Heading into the four by-elections tomorrow, the biggest challenge for the Liberals is meeting pre-determined expectations. How the results are spun by the media is the key, and in many ways it's a no win scenario.
Should the Liberals manage to win all four ridings, then the result meets expectation, a fairly positive development. I actually see the quality of candidates entering Parliament as the biggest plus to Liberal fortunes, but a sweep maintains the status quo, a restless media declawed. Win all four, then the Liberals have maintained the brand, pretty photo-ops of all the shiny new MP's. You could even argue the Liberals receive some momentum, making an election more likely.
Where it gets tricky, and it isn't necessarily fair, is if the Liberals only manage to win 3 out of the 4. The two ridings in Ontario, and the one in Vancouver Quadra, are safe seats, reasonable to expect victory. The riding in Saskatchewan, however, is anything but a sure thing, in fact it always has been a 50/50 proposition for the Liberals. That said, there is the optics of a potential seat loss, which is magnified when you consider the hand-picked candidate, a direct connection to Dion. Again, if we are being fair in our analysis, a Liberal loss really isn't significant, or telling, but I fear the media will see it differently, at the very least an "okay" night for the Liberals, at worst some questions.
Should it happen, that the Liberals were to lose in Saskatchewan and in British Columbia, then you have the worst case scenario, which opens up a whole host of unattractive possibilities. We can debate the "wacky" quality of by-elections, low turnout, but that is really irrelevant to the frame- Liberals suffer two loses, another "safe seat" gone. In many ways, this is a more troubling development than Outremont, mostly because it reinforces that result, a more wide ranging pattern developed. There would be a media shitstorm of the highest order and we all know the angles.
Should be a fascinating night.