Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Idle Thought

I keep reading this sentiment in comments around online sites and the media, that goes something like this:

"With one of the worst economic downturns in history, it's pretty bad that the Libs can only manage to be tied in the polls with the Conservatives. The Liberals should be way ahead."

Obviously, this argument comes from the conventional wisdom that the opposition should be able to capitalize during economic challenges. History would tend to support this thesis.

I'm wondering then, if it's a fair criticism of the Liberals, because it would seem like a pattern exists throughout Canada, not exclusively a statement on the federal party. Why is that McGuinty is riding high in the polls, without the slightest hint of erosion? Why haven't the NDP and PC's capitalized? Ground zero on the economic front and the incumbent doesn't suffer? Surprising, to say the least. Why is that Charest's popularity is almost unprecendented in Quebec, what with this seismic economic downturn? Why hasn't the PQ capitalized? How did Gordon Campbell manage to get another majority, with an election right smack in the middle of the worst of it? Why didn't the NDP capitalize? In other words, why does it appear that incumbents aren't really suffering at all, why are they defying history?

Seems to me, that part of the equation here that might be unique- Canadians have largely bought into the perception that this recesssion is an imported downturn, a global problem that has nothing to do with Canada in particular. That explains why various incumbents aren't "wearing it" in the traditional sense, and maybe why it's a bit erroneous to copy and paste historic analogies. As a matter of fact, the federal Liberals don't appear terribly unique at all, relative to other oppositions in Canada.


Anonymous said...

You do know the Liberals in Quebec are poll 33% now against the PQ?

You do know Campbell has fallen from grace as well right?

They had their election before budgets and forecasts were made that is why they won. It is simple.

Steve V said...

"You do know Campbell has fallen from grace as well right?"

Umm, he was re-elected at the lowest moment during the recession, so you harmonized sales tax argument means what exactly, in relation to the economy?

As for Charest, check out today's CROP to see just how poorly he's doing.

Oh, and the last Ontario poll gave McGuinty 45%. Not bad for the epicenter, don't you think?


Steve V said...

I'll try to "you do know" help you out. From Eric's site:

"Wednesday, August 26, 2009
New CROP Poll: 11% Liberal Lead

CROP released a new poll today, taken between August 13 and August 23 and involving 1,003 Quebecers. The result:

Liberals - 44%
Parti Québécois - 33%
Québec Solidaire - 8%
Action Démocratique - 8%
Parti Vert - 7%

Man that Charest is really "wearing it" don't you think?

CanadianSense said...

Steve V.

You are correct the problems associated with Global Recession were imported.

The Liberals should not mimic the NDP/Bloc in overly partisan cheapshots.

Cash for clunkers in the US has helped our domestic parts and manufacturing

Oil is around $ 70-75 per barrel and our other commodities are starting to move from their lows.

In November the opposition united and demanded the Government spend $ 30 Billion and drop Pay Equity, Right to strike by Civil Servants, Political Pay Subsidy.

In January 2007, the Liberals agreed to the CPC Throne Speech and direction.

The single policy they did not re-introduce from the Economic Update was the Political Pay Subsidy.

The CPC have warned the Liberals not to destabilize the government again. They will not agree with the NDP 320-360 EI Plan est.($ 1.0 - $4.0 Billion): if they force another campaign before EAP has had a reasonable time frame to be implemented and reviewed they will not help the Liberals get out of the box again.

The Liberals are entitled to introduce a non-confidence motion on September 28 to be voted 2 days later.

Steve without a clear vision or policy from the Liberals to date, a groundswell against having an election, a groundswell to replace Harper with Iggy the 3-6% bump from the lows in October 2008 may not hold up.

This is not 1984 dump BM, vote for the Big Red Book 'sentiment'.

As an life long liberal never voted for the PC until 2000 the current leadership and direction is not the party of my parents.

OBAMA spent years along with the Democrats rebuilding the party and they outspent and out organized the Republicans.

The Liberal Party is NOWHERE near that reality in donors or dollars.

Fix the party drop the silly stuff, wafergate, tasteless jokes, unsexy comments.

Most Canadians don't care about the BS from Ottawa.

The incumbent Premiers won because they were not blamed for the external recession and were deemed fit to govern.

Until Harper's # tank below Iggy in leadership or a REAL scandal aka HR, Gun, Tainted Blood, Adscam hits the fan...please drop the Puffins and plagerism stuff!

Anonymous said...

I still think it's because it's summer and people aren't paying attention. It's not like the media has talked about the important stuff very much.

To me, it's more than the economy. It's foreign affairs, health/isotopes/swine flu, our institutions.

Until parliament resumes, these issues won't get much attention.

Steve V said...

