Monday, October 26, 2009

The 100 Million Dollar Sway?

Another poll today, which shows more of the new trendline. Everyone has digested the reasons for the changing political fortunes, namely backlash against the Liberals election desire, coupled with internal strife that has undermined Ignatieff. These factors are real, no question. However, there is another quiet storyline at play here that gets little attention, one that isn't as easily quantified but just as persuasive. I don't think there is any doubt that part of the Conservative's new "windfall" of support has a direct correlation to the advertising dollars being spent promoting the government.

There is a curious dynamic at play within the polls. Even though the Liberals are reduced to Dion era numbers, there is no corresponding uptick for the NDP, their numbers equally dreadful. It seems that these two parties are both, in parallel, bleeding support to the Conservatives. Even the Bloc numbers are pretty much static, despite favorable developments. There is only one party that seems to be drawing support at the moment, and that's the government. This strange narrative is a bit of a polling anomaly, which means the most obvious of reasons might not capture the full picture.

It seems simple logic- surely a 100 million dollar, suspect, highly partisan presentation would have some effect. I recall previous partisan ad buys in the order of 1/20th given credit for "moving the numbers", so something of this magnitude isn't easily dismissed. I believe that this wall to wall feel good exercise is working in tandem with other factors to create a new political order.

The real kicker here, that gets virtually ignored- WE are paying for this manipulation, with money we DON'T HAVE. It's an obscene number, so unique in it's magnitude that no partisan can make the lame claim "everybody does it". This advertising is exponentially higher than any previous campaign, it has no peer, to suggest otherwise willful ignorance.

When people try to figure out what happened, just remember last spring when Ottawa was abuzz about the "biggest ad buy" in Canadian history- the Conservatives 5 million dollar Ignatieff smear campaign. That was a seismic political move, but in retrospect it's a drop in the bucket to this assault on Canadians. That has no effect, it doesn't benefit the government? There's a reason why all parties are mired in the mud, with the exception of one and it isn't because Harper can sing in monotone. Votes are being bought with my money, and I'll have to pay it back someday with interest. A great country.


MississaugaPeter said...

It's the advertising buys but it is also two other reasons:

1. The Liberals have not given the Canadian public a reason to support them. Just "not being a Conservative" is NOT enough. The average Canadian may not love Harper (may even hate him and the Conservatives), but they are not in love with Ignatieff either. The average Canadian sees very little differentiation between the two parties.

2. Contrary to popular belief, the favoritism towards Conservative held ridings may actually increase support for the Conservatives in those ridings and increase Conservative support in other ridings because people want to see their own ridings join the gravy train. If the Conservatives are close to a majority, expect even more people to switch their votes over to them so they can get in on the winnings.

DL said...

What if the Tories won all 308 ridings? then they would have no rationale for favouring any ridings over others?

ottlib said...

And yet, despite the backlash against the Liberals over the election talk and the unprecedented use of taxpayers money to put out partisan advertizing the Conservatives cannot sustain polling levels above the 40% mark for more than a week or two.

Then there is the media, that does not want to bite the hand that has been feeding it during these hard economic times.

What does that say about the Conservatives and Mr. Harper?

If this was Jean Chretien or Pierre Trudeau they would be in the high 40 range by now.

All of these advantages and nothing to show for it. It is no wonder the Austins and the Canadian Senses of the world constantly troll Liberal blogs writing comments that just drip angst and disappointment.

Stephen Harper is just not the man to take the Conservatives to the promised land and Conservatives know it even if they are unwilling to admit it, even to themselves.

Sad really.

austin said...

ottlib, just because someone does not agree with everything Liberal does not make them a con troll.

Steve V said...

But, it doesn't mean you still don't read like a complete and utter BLOCKHEAD.

It's a 100 million in self promotion. Only a fool doesn't think that has NO impact. I get the other reasons, think I mentioned a couple. Doesn't mean this isn't part of the mix.

rockfish said...

And to repeat myself, we'll be holding our breaths for a long time waiting for the big MSM players to dig into this scandal -- it is a scandal, coming from the leader that ok'd a bribe to a dying MP. It may be a wave we can't ride out, because Canadians are numb to the numbers right now. Not even the Taxpayers association dude, recently shilled his soul to the deficit devil, is flinching. But watch the numbers from the byelections, that may provide some surprise.

Tof KW said...

Steve V is correct, there are indeed 3 reasons why Harper is at 40% right now. In no particular order it is the public backlash against the Grits for their election posture (this was expected), constant negative press against the Libs over the past two months (where was Iggy over the summer / wanting an election with no platform / Quebec problems/yadda yadda yadda), and the $100 million ad buy that is the EAP.

The Harperites are milking the EAP for all its worth, though Canada's latest tepid economic improvements have little to do with it. Anyone who thinks this massive ad buy is not helping Harper's numbers is divorced from reality.

My only suggestion, for what it's worth, is to take a page from the CPC's own playbook (actually it's from the US Republican party's playbook) and turn Harper's greatest advantage his biggest liability. The EAP is showing to be full of old-school patronage, and there will be plenty of mini-scandals and questionable spending stories developing over the coming months (indeed years). All of this must be tied to Harper to show the common theme of incompetence and corruption. The Liberals are doing this right now, and indeed playing the best card possible at the moment.

But these things take time to settle into the public consciousness, case in point - the time it took from the 1995 Quebec referendum advertising debacle to come back and hurt the Liberals. This EAP-attack isn't doing much good for the Libs at the moment, but I can only see majority governments for the LPC in the long term.

Oh, and no one should be bothered with the CON trolls talking about how the Grits are just sinking further every time they hi-light these mini-scandals. Their BS simply proves it is hitting a soft spot. However I do agree the LPC now needs to begin rolling out policies for how they would be different in power - and I suggest new government advertising laws & implementing the three major recommendations of the Gomery commission that Harper never bothered to include in his accountability act.

Gene Rayburn said...

I'd say CS' obsession with Ignatieff is more a fetish.