Friday, September 14, 2007

The Nightmare Scenario

You can't spin these results, the word "devastating" comes to mind, for the Liberals at least:
Outremont:

NDP 38%
Libs 32%
Bloc 14%

Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot

Bloc 49%
Cons 32%
NDP 7%
Libs 5%

Roberval-La-Saint_jean

Cons 43%
Bloc 37%
Lib 12%
NDP 4%

Outremont aside, the fourth place, paltry 5% in Saint-Hy speaks to basic extermination with francophones for the Liberals. Hard to find anything positive in these numbers for the Liberals, really hard.

If, and this is still a big if, these numbers come down like the above, then Dion and the Liberals suffer a huge blow, that isn't easily discounted. A possible Conservative victory provides plenty to crow about, and the NDP would be beyond ecstatic to win in a former Liberal stronghold. The Liberals would be left to damage control, as the realization that the last bastion of support is threatened and Dion looks an albatross.

You don't want to sound alarmist, but neither should anyone rationalize away the fundamental problems. The above is the worst-case scenario for the Liberals, a nightmare that will haunt the party moving forward. Should be a fascinating night, that looks a watershed.

52 comments:

Joseph said...

Good points so not to distract from your points but why do you say "big if" on the poll findings?

And what do you think of the idea that Bloq voters might actually vote NDP to spite the Libs? (read that somewhere else early this morning)?

Steve V said...

joseph

The "big if", just in case the Liberals pull one out in Outremont, acknowledging that a poll isn't a vote :) Having said that, a razor sharp win is hardly break out the champagne time in Liberal circles.

Anonymous said...

Libs got 35 in OUtremont in the last election, and this poll has 'em at 32 now. Other ridings basically the same too.

I know this is being interpreted in a million different ways, but on the whole not a damn thing has changed.

McGuire said...

Joseph: In the past you coudda ran a dog for the Liberals in Outremont & it woudda received well over 50% of the vote. Such tactics wouldnt' have mattered in the old days

Steve V said...

anon

Nice try :)

Steve V said...

In case anyone is interested "devasting" is a new word I developed- devastating :)

I read the Hebert piece, and the striking part, which Scott also pointed too, many residents still don't have campaign literature from the Liberals in Outremont. That fact, plus the signs, point to complacency and a hint of arrogance.

Now it seems, in the last stages, we finally see some urgency:

"OTTAWA (CP) — There's a whiff of panic in a recent memo urging Liberals to head to Montreal on Monday to help the party win a byelection in what should be a slam-dunk riding for them.

Party executive Denise Brunsdon sent an e-mail to party members this week calling on reinforcements to head to Montreal from Ottawa to help with organizational duties like car-pooling.

"(This) is going to be a tough fight," she told colleagues. "The NDP is throwing in all the resources they can to win a Quebec seat, and we need to call on as many Liberals as we can to band together and keep this riding red."

Too little, way too late??

Koby said...

Loosing Outremont is bad enough. The prospect of Conservatives winning one of the by-elections all but seals the deal. There will be a election sooner than later and the Conservatives are poised for Quebec break through and a small majoirty. It is time to press the panic bottun.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Consider the panic button pressed.

Now what?

Steve V said...

CBC just reported that Dion, with Ken Dryden in tow, will visit the riding this weekend.

lco

Let's wait to see what happens before we entertain the what now.

Mushroom said...

This is my take on these polls.

The Cons are happy to run a paper candidate in Outremont and let Mulcair claim the spoils. The Roberval results hurt and the Saint Hycinthe numbers show the Liberal candidates are having trouble earning their deposits. Note that the Grits won 74 of 75 seats in Quebec under Trudeau in 1980.

Are these seats the Liberals need to win in order to gain power and that Dion's image as the "native son" supposed to bring us positive results in La Belle Province?

Back to the drawing board and please do it promptly.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Ahhhh,

So Dion and Dryden heard the panic button being pressed!

We'll see, but I'm guessing too little, too late.

CuriosityCat said...

If we lose badly in Quebec in these by-elections, then perhaps we should have an informal leadership review - of all the senior leaders of the party.

Where were you during the election?
What did you do to help?
Why did we not win?
What is wrong with the Liberal Party?
What needs to be changed?

Only if we take our heads out of the sand and confront reality, will we have a snowball's chance of preventing a majority Harper government.

Clearly, something is broke,
So it needs to be fixed.

No matter how painful the fixing might be.

Mushroom said...

Cat,

Where were you during the election?
What did you do to help?
Why did we not win?
What is wrong with the Liberal Party?
What needs to be changed?