Oh, here's the last Ontario poll. McGuinty ABOVE the last election percentages:

Liberals - 45%
Progressive Conservatives - 31%
New Democrats - 12%
Greens - 11%

An increased majority, man he's "wearing it" too. If only a few more plants closed I bet he could get to 50%

Steve V said...


I don't disagree, particularly on the vision front.


Just to complete the trifecta:

"May 14, 2009

Campbell held a press conference Wednesday morning, hours after voters gave his B.C. Liberals 49 seats to the NDP’s 36 in the new legislature."

Note the date. Then go back and look at the economic indicators for British Columbia in particular for April and May. "Wore it" alright.

Actually, when you think about it, the only opposition that has overtaken a sitting government during this recession was the Liberals. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

McGuinty is high in the polls because the NDP is not a factor in Ontario. The NDP is still fighting for party status.

Expect a three party race the next time. No way the Cons and the NDP do worse than 2007.

Charest is leading in the polls because both the PQ and the ADQ are broken. They are waiting for the next generation of nationalists to emerge. Also the Quebec Libs are the only federalist party in town. No federalist hard right or hard left there ;(

The fed Grits are struggling to get their message across because they have good ideological opponents from the right or the left. For a party that has been successful in governing throughout the 20th century, these few years are a low point. I will argue that the lack of ideological pull has led to this. Similar to most centre left parties in the world.

DL said...

I think the proverbial shit is starting to hit the fan in BC what with the revelations that Campbell lied about the deficit and lied about the HST and has now brought in a budget with massive cuts to health and education etc... (I wonder if Campbell is giving us a hint of what an Ignatieff federal government would be like?). Incumbent government can win elections EARLY in a recession when people are looking for a safe port in a storm - but at some point when you govern during bad economic times you start to have to do some very controversial and unpopular things (ie: tax increases, massive deficits, cuts in social spending etc...) and that's when the rubber hits the road. We have to wait for that show to drop and for Harper to be forced to do some really unpopular stuff. Then he will start to drop like a stone.

Steve V said...

"We have to wait for that show to drop and for Harper to be forced to do some really unpopular stuff."

Which might explain why the incumbent disadvantage hasn't kicked in yet, or maybe it's a bit unfair to say "Libs should be up by 10 points".


Maybe "no way", but they're stuck where they were in 2007, McGuinty actually doing better, and Ontario has been hammered relentlessly since. Not really addressing my point, an being "broken" is really a weak explanation IMHO.

Trevor said...

Ontario Conservatives: Recent poor leader, new untested leader. Are they ready to govern?

Quebec opposition: Recent meltdown and leadership changes in ADQ and PQ. PQ is still polling reasonably good. Are either ready to govern?

BC NDP: They did so much damage last time they were in government and BC has benefitted greatly by (mostly conservative) policies of Campbell. Why would the voters want to switch to NDP?

Now the federal Liberals claim to have a strong competent leader, a strong front bench and are ready to govern. The electorate seems to disagree. Careful who you compare yourself to.

DL said...

Actually looking all over the world, incumbents aren't faring all that badly. Kevin Rudd is still very popular in Australia, Angela Merkel gets 70% approval levels in Germany, the only places where the recession has really had a political impact are in the two countries that are seen as having been the origins of it - the US and the UK.

Steve V said...

I think that's because the overwhelming meme is this was soley an American problem, their massive failure. This might be an anomaly in terms of the historical assumptions.

Like you said earlier though, it might look different once the dust settles and people have to deal with the damage.

Anonymous said...

You do know that BC Libs don't equal Federal Libs right?

The majority of BC Libs (terrible name) are Federal Conservatives.

Your whole premise is BS.


Steve V said...

OMG, you must be the dumbest person alive. Let me guess, Con?

ottlib said...

The Martin government wore the "worst political scandal in Canadian history" for almost three years.

During that period the Martin Liberals only ever lost a polling lead against the Harper Conservatives twice. Once during the height of Mr. Brault's testimony and after the release of the first Gomery Report. In both cases the Liberals regained a lead well outside of the MOE by the next set of polls after these events and held it.

Every other time they maintained an average lead of about 7 points. It was only during the elections he fought that the effects of the scandal were felt for a sustained amount of time.

The incumbent almost always has the advantage in between elections often regardless of what is happening on the political scene. They may lose that advantage if something dramatic occurs but it is usually temporary and the incumbent advantage usually reasserts itself again.

The fact the Liberals lead for the first six months of this year and are now "just" tied or slightly ahead is remarkable. If I am Michael Ignatieff I am liking my polling numbers in relation to a sitting government.

Steve V said...

I'm okay with tied, considering we lost by 12% not a year ago.

Jon Pertwee said...

"The electorate seems to disagree. "

Yeah Trev, who are you speaking for? Harper vs Ignatieff vs Layton vs Duceppe hasn't happened yet.

So do you often speak for others Trev/

I'm just sayin...