From Politics to Media to Rebellions

Welcome back!
 We've been extremely busy the past month since my last posting - lots of travel and seminars. Laura and I spent a few days in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley combining work and play - tough job, but somebody's got to do it!
50/50 Chance of Spring Election in Canada 
In Canada, the volatility of the electorate still leaves up in the air the question of whether or not there will be a spring election. Up until two weeks ago, it looked much more certain, with the Harper Conservatives up 13% in the polls. However, with the Harper government still shy of a majority - and with their 13% lead in the polls tightening to 5% - possibly due to the controversy surrounding Minister Bev Oda - is a spring election now more likely or less? For Stephen Harper, he is no doubt looking at it through his calculus - go now before other possible 'distractions' cloud the picture, or wait until he can slowly and methodically build the foundation for a stronger and less volatile voter universe? Momentum is critical in politics and the Liberals know they will have to consolidate and build on their 'uptick'. So is this the start of the Liberals' resurrection story, or is it a 'dead cat bounce'?
In the meantime, will we be seeing this photo in upcoming Liberal ads?
Bev Oda grabs a smoke.

[A cautionary note here. As Bev Oda recovers from retina surgery, it might well be seen as a low blow, which could backfire on the Party that is tempted to use it. Shades of Jean 'I can't help it. God made me this way' Chretien in his clever response to a PC campaign commercial in 1993 which seemed to focus on his disfigured face.]

Understanding and reaching your voter universe
In any event, all parties have to understand and reach their voter universe, while pulling away enough of their opponents' soft supporters to fashion victory. Take a look at this voter profile chart to understand how that voter differentiation will work and how voters can be reached through media channels.
Obama's Recovery....so far
Meanwhile, Barack Obama has rebounded strongly in the polls since the Democrats' November 'shellacking'. What's the reason for this? First, in a whirlwind of legislative successes in the lame-duck Congress, he managed to get what he wanted on issues from 'don't ask, don't tell' to extension of unemployment benefits - thus avoiding the deadly label of 'weak and ineffectual' which attached itself like a deadly barnacle to Jimmy Carter. The Administration's ability to succeed legislatively in a minority Congressional situation will be extremely problematic, so the President will have to position himself clearly and strongly with the American people who are still angry and worried about their economic future. In the end, even though there is no magic bullet when it comes to debt, economic growth or jobs, he must be seen as having a clear set of solutions with the energy, focus, compassion and competence to lead America through the choppy waters.
The Power of Social Media
It's abundantly clear that social media - notably Facebook® and Twitter® - have transformed the ability to foment revolutions against brutal dictatorships, empowering ordinary people, by letting them know that they are not alone. This phenomenon is here to say, so other dictators...watch out!
"My media advisor is in big trouble!"

Did you catch Qaddafi's 'media availability' to prove he hadn't left the country - while holding that dainty white umbrella? It said more than he ever intended about the perception of his 'craziness'.

I was quite impressed by a Libyan ex-pat who said in an interview as he headed back to check out his family in Libya, "don't call Qaddafi mad. He's not mad - that lets him off the hook. He's an evil criminal." Well said!

The Courage of Journalists
Finally, hats off to the courage of journalists covering the rebellions ...among them, Laura Logan from CBS to the ubiquitous Anderson Cooper, to many more from Canada, the United States, the U.K. and from so many countries around the world who have been risking their lives to get the stories that the world needs to know. Speaking of Laura Logan, when academics and commentators try to use such a brutal assault to further their own theories on their Twitter feed, it can be quite pathetic.

I hope you enjoy the Oscars. I have it on good authority that Qaddafi will not be rooting for The Social Network!

Until next time....