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: A new Nanos tracking poll shows Canadians losing confidence in the economy.

The number:

27

The percentage of Canadians who think the economy is getting weaker.

Source: Nanos Research, national representation online survey of 1,000 Canadians, Feb. 27-28.

The latest polling numbers by Nanos Research show Canadians are losing confidence in the economy.

Nanos Research asked Canadians if they thought the economy would get stronger or weaker, and the results changed dramatically between January and February.

Between January and February there was a five-point jump in the number of Canadians who think the economy is going to get weaker over the next year.

mar-14mi-nanos_economy

The findings are based on representative random online surveys of adult Canadians conducted Jan. 18-19 and Feb. 27-28, 2013. A margin of error does not apply and the data was weighted using the latest Census information to be a true representation of opinion at the time of the fieldwork.

"We don't usually see numbers like this change in one month," Nik Nanos told Power & Politics host Evan Solomon. Nanos said there are a few factors at play.

"The malaise, the fight, the confusion and the deadlock in the United States over the budget is probably sending a bit of a psychological chill in Canada," Nanos said.

Canadians are also not seeing a lot from the federal government right now, Nanos pointed out. Which is why the upcoming federal budget, which will come down on March 21, will be crucial for the Conservatives.

But it might be a tough year for the government, Nanos warned.

"This is probably going to be a Buckley's cough syrup — tastes awful but works — kind of budget, where the Conservatives dole out tough medicine in order to hit those deficit targets," Nanos said.

The Conservatives are thinking about timing and the next election, Nanos said, and have to be tough this year to get Canada's fiscal house in order for an election in 2015.

In contrast, Nanos predicts the opposition parties will have a better year, and the change in Canadians' confidence in the economy could be used to their benefit.

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.