It seems that Bob Rae is ill and could not be there. Gerard has no traction in Quebec. Iggy can be faulted for sitting on his hands but it looks like Denis Coderre is doing the same thing.

Still we are tied with Harper in the polls and it looks like the Grits are not going to do worse. Not panic button time, unless you want to see Dion fail.

However, bringing out one of the heroes of the 1972 Summit Series into Outremont as a secret weapon seems to speak more of nostalgia than promoting party renewal. Like the recent eight game series between Canada and Russia have shown.

CuriosityCat said...

And the other leaders?

Mushroom said...

"And the other leaders?"

If you are referring to Chretien and Martin, they are done and dusted with political life.

Organizationally, the Liberals' hope in Quebec is a 35 year old son of a Prime Minister who is running in Papineau the next election. I also know that I have be ridiculed for suggesting this on a rather consistent basis.

Anonymous said...

CBC just reported that Dion, with Ken Dryden in tow, will visit the riding this weekend.

Anyone seen Michael Ignatieff, the guy all these Liberals predicting Dion's demise because of Outremont see as the saviour that would have magically turned things around in Quebec? Has Iggy gone into hiding or something?

Anonymous said...

Steve, its only a nightmare if you are ok with the way the Liberal Party operates and has been operating oh for about the last century. Nothing has changed.

I now believe a loss in Outrement, along with turffing the arrogant idiot riding association president, several people at HQ and a new candidate for the general election coming soon to a riding near you is exactly the best thing that could happen to the Liberal Party.

When things change we will win elections. When this riding association is so arrogant they didn`t start campaigning until three weeeks into a six week campaign and then the president comes out with comments like "We`re old campaigners don`t worry" They deserve to lose.

And when Marc Lavigne, possibly the best organizer in the Liberal Party resigns because nothing can be organized, we need to lose.

It`s not a nightmare its just what has to happen before anything will change. Other candidates and ridings will be going down in the next election as well. I could name them, but it wouldnt make you happy because thety are in SW Ontario.

A View From The Left said...

The way that the by-election has been run (signs, campaign literature, etc) suggests, to me anyway, less of a failing with Dion and more of a failing of the Liberal party. Yes it isn't going to reflect well on Dion if his hand-picked candidate looses, but a bunch of the trouble in Outremont seems to be because of a lack of organization on the party's part.

Hopefully a narrow victory in Outremont shakes up the party enough to get them properly organized for an election. However if the Liberals loose Outremont, my worry is that too much is attributed to Dion's failings and very little to obvious organizational problems in the party its self.

Anonymous said...

Mushroom, pretty boy with no CV to speak of is much more like his neurotic, psychoactive pharmacudical taking, pardon my language whore mother who`d rather traipse around with rock stars than be married to a Prime Minister or be a mother to her children than his father.

He is the Liberal's worst nightmare in Quebec and the sooner he goes away and plays with his vapid wife the better.

Anonymous said...

It really is difficult to organise if nobody cares whether you win or lose.

Marc Lavigne can't organise anything without volunteers.

This will be a well-deserved blood-bath.

I for one will sit back and enjoy the show!!!

knb said...

It was also reported that Iggy and Justin were there, helping out too.

I'm not going to panic, but I'm not comfortable with this either.

It does seem to me that all the press has focused on Mulcair as being the "star", while the only thing I read on Coulon is how he had to mend fences with Jewish groups.

And the Quebec press on Dion? Repetitive, predictable and not favourable. Every interview, all he is ever asked is why he isn't doing well. Message to those watching who don't really follow more than the sound bites...he's not doing well. He's then asked why his english isn't better, followed by his position on Afghanistan, period, that's it, that's all.

I think it will be a really interesting night and I'm keeping my optimism.

Steve, the numbers that anon refers to are correct, in fact they are up from where they were in Roberval, but I take no comfort in a jump from 7% to 12%.

It's clear that the NDP are picking up the BQ votes in Outremont.

Hopefully, they'll pull it out over the weekend. It makes me feel like taking a sudden trip to Montreal to go and help.

Mushroom said...

Miranda,

We knew all along that Jean Lapierre's people are going to sit on their hands the whole campaign. The result is going to be an uphill battle for Dion anyway. I had suggested that Dion needs to be swinging for the fences in Outremont. The worse scenario for the Grits is slow death, similar to the problems John Turner faced when the Grits were last in opposition.

knb,

I will make a judgment call on Outremont over the weekend. In fact, I am having doubts as to whether Coulon is worth saving. Steve has been right all along, business as usual in Quebec for the Grits has not worked for awhile now. These by-election campaigns confirmed it.

