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.