything else," Nanos said.

Now Harper has to be concerned not with the average voter but with his core supporters being disappointed at what they have been seeing over the past few weeks involving the Senate expenses scandal, Nanos added.

But this is also not an easy win for the opposition, Nanos warned. They have to be careful not to confuse scoring political points and getting in big political hits with gaining support on issues that matter at the ballot box for Canadians.

"Canadians are still going to look to all of the parties in terms of 'what are you doing for me'," Nanos said.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.