Steve V said...

anon

"I now believe a loss in Outrement, along with turffing the arrogant idiot riding association president, several people at HQ and a new candidate for the general election coming soon to a riding near you is exactly the best thing that could happen to the Liberal Party."

Anon, I'm considering that too in the grand scheme. Even if the Liberals hold this seat, it should still serve as a wakeup call, because frankly you had to be blind not to see the gathering storm WEEKS ago. Curiousity Cat has the proper temperment.

a view

"suggests, to me anyway, less of a failing with Dion and more of a failing of the Liberal party."

Lots of blame to go around, although Dion yields great power when it comes to "urgency". Bad advisiors? Tactical incompetents?


"When this riding association is so arrogant they didn`t start campaigning until three weeeks into a six week campaign and then the president comes out with comments like "We`re old campaigners don`t worry" They deserve to lose."

In terms of the ground game, the Liberals have already lost and this comment articulates my frustration watching the Liberals fiddle along, "all is well", while Layton lives in the riding, all his MP's are working the neighborhoods, Muclair is everywhere, signs and press... It didn't have to be this way, it really didn't.

A View From The Left said...

Steve

Certainly some of the blame rests with Dion as he could have pushed for a more urgent campaign. However, it seems like the Liberal party as a whole was asleep at the switch. If they'd asked me weeks ago if I'd come out to help with a last-minute push this weekend I would have made the time, instead I get a last-minute e-mail yesterday now I've agreed to do things for the Ontario election. It's like this week the party's woken up and realized that we could loose this, so now they start doing what they should have weeks ago.

Mushroom -
IMO Lapierre's people could sit on their hands but we could have still done really well. Yeah, that might have involved bringing in people from outside of the riding, but at least then we would have had a better presence. Now we're trying to make up for it by putting everyone there in the final two days.

Steve V said...

miranda

"However, it seems like the Liberal party as a whole was asleep at the switch...It's like this week the party's woken up and realized that we could lose this, so now they start doing what they should have weeks ago."

Lots of blame for sure, and I don't mean to single Dion out, but as I've asked before- just what exactly is the Liberal strategy in Quebec? Dion uses tired language, nothing that ignites anyone, which is a reflection of the status quo, as though the sponsorship fatigue will wane and the good times will return. You know what Harper did before he named a cabinet, before he was sworn in, he instructed the minions to pour resources into building a better organization in Quebec- it was his first post-victory move. In other words, already preparing for the next battle, which is actually quite shrewd, dreadful policies aside. The Liberals on the other hand seem content to fumble along, while the landscape erodes.

Win or lose, this race is already a negative, just a question of degree now. How is that some lowly blogger, sitting in central Ontario, relying on second hand accounts and tidbits here and there, can see the potential disaster, while the supposed "braintrust" clues in a few day before the reckoning? Madness, and it reminds me of Kennedy's convention speech about the Liberals birthright and arrogant assumptions. We have to earn votes, instead we seem to take so much for granted, while people with energy and passion (i.e NDP) sweep the rug.

A View From The Left said...

I think we need to get rid of the so-called braintrust.

The At Issue panel had an interesting discussion last night about the fact that Dion's advisor's don't seem to be letting him be himself, which makes me wonder if he'd do any better if they just let Dion be Dion. Not to absolve Dion of all the blame as he certainly has his fair share of it, but part of me is wondering if both Dion and the party would do better with different people giving advice.

Mushroom said...

"How is that some lowly blogger, sitting in central Ontario, relying on second hand accounts and tidbits here and there, can see the potential disaster, while the supposed "braintrust" clues in a few day before the reckoning?"

Steve,

This is because you are not dependent on Stephane Dion for your livelihood. You do not have to hide or trying to put a positive spin on so-called bad news for fear of being a "bad" Liberal.

bigcitylib said...

Just curious: how does bringing in outside organizers (from Ontario, lets say) play in Que. Is it the kind of thing that might trigger a backlash?

Joseph said...

If what mushroom says about how the liberal leadership regard their positions and respond to Dion are both true (may be - I wouldn't know), then that says a lot about what needs to change.

Being able to discuss what's really happening (or not happening) and just paying attention to, oh, I don't know - the news maybe? I've never even been to Montreal and could sense some of this was coming - partly due to Far and Wide of course . . .

Koby said...

