Who is going to win the Canadian Election - and Why?
Welcome back to my blog. Last time I focused on the Presidential campaign (still Obama's to lose). This time I want to focus north of the border to Canada's increasingly exciting election campaign.
All elections boil down to the 45 'swing' or battleground ridings, and look at what has happened in Canada the past two weeks:
That will tell you everything you need to know about how this election has gone. If the trend lines are not reversed, then it's all bets off as to who wins.
The Rules of Successful Campaigns
The first rule of successful campaigns: control the ballot question. Well, due to the stock market meltdown, that has pretty well been taken care of. The ballot question now is, 'which leader (party) am I prepared to risk with my family's financial future?' That should work to the Tories' favour [hence the 'risky' anti-Dion ads which have blanketed the airwaves even long before the election.]
Stephen Harper was slow to respond to the rapidly escalating fear factor among Canadians - counting on public revulsion towards Stephane Dion's 'Green Shift' to carry the day. However, as the Liberals began to gain momentum, he has kicked into gear this week with a much more vigorous policy response - kicking in $25 billion in mortgage insurance backing (without exposing the taxpayers). Dion and Layton have been hammering away at the 'Harper doesn't get it' and 'Harpernomics' to some effect.
The second rule of successful campaigns: make all your news deliberate. By this rule the Conservatives have had some problems. From 'pooping puffins' to Mr. Harper's advice to consumers to take advantage of under-priced stocks to bizarro candidate eruptions to accusations of plagiarism of Australia's former PM Joh Howard, this has been a particularly rough journey. Although Stephane Dion has had his slip-ups, as Opposition Leader, he is not under the same media magnifying glass as the Prime Minister. However, he did have quite a gaffe yesterday:
By the way Mr. Dion, in the middle of an election campaign, you really can't "start again". Stephen Harper had a very effective low-key 'more-in-sadness-than-in-anger' response. No sense of triumphalism there! And it worked! On CBC.ca: " Harper said the episode highlights greater concerns than language comprehension, and shows instead that Dion has no plan for dealing with the global credit crisis that is threatening to spill over into Canada."
The third rule of successful campaigns: never sit on a lead. Tell us your priorities, your action plan for the next four years. Don't merely tweak a few policies and dribble out a few small initiatives. When people are upset, when anxiety is high and trust of politicians is low, then you need a strong, bold and confident vision for the future, with a strong strategy to get us there. The economic destabilization required an immediate response and as we see in the American election, all leaders need to communicate that they 'feel our pain'.
So with four days to go, what will happen? From the beginning I have predicted a minority Conservative government. That is still the more-than-likely outcome. 'Coulda' 'woulda' 'shoulda' will have to wait for another day.
Watch out for a Surprise Ending...
If it's a razor-thin minority however, watch for the Liberals, NDP and Green to possibly forge an alliance that they would be prepared to take to the Governor General - either before Parliament sits or on the first vote of confidence in the Conservative government.
If you don't think it can happen, I would remind you that the Ontario election of 1986 would be an object lesson. In the wake of a Conservative minority result, the Liberals and NDP hammered out a two-year coalition and formed the next government - without going to the polls. It could happen here. Check it out.
So Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians! Then on Tuesday, get out and vote!
All the best