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This poll goes a long way to explain the actions of the last week, and the last month.

Ipsos found that a bare majority (53 per cent) support the current policy consensus of a massive deficit to fight the recession. Nearly as many (41 per cent) think such an action is a waste of money.

These kinds of numbers are devastating to the Conservatives.

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I haven't seen any cross tabs on this question, but I can guess that the Conservative vote is heavy skewed to those who think deficit fighting is a waste, while the NDP, Bloc and Liberal vote are most likely to support deficit financed recession busting.

Darrell Bricker advises the government that it must approach the deficit as a "necessary evil" rather than something to trumpet. But will that go anywhere near far enough to assure Conservatives that Stephen Harper did the right thing with this budget?

Thursday, the government leaked the deficit numbers, and the weekend sees a cross-Canada tour by ministers selling the deficit as a necessary evil.

But the fundamental question remains unchecked.

The current Conservative position on deficits is to reverse the charge of profligacy with a counter-attack against "coalition" demands for the spending in the first place.

The flaw in this strategy is that politics is not a zero sum game.

While Conservative voters will not be quick to change their vote to Liberal, NDP or Bloc over the deficit question, they may stay home, disillusioned by the inability of even this most-ideological of Conservative administrations to hew a fiscally responsible course.

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At the same time, the current ad hominem attacks on the opposition do nothing to quell their gravest challenge.

In fact, this line of reasoning actually accelerates the deadly shift of NDP and Bloc voters to the Liberals by casting all as equals.

In the last Parliament, the Conservatives were master tacticians when it came to splitting the NDP and Bloc away from the Liberals, and keeping the Grits isolated, exposed and mocked.

In this Parliament, it is the Conservatives who are consistently stuck with the minority position.

In the case of the budget, the oppositon actually created a spending plan that will prove reasonably popular with their supporters, while being unpopular with the government's own voters.

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