Outremount represents more than just a failure of organization. It represents a policy failure. Afghanistan was the big issue here and the NDP have a coherent position and the Liberals have a mix of talking points that are not grounded in any coherent critque of the mission.

The days of pumping out middle of the road, offend no one, please no one, interest no one, policies that are utterly incoherent at their core because they are designed to appeal to both sides of any political divide must come to end.

The Liberals are not going to build a grass roots movement unless they are willing to step on some toes and offend different groups from time to time. They are not going to attract anyone by trying to be all things to all people. Moreover the media is going to forget about them entirely unless they take a stand from time to time.

CuriosityCat said...

Well said, Koby!

We need a lean, mean, hard-edged power-winning party, starting with clear policies, clear plans and ruthless execution.

knb said...

koby: Afghanistan was the big issue here and the NDP have a coherent position and the Liberals have a mix of talking points that are not grounded in any coherent critque of the mission.

Nonsense. Dion has been more than clear. That you still struggle with his position, tells me that you top note media stories.

No one has flipped more and provided a mixed message more, on this issue than Harper.

Anonymous said...

La Presse Poll Reported Incorrectly...or, Spin it to suit yourself Chantal

So I downloaded the Unimarketing/La Presse poll that's run rampant all over the MSM today. Of course it's all being spun as the dismantling of Stephane Dion and the Liberal Party in Quebec.

But, let's have a look at the REAL story behind the numbers shall we. Then you can tell me who the REAL losers are in this by-election

ROBERVAL-LAC-STE.-JEAN

2006 Results

BQ 17,586/ 45.21%
Conswervatives 14,463/ 37.18%
Liberal 3,014/ 7.75%
Dips 2,151/ 5.53%
Green Wave 1,689/ 4.34%

La Presse Poll 2007

BQ 37%
Conswervatives 43%
Liberal 12%
Dips 4%
Green Wave 4%

So, you see, it would appear in this riding the big losers are the Bloc and the NDP. Both the Liberals and CONS are up in support in this riding. Take that Chantal!! Why aren't you telling us Duceppe is finished for good?

SAINT-HYACINTHE-BAGOT

2006 RESULTS

BQ 27,838/ 56.0%
Conswervatives 12,323/ 24.8%
Liberal 4,884/ 9.8%
Dips 2,723/ 5.5%
Green Wave 1,925/ 3.9%


La Presse Poll 2007

BQ 49%
Conswervatives 32%
Liberal 5%
NDP 7%
Green Wave 6%

So why isn't Chantal putting the death nail in the coffin of the BQ leader Gilles Duceppe? Duceppe gives up 7% in this riding. Liberals never ever had a sniff of hope here in elections past.


Now for the big one.

OUTREMONT

2006 RESULTS

Liberal 14,281 35.13%
BQ 11,714 28.81%
Dips 6,965 17.13%
Conswervatives 5,248 12.84%
Green Wave 1,948 4.79%

La Presse Poll 2007

Liberal 32%
BQ 14%
Dips 38%
Green Wave 8%
Conswervatives 7%


Again, who's the big loser. Duceppe of course. 14% loss from the last election. Not to mention the Conswervatives trailing the Green Party. But somehow Chantal Hebert and others have decided Stephane Dion and the Liberals are dead in the water if we lose Outremont. Read 'em weep everyone. The Liberal Party is alive and well in Quebec. Gotta be distressing for the Bloc though.

Steve V said...

anon

Not only won't that dog hunt, but its got fleas. Good luck with that.

James Curran said...

Well, just for the hell of it, I'm going to Montreal to help my party...regardless of who the leader is, who the candidate is, who's sitting on their ass, who the riding president is and what the bullshit UniMarketing Poll says.

How many times have you heard of UniMarketing anyway? I'm sure they're right up there with Ecos, Pollara, Ipsos.
And, our position in these ridings are EXACTLY within the margin of error as the previous election. And that's with a guy who has only been a leader for 9 months.

Don't worry about Dion and his committment to winning this riding. We will win Outremont.

Blaming the other two ridings on poor organization or lack of concern is assinine. WE haven't been close in those ridings since the formation of the Bloc.

So, instead of blaming everyone, I'm on board to get off my ass, go knock on some doors, drop off some lit, drive some people around, call some people, scrutineer, blog partisan stuff or whatever the hell else it takes to "do my part".

BTW flights are only $173 return taxes is on Air Canada from Toronto ;-)

Steve V said...

You know what else is assinine, chastizing others for stating the obvious. The fact that a guy from Niagara Falls has to fly into a Quebec "Liberal stronghold", in the dying days, in a last ditch effort to salvage some credibility, is a gigantic illustration of the problem.

