Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fluke Or Foundation?

Obviously, the NDP is in an optimistic frame of mind when it comes to Quebec. The next question for the NDP, was the by-election win a fluke or does it represent opportunity, to establish a bulkhead in the province? If you listen to Muclair, any talk of a one-off underestimates the NDP:
Mulcair will stay on as the party’s Quebec lieutenant and is already busy fundraising, organizing and recruiting candidates in a province that has traditionally been a wasteland for New Democrats.

But he said Monday’s result has already made an impression on his possible recruits. One name being bandied about as a possible candidate is Julius Grey, a high-profile human rights lawyer from Montreal.

"The victory will make it easier for us to recruit high-profile candidates," Mulcair said.

"We’ve been speaking with people all along. But let me just say the body language is becoming far more positive (after Monday)."

The New Democrats will now turn their attention to specific pockets of the province where they believe they have the best chance of making additional gains. A main target will be ridings similar to Outremont: multi-ethnic, federalist and urban.

Mulcair said that parts of Montreal are prized targets, as are some resource-producing regions in outlying areas.

The latest poll shows the NDP tied with the Liberals in Quebec, and although it has a high margin of error, the uptick for the NDP is confirmed in other findings, by-election aside. I admit to never hearing of Julius Grey, but the fact that Muclair is bold enough to drop names suggests the prospect of another "star" candidate is real. The by-election is clearly significant, in that the NDP is now armed with the practical, as opposed to pie in the sky aspirations. Half the battle for the NDP in Quebec is the appearance of viability, a dose of real potential. Muclair's convincing victory at least presents the idea of possibilities, which makes the prospect of more formidable candidates believable.

The thing that impressed me most about the NDP in this by-election- the complete dedication and sharp focus. That example is a great asset moving forward, particularly in a dynamic where Quebecers appear to be shopping around. Layton and Muclair both enjoy favorable opinion, relative to other leaders, which also lends to the idea of a hearing out. I don't want to overstate the possibilities, but if the NDP is shrewd, puts all their resources in a few target ridings, with high-profile people, then it would be foolish to dismiss their chances. Couple that with a natural policy affinity, and you might just be on to something.

Quebecers aren't sold on Harper, the Liberal problems are obvious and the Bloc looks to be in decline. I guess the question, is there a vacuum there that the NDP can capitalize on? From what I saw in the by-election, if the NDP fails, it won't be for lack of effort. It would seem there is an aggressive plan in place that hopes to capitalize on the new-found sense that something is building. Should be interesting to watch moving forward, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see more surprises, if you know what I mean.

21 comments:

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

It's too soon to answer this question, as the answer depends on too many unknown factors. It's not too soon to ask it, though, and the Liberals are wise to be discussing it.

lance said...

Does the NDP value the seat in Que. more than seats in other areas?

They threw _a lot_ of resources into the Outremont byelection, resources they might not be able to muster in a general election.

Personally, I think its a one-off based on a few things: low voter turnout, Liberal miscalculation regarding the NDP's desire for the riding and little or no media hype.

The NDP played the ground game to perfection, Jack! practically lived in the riding, they brought all their MP's to knock on doors, had their liturature and signage ready, etc. Once the NDP had the momentum it was impossible to slow that down.

The NDP will not be able to do that kind of stuff in a general election. For one thing, they won't be able compete w/ CPC/Lib/Bloc media coverage and they won't be able to benefit from low voter turnout.

I'm not convinced the multitude of volunteers they had weren't just in it for kicks and giggles.

Cheers,
lance

Stephen said...

"One swallow does not make a summer," as the saying goes, but this by-election win, the result of careful strategic planning, hard work, and smart politics wasn't a fluke for the NDP either.

Julius Grey is a well-known civil rights lawyer in Quebec (among other things) and if Layton can indeed entice candidates of his quality to run for the NDP in Quebec, then the chances of long-term growth are real, and the strategic decision to run Mulcair in Outremont will continue to pay dividends for the party.

Anonymous said...

If Mulcair has that ability - recruiting important people - he should be NDP leader, not Layton.

Mushroom said...

The Dippers are now targeting Lucienne Robillard's riding after she announced she will not run again in the next general election. Three candidates are vying for the Grits, none of them remarkable. One is a ex-journalist for the Star while the other is Marc Garneau (who has links to the Ignatieff camp).

If the Dippers throw Julius Grey against them or another Dion handpicked candidate, then the story will be the Grits have not learned their lesson from Outremont.

Steve V said...

lance

I'm not sure what low turnout has to do with it, considering the fact that if you added on normal turnout % and ever single vote went Liberal, which is ludicrious, the NDP still wins. Also, seems to me that media attention wasn't an issue for the NDP in this campaign, and I'm pretty sure they could get enough resources for a few targeted ridings.

janfromthebruce said...

Jack had great appeal in Quebec. What's your point anon - oh nothing, just being a bug. SWAT

wilson said...

It's a foundation Steve.
No more seppies vs federalists.
It's left vs right.
The writing was on the wall Jan 2006.
To his credit, Dion quickly moved left, but it seems Quebec considers the NDP the more sincere lefties.
Given Libs signing Kyoto and doing nothing, Libs sending troops to combat in Afghan and then questioning the mission, yah can see why.

PMSH and Jack will work very well together.

lance said...

Low voter turnout.

2006 Outremont stats: Total votes: 40,875/67,253

Byelection: Total votes: 23,943/63,728

Difference is around 16/17k votes cast, Libs lost by 5k the other night.

