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Following the early East Coast results on Twitter election night while TV and radio broadcasts were still blacked out in my time zone was like stepping through a door into another universe that was being run by the Mad Hatter and the cast of Saturday Night Live.
It was bizarre and often funny, but the sober morning-after message is clear: we better damn well fix our voting laws here in Canada before the next election to accommodate this new parallel universe where real-time communication has a global reach.
If we don’t we risk corrupting the electoral process.
And those of us in the journalism biz may find the value of our coin – credibility – greatly debased. Read more…
Lost in the post-election commentary about the future of the Liberal party and the challenges Jack Layton will face in managing his new caucus is the dilemma that Stephen Harper must now confront.
Monday’s results demonstrated that two groups of voters who had no obvious home in this election – fiscal and social conservatives and fiscal conservative/social liberals – both cast their lots in with Mr Harper.
The former group has always supported the Conservatives but had plenty of reason to be disappointed with the past two minority governments, particularly as it pertains to controlling government spending and reducing the size of government. They have also chafed at the Conservatives’ unwillingness to implement a social conservative agenda on issues such as abortion.
Michael Ignatieff’s decision to get out of Dodge is completely understandable on a personal level. Although he is by no means solely responsible for the devastating defeat, he made a significant contribution to it — just as Kim Campbell did with the Progressive Conservatives almost two decades ago.
As opposition leader, Ignatieff chose not to develop a clear program for the party on the economy, on social programs or on the environment. He preferred to wait for distaste of the Harper government to build, expecting that he would automatically be the beneficiary. This spring, he forced an election without having conveyed to Canadians any clear purpose to it other than re-electing the Liberal party, just as he had done with similarly unfortunate effect in the late summer of 2009.
While many people have correctly commented in recent days that no one anticipated the scale of the Liberal defeat, or the wave of support to the New Democratic Party, that is not the whole story. Many people did wonder in March why on earth the Liberals would force an election that they were extremely unlikely to win. It almost seemed as if Michael Ignatieff and many others in the party just wanted to get on with it — so he could have his crack at an election, and that in all likelihood, he and the party would then be released to move on. Read more…
See our colleague, Dwayne Winseck’s blogs on newspaper endorsements here
There has been a proliferation of seat projections in this election campaign, as people try to get their heads around the NDP surge and what kind of parliament that might produce. There’s is an excellent article on seat projections in Pundits’ Guide this morning, and I want to add just a few thoughts.
For the record, I am generally a believer in the usefulness of seat projections, and continue to be so in this election, which promises to be historic in some ways. However, I also think that there are reasons to be more cautious about them in elections where there is potential structural change, and where there is volatility late in the campaign.
A few projections have caught the attention of media in this campaign more than the others. At the outset, many reporters relied on the 308 website because it was frequently updated and took account of all the polls. But the 308 model is deliberately cautious, which also means that it is less sensitive to sudden changes in party support as we have seen in this election. Because it didn’t dramatize the NDP surge story line, reporters suddenly lost interest in it.
The Sun Media Corp., which now includes the Sun News Network on TV, likes to mix some fun with its political coverage. So it wasn’t any great surprise that the flagship Toronto Sun ran a Photoshopped picture of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on its front page last week to go with a story inside the paper.
Labeled (in small print) a “photo illustration,” the picture showed Ignatieff wearing a desert camouflage army helmet. It might not have been immediately apparent to readers the photo was a spoof, a digital equivalent of an editorial page cartoon.
The accompanying story suggested that Ignatieff was in bed big time with the Pentagon and the Bush administration in the run up to the Iraq invasion by the U.S. Ignatieff has always acknowledged his political support for the invasion. But the Sun story suggested Ignatieff, who ran a Harvard think tank at the time, helped with Pentagon war planning.
The story didn’t have the kind of legs it needed to become an election issue last week. But in a strange twist that could change with Sun Media’s acknowledgement today that the story was peddled to the news organization by a Conservative political operative, Patrick Muttart, who used to be Stephen Harper’s deputy chief of staff. Read more…
A couple of quick thoughts on advance poll numbers released by Elections Canada today.
This may be the first time (I can’t recall a previous one) when the advance polls were held on a holiday (Good Friday) and a quasi-holiday (Easter Monday). As a result it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that turnout was high when voters had the day off work. So take the news releases about record turnout with more than a grain of salt. It might be little more than a transfer of votes from May 2 to Easter weekend.
There is a interesting element to this though.
At a town hall meeting in Vancouver last night, I had a chance to see Michael Ignatieff personally for the second time in this campaign. He was, as I remarked upon earlier in the campaign, a surprisingly capable campaigner in front of a partisan crowd. He was sharp, witty, self-deprecating, and handled questions from the audience deftly. Despite the polls of recent days, he seemed to be enjoying himself. At the end, he said he felt almost tearful that this would be his last town hall (of the campaign, I think he meant, though maybe not).
But this threatens to be an earth-shattering election for the Liberals, in which even if they hold on to most of the seats they have at the moment, they may find themselves no longer the obvious alternative to the Conservative government because of the unexpected rise of the New Democrats in Quebec, British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces.
Ontario appears to be an exception for the moment, and remains the place where the Liberals would hope to hang onto the bulk of their seats. But it tells quite a story when one of the country’s leading pollsters, Nik Nanos, explains the failure of the New Democrats to break through in Ontario in terms of memories of the Rae government in the early 1990s.
It’s too early to be definitive about anything in this final week of the campaign – other than the trite observation that something is happening. So, some observations:
In some ways, there is a predictable pattern emerging. Leadership numbers and party preference are starting to come into consonance. Mr. Harper’s numbers have always been a fit – he’s ahead in both and fluctuations have been mostly minor. Mr. Layton’s high personal numbers have stayed high and NDP preference is rising to meet them. Mr. Ignatieff’s low personal numbers have stayed low and Liberal preference is dropping to meet them. As to Mr. Duceppe, there hasn’t been a lot of work done on his leadership numbers over time. But presumably, they’re heading into consonance as well.
Timing of the NDP surge
There are two primary choices – take your pick.
The May 2nd election is around the corner and widely divergent polls have introduced some elements of suspense in the 2011 campaign. Depending on who you choose to believe, the Tories have either a 19, 12 or 9-point lead over either the Liberals or the NDP. Most, if not all of the excitement has been generated by the apparent surge in NDP support in the province of Quebec. According to the data released at the end of last week, NDP support in Quebec is solid anywhere between 23% and 36%. However gripping this tale of numbers may be, what the leaders have to do in the next few days is akin to what salespeople are facing everyday; leaders have to find a way to close the sale for their respective parties.
Without going into the intricacies of our electoral system, it is generally understood that a certain level of support in vote share does not translate directly into a similar proportion of seats. One only has to remember the 1997 election when both the Reform Party and the PC Party received 19% of the votes but Reform became the Official Opposition with 60 seats and the PCs lingered in fifth place with only 20 seats. Accordingly, last-minute appeals to segments of voters and “Get-Out-The-Vote” (GOTV) efforts are imperative to ensure that supporters head to the polls on Election Day.
- 04 May 2011 Twitter and elections: ta...
- 04 May 2011 The Conservative fork in ...
- 03 May 2011 Ignatieff’s pre-mat...
- 03 May 2011 Final Observations
- 30 Apr 2011 Counting up the newspaper...
- 29 Apr 2011 Seat projections…do...
- 27 Apr 2011 Royals versus politicians...
- 27 Apr 2011 Outing a Tory dirty trick...
- 26 Apr 2011 Those advance polls
- 26 Apr 2011 The trouble with Liberals...
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