Anonymous said...

get rid of dion and see what would happen with Ignatief.

Steve V said...

Bob Fife comes up with this gem:

"A word of caution if I may -- the Liberals still think they might be able to win this riding, but only by about 700 votes," Fife told CTV News."

Who the hell came up with that calculation? Sure it wasn't 800?

James Curran said...

As opposed to Layton having all his MPs there from all over the country...but Jack's no ass.

Sometimes guys from Niagara Falls make just enough of a difference. I remember leadership very well...Dion couldn't win there either apparently.

Next doom and gloom will be that we're going to lose in Mount Royal next election because we'll only have 55% support, etc. etc.

We're not losing anything. We will win Outremont and the other two ridings weren't ours to lose.

Joseph said...

I just stuck my finger out the window.

the number is definitely 778, unless that one woman with the scratchy throat in the big grey house doesn't drink her OJ tomorrow and Sunday. Then it'll be 779 (she's in the closet about her NDP leanings).

cheers.

Steve V said...

Thanks joseph :)

james

"As opposed to Layton having all his MPs there from all over the country...but Jack's no ass."

And when did Jack do that? Exactly. You don't get it.

Joseph said...

Actually, one more thing. I think you're doing a good thing, James. really good. My attempt at a bit of levity to take away from that, was just the timing of the post.

Steve V said...

The only good thing about this poll, it has put a Liberal loss in the media's mind. If the Liberals can hold on, I suppose the relativity of it all might let some light into the cave.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I've been reading the posters and quite frankly I am seriously impressed with the quality of the discussion and the depth of the folks commitment to their party.

If this is the grassroots Liberal support talking than you guys deserve a much better fate, than losing to watch the media poke at your party like its a dead whale on the beach or watching Jack Layton's self satisfied smugness.

Good luck over the weekend.

Tomm

Koby said...

Tell KNB just what is the Liberal position on Afghanistan? Presumably they do not think the mission futile. Otherwise they would not have committed us to this fool’s errand in the first place. They keep on blabbing about how it is someone else’s “turn” even though it is politically impossible for any Western country to move into the Kandahar region other than the maybe the US and maybe Britain and the US has already taken a turn there and Hellman province, where the Brits are, is just as bad Kandahar province. Of course, Dion did not explicitly say that Canada should leave Kandahar just that combat operations should stop as February 2009. If this is what he trying to allow for, it is it is a distinction without a difference. Staying in Kandahar means taking part in combat operations.

The NDP position by contrast is straight forward. Canada should leave Kandahar if not Afghanistan altogether. Our national interests are not served by our spending billions on a mission that is bound to fail, is producing causalities, has the potential for opening up a huge gap between Quebec and the rest of the nation and when the prospect of Canada being attacked by terrorists, be they homegrown or otherwise, is not lessened by our being there but is more likely.

"No one has flipped more and provided a mixed message more, on this issue than Harper."

I do not think Harper has flipped flopped at all. Do not confuse obfuscation with flip flopping. I do not think for second that he has any intention of pulling Canadian troops out of Kandahar, but anyway that is beside the point. Why has this Republican talking point/term of derision entered the Canadian political lexicon? If something is failing miserably, I hope to god the supporters of such a policy "flip flop" rather than "stay the course".

Joffré said...

Steve, the entire NDP caucus came over to Outremont for an of canvassing after their caucus meeting in Montréal, on August 27th.

Steve V said...

joffre

And we are sending in the troops Sept 15.

Miles Lunn said...

Certainly these numbers are not good, but lets remember by-elections tend to have historically low turnouts so polls often tend to be off by larger margins then they are in a general election, so these results may not play out. Still, we should not be complacent here. In fact we should never take any riding for granted no matter how safe we feel it is. Surprises do happen. Anybody remember Reg Alcock losing his seat after spending only two days campaigning in his riding since he thought he had the deal sealed, this can happen.

Steve V said...

"lets remember by-elections tend to have historically low turnouts so polls often tend to be off by larger margins then they are in a general election, so these results may not play out."

Miles agreed.

Mushroom said...

Note that low turnouts benefit the Dippers more than Grits. Witness the by-elections in urban Toronto lost by McGuinty's government: Parkdale-High Park, York South Weston.

Steve V said...

Just one thought on low turnout, this particular race is getting huge press, a high-profile push from both sides, which could make this by-election a bit of an odd duck in terms of the usual template. Harder to predict turnout.

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