While I appreciate some of the arguments made by Frank Graves, I don't share the election enthusiasm. In fact, I think it pretty much "crazy" for the Liberals to force an election this spring.
Despite narrowing polls, Liberals would be foolish to consider a firm pattern. I believe the sentiment surrounding Harper has a certain growing rigidity, but the Liberal numbers have a underlying artificial flavor. Couple that fact with inability to full maximize dissent, and it's hardly a strong presentation. If you want to prove this thesis, pushing for an election would surely work. The Liberals simply haven't made the case for an election, at least not enough of one to sail through the voter headwind. You can chop 5% off in Ontario with the slightest evidence of sabre rattling, it's that volatile(or fickle, depending on your perspective). The Liberals have already chosen this path, to dismiss that outcome would be truly irresponsible.
Graves makes the argument that Ignatieff's only real chance to resonate is an election. That argument is probably true, but that will always be true, regardless of timing. Also, there is room to get traction outside of a campaign, and I'd argue we've seen evidence of that, of late. I also see positive potential framing on the horizon, particularly if Ignatieff is armed with a more coherent agenda. Graves makes it seem like Ignatieff is stuck, which I find a bit to simplistic- there is non-election space to occupy. Big moves? Obviously not, but a firmer backdrop is entirely doable and advantageous pre-election.
The coming budget is the next opportunity, and by all accounts it will be a tame affair. Quite a challenge to translate this type of a budget into a rallying cry for an election. The Liberals don't operate in isolation, the mood must be there to justify. I genuinely believe- for the first time I might add- that a "kick the bums" mentality is fermenting in the land, Harper a damaged character. However, I also don't believe we're quite "there yet", in terms of optimal opportunity. Unless we see another massive blunder, there is little impetus.
The Conservatives have two inherent advantages. The Conservatives still enjoy a more robust "machine", whatever measure you choose. Within a tight election, it's the type of factor than can decide the eventual winner. When you couple this type of advantage with the incumbent card, you need more than dead even to have half a chance (if that makes sense).
The Liberals should waste little effort debating the merits of a quick election. Instead, let's focus on the Thinkers Conference, and all the policy considerations it encompasses. Let's get a message that resonates, present a compelling alternative vision, firm up our support and try to expand it.
The earliest window I see is the fall, more likely next spring when Harper finally has to address the economic realities and make tough, unpopular choices.