Political Perspectives is produced by the students and faculty of Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication, Canada's oldest journalism school.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s Ekos poll that places the NDP in second nationally ahead of the Liberals is the latest in the strange twists of a campaign that was written off as being about nothing and had the NDP wandering around the country for the first week amid stories about small crowds and a campaign going nowhere.
It could of course all change again by voting day as recent campaigns have shown lots of last weekend and maybe now even voting day volatility among voters and this final week seems to be setting the stage for that.
But a few things are becoming clear even amidst the confusion.
Throughout the campaign the Conservatives have held the largest group of supporters and that has hardly moved. Mr. Harper’s regular refrain that this is an unnecessary election is code for we need to stop doing this every two years and it appears that hits a note with a lot of the public. That may be enough to give him a majority but it would be the ultimate frustration for Conservatives if he falls short in the end in part as a result of how successful his party has been in maligning Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
The startling NDP Quebec (and resultant national) numbers have set off a whole new set of discussions about the campaign and what happens on May third. While it is early days and not clear whether these numbers are real, will hold or spread elsewhere, they may represent what sometimes happens in election campaign: a sudden break out by one of the parties. After covering 44 federal and provincial election campaigns from the staid to the dramatic, allow me to offer some random and perhaps premature thoughts.
More often than not, these sorts of break outs cannot be reversed. They represent a collective decision making process that sometimes builds on mounting evidence or sometimes catches media by surprise after events or debates — although this would represent a very slow reaction to a debate. There are notable exceptions like the PC’s beating back the resurgent Liberals in 1988 but they are rare.
Often, the final results overshoot the initial wave. Momentum builds and begins to sweep into ridings that most think are not in play. I’ve been involved in dozens of CBC projection meetings where seasoned political reporters said that it was inconceivable that certain ridings and personalities were lost. And yet they were. Canada is littered with former cabinet ministers who never should have lost. Some examples: Roy Romanow fell to a gas station attendant in her 2os. In the same election, the CBC did not put a mobile in Grant Devine’s riding in order to save money because his Tories could not possibly win. Richard Hatfield was speechless the night he lost 58 -0 to Frank McKenna– there were ridings that turned for the first time ever. In some elections, there are ridings parties don’t think are winnable which elect people who are not entirely prepared to win (Chris Waddell’s point below). For instance, the Tory MP elected in 1984 who could speak neither English nor French. Or the two MP’s who first showed up for work at the National Assembly
- 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...
- All (93)
- Election 2008 (117)
- Election 2008 Campaign strategy (46)
- Election 2008 Faculty links (12)
- Election 2008 Media commentary (51)
- Election 2008 Student articles (37)
- Election 2011 (53)
- Election 2011 Campaign strategy (45)
- Election 2011 Faculty links (38)
- Election 2011 Media commentary (36)
- Election 2011 Student articles (1)
- Media Commentary (48)
- Political Strategy (50)
- Post-election (3)
- Uncategorized (1)
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- October 2008
- September 2008