Everyone likes an underdog, nobody likes a bully. The Conservatives continue to flex their financial muscles, with the obnoxious opening of the "fear factory" and another round of attack ads. A show of force, an air of intimidation, but I wonder if the framing might backfire.
Liberals can't compete with the Conservatives, in terms of resources, that is painfully obvious. Better to embrace the underdog role, because it offers some potential with voters. Traditionally, the Liberal Party has been viewed as a bloated, hierarchical machine, that denotes a certain privilege. However, the Conservatives might just do the Liberal image a favour, in embracing force and might. The appearance now, the big bad Tories, up against the cash strapped Liberals. I'm not sure Canadians will respond to the idea that their vote preference is something that can be bought, or manipulated.
The Tory war room is obscene, and rather than fear it, Liberals should point to it as a symbol of a marketing campaign. People don't like to be thought of as sheep, that are easily bought and influenced. Whether they are or not is debatable, but it's the impression that could backfire. Contrast the hype-machine with a low key pledge to ideas and you might be on to something. Dion, the little guy, up against the powerful Conservative machine. There is a certain attraction in framing oneself as the underdog, people naturally sympathize.
Listening to various media outlets, I had the distinct impression that the Tory war room left a bad taste. In no uncertain terms, the message was clear, we don't need the media, will can talk over you. Reporters are supposed to be unbiased, but with such a direct rebuke of their traditional role, it could lead to a unintended blowback. Little Dion might just benefit from the perception that Harper is running a slick, propaganda campaign. Reporters, maybe more than the general population, can't resist an underdog. People will remember that Dion received nothing but positive coverage during the leadership race, when he was considered a longshot. You could argue that this coverage was instrumental in giving his campaign the credibility it needed to look viable.
You can't fight against reality. A shrewd strategy embraces that reality and tries to frame in a way that neutralizes the perceived advantage. I can't think of a better way to shed the past perceptions, than to package the Liberal Party as the scrappy underdog, passionately trying to get a positive message out, on an uneven playing field.