I mean media coverage as in the national coverage. In a general election, it's on every night, it's on every blog, it's on every radio. It's in the air. The NDP don't get the same level of coverage and so their message gets lost in the noise.

None of that in a byelection so the ground game is _much_ more important. The NDP GOTV and combined with the low turnout where able to influence the percentage of vote.

Don't let the percentage fool you, it means nothing when total votes is about half of what it should be.

Cheers,
lance

Steve V said...

lance

I don't agree with your assumption. Just because turnout was low, that doesn't mean an advantage for the NDP, in fact previous demographics show the younger voter is less apt to vote in a by-election, which is the NDP's usual strength. I don't see turnout as indicative of any false story here.

Sean Shaw said...

Its fun to dump on the NDP, come on everyone pile on!.

Anyways, the NDP mostly took their vote from the BQ, not the Liberals. So I would agree it is now a question of left/right and given the Liberals wishy-washy position on, well, everything the NDP should be the clear favourite (and was this time).

That being said, the NDP has been growing in Quebec over the past couple of elections. In 2006 over 300,000 votes came their way, which is (as Jack pointed out on CTV yesterday) more then they got from Sask and Manitoba combined (where they are more then established and viable).

So, adding in Monday's results, there is no reason why the NDP won't continue to grow and potentially win more seats and higher profile candidates in Quebec. All of those BQ voters who are also left leaning (apparently 10-18%, at least in Outremont) need somewhere to go. Since the Liberals can't seem to get their act/message together the NDP is doing and saying the right things at the right time.

lance said...

I don't mean to belabour my point, Steve. If you're of the opinion that the Libs have lost Mtl, or the Bloc is history, or the NDP is a force, I can't convince you otherwise. I can only look at the numbers and make observations, I live in Saskatchewan, not Quebec.

Let me throw some of your words back at you: "considering the fact that if you added on normal turnout % and ever single vote went Liberal, which is ludicrious, the NDP still wins."

Given the 17 thousand votes missing, would you admit the above is incorrect then? (meant to be funny, the Libs would have been at 25k :) )

If so, what if the Liberal base was so PO'ed at the obvious lack of effort, or the poll on Friday, or the subsequent blood-letting or that the CPC and Bloc who did vote, voted strategic?

The only thing that's obvious given the byelection is that everyone's base _but_ the NDP stayed home.

CPC down 3k
Lib down 7k
Bloc down 9k
NDP up 4k

I really don't see how you can say that this doesn't give the NDP an advantage. They got 400 _less_ votes than the Bloc in 2006.

Total fluke that will not be repeated except in another byelection.

Cheers,
lance

Steve V said...

" If you're of the opinion that the Libs have lost Mtl, or the Bloc is history, or the NDP is a force, I can't convince you otherwise."

I'm not suggesting any of those things. The problem with your numbers, you say the NDP got out its base, well the polls show they actually picked up the Bloc voters and some from the Liberals, so your argument that only NDP people turned out doesn't make sense to me. If the turnout would have been higher, then the NDP vote would have been more than the 4K uptick you site, unless you are actually saying all the difference would go to the other parties.

Steve V said...

sean

That sounds reasonable.

lance said...

steve said, "unless you are actually saying all the difference would go to the other parties."

No, I'm saying that in a general election, the percentage of vote would have been different because the circumstances are different.

Cheers,
lance

burlivespipe said...

I'll agree with Lance (shock!) for once and suggest that the dynamics of the by-election in Outremont deserves more cautious excavating. A 'hand-picked' candidate as opposed to a candidate chosen by the riding members, that could have caused a greater # of Liberal supporters to stay home or put their vote elsewhere. I'm not saying Mulcair couldn't win in a regular election (against Coulon), he most certainly has the profile and skill to do so. And I don't subscribe completely to the thoughts that a Cauchon or an Armour would have wiped the map with him, either.
That said, I believe the NdP are in a better position to cash in as oppose to 1990, but Edmonston's profile was pretty huge, and his margin of victory even bigger. I think what you are talking about at most is the NdP in the hunt for 3 ridings, changing the results in another 3... Which could seriously clip Liberal hopes, of course.
That being said, I believe you are too quick to jump on Dion without giving him a reasonable chance to learn from his mistakes. There is definitely too many old-timers who are stuck in the Trudeau-Turner-Chretien-Martin war mode...

Steve V said...

"That being said, I believe you are too quick to jump on Dion without giving him a reasonable chance to learn from his mistakes."

This post is about the NDP, not Dion.

northwestern_lad said...

lance said: "If so, what if the Liberal base was so PO'ed at the obvious lack of effort, or the poll on Friday, or the subsequent blood-letting or that the CPC and Bloc who did vote, voted strategic?"

Liberals the victims of strategic voting??? LOL!!! I love it. The Libs finally get nailed by their own medicine are some are gonna complain about it. I guess that side of the grass doesn't look as green.

burlivespipe said...

...."That being said, I believe you are too quick to jump on Dion without giving him a reasonable chance to learn from his mistakes."

--This post is about the NDP, not Dion. -- Steve

Oops. Guess I was mixing this topic with about 6 of the previous 8 ones.

Uncorrected Proofs said...

You can check out my NDP hit list of potential riding targets for an explanation of why I think the NDP's growth will be limited to Outremont. http://uncorrectedproofs.blogspot.com/2007/09/ndp-hit-list-in-quebec.html

Steve V said...

